Fall Yarns and a Fun Tote

Two self-striping sock yarn colorways are now available in my shop:  Fall Colors (with Plum), which is on the left, and Dark Anchorage Autumn on the right.

For eye candy, I included photos of a tote bag I made in July for a fundraiser for the Alaska Sudan Medical Project  The colorful designs were created by printing with food onto white fabric.  It was a lot of fun and a therapeutic activity on a dark winter day.  The wavy red lines at the top of the tote in the last picture were created by edges of (uncooked) lasagne noodles.

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Jelly Roll Race Baby Quilt

DSCN1295I needed two baby quilts in a hurry and was thrilled to find the Jelly Roll Race pattern online. The instructions are excellent, so I will not add additional ones here.

Before I found the pattern, I bought two jelly rolls at Seams Like Home, which has a big selection for Anchorage but small for anywhere else. Naturally, there were no “baby” rolls, but I prefer brights anyway.  The rolls were “Grunge” from Moda Fabrics (the solids) and Rowan’s Kaffe Fassett Spots.

I used 17 strips.  I cut each strip in half, making each strip 21″ long instead of 42″, so that the colors would change more often:  After all, the baby quilt is significantly smaller than the one shown.  Then I sewed them end-to-end, as instructed.  I used the recommended chain-piecing technique, which was fast and fun.DSCN1287

After sewing all of them, I had something that looked to me like prayer flags.  I just snipped the threads between each one and–voila–had one super-long strip.DSCN1291

Before beginning to sew the sides together, instead of cutting off 18″ (for the large quilt), I cut off 9″.DSCN1292

I don’t know if it was necessary to change the measurement, but I do know that a cut is necessary:  Otherwise, the strips will all start and end in the same place instead of looking random.

This is only the third baby quilt I’ve made–and I’ve never made a larger quilt.  A personal lesson I learned is to stitch 3/8″ seams instead of 1/4″.  This is because, despite using a 1/4″ presser foot, my seam allowances are not perfect.  The following showed up after I washed and dried the quilt.DSCN1293

In fact, after mending this I found a second, similar spot.  Aargh!  Hopefully a 3/8″ seam allowance in the future will prevent this.

I did use a 3/8″ seam allowance on the binding, where something similar occurred on my previous quilt.  I had no problem (such as the above) AND the binding looks better with the extra 1/4″ inside it. I used a shot cotton for the binding and back; its softness made it nice for hand-stitching but it was somewhat challenging to make lie flat on the back.

I hand-embroidered the name before machine-quilting.

The Jelly Roll Race quilt was fun and easy to make; I highly recommend it!

My Most Important Craft Work To Date

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A dear family friend, pictured above, died three years ago.  His daughter is, at age 46, unexpectedly (and happily) pregnant for the first time.  She emailed me her favorite photo of Dad and I found the music online for a song he liked to play. Mom gave me one of his shirts, of which I used one sleeve and one strip from the front, saving the rest for future projects; it is the dark gray with blue and purple stripes at the bottom of the first photo, and you’ll see multiple squares of it in the photo below.

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The staff at The Quilted Raven helped me select fabrics to add to those I already had.  (They have a HUGE selection of Alaskan fabrics, FYI.)  To transfer photos to fabric, I used Lesley Riley’s Transfer Artist Paper, which I ordered online from JoAnn’s.  It transferred the images beautifully to fabric, but the fabric does feel a bit stiff, so I may try something else next time.  (Do you see the photos I used of the Northern Lights, the Alaska flag and the words to the Alaska Flag Song?)  A Quilted Raven staff member suggested denim for the edging, and I found a beautifully dark and soft denim fabric at JoAnn’s.

Experienced quilters will find plenty to criticize in this quilt, but no one else offered to make a quilt like this for these beloved family friends.  This is our best shot at having Grandpa hold that new baby girl in his arms.

Teddy Bear Quilts

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The Anchorage Log Cabin Quilting Guild had its Teddy Bear Tea last month, in which members brought in the miniature quilts they had made to accompany stuffed animals/beanie babies.  These are given to charities and service organizations that deal with children; representatives from a few of those were present and spoke of how they used the donations.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera to the meeting, so the only photo I have is of my own donations before I took them.

I had bought several men’s shirts for $1 each at a thrift store and incorporated them into the quilts shown in the foreground.  I enjoy that very much–using perfectly good fabric that would otherwise be thrown into a landfill.

Making mini quilts is such a good way to practice skills and gives a reason for doing so.  At the meeting I showed my corners, which are not perfectly square, to an experienced quilter.  “Allow more fabric when turning the corner on the binding” was her advice. Fortunately I don’t have to discard or rip out my imperfect attempts:  The children are not going to care about slightly-curved corners.

The beanie babies are the generous gift of a yarn customer; you can see that I still have plenty to use in the future.

