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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fun bargains today!

Hello again,

I just received this postcard yesterday from Chris in NJ.  Isn't it beautiful!

     It's a little frightening watching stores go out of business around town.  I feel a little guilty going to their sales knowing when it's all gone the person behind the counter will no longer have a job. How are all of you dealing with this?  I know it isn't just happening here.  

     I bought a new computer chair that I just love.  It was needed as my old one no longer allowed me to adjust the height of the seat and I had replaced the fabric on the arms a couple of times. With my neck problems I have to keep my chair at a certain height or my neck complains, loudly! My son is over six foot and I am only 5' 7" so he changes it when he uses the computer.  He doesn't use it often because thankfully he does have his own computer now. Love my new chair and it is definitely better than I would have purchased if it hadn't been on sale.

     Today I went back to the close-out sale at World Market.  I will miss that store.  It had so many interesting things that I never saw elsewhere.  I spent more than I should have but it was a lot of fun.  I bought some metal canisters, they are supposed to hold tea.  I may use one of them for tea but I plan to use the others for holding sewing or craft items.  They have motifs embossed on them that signify longevity and happiness.  The longevity means a lot to me now as I have recently been diagnosed with a disease that will have me being checked for cancer every three to six months for the rest of my life.  So, longevity is good. 

     I also bought a cute little metal rack for about two dollars.  I think it might work for cones of thread or something along those lines.  I might paint it first. 

     I bought two square wooden wall hangings that were 40% off the lowest price.  The lowest price was $2.50 or something like that.  Any lower and they would have been paying me to take them.  The designs are carved out of the wood.  I plan to use them with fabric and shiva paintsticks for rubbings.  Won't that be fun!
Another  thing I bought was chiffon bed scarves.  I had been looking for a bargain on chiffon to use with my embellisher.  I got my bargain and more.  I bought two white scarves, thinking I can dye them.  One that is peach color and I could add other colors to it if I want a change.  I also bought one navy blue cotton very thin curtain.  I think it will work too.  Lot's of things to play with now.

     The first week in April I am joining a group who is having a sale and we need table cloths to cover the tables we put our sale items on.  I bought three table cloths because I only had one before.  What a great deal.
Also wanted to show a photo of the steel wool pads I talked about for rust dyeing.  I guess my photo is just the bag.  Hopefully that will help.  If not let me know and I will take a photo of the pad itself too.  I think I bought this at Home Depot which is a lumber supply store.  Have a creative day! Janet

