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Monday, March 30, 2009

First quilt retreat!

     I'm back from my first ever quilt retreat.  So fun to get away from everyday life with a group of people who have the same goal "What can I create today?"  It's amazing how much stuff needs to be gathered and taken to a retreat.  Sleeping bag, pillow and an extra blanket, shower supplies, clean clothes and most important all the sewing stuff.  Irons, ironing board,  a lamp, extension cords, cutting boards, scissors, thread, cloth, miscellaneous tools and inspiration, oh yea a sewing machine!  I opted not to take my sewing machine this time and just work on some hand sewing while I was there.  I took my traction machine for my neck instead.  
     I do like to just relax and do some hand sewing occasionally but it seems to get pushed to the back burner more often than not.  I have a couple of projects that I either bought on a trip or after a trip to remind me of the vacation.  One is from a trip to Napa, California, the other is from a trip to Ireland.  So it was good to work on these things and talk to the people around me and laugh.  Laughter is always good.
     We were at a lake for this retreat and I have never been to a lake while the ice was breaking up.  I couldn't believe how loud it was.  That was so fun to hear!  I love nature and don't think I will ever stop having a child's delight in the magically complex, simplicity of our environment.  I took some photos of the ice, the snail shells washed up on the beach, trees and leaves.  I am just starting in a group that will be creating bark and leaves on postcards so I took lot's of pictures of the trees.  I was just starting to get some leaf photos when my battery went dead in my camera.  I'll have to go to a park around here and get some photos of leaves to study.  
     I forgot one more thing we each brought to the retreat was a snack to share.  I have to show you this photo of cupcakes that Wanda made.  She has such a wonderful sense of humor and it even shows in her food!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Where and when

Several people have asked for more information about the sale.  It's worth coming just to see the facility where the sale is held.  It's a retirement community.  I do mean community!  It's beautiful, there is an indoor restaurant, a small grocery store a hairdresser and barber, a chapel, a town hall meeting place a small library all wrapped around a beautiful courtyard.  This is all indoors but you have the feeling of walking down mainstreet to get to each of these places.  It's all accessible to their apartments somewhere on the other side of this huge facility. 
I've seen some of the items that will be for sale and they are gorgeous.  So, come buy gifts for all those special occasions coming up soon.  Now, I'd better get busy!  Have a creative day! Janet

Saturday, March 21, 2009


The IKEA Adventure is over for me.  My quilt sold!  Yeah!  The money goes for the children's summer program at the Textile Center.  There were a lot of people at the sale, a band played, food kept arriving for the entire event.  It was fun for me to see all of the other quilts.  I had only seen a few before the show.  The creativity involved was incredible.  They were all so unique.  The quilts that didn't sale tonight will be sold through the Textile Center in St Paul.  Watch for your chance to buy one of these incredible quilts.  
I talked with the person who bought my quilt about the inspiration behind it.  I spoke about this in a previous post that I was inspired by the voters at this years election.  She and her husband seemed quite happy with their purchase and I felt good knowing it went to a good home. Have a creative day. Janet

Hand dyed scarves

Here are a few of my hand dyed scarves.  Still may add a little to some.  I've ironed the cotton scarves but I need to iron all of the silk scarves and figure out how to display them as well as make tags for each.  A lot more involved in sales than I thought about previously!  Such is life.  I always jump in first and ask questions later. LOL  I definitely have some favorites here, one in particular I'm not really liking but my husband and son convinced me I need variety and not everyone has the same taste as me, so maybe someone else will like it.  What a learning experience this has all been. Have a creative day! Janet

Friday, March 20, 2009

Back from the framer & still dyeing scarves

I finally got my split rock lighthouse back from the framer.  It was supposed to be for my hubby for his birthday, still is, just a little late.    I love the frame!

Here is a photo of the solid scarves I dyed yesterday.  I just want to add a little to a few of them.  Bright spring colors!?  

Here is a photo of the rest of the scarves.  All ready for dye.

One last photo with the dye.  

Have a creative day. Janet

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dyeing scarves!

