Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Mola-icious Day at Priscilla's!

This is one of my favorites with the four colorful fish.

Well, Marcia and I hadn’t gotten together with Priscilla for a few weeks so were looking forward to a day out on her new patio with her new patio furniture (she had a windfall from ONE button she sold on ebay). Priscilla has recently returned from a visit to Panama and visits to San Blas Islands and the Kuna Indians where she had purchased some awesome molas which she we got to see. The most fun are the ones she keeps for herself – no amount of wheedling and whining can get her to part with those. This was undoubtedly the most incredible collection of molas I have ever seen!! She had seen they were much better than she had ever purchased before and she was right!! The workmanship defies description. My guess is that a many of these pieces easily took a month to complete. There are probably 15-20 stitches to the inch and every bit of the surface is covered with intricate reverse appliqué – the hallmark of these pieces of artwork. And the colors.....

Priscilla graciously let us look through the ones that she had for sale. Of course we couldn’t resist although there were so many that we would have loved to have that we left behind because we just couldn’t justify the additional expense. Marcia found some horses and I found a snail (in honor of my father who was an expert on land snails and I am sure crawled around in the jungles in Panama at some point – I think he actually got one of his cases of malaria and hepatitis there). I also found a small bunny that I bought in honor of my mother.

I love the fact that these are authentic molas that were worn on garments. Priscilla had many that still had parts of garments and zippers attached. They are worn like yokes on an apron (although not an apron) with similar if not matching ones on the back and the front of the garment. Notice the white pin head at the top of this one. If you double click you can see closer. That will give you an idea of how small those pin dot reverse applique circles are on this piece -- no, those are not french knots but a tiny hole is cut and the edge appliqued under to show the fabric beneath.

This is my snail with a man riding on top. Notice all the tiny zig zag reverse applique. Most of the pieces are "landscape" style and about 14 inches by 18 inches although they vary in size quite a bit.

This probably has the most intricate applique of all of the pieces. It is a very color octopus.
I loved how colorful this was with the bird portrayed on the pitcher.

Note to self: don’t wear your brightly colored flowered shirt when you will be sitting outside with the bees!!! They chased me all over the yard.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yes, I do have Factor Five Leyden and Day 2 of Raffle Quilt Adventures!

Well, after a week’s wait my tests came back for carrying the mutated gene for Factor Five Leyden. The doctor has recommended I see a hematologist at the University of Rochester to learn what I should or shouldn’t be doing! My sister (also a carrier) highly recommends that I take this step so will make an appointment when I get back from Lisa’s. I am heterozygous (one out of the two parents gave me the gene) which I had figured. I had recently read on one website that high blood pressure during pregnancy might be an indicator. That was the only thing that hinted to me that I might have the defective gene. Oh well, I feel worse for my girls who will now have to be tested as well. Most people never know they have this gene!

Day 2 of the raffle quilt assembly marathon is much more interesting! We had a relatively small group but one new face – Vickie Coykendall. She was a whiz at getting the pieces in the background together into rows! Poor Nancy Hicks came by just to pick up some small quilts from me for an exhibit case RAFA will be having at the Brighton Public Library and she got cajoled into taking out the paper from the back of the pieces (Jenna wasn’t there yesterday). We heard a lot of whining!! The paper isn’t so bad but many were made on this other foundation which was awful to get out! She left before we could find any more jobs for her to do!!

We made tremendous progress yesterday and Pat and Vickie worked effectively to make the 90 degree angle middle fit into the 60% angled background!! It was a challenge! Fortunately, we had decided the week before (thanks Jeanne Simpson) to only make the middle as part of the pattern set on a plain blue background. There is no way you could write instructions for what Pat and Vickie did!!

This is Pat and Vickie with some initial auditioning of the background and rearranging so that we could piece in straight rows.
Beverly Kondolf and Chris Wickert are also madly putting together background pieces. Pat Berardi and I were also madly putting these together and trying to keep Pat from the design wall!!
This is most of half of the quilt up on the design wall. You can see the progress along the edges where the background meets the center. We have one more sewing day scheduled next Monday and hope to have the whole background finished after that.
This is a closeup of one quarter of the background. You can see very little white space here as we made so much progress on sewing the background together. Thank goodness for multiple 8 foot design walls in Pat's studio/family room.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ombre Dyeing Cotton

There has been unbeknownst to me a new trend in clothing -- those with a gradation of color across one surface of the garment as in a dress that has a bodice that is white on the top going through the greys and being black at the waste. There has been some talk of this on the Dyerslist which is my favorite dye listing.

So, it seemed like the proper thing to document how I do this "ombre" dyeing on cottons. All of the references I found on Google showed how to do it on silks with acid dyes. With acid dyes, if you want the solid colors, you would most likely use a pot on the stove. You can gradate the color by allowing part of the fabric to sit in the dye longer than other parts of the fabric, just holding part out and dipping down to get some color. It is not that difficult to get the gradation. I have also done this with a skein of yarn as well. When doing the yarn, I kept part of the yarn in the original dye bath for the longest and would slowly lower the yarn and add a bit of water as well.

An art quilting friend commissioned me (I really don't do commisions except as a favor to friends) to create a taupey gradated single piece of cotton 45" x 60" inches. First I did a normal gradation to show her a series of colors so that she could pick out the one she liked the best (she bought all those too!). She picked one and I created several cups of dyes in different gradations of the one color. I then pretreated the fabric with soda ash. In this case I didn't use pfd fabric but used a commercial moda white which does have some sort of finish on it. The finish inhibits the dyes from taking quite as quickly (wouldn't be good if you wanted a really dark gradation as it doesn't dye with the intensity of the pfd cottons). I also painted the whole piece of fabric with a print paste mixture. This will also inhibit the dyes from taking quite as quickly. I then started painting the fabric with those large Japanese brushes you can get from Dharma Trading as they hold lots of dye. I painted as rapidly as I could from light to dark so there would not be too much of a line. I then let it sit for about 8 hours at 70 degrees and washed it out.

I currently have another "commission" outstanding to do this with two colors -- also pale. This time I will probably use the direct dyeing technique of mixing the soda ash with the dyes at the time I am applying them. This recipe is 4:1 bicarbonate of soda to soda ash. I hope this will slow down the process a bit more.

This is the final piece that was done with the fabric I dyed. The quilt is called Swamp Angel and was done by quilt artist Caren Betlinski. You can see all the ribbons it won in our local quilt show! It also was accepted into Paducah AQS show the following year. She used all my hand dyes in this piece and then did extensive thread painting which is her signature style. I always get a big kick out of seeing my fabrics in the various artworks of my friends. When I was selling from a shop a few years ago, occasionally I would see people with a quilt with fabric that I recognized as mine and that would give me a big kick as well!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Common Problems with Procion MX Fiber Reactive Dyes

There are a number of things to make your dyeing experience less than positive. As time permits, I will try to discuss a few of the things I have learned along the way. Sometimes just keeping things organized in your dye area can help. I am constantly amazed by the amount of misinformation there is about these dyes floating around the internet. I am certainly not an expert but have about 20 years of dyeing under my belt and know when I am in over my head!!

First, my list of five things you need to make the dyes work:
  1. The dye powders. Preferably these are less than 2 years old but I have used many that were much older. The results are not as predictable but they still can work if they have been kept in a cool dry area, tightly sealed. Be cautious about the ones you might find at your local art supply store in very small jars as these can have quite a bit of age on them.
  2. Water. This needs to be warm but NOT hot. I have seen a number of dyers recommend hot water to dissolve the dyes. These dyes will will react with water quickly and become much less reactive with the fibers. So keep the water between 80 and 90 degrees if you can. The exceptions to this are turquoise and ProChem's basic blue (the only blue that tends to red) which can tolerate (and even like) a warmer temp.
  3. Soda Ash (also known as sodium carbonate and often found as pH+ in your local pool supply store). This is needed to provide the environment in which the dyes can attach to the fiber. The reaction requires a "basic" environment to react.
  4. Environmental Temperature above 70 degrees. These dyes will behave very sluggishly below 70 degrees so especially when doing direct dye applications, the ambient temperature needs to be above 70 degrees.
  5. Prepared For Dyeing (PFD) Fabric or Fiber. This means that the fiber contains no fillers or finishes. I very much prefer mercerized cottons to those that have not have this process. It makes the colors appear to be much clearer and brighter and darker. However, I have used non-pfd fabric and even fabric with finishes. If you are dyeing something with just a hint of color, these seem to work just fine but don't expect those showy pieces!

