Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Well, can't believe it but the Yellowstone piece is pretty much put together except for "smoothing" out some rough spots. I am actually quite happy with how it turned out and may not feel compelled to do another one of the same scene but you never know. I have been thinking of it from a compositional standpoint and might see what would happen if I really played with the colors and took it out of Yellowstone completely and maybe into another western location!

I have quite a "to do" list ahead of me with numerous classes and two pretty much all day meetings in the next couple of weeks. I also need to get ready for the trip south as well so it will be a bit busy!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Making Progress

Well, my feet and my nose are cold and I am sitting in my fleece so winter must be coming to Upstate NY. Now to get out those turtlenecks, the staple of my winter wardrobe. With our extra long summer, I have still be putting tshirts on in the morning!

And no, that is not snow in these pictures. It is travertine or calcium carbonate which bubbles up through the various hot springs and geysers at Yellowstone. The picture that these two views were based on was taken in the Mammoth Springs area of Yellowstone in the morning when it was still quite overcast which gave the grey quality to the sky. The colors at Yellowstone are astounding and it is certainly my favorite of the national parks we visited in the spring.

We had to get up at 5:15 this Sunday morning to get my oldest on the plane back to her home in Charlotte. She had come to visit the mother of one of her friends who was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma. She had a good visit as Maryalice was feeling a bit better after multiple dialysis and plasma tranfusions.

I AM making progress with my second Yellowstone piece as you can see. My quandary is that I don't have quite the graphic quality that I did with the first one which made use of quite a bit of black and very dark values. I have tried to use darker values but it may not be enough. I am relatively pleased with how it is looking right now as I am adding all the different shades of orange and orange/brown. The first one looks very simplistic to me now -- when does simple end and graphic begin? Maybe what I had needed to do was just to make the original one much bigger. Hmmmmm, but then it would have had large areas of the same color and that would have been boring as well. All these decisions....

Well here it is a bit more put together. I still have the tree to fully put in and then sew the top and bottom together so it is all one piece but looks like I will get it done by RAFA on Thursday.
As I do with all my projects, I just look at it as a learning experience and then move on to the next. At least, I have gotten away from dulling my senses by just doing mindless piecing when I am putting off doing the hard work of getting an original piece together. I will be doing plenty of that with my upcoming vacation where mindless piecing looks pretty good!! At least it will be nice and warm and sunny.

This is what the old piece looked like. You can't see from the photo but it is quite a bit smaller than the new piece.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Sewing Day for Yellowstone II Piece

Well, another productive day of trying to get at least the top of the Yellowstone piece done! It took the better part of the day and much tearing apart and putting back together and bobbin thread running out but I finally got the top to a stage where it is okay. I have literally ripped it out probably 4 times and put back together. There have been three iterations of the trees and this one is okay but still not what I totally want but enough so I won't rip it out again. Unfortunately, that means there may be Yellowstone III coming up. How many times can I do this one picture until I get it right!! Well, it is a learning experience. I like the original one from a composition standpoint but wanted to make it bigger and do more intricate piecing in some places as I thought I would like it better (which I do). It may be losing some of best of the composition though in doing that as it is not as high contrast -- doesn't have as graphic a quality. I will get it done and quilted and make my final decisions.

It was a gorgeous day again after a day of much needed rain so I included some pictures I took at Marcia's house today as there is beginning to be some color around there although we still have little up here by the lake. I also included a last picture of our garden at the house as it is still blooming and almost November which is AMAZING around here!

Here is some fall color from Marcia's back yard.

Here is some more fall color.

This is a fantastic tree called a river birch that Marcia has growing in her back yard. Isn't the bark cool!

Ah, here is a picture of our garden taken on Monday when it was 80 degrees out. It is never this nice even in September around here, much less the end of October!

These are the daisies in our neighbor's front yard which stand about three feet high and are beautiful this year.

These are some of Joe's glorious mums as well. They are huge this year and overladen with flowers.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Sewing Collectibles

I thought I would take the opportunity today to take pictures of some of my toy sewing machines and other sewing collectibles that have accumulated in my sewing room and any other flat surface I can find!

I have made some progress on the second Yellowstone piece but it is not far enough along so I know whether I like it better or worse than the first. I have had a lot of trouble with the trees and am not particularly happy with them but think that was true with the first as well. Things seemed to go together better in the first piece though. Maybe I have built in too much complexity. I do have a little momentum going though and will try to photo tonight for tomorrow's blog.

Anyway, here are the archives!
The first bunch are the ones that are on the wall of my sewing room which you face when you come.

The second bunch are along the wall on the opposite side of the room.

These are a series of sewing baskets with the Chinese coins on them. I like the patina.

