Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Old is New

Just at the last minute, I got my September goal for ALYOF completed. My 40's silk log cabin quilt top, aka "Eleanor Roosevelt," got a border. The quilt colors are a mixture of soft  dusty tones, and a few bright fuschias and mangoes. What to use to bring out the sparkle? Everything-old-is-new-again-grey. I think it works. The quilt really came to life, from blocks that were thrown away.

The border might need to be narrower.  A wild, orange and pink binding would be fun.  The blocks were sewn to flour sack backs, and a few flour sack prints. Just like depression era underwear ! I hate to cover them up. Since I interfaced the border, and the blocks are all backed, maybe I'll use a sheer backing and no batt, I can still hand quilt it but leave the sweet flour sacks visible.

Flour Sack Sweetness.
It is destined to be a wall hanging. So perhaps I can make a sheer or gauze backing work. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode...

Friday, September 5, 2014

My New Favorite Aroma

I used to think there was enough wonderful fabric in the world without my adding to it by buying more and dying it different colors. I even tried a class on dyes, but was turned off by the hazardous chemicals and the precautions. Then I was introduced to earth friendly fabric dying by my artistic pal, Betsy Hinze, and heard the siren song. Or, as Mr. Thimblepie says, I drank the kool aid.

Last March I learned about mordanting fibers with plant protein, namely soybean water. After soaking the beans, the water was used to prepare the fabric for accepting the dye. I let the silk, linen, and cotton rest for 5 months. Betsy told us that Japanese dye masters have aged mordanted fabric for decades sometimes. Meanwhile, I saved avocado peels to use for the dye. Yesterday I started the simmering and was delighted to discover that the aroma is citrusy and like a walk in a pine forest. I  simmered the peels in a crock pot for the night, and gave the vat a full 24 hours of heat. Then I strained off the peels and added my fabrics in a big enamel pot. I also added a piece that turned out to be polyester, it did not take the dye. The silk, when added to the avocado brew, gave off the MOST WONDERFUL AROMA I have ever smelled. It beats fresh bread, sheets dried in the wind, and my own newborn's honey scent. True story. The aroma of silk in avocado brew is a combination of the citrusy piney scent and floral spice, something like Japanese tea gardens and hot house flowers mixed together. If I could add a scratch and sniff to this blog, I would.

How funny is it that the bland and stodgy avocado taste is so disparate from it's cooked peel scent? And then there is the equally surprising color.... dusty rose. Here is a peek at my clothes line, with my sister Pam's quilt, Tumbling Triangles, and my dusty rose fabric drying in the breeze:

Clothes line cross tie repurposed from a dead apple tree on our lot.
 At the other end of the property is our veggie and fruit garden, deer proofed. We grew lima beans this year, a very satisfying crop. The beans are so pretty.

All told we will have about 5 lbs of beans, dried, from one package of seeds.
I read an interesting article in The Quilt Life, "Brown's Sophisticated Cousin." It is about the movement of Japanese taupes into mainstream quilting. I think my dusty rose dyed fabric is leaning toward being taupe, especially the cotton. I  have a baby quilt to make in soft natural colors, and the taupe and dusty rose seem just the ticket. The baby is due around Thanksgiving, and now I can ponder the design.

My September goal for my group, ALYOF is to finish the quilt top I started in April, a vintage silk log cabin. I'd like to hand quilt it, and need to add a border and baste it. Here is the top so far, (I posted it in April, too,  if it looks familiar.)
My Eleanor Roosevelt Quilt.
I am thinking that some of my newly dyed fabric will make a nice border. Audition is tomorrow. What does your weekend hold in store?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What Fiber Artists Do

  The daylight hours are waning, and it is noticeable in the canyon. We welcome autumn with cool nights and sunny afternoons. The golden hours of morning and evening are an artist's dream.
   Hummingbirds have started to migrate south. I leave the feeders up for travelers who need one for the road. We will continue to see straglers for another month. Contrary to what some say, they will not hang around for feeders, and still need nectar for energy as they travel. It seems early to see the migration in August, and there have been other signs of an early autumn and perhaps a colder winter...
   I have been as busy. In the garden I have been harvesting tomatoes, basil for pesto, squash, carrots, beets, and herbs. I have a couple of part time jobs in town to earn pocket money. When I am not tending my house and yard, I sneak away to my loft and sew. Heavenly!!
   I made a costume for a customer of my etsy shop, Thimblepie's Quilt Supplies. It is a Steampunk Bustle. Super fun to make, and cute and sassy.

The bustle is buckled to my stair post.
I completed 3 scale model quilted cocoons for a grant proposal. I am collaborating with my artist friend, Betsy Hinze, who wants to do a large interactive fiber art show in January. The cocoons are 3-dimensional with boning hoops and organza draping. Challenging in tiny scale models but I think the full human size models will be easy. When it felt difficult and stressful, I had to remind myself that my dream has been to be a fiber artist, and this is what they do.

I completed the second A quilt and thought it actually looked like a twin to the original. The recipient was delighted, and my little Addison loves the original, which she will get for her birthday in December. Here are the 2 A quilts:

Ashlyn's  NO GREEN.

Addison's. Same size but photographed at an angle.
 And, my just completed quilt top, my August goal for ALYOF. Thanks to Ainsley and my pal Cheryl Little, entered in the Boise Basin Quilt Show Sept. 27 & 28. Yay!!!