Given that you have put a check mark to all the above, these are problems (or opportunities) that seem to come up:

  • Splotches of color on the fabric -- this is usually from two causes: (1) the dyes have not fully dissolved in the water and (2) transfer of dye from one surface to another. There are three ways to improve on the first which are to (a) use urea as an additive to the water into which you are dissolving the dye powders. Best to do this by dissolving the urea in the water ahead of time and then dissolving the dyes into this urea water. Urea water is made with 5 1/2 tbsp urea to one cup of water. (b) make your dyes a few hours before you want to use them to make sure the powders are dissolved. The solution should look clear and not cloudy. Cloudy means undissolved dyes. Keep adding urea until the dyes fully dissolve. (A friend uses rain water and it is so soft that she never has to add urea.) (c) if all else fails, strain the dye liquids through those old pantyhose that you will never wear again! The solution to dyes transferring from one project to another is basic. I am a sloppy dyer and I rarely if ever have that problem anymore (but I used to). I now always have a bucket of fresh water next to me and I rinse my gloved hands constantly when moving from one thing to another or before I pick up a piece of fabric.
  • The fabric looked great until I washed it - There are several causes of this but the most prevalent is that you forgot to put the soda ash in. Make sure you are using sodium cabonate instead of sodium bicarbonate. Some pool stores are now using sodium bicarbonate as their pH+ so make sure you check the labels. A second set of causes is that you didn't let the fabric stay in the soda ash long enough or the water was too hot or too cold. Another problem occurs if you are using large amounts of water as in vat or washing machine dyeing. You have to use uniodized salt equivalent in weight to the fabric in the dye bath. Otherwise too much of the dye reacts with the water instead of the fabric. Lastly, the dyes may just be exhausted and have no more umph so save them for coloring paper. I have also found that some pfd fabric has been mislabelled and is not really pfd so I get a pale result instead of the brilliance I expected.
  • The colors are not what I expected - The biggest culprit here is mixing fuchsia with just about any blue and expecting purple! This is most pronounced with the combination of fuchsia and turquoise. If you are doing vat dyeing and you are stirring like a madman, you might get some decent results. Using low water immersion with fairly hefty percentages of dyes will result in fabric that is mostly fuchsia, a few spots of purple and lots of blue filling in between. Fuchsia does not play well with others in low water immersion applications. Turquoise compounds the problem by being very slow to react as it does like the warmer environment. I have found results more to my liking by doing two things -- for fuchsia I rarely use more than a 1% or 2% concentration and I usually up the concentration of the turquoise by 2 and use warmer water. I also manipulate the fabric a lot more than I would normally.

To be continued.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Genesee Riverwalk on a Perfect Spring Day

For those of you who haven't yet walked the wonderful path along the Genesee River in Charlotte, get on those hiking shoes!! It is an easy beautiful walk through woods and then across a lengthy boardwalk that crosses over the marshes. It was amazing that there were not more people out on this holiday weekend -- it is indeed one of Rochester's treasures.

This is my daughter Zann from Seattle with Warren just before the boardwalk part of the pathway. They were waiting for me poking along.

This is one of the many mallards that were along the way. There were even some babies off in the distance.

This is a mama-to-be mute swan slipping off the nest for a minute so we could get pictures of her eggs.