Still getting ready for the spring fling sale.  Today I'm dyeing scarves.  I have quite a few. I figure if they don't sale I'll have gifts to give for awhile!  I'm using some soy wax batik, procion dyes, jacquard paints, and rust dye.  Might do some stamping too.  I'm just having fun playing with these different techniques.
My husbands eyes lit up when he saw the new electric skillet on the counter this morning.  Poor man thought I was going to cook!  I bought an inexpensive skillet to use for melting wax.  I do cook but I'm not always as creative any more, especially when I have a deadline.  And probably too often my cooking skills resort to a phone call for take out.  This is what the counter in our kitchen looked like by the time he left for work.  And here is my new skillet. I used the soy wax on five of my six cotton scarves.  Each one is a little different.  It will be fun to see how they turn out.  I plan to dye them and than overdye them.  Also planning to overdye the cotton scarf I already rust dyed.  I have 12 each of two sizes of silk scarves.  I took six of each and am dyeing those with procion dyes.  Than I plan to use the soy wax and dye them once more.  They will be well dyed at any rate.  Here are some photos of my waxed fabrics and my silk scarves in the dye. Have a creative day! Janet

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sale time!

I'm trying to get some things ready for my first ever sale.  I have no idea what to expect with this.  I'm trying to make mostly small things. With the economy in a down turn, I'm sure 'extras' are last on most peoples' list of what to buy.  I'm hand dyeing scarves, making small, 5 x 7 landscapes that will be framed, some little bookcovers, maybe a few small purses, possibly some postcards.  I'm just trying to be as productive as possible the next two weeks as the sale is the first week of April.  Here is a sample of one of my bookcovers that can be re-used if you buy more of the little insert books.  Do you think anyone will buy it?  Have a creative day! Janet

Sunday, March 15, 2009

dyeing fabric Minnesota style

I feel very fortunate to be a member of Minnesota Contemporary Quilters.  They are a great group of women, and I love to go to our meetings once a month.  I learn a lot from the wonderful speakers we have but what I find most inspiring are the comedians in our group.  It isn't always the same person but there is always someone with a story that just makes me laugh out loud picturing their adventures with quilts.  When you are a contemporary quilter you often have adventures with your quilts, you certainly let them become a part of who you are at that point in time.  This last meeting was no exception.  I can't even begin to tell the story like she did, just picture yourself in front of a bank of snow in your front yard.  Fabric in one hand, a bottle of spray bleach in the other.  Neighbors peering from behind curtains wondering, what is that crazy lady up to now.  We do often become the neighborhood oddball because we do odd things in our yards such as pounding flowers, dyeing fabric, using heat guns on fabric, using wood burning tools on fabric, rusting fabric, (yes I admit I have done all of these) and now bleaching fabric in the snow.  I still haven't tried the garbage truck fabric but rumors are, that one wasn't true.
Some friends I've met through the internet were talking about dyeing fabric outside by their pool in California.  It was snowing here and I have to admit I was a little tired of winter at that point.  I told my husband I had warm weather envy!  He said yes but you have something they don't have, snow!  So, I got outside the next day and tried my snow discharge adventure.  My results weren't as spectacular as hers, she had three different fabrics and they looked like batiks by the time she was done.  You need to let serendipity happen with this technique and I think I tried to control it too much.  I pressed it down into the snow.  It was also still very cold that day, and I think she said the warm sun helps.  So I will try this again.  Might have to wait until next winter now (I hope)  as much of the snow is melting.

Today I'm having my small group over so we can play with lutradur.  I've never used it before and wanted to try as it looks so intriguing.  We will probably end up outside at some point.  I think the weather is supposed to be good.  It was gorgeous yesterday.   Later this month the guild is having a retreat.  I think only a couple of us from our small group are going.  I've never been on a sewing retreat and am really looking forward to this.  I'll have to remember to take my camera and a notebook to write down our adventures.  I'm sure we will have some. Have a creative day. Janet

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mystery complete

I received another postcard this week.  It's so appropriate for this time of year.  I love taking the dog out in the morning to the sound of the birds outside.  Since I haven't heard them for months (seems like years) they all sound at least twice as big as they really are.  Their little songs just echo in what has been a quiet stillness since at least some time in November.  They bring hope of spring with their joy filled songs.  Gladys' postcard is full of beautiful birds and I just love it.  Gladys is in the learningfa group.