And these are the ones that sit in my guest room which can now be called the sewing room annex as I have quilts in the closet and fabric hiding under the bed, in the closet and under the dresser. These sit on top of an old Martha Washington sewing stand (I think everyone has one of these). This was always in my mother's small sewing room in the old house. I keep it filled with sewing machine attachments and some more notions.

This is my antique wash stand that comes from the Philadelphia area. It is from about 1800 and my mother bought it when we were young. It was one of my favorite things from the old house. On top of it sit many old sewing notions including several attachment boxes from old Singer and an old Wheeler and Wilson sewing machine.

These are more machines in the "sewing machine annex".

And still more!

This is a piece that utilizes some silk paper I dyed and made plus several pieces of hand painted fabric. It just screamed for beads when I was done so they were added as well even though I had never used beads on anything before. It is called Rainforest Leaves.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Yellowstone Piece

After a day at Marcia's on Thursday, I finally got really started on the second of the Yellowstone pieces.

The first one was started in the class I took this summer and I really like it but made choices based upon the fabric I bought with me plus a little I purchased at the vendors. This time I decided to go bigger and more detailed and use more variety in the fabrics.

I began the same way by drawing a cartoon from the same picture I took at Angel Terrace at Yellowstone.

It follows along on a theme I seemed to have developed which is trying to bring beauty to things that are inherently not considered attractive which includes the forest fire, rusted truck. I took lots of pictures of dead trees on this trip and I think many will find their way into pieces in the near future! The fact that I live in a heavily wooded development probably is a significant influence here.

My father was a naturalist before it was stylish and taught ecology back in the 30's and 40's. As a child, one of the super big treats was to accompany my father on his Saturday "walks" which were down the railroad tracks and into the undeveloped areas near where we lived. He would find cocoons, tadpoles and I grew up with beautiful butterflies hatching and watching tadpoles turn into frogs in our back room. We grew most of our own fruits and vegetables despite living in a heavily developed suburb of Philadelphia. The town permitted my father to farm a 1/2 acre plot next the railroad tracks that remained undeveloped until I went into college when it finally became parkland. I think it was in the genes as his family had farms and came from English farming stock although it was two generations away from him.

Anyway, below is the current status of my newest Yellowstone piece.

I have also included a shot of my very favorite piece I have purchased from Priscilla Kibbee. It is a hand embroidered piece on hand woven fabric from Guatemala. I can't help myself when Priscilla brings back all these wonderful textiles and trims from all over the world.
See her blog at www.priscillakibbee.blogspot.com. She has fascinating pictures from her many travels around the world. I'll post some molas I have purchased from her as well at a later time. She actually bought them from the Kuni Indians off the coast of Equador in her last trip -- amazing hand work.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A 50th Anniversary Celebration!

We had the good fortune to be invited to an anniversary party of our old friends and neighbors in Batavia. Batavia is in western NY about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester. We moved there right after Warren finished grad school and we commuted to Niagara Falls and Rochester for 9 years in the early part of our marriage. The couple being feted at the anniversary party were our neighbors across the street. This was our first house and the time when our two children were born. I don't know what we would have done without them. We had no immediate family anywhere around to help new parents who were struggling to get things right! Terry left a fancy ball when our second child was born. I went into labor just as we had deposited our then 2 1/2 year old at the hospital as she had a rash from head to foot and a raging fever. Terry made sure they took good care of her as she was a nurse at that hospital.

The party was a wonderful tribute thrown by their two grown sons. It was amazing to see them all grown up after so many years!! Amazing how other people get older (although Ray and Terry looked almost identical to what they did 25 years ago) when Warren and I remain the same age...

Sandy and Phil were our other two neighbors and they also looked great!! Sandy took care of both my girls when they were small so we took the opportunity to blame her for all their imperfections!!

It was really great to be back there -- we had some wonderful time in those years.

This is Terry and Ray cutting the cake.

This is a picture of Sandy and Phil sitting across the table from us.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Lazy Day with Some Overdyeing!

Well, it was a lazy day today but I did manage to get all the rest of the double dyes ironed last night and did some more overdyeing with leftover dye this afternoon. Hopefully it will improve several of the pieces I didn't care for. All of the ones I didn't like (almost) were the yellows that I overdyed with the turquoise/fuchsia/sun yellow brown. It emphasizes to me the fact that I don't like to use the sun yellow and you really need to use much more of the turquoise than you think - it just can't compete with the other two in the mix.

I think I will attempt more of the drip dyeing tomorrow since it is again going to be an extra warm day up here in Western NY. We have NEVER in the almost 40 years we have lived here, had weather like this for so long!! It is a shock to see the marigolds and dahlias still brightly blooming and our neighbors still getting produce from their gardens.

