Monday, December 22, 2014

FIBER JUNKIES HOLIDAY FUN CONTINUED

What a special treat for us to bring home a small handmade gift, made by each member of our group.  We are supposed to keep these tokens small.....but of course each year I do believe the gifts have gotten a bit more elaborate. 
Tempting pile, isn't it??  This year my gifts were presented in small felt bags...I cut out the initial of each recipient from red felt and tacked them onto the bag with decorative thread.
 Kate made us tags and note cards with some of the paper fabric we enjoyed learning how to make together.  Lucky us....she loves the process and often makes gifts using her paper fabric. 
 Sorry for the blurry photo.....we each got an apron from Denny.....all the better to save our clothing during our dye days!  She found the color chip fabric at a fabric shop!  It came in this hand-made bag.
 Believe it or not....the fabric for this bag started out in a package of white cotton rags from Home Depot. Denny dyed them!
 Gen....our true Jack (sorry Jill) of all trades....made each of us a knitted hat.  I didn't get photos of everyone modeling their....but here's Denny.
 ......and Kate
 ......and Val
 Clever Judy.....she used Dyna-flow to dye Perle cotton for each of us.
 .....Val found a use for the quilted fabric she painted (during our house painting day....for a technique none of us were sure we'd like or find helpful....that truly hasn't been the case).  Each of us received a small handmade book.
 .....some of the pages were printed, painted, or stenciled....and of course some were left blank for us to add our thoughts/designs.
Because all of us have gotten a bit smitten with making paper cloth....Val added a variety of print napkins for us to play with.
This is a credit card holder.  An example of my gift.....each featured a different color scheme and design.

We always spend time during our December meeting to make a list of the 'goals' (techniques) we'd like to cover the following year.  Thanks to 'Professor Denny'.....we had a two page - single spaced list.....we will be busy for years to come.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

FIBER JUNKIES HOLIDAY GATHERING

We gathered at Judy's house for our 2014 Fiber Junkies holiday meeting.....
Besides being such a gracious hostess, she goes all out with her decorations, making it a wonderful festive day. 
We are in the heart of Christmas tree farms.....this live tree was a beauty.
We feasted like we haven't eaten in weeks.  Our menu was topped off by Denny's yule log......it was as delicious as it looked. To her credit....she willingly admits that she 'made it' by picking up the phone.....
 Our show and tell was pretty much a Denny show this month.......it was just one great piece after another!  She utilized some dyed/printed fabrics to make large rocks.
 Here is a close up of the 'mortar'!!
 This is such a charming piece......but it was the textured tree bark that awed me.
 I'll interrupt the 'Denny show' with this marbled piece made by Kate. She wasn't thrilled with the original design, so she brought it the day we painted completed/quilted pieces with house paint.  After numerous applications using several colors, plus highlighting with some metallic paints.....it was truly transformed. Her trademark machine quilting elevates the entire work. 
 I wish I had photos of the dozen plus looks this piece had.  Denny brought it to our paint day.....but it had already been stitched, dyed, painted, stenciled, and so on.  By the end of the paint day it was BLACK....seriously......she kept adding paint the entire day and was so unhappy with the results.....she decided to paint the whole thing black.  And...honestly it didn't look bad.  After taking it home....she got after it again.....taking a sander and removing some of the layers.  Then she continued with more surface design techniques.  Finally when she was satisfied.....it was covered with polyurethane. 
 DETAIL
Since I'm bragging on Denny......please take a moment to really meet her here.  She's a retired psychiatric nurse and feminist therapist.  Recently she has focused on a series of 'healing' quilts.

Now....this is truly brilliant.....her quilts are LARGE and heavy....and nearly impossible to easily transport as a group so she turned to Spoonflower.  She had the images of the quilts printed onto individual pieces of fabric.  She sashed and stitched them into a managable size wall quilt. (Note how large it is...by comparing her holding it.)
But she didn't stop there.....she made a 2nd one about half the size......what a GREAT idea to preserve her quilts! (This one she's holding it by the top with two fingers of each hand!)