I've also finished the mystery quilt we were doing in that group.  I've never done a mystery before and wasn't sure how it would turn out.  I'm a little rusty at piecing since I haven't done much of that lately but I do like my quilt.  It isn't perfect but then neither am I.  I'm amazed at how different each of the quilt's looks.  It's a great way to study color.  If you go to Shirley's site she has several posted there. She has also recently done a bear thread painting tutorial that is just incredible.  Here is one more photo that show some of my design wall.  It's just an inexpensive tablecloth with a flannel back.  My husband put a small strip of wood along the top of the wall.  I glued velcro to the strip, and sewed velcro to the tablecloth.  I put velcro on the top and one side so I can hang it either direction.  I think it works pretty well.  Have a creative day. Janet

Sunday, March 8, 2009

IKEA Challenge

Late last August I was one of fifty people who received a packet of fabric from the IKEA store in the Twin Cities.  The Project Patchwork Challenge was in conjunction with the Textile Center in St Paul.  The quilts would eventually be sold to benefit the youth program at the Textile Center.  Part of our incentive was the possibility of having your quilt displayed on a poster in the light rail train stations in the Twin Cities.  (Free advertising)   Mine is one of the quilts on the poster.  I was very surprised mine was chosen.  (The poster is at the top of the page, mine is the top right side) Part of the guidelines were we could only use IKEA fabric on the front of the quilt, and it still needed to be recognizable as IKEA fabric when it was complete.  So, no overdyeing to change the color etc.  You could go and buy more IKEA fabric from the store if you weren't inspired by what was in your packet of four, 1 yard fabrics.  I decided to stick with the fabric I was given because I know I often try to second guess myself and most of the time that doesn't work out.  So the challenge was on.  If we finished our quilts by a certain date we would receive a $50 gift certificate to spend at IKEA.  I set that goal for myself.  Since I am fairly new to contemporary quilting, I thought that would be a wonderful prize for me.  I had no idea how difficult my Fall would become when I signed up for this.  Lot's of family emergencies floated to the surface last Fall and that's enough said there. The first week in November I still had no clear plan for my quilt.  I was starting to panic, just a little, because the gift certificate deadline was fast approaching.  But, a wonderful thing happened.  I have been an election judge for a little over ten years now.  The election this past fall was very inspiring.  It was wonderful to see the power of making a mark on paper bring so many people together.  Even if we were there to vote for different people, we were all there for one common goal, to mend our torn nation.  So, the inspiration for my quilt "Fiber of a Voter" came to life.  I used many different techniques when creating my quilt to help illustrate the diversity of the voters who all came together on that day to do their part to elect officials who would stitch together our torn nation.  Some of the techniques I used were shiva paint stick rubbings, handmade beads, needle punch, lot's of quilting, and hand embroidery.  There is also judging involved with this challenge.  One person will be given a $1,000 IKEA makeover, first place is a $500 gift certificate for IKEA,  the juror's award is a $100 gift certificate and the people's choice award will be a $50 gift certificate.  The sale will take place on March 21 at the IKEA store in Bloomington, MN.  Right across the street from the Mall of America.  The party begins at 6:00 p.m. with food and entertainment and the sale of the quilts.  So, if you are in the twin cities area be sure to stop and see and purchase one of 50 unique quilts.  Have a creative day. Janet 

Design space

     I finally sewed my one block wonder.  I've had this hanging on my design wall for longer than I care to admit.  My design wall is a large vinyl tablecloth with a flannel back.  My husband put a strip of wood along the top edge of the wall.  I glued velcro strips to the board and sewed velcro strips to the table cloth.  The flannel side is out so I can stick my fabric to it and move it around while I am designing a quilt.  I have a little step stool to reach it because I have shelves underneath and hanging it higher on the wall keeps the cats from trying to climb up it.  Right now it has my mystery quilt on it.  One more step to the mystery and than I will take a photo so you can see my mystery quilt and my design wall.  I also have a smaller portable design board which I use most of the time.  I't about 3' by 4' and covered with white flannel.  I can move it where ever I am working.  Right now I have all of my postcards on it for inspiration.    Speaking of postcards I received one more yesterday from Peggy in the Valerie Hearder yahoo group.  We make landscapes in that group.  Isn't this gorgeous.  Have a creative day! Janet