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Rust dyed connections

Well I told you I would post some photos of my rust dyeing experience.  Hasn't turned out quite as well as I would hope.  Still working on it though.  Sometimes I put too much pressure on myself.  I wanted to have something new to send for the exchange but reality set in and I realized I was running out of time.  The exchange was for February and if she would receive it in time I needed to get it in the mail.  I used some I dyed last summer.  I was feeling bad about not having something really exciting and different but that isn't really the point of the exchanges.  I think with these exchanges what we really have is an opportunity to reach out and connect with people all over the world who have similar interests.  We need those connections especially when we are working in our studios alone so much of the time.  A friend of mine just sent me information yesterday about a  UCLA study on women and friendship .  The second photo shows how I used Lois Jarvis' stormy skies technique.  I included a link to Lois' site in a previous post but it wasn't her rust dye site so now I've included the correct link.  The second smaller piece is from a trivet.  It didn't work extremely well, but I think it will get better the more I use it.  It is kind of interesting though, sort or ethereal.
     On to my rust dyeing.  When I dye fabric in the winter.  I put it in my basement and literally forget about about it for about a week.  I found one of my pans was starting to get rusty so I decided to use it for rust dyeing now.  It isn't rusty enough yet but the more I use it the better it will get (I could also let it sit outside in the rain this summer) I scrunched my prepared for dyeing fat quarter into the pan and sprayed it with vinegar and water.  
I keep trying different things I find to see what will happen.  Most of what I do is experimenting.  So far steel wool pads(the ones without any soap) have the best results for me.  You can unroll the pad and lay it on your fabric, you can pull it apart in chunks, or cut little snips of it off and sprinkle on your fabric.  I like the effect of the snips but that is best done in the summer for me so I can rinse it off outside.  I don't want to send the little snips of steel wool into my washing machine or down my pipes.  I like to use nails (that's how I made the little house scene in a previous post)  Make sure you don't use galvanized nails as they won't rust.  I've tried soup cans (I've been told to use the ones that have a seam inside.)  A few things surprised me.  The soup cans left circles of resist on my fabric.  
I think the more I use them the rustier they will get and I will get different results.  The resist thing happened with the cut-out shapes I bought from Beth Wheeler too.  
I didn't expect that but it's very interesting.  She says the more I use them the more they will rust and eventually I will have the opposite effect.  
     So, once I have my fabric in the pan, sprayed with vinegar, and place my different metallic pieces on top or underneath, I slip the pan in a garbage bag.  I then place it in my basement and usually forget it is there until a week later.  Suddenly I will exclaim "Oh, my gosh I forgot my fabric!"  I run down the basement expecting to see my fabric with holes corroded completely through it, only to find something spectacular has happened.  The bag will usually keep it from drying out but if you are better than me you might check during the week to make sure it is still damp.
Obviously for me there is a lot of serendipity involved in this process.  So if you find it interesting,  jump in and try, it's fun to experiment.  Be sure to rinse it after in salt water.  This helps to slow down the rusting process.  I'm told that it will continue to rust over the years so don't use this for something that you want passed down through the generations.  It will still last your lifetime and probably beyond but is not for an heirloom project.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rust dyed fabric received!

Have to share the beautiful fabric I received in the mail yesterday.  My exchange partner is from New Zealand and I love the fabric she sent.  It is so fun to get gifts in the mail.  She sent a fat quarter since that was what we are exchanging but, didn't feel it was very good so she also sent me a beautiful scarf.  They are both gorgeous as far as I'm concerned. Janet

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rust dyeing

Good morning,
     Today I am planning to start 'rusting' some fabric.  I am in a yahoo group for people who like to rust dye and we are having a fat quarter exchange.  It takes several days for me to get the fabric I want as I live in a cold climate.  Some are fortunate they live in humid warm climates and can rust fabric throughout the day.  Beth Wheeler started this group.  She has a class about rust dyeing on the Quilter's Keep Learning website.  I've learned a lot from the wonderful people in this group.
     I first learned about rust dyeing when I took a journal class taught by Susan Stein at her store Colorful Quilts in St Paul.  Her store closed at the end of January but many of the teachers are now teaching at the Textile Center in St, Paul.  The class taught by Susan was based on her book Fabric Art Workshop.  Here are a couple of the rust dyed fabrics I made from that class.

I also discovered Lois Jarvis' website, I think after she was featured in Quilting Arts magazine.  She has wonderful things to buy on her website to help you with your rust dyeing.  She is also a member of the yahoo group.  Here are some fabrics I made with her techniques, or my adaptations of her techniques.

I have some cut out metal shapes that I ordered from Beth Wheeler that I plan to use today.  I'll try to take some photos as I go so I can show you how I do this.  Should be interesting!  Be sure to check back in a few days to see how they turn out. Janet

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Car Wash Rage! Minnesota not so nice!

     If you live in a climate with salty air or a cold climate where they put salt and other chemicals on the road you know how important it is to keep your car clean.  If you don't at least attempt to wash the salt off your car it will rust away before your eyes.  I live in one of those cold climates.  We watch for the days when we can wash our cars without fear of having your doors freeze shut when you are done.  (Ask me how I know about that one!) It was just one of those days Monday night.  My husband went to run an errand and was gone long enough I was starting to worry about him.  I guess I had reason to worry.  He came home with quite a tale.  The car wash he goes to has two lanes leading up to the wash.  That way if someone decides they can't wait in line any longer they can leave.  The lines do get long on the nice evenings!  He had worked his way from number 6 in line to number 2 when from out of the blue a car sped up to the front trying to sneak in ahead of all the other cars.  The person in the car behind my husband got out of his car and came up to my husbands car, rapped on the window and said "Are you going to let her do that?"  Why my husband was appointed spokesperson I'm not sure but he got out of his car went up to the woman, tapped on her car window and politely told her where the line really began.  She got out of her car and started yelling and gesticulating pretty aggressively.
     At this point the people in the cars behind my husband got out of their cars and all came over to add their voices to the general hubbub.  They have cameras inside pointed at the car wash, and now I know why!  The service station attendant came out and told the woman she would have to wait.  My husband went back to his car and let them fight it out,  which apparently they continued to do for some time.  Suddenly there was another knock on his window and the woman was there wanting to talk to my husband again.  He rolled down his window and she proceeded to tell him how she was a much better person than he was because she was going to let him go first.  But, she wanted him to understand that he had no right to come and tell her she was out of line and didn't he understand "That's how road rage starts!"  He said he did understand now because he could see it first hand and asked her to go back to her car.  She became even angrier and made some obscene gesture.  He rolled up his window and eventually she did go back to her car.  I'm not sure I will let him go to the car wash alone any more.  Watch out for Car Wash Rage everyone,  Minnesota nice was not in service Monday night.  Take care out there!  Janet

Monday, February 16, 2009

Handstitching part 3

 I think I have finished the stitching now!!  Hooray!  Just need to add the border or frame it.  I might take it to the frame shop tomorrow and see if they can help me see how it would look.
Have a good night.

Handstitching part 2

I've added a second color to the handstitching.  I'm finding this very relaxing.  I haven't done much handstitching in awhile, it's always fun to shake things up a little and try something new.  When you haven't done a skill for a time it's almost like new again.  If I did too much more I would probably get tired of it.  I just want to add one more shade of green.  I think a darker shade with french knots.  So far I have used the seeding stitch for the lighter green and more or less a double feather stitch with the middle shade of green.  I have a book called The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden that is wonderful.  It's a great resource for any stitch you might want to try.  Back to stitching. Janet

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Hello everyone,
     I finally had a chance to work on Split Rock Lighthouse again.  I am adding some hand-stitching to fill in the greenery that I think needs to be on the hillside.  I only used one color so far, a green cotton perle.  I plan to add at least two more shades of green.  Probably won't use as much of the other two shades.  Sometimes it is hard to know until you start.  Hopefully I will get more done tomorrow.  It's supposed to be finished by Tuesday.  Not sure if I will make that but I'm having fun with this photo/quilt along the way.
     I was delayed by a doctor's appointment in the middle of the week.  I got up at 5:00 to drive to Rochester, MN.  I wasn't sure how long it would take to get there and find my place to park, and find where my appointment was.  I ended up just in time for my 9:00 appointment, at least by the time I filled out all the paper work.  The worst part of going to the doctor is often the book you need to write about yourself before your appointment begins.  The Mayo Clinic is a city unto itself and a very beautiful one at that.  The doctor's are great and I felt well cared for.  I get to go back in a month but next time I will know where I am going and approximately how long it takes.  Best of all I won't have to do all the paper work.  Hooray!