 And finally, isn't this a great portrait?  Denny has decided to scale back her vast collection and this piece (if I recall correctly with all 6 of us talking at once)....it's going to the model.

....Come back again.....to see our Christmas gift exchange.

Friday, December 19, 2014

PATCHWORK LAP QUILT

 I've repeated this so often.....but it bears saying again.....I'm not that fond of piecing....and I really don't enjoy machine quilting.....

With that said, I must use up some of the fabrics I've been hoarding for years!
 These are Primrose Gradations hand-dyed fabrics, purchased at least 10 years ago. (No longer in business)  Love, love, love the colors and the quality of the fabric.  However, the dyes were never washed out completely or set properly.  It's such a hassle to now go back and treat 1/4 yd. or even 1 yard cuts.  

So.....this is an experiment....I plan on doing that AFTER the top is pieced...if it doesn't work out well....I'll report back.
I blogged about this patchwork design approach here  On that quilt I used two different sizes of rectangles (one large - one smaller).  However, because most of the fabrics I wanted to use for this quilt were not large pieces, I decided to cut as I went....making the sizes to fit the spaces. 

The idea was to avoid having the seams of the narrow horizontal setting strips line up.  Yes, this took a bit longer but it enabled me to efficiently use a lot of those smaller hunks of fabric.
Here's the top....it is actually straight but I have a devil of a time obtaining that in a photograph.  That's because my design wall is a office divider that leans against the wall......

This will probably be the last look.....as it won't change much with the straight line machine quilting I'm planning to do.  

Check out what others have been up to this week:  Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday,  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, and Crazy Mom Quilts.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

COOKING...BACK TO MY ROOTS

Some of you may already know this....but prior to quilting, I was immersed in cooking.  I still love to cook, but with only the 2 of us, aging bodies and all......elaborate meals don't often fit our lives.
However, we had a guest so that was excuse enough.....while the meal was cooking, the dogs played and played.  Our weather has been GREAT.....nip in the air of course....it is winter.  But daytime temps. have been mid. 60's.....I'll take it.  This IS what we expected moving here....though the past couple of winters seemed like we were still living in Wisconsin!
 This was a new experiment for me.....baking a head of cauliflower!  It was smothered with a mixture of olive oil, dark mustard, and crushed fresh garlic.  Baked for an hour at 425 degrees.....
When removed, it was topped with a mixture of mustard, chopped fresh parsley, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  I snapped a photo before the final topping melted.....and AFTER I began cutting it into wedges.  (Thus the messy looking dish.)
 Our protein was my newest favorite, a burgundy/black pepper boneless leg of lamb.  (Purchased at Trader Joe's....finally there's one in Asheville!!)  Even though I'm not much of a meat eater.....this is fabulous.  

We cooked it for 48 hrs. in our Sous Vide at 130 degrees.  If you aren't familiar with this equipment...I'm not surprised.  This home model is fairly new to the market.  It's a take off of what restaurants use.  Haven't you ever wondered how on earth you can order a medium rare piece of standing rib roast and it's delivered to your table in a short amount of time...cooked perfectly??  Commercial kitchens use these 'water bath' cooking machines...which can cook and hold items vacuumed sealed for several days at the exact correct temperature...never overcooking!  

It's a bit of a learning curve to begin with.....but we've never had better tasting meat.
One negative can be the appearance....since the meat isn't roasted in the typical fashion.  We now have that problem solved.  'The husband' under-cooks' roasts very slightly.....removes from the water bath and finishes off on the wood fired grill.  It improves the taste, crust and look of a roast.  Sorry.....he was nearly finished carving before I could take a picture.
 As long as we were feasting.....potatoes made an appearance too.  A food item we rarely have anymore.  Here, thinly sliced raw potatoes are arranged on a foil covered shallow baking pan....drenched with garlic infused olive oil....salt, pepper, and a tad of fresh rosemary.  

Baked @ 425 - covered with foil for 45 mins. and uncovered the last 15 mins.
Yummmmmm!  I'll be walking twice today.....

