Watercolour/Colourwash Pieces – Completed

The finished colourwash panel – complete with inner raw silk border, rust piping and black crackle frame.

Blue Garden With Butterfly

I’m pleased with the colour distribution on this piece and the small butterfly appliqué adds a place for the eye to land.

I undertook a second panel for the class – this time I cut my fusible interfacing grid into 8″ strips, taped them to the cutting table, laid out my squares, fused the squares to the interfacing (easy to do because the strips were narrow enough to carry and place on my ironing board), stitched the three panels together, then continued systematically stitching the small blocks – cutting the interfacing as I went so I could press the seams open (which precludes stitching in the ditch as a finishing quilting).

Garden in Pink

I wanted to add some kind of focus element in the centre of the panel but I didn’t want another butterfly and I didn’t have anything else to place there so I’ve left it as is, for now. Should I come across an idea or an image of something small enough and from the right colour palette I can always remove the backing panel and add it to the work.

Next, in preparation for the Wednesday workshop, I cut a gazillion (around 2000 actually) 2″ blocks in as many shades of dark, light, and medium print fabrics as I was able to find either in my stash or from my local shops. I bought 4″ strips from width of fabric which yielded two 2″ strips – one I set aside in my stash, the other I cut into 20 2″ squares.

I’ve colour sorted all the blocks into sandwich bags placing bags with similar colours in larger ziploc bags so there is some order to this collection. I also cut a 26″ x 24″ panel of fusible interfacing in preparation for the class, and using the grid on the non-glue side as a guide, marked 2″ squares on the glue side so it’s possible to visualize the layout (the grid lines are very difficult to see when I’m working on my dark green cutting surface).

So I think I’m now ready for the Wednesday day-long class. Week 1 we’ll assemble the watercolour/colourwash panel; Week 2 we’ll turn it into a finished textile hanging – inner sashing, piping, outer frame, even an embroidered signature.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

Several months ago a friend gave me a jar of rhubarb ginger jam – oh wow! It has the sharpness of the rhubarb and the liveliness of the ginger. Delicious on toast, but amazing on ice cream! Good with roast pork… There are a ton of ways you can pair this jam to make something remarkable – it’s just a matter of imagination.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

My jar of jam is just about empty. Time to make some for myself. I checked out several recipes online – the one I decided to try was the one I found at “all recipes.com“. My friend got her recipe from the UK Certo website. (You can also download their book of recipes).

I started with a bag of frozen rhubarb (early January is definitely not rhubarb season although fresh rhubarb was what the recipe called for), put it in a pot (still frozen), added three tablespoons of grated fresh ginger root (I keep my ginger root in the freezer and grate it as I need it, works fine), three cups of sugar (next time I’ll try 2 1/2 cups – it shouldn’t affect the sweetness all that much and will reduce the quantity of sugar used; I might even be able to get away with 2 cups), and three tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice (no substitute for this).

Started the mixture on a low heat to defrost the rhubarb – once it was softened, I turned the heat up to medium high, brought the mixture to a boil, turned it down to medium and boiled for 15 minutes until the rhubarb was falling apart. (Here’s where I cheated a bit – I used my immersion blender to break up the remaining intact pieces of rhubarb after boiling for 15 minutes, but didn’t whiz it enough to purée the jam).

The recipe made 5 small bottles of jam which will go into my refrigerator as soon as it’s cooled to room temperature.

I couldn’t resist tasting as I went along – I admit to licking the spoon and the pot before cleaning them. The taste is heavenly. Do try it.

Another Watercolour Quilt Experiment

I’m signed up to teach a class in two weeks on colourwash/watercolour quilting. After finishing “Nine Shades Of Grey” two days ago, I opened my box with the gazillion 2″ squares of fabric all nicely colour sorted in ziploc bags and started laying them out.

The other day I bough a couple of metres of fusible grid interfacing to see if that simplified the process of setting up a colourwash panel. I began by cutting a 24″ x 20″ panel of interfacing, then glue side up (which is the back of the interfacing, so it’s kind of hard actually to see the grid), started laying out squares attempting to bring some kind of colour order to what I was doing.

Blue Garden With Butterfly

I wanted my light focal point to be off-centre which took some moving of squares as I laid them out. I felt hampered by an insufficiency of both light and predominantly dark squares (I need to go fabric shopping this weekend to see if I can add to my stash of suitable fabrics both light and dark so I have enough contrasting fabrics for me and the workshop participants to work with).

After placing squares, walking away, coming back, moving them around, I was ready to fuse the squares to the grid. That was when the process became hairy! I had a difficult time moving the grid panel from my cutting table where I worked, to the ironing board – without having squares flying all over the place. In the end I slid one of my smaller cutting mats underneath the grid interfacing so I could support it as I moved it from table to ironing board.

Now I really ran into trouble – I couldn’t press directly on the cutting mat (the heat from the iron would make it buckle). I tried sliding the grid interfacing (with loose squares laid out) onto the ironing board but my board wasn’t wide enough to support the whole piece. Fortunately I had taken photos of the layout so when the bottom half of my squares landed on the floor, I was able to reposition them (more or less) as I’d had them so I could systematically press them all in place. This is clearly a problem I have to solve before the class because I can’t have people struggling to retain the positioning of the squares as they press them onto the grid interfacing!

