Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Not only am I fortunate to have so many extraordinary girlfriends......they are thoughtful too!!!  When I learned what they planned for my upcoming birthday lunch.....I was grinning from ear to ear.
 A fellow Wisconsin pal knew of my passion for Culver's (a fast food restaurant based in Wisconsin BUT that is now expanding across the country).  I've blogged about my visits there many times.  

Sadly, the closest one for us is about 1.5 hrs. away.....but what the heck...a birthday celebration warrants the trip!  Here Arlene (a newbie to Culver's) is being guided by Lynn about what to order.  The server is......get this.....a gal who grew up about 10 mins. from our last residence in Brodhead, WI.  Small world!!
 I hope this won't be too boring for you....but here's an explanation of this restaurant's popularity.  Most folks love it for their famous 'butter burgers'.....I did tell you this is a Wisconsin based company!
 I thought I caught Lynn mid-bite, but it's mid-mouth at this point!
We thought Irene's unique onion ring needed to be put for sale on Ebay! 
I go right for the high calorie, little nutrition treat.  And when I say high calorie....I really mean it.  It's a 'concrete' (thick) custard.....and I order - all chocolate...not only custard but chocolate sauce as well, and double malt.  It's sooooo thick normally diners eat it with a spoon.  I prefer to pucker up and use a straw....it takes a LONG time to consume it.

My pals ate more sensibly so they had dessert too!  

Thank you dear friends for such a great day......

AND.....now is the time to say......GO BADGERS!!!  (Sat. night.....Wisconsin vs Kentucky).  Our secret weapon:  Sheboygan Sam -  the pride of my (and Lynn's)  home town.

Monday, March 30, 2015


 Fiber Junkie pal Kate got us in the habit of using a clean up cloth to 'savor' all the spills and drips of dye that accumulate while dyeing.  The results can be quite fabulous.  

There were only three of us during one particular session, so we decided to challenge each other to incorporate our clean up cloth into a project.  I made aprons for each of us with my super colorful cloth, using nearly every bit of the fabric.
 This is an example of a not very lovely clean up cloth that I was using at our recent microwave ice dyeing day.  It need more spills! 
 Each apron features a theme favored by the owner.  Being from Wisconsin, cows have always found their way into my work. So for my apron, I chose a bovine imagine, along with a cow pie and stenciled hoof prints.  
The lettering was outlined with a machine blanket stitch and a pigma pen around the cow.
The clean up cloth was washed in synthrapol before cutting and fusing it to the aprons.
Judy uses mushrooms images in her work quite frequently, but won't eat them!!
Kate spends time on Folly Beach, SC where she is inspired by marsh grasses, the sea, and sail boats. 

What do you do with your clean up cloths??

Saturday, March 28, 2015


So.......each day 'the husband' drags me along on what I call 'the forced march' as we attempt to maintain our health with a 75 minute walk, that incorporates four 1,000 feet elevation changes.  Some people actually like to take walks, even look forward to them.....NOT ME.....I'd rather be sewing.
 Yesterday we were delighted to see one lone peach tree blooming.  We've been watching the growth of this little gal for the last two years.  At first we thought it was a persimmon tree, but last year the fruit was large enough to identify it as a peach tree.
 Beautiful no?
I suspect there will be no fruit this year as this is the scene we woke to very early this morning.  I'm estimating we got between 3"-4". It's now 25 degrees,  and snowing horizontally due to the high winds we often get up in these mountains.

Because the daytime temperatures have been in the 50's & 60's.....the roads are only slightly snow covered....instead there's a layer of pure ice.  AND...that means NO walking for me....I will not risk a fall.  Oh...too bad....guess I'll just have to spend more time in the studio!!

Friday, March 27, 2015


Back at the end of February, I blogged/complained during the making of this quilt.  If so moved....you can click here and again here to see those posts.

After the stand off I experienced when it came to quilting the screen printed sections, those poorly executed stitches were removed.  AND.... I settled in for many peaceful evenings hand embroidering the pine needle images.  The right decision in my humble opinion.