Monday, December 15, 2014

PTA FRIENDS AT CHRISTMAS

Our PTA (Professional Textile Artists group) goes all out for our annual Christmas gathering.  Our gracious hostess was Barbara this year....
We arrive early.....arms full of packages, food, show and tell, books to share....you get the idea.  We do a white elephant exchange that always generates much laughter.  Some 'gifts' are desired....others not so much.   Wrapped packages are collected and.......
 ..........each of us draws a number from a bag.  Starting with #1 - that person selects a gift from the pile.   
.......Clearly Cathy is happy with her gift (which happens to be my contribution....not exactly a 'white elephant'....but my Christmas decorating days are over so this guy needed a new home.)  #2 now can either select a gift from the pile or 'steal' any of the previous gifts opened......and so on until all the gifts have been distributed. Cathy's glee was short lived as the Santa was 'stolen' by #3 or #4.  A specific gift can only be 'stolen' twice during that single round.
Connie loves vintage clothing and has gotten so creative utilizing textiles that we might pass up.  Here she models her Christmas table cloth skirt!!
Dort makes a "use it up" scrap quilt about every two years.....it's astonishing to see how she utilizes so many different fabrics into one cohesive quilt!
The PTA members......unfortunately, 3 of our members were unable to attend....and I took the picture....so it's not quite complete.  We look so well behaved don't we?? 

Some members use our white elephant exchange as a means to clean out their sewing rooms.  Here Georgia Bonesteel models an 'oh so once stylish' apron that was one of the items in the package she selected. Immediately, our vintage clothing stylist Connie called dibs on it!
Linda Cantrell (left) is trying to retrieve the purple sweater from her package which Lynne tried on and decided to keep for herself!!
You see why many items are called 'white elephants"???
Judy is modeling a painted paper cut accordion hat that was in my package....it looks adorable on her.  Hats give me a headache and this one was super tight...guess it had to be or it'd fly off if worn outdoors.  Actually the construction and design were quite amazing.

The unwanted items have a way of showing up throughout the year....left in members sewing rooms etc. for them to discover when the group has departed for home.  Or even the following year as part of the next exchange.

I'm counting my blessings to have been included in this group of fabulously talented, generous, kind friends.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

FREE SHIPPING

.............In the spirit of Christmas giving.......I'm offering free Priority Mail shipping on purchases made from Dec. 14-19th from my gallery shop:   This includes gallery wrapped pieces, the only exceptions are the 2 traditionally wood framed pieces.

I can be reached via the email link at the top of the page if you have any questions and to arrange payment options.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Saturday, December 13, 2014

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

 Okay, after my many complaints about airlines.....it's time for a feel good story......and a thumbs up to United Airlines employees in San Francisco..... Thanks to my DIL for alerting me to the link.



Friday, December 12, 2014

KIDS FABRIC BOOK

What with the holiday season in full swing and me fighting a BAD cold....I've been unusually quiet this week.  Nor, am I stitching as much as I'd like. 

I saw this cute fabric book idea on Sew How We Sew blog. My friend Judy and I have grandkids several months apart in age so we decided to pool our conversation print fabrics and make our own version. 

We made them larger to accommodate the fussy cut motifs we had.  Our patches were cut 2 1/4 square.  Let me warn you....this is NOT fast.....as is typical for many of us....we under-estimate how long a project will take.  It's worth doing, but don't plan on getting it done in a day!

 We selected fabrics, two each for each book....fused the wrong side, and cut them out.
One piece was then fused to a felt background, the other to another piece of felt which was later cut out.
 Fabrics arranged, and fused to the felt base....machine stitched in a grid for better duribility.  
 Here's the 2nd set of fabric pieces, fused to felt, cut out and machine stitched.
The idea for the child is to match the pieces...turning the appropriate piece face down...indicating that one has been matched.
A second piece of felt becomes the cover (which hides and protects the stitching).  Rather than making a pouch as suggested in the tutorial linked above....I decided to add a pocket to the front of the book to hold the game pieces. It was personalized with our grandson's name. 

I'm linking to Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom.