Friday, August 15, 2014

A Lovely Unique Postcard from Lin and Other News

The other day I opened my mailbox and in it there was a lovely postcard from Lin. It had traveled all the way from France, which is so, so cool! Swapping textile postcards is like having a penpal, only a lot more fun as you get to display the neat postcards. Lin's postcard is made from fabric that she created herself and she talks about her work here

Lin created this multi-layer fabric that is quite interesting to look at. Thanks so much for swapping with me, Lin!

I've been working on a small, 10 x 15 inch (25 x 38 cm) improv quilt in greens. Yesterday while working on this quilt I took a photo of my studio which is how it usually looks when I'm working with fabric stacked on every available surface, including my looms. So now I feel better sharing this as this is really how my workspace looks ;-)

My green improv quilt is ready to be hand quilted and for some reason the color on the border is off in my photo. The color is actually a medium spring green, not an olive like it's showing here. Sorry.

I was looking around my studio and noticed the vibrant cones of 10/2 mercerized cotton yarn from Lunatic Fringe (they call it their Tubular Spectrum Gamp Kit) that I had purchased to weave bookmarks on my inkle loom. The colors are intense and the yarn has a nice sheen to it, so I'm using these yarns to quilt my improv quilt.

I'm exploring the liberated method of creating quilt blocks after reading a couple of books by Gwen Marston. Thanks, Gwen, for introducing me to a different way to look at quilting. I love it. I just finished a liberated log cabin block valance for my kitchen in bright colors. 

I'm off to go hiking with my dogs, Max and Sam.

Have a great weekend,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Few Finishes

I finished hand quilting the hexie quilt for my studio and I used various colors of pearl cotton thread to quilt it. I decided to go with a simple black border and it's now hanging right above my sewing desk where I get to see it each day.

I finally finished hand quilting the lady of the lake quilt and I like it so well that I decided to put in on our bed! I thought that the wool batting would be too hot for summer, but it actually feels quite nice. Now that I have new colors in our bedroom, it gives me an excuse to make new quilts for the walls. Not that I needed an excuse, mind you ;-)

I've been solar dyeing some corriedale wool and alpaca that I had on hand. I put the fiber in an old recycled mayo jar, poured a spruce acid dye solution over the top and then left it in the sun. After hand carding it I spun it into a thin singles on one of my spindles, then Navajo plied it on my spinning wheel.

I started hand quilting the improv groovy grape quilt and I decided to go with a bright yellow pearl cotton thread. What's happening to me? I like the bright colors now so I'm going to just go with it.

Do you frequent thrift stores? Here in Boise, there are many of them and my son and I like to visit them now and then to see what treasure we'll find. You have to sort through a lot of junk, but it can be worth it. One day Seb was jazzed to find some huge Sony speakers which disappeared into his workout room. Now he can shake the house when he cranks up his stereo. Okay, maybe I could have done without those....The last time I was digging around, I found a roll of something. Hmmm. I unwrapped the plastic covering the roll and discovered linen fabric. My first thought was who would drop off a large roll of linen?? And then I happily loaded it into my cart and brought it home, all 13 yards of it which had a $6 sticker on it. I pulled out my old serger and I've been sewing linen pillow cases, along with a bed sheet for us to use, which seems so decadent, but the linen feels so awesome.

I've wanted to sew a new valance for Seb's bathroom (this has been on my to do list for a couple of years now) and he requested Boise State colors which are bright blue and orange. Another improv piece came to mind which would give me the chance to use up some of the blue scraps that I've been saving and it would just be fun sewing.

Speaking of improv, I tried a liberated block for a textile postcard. It's not quite finished yet, but I thought that I'd share it.

I like to sit on our back patio in the mornings before it gets too hot, and just listen to the birds while hand stitching or knitting. We have a constant stream of hummers that visit the feeder which is so neat to see.

I have sunflowers that are growing in my backyard and yesterday an industrious squirrel decided that one of them had grown enough. He shimmied up the sunflower stalk, chewed the head off, and ran off with his prize.

Here's hoping that you have time for fiber/fabric today,

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Textile Postcards and Other News

For some time now I've been thinking about textile postcards as I wanted to swap cards with Lin and she does such nice work it really challenged me to create something special. Her card is done and its winging its way to France, so I can't share that photo just yet. I did create another postcard for someone who I don't think reads my blog, so it should be safe to share. I used batiks and cotton fabric that I had dyed along with silk ribbon embroidery to embellish it. It's 4 x 6 inches (10 cm x 15 cm) and it was just a lot of fun to make!

 I've been sewing hexies in the evenings, using batiks and solids, and I wanted two coasters to go with the new colors in my studio. The fronts of the coasters look like this

 and here's the backs. I've not really used much gray fabric in the past, but it's growing on me and I'm starting to like it more and more.

I've been reading Gwen Marston's book Liberated Quiltmaking ll and also her book Minimal Quiltmaking. She's a great author who challenges you to think outside the box (is that allowed??) and to find your own creative voice. After reading those books I decided to do a improvisational medallion quilt for my studio using batiks, solids and hand dyed fabric that I've dyed over the years. The top isn't finished yet, but I thought that I'd share what I've done so far-

Switching subjects to one of my favorites, the great state of Idaho, I recently drove my parents to a forest fire lookout, the Thorn Creek Butte lookout, which is 25 miles (40 km) from Boise. I meant to drive up forest service road 203, but I didn't have my GPS on and I was chatting with my parents, so I missed the road. Darn. Rather than drive miles back, we chose to drive up forest service road 304 which took us past the Bald Mountain campground where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Then we pushed on towards the lookout which was a very scenic drive, a bit challenging in spots which made me rather thankful for a four wheel drive vehicle. My old Landcruiser that I drive did just fine :-) I was glad that we didn't meet any other vehicles as the road is quite narrow. We drove around the last bend in the road past a lovely field of lupines providing a wash of a soft lavender color

to arrive at the lookout, elevation 7550 feet (2.3 km). It was boarded up since there was no one using it but the stairs were available to climb up.

