Monday, April 28, 2008

A Day at Priscilla's

These are the Japanese cherry blossoms that fill our driveway with color every spring.
Well, our summer is now a distant memory and it rained and barely reached 50 today! Although I took the weekend off from blogging, didn't stop me from taking more and more and more flower pictures!
So I added the last of the flowers for awhile. I spent the day today with my friend Priscilla Kibbee and worked on my newest jacket which was a relief after spending most of the weekend machine quilting the second Yellowstone piece as I want it for a quilt show in the fall.

The Bartlett pear trees were loaded with blossoms this weekend and I thought they were rather pretty.
This is an ultra closeup of the wild violets which grow amid the moss in our front yard and in our neighbor's backyard.
This was another wildflower making itself known in our front lawn.
This is Ms. Tiger who was our companion while sewing today. Any time the conversation stopped for a bit, she piped right up with her views which were mostly that she was hungry and attention starved, neither of which are very accurate.
This is one of my favorite wall hangings at Priscilla's. Her house is just filled with wonderful art from around the world from all her travels. I always see something that I haven't seen on a previous visit.
This is the full sized Yellowstone piece and if you double click you may see how much I have quilted (the top half at least).
This shows a closeup of the stitching in the piece which is not obvious until you walk right up to it! Well, guess that is the way it should be. It flattened it down nicely.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Not All Dyes are Created Equal

Just one more picture of all the pretty trillium. With the cold wave that is coming next week, who knows whether they will be covered in snow or not.

This has been a day for two separate questions around dyes so thought I would address them in my blog which was supposed to be about dyeing anyway, not flowers!

There are basically several different kinds of dyes and even paints that are mislabelled as dyes upon occasion. The kinds of dyes that most quilters are using these days are called cold water fiber reactive dyes. They were invented not all that long ago but the patents have run out on them. There are several sub-types under that but I won't attempt to describe the differences as I claim just enough chemical knowledge to be a little dangerous. There are far better experts out there like Doug Wilson on the Dyerslist and Paula Birch who has her own website with lots of information. These cold water fiber reactive dyes work well with "cellulosic" fibers -- i.e., linen, rayon, bamboo, and cotton. They happen to also work very well on silk which has the properties of both animal and vegetable fibers with respect to these dyes. The most popular of these dyes are the Procion MX dyes which is what many of us use exclusively with cotton. On other posts, I have described some of the differences I see within that group of dyes known as MX. Even though they work the same way, each color has it's own individual properties.

A second type of dyes and one that is most popular with dyers of wool and silk (and also nylon) are the acid dyes. They require heat and an acidic medium to set the colors. This is accomplished either on the stovetop (or crockpot) or by steaming. I literally know nothing about this class of dyes as I actually use those aforementioned MX dyes to dye silk.

A third set of dyes are the direct dyes. I liken these to paints as they don't form any kind of real bond with the fibers but sit on top of the fiber (or maybe even surround it). If you see a dye that requires no heat (except for an iron) or other chemicals, I would suspect that it is a direct dye.

The popular RIT dyes are a combination of an acid dye and a direct dye. Therefore they work pretty well on silk, wool or nylon. You will get some color on the cellulosic fibers but this will wash out every time you wash the fabric, fading more each time and fading rather rapidly.

Then there is the class of dyes which people call "natural". I think this is a bit of a misnomer as the chemicals used with many of these dyes are far more deleterious than anything you would find in the other dyes! I think they are called natural as the color elements are obtained from naturally occurring plants and animals but unfortunately, for these dyes to "take", they need a mordant, alum being the safest. These dyes also do not work well on cellulosic fibers but create some beautiful colors on silks and wools.

Haven't you always wondered why people think that "natural" is better somehow? Chemicals are chemicals, whether they are natural or manmade.

Just some more spring flowers for your viewing pleasure!

Even I have taken enough pictures of trillium for this year!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Introduction of a New Art Quilter!!

Well, as a treat I got to spend one final day at Marcia's studio before she headed off for Nancy Crow's barn for a two week class. We had a full house today with Priscilla Kibbee and Barb Seils also there.