Snow on the Mountains

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I’ve been wearing handknit wool socks nearly every day. The photo above shows a swatch of my Russian Rainbow colorway for The Quilted Raven.  For every colorway that I dye for that shop, I knit a little swatch so that the customers can see what the final product will look like.

I have just dyed twelve skeins of Russian Rainbow sock yarn for my etsy shop, that I will reskein and list in the afternoon or evening on Sunday, September 20.  Here they are, cooling on the deck: DSCN0159

I finished a couple of quilting projects.  The first was a guild challenge in the evening group, to make something from someone else’s fat quarter for them.  We put the fat quarters that we brought in into brown bags (with our name in them), and the leader shuffled them around so that we each got someone else’s.  I’ll be gone for the October reveal, so I mailed the book that I covered to the fat quarter owner.  The fat quarter fabric can be seen by itself in the inner facings of the book cover. DSCN0147DSCN0143

This was my first time using the free-motion foot and it was fun.  Of course I could have used the walking foot, but it was broken, which forced me to finally use that free-motion foot!  🙂

I also finished a quilt to accompany a stuffed animal–this soft puppy being one of many given to me by a yarn customer and now friend, Cynthia.  This is for a charity project through the quilting guild, whereby stuffed animals and accompanying quilts are given to social service agencies, to be given to children in need.

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I enjoyed using “minky” fabric for the first time, to make the quilt back as soft as the puppy.  I hand-tied the quilt, so as not to disturb the minky dots.  I sewed the satin binding on with my free-motion foot (because the walking foot was kaputt) and it worked fine!  I then hand-stitched it, which I did NOT like.  That’s the kind of stuff I needed to learn.

While I dyed yarn I listened to numerous episodes of the podcast from Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) called Magic Lessons.  (Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear is the title of her new book coming out September 22.)  Some of us have an urge to create that, if denied, is a burden and a depressive force in our lives.  She helps people respond to that creative urge and to do the creative work that they need to do. The latest podcast featured guest Brene Brown, whose work on vulnerability and shame you may know.

I saw an article earlier today that might interest you: “Why Making Art is the new Meditation”

A blog I really enjoy is Spirit Cloth. The Maker, Jude Hill, hand-stitches natural-dyed cloth and does so for herself, not to sell or show in an art gallery.  She has a huge following and posts photos and thoughts daily.

A really good book, free online, Wishcraft, helps you recognize what it is that you really want and how to align what you do every day with that goal so that you achieve it.

I will be in Italy for the first three weeks of October and I do not know if I will blog from there or wait until I return.  My husband is taking a photo course for a week in Venice and then we will visit a couple of other Italian cities. I will definitely take LOTS OF pictures!

What If I Fail?

DSCN0031I have given myself a new opportunity for growth.  I was invited to join a small group of quilters who create improvisational art quilts for charity.  The current charity is the local Nordic Ski Association, and we are making quilts for its November silent auction.  The group chose the theme “Tracks.”  I might utterly fail at my first few attempts, so I’ve already begun sewing! I sewed white strips together to use for snow and others to use for woods–as a start.

Just to show that I can do more than just run over a stitched piece (in a previous post), here is the result of another exercise.  We brainstormed items that occur in pairs or sets and then chose one and had about 90 minutes to create a piece.  Here is mine:DSCN0029

I have prepared yarn for dyeing the following colorways tomorrow:  Russian Rainbow (4 skeins), Lupine (2 skeins) and Sunprint (4 skeins).  Sunprint is not really sun printed–just inspired by the wonderful colors I achieved with fabric these past weeks.  (Of course you could sun print yarn, but I’ll save that experiment for next summer.) Sunprint will have 9 color segments. Here is yet another photo of sun printed fabrics that provided the inspiration: DSCN0033

…. And Then I Ran Over the Quilt With my Car.

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I unabashedly stole the idea for this blog title from the wonderful surface design blog, And Then We Set It On Fire.  But fellow quilting student Peggy Kugel freely gave me the advice to run over my quilt with my car.

Instructor Rayna Gillman asked us to make a piece with two neutrals and one bright color and we had about 90 minutes to do so.  I was having trouble with the whole idea of creating abstract compositions, as you can see.DSCN0010

I put my finished piece up on the display wall with the back side showing and announced, “I’m calling this ‘Springtime in Anchorage.'” DSCN0011

That’s when Peggy made her suggestion.

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I mixed 1 part textile medium with 2 parts black acrylic paint, applied it to the tire, and drove forward two feet. I like the result!  I might embellish it with a scrap of fur (to represent road kill), a bit of a greasy McDonald’s wrapper and a few shards from a broken taillight. Then it will be clear (to any Alaskan) why it is called “Springtime in Alaska.”

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See that rusty spot on the car body?  Maybe rust dyeing will be my next textile adventure. I can use duct tape to attach a piece of fabric to the car–or maybe I’ll wait until I have another quilted piece that needs improvement and then use that.

P.S. Rayna’s class was FABULOUS and I learned a lot. I treasure the relationships I formed with fellow artists–especially with Peggy!