Well the results are in and here are the overdyes. Again, they didn't photo well. The greens are okay, the blues are luscious and rich and so is the one brown. The greens were really hideous before so they are improved and I can see where one might use them as background. Will have to see how they look after ironing!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Busy Day but More Dye Results

Well, they aren't ironed yet, but I did get my last double dye out of the dryer this morning. An interesting bunch of fabrics to say the least! My goal was to see all the different browns I could get and hopefully some greens like the last bunch I did and sold most of (so I didn't have any to play with!!). Of course, can never leave anything alone so tweaked the mixtures a bit and added some new ones so ended up with six colors overdyed with six colors. My choices were basically almost the same for the first bath, Sun Yellow, Tangerine, Golden Yellow in two different concentrations and then Strong Orange at 1% and Fuchsia at 1%. The second set of color were Pro Chem's Basic Brown, Pro Chem's Blue/Violet, my violet made with Intense Blue and Mixing Red, my brown made with Intense Blue, Golden Yellow and Mixing Red , my brown made with Navy, Strongest Red and Tangerine and my brown made with Fuchsia, Turquoise and Sun Yellow. The last one was the absolute biggest flop as I thought it might be. I really got a wide variety of browns and some other very foresty looking colors. There are several pieces that I think I am going to overdye. I am going to do another overdye using some of the same colors but in a much lower concentration to try to get some lighter colors as well. That will be my next experiment. But I have 36 new yards of fabric. I have about seven yards downstairs that I am also going to overdye from another experiment some time ago. There are about 6 in this last bunch that I am not crazy about so may try to improve some. None of these are in the group below. I have overdyed them with gold in one case and intense blue for the rest and am not sure of the results yet as they are still in the washer!

I did very littly mushing of this fabric as I wanted to get a lot of patterning and I did -- in some cases I could have done with a little less!!

One thing I have learned is that I really like working with the warmer yellows when doing these overdyes. I think the browns are nicer and the greens are much better as well. I will save my sun yellow for times when I really want yellow and use the golden or tangerine the rest of the time.

Below is probably one of my favorites from the bunch. It is gold overdyed with my own blue/violet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Back to the Dye Pots - Brown or Bust!

Well, have finally gotten back to the dye pots and used up some of my week old leftover dyes to dye socks which I haven't done for awhile. I also grabbed some of my yellows that I had dyed some time ago and overdyed some of those as well as some other random fabrics that I had lying around. I like to see what happens! I got some really pretty green fabrics in this bunch. So I also have some nice blue and green socks to match the jacket fabric I made at Marcia's!! Two pairs are a little light so I may just overdye them. These socks are from Dharma and take the dye quite well although you can see the elastic a little with the darker colors. I think I bought 2 or 3 dozen the last time I ordered! They last pretty well although I have managed to wear a hole in the big toe on a couple of pairs -- too much walking! Each pair is 56 grams so doesn't take a lot of dye to color them up nicely!

I want to get started on my next Yellowstone pieces so wanted to dye up some browns and greys. I used the natural colored fabric which was probably not a good idea for the greys which are definitely on the warm side now. I may do another batch with bleached white fabric. The natural colored fabric is fine for the darker colors but as it does have a slight hue to it, doesn't do as well with the lights. I at least have a good idea of how light I want to go though (very light). I decided to try to do a gradation of browns using my leftover mixing blue and a 2% solution of strong orange. They aren't out of the dryer yet but I am loving what I have seen so far. It goes from a dark ocre to a deep brown that is almost black -- just what I was going for.

I have found that I like to do gradations where I basically use two different dyes. I keep one constant throughout the whole gradation and I make one variable. Because the low end of the gradation has such light colors, it looks like you are moving from one color to another many times. You have to be careful what colors you choose and what concentrations to use.

Laziness has overcome me in the washout process now. I now rinse in warm, cold, and cold and then move to hot wash with Synthrapol and then two more warm rinses. If I am selling the fabric, I will put it through one more hot wash and one more rinse to make sure there is no more color.

Tomorrow I am going to do some yellow overdyed with blue/violet to get some more browns. The blue/violet/yellow mix gives some very interesting browns. I am then going to do a sequenced overdye with probably the darker blues and orange in different concentrations -- I really want to get some fairly light ones so may have to play a bit more.

This is the group that was the randomly dyed fabrics, just pulling out some already dyed pieces that were either yellow or poorly dyed the first time. There is one commercial fabric in there as well which I overdyed blue and another piece yellow.

The below groups are the ones that were dyed with mixing grey (left) and then the orange/mixing blue on the right. The colors of the browns are better in person than they show on the computer. Can't seem to adjust them to the right colors on my monitor at least!