 My camera program and my computer are on speaking terms again so I am adding a photo of the gift I won from Chris as well as two photo's of the hand-stitching.  I also have one of my slideshows going now.  This one is the postcards I have received from people.  Enjoy the show Janet


Good Morning,
     I am challenged when it comes to technology.  I'm feeling pretty good that I figured out how to make a blog and add some of the extras to my blog.  I've been trying to add a slideshow of postcards this morning and it's pretty clear that I need some help.  I think the problem may be that I'm creating the slideshow in my iphoto program and trying to import from there.  I might need to set up a flicker account or something else that blogger recognizes more easily.  I'll keep working on that when I have a chance.  I've also realized I am not the best photographer, as many of the photos appear to be blurry.  I have trouble with small close up shots.  So, I will try to get my husband or daughter to take better photos as well.  There wouldn't be much point in putting up a blurry slideshow would there.  Oh well,  I can quilt!
     Yesterday my daughter was home for the day.  We all went out for breakfast, went to a movie, ordered in for dinner and generally just laughed and had fun.  Days like that are very special, wish there were more of them, but I feel fortunate that we can get together at all.
     Today I get to help take down the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters Architexture exhibit.  It has been traveling around the state since last June.  I'm not sure where it is going next but my Red Door quilt is not ready to come home yet.  It will be nice to see all of the quilts again. There are some amazing quilters in this group.
    I realized I forgot to post a photo of the prize I won on Chris' Quilting Universe.  I told her when I finish using it I will give it away to someone else.  It will be the gift that keeps on giving.  I'll add the photo when I get back this afternoon.  My photo card is refusing to speak to my computer right now and I don't have time to negotiate their differences.
Have a good day! Janet

Friday, February 13, 2009



     I have met some amazing women this past year through my journey to become a fiber artist.  I think that is the best gift I could have given to myself at this time in my life.  I am at the age where I am almost an empty nester.  I have two children who both mean the world to me.  One is off in the working world and the other is a junior in high school.  Before I had children I was a teacher of preschool children with special needs.  A couple of moves to two other states, two children, and a car accident later, I needed a new focus in my life.  I wore many hats as a volunteer over the years and still do volunteer work at my church, in my community and other places that appeal to me such as the Textile Center in St Paul.  But, now I am building a community of support for myself that revolves around fiber arts.  
     The best gift I gave myself was joining the Minnesota Contemporary Quilters.  This is a great group of women with a wonderful focus on enjoying the journey, learning new skills, and challenging each other to continue to grow through life.  As an offshoot of this group I am also a part of a small group.  I've mentioned them before, we call ourselves the Rosie Quilters.  We are varied in our focus and abilities and each bring unique strengths to the group.  I wanted to show you a couple of recent gifts they have given to me. The elephant batik was given to me by Kathy on the day she got us all together for our soy wax batik project.  I haven't decided what to do with it yet but I really love it.  The "J" fabric square was made after we learned soy wax batik by Stephanie.  Isn't it fun.  She bought a set of cookie cutters on ebay and made us each a square with the first initial of our names.  The Hawaiian print is also from Stephanie, a gift from her trip to Hawaii.  (Don't forget to check out Stephanie's blog in my blog list to the left, Journey of a Fiber Artist Stephanie Forsyth, -She is number one if you google fiber artist and also has a small appearance on The Quilt Show) I am inviting them all to my home soon and have some ideas for something to give each of them but don't want to give it away before they see.

     I have also made some good friends this past year through online classes.  Even though I haven't met these people in person we have common goals and interests that keep us friends across the U.S., and on to other countries around the world.  I've received many postcards from my online friends.  Not your everyday postcards either, they are each a work of art that I will treasure for many years to come.  I'm hoping to create a video stream of all my postcards to put on my site, sometime this weekend, so check back to see if it is here.  They are worth the visit.        
     Some of the sites I have taken classes are:  Quilt University, Quilters Keep Learning, Adventure Quilter, Sharon Schamber's website and The Thread Studio.  I would recommend any and all of these sites.  I want to mention a special note about The Thread Studio which is located in Australia.  I am taking my embellishing class through this site right now.  Many of my classmates are from Australia and I just want to let them know we are all wishing you strength as you fight the fires and try to piece your lives back together.  Sending positive thoughts your way.  If you know of something more we can do please contact me to let me know.