It was the official "coming out" for Priscilla Kibbee as a newly annointed art quilter!! Needless to say, I was blown away by her first foray into this genre of quilts! It looked totally different from what I saw two days ago. This top just blew me away!! Marcia's husband has declared it to be his already though.

Also Barb Seils had her piece very nearly done as well (but Marcia had taken hers down so I didn't get to see that one). I have taken liberties with Barb's pieces and made them into rectangles which may not be their final shape!!

I was busy starting another jacket as well as putting together some older blocks into a top (just what I need another top to machine quilt!!) but am pretty much at the bottom of the pile of things that need to be finished. You can see that I have barely started the back of the jacket but the flannel is at least all cut. I am using some hexagons that I did some time ago as the central theme of the jacket which is the middle of the back. I have some more of these hexagons which will make their appearance on the front and the sleeves.

Quilting on the Yellowstone 2 piece has commenced and it was a pleasure in my newly organized quilt space -- not as nice as Marcia's but a definite improvement over what I had been living with for the past few months.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's Clean Enough for Me!

The view into the room! I can't see the floor anymore. For each project I have done, I pull more fabric from my basement stash and never return it. There have been a number of comfort quilts and baby quilts the past three months plus those three quilts I have to machine quilt.
Yes, there is a sewing machine on the table and I have used it despite this horrible mess!

As I have those several rather large machine quilting projects ahead, it was about time to do some major picking up in my sewing room which was totally out of control and not a pleasure to work in anymore!!

Off an on the past few days, I have picked up and moved and put back stuff that has accumulated on every surface! I didn't make any attempt to get into the fabric on the shelves or the table next to my sewing machine but that doesn't look as formidable now that there is some SPACE! I like organizing and reorganizing my fabric -- a great deal of visual and tactile pleasure out of that so that won't be a duty!!

I was relentless and have a HUGE bag of scraps and fabric pieces and leftovers from projects that will just be given away. I also threw things out that I just would never finish and which no one else would want as well -- actually THREW them out!


This is the view of my bookshelves with the fabric and a few miscellaneous books.

This is the newly cleaned off sewing table -- this will make that machine quilting a lot easier!!

And finally, this is the floor that you couldn't see in the above pictures!! It's not perfect, but clean enough to get some work done and not dread going up there!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Beautiful Spring Day!!

Well, here is Warren working diligently while I run around with my camera taking pictures!!

This is one of the first trilliums out. It was very unusual this year to see the cranberry colored and white trilliums come out at the same time. Usually, I see the reds and then look for the whites a few days later when the reds are looking bedraggled.

These are the magnolias in our front yard. The flowers are all very high in the tree but look beautiful against the bright blue sky.

Well, I left the sewing room alone today as it was so gorgeous out, I couldn't stand being left inside! I had to go grocery shopping, so I just took a 20 mile side trip to Marcia's to see how the ladies were doing in Pat Pauly's Slash class. They were all doing famously and I offered to guess whose piece was who's. I did fairly well. Barb Seils was trying to step out a bit from her usual so I switched her with Linda Bachman and I mixed Barb Magin with Charmaine Babineau as well but not too bad. As I have only been in one other class with Charmaine and didn't know Barb, I didn't feel too bad!!

These are some more of the flowers in my neighbor Joe's front yard.

These are the deep red trillium that bloom in our backyards also. In Batavia, NY where we lived for many years, there was also a variety that was pink and that was the most prevalent. I have yet to see a pink one in Rochester.

These three pieces are from the class. They are top to bottom Barb Seils, Linda Bachman and Charmaine Babineau. I think double clicking on any of these will give you a bigger picture and more detail.

The above are Priscilla Kibbee,Barb Magin, Nancy Hicks and then Marcia Decamp who was hosting the class in her wonderful studio.

This was a beautiful quilt top done by Barb Seils which her lucky nephew will be getting. He was very particular about the colors! It is my favorite pallette so I loved it!

And last but not least was the woodchuck that was out enjoying the April sun in the pasture. He was about a football field away but the telephoto did pretty good at capturing him! Marcia and Bill wish I could capture him for good as he has made a very happy home on their property -- he certainly looked well taken care of!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Summer in Rochester - April Style

Well, I should have said that yesterday was the one year anniversary of my blog! I managed to do 111 postings that first year and considering the amount of time I was without a computer, not bad. Of course, I had plenty of travelling to blog about and this year will be slimmer on that front!!

