Thursday, November 24, 2022

Supporting artists supporting the Arts and Community

Thanksgiving. A time for giving—your time, your talent, or from your abundance. 

This is the time of year when I try to make charity quilts with my stash and discontinued fabric swatches. The cute prints go into cuddle quilts for my guild's community service to support Chambliss Center, and the funky bits and scraps go into improv quilts for the kitties at the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga. Last year, I sent a kitty quilt to my new friend, printmaker and artist, Jim Sherraden. He "adopted" a feral cat, Misho, so Misho received a little kitty quilt for the winter months. 

Fabric care package going out.

I recently checked in with Jim and Misho. Through our conversation, Jim told me he volunteers as an art teacher at Friends Life Community. Some of the art projects they work on, he mentioned, include quilts, masks, wall art, and even printing on fabrics. With Jim giving of his time and talent, I'm sending some textile love from my abundance to this organization.

Fabrics for art projects.

I've put together a fabric care package that I hope Jim can use. Under his guidance, I hope the contents will inspire new textile art projects in his community. 

A kitty quilt for Misho.

I'm also tucking a flannel kitty quilt into the box for Misho. This one is flannel on both sides. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Discovering a UFO en route to looking for something else, and the final Make Nine 2022 finish

Sydney J. Harris, long-time syndicated columnist for the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-Times, occasionally wrote a column called, "Things I learned en route to looking up other things." I was reminded of this recently while looking for a quilt top I took with me to my Intro to Free-motion Quilting class at John C. Campbell Folk School. I used the quilt top to illustrate how I pin-baste quilt tops.

Anyway... while en route to looking for the pin-basted quilt top, I found another UFO quilt that was pieced and quilted about 6 years ago. The top was made to showcase a vintage, sewing-themed fabric line. A long-armer friend quilted it, but I never put on the binding.

Finished quilt with binding. 37.5" x 37.5"

This weekend, I decided to finish both quilts—the quilt top I was searching for, and the 6-year old UFO that lacked a binding. 

UFO that needed a binding (left) and basted quilt top ready for quilting.

Thankfully, a black binding was conducive for both quilts. Convenient!

A black binding was used on both quilts.

Cool quilting motifs

My friend, Sherri, long-arm quilted the UFO with some really cool computerized motifs. Below are photos of the different motifs in each of the corners.

Computerized quilting motif.

Circular computerized quilting motif.

Computerized quilting motif.

Linear computerized quilting motif.

The free-motion quilting on the other quilt is not as elaborate as Sherri's work, but serves the purpose for a kitty quilt that will go to the Chattanooga Cat Clinic. The kitties will love it and the staff will be happy to have a new kitty quilt.

Finished kitty quilt. Finished size 28" x 24".

Back of kitty quilt showing the quilting design.

My 9th Make Nine 2022 finish

I wasn't sure which UFO I would need to complete to fulfil my last Make Nine 2022 prompt. This one is as good as any! And it fulfills the second UFO prompt. This quilt is headed to my quilt guild this week—along with 5 other cuddle quilts—for its community service project.

Pile of 6 cuddle quilts for the guild community service project.

Going down the rabbit hole unearthed two projects that are now complete and heading to new homes.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Linen stitch dishcloths: a color study and portable stash buster

I diligently strive to meet the daily goal of my 2022 Create Daily tracker—doing something creative in stitch or mixed media every day. Portable projects that can accompany me on the road make achieving this goal possible. Over the last 3 months, knitted dishcloths have become my standard take-along stitch project... and they've been an intriguing study in color as well!

Three knitted dishcloths in linen stitch.

Attributes of the linen stitch 

Most of my knitted dishcloths are knit in linen stitch. Below is a photo showing 9 of them. The stitch pattern's attributes are reasons why I like this pattern for this project:

  • the linen stitch pattern is easy to remember;
  • the slip stitch in the sequence makes a tighter fabric structure that is conducive for using this knitted fabric in water... to wash dishes;
  • it adapts well to using multiple colors of yarn;
And for the color study:
  • the slip stitches cause different colors of yarn to interact with each other in a single row.

Linen stitch dishcloths using variou yarn color combinations.

A fun stash buster project

Using up partial skeins and leftover yarns works well for these small pieces. 

Cotton yarn stash.

The smaller yarn lengths allow experimenting with various color combinations on one dishcloth or perhaps on only a few rows. Because the slip stitch brings one color up (from the row below) into another, interesting things happen with color.

Color play with linen stitch.

Depending on the lengths of the yarn leftovers, I'll work with two or three solid colors, two variegated yarns, a solid and a variegated, or use one main yarn and work stripes with limited yards of other colors. It's fun to watch the textures emerge as the yarn slips through your fingers.

