Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another snowy day

We are having a particularly snowy and cold winter.  We haven't had any significant snows for ten years until December when we received more than 2 feet of snow in less than 24 hours.  We were predicted to get only 1-4 inches for today, but we have 8 inches and the snow continues to fall.  Here is a view out my studio window.

I thought I would just show a photo of the sand pail.  This is my first larger tapestry and has been a real challenge for me.  The sand pail has been a hard piece to weave for me.  I have woven and rewoven that section about 8 times, but I am finally pretty happy with it.  I think the rest of the tapestry will go much faster.

Finally, here is a look at my new small tapestry.  It is a bit of a departure from what I have been weaving.  The other pieces have tended to be more realistic.  This one is very graphic and is inspired from a quick painting that I did in a painting class.  More on this piece as it progresses...

Another scarf

My sister's birthday is coming up next week.  I tried to start some projects for Christmas, but I just couldn't get anything done.  Moving back into our house and cleaning up the house we were in took all of my time.  However, I decided that for her birthday, I would make a Natalie Chanin inspired scarf.  It is similar to the one I did shown in an earlier post.  However, this time I decided to try something different.  I used a black and white T-shirt material, so it is high contrast.  I made it reversible by using embroidery floss and sketched a trumpet vine directly on the material with soap.  If you don't know this trick, it is a great one that my mother taught me.  You can sketch your quilt lines onto dark fabric with soap.  It fades, so sometimes I have to do it more than once, but I just give myself a general outline.  I then stitched the leaves, stem and flower, and then cut out using a reverse applique technique.  I have to say, that the reverse applique is SOOOOOO much faster than the applique.  I was able to finish this scarf while my kids were at school.  It was a fun project, which I hope my sister enjoys.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A messy Sunday with my daughter...

A couple of months ago, my son went off to work with my husband, and my daughter and I were left to figure out how to spend a yucky day at home.  She said she wanted to make something.  I happened to have the book Felt Wee Folks out of the library at the time.  This is such a great book for making fairies, knights, and little bags like the one below.  Linden picked out a pattern, and we got to stitching.  She picked out embellishments and stitched some of it herself (asking a 6 year old to stick with it until the finish is a bit hard).  I just used the felt that I had on-hand, so it is acrylic and not wool.  I just haven't gotten around to ordering a bunch of wool felt, so expensive.  Anyway, it was a fun project.  Linden and I had fun making it, and she feels the pride of making something herself.   I think it turned out great for a little girl's bag,  maybe even for a big girl, too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Down and dirty quilting

My latest project took a few hours, but let me start at the beginning of the story.  My competition horse, Oliver, lives most of his life outside.  When he is inside, he gets bored and starts to get into mischief.  He has flooded the barn twice by turning on the water faucet, he can open his latch and door, he likes the windows open, if they are closed he'll bust them out.... 

After bringing a pony home for my kids, he decided he would gallop around the field showing off, he then misjudged the distance and footing and slid into a gate, caught his legs in it, and sliced open his leg.  He had to have 4 big stitches.  Now while his leg heals, he has to live in a stall for the next three weeks.  I put away his outside blanket and I had to pull out the inside sheet and blanket.  They both had seen a little wear, so after washing them again, I had to patch them both and sew and quilt the patches on the blanket.  A few hours of work sure beats spending $100+ dollars on a new blanket and $60+ on a new sheet.  Sometimes you do what you gotta do... Now back to my art pieces.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finished quilt

I finally finished my second art quilt.  I don't think I posted a photo of the first one I did, I could do that later...  Anyway, I took a photo of this beautiful clam, Tridacna squamosa, a female that spawned about a year ago.  I took the photo at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in San Diego.  This giant clam which is also called a fluted clam lives in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.  A very nice scientist at Birch named Fernando identified her for me.  I took some liberties with the surrounding sea life.  But it was a fun quilt to do.  It took a really long time because of all the embroidery I did.  I really like making these quilts by hand.  We'll see how long the next one takes.  It is a companion piece to this one, that is, it is another aquarium piece.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What to wear...

After having two children, and not buying any clothing for years, I have reached the stage of major frustration.  I find shopping really frustrating.  Either the clothes are made for 17 year old who is into the latest fashion, which right now I really hate.  Who wants to go back to hip huggers and hippy, flowing flower tunics?  I know I don't, been there done that.   Or, the clothing seems to suit a more mature sensibility; I am not ready to dress like I am 80 yet.  I am happy that at this stage of my life I still have a good figure. I just want some interesting stylish clothes that fit well and look good.  Is that too much to ask?  What do I wear???? 

I started sewing again when my daughter who is now 6 turned 2.  I wanted to buy her a dress appropriate for a formal type brunch.  One of my husband's colleagues was being inducted into the National Academy of Science and all she had to wear were hand-me-down's from her brother.  I went shopping and was appalled at how hoochie-koochie the dresses were for little girls.  She is a little girl, not a teen pop idol.  I finally found a cute little corduroy dress, but it was $40.  I bought, but then vowed that I could sew dresses for her just as cute or cuter and for much less than $40.  I admit, my first few dresses were not so great, but over the years I have started to become an accomplished sewer.  I did take the required home ec class in high school and had to make a hideous skirt which promptly became a rag.  Between college and grad school I took a class to learn tailoring for a very accomplished sewer and tailor.  I then made a beautiful blazer, a winter white wool coat with bound button holes, and lots of other things.  Once I finished grad school and went to work I was done with sewing until Linden came along.  Here are a pair of jeans I recently improved upon for her.

