Monday, July 8, 2019

Winging It Creatively

This goes out to all my friends who sometimes (or maybe always) wing it when working on a creative piece. I’m not one of those people who plan everything out in detail before starting. I tend to dive in and go for it. Of course I do have a habit of thinking and thinking and thinking about something before I actually start doing it but once I start anything can happen.

I’ve been working on a couple of small art quilts using my Stitch Meditations. The meditations were started with no thought of how they might be used, they were just quick (well maybe not so quick) stitching using scraps of fabric and threads. As they progressed though they started presenting themselves as something more and I just had to go with it. Even to the point of not doing stitch meditations on a daily basis. I will get back to that though because I really enjoy it and they seem to spark more ideas.

So I just started seeing how I could put some of these little pieces together. For one I knew I wanted a “white-whitish” background using strips of different white and white-on-white fabrics in varying widths. I wanted to quilt the background using straight – well sort of straight – lines. I originally thought I would do lines very close together but when I just did lines ¼ to ½ inches apart I decided that was the look I had in mind. See less is more as one of my art teachers always told me. I had a tendency to throw everything but the “kitchen sink” into my work. So she always encouraged me to remove something. Nowadays I’m trying to use that principle more and more.

Okay the background is done, now to attach the stitch meditations. Once I had arranged them the way I wanted I noticed the ones in the four corners had a little curve to them and if I arranged them just right it gave a hint of a circle to the piece.

After looking at it on my design wall for some time I thought I wanted to add some stitching on the background to add to the circle effect. After talking with some friends and getting their opinions (some saw what I was getting at, others had other ideas I could try) I went with my original idea and finally dove in and started stitching.
I wasn’t too pleased with the way it was looking but since I had put in the beginning stitches I had to commit to them (I was afraid if I pulled them out I would have big pukas (holes in Hawaiian) that would be difficult to hide. The thread I was using was DMC Pearl cotton size 8 and the needle was fairly thick.
After I started and did the bottom section and part of one side I put it up on the design wall. I liked it but the stitching was a little wonkier than I wanted. I wanted a very organic circle not a perfect circle.
Light bulb moment: I really should have put it up on the wall and then determined where my stitching would be placed. It would have been easier to see where the line should be rather than looking at it flat on the table. I could have used a string or tracing paper to get it placed better. With the tracing paper I penciled in the lines on the paper and then made a few marks for guides and then cut out the tracing paper.

Now it was time to mark the background. Remember the background is white. I did not want my markings to show. I did not want to use an erasure or water to remove the marks. Then I remembered my Hera tool. That will make a small crease in the fabric that will stay there until I have finished stitching. Perfect.

I’m done stitching and I’m not sure it had the effect I was hoping for but it’s done.
Next time I think I would test it out on a small sample first. And of course I have the tips for marking now that I can use at the beginning of the project rather than in the middle!

I’m thinking I may like it better if I added another circle inside the circle and another one inside that. But for now it’s done.

I can always come back and add more circles if I want to because:

Less is more but sometimes, just sometimes, more is better!

Enjoy stitching!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Then This Happened

So this happened
At the beginning of 2019 I was going through my writings/notes and journalings for the past years and I recognized a theme. I procrastinate a lot and as a consequence I don’t do well at starting and finishing projects/ideas/tasks. I have a lot of ideas, projects, and tasks and I spend a lot of time thinking- just sitting and thinking about them. Even this post has been on my mind since the start of the new year.
I realize once I do get started it either gets finished or gets advanced to a point where I need to consider my next step. I rarely have a beginning to end plan and when I do things tend to change along the way. However that puts me back into the sitting and thinking about it mode. Which is okay, except when I’ve come up with the next step I tend to just keep thinking about it rather than start doing it.

Then this happened.

I went into Facebook and Facebook popped up a memory for me:
On 1/18/2011 I wrote a note “So instead of sitting and thinking of what to do I’m gonna adopt Nike’s slogan and get up and “Just Do It”!”

Wow that was in 2011! Guess I didn’t do what I said that time.

Then this happened.

A few weeks later I was on my way to church and thinking about my starting/finishing situation. I pulled up at a stoplight. The car in front of me had a bumper sticker that said “Just Do It”. Yup that’s right. Another prompt.

Then this happened.