This is dad keeping an eye on what mom was doing and also clearing a pathway to the main pond area. He was very busy while we were watching.

This was looking down the river toward the lake from one end of the boardwalk area.
These were some of the many pretty wildflowers that I saw along the way. I think they are wild geraniums but not sure about that!

I have no idea what these bushes cascading with pink blossoms were. They were also in white and looked like honeysuckle but I always thought that was a vine.

I just liked the lacey appearance of these fragile flowers.

This is the view down the boardwalk area. You can see it wasn't very crowded which is fine with me!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

GVQC 2009 Raffle Quilt - Group Work Day

Mary Wieser, Janet Root, Beverly Kondolf and Jeanne Simpson concentrating on the direction we are taking with the beginnings of the quilt up on Pat's design wall.

This is the first iteration of the center (how it was designed) with the large lighter colored center flower.
We tried a second iteration which had four flowers with the center between those flowers being green and we didn't care for that one at all.

This is the third iteration of the center where you have a suggestion of a flower in the background but only four real flowers. We all liked that one the best. (Of course we were all auditioning it with our digital cameras as well!)

Progress is quickly being made on the magnificent quilt which was created for our 2009 GVQC quilt show ( This is Pat Pauly Chris Wickert and Mary Wieser concentrating on design.

This quilt started with some ideas thrown around in a meeting a few months ago. After agreeing upon some general design ideas, Pat Pauly designed the specific paper-pieced patterns which were used in creating the quilt. We then asked for fabrics to be donated by quilt members in certain color families (dark and medium blues, all shades of green and all shades of red and red/orange). Adding a whole bunch more from several of our stashes, we made up a number of kits to be handed out at quilt meetings. The kits contained the pattern and fabric for one element of the quilt. There were small flowers and at least two leaf patterns for the background.

This is the first iteration of the background of the quilt. While it was aesthetically pleasing, the piecing looked like a nightmare so changes were made to make up rows.

We actually had one new volunteer who joined us this time as she LOVES taking the paper out of the backs of paper piecing . This was Jenna Darlak and she was a much welcomed addition to the team.

A second team started trying to arrange the background leaves and flowers above which were all done using 60 degree diamond shaped foundations. After a couple of iterations, it was decided to work on a quarter of the background at a time and arrange the diamonds so that the stitching would be simplified. To do this, we had to make a lot of plain diamonds as well as well as 60 degree triangles so team 3 set out to make diamonds and triangles to use as filler pieces in the background. I worked this effort. When I saw that there were lots of scraps, I started sewing the scraps together and then cutting out diamonds and triangles from those which added a little more interest to the background. Pat saw that and requested that I add some very small pieces of medium green into these randomly pieced fabrics. They really added a lot so I have a pile of fabric now to start doing some more.

This is the center medallion where the rows are starting to come together and are sewn. It is really stunning in person!

This is the final iteration of the background closeup. A team was sewing these background pieces together in a long row to determine if we had the right number of pieces yet. The final dimensions of the quilt will be 84 x 96. A great challenge will be inserting the 90 degree angled center medallion into the background made of 60 degree shapes!!

A pattern using the central medallion set on a blue background with a border will be offered for sale in conjunction with the quilt show.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Monoprinting with MX Fiber Reactive Dyes - Part 2

As discussed in the previous post, there are many options open to you when deciding you want to monoprint. For all of the options discussed, I used pre-treated PFD fabric. PFD fabric is fabric with no whiteners, permanent press finishes or anything that might interfere with the absorbtion of the dyes. I personally prefer using mercerized cottons, any 100% rayon or rayon/linen mixtures. You can also use tencel, bamboo or silk or any combination of those fibers as they are all cellulosic fibers (except for silk which acts like both a protein and a cellulosic fiber). I pre-treat the fabric by first washing it with a little soda ash and synthrapol, drying it and than soaking it in a soda ash solution (9 tbsps soda ash/gallon of water) for about 15 minutes. I then line dry the fabric and press it with the coolest iron that will press it flat. You can also use damp or wet fabrics with this technique and you will get a different result. I prefer the sharpness of the images using dried pre-treated fabric though.

