Non Stop Knitting

The last 4 months have seen me do little typing–away from work that is–and no sewing. Why? Because I still have tendinitis in my left shoulder, which started in the middle of machine quilting my “Six Windows” piece, and that was 6 months ago.  And to make matters worse, I got a cortisone injection that only caused me more pain. So. Not much sewing going on for a while.

I have at least been able to knit and I made a simple hoodie for my nephew; here it is, hanging up after I blocked it:

051313 blog 1And here is Damian wearing it is a few days later in Madison, Wisconsin:

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This is the next sweater in progress, another top down hoodie for my nephew Luke; this one has a cable down the middle: I’m getting adventurous!

051313 blog 2Aside from finally having some knitting success–thanks to the good folks at Kiwi Knitting here in Tucson for their instruction–I’ve also had some success on a larger scale: I submitted my “Six Windows” quilt to the Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition near Washington D.C. this summer, and it was accepted. I’m very pleased, as it’s a well known national show. And I know people will really appreciate seeing it.

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Holiday Summary Ends with a Quilt

For a lot of people, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is a whirl of family activity; I often opt out of Christmas, it’s just too stressful, but this year I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the holiday.

Here I am in Madison with my nephews Damien and Sebastian. We’re on top of 18 inches of snow and are about to go sledding. Luckily Sebastian and I wear the same shoe size: I was able to borrow his snow boots!

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After sledding, we returned home where we built snow forts; here’s Damian in the snow fort we built…

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…and here is Sebastian with is friend Cedric in the snow fort they built. They completely demolished me and Damian within minutes, and had us fleeing into the house to escape their arsenal of snow balls.


My brother Frank lives in Madison, he dropped by with his fiancee Leah; here they are with my nephews, Kasia and Benson, the family dog:

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After Christmas, I headed home to Tucson; Frank came out to visit and brought Leah, so she could meet my parents. My sister Roberta, her husband and 20 month old son came down from Portland; my brother John came in from Boston. We had dinner together at the Velvet Elvis in Patagonia, Arizona to celebrate Frank and Leah’s engagement. Too bad Sebastian, Damian and Kasia couldn’t be at dinner– here we all are:

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Robert and Luke then came to spend a few nights with me; I  made a roast chicken dinner and my brother Eric came over to join us:

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Before sunset, Luke joined me and Bearbear for a walk down at the Rillito wash:

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Here’s Luke in my back yard looking like quite the pugilist:

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The best news is that even with all the chaos of family visiting–and with some of the visits being predictably unexpected!–I was STILL able to finish my art quilt and meet the deadline of January 3rd.

This is how it looked hanging on my living room wall shortly before I dropped it off:

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Quilting is DONE

Why haven’t I posted in a month? I just had to bury myself in machine quilting in order to get my project done in time for January’s Quilt Fiesta quilt show in Tucson.

While I haven’t put the binding on yet, or straightened it out, here’s how it looks:


Here are a couple close-ups of the machine quilting:


Here’s another….


I’m off to Madison Wisconsin for Christmas and my flight leaves in just a couple hours! I’ll post more right after I get back 12-26-12.

More Shadows

Okay, 2 down….

Here’s a close up:

I’m thinking of 5 shadow shapes, total. Tomorrow I’m getting some work done in my sewing room: a new window, a skylight. So now I have to cover stuff with drop cloths in preparation. And of course any home improvement project takes longer than you think, so the drop cloths will likely be down a bit longer than I’d like….but it’s going to look fantastic when it’s done!

Project Projection

This is how it starts when it comes to making shadow shapes: the overhead projector gets dragged into the living room. This is the biggest shadow shape I’m using, here it’s projected on some Pellon True Grid taped to the wall. I outlined it with a sharpie, cut it out, and pinned it on top of a large piece of shiny nylon tulle. I put stabilizer on the back of the quilt top; here I am feeding the shape through my machine and sewing the outline:

Pinning everything together and laying it out requires my large braided rug to be used as a work surface:

The next step: dyeing yarn for the outlines for the shapes. I’m using bright colors to liven things up; the piece is a bit gray so far.  The largest shape requires 20 feet of yarn. I’ll dye small amounts of fabric or yarn in my kitchen sink:

The first completed shape is orange and it’s on the left side: it’s meant to be subtle.