I used straight pins on my previous colourwash piece (because the grid cloth I used wasn’t backed with fusible glue) – I think pinning may be in order here as well. I plan on making another test piece before the class to see if that will work better.

I chain stitched the squares in my original watercolour piece which worked nicely – however, I had to stack my pieces carefully and mark the placement of each stack with post-it notes so I got the assembly the way I’d originally laid it out. Using the fusible grid cloth has definite advantages but you can’t fuse as you go along since, at least for me, I need to be able to reposition blocks until I’m happy with the colour flow.

I will continue working to solve this problem so it will be easy for the class participants to concentrate on colour flow and not get hung up on the technical aspects of securing the small fabric pieces.

Postscript: I’ve just had a thought! What if I cut my grid interfacing into 8″ strips, laid the strips together on my cutting board, placed my squares, then carefully carried the narrow strips to my ironing board to press the squares in place – these narrow strips would fit on the board. Ultimately, I have to sew 1/4″ seams along the edges of the squares – all I need to do is juxtapose the narrow fused strips where they are to be joined and sew a 1/4″ seam along that join. That would work quite nicely. Have to give it a try as soon as I have some more dark and light fabrics from which to cut more squares!

A Second Postscript: I appliquéd a small purple/orange butterfly in the lower left of the light area to provide some kind of focus to the piece. I wish I had more butterfly fabric to choose from – this one is a wee bit on the small side but it was the only size I could find in what I had.

Mauve Socks

These socks were completed last night. The mauve for the cuffs, heels and toes came from another 100g ball of variegated yarn with a very subtle tonal graduation – this mauve was the first colour in each of the two repeats (the second repeat signalled with a length of white yarn – remember how I missed that detail on an earlier pair of socks?)

Mauve Socks

This time I knew the repeat would be marked so I looked for it – unwinding and balling the yarn until I reached the white segment, then cutting the yarn and setting up a second ball. The remaining ombre yarn is very dull – I think I’ll probably use the remains from this pair of socks to liven up the pair I’ll make from it.

In the meantime I’m on to a new pair of socks – this time using a much brighter variegated yarn – while I find knitting relaxing, I much prefer working on lively colours rather than yarns without much contrast. The knitting seems to go faster when the pattern is strong and the colour changes are frequent.

Nine Shades Of Grey – Completed

Finished this quilt a couple of days ago, now. Although a very simple quilt, I find it’s simplicity appealing and I’m happy with how it turned out. I particularly like how the two narrow borders frame the inner panel bringing out the darker greys and highlighting the golden colours in the batik fabrics.

Nine Shades Of Grey

I’m happy with the back as well. Finding a way to use the small half-square triangles along with the cornered blocks was satisfying.

NIne Shades Of Grey – Quilt Back

I elected to bind the quilt in the same fabric as the wide outer border so the binding would be relatively invisible. I also didn’t use a decorative stitch to apply the front of the binding – I just straight stitched it down – harder to do accurately than working with the decorative stitch which is more forgiving! But I didn’t want to introduce any distracting detail into the overall simplicity of the quilt.

Magic Squares Quilt IV – Finished

I finished the quilt on Thursday – quilted the last four squares and the border, then added the binding and label.

Magic Squares IV – Quilt Top

Final Size: 51.5″ x 62.5″ – largish for a throw but useful to keep at the bottom of a bed to use when it’s cold.

The quilt back:

Magic Squares IV – Back

I had four blocks left over which I bordered and inserted into the backing fabric. I was pleased with how the backing echoes the dark teal feel of the quilt top and the inserted rectangle stands out nicely.

People ask “How long does it take to make a quilt like this?” It’s not an easy question to answer particularly since in this case I was working on another quilt, making a gazillion zippered bags and sewing other things.

I started this quilt somewhere around Nov 10 when I started sewing jelly roll strips together, cutting the panels into squares in preparation for the sewing retreat (Nov 14-17) where I assembled the “magic squares” blocks. I got to laying out the squares on Dec 2. On Dec 5, I created the top panel by adding the sashing. On Dec 6, I added the outer border. Sometime during the next several days (while I made more bags, finished knitting a pair of men’s socks, worked on and finished the second “fish” skinny quilt got some baking done), I created the quilt back. I began quilting it a week ago – the quilting took three days finished on Dec 25. Binding the quilt took a morning; I added the label that evening – Dec 26.

So you could say I worked on the quilt for 6-7 weeks, but the actual working time was much less – probably not more than 10-12 days.

And now I’m quilting “Nine Shades Of Grey” which is going quite quickly. My goal is to have this second quilt finished before Dec 31. I think I will make it.

Moth Sculptures Hand-Crafted by Yumi Okita

Artist Yumi Okita layers hand-painted fabric, embroidery thread, feathers, and faux fur to create large sculptures of insects. Each handmade moth and butterfly is one-of-a-kind, with coloration and patterning often inspired by existing species.

Moth Sculptures Hand-Crafted by Yumi Okita

Check out her work – it’s quite wonderful.