There are several surfaces that I have used to monoprint fabric. These include heavy duty tablecloth plastic (the kind you buy at Joanns by the yard), laminated masonite ($10 for a 4 x 8 white sheet at your local home improvement store), plexiglass, and (one of my favorites) the large rolls of fun foam that you find at Joanns. All will give you different results. Dyes tend to bead up more on the plastic and brushstrokes are more obvious. The foam provides a little texture which hides some of the above a bit.

Tne of the secrets of using thickened dyes is to realize that although you might use the initial recipes contained in various dye books for making the thickened dye, you can add urea water to the mixture until it is the thickness that you like working with the best. If you live in the dryer climates, it is very important to use urea when making up your dyes for direct dyeing or monoprinting applications. My process is to make a very thick print paste mixture and to thin it down as I use it. This mixture will last for a pretty long time if not exposed to too much warmth. A very thick mixture is 5 tsp powdered print paste/cup of urea water. Urea water is made with 5 1/2 tbsps urea/cup of water.

I tend to use about equal parts urea water and the thick print paste mixture when monoprinting. I also use dyes that are about 10% concentrations (10 mg per 100 ml of urea water or 2 tbsps (roughly) dye powder per 1 cup of urea water. I mix up equal parts of my dye mixture with the print past in small portions (about 1/4 cup of each color I am going to use).

Then the fun begins!! Just slather some color onto whatever of the surfaces you have chosen. Cover up that surface with whichever color you want to use. If you have used thick dye colors, it will just sit there where you put it. If you have used very thin colors, they will bead up a little or a lot -- not always that predictable. If you used the thickened colors, you can then use any implement of your choice to make patterns in the dyes. Just scrape away the color or add brushstrokes or swirls. Best to avoid using complementary colors with too much mixing as you can get mud! After you have a surface that you like, just press your fabric down onto it and voila, a print. Let it sit for about four hours covered with plastic and then wash out. Sometimes you can get more than one print but the second will be a lot lighter.

This was made by applying the very lightly thickened dyes onto a piece of tablecloth plastic. The surface beads up a lot especially when using plastic that hasn't been used before. I then pressed the fabric onto the surface. When it dried, I applied thin dyes over the surface. I love that pitted surface you get.

I always try to have a surface that is at least as big as the cloth I am printing onto so either work with smaller pieces of fabric or find a surface that is much larger. The foam sheets come in either come in sizes form letter size to table top size.

Another approach is to take a small piece of foam or plexiglass or plastic sheet and directly paint onto it and then apply it like a stamp onto a piece of fabric. This is an example of one of the 200 images (each about 4 x 6 inches) that I created using this technique. I glopped pretty thickened dyes onto a piece of plexiglas and then took the broken end of a foam brush and scratch lines in. The circles were the top to the plastic containers. I love using the foam for this as well.

This was another direct dye application where I rolled a paint roller into thickened dyes and then painted directly onto the fabric with the roller. I would put a number of colors onto the roller and then just apply it.

This piece was made using a piece of plexiglas and applying thickened dyes onto it and then using it as a stamp onto the fabric. I also used thickened dyes in an applicator bottle for the lines. I then overpainted (after it dried) with thinned dyes and then washed everything out. As the days wear on, the thickened black dyes definitely weaken.

Monoprinting with MX Fiber Reactive Dyes - Part 1

This is an example of direct painting with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes. Some might call this a monoprint as it is one of a kind and uses some printing techniques. This was done by scrunching the fabric and pulling a roller brush through thickened paints and then applying to the scrunched fabric; then, when it was dried, applying thinned dyes in the empty spaces.

Zann is home for a week which is a refreshing change of pace around here so let's just hope the weather cooperates! With some luck, I might be able to engage her in some dyeing which I need to get back to. The biggest problem has been weather which has not been totally cooperative as we haven't had many warm days the past couple of weeks. Procion dyes really don't batch well below 70 degrees. As monoprinting and some of my salt dyeing are really "direct" dyeing applications, the batching time at 90 degrees is probably a minimum of four hours. Probably a lot longer at 70 degrees.