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Going in Circles

Yesterday I learned how to use the new tool for the Bernina that allows you to use your decorative stitches in a perfect circle.  I am making a runner for the table to use for celebration days.  I have a photo of my layout before any stitching.  All of the black squares will be circular when it's finished.  All that color, it makes you think of birthdays, and parties, and celebrations! My circle attachment didn't come in time for the class, but they let me use theirs.  I have been trying to use more of the stitches on my machine.  There are so many I probably never will use them all in my lifetime, especially when you start to combine more than one stitch.  It's fun to experiment and learn what else my machine is capable of doing.  Here is one set of four with a circle I completed yesterday.  I'll have to wait for my attachment to arrive before I can finish it.  It should be done by the time the next family birthday rolls around, which happens to be mine!
     I've decided after looking at my bunny hill design on my blog that the basket blends in with the background color.  I'm going to outline the basket in the darker teal color to help it stand out a little more.  I chose those colors because they seemed like the cool wintery blues and I thought I had a background that worked, but not so much.  Oh well it's all a learning experience.  I just got the pattern for the third month this morning, so I'd better get busy and catch up.
     I'm working on drawing up my pattern for the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters challenge today.  I think I finally have an idea that will work.  Humor in a quilt just seems to escape me!  The next three days I plan to dye scarves, and make other things that I will be able to sale the first week in April.  We have a meeting Monday night and I need to be able to show them some of what I have ready for that.  Have a creative day everyone!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Little purses, postcard, and BOM

     Last night I finally started the block of the month I have been wanting to do this year.  Actually there are two I want to make so I only partially started, but I did start.  I made the January block for the Bunny Hill design.  This isn't something I would normally make but it just called to when I saw it on her site.  She will add a new design monthly, each with a basket.  So far I have January and February and I think March comes out in the next couple of days.  I cut out January last night and sewed it today.  They don't take long as they are only 8 inches square finished.  Maybe I can cut out February tonight!  If I get caught up on this one than I can start the other.
     Joan, the amazing leader for the Quilt on a Budget group gave us a link this morning to the Sew Mama Sew website.  February was evidently fat quarter month (I'm always the last to know) and she has links to more than 100 projects to make with fat quarters.  I have several that I want to make but started with this cute little boxy pouch.  

 I used her tutorial but I added a lining and a little strap.  I made this late this afternoon.  It goes really fast!
     I also received another postcard today.  This was from Julie in the learningfa group.  They are such a great group.  Shirley is the leader of that group and her blog is always full of inspiration.  Don't you love Julie's postcard!  
 We are also doing a mystery quilt in that group which is another thing I have never done before.  We have 8 of the 10 steps now so it is almost finished.  I'll post a photo once it is complete.  Have a creative day! Janet

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rust dyed results


I finally had that aha moment last night.  I suddenly jump up and say 'Oh no, I forgot my fabric!' I left it in the basement for about a week soaking in the rust and tannin.  Whew!  It looks pretty good. I'm going to join a group of ladies who have a sale a couple of times a year.  This sale is the first week of April.  So, I'm experimenting with what to make that might sale.  I've never done this before so wish me luck.  I tried dyeing a couple of white scarves to see what might happen.  I have three different types of scarves that I ordered from Dharma trading company.  I wanted to have a variety and I plan to use a variety of techniques to finish them.  Some I will use procion dyes, some I plan to use the soy wax batik with dyes or jacquard paint and some I wanted to rust dye.  Here are my two rust dyed scarves as well as a fat quarter that I was going to send for an exchange but will now incorporate into something I make.
The first photo shows my cotton scarf folded in half and taped on the wall to try to get a full shot.  The cotton was interesting.  I didn't think it was going to take any of the tannin or rust when I checked it early in the week.  It is darker on the side that had direct contact with the rusty pieces, so it was more of a surface dye technique with this fabric.  I've never used these scarves before so it will be fun to see how they react with procion dyes.  Next I have a close up of a section of the same scarf.  You can see the difference in the front and back and how it accepted the dye.   
     These next two photos are of a silk scarf.  The first shows the whole scarf.  The second is a close-up of the scarf.  I think it looks pretty good.  Not sure how to decide on prices for any of the things I make.  If anyone has any good advice for that I'd appreciate it.

Last but not least is my fat quarter of cotton fabric.  This one I sprinkled tea on as well as the tannin and rust.  Not sure if I like what happened with that.  It just looks like funny spots on the fabric.  
     I also received one more postcard yesterday from Jeanelle McCall.  It's my Beat the Winter Blues exchange.  She does such wonderful work in different mediums.  Be sure to check out her website.  Thanks Jeanelle it's gorgeous.  Have a creative day everyone! Janet