"Squaresville." 52" x 73"
What have you been up to this busy month?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Cool Summer Rain

Last evening we had a big storm. Seems to be one big one each summer, complete with thunder, lightening, rain, wind, and hail. The temperature dropped 28° in an hour, from 99° to 72°. Phew! It was such a big relief after the prestorm energy build up. When the first rain drops fell, Mr. Thimblepie and I stepped out onto the back porch to smell the ozone and watch the storm clouds. Then, Ka-BOOM!! just as Abby the Brave stepped outside. She turned tail and ran inside to hide. Teeth chattering, she was scared for several hours. No damage from the hail, and everything got a good soaking. So pleasant to have windows open with cool breezes coming in the windows all night. Sadly, the storm also ignited lots of wildfires all over the western forests, near and far.

Abby the Brave in front of Owyhee Sunset

My August goal for ALYOF is to finish my modern Karla Alexander quilt, which I showed in my June 30th blog . I hope to enter it in the Boise Basin Quilt Show the end of September, as a member of the Boise Modern Quilt Guild. Happily, the berries are finished in the garden and now tomato season starts. I made calendula ointment (calendula blooms from my garden marinated in mild olive oil for a month, then strained) and can report first hand that it makes an excellent antibacterial wound treatment. Picking huckleberries in the forest last week in shorts was not wise. When will I ever learn?

Here is my garlic harvest, from last month. Lots of braids!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Two Choices

In a fit of pique` Mr. Thimblepie said "you'd rather quilt than do housework!" What better way to stop a disagreement, than to make a statement such as that?

A long standing goal of mine was to complete the Modern Quilt Guild Michael Miller Fabric Challenge. The deadline is at midnight, tonight, and I finished with hours to spare. Phew! I chose a pattern called "The Two-Hour Tulip Purse" designed by Janice D. Pope. It took me longer than two hours, but was not technically difficult.  I wanted to make a tincture bag that could hold 4 ~ 4 oz. bottles and other toiletries, so I added elasticized inner pockets. It has a magnetic closure snap, a detail I hadn't used before, but really loved. They are inexpensive and easy to put in without tools. Handle Instructions: Cut two strips 2 3/4" wide by length you desire. The challenge fabric was 20" long, so that is how long these orange cuties are. ( I prefer a few inches longer.) I used light batting as stabilizer, cut 1 1/2 " by length of strap. In a June blog I showed ironing it, using a bias tape maker, but the idea is to lay the batting on the wrong side of the strap and iron the edges of the strap over the batting, lengthwise. Then fold the strap over again lengthwise and iron, and topstitch the edges. It does make a good, firm strap.

5 handy pockets and room for lots of stuff.

The front pocket is quilted.

Sturdy handles, to fit over your shoulder, and the tote can be tucked under your arm.

The nifty bottom sits flat.

Chai gives her seal of approval. I am breathing a sigh of satisfied relief. Love to finish a project.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Recently I had to replace our worn bed sheets. I found a great set, almost new, at the Tourist Trap, our local consignment shop. The sheet set is khaki. I replaced the edges of the pillow cases with fabric left over from the quilts and curtains. The effect was satisfying.

Left pillow cases match the quilts and curtains. Red chickens and bedside tables from Joan. Right pillow case from Pam, guarantees sweet dreams.

Close up detail, next to the quilt border.
Other recent activity was a great class I took yesterday in Council, taught by Karla Alexander. I keep thinking that I have learned it all, that I take classes for the socializing and as an excuse to buy new fabric. However, Karla taught me some wonderful new techniques and design theories. I like the idea of secondary borders. The outside row of blocks in a quilt can be a shade darker or lighter, adding another frame to the quilt. More on that as I create my next epic piece. Here is a sneak peak at what I did yesterday in the class, one photo with sashing.

Eight more blocks to go on this quilt. I like the lilac sash, and the colors. This modern project is fun and different. The pattern is called "Paint Chip." I haven't named my quilt yet.  Dinner tonight is left overs and sauteed radishes. They are a little past their prime, should have been plucked from the heart of their warm little bed a week ago, but when sauteed they transform from spicy to mild. mmm

I did finish my goal set at the start of the month, the commissioned quilts. Tomorrow, July.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Good News and Bad News

The bad news first. The A quilt was rejected, although I had followed specifications. I had quilted/appliqued the large A, but otherwise it was still unfinished. So it got put in time out. The mom gave new specifications, and I agreed to start over. I hope they understand that this means additional cost of $75 for fabrics. My time and aggravation = priceless. The original A quilt can be gifted to someone I know who has a name starting with A, or I may sell it. Someone is being a diva, in my opinion.

In other news, all good, the barn quilt was finished in the nick of time, delivered to the Council Quilt Show, and looks good. The theme this year is, "Life on the Farm." Winner gets a $100 prize, chosen by viewer vote.

The sashing and the borders really brought this quilt together.
I had a flurry of procrastinator's remorse as I sewed the binding on. It was about 5" too short. I pulled out a new toy, a 2" bias tape maker, and made the remaining bias tape, and got it on in under 5 minutes. Phew! I highly recommend getting yourself at least one of these great tools. They are simple to use, work great, and can even be used for tote bag handles and items where interfacing is being applied. After making the first press, I take the tape and fold it over, thus creating a double fold bias tape. Here are two examples:

3/4" tape maker.

2" tape maker with interfacing being ironed on. I am using a 3" strip so the folds are narrower.
I entered a challenge block in the quilt show as well. The focus fabric is red and black. Winner of public vote gets 12 blocks. Second place gets the remaining 6. Here is my entry, followed by the whole lot.

Garden Gnomes are camouflaged  and out of view, although they are right in front of you.

The featured artist is Karla Alexander of Saginaw Quilts. She will be giving a trunk show at the luncheon on June 28th, and a class on June 29th. In honor of her, Pam and I each entered a quilt made from her patterns. 

Pam's Red Onion Polka Dot

My Cautionary Tale #2

The quilt show is in Council, ID at the elementary school, and runs daily from 10-5 until July 5. There are about 75 excellent quilts, and a sales area for books and crafts. It is worth the drive!