Direct dyeing is the applying of dye directly to either untreated or pre-treated fabrics. The "prepared for dyeing (pfd)" fabrics are pretreated by soaking them in a soda ash solution and then either drying them completely, leaving them damp or leaving them wet. You then apply either unthickened or thickened (with print paste) dyes directly to the fabric.

If you choose not to pre-treat the fabrics, then you still have a couple of options: (1) using a fixing agent after the fact to fix the dyes (this works best on smaller pieces but is very effective). You would do this by painting the fixing agent directly onto your dyed surface after it has dried. You let it sit for about an hour (don't let it dry) and then wash it all out. The fixing agent that I bought was from Dharma and was called Afterfix but I am sure ProChem makes the same thing. (2) Including a 4:1 mixture of baking soda/soda ash into your dyes themselves. You would only do this for small amounts of dye at a time as this mixture will cause the dyes to exhaust in a fairly short period of time. I make large quantities of the dyes but only make 1/4 cup quantities of the dyes with this baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)/soda ash (sodium carbonate).

The second approach is the one I use most frequently as it is considerably less labor intensive than painting the goopy Afterfix all over a large piece of fabric. However, many of us have forgotten and used non-soda ashed fabric and done some intricate painting and didn't want to lose it. Using the Afterfix is the ideal alternative here. Doug Wilson on Dyerslist also has a method where he "afterfixes" with a hot soda ash/very high salt bath. I have never tried this method but sounds theoretically like it would work. A friend of mine has also painted soda ash solution on after she painted the fabric and found that to work as well (my guess is you would have to have some pretty intense colors so that they wouldn't become very pale with the extra liquid).

If you have presoaked your fabric, you are ready to try some direct painting or monoprinting. Monoprinting (one print) as I will use it here, is a technique of creating an image on some other surface and then transferring it to your fabric. Most times you can only get one copy of the image although sometimes you can get a paler second or third copy using the techniques here. I took a wonderful week long monoprinting class with Ann Johnson ( We tried a number of approaches to see what techniques we preferred. The techniques included using thickened and non thickened dyes, using smooth acrylic surfaces or a rougher foam surface. The possibilities are endless. (To be Continued)

In the class I attended, we had three days to just explore our own images using any of the techniques we had used. As I am fairly familiar with how MX colors worked, I decided just to concentrate on making images with black and white. I made about two hundred different images just using the surfaces, the end of paint brushes and a broken foam brush and a bottle cap from the dye containers.
On this one I glopped some thickened dyes onto a good sized piece of acrylic (Plexiglas) and then smooshed (very scientific) the fabric down. I later overpainted with thinned dyes and probably did some other things in between!

With no camera in hand, I went to visit the opening of a friend's exhibit last night! So unfortunately there are no pictures from my blog, but are probably some from Marcia ( or from the artist herself - Jeanne Beck ( It was a very nice exhibit of Jeanne's work and it was good to see a lot of the RAFA members out there supporting her! You need to see her work in person to appreciate all the layers and detail in them.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Factor Five Leyden - Do I Have it or Not?

Well, bet you have never heard of this one so I won't keep you in suspense. It is the name of a genetic mutation that occurs on one very specific gene and is present in about 5% of the general population although it is predominant in those of us with very English heritages. A week ago my sister wrote that she had two blood clots which precipitated another bout of her colitis (she had severe life threatening ulcerative colitis as a teenager). One of the clots was near her colon, the other her liver. After blood tests, they found that she was positive for this genetic mutation and that it was the cause of these blood clots. So she notified me so that I could get tested as well.