Anyway, spent much of today outside with camera and with a good book to read -- way too nice to be inside and this won't last -- this is after all Rochester!

Well all of the flowers above are these purple flowers that are some sort of perennial that pop right up in my neighbor's flower garden. They are all shades of purple and I am encouraging my husband to find out what they are so I can have some too! Double clicking will show them larger.

We have woods behind our house and we always get these bright yellow trout lillies (I believe that is what they are) as well as many of the purple and white trillium which will come a bit later along with the ferns which will uncurl!

I told my neighbor I would take pictures of his daffodils as well as they will be gone by the time he gets home from his vacation!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Warm Summer Day at Marcia's

Well, I finally got around to adding the beads and trims to my flowers from yesterday so here they are all dressed up and ready to go somewhere.
My first chore of the day was to baste the two sides of the Extreme Sampler Depression Sherbet quilt. I am going to machine quilt it in two pieces I think. I am still toying with some hand quilting as well. Suki of course decided she had to sit on the only part I hadn't finished pin basting!
These were some absolutely fantastic batiks that Priscilla had gotten in Napal many years ago. She had piles of them and will be making them into a quilt. Some of my hand dyed fabric is currently in the background but will be replaced with something else.
Well, Marcia finally put up pictures of her incredible orchids on her blog so I took some pictures with the new camera and include one picture for your viewing pleasure. She has a number of varieties and colors and they are all in full bloom and this one even smells nice!

Marcia is really making progress on her jacket. She has it sewn together now and just has to put in the lining and put on the bands in front (they are just sitting in the picture).

We almost got a smile out of Marcia!! Warren says she must be sick and tired of seeing us and is escaping to Ohio -- say that isn't so, Marcia!!
This is a jacket which Priscilla affectionately calls "just your basic blue jacket". It is gorgeous and you really should double click to see the detail. It has some wonderful beaded trim as well as the Seminole piecing and Hmong embroidery. Priscilla has been working on this one for the past month and it is just stunning -- one of my favorites!!

It was a most productive day for me as I managed to get both sides to the Depression quilt basted and got my second Yellowstone Angel Terrace piece basted as well. I used some of the new Fairfield cotton/poly blend batting but I think as soft as it is, that it shed cotton which was getting on the backing and making the basting very difficult as the tape would just not hold it down. Well, we shall see as I plan to quilt the heck out of it anyway!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pamela's Flower Origami Class

I have to start by saying that all the pictures were taken with my new improved camera which replaces an older model. As an aside, when I got home from the class, a note was on my pc that my old camera had been found in Atlanta. I have to call on Monday (they are closed this weekend) and I hoping that it is that camera as I will then have all my pictures from Las Vegas!!

Well, besides drop dead gorgeous weather outside, we had a wonderful day inside playing lots with fabric and making origami style flowers.

Our teacher was Pamela Langdon who is a GVQC member and is an expert on the making of these flowers. Kumiko Sudo who is the author of a number of books on making flowers was one of Pamela's students here in Rochester and so she learned before the books were even published in English! She has permission from Kumiko to use illustrations from the books. As all of us who didn't have the books already are going to buy them, this was a wise decision!! They are great books. The "flowers" we made all came from the book called Flower Origami by Kumiko Sudo and you can get it about anywhere.

We basically made seven different flowers in the class so we were moving right along as there was a fair amount of hand stitching. I brought with me a Featherweight sewing machine that I had never used and after two false starts, it hummed right along like FWs always do!! It is the Canadian model so is tan instead of the usual black or off white. I really enjoyed the class and the company -- Donna and I shared a table -- neither of us had known the other would be there!

These were all the beautiful samples that Pamela brought with her.

This was a group shot of Mary Wieser, her mom and Donna Patrick -- my tablemate.

This was the table at the end with most of our flowers on it. Rory's were at the other end!

This is a closeup of six of the seven blocks I did. One of the blocks can be split into two pieces (it was made in two pieces) so we really had eight blocks altogether and were really moving!! We used octagons, hexagons, pentagons and circles.