 PINE NEEDLES  41" X 30.25"
Artist deconstructed screen printed images, machine pieced and quilted, hand embroidered.


Follow these links to see what fellow artists have been up to this week:  Whoop, Whoop Fridays, Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, and Richard and Tanya Quilts.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Recently I blogged about my learning experience creating wet felted bowls.....I'm still learning. 
This one in particular had been too flimsy after it's first fulling....so I rewet it, felting and shaping again.  Next I added a few beads around the rim, basically to help disguise its still slightly uneven appearance.

 Every time I looked at it....well...it just bugged me....it was sooo naked!  Now it's not......

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


So....the results are in.....  In my opinion, microwave ice dyeing is a good option for cotton when quick results and small amounts are desired.  However, our group will need to do more experimenting to develop more predictable results.

Mine are a bit disappointing....NOT that I didn't have a grand time.....the Fiber Junkies meetings are one of the highlights of my month...no matter what we do!  

I purposely experimented with mostly non-cottons....which I suspect affected the outcome a lot.  But, a gal wants to know....'what if'.
 BEFORE - a hunk of peachy/pinkish Easter egg color National NonWovens WoolFelt.  This was a 80/20 blend....not intended to be washed and dried....much less boiled in hot dye!  I really dislike this color.....
......So....I had nothing to lose.  This is the AFTER.....cooled off but still not yet rinsed.  Not wonderful but it had potential.
AFTER - AFTER - yuck....rinsed, washed in synthrol, and dried.  The surface is now very pilled, distorted, pale, ugly.  But....what a challenge, right?? 
BEFORE - This pitiful piece of 100% light weight wool (dress good quality which doesn't felt well) had been previously dyed....I "think" it may have been ice dyed in the traditional method...or perhaps tray dyed.  Does it matter how?? Nope....

Another day I added the brown lines during an acrylic painting marathon that my friends Kate and Judy and I had.  Now I really hated it....honestly, this photo is much better than the piece is.
 AFTER -  It was microwave ice dyed using blue Procion MX......unfortunately, it's still ugly.
AFTER - BACK SIDE -  Now...perhaps this has more potential.
BEFORE - on left - AFTER on Right....not much difference is there?  I placed this loosely woven cotton.....almost linen looking but it isn't.... beneath another piece of fabric which was sitting on a plastic strainer.  The idea is that as the ice/dye melts.....it strikes the first piece of fabric, and the liquid works its way to the bottom layer.  Often yielding some really great designs.  Unfortunately, not in this case.  I'll redye it for sure.
BEFORE - LEFT - A piece of pale celery green silk noil....
AFTER - right......well now we are talking!!!  I love this one!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Our February Fiber Junkies February meeting had to be cancelled due to bad weather.....so this March meeting was bursting with activity.  
 Our group creates a 'goals' list once a each year. During the discussion for 2015, we wondered if we could speed up the process of ice dyeing by using the microwave. Obviously we had to try.  We used Judy's fabulous well stocked and equipped studio with access to an outdoor deck for this rather messy project.
Our South Carolina members, Kate and Denny live close to each other and often spend time experimenting on their own.  The rest of us are the beneficiaries of their efforts....saving us lots of time refining some steps before we gather.

The following is not meant to be a tutorial for microwave ice dyeing....we now know there are a lot of elements that alter the results of this technique.  Truly, we are still in the learning process....some successes and some ho-hums.....