I head to the doctor's today to find if I have the mutated gene as well. It is inherited either from the mother or father (or both). If inherited from only one parent (heterozygous), then you will have an increased tendency to have blood clots although many people go through life with this gene and never know they have it. It makes birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy a very bad idea though. It can also cause some signficant problems with having children including stillbirths and miscarriages. If you get the gene from both parents (homozygous), you can have some very significant troubles and have about 500 fold risk of getting clots. If I do have the gene, then my girls will have to be tested as well. If not, well then the girls don't have to worry!

Just got back from the laboratory where I got my test so now just have to wait for the results. The doctor said that he had several patients with this and definitely I should have the lab tests. He said about half the patients were on Coumadin and the other half weren't. As I have had no clots (seems this gene causes clots in the veins rather than arteries where most strokes occur), I probably won't have to have a preventive therapy. I will have to be careful about sitting for long periods of time (like on an airplane or in a car). I guess there is some greater risk at high altitudes as well. He said it is just important to keep the blood moving! Fortunately my Internist also has a specialty in hematology so it was "one stop shopping".

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dualing Blogs!!

Well, maybe I will be the first one to get some pictures out from our day at Marcia's. The dualing blogs refers to the fact that Priscilla Kibbee (Priscilla.kibbee) and Marcia (DeCampStudio) both have blogger blogs as well as me and we are always putting up similar pictures from our days working together.

It was a great day. Marcia is on the home stretch with her jacket (and we nagged her that she HAS to have it done by the next time we see her in a couple of weeks). It is down to her much disliked hand stitching (a lot of whining there).

Priscilla is at the very beginning of an ice cream treat jacket that has a mola on the back with a pelican giving an ice cream cone out. I didn't get a picture of that so hopefully Priscilla will have one on her blog.

This is the Yellowstone 2 piece totally quilted and bound. Photographing it in Marcia's studio shows up the stitching nicely. Double click on the picture and you can see the stitching closer.

I did take my Yellowstone 2 piece out for show and tell as Marcia hadn't seen it finished and I did start it in her very studio last fall. I primarily worked on the slash and burn project which is very different from the original concept.

These are the first pieces. I have since moved all the light green pieces up to the upper left hand corner. I am envisioning some sort of abstract flower images in the lower right. It is at the point of deciding what it want's to do and I just follow along guessing at the direction it is taking.

The best part of the day was Marcia's "show and tell" of her two weeks at Nancy Crow's barn. You MUST see her blog( to see some of the pieces she has been working on. She shared her progress plus personal pictures of some of the class pieces (which she can't show in her blog). It was just great!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Remind Me Never to Complain about Rochester Weather Again!

Another beautiful day but it never gets boring!

Well, after much struggling, I decided that I had to hand quilt my 30's "extreme" sampler, so I began last night. Because of rotator cuff problems the last time I did a massive quilting effort, I am taking Jane Townswick's advice and using very short threads and additionally I am propping up my quilting arm and using forceps to pull the needle through the tough areas. I may regret this as there are soooo many pieces and the quilting will be in the ditch for the most part! I just couldn't bring myself to machine quilt it even though it would be a lot faster. It just didn't feel like the right thing to do with this quilt. Now to just figure out how to get the sashing quilted in equal distances without pencil lines.....masking tape just doesn't seem to be doing it!

Well, due to my schizophrenic nature, I am also working on finally finishing the piece I started in the Pat Pauly Slash and Burn workshop from a zillion years ago. Of course, it is taking a very different course than originally. It all looked like background to me and I have already slashed from what I had. I have gathered a grouping of fabrics that I think will form the nucleus of the new piece which will be a bit representational (as usual) but pretty abstract (I am thinking, but who knows what the fabrics will tell me to do once I start reassembling).

This is the biggest piece I had done. I have actually already cut that into about 4 pieces as I didn't like the big blocks of the light color -- just wanted them smaller.
This is the pile of fabrics that I took from my stash to "enhance" the idea. The oranges will be my foreground somehow.