The views were outstanding once we climbed up the stairs with mountains as far as one could see from every side of the lookout.

Max had a great time running around, exploring the area.

On the way back home to Boise we stopped in Idaho City at Trudy's Kitchen where we had some coffee with some wonderful huckleberry cheesecake. Mmmmm. Outstanding. Someone told me the calories don't count if you're with friends or family ;-)

Here's hoping that you have time for fiber/fabric,

Monday, July 28, 2014

Hexagon Fun and Hiking the Around the Mountain Trail

This morning I realized that it's been a long time since I've sat down to answer email and to write a post. Do you find sometimes you just feel dry creatively? The past couple of weeks I've felt rather uninspired to be creative, but I find that I've started dreaming about quilts and weaving once again. Life goes in stages, I know, so there are times when it's good to slow life down and rest a bit. If my family reads this, they'll be laughing quite hard, as I hardly ever slow down.

I tried something different with the batik and solid hexagons that I have been sewing in the evenings over the past year. Instead of the traditional flower form, I chose random colors and sewed them into strips, then sewed the strips together. It's funny how the hand sewing seemed like such a big deal when I first started working with hexies as it was much slower than I was used to ( I sew with my machine pedal pushed to the floor ;-). Now I find that it's rather peaceful to sew each hexie together and to watch the quilt build one piece at a time, knowing that it gets done when it gets done.

This small quilt was hand quilted using a neutral thread. I dyed the quilt back by pushing the cotton fabric into a small yogurt container filled with dye solution and then letting it sit for 24 hours without agitation. This small quilt is now hanging on my front door and it's a cheery burst of color that welcomes us home.

I've wanted to create new quilts for my studio walls in different colors (no more blue!) and I've been thinking of what appeals to me. Right now I'm really liking solids and batiks, so online I found a couple of neat Kona cotton fat quarter collections that I ordered in various purples and pinks.

Then I started thumbing through quilt books, thinking about quilt designs/patterns that I want to make. I chose the first wall quilt,which is another hexie quilt. Gee, what a surprise, right? Okay, maybe this is as addictive as knitting socks! The first quilt for my studio will be in these colors with the addition of gray, which is not a color that I use very often.

I'm hand quilting the lady of the lake quilt using big stitches and perle cotton. It's coming along nicely and I'm hoping to sew the binding on soon.

This past weekend I was hiking with my family up at Bogus Basin where we were able to escape the heat in the valley. It's so awesome that Bogus is close to Boise! We hiked trail 91 to where it connects with trail 98, which in turn goes around the mountain providing great views and a nice hike. There were many other hikers and mountain bikers out enjoying the day on the mountain so the word is out that this is a fun trail to do.

 We caught views of wildflowers
Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
Small-flowered Paintbrush (Castilleja parviflora)
White Mariposa Lily (Calochortus eurycarpus)
and butterflies along the trail.
Max found a trickle of water to roll in, cooling himself off. Then he was all set to keep on hiking-

He's smelling the cheeseburgers now, pulling me along faster and faster.

A very dusty Max
 Bogus Basin had their grills fired up which we could smell as we were finishing the hike down towards the ski lodge. Mmmmmm, that just smelled simply too good to resist, so we sat outside in the shade with our dogs, polishing off delicious cheeseburgers while watching the other hikers/mountain bikers coming down the mountain. What an awesome way to spend a day!

Maybe we'll see you on the trail next time....

Judy & Max

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fun Vacation Times in Idaho

My family and I just got back from a camping vacation in the Sawtooth National Forest where we fished, hiked, rode dual sport motorcycles, and then collapsed into camp chairs after having so much fun over the fourth of July weekend. Our son, Seb, stopped long enough for me to get a good photo of him.

As we drove along, we noticed that our favorite fishing spots were quite busy, in fact in some areas it was combat fishing with four or five people standing close together. I guess the word is out about how nice the fishing is on the Salmon River!

Early in the morning, my husband and I enjoyed listening to the birds while hearing the water flowing in the background, and watching the sun come up while sipping our French pressed coffee. Bliss.

I took along a backpack filled with fiber to spin and my favorite hand spindles, so I had plenty to play with.

 I was spinning Cormo wool and kid mohair that I had dyed using bright blue and turquoise dyes which was then blended on hand cards into rolags.

 I was also working with Corriedale blended with alpaca on my hand cards that I had dyed using spring green, cheery yellow, and a soft plum. The Corriedale is soft and springy to work with-

We rode our dual sport motorcycles for hours down a forest service road that followed a small stream.

 As we rode along the road got progressively narrower and rougher as we climbed altitude. I did my first water crossing which was a hoot.

The views were outstanding from the mountains around us to the wildflowers that covered the surrounding hills.

It was a great vacation that we look forward to every summer. I think these photos sum up our feelings quite well :-)

Here's hoping that you have time for fiber/fabric today,