We began by soaking our chosen fabric pieces in soda ash.
 A dedicated 'for crafts only' microwave, an ice crusher, plastic wrap, hot pads, and assorted plastic containers were at hand.
 Here Kate demonstrates how to begin.....soda ash soaked cotton fabric is scrunched into a large bowl.
 Another approach is to place a smaller amount of prepared fabric in the bottom of the bowl, covered by a plastic 'strainer' disc which is then covered with another piece of fabric.  The idea here is that as the dye covered ice melts, it seeps down onto the piece at the bottom of the bowl.  Sometimes this can create the most lovely designs....other times the fabric comes out looking like mud!
 The top layer of fabric is lightly covered with crushed ice (**the normal ice dyeing we've done in the past utilized crushed ice and ice cubes....but we got better results in the microwave using only crushed ice.)
 Now, wearing a protective mask and rubber gloves, dry Procion MX dye is sprinkled onto the ice.  The amount, color, and placement of the dye affected the results. At the end of the day, we still couldn't put an exact 'recipe' together to assure uniform results.
 The 'prepared' bowl was placed in the microwave, covered with a plastic lid or plastic wrap and zapped.  The timing varied according to the component of the bowls' content.  Smaller units took about 4 mins. Larger ones as long a 6-10 mins. on high.
 Obviously, both the liquid and fabric is hot when it comes out of the microwave....after cooling a bit, the fabric was rinsed. Each of us packaged our fabrics in plastic bags and at home, washed them with synthropol.  

Here's one of Gen's successes. 
 .....and Val's.....
....and a winner Judy created.

Next post I'll show some before's and after's of my fabrics.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Rural folks (especially) know it must be spring when:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


PTA (Professional Textile Artists), an invitational group of 14, of which I'm a member, was asked to make the 2015 raffle quilt for our Asheville Quilt Guild.

The completed quilt was presented to the guild at our March monthly meeting.  As I understand it, this year's guild president is encouraging members to revisit their stashes and consider upcycling fabrics.  Therefore, all of the fabric for this quilt was donated by members of our small group.

Attribution will be forthcoming when I can obtain better photos.....but I wanted to share this lovely quilt with you and provide our show link...raffle tickets will be available soon.

Blue Tartan - Asheville Quilt Guild 2015 Raffle Quilt

Monday, March 16, 2015


Here's a more detailed look at the project I worked on at the PTA 7th annual retreat.  Many thanks to my good friend Helen who gifted me a huge stash of Japanese fabrics.  This is the 3rd quilt I've made utilizing these treasures.

All the patches were precut at home....a small selection was previewed on my design wall before the retreat....just to be sure they'd all fit!

As bunches of blocks were stitched....the quilt was laid out on the floor as there is no space to design on the wall. 
49" X 58.5"

Sorry for the bad photo....I can't get far enough away from it to avoid distortion when photographing on my wall.  (Besides....this view is only the top!)

Friday, March 13, 2015


My body and mind are totally stuffed after 3 days of sewing fun with my pals. After so many years reteating together, four (of the group of 10) have established a habit of making the same quilt (often sharing fabrics).  Some are fast stitchers, others like me are not.  We simply work at our own pace.....with tables arranged in a pod and stitch and chat for as long at it takes.
 Here's Gen's wall quilt in progress.
 Kate enlarged the center patch of each block, altering the shape as well.  This fast piecer had it nearly complete in the first day.
Judy used beautiful indigo prints (most created by her own hand), surrounding them with crisp white-on-white strips.
This is my project, utilizing Japanese style prints.  After the first day, the blocks are made and await the next step of sewing them into rows.

PTA member Leighe Anne, now lives in FL.  It's a treat when she gets back to Asheville to spend time with us.  She's in charge of our evening entertainment....and finds the darnest games for us to play.  Look at her grin....you just know we will be having fun.
Her quilts feature well combined interesting colorful prints.  After completing this one....she brought out two more to work on.......
........here's one.......and......

.......and another..... See what I mean about using fabrics that are unpredictable?  Yet they all work!!
Speedy piecer Kate also made this charity quilt....
 ......featuring adorable prints, just right for a child.
 Barbara is a very meticulous sewer.....each of these blocks were unique....I can't wait to see what she does with them.
 And yet again, here's another cheerful quilt made by Kate.....she very cleverly uses her fabric leftovers by cutting them into various widths of strips, storing according to size.  Then when the spirit moves her.....she can quickly and easily  combine them into clever and appealing quilts.

Not all projects got photographed.....my bad.....but I can assure you, each was special. Our 2016 Retreat dates are already booked, however, it might take us a full year to rest up!

See what others have been creating this week:   Nina Marie's Off The Wall FridaysWhoop, Whoop Friday.