A few weeks later I was leafing through some old magazines and the Summer 2009 Art Quilting Studio magazine had this The Last Page article “Go Do” by Cynthia Shaffer:
Photo of magazine article

One line she wrote struck me “Go Do is also followed by “you can’t finish until you start”. Uh-huh another prompt.

So I am attempting to encourage myself to get up and get started.
Towards the end of 2018 I was trying to get myself out of a somewhat depressed/overwhelmed state that had stalled my creative self. I came across a group on Facebook called Stitch Meditations. I wrote about it here. It helped me recoup a lot. So I was determined to do one a day for 365 days – a whole year. I fell behind a few days but did 2+ a day to catch up. But then I reached #64 and stopped – well not completely. I was still creating working on a small wall hanging quilt. I just wasn’t doing a completed daily Stitch Meditation.
Then my daughter started encouraging me to join in the 100day project. I had done a similar challenge back in 2015 to do some art every day. I made it to day 51. So I’m thinking 50-60 days is about my limit.
I went to Instagram to look at one post my daughter thought I would like.

And then this happened.

I started scrolling through the #100dayproject and sure enough another prompt. Andrea Scher posted her first day one:
Instagram photo by Andrea Scher

So I’ve decided to join in. I plan to do some form of random slow stitching every day for 100 days. It may be on a Stitch Meditation, or a small collage or an art quilt, or even an original embroidery design or scribble. It may only take an hour to finish or it may take several days.
But every day I will pick up needle and thread and slow stitch something.
My day one entry:
Photo of my day one 100dayproject

Just start!


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday Thoughts - Blue, Red, Yellow

Stitch Meditations Done in Blue, Red, and Yellow

I am still working on my Stitch Meditations. I occasionally get behind but then I catch up only to get behind again.
I worked a series of red and white for valentines and then worked a series of white, cream, and beige. Then I went back to color.
I did an all blue one. Then I decided to do an all yellow one. Since those are primary colors I decided to do another red one. And then the thought came to me: isn’t it amazing that God took just three colors and from them created all the other colors we so enjoy today. That just blew my mind. And then I thought wow – Blue for heaven where God’s throne is, Red for His blood that was shed for our redemption, and Yellow for His Spirit, the light of the world. And really that’s all the color we need.
That’s my Sunday thought for this week.
Enjoy living in such a colorful world!


Friday, February 1, 2019

I did it! 30 Daily Stitch Meditations!

The first 30 Stitch Meditations for 2019

Here’s a look at all of them. I’m going to explore with you some of hat them in more depth as we go along. Some I like more than others; some have taught me valuable lessons about myself and my style. But the first ones I’m going to cover are these.
Recently a friend was giving away strips of fabric she wanted to get rid of. They had been decorated by students at a workshop she taught. I took 3 of her strips but had no idea why.
Then I started researching an idea I had to see if anyone else was doing it. Well you know what happens online in places like google; Pinterest; Flickr and the likes. Rabbit holes are all over the place! I stumbled on this technique and realized that was what was going on with those fabric strips.
About the same time I came across the Stitch Meditation group on Facebook. I joined in and started creating little mini fabric collages which became a perfect place to use pieces of the strips. I’ve indicated where the strip was used on each piece.
First up are the “whole cloth” ones, only stitches were added to these and sometimes some buttons and lace. 
One took on the appearance of a fan.
Fan shape with lace trim
Another one had faces looking out at me. 
Faces one side view one straight on

One spoke to me of a summer cloudburst. 
Summer cloudburst over the hills

And then there was just stitches wandering around buttons and space.
Stitches and buttons wandering around

Placed with other fabric they blended in sometimes just a square in the middle,
Square in the middle
sometimes most of the middle,
Most of the middle section
or on the left side.
On the left side
One even joined with a piece of felt leftover from a stitching project my 4 year old granddaughter and I made.
A piece of felt and lots of stitching

Now back to the rabbit hole:
The process is simply using pre-washed fabric, rubbing alcohol and Sharpie pens. You can do it flat or place the fabric over a jar or some type of container and then use rubber bands to hold the fabric in place.
You color the fabric with two or three markers and then spritz it with a little rubbing alcohol or use an eye dropper to drop the rubbing alcohol onto the colored area. Then be patient and watch the magic happen. The color will start to spread. You can add more rubbing alcohol if desired or wait for the fabric to dry (takes just minutes) and then add more color and/or rubbing alcohol.
Some Sharpies will not work; like the ones made for fabric or the fast drying ones.
This process requires experimentation, patience, and imagination. The fabric should be heat set with an iron for 5 minutes (keep moving the iron to keep from scorching the fabric and use a press cloth), or it can be placed in a dryer.
It is best to use this fabric where it will not require washing.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Too Practical? Maybe