The linen stitch also offers interesting color play—and a knubby texture—on the back side of the work.

Linen stitch back side.

Other slip stitch patterns

The knitted dishcloths project was prompted by the Modern Daily Dishcloth Knit-along this summer. Other slip stitch patterns I've used for dishcloths are the brick stitch and Three-and-One Tweed. I've made 12 additional dishcloths since fulfilling the Slow Stitching prompt for Make Nine 2022 in early September.

Brick stitch (left) and Three-and-One Tweed (right) stitch patterns.

My most recent dishcloth used up a leftover ball of the turquoise yarn. Talk about playing "yarn chicken!" The last row was completed with only a few inches of yarn remaining.

Three-in-One Tweed dishcloth: one variegated yarn and one solid.

The edges of the dishcloths are crocheted—usually with two rows of single crochet.

Knitted dishcloths—a portable colorwork project.

As the yarn stash dwindles, the dishcloth stack continues to grow...

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Why a sketchbook is a MUST for free-motion quilting

When I teach my Intro to Free-motion Quilting workshop, one of the items included on the Student Supply List is a sketchbook. Yes, a sketchbook!  It serves multiple purposes and many of the students at a recent class mentioned this was a valuable tool and an important take-away from the class.

Drawing free-motion quilting designs in a sketchbook.

Where to get a sketchbook?

I always advocate supporting and buying from your local quilt shop or online with any of the thousands of independent quilt shops across the country for purchasing your quiltmaking supplies. A sketchbook, however, is one of the very few items you get a "pass" on if you don't buy it at the local quilt shop. Check your local craft/hobby store or an online art supply store and get a sketchbook with 50 to 100 pages

Note: use the craft store's coupon to purchase the sketchbook, then apply the savings to buy more fabric at the quilt shop.

What kind of sketchbook? 

Get a sketchbook specified for drawing. The pages will be a soft white color. The paper will have a nice, smooth finish, and will easily take marks from dry drawing media—pencil, pen, gel pens, etc. Generally, the paper weight is from 65 lb/96 gsm to 80 lb/130 gsm and 90 lb/160 gsm for a sheet that is slightly heavier and more opaque. 

Jackie at Intro to Free-motion Quilting at John C. Campbell Folk School.

I prefer a spiral bound (wire bound) sketchbook so the sketchbook lies flat when drawing. The spiral keeps the pages bound together for future reference. However, many spiral bound sketchbooks also have a perforation on each page should a page need to be removed for some reason. 

A sketchbook page filled with free-motion motifs. 

What size sketchbook?

I recommend a sketchbook that is at least 14" x 17". Why? Because you'll find there are a LOT of quilt blocks that are 12" so a larger sheet of paper will accommodate this popular block size.

Karen (left) and Karen (right) at Intro to Free-motion Quilting
at John C. Campbell Folk School.

What goes in the sketchbook?

In class, my students start with simple drawing exercises—drawing basic free-motion quilting [FMQ] shapes.

Katy (left) and Wendy (right) at Intro to Free-motion Quilting
at John C. Campbell Folk School.

After drawing and quilting the basic shapes on practice quilt sandwiches, we work through designs that can be used as edge-to-edge, all-over quilting patterns, and background fillers. 

Diane (left) and Kathie (right) at Intro to Free-motion Quilting
at John C. Campbell Folk School.

Where do you find new FMQ designs?

In search of new ideas for free-motion quilting designs? Use the motifs and designs from your fabrics as a reference. In a recent workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School, students received complimentary fat quarters from Art Gallery Fabrics as inspiration for developing motifs and continuous line patterns for their free-motion practice.

Dina at Intro to Free-motion Quilting at John C. Campbell Folk School.

Kathy at Intro to Free-motion Quilting at John C. Campbell Folk School.

Keep that sketchbook handy... and use it!

Use your sketchbook as an on-going FMQ reference book! It's a resource and tool for:

  • learning shapes and paths for new (or new-to-you) designs
  • auditioning different designs for quilt blocks, sashings, and borders
  • creating new designs
  • getting familiar with a design and its path before going to the sewing machine
  • exercising muscle memory
  • developing your repertoire of potential quilting patterns for current and future quilts.

And if you don't like a design, or you think you made a "mistake" in your sketchbook, you don't have to pick out any stitches!

Remember, your sketchbook is YOUR sketchbook. It doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to be "perfect." You don't have to show it to anyone if you don't want to. It's a work-in-progress... a reference tool for your FMQ practice.

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