Check back to see my postcards.  I will try to have one of cards received and one of cards given.  It will be worth the visit. Janet

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Life is Grand Award

I am so thrilled that I was nominated for the Life is Grand Award by Susan of Sunrise Quilt Studios. The rules are: I need to list five reasons why my life is 'grand' and than pass this on to five more people. Do I have to limit this to five reasons? Where do I start?

1. My family. My husband after years of thinking this too shall pass has embraced my obsession with fiber and keeps adding to my arsenal of new 'toys' for creating fiber art. Rather than fight it, or resist it he's now thinking when he retires he'll have to learn to sew because we already have all the tools. Well almost all the tools, there is always.... Seriously, my husband and our two children are the light of my life and I love to watch them grow and learn and love and live.

2. My extended family. I love being part of a large family and knowing that I have relatives from coast to coast in the U.S. Love you all even though we can't be together very often.

3. My friends. I just met with four of my friends last night. My small quilt group (there are seven of us in total). We call ourselves the Rosie Quilter's because we meet in Roseville, Mn. We are all from different locations and that was the most central meeting spot for us. We use Rosie the Riveter as our logo because she was spunky just like we are. I love having people who understand my love of fiber and help me to learn and grow and laugh. This also includes the many new friends I am making world wide through the internet. It truly is amazing to live in this age where I can talk to someone 'across the pond' and feel such a kinship.

4. My love of learning. I do love to learn new things! I think my parents fostered this in me and I have them to thank for this wonderful gift that will last my lifetime. A couple of my favorite sayings are 'The more I learn, the more I learn how much more I need to learn.' (not sure who said this) and 'Don't go through life, grow through life' by Eric Butterworth.

5. One more... how do I decide. I'll chose my country, my community, my neighborhood as a final thankful item. Rather broad I know but I am proud of where I am in this world. Not that I feel it makes me superior to be from this place but I think we each, no matter where we are in this world, need to stand up and say 'I am proud to be who I am, where I am, right now, at this time.' There are many things in this country that are broken now. I see stores closing left and right. People losing jobs and homes and lives that they have known. But I also see people doing what is right, giving what they can to help others in trouble, cutting back on their own hours so someone else can keep their job. If everyone were to stop and look around their own neighborhood, community, country and see what small thing we could do, to take pride in our lives, wouldn't this be a better world for all of us.

Thank you Susan for giving me this chance to re-think the many blessings in my life! Have a great day everyone. Janet

And the new nominees are:
1. Stephanie from Journey of a Fiber Artist
3. Angela from Angela's Quilts
4. Debra from Svedberg Art
5. Caron from And Still Counting

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Decisions! What would you do?

Today I am trying to create the shadows on the hillside.  After I figure the best way to do that I will add more green.  I'm laying some tulle on top in different shades to see what effect it has.  The first I tried was black and I'm thinking it is a little too harsh.  too much contrast against the hillside.  Next I tried browns.  I have two shades.  The pieces may be too big for what I'm trying to do.  Although if I add more green they may look just right. What do you think?  I'm also trying to decide how to add more green.  Should I couch some  thicker threads or do some handstitching or try to add more fabric?  What would you do? I put the original black and white photo in for you too so you can see why I'm trying to add the shady spots to the hillside.  Working on choosing a border too.  Their are many choices when designing a quilt.  They all give you an opportunity to add your personal touch to everything you make. Have a good day. Janet

Friday, February 6, 2009

The lighthouse continues

I need to give my sewing machine a break, and myself too, I suppose.  So, I thought I would post the next stage of my lighthouse.  I've been working on the rocky foreground now.  I'm pleased with how this is turning out and excited to finish and see the completed quilt.  I am considering framing it though instead of finishing as a quilt.  I guess I'd better go make supper so I can give my sewing machine a chance to cool off for awhile.  Janet

Lighthouse thread painting


I'm working on my lighthouse today.  Just trying to go with it and not re-think every step of the process.  If you've ever been to Split Rock Lighthouse you know I am taking artistic license here. But, I think it isn't too bad.  I think people might even be able to tell from looking that it is a lighthouse. LOL I'm trying quite a bit of thread painting.  I like how it looks but Im not sure I will be able to get it to lay flat when I am done.  This is a learning process though and if it doesn't work that's OK.  I'll figure out what I could have done differently and try again.  That's a big step for me as I used to worry about getting everything 'right'.  I finally have come to the realization there is no 'right' just different ways to do the same thing.  Some work better for me than others.  I'll post more later as I work on the rest and let you know if it's going to work out or not.  Janet

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Landscape challenge and The Winner!