Weight Watchers is going very well. I went to Applebees for my favorite meal for which I had budgeted quite a few "points" (Sante Fe Chicken Salad). Upon getting there, I looked at the WW's menu and discovered a dish with lo fat cheese and no fat salad dressing. So I got them to substitute those in my regular salad (which was not on the WW menu) and reduced 5 points out of the meal (for anyone who has done WW, you know this is a huge reduction!). I was very happy to say the least as it tasted just the same to me!!

Weight Watchers is MUCH easier than it was 20 years ago when I last went. Besides the program being more of a learning experience, the food that is available now with the new health consciousness is fantastic!! It has taken some concentration to shop with my little points converter but as I said a "learning experience".

Of course it just wouldn't be my blog without a few flower pictures!!

These are our azaleas which we moved from the shade to the sun last summer and for the first time, we have blazing color!!

These forget-me-nots actually cover our front lawn now and Warren won't mow the knee high grass until they are starting to droop (much to the neighbor's dismay).

These were also "volunteers" like our forget-me-nots. Our neighbor gave us the seeds from many of her columbine last summer. I do love the flower!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Finally Finished It!!

Well, the weather has been wonderful again! After spending much of yesterday and today working on quilt club paperwork, I decided it was time to unveil my latest finished project for the year -- the batik "extreme" sampler. The blocks in this quilt were made as part of an online exchange I participated in a number of years ago. It was called a Dear Jane exchange as the blocks were all in a book by Brenda Papadakis called Dear Jane. We were supposed to do all of the blocks but the exchange ended before the blocks did so they were languishing in a box waiting for the rest of the blocks to get done. I declared them done earlier in the spring and sashed them together and then added the Seminole border to jazz it up a bit. I didn't want to spend too much time finishing this one.

It was machine quilted by me on my faithful Bernina 170 by using invisible thread and just free hand stitching in the ditch around each piece. It really only took four or five days to finish. It is about 67 x 85 so should fit nicely on a queen sized bed or smaller. Now to just do something with the remaining 500 blocks made during my Dear Jane OCD period! Double click on the picture to see it larger!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

May Genesee Valley Quilt Meeting

Karen K. Stone was our speaker today at quilt club and I can't say enough positive about her as a speaker!! She was fun and funny and I look forward to having an evening with her tonight!! (I actually had the gall to go back to our program person and ask to be reinvited as I had turned her down when she asked a few weeks ago because of being such a new Weight Watcher).

This is a quilt top made from silk tie pieces that Karen accumulated from various thrift shops.

Besides having Karen as our speaker, there were some especially luscious quilts at our show and tell today as well. I have included a couple of those but unfortunately can't give credit to the quilters for all of them as I couldn't read the names on most of them.

This was a particularly beautiful quilt made by Toni Foster and exhibited at Paducah. Toni has an incredible talent for color and design in traditional quilts as well as being one of the finest craftspeople out there!!! What a talent!

This was a quilt using embroidery designs (machine) that was going to be used as a class sample in one of the local fabric shops.
This was a particularly nice applique quilt which a couple of the ladies in the quilt held up for me so I could take a picture!
This was one of my all time favorite "stack and whack" quilts. I have made so many of these myself but though this was an extremely nice one and made me want to do still more!
This was a very nice sampler quilt in some of my favorite colors. I really thought it was a particularly nice one. Again forgive me for not having the quilters' names for all these quilts!

The above are really nice examples of Karen K. Stone's designs. Her color palette is wonderful and the designs are so vibrant. She trained as a musician (piano) and I had really expected a rather conservative and serious person. Boy, was I wrong! She had lots of pets, lots of funny stories and was extremely personable. It was wonderful to spend the evening with her and others from the quilt club at Pat Pauly's wonderful house.

I did go to Weight Watchers for the first time in probably close to 20 years and my how it has changed!! I found I can easily incorporate my own way of living into their way of doing things without feeling deprived at all -- just have to break a couple of bad habits (like having your favorite foods EVERY day!) So I went out to dinner last night and ate just about what I normally would have eaten -- just skipped the rice and ate fewer tortilla chips than I normally would have. I am going out again tonight and taking a nice chicken caesar salad with me and some diet pop! No problem there!!