Sunday, November 25, 2012

Quilting the Frame

We had a very low-key, relaxed Thanksgiving weekend.  We didn't even cook, but went out for dinner.  I've managed to find some time in the studio, working on the frame for the Walk in the Woods piece, and starting the next Tangled Textiles challenge.

I am liking doing these small pieces.  I have no excuse not to finish them, and hopefully make all the mistakes on the small rather than a larger piece.  Here's where I'm at with the frame so far--

I thought I'd continue the lines of the trees at the top, using a variegated thread that looked like it would blend it with the fabric.  Instead, it has a pale part that really stands out, at least to my eye.  I'm not sure I'm in love with the effect, but no way I'm ripping it all out.

I've done some free motion leaves on the rest of the frame, and in order to balance the other three sides with the top, I'll have to quilt the closely spaced lines between the leaves, also.  

Not a lot of work left on it, but enough that I won't finish it this weekend.  And I'm making mental notes of the parts I want to change when I do this in a larger size.  I think I'll limit the quilting on the frame to leaves, in a solid color thread that just blends in with the background.

I'm still considering how I will finish the edge of the frame.  I may do an envelope finish, I'm kind of leaning in that direction.  But I haven't eliminated the idea of finishing that edge like the central piece, with the rattail cord.

In the meantime, I'm also working on another small piece in an entirely different palette.  But that one will have to wait.  Have a creative week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin White Bean Chili

I haven't done a foodie post in awhile, and this chili I made earlier this week was one of the best cold weather dishes I've made in a long time.  It was absolutely scrumptious!

I have been following a number of food bloggers for awhile, and have been surprised at the number from Utah.  This Pumpkin, White Bean and Pork Chili came from Foodie Crush- and the recipe is here.  Add a dollop of sour cream in your bowl of chili, and you will be in foodie heaven.

I used a small sugar pumpkin, but it would also be good with butternut squash instead.  And I used spinach instead of kale, knowing that my family would prefer the less chewy green.  It only takes a couple of minutes of cooking after you add the spinach, and it is ready to serve.

If you don't want to use pork, shredded chicken or turkey would probably be just as good.  The seasoning is simple- salt, pepper, and cumin, which gives it a nice smoky flavor.  Add a loaf of crusty bread, and you have a simple, quick cold weather meal.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Walk in the Woods, Again

I spent a lot of time in the studio over the long weekend.  I got this small study completely quilted, and then spent time doing hand and machine embroidery.  I am really happy with how it turned out!

I quilted heavily in the green pieced areas- all straight line, with a variegated King Tut thread.  I'd planned to do some free motion on the tree trunks, but when I saw how my straight-line quilting made the trunks stand out and look almost dimensional, I changed my mind.  Then I did some machine embroidery, and topped that with hand embroidery in colors to give some pop.  I loved the effect it created.

The quilt is bound with a zigzag stitch and rattail cord.  I like this much better than yarn, it gives a cleaner and sleeker look.  I think the piece needs to be bordered some how, so I started auditioning fabric for a 'matte', something I learned from Jean Wells' books.  I found the perfect piece (in the top photo), which I plan to quilt before sewing Walk in the Woods 2 on it.  I'll be thinking about how to quilt the matte to best show this off.

So many things about this piece work for me.  I love how the heavy quilting softens the piecing lines, and makes the tree trunks stand out.  I love the effect I got with the machine embroidery, and will be experimenting with this a lot more.  And, I love the pops of color from the hand embroidery.

One more note: I have FINALLY mastered French knots!  I have tried to do them many times over the years, never successfully.  Today, after watching two video tutorials and one book, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong.  The French knots on the bottom of this piece were the final design element I wanted- crunchy texture to remind me of the crunchy leaves underfoot in the woods.

I'm really glad I did this small study, I'm already thinking about how I can take what I learned from it and make something similar in a larger size for a show next year. 

I am linking up this post with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  Make sure you go take a look at what the other artists have posted!

Monday, November 12, 2012

This and That---

I've had a lovely extra-long weekend, despite the weather.  I managed to get most of the grocery shopping done Friday morning, braving the storm that left our back patio looking like this when I woke up:

By afternoon, our street looked like this--

It snowed fairly steadily all day Friday and most of Saturday; we finally got a break Sunday, then today was sunny and cold.

All that white stuff made it the perfect weekend to spend time in the studio.  I got my second small Walk in the Woods piece quilted, embroidered (machine and hand), and bound.  I am really happy with how it turned out!  I learned a number of lessons- or, better yet, had some things that I'd 'known' before from all my reading reinforced with this 'doing.'  

While working on the last bits of embroidery, I started thinking about the next Tangled Textiles piece, due in January.  The theme is 'Blue'- a word that I chose because it can be interpreted as a simple color study, or by referencing one of the many expressions or meanings the word has.  I'm leaning towards one of the expressions, but who knows, that could change.  As I sorted my embroidery floss after finishing Walk in the Woods 2, what color am I most lacking in?

The color is lousy in the photo, and I can't seem to get it right with PSE- but it was pretty obvious to me that I need lots more blues in this stash!

I will have photos of this latest piece posted later in the week.  In the meantime, I will be trying to stay warm!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Walking in the Woods

I managed two walks on the river trail this weekend.  The weather has been glorious here, in the low sixties with gorgeous blue skies.  The best of the colors are behind us, but there is still plenty to see.

The first day, I noticed this wasp's nest in a tree- previously hidden by the tree's leaves!

Today I saw this bird's nest, safe and secure in a couple of large limbs.

Isn't that blue sky gorgeous against the white tree bark?

I've also been in the studio.  I am determined to find a way to interpret this photo I took in Michigan in a way that makes me happy. 

I am going for the restful tones of green against the vertical lines of the trees.  The leaves were just starting to turn when I was there in September, so I chose fabric that would reflect the colors I thought I would see at the height.  Here's what I have pieced--

I am going to try some wonky machine embroidery, and add hand embroidery at the end.  I'm hoping that will help tone down some of those yellow areas that just jump out at me. The quilting will be simple and linear.

I'm already thinking about the next one.  I'm thinking I will limit the number of green fabrics, and bring it accents with thread- embroidery and quilting.  That will help take care of some of the issues I had with all those piecing seams!  In the meantime, I am having fun with these. They are small enough to do quickly, and I'm hoping one of them will be good enough to develop into a larger quilt.  It does feel good to be working this way!