    Yesterday I finally had a chance to start working on re-creating Split Rock Lighthouse.  We had a landscape challenge in the Learningfa group.  We were to find a landscape photo to make into a small quilt.  Next take the photo and change it to black and white.  By doing this we look more at the values associated with the picture and hopefully don't worry quite so much about trying to make it look exactly like the photo.  Some of us get stuck in the decision stage when making landscapes (definitely me!) and worry too much about color choices.  I am posting my black and white photo along with what I have fused at this point.  Now I need to start adding some thread painting.  I may make the leaves for the trees separate with water soluble stabilizer and lots of thread painting.  I'm afraid if I do the leaves right on the quilt the balance of the stitches will be off and that part of the quilt will cause bumps and creases in the other parts.
     I won a draw on another website the other day!  I was very excited!  The link for the blog is in my list on the left side of the page.  It is Chris's Quilting Universe where I won a book and templates for making a Grandmother's fan quilt.  She has photos on her blog, or I will post a photo here when they arrive.  Thank you Chris!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Photo's in a quilt!

     I'm a little under the weather lately so I haven't done too much with my quilting the past few days.  I thought I would show you some things I have done with photos on fabric.  
         I have made small commemorative types of fabric books for friends and family.  For instance when my sister's husband went to Iraq for the second time I made a little book for her and her son with photo's of my brother-in-law.  They were framed with patriotic fabrics and embellished with little items that fit with the photos.  I didn't have a very good camera than so I don't have good pictures of the books I have given but they were fun to make.  
 I added photos to my daughter's t-shirt quilt when I made it.  Her dad helped coach the team every year so I had to include at least one photo with him in it too.


Last year when we were talking architexture in Minnesota Contemporary Quilters, someone mentioned 3d and that got me thinking....  I took three photos of my childhood home and made a dimensional representation.  I added a yard with trees (one has a swing), a bike, a croquet set (I made it from sculpey), I even added a rhubarb patch.  There are family photos on the inside of the house and a big table because family meals were an important time to connect in our 
large family.

A few times I have used photos as a basis for a quilt.  The Red Door is a quilt I made from a photo taken in Ireland.  My daughter spent a semester in Ireland and we were lucky enough to visit.  This quilt has been traveling around Minnesota since I made it last year with the Minnesota Contemporary Quilter's architexture exhibit. Here is the photo and the quilt.

  Lately I have been printing some of my favorite flower photos and embellishing them with thread and beads.  I love taking photos of flowers although I'm not always the best photographer.  When we go on vacation my son gets impatient with me because according to him I take pictures of every flower and blade of grass along the way.  I've put three of them at the top of my post.  They are small about 4 x 6",  I added a mitered frame to each.

   I've also recently taken two classes taught by Beth Wheeler at Quilter's Keep Learning.  She teaches several classes on that website. I took Beginning and Intermediate Photoshop Elements.  Beth is a wonderful teacher and I learned a lot in these classes.  Here is a collage of three photos that I put together, distressed and added words.  I'm looking forward to experimenting more with photos in the future.  I'm also thinking about taking Beth's rust dyeing class, or altered photo artistry....hmmmm too many choices.  I'll have to show some of my rust dyed fabrics soon.  I think it is fun to experiment and see what you can get when you try to deliberately add rust to your fabric.  Have a good day or night depending on where you are right now.  Janet