Okay so now here’s an idea for those of you who use a sewing machine. Remember I warned you that some of my tips may be out there. This one may be going a little too practical.
You know it’s recommended that when you go to change your thread that you snip the thread up by the spool and then pull the loose thread out through the needle. If you pull the thread back through the machine thread lint gets into the machine. Not good. Now if you rarely change your thread like only when the spool is empty or nearly so – no problem. But if you change colors a lot like I was doing recently it seems like a waste of thread to do it the correct way. Do I just throw it away? Chop it up for the birds? Wad it up and store it somewhere – say in a baggie – until an art piece comes along where I can use it? All good ideas but then another one hit me.
I make a lot of yoyo’s, sew on buttons, and hand stitch stuffed things closed, etc. I looked at the length of thread snipped off when changing threads and realized that it’s about the length I use for hand sewing. What if I kept a few empty hand sewing needles near my machine? I could thread them with my snipped off thread and I would be ready to go next time I needed to do some hand sewing.
Thread Saver and Needle Safe

I double the thread and knot it with a single knot at the very end. If I want to sew with a single thread I just cut off the knot and re-knot one end.
Storage for me wasn’t a problem as I keep a needle safe loaded and ready for yoyo making. But I didn’t want to clutter up my sewing area any more than it already is, so I added a piece of felt around an empty spool and stuck my needles there. When I get several threaded I’ll add them to the needle safe and reload my felt with empty needles.
You could also put the felt around an empty medicine container and that way the inside of the container could hold broken, damaged, used needles and pins.
Felt and Empty Medicine Container with Needles

Enjoy stitching!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Well, Well, Well,

It’s Monday night and I have a tip for you. Well that is if you are doing French knots. Talking embroidery here.
I frequently use a lap pillow when I’m doing handwork to support my hands and wrists. 
Lap Pillow for Handwork

But when I started doing the daily Stitch Meditations I grabbed one of my small block/applique holders to contain the small pieces I was working with. These holders are just made from the purple insulation boards or foam-core boards that are then covered with either batting, felt, or flannel. I made these many years ago when my son helped me put up my design walls. We have small pieces of the purple board left over so I covered them and used duct tape (the fancier kind) to hold the fabric down and to neaten up the edges of the boards. 

You can see I have several sizes.
So one day while I was using the smaller one, I started making French knots and just happened to stick my needle into the board. The board held the needle while I tightened up my thread before I pulled the needle and thread all the way through. I found that I could even lift the knot and fabric up to the top of the needle before removing it from the board. This made for some much neater knots and more consistent knots.

Needle stuck in board while making French Knot

Pulling the thread taut for the knot

Knot ready to be finished

The finished knot:
Completed French Knot

Now if you are wanting the looser, sloppier knots this probably won’t help much. But I’ve found myself using this method more and more. I may even modify the pillow pattern to put a pocket on the bottom to hold the small board so I have it when I stitch other places than home.

And that’s my tip for today. I’m not sure I will have a new tip every Monday (some of them may seem a little far-fetched I guess) but you can always search my blog for some of my older ones.

Happy French knots!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Finish It Friday Is Back!

Well technically Finish It Friday is to be something I finish on Friday. This kinda is since it is Stitch Meditations for Week One 2019-
I'm actually planning on posting these every seven days so I am a little late with the first seven for 2019.
So here they are:
Fabric samples from long ago plus some old variegated threads

Background fabric hand marbled by my son 30 years ago, dk pink scrap left after cutting out petal for an applique rose design. Looked like a footprint to me!

Scraps of fabric and a couple of buttons.

Background fabric was cut from a piece of Sharpie/rubbing alcohol treated fabric gifted to me. My son mentioned a fan I had when he was a kid and this piece turned into a fan with a little stitching and some lace.

Scraps of random fabric stitched together, some more of the Sharpie/rubbing alcohol fabric plus two commercial fabrics. This is one of my most favorite works so far. So much so that I scooped up what little fabric I had of these and stored them away for a future small art quilt I want to make.

Just some scraps of fabric, a yoyo someone else made and a button tied together with some sweet light pink thread.

Scraps of fabric and two buttons. Love the slightly bohemian look of this one.