After trying to buy myself some clothes a few years ago.  I started sewing for myself.  I like to be able to have my clothes fit, look the way I want them and to be stylish.  Although I have to admit, not all of them end up being as stylish as I would like.  However, I have had lots of women approach me to ask where I bought a skirt or one of my sweaters.  Here is a scarf and sweater that I made recently.  The scarf is a scribble lace pattern based on Debbie New's.  I thought it would be really quick and easy, but I took much longer than I intended.  However, I am pleased with the results.  The sweater is sleeveless, mainly because I ran out of yarn, which was hand dyed.  I won the yarn at an art show as a prize for one of my hats that I designed and knit.  The yarn was a bit too heavy looking for me, so I lightened it with Kid Haze mohair.  It turned out great, looks great on, feels great, but I wanted a scarf to cover my cold arms on winter evenings out.

A couple of years ago, I read a review of Natalie Chanin's book Alabama Stitches, I had looked through the book quickly at a book store and passed it over, but after reading this review I gave it another look.  I then bought the book and started by making a couple of headbands, one for me, and one for my daughter.  I can't say mine does much for me, but Linden's was adorable on her until she lost it.  I then moved on and made an appliqued scarf, which I really love.  It was a lot of work.  I took the idea of the scarf in the book and then by freehand drew my leaves and flowers and appliqued it to a doubled piece of t-shirt fabric.  After I appliqued the flowers and leaves on, I thought it was a bit plain so then I got our the embroidery thread and started embroidering it.  I am really pleased with how it turned out, and love wearing it.  Again, it is something that draws women to come up and ask where I got it.

This summer, I moved on to making myself a reverse applique skirt.  I wanted something a bit dressy for evenings out or parties, so I selected a black fabric and got the dark grey t-shirt fabric on sale.  The reverse applique went much faster than the applique scarf, but then I decided to bead it.  The beading took a LONG time.  However, I love the results.  I call this my "don't touch" skirt.  Again, I sketched the leaves free-hand.  Does anyone recognize the plant?  I have to say, the skirt doesn't look so great hanging on the hanger, but it looks and fits great.  However, about halfway through the process of making the skirt I realized that I didn't have a top for it.  I hurried back to the fabric store, and luckily they had just enough t-shirt fabric to make a corset top.  It fits really well.  I love the corset top and will definitely make another.  Natalie Chanin suggests using used t-shirts to make her clothing, but I have to admit that any t-shirts that we have laying around used are only for the rag bin.  Living on a farm, I really use my t-shirts.  My good shirts that I buy for wearing to town are then used for mucking stalls and gardening, and by then they are so disgusting, stained and holey that there is no way to use them for anything remotely wearable, so I used new t-shirt fabric.

I am also doing some art pieces, but they are in the works and not ready to be shown.  I will show some soon though...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My foray into Stained Glass Design

Over the summer, as our house was being renovated, we had a spot where the architects had prescribed three stained glass window or art glass panes.  Tom and I looked around and tried to figure out what we wanted in the space.  We found some interesting pieces, the most modern being in California.  Since spending his graduate days and post-doc in California, Tom loves the ocean.  I decided to design a modern piece for the space that was reminescent of waves.  I sketched out the design both in a small sketch and then to-scale, and then we went to a local artist Vee Oswald and had him make the piece.  I selected the glass pieces that I liked;  Tom and I selected the colored pieces that we liked, and then Vee executed the work.  We were very pleased with the outcome.  Hope you enjoy a peek.

Valentine Crafts

Every year Valentine's sneaks up on me and the kids and I scramble trying to think about what to make for Valentine gifts. For some reason this year I got a major inspiration. My daughter, who is six, wanted to sew something. At six, her sewing skills are not many, but I have a stash of buttons, felted wool sweaters and old ribbons. I had a flash of inspiration, and what we decided to do was to make heart book marks. We cut or rather I cut the hearts out of two old sweaters, and I cut the ribbons, my daughter is choosing and sewing on buttons that attach the ribbons to the felted hearts. She is inspired and excited that she can do the sewing on her own and that she is making something special. Here is a quick look at two of the ones she has made so far...

The ribbon on the left is one from Laura Foster Nicholson.  I bought a grab bag from her of ends.  The ribbons are lovely, and I have just really started to use some of them now.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A blog hiatus

I have been taking a hiatus from this blog because after ten years living in a 1960's ranch house with our two children sharing a tiny bedroom crammed with two beds, we decided to renovate. We moved out and basically gutted the house. Gone are the black asbestos tile floors (okay, not gone, just well covered and hidden (the right thing to do for us and the environment)), gone are the faux gold and brown and white marble laminate countertops, gone is the double kitchen sink in the bathroom that I bathed the kids in for so long until they got too big to fit, gone are the brown speckled flooring in the kitchen and hallway, gone are the white painted fake panelling everywhere in the house, and gone are the decrepit acoustic tile on the ceiling.

We have lightened up the house with white paint, bamboo flooring and real white marble from Vermont. It sounds rather shallow when looking at the troubles in this world, but to live in a place of light and beauty makes me feel better. I love waking to the a clean white ceiling rather than the water stained acoustic tile, and looking out our beautiful picture window on our farm. One of the most exciting things that happened was that I got my own small studio space. I have had my stuff strewn in our crowded little office and in the kids play stuff. Now I have my own space where it is all "neatly" stored and easily accessible and best of all, I can get in start projects and not have to clean them up in mid-stream.

While the construction was going on, we lived in a house with no high speed connection. Dial-up and blogging was just too frustrating, so I gave it up for a while. Now I will start adding posts again, and showing just a few things that I have finished over the past few months....