I’m sewing down the second outline now….updates soon.

Finished Quilt Top

Here’s what I’ve got now; this is my “quilt top”. This will be roughly the finished size, which is 66″x92″ now. I’ll be adding more appliques and sheer fabric shapes. And the 6 windows. 6 is not an easy design number; 5 and 7 are so much better! But that number drives the design, for better or worse. Perhaps a bad design number will encourage me to come up with the best design possible, given the limitations. We’ll see!

Screen Printing Saguaros

I need some fabric for the border of my quilt; I spent the weekend screen printing, and while I wanted the fabric dark, I started out light with a dark pink. Above, the first run of saguaros. Below, two silk screens with saguaros cut out of contact paper stuck; the screens are the same size, but the arrangement of the saguaros is different on each one.

I then did a run of blue, then gray over the pink:

This is how the fabric looked after the first run of gray, it’s the vertical piece on the right:

I thought it wasn’t dark enough, and printed another run of saguaros with what I thought was a darker gray, but it didn’t make too much difference; here’s both vertical pieces auditioning on either side of the quilt top, along with some fabric strips auditioning for window frames for the 6 windows:

I think I’m OK with the vertical border fabric as it is. Which is another way of saying I’m done screen printing out in the heat on my patio. The next step is to put it all together, and then I have to decide what colors to use to frame the windows; here’s a few strips I’m trying out. My sister had the great idea to alternate the colors and widths of the fabric strips for the windows.

Lots to do. More soon, when I can tear myself away from obsessive/compulsive fabric auditioning and sewing. It seems I just can’t stop trying out yet more colors and patterns to see what will work best. This is where having lots of fabric may be my doom.

Quilt Progress So Far

I took a photo today of my art quilt as it is now; you can see the 4 foot level on the right hand side, for some scale: this piece will be large.

I feel this piece would benefit from some really dark tones to make all the light bits “pop” out a bit; so I have this plan to have dark fabric as a vertical border on either side of the piece, and the same fabric will be the vertical pieces for the window frames for the 6 windows. This will tie everything together. With that in mind, I cut out some contact paper shapes and stuck them on some silk screens, so I could print fabric with these saguaro designs:

The fabric will ultimately be very dark, but it’s going to start out light as I add layers; here’s the fabric drying on my patio, it was sunset and there are–sadly–mosquitoes in Tucson now. I took the photo through my screen door. The clouds at the time didn’t seem very significant.

A big thunderstorm blew threw an hour later; this is the edge of the storm, a nice big creamsicle colored cloud:

More dyeing in a few days. I’m out of print mix so have to make up more before I can finsih the screen printing.

Feeling Capital about….Capitols

I had to make more fabric with the U.S. Capitol; I need 19 capitols for 19 clouds….and I don’t quite have that many.

Here are photocopies of photographs of the U.S. Capitol, the photocopies have been stuck onto my hand-dyed fabric with acrylic gel medium; now that the gel medium is dried, I’m about to press the fabric with parchment paper, so I don’t melt the fabric:

These are small pieces of fabric, about 6″x8″; it’s also humid outside, and there are mosquitoes: so, this is an ideal project to do inside. For larger projects involving scrubbing fabric, it’s just so messy I have to do it outside. Here I am, below, scraping the paper off the fabric after I’ve soaked the fabric in a bucket in my kitchen sink:

After scraping with a spoon (soft enough not to damage the fabric), I scrubbed lightly with a scrub brush, soaked the fabric again, scrubbed lightly once more, then rinsed. Here is my new “palette” of U.S. Capitols; I plan to sew ALL DAY tomorrow to get as many of these in place as possible: