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 Textile Evolution

Liz Kettle Artist, Author and Creator of the Stitch Meditation process

Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Practicing Imperfection

afternoon shadowsThis time of year I try to look back at what I have accomplished the previous year. Today I am celebrating my progress toward embracing imperfection. My hard practice is paying off! I won’t get cocky though and give up my daily practice…one must be dedicated to that which they want to achieve after all. For starters, the photos in this post have nothing to do with our holiday celebration because I didn't take any...totally forgot! I could skip the post because I don't have the perfect photos but that would be giving in to perfection.

I know, it sounds silly to have to practice imperfection but I have to practice every day! I am a Perfectionist; a type A, workaholic, first born, product of 16 years of Catholic school kinda girl. Perfectionism is part of my core identity.  It has taken me years of battle with this cunning demon and I have made a lot of progress keeping it at bay. However, my perfection demon always likes to tempt me during the holidays demanding that I put on the best Christmas ever.

vintage christmas ornamentThis year, I set my Christmas Eve family table with a fine linen tablecloth that I hand dyed in shades of green and blue...a little unusual but fun. My napkins were dyed to match but perfection ended there! (Actually my dyeing is sort of random so the didn't match perfectly anyway.) I didn’t iron one bit of it…it adorned my table in all its wrinkled glory. This is a BIG DEAL! At one point in my life I ironed my boy’s tee shirts. Yes…their little tiny tee shirts, jeans and even pjs. Looking back I know my life was more than a little insane at that point and my obsessive ironing was probably an attempt to bring order to the chaos but still…little boys tee shirts???

Our Christmas dinner was a delicious gluten free lasagna. Woot! Win over perfection #2: I didn’t make it! We bought it…pre-made/homemade Taste of Life GF meals to go. A few of my loyal readers know that I have a lot of dietary restrictions including almost all the ingredients of lasagna. However, my son has been asking for lasagna for ages so Christmas seemed a perfect time to grant his request. I did feel guilty about not making it myself…yes, even though I couldn’t eat any of it my perfectionist demon suggested that I was less than a good mother for purchasing a frozen lasagna for Christmas! But, I overcame my demon with the help of my good husband and some will power. I didn’t give in to the guilt of being imperfect.

I have been pleasantly surprised by a side effect of my imperfection practice: calmness and a sense of peace. Yup, this girl is learning to let go of the stress of leading a perfect life and finding joy in just letting things be what they are. Not saying it is easy but it is good.

I am ready to let go of something else in my life this next year. I am not sure exactly what yet. Maybe it will be banishing self-doubt or guilt…ok, so given my background getting rid of guilt probably would be the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Maybe I will save that for another year.

Is there something that you want to give up this year? Something that will bring you closer to the life you want to have?
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ATC Swap for December

We had a big group at the monthly ATC meet-up in Monument last weekend. This was our no theme month but so many of us made something reflecting Christmas that it became our de facto theme. As usual, the variety of trading cards was amazing. We even had a ceramic one (the yellow, blue and red one), a cross stitched one and one that turns into a Christmas ornament (the ice skates detach from their backing). I am always inspired by this group of creative women. If you are in the local area (Monument, CO) come join us!

I am happy with the way mine turned out. I wove the background (check out more weaving techniques in the Fabric Embellishing book study in the forum) with two different green fabrics  or an assortment of aqua blues from Art Gallery Fabrics-love those fabrics! My trees are simple triangles fused to the woven base with Misty Fuse and stitched with a silver metallic thread. Next, I added some 'snow' with silver foil. Finally, I stamped the word believe on a piece of twill tape and stitched that down as well.

I hope you have some time to create something during this busy holiday season. It will save your sanity you know! I am off to bead!
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Fabric Embellishing Additions

The other project I spent finishing up last weekend was putting the edge finishes and tabs on some new pages for my Fabric Embellishing sampler. When we were writing the book Fabric Embellishing; the Basics and Beyond we didn't have time to make pages for some of the techniques that one of the other author's was writing so Ruth and I have been going back and creating some of those with variations from the originals in the book. A lot of the pages that I didn't get done previously were in the 'foundations' section of the book. This one featured above is weaving.

Here we have tucks. Don't you just love the mini pom pom trim? I had a lot of fun with this page seeing how this striped fabric would look tucked.

This is my Stitches and Bits page. I skipped the stitch part and just inserted lots of bits. The yellow strip is plastic kitchen lace (you know the stuff your produce comes bagged in). Just remember not to iron it!

This is my vintage take on the Fashion a frame page. I used a beautiful piece of silk paper in the windows and some vintage bits that seemed to be treasures the young woman in the photo would have kept. I used a hand dyed vintage tea towel for the base and added quite a bit of hand stitching.

This page was a sample that didn't make it into the final cut of Fabric Embellishing. It is a combination of paper, fabric and kitchen produce lace layered. The strips on the left are from a piece of sequin waste that I cut, overlapped and stitched down by machine. The edge finish is pieces of purple produce lace couched down around the edge. I love the little top piece that sticks up straight on the top.
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Just for Fun

The second piece I finished this past weekend is the extreme opposite of the piece, Connections, which I posted yesterday. They both feature hand stitching but they are just about polar opposites on the quilting globe. This quilt started with a challenge at my local Modern Quilt Guild. We were given a charm pack of Kona cotton solid colors and we were allowed to add only one other fabric. I chose white...not in my normal color palette! I used a piecing technique that I call stitch and whack and I didn't put any time into planning color placement. It was nothing but complete fun to create.

I quilted it in a big stitch using perle cotton in a rainbow of colors. For the moment it is a cheerful addition to the walls of my studio but it may come down to become a cuddle quilt. Even on the dreariest days of winter this quilt would cheer you up.
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Checking My List...


Not my Christmas to-do list!  Last weekend found me in Breckenridge on a girls quilt weekend and I am so excited to say I  finished some things that have been patiently waiting in the studio for me to return to them.  The piece above is titled Connections. It is a gelatin plate mono-printed fabric which has been embellished with hand stitching. I began this piece with a self-challenge to use my least favorite piece of mono-printed fabric. I love the results.


As I was stitching away on it, I found that I kept adding texture in blending colors that are difficult to see. My stitches added subtle texture rather than bold designs. I couldn't seem to change that. One really has to look closely at this piece to discover all the elements. As I continued stitching my barely noticeable stitches I kept thinking of the wonderful friendships in my life. How often the most calm and understated people are the ones you can rely on when the chips are down. The circles tell the story of friends who bring people together in big and small ways. So, my 'ugly' mono-printed fabric became a rich and meaningful piece of art for me...a piece about connections and friendships.

Tomorrow I will show you all a quilt that is about as opposite from this as you can get.

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Walk With Me ~ Sand Dunes

Over Thanksgiving I was in Alamogordo New Mexico to visit family. It was a great gathering of family and friends. Every trip there finds us visiting White Sands National Monument. White Sands is 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. It is an amazing place and it always captivates us. Our trips usually entail hauling kids up to the top of the dunes and watching them sled down however on this trip, the 'kids' had left early and we were left with some sturdy hikers and a couple of dogs that needed to run so we took one of the 'trail' hikes.

I use the term 'trail' loosely here. The trail is marked by posts sticking up along the path and one is warned that if they can't see the next post turn back because you will become hopelessly lost. The few stalwart plants cast beautiful shadows in the winter afternoon sun. You have to wonder how they survive in this seemingly barren land.

After a few minutes of trudging up and down dunes under incredible blue skies one may think 'well that is enough of that...let's go home'. But, like most desert landscapes one must persevere, slow down and take a closer look at what is around you. I find that a lot of life is like that too...sometimes you just have to slow down and examine things a bit closer to see what is really going on. You would not believe the many different types of lines the wind carves in the sand. Some are straight, some are more organic, some start and leave off with out a plan that I can discern. Some lines form patterns that are familiar and comfortable while others look like they must be from a different world. Lots of art inspiration to be found in all those lines.

This was the only eroded 'structure' that we saw that wasn't caused by a plant. Makes one wonder what is different about this spot of sand. Mostly the sand just blows where it wants, moving those giant dunes one grain at a time. One trail marker was almost totally buried, another was laying on the ground because the sand had blown away from the base.

It would be easy to become philosophical when walking the dunes...the silence and ripple lines of sand lend themselves to meditation and introspection...well that is if you didn't have 2 dogs dashing about hither and yon and the wind howling in your ears it would be serene.  I was simply happy to have the warm sun on my face and just 'be' in the moment. A gift found amidst the chaos of the holiday that I can pull out when I need a few moments of virtual quiet and warm sun.
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A Wild Ride!

loving these warm waters

How on earth did it get to be mid-November already? Last I looked it was summer. Actually it was summer when I was in Houston last week! On October 27th my toes were happily splashing in the warm Gulf Waters and I was soaking up the sun with my buddies Ruth Chandler and Deb Prewitt.

Deb Prewitt and Ruth Chandler

We had a great afternoon relaxing before the big show! We all agreed that taking the extra time to rest and relax was worth the added expense. We plan on keeping up with this self care event in the future!



Then there was the 10 days of chaos that are called Quilt Market and Festival. It always seems amazing to me how in a few short hours the show floor morphs from a cacophonous frenzy of crates, fork lifts, sweaty vendors and trash strewn about to a beautiful showcase of the latest fabrics, books and ideas for quilters and stitchers. I would call it the Greatest Show on Earth if that wasn't already taken.

Here are just a few of my favorite things from Market..

Creative Booth Displays

I really wanted to grab some of those bones to walk around Flinstone style.

Urbanista - love that leaf!

Kokka Fabrics - Prints Charming

I adore Kokka fabrics! This great line, Daisy Chain, in the Prince Charming Collection is awesome! Yes, I came home with harder to resist than chocolate! You can get it soon from Blue Twig Studio.

Jennifer Sampou's newest collection ~ Fiesta

There were lots of great new fabric lines in bright colors. Looks like we are all going to be playing with these fun patterns, designs and modern colors. Maybe the dreary economy has something to do with that...or maybe I just didn't 'see' all the brown and gray fabrics out there.

Coral tree fabrics

One of my favorite discoveries is this new line of fabrics from Africa offered by Da Gama Textiles. These beautiful fabrics have a wonderful soft hand and the patterns and colors are wonderful...I came home with a few of these and you can get your own at Artistic Artifacts right now! You may have to e-mail Judy directly because she probably hasn't had time to get them on the site yet.

Art Gallery Fabrics

I am also in love with the new line of solids from Art Gallery Fabrics. Such luscious colors in their always scrumptious feeling cotton. The solids pair beautifully with their new patterns of course but I know they will blend well with much of what is in my stash.

I am always on the lookout for new products and found some great brushes for surface design from Royal Langnickel. Ruth and I can't wait to get the paints out and give them a workout...will post photos when we do.

I love teaching store owners and other teachers at Quilt Market as well as the time we spend in the Landauer booth talking about our books. It is always a crazy busy fun time. Check back tomorrow for a post about Quilt Festival and a GIVEAWAY!
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Exploring Oregon

In between teaching classes at Art and Soul my husband and I explored Portland and even got to the coast one day. We spent one wonderful afternoon at the Hoyt Arboretum. This huge tree museum is located right off the train line and very close to down town. We were amazed at the wide variety of trees from all over the world. We only had a few hours so we barely made a dent in the number of trails to explore.  We have tall trees in Colorado but nothing like these! Some of the oldest trees in Colorado are actually scrawny because the growing conditions are so rugged.

Big Spruce on Meares Cape

This spruce tree is 15feet in diameter...impossible to imagine how huge it is! I  look like a little kid...ok, not that I am all that tall but I am 5'4".

Octopus tree Meares Park

I love trees in case you didn't get the idea already! Given the choice to explore the city or the country I will pick country every time.

huge sand dunes and pines

I am accustomed to massive sand dunes. We have them in Colorado and I regularly visit White Sands in NM. These however are different because the dunes are nestled among the pine trees...a bit surreal...they look more like ski runs. My son informed me that most sand is made up of gypsum. Colorado sand is quartz...this is why our windshields get so pitted during the winter.

The Pacific

Towards the end of our cape tour I did actually get my toes into the sand and was dang cold! I have a huge inventory of great tree, leaf and nature photos from the trip. I can't wait to grab some art time and create a journal about this trip.
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Art and Soul Portland

I had an incredible time at Art and Soul in Portland. I didn't take any classes this time around but had so much fun teaching that I didn't miss out on the excitement and inspiration oozing through the hotel.

I simply love teaching art and making! Here are some photos from my classes...we made a wonderful creative mess every day!

Camille's delectable cloth

Faythe's delectable cloth

Mary printed fabric until the last possible minute

A journal gathering on Wed night

Ingrid and Lewellyn at a journal gathering

what a creative mess we made in Anthologies of Memories

Judy's Anthology book pages

Janet created pages that are fun and funky...just waiting for her images

Amelia's anthology pages

I totally forgot to take photos during the silk paper class as well as Natural Beauty class! But, take my word for it we made a glorious art mess. If you ever get a chance to attend a retreat like Art and Soul don't hesitate...the energy is amazing and the art and friendships are incredible.

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Salt Spring Adventure

on the ferry to Salt Spring Island BC

Just before I headed to Portland for Art and Soul earlier this month I had a little side trip to Salt Spring Island BC to take a class from Nick Bantock. My husband came along for the adventure and let me tell you...getting to Salt Spring is an adventure all by itself. We spent countless hours trying to figure out the least expensive way to get there that involved the fewest ferry rides. We also made a side trip to Portland to drop off my extensive classroom supplies for Art and Soul. Crossing the border with a car packed to the gills with art and supplies is bound to end up with us in the little back room.

totally lush Salt Spring

We arrived a day and a half before the class so we could explore the island and hike. It was amazingly green and lush. I grew up on the east coast (VA) and my husband grew up in the South (Louisiana and such) so we thought we knew what to expect but we were completely amazed at how wet everything was. The sun did shine for parts of a couple days and of course everyone on the island said it hadn't rained for weeks and weeks before we got there...isn't that always the case?

gerry oaks

One of our hikes lead us to this grove of Gerry oaks. They looked like Colorado gamble (scrub) oaks gone wild! So it was familiar and yet a strange environment we explored. The Gerrys are behind the pine tree in the photo above.

I don't take many classes these days mostly because my schedule is so full. I almost didn't sign up for this class with  Nick Bantock but am so glad I did. It was incredible. I have long admired his collage work and of course am completely drawn in by the way he weaves his art with story. Our two day class was split evenly between his philosophy of making art, what it means to be an artist and techniques. Nick has that rare talent in a teacher to ask the questions that need to be asked in order for you to grow as an artist or even as a human. My fellow students were a great bunch and everyone created wonderful work but I am sad to say I didn't get any photos! My piece is not ready for prime time is still evolving. I will share it when it is finished.

Be sure to check out Nick's new blog: Wasnick and if you are in Spain or Italy this next year you may want to take one of his workshops there. It is not in my budget at the moment but maybe 2013...
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Delectable Cloth on the Design Wall

I am one to always have multiple projects going...I move between them as circumstances and whim dictate. I realized the other day when I put them all in one place at the same time that they all use fabric that I have made with gelatin plate mono-printing with a few other surface design techniques thrown in. I thought it would be fun to show you what I have been working on even if nothing is finished yet.

This quilt is all improvisational piecing. What is really funny to me is that with no planning it is almost square! It is 28" x 30". Now the question is do I square it up or leave it be? I haven't decided how to quilt it will let me know which of my ideas it likes best.

With these two smaller pieces I am experimenting with machine stitching and hand stitching. The top one is all machine stitching including the machine long stitch I have been playing with. You can see it in the detail shot of the purple rectangle section. The teal and yellow one is all hand stitching. Both pieces are very different and I like them equally however I do feel more involved with the hand stitched piece...probably because it is a slow cloth work.

My turtle piece here has been neglected for months because it got hidden under a pile of fabrics! I have combined gelatin printed fabrics and paper in this piece. I have just started machine quilting but probably won't do much more as it is telling me it would like much more hand stitching.

This is a piece of paper that has been mono-printed. I just love it and think it will end up as a journal cover. I can't decide on how much stitching it wants yet but I think I have the perfect size journal for it to wrap around.

gelatin printing with thermofax screen

gelatin printing with alcohol inks

These two pieces are from a recent class demo. The flowers are screened with a thermofax screen and super opaque white. The bottom piece was an experiment with alcohol inks which I wasn't so thrilled with and screen printed on it now!

tote bag made from Multi-Purpose Cloth

Messenger bag made with Multi-Purpose cloth

Finally here are a couple of finished pieces! These bags are gelatin plate mono-prints on Multi-Purpose Cloth by Roclon. I love this cloth and it is an awesome material for mono-printing.

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Getting Ready for School

Kathy King's Delectable cloth

No, I am not literally getting myself ready for school and my one remaining student gets himself ready for school and doesn't even need help with his homework...they do grow up! Anyway, for me, the summer is always crazy busy and this year we had the amazing Textile Evolution Retreat smack in the middle of August. I looked at the calendar on August 1, took a deep breath, started working and Bamm! the next thing I knew it was September already! How did that happen?

First let me tell you about the retreat. Once again it was an  incredible experience for both teachers and students...a lot of laughter, a few tears, fabulous art and a birthday party! Here are a few photos to make you jealous!Mono-printed messenger bags for each student.

The mono-printed messenger bags made out of Multi-Purpose Cloth (Love this stuff!) were stuffed with goodies from our awesome sponsors!

Judy Gula and Carol Sloan shopping at Blue Twig Studio on-site store.

Oh, yes we had not one but TWO on-site stores full of art deliciousness! Feast on these yummy offerings from Artistic Artifacts.

Evening tutorial

After dinner we had great demos and Laura Cater-Woods, Judy Gula and Carol Sloan share their many different approaches to rust dyeing fabric. There was a rust dyeing frenzy that followed this lecture.

We didn't know we could DRAW!

Students from Carol Sloan's Whimsical Mark Making they shared their class work each one said 'WOW, I didn't know I could draw'.

Fabrics from Delectable Cloth

Just a small sample of the luscious fabrics created in Delectable Cloth with me.

Kerry Cain's Indigo Shibori cloth

Cat Mikkelson's Indigo Shibori show and tell

When the students from the Indigo Shibori class started showing their work it sounded like we were at a fireworks show...ohhhh...ahhhhh.....ohhhhh.....ahhhhhh!

Deb Prewitt's books from Carol Sloan's class

Kathy King's tree book made in my class

I am sad to announce that the Textile Evolution Retreat is going on hiatus. As wonderful as the experience is for the students and teachers (oh my gosh...the surveys made me cry because everyone loved it so much!) and as much as I love putting on this great event I have had to decide on where to spend my time. The retreat takes the majority of my time and I want to focus more on teaching and creating an on-line community of people who love to stitch. So, stay tuned for changes here on the web site.

The first change is that my friend and co-author Ruth Chandler has joined me in this quest to bring the full dance of joy in making stuff with fabric and thread to all of you! Our book studies are going strong and if you are thinking of a back to school educational event for yourself come and join us! It is FREE! You have to have our books but there isn't any other cost. Everything is in the forum section of this web site. We have lots of great info and some video of all you can start where ever you are and go through the workshop at your own pace! You are never 'behind'! Don't you love that? Who needs guilt added to having fun? OTOH if you need an excuse for the family to get into your studio, you simply tell them you have a class you are taking and must get your homework done! Great modeling for the kids and you get to play!

Kyle Gula's photo from the top of Pikes Peak

Judy Gula's family arrived right after the retreat and so I was 'forced' to show them around our fabulous state. We included a quick trip to Breckenridge where Judy and I scrounged the Sally Barber mine site for bits of rusted metal laying around...of course this resulted in another frenzy of rust dying. They headed up Pikes Peak on their own and were treated to an amazing display of Colorado weather...sun on the peak and storms surrounding them in every direction.

No wonder I lost all of was full of fun, friends, art and laughter! Life is good!
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Carol Sloan ~ Making Marks and Books

Carol Sloan

Today I want to introduce you all to Carol Sloan of Greenville SC. Carol is an amazing mixed media artist who is making quite a name for herself these days. I first met Carol about 5 years ago in an on-line workshop with Laura Cater-Woods. I immediately loved Carol's work and in the last few years she has really developed her unique fun, whimsical and playful style.

Carol is a popular host on the Sketchbook Challenge blog. If you haven't checked out this inspiring blog you are missing a world of fun. It is a chance to sketch along with incredible mixed media artists with a monthly theme and prizes! We love prizes!!! The bigger benefit though is to read the stories from each artist and how they use their sketchbooks and journals and how sketching impacts their art.

Bound by Heart

Made by Hand

I am thrilled to have Carol teaching two awesome classes at Textile Evolution this August: Bound by Heart, Made by Hand and Whimsical Mark Making. You can see more samples of Carol's work on her class pages as well as her blog. Carol's classes combine her love of sketching and drawing with her passion for textiles, stitch and collecting cool stuff to create totally unique expressions of self. Carol is a talented teacher willing to share everything she knows and a wonderful warm caring person. Like all the great teachers at Textile Evolution, Carol will show you how she approaches her work and lead you on a journey to make it your own.

Whimsical Mark Making

Some samples from Carol's class 2010 T-Evo

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CHA Market Happenings

Journal dress detail

I have not been to CHA in Chicago in a few years (probably 6) and was sorry to see how much smaller it has gotten...a sign of the craft industry's struggles in a sluggish economy. But that doesn't mean the show didn't have some interesting offerings and beautiful visuals.

I really enjoyed the keynote presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Brown...who knew a Harvard Psychologist could be so funny? Dr. Brown's book, The Winner's Brain is on my reading list.  I am a bit of a brain and body function geek as most of you know and I fully believe that you can change both to create the life you want. The Social Media Boot Camp presentation by Gini Dietrich was full of great tips for getting started in social media. We were not able to take any classes because we procrastinated too long and they were all full...note to self for future...avoid procrastination!

On the show floor we were treated to a great Designer Challenge; Crafty Couture. Designers created unique mixed media garments that were fun and wearable! Here are some photos of a few of my favorites. I apologize that I neglected to write down all of the designers names so if you know one I missed let me know so I can add it.

Numen Trace Power for Paper and Cloth

Numen Trace detail

Because of the bright lights in the convention center we couldn't see the effects of power on this paper and cloth creation. I will be interested to see where this goes in the future. Numen promises to electrify our craft. I will be following them for sure.

love this resin paper skirt

Faber Castell make and take

Faber Castell was on my must see list. I was able to experiment with their new products at their make and take. I brought home some of their new gelatos and the big brush Pitt Pens. I love my small brush Pitt Pens and these big brush markers are great! Easy to use and great colors. I can't wait to get down into the studio lab to play. Blue Twig studios will be carrying these soon!

Of course every booth had great ideas, creative samples and lots of demos to teach about their products. Deb and I left the show floor every day foot sore and with brains swimming in ideas. Now we just need time to implement!
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Chicago Town

Marilyn and Me in Chicago

I went to Chicago this week to attend the Craft and Hobby Association trade show with my friend Deb Prewitt. We managed to squeeze a day of sight seeing into our trip and had a blast playing tourist in the Windy City! Unfortunately we also happened to choose the most humid and hot day for our trekking about town...even the locals said it is never this bad!

Art Institute

So, to beat the heat we spent the hottest part of the day exploring the Art Institute. What an amazing place...we spent at least 5 hours and didn't see it all. One of my favorite exhibits was Chagall's Americas Windows

There was so much detail when viewed up close...hard to see in the photo but amazing in person.There was a great textile exhibit as well but photographs were not allowed. The exhibit showed a progression in design in kimonos through the years...from traditional to off the rack. It was full of beautiful textiles and featured a lot of very sheer summer weight kimonos that we don't usually see.

Deb Prewitt and Rothko

I was thrilled to see a couple of Mark Rothko paintings up close. I am amazed at the many layers of paint Rothko employed. His work is so amazing in person!

The museum was filled with my favorite shade of green. I don't think it skewed my experience but my eyes were delighted to be filled with my favorite shade of green. Love this grid pattern behind me!!

We enjoyed a rest on a bench by the water...I even pulled out my sketchbook!

Grants Park

I enjoyed the skyline and beautiful tall Amazonian  women gathering at the water's edge. This fountain seemed like it was built to allow those Amazonian women to dip their feet is huge! The parks were equally wonderful and plentiful! Boy were we thankful for the shade of all those trees in the parks and the breeze off the water.

There were beautiful gardens and sculptures everywhere you looked...a very beautiful city. Deb and I finished off the day with a walk along the Magnificent mile. We didn't do any real shopping...just window shopping and ducking into stores to get cool. :-)

Thanks for a great visit Chicago! The people we met were great especially the one young couple who took us under their wing and gave us the metro tutorial and tips for further adventures in the future.

Tune back in tomorrow for a CHA market report!
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Fabric Nirvana: vintage finds new life of color

I love color...doesn't everyone? Intense, bold, almost pure colors that emit an energy all their own and slightly greyed colors that look like you know cool jazz sounds.  I also love vintage fabrics which are usually found in pale shades and tints evoking a gentler elegant era. Yes, I am a Gemini! I seem to be attracted to things that are seemingly opposite to each other. When I first met Judy Gula I was stunned to find that this cheerful woman had looked into my fabric and vintage stash, thrown it all into a blender to create this:Perfection! The most wonderful combination of vintage fabrics and amazing color I had ever seen.The tale gets worse for me...or at least my pocketbook anyway....Judy owns a store, Artistic Artifacts and she teaches people how to dye fabric to achieve incredible results just like the fabric she sells. Fabric nirvana!

a selection from Judy's dye class 2010

For you, the story gets better because Judy is bringing her class on dyeing and collage to Textile Evolution this August! Not only will she share her dyeing expertise so you can create a big pile of incredible fabrics but she will also show you how to create silk paper and fabric paper and how to combine all those delicious beautiful things into a fabric collage that can hang with the best of them. Judy will also teach you how to use all those little bits and bobs that you have been saving but don't exactly know what to do with. Even if you have never made an art quilt before Judy will lead you fearlessly down that path and you will have a blast doing it.  Judy rarely teaches away from her store in VA so don't miss this chance to learn from one of the best!

I almost forgot to mention that Judy is also teaching a charm necklace class that eliminates the torch, solder and stress of jewelry making. Judy brings her eclectic style to her  jewelry as well as her fiber art and combines them when ever possible.

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10 Reasons I love Ultra-lightweight Threads

I love, love, love working with Ultra-fine threads. What are ultra-fine threads you ask??? Great question because many of you have probably not run into them at your local quilt shop. Ultra-lightweight threads are threads listed in the 70-100 weight category. Most of these threads are polyester but you can also find them in cotton and silk. Sometimes they are marked as 'bobbin' threads which I find totally funny because it implies they can only be used in the bobbin-NOT true!

1~ Hand Applique: this fine thread glides through the fabrics so smoothly and your stitches are nearly invisible.

2~ Machine Applique: easy to use with machine applique and the stitches are nearly invisible...try it with an invisible hem stitch.

3~ Paper Piecing: The thread you use takes up space along the seam. With intricate paper piecing patterns using a very fine thread helps reduce bulk where multiple seams align. The poly threads do stretch a tiny bit so be careful when pulling off the paper patterns. Try lightly dampening the paper first.

4~Thread Painting: As I wrote above...thread takes up space in the warp and weft of the fabric. Using an ultra-lightweight thread in the bobbin means I can add more decorative threads on top without distortion of the fabric.

5~Quilting in the Ditch: I love these threads for quilting in the ditch...even when you stay slightly out of the ditch the stitch line is so fine that it is difficult to see your mistakes.

6~Stipple quilting: I love to make tight stipple patterns to create a lot of texture in quilting. The ultra-light weight threads allow me to stitch densely without a lot of distortion and without the thread taking over as the star of the show.

7~More thread on the bobbin! This means I don't have to stop and fill a bobbin as often.

8~Economics: These fine threads are usually very inexpensive so I have more cash to spend on the pretty threads!

9~Trapunto: Perfect for faux trapunto techniques. Ultra-lightweight thread allows you to stitch over a previously stitched line in your trapunto design without adding bulk and the ability to stipple densely helps the trapunto design to really pop.

10~Delicate embroidery: When you want a really delicate embroidery the ultra-lightweight threads are perfect for both hand and machine embroidery stitches.

Some of the available brands are:

Mettler: Seralene,

Coats and Clark: Dual Duty XP Fine, Bobbin thread

Madeira: Bobbinfil

Presencia: Finca Bobbin Lace 100

WonderFil: Deco-Bob and InvisaFil

YLI: Silk and Cotton

I know these threads are a bit harder to get your hands on but grab a few spools when you find them. You can find Mettler Seralene at Artistic Artifacts. They are not on the web site yet but Judy does stock some neutral colors...send her an e-mail to find out what she has in stock.
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Indigo and Shibori a magical combination

Indigo and Shibori dyed commercial tee and skirt

I would like to introduce you all to Ruth Chandler, one of my co-author's of Fabric Embellishing: Basics and Beyond and a wonderful artist, teacher and friend. Ruth grew up in Japan so much of her art is influenced by her exposure to Japanese culture and traditions. Ruth is never bound by tradition though as she takes a uniquely American stance and continually asks 'what if...'

commercial tee shirt gradation dyed with indigo and handmade skirt with shibori and indigo

Ruth is well known in local circles for her wonderful garments. Growing up tall in a place where most women are much shorter, Ruth learned at an early age to make her own clothes. Even finding patterns was difficult so she quickly learned to adapt them to her unique style and taste. Of course Ruth loves to embellish her clothing and almost always adds some personal touch to even her purchased clothing.

Shibori and indigo dyed art cloth

At Textile Evolution this coming August Ruth will be combining two traditional Japanese fabric techniques: Indigo and Shibori. You will have a chance to experiment with different fabrics and techniques to create incredible fabrics to use in your art, quilts or garments as well as create a couple of unique silk scarves. You can find out more about her class here

deep indigo and shibori dyed scarf

Ruth and I share a passion for hand stitching and embroidery...we love the texture and design element it adds to any project. In fact Ruth is working on her next book which explores her 'what if...' approach to hand stitching. Don't be thinking staid old embroidery book though! Ruth loves nothing more than shaking things up with deconstructing, distorting and otherwise abusing stitch patterns. Her Stitch Play class gives an exciting peek into what this book will encompass. Ruth is working on a new take on the stitch sampler in a small book is really cool! Stay tuned for photos on that soon. But in the mean time you can get a hint of what I am talking about in these photos. You can click on them to see more detail.

amazing things you can do with a simple cross stitch

Ruth has been making a ton of bags and totes will see her awesome computer bag in the Fall issue of Quilting Arts Gifts! I am happy to have two of her originals as my new purse as well as a computer bag for my notebook! If you will be at the Long Beach Quilts Inc show be sure to get to our Cloth Paper Scissors~Make It University class called: Where did you get that bag? The prototypes below will see a few adjustments as we re-size it to fit your tablet or book readers!

Ruth and I are your co-hosts for the Fabric Embellishing: Basics and Beyond free book study which can be found on the forum. Read more about Ruth's fiber art adventures on her new blog.
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Walk with Me ~ Breckenridge

Ready to head up the hill...come on...let's go!

I occasionally like to challenge you all to take a walk with an eye to art and see what wonderful inspiration you can find in your own neighborhood. So often we think that we need to travel to some exotic local to find art fodder but in visual art, like writing, it is often best to do what you know. You should be able to click on the photos for a larger image.

My friends hiking and chatting.

This weekend I was in Breckenridge CO...yes, many of you will consider that a pretty exotic local but for me it is close to home and I am there often enough that I can easily look right past the beauty as I go about my work. So, my friends and I took advantage of a fabulous spring day to go on a wonderful hike...come walk along with us~!

Spring run off in the ditch.

I wish we could have audio and scentio for this 'walk' There was water everywhere as the spring snow melt was in full force. The wonderful sounds of the rushing water, birds chattering to compete with our own chattering and the heady scent of pine and moist earth so strong that it took your breath away...hard to convey that in photos.

A bit of adventure climbing on our walk...

pine needles in the snow

I love the play of light and shadow on the snow...don't the pine needles look like stitches scattered across a white velvet fabric?

Water really was everywhere and we had to forge many little streams and trudge through slushy snow...what intrepid hikers! LOL!

Spring run off!

Entrance to a mine shaft.

This interesting old mine shaft is just a few feet off the path as we head toward our destination...the Sally Barber mine.

Sally Barber Mine

Ooooohhhh the much wonderful rusty equipment laying around. Wonder if they would mind if we draped it all in fabric to gather some of that wonderful rust.

I will limit myself to just 3 rusty junk photos...I don't want you to get bored...but I have many more!

The view from the mine.

I love the rough texture of this rotting tree stump surrounded by icy snow...

...and the amazing intertwined branches of this tree...

...and don't forget the wonderful variety of texture found in lichen...I don't know if this photo even comes close to capturing the incredible light...the lichen was lit by light bouncing off of the snow drift directly in front of it. It was amazing.

A glimpse of the mountains through the trees

down hill and almost home

Grab your camera...and some friends...go to the beach or the park or just around the block...take them on an art walk to see what inspires them. Show us what inspiration you find on your walk by leaving a comment and your blog link.

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Spring Quilt Market Round-up

Grape Hyacinth greet us at the Utah welcome center

Salt Lake City, UT was host to the 2011 Spring Quilt Market. She decked herself out with tulips and green grass everywhere. That may not sound too very exciting but for those of us in Colorado it was delightful. Tulips here are quickly eaten by the deer (even in Colorado Springs not just at my higher elevation) and green grass is a luxury we haven't had in years with our continued drought. But, that isn't what you are here for! LOL!! Here are some photos of an exciting market...luscious new fabrics and playful patterns at every turn! This is a long post so you might want to grab a tasty beverage!

Utah brought with it our first hint at blue sky all day!

Ruth Chandler and Marybeth Wujcik, the owner or Colorado Springs' newest quilt store, Nana's Quilt Cottage, joined me on the harrowing drive to Salt Lake City...we had rain, sleet, snow, ice and relentless winds. The good news is we opted for fast over beauty and took I-80...turned out that I-70 was closed much of the day. When we finally got to Utah we were greeted by a tiny slice of actual blue sky! We took that as a good omen for the rest of the trip.

The first day of market is full of Schoolhouse sessions. These are 15 and 30  minute sessions where vendors get a chance to tell shop owners and teachers about their great new products. My schoolhouse session for Threads: Basics and Beyond was first thing. I publicly declare that I am simply incapable of standing at a podium...I have to move when I talk...hands and feet. Problem is that I don't speak loud enough to forgo the microphone. You would think that I would have this down by now! LOL! Ruth Chandler, Heather Thomas and I presented the schoolhouse for Fabric Embellishing: Basics and Beyond. I got rid of the microphone and worked at talking went much better.  We are all very excited that Fabric Embellishing will be going into it's third printing soon and Threads is going into it's second!!

Lesley Riley after her schoolhouse

We attended a few schoolhouse sessions ourselves. The only one I remembered to take a photo of was Lesley Riley's presentation on TAP-transfer artist paper and her new book that will be out in June/July. We got a preview of the book and it is wonderful! I am excited to have a project in there myself.

Talking about Threads: The Basics and Beyond

Friday morning Ruth Chandler and I taught a take and teach class for Fabric Embellishing. This class is always a hit even though we feel we are whipping our students to get through it all in the short time allowed...especially since the class starts at 8am! The students don't seem to mind though. The rest of the day is filled with demos and book signings in the Landauer booth for both books. In whatever time we had left we hit the floor in search of the awesome vendors who supply products for our Take and Teach classes to say thank you, share hugs with friends and see what is new.

Saturday was a repeat of Friday except the Take and Teach was for Threads: The Basics and Beyond. We don't get sewing machines for spring market so we focused on a sampler of fusible webs and an really fun tassel scissor fob. It is so cute! I used the luscious Star cotton variegated threads designed by Terry White and a silk cocoon for the tassel top. Havel's scissors donated a pair of embroidery scissors for each student! How cool is that? I will have to post a photo later after I unpack and find my scissors.

spring market booth decorations at Simply Renee

Sunday was finally our day to hit the show floor! Our booth demos weren't until late in the afternoon so we had most of the day to see the booths we haven't seen yet.Not only are we looking at the cool new products but so many booths are decorated with passion and style!

Simply Renee ~ Clip it up

We always hit the Simply Renee booth. Not only do we love their Clip it Up products...can you imagine how awesome a studio would look totally organized with their racks...but Kathy always has the booth beautifully decorated and the staff are so cheerful, friendly and sweet!

Kathy is the decorating genius for the Simply Renee booth

Riley Blake took first place for their booth display

I think the man cave is what rocketed them to stardom

the perfect guy to hang out with was in the booth all day!

I fell in love with this collection by Paula Press called Botanika. Fresh, fun and full of possibilities for home decor, bags and quilting. Wouldn't it be awesome in collages?

Half way through the post and no threads yet...we found these luscious beauties in the Kreinik their stuff!! Don't be fooled by the 'home decor' on the package...these are totally sexy threads! I can't wait to hand stitch with them.

Ruth and I both love Kreinik threads!

Also in the Kreinik booth is a new metallic thread for us! It is specially designed to work at high speeds so it should be great for long arm quilters as well as we home machine stitchers. I brought home a spool of copper and can't wait to give it a test run...I could only get a few of the awesome colors in this photo.

There were a few vendors that brought home decor fabrics and fashion. The Hamil group is a new one to the quilt scene and their fabrics grabbed our attention! They have a wonderful canvas/denim feel to them...washed denim...drapey and yummy! They had a stitch station in their booth for show attendees to stitch up a pillow to take home. Isn't that fun? I had to run off to do another book demo at the Landauer booth so Ruth stitched one up for both of us. Ruth is planning some hand embroidery embellishments on her pillow...perhaps a challenge is coming on!

Zen Chic is a totally sublime line designed by Brigitte Heitland from Europe. The colors  are fabulous (green and orange ~ my favorites) and her designs clean, elegant and contemporary. I love the modern approach to quilting.

More green and orange was featured in the Birch Organic Fabrics booth! Really there were other colors there but you all know how I feel about green! You also know I love organic so these are a must have on my list.

I think the touch of grey is fantastic and keeps the collection contemporary and clean. Is that little boy's shirt adorable or what?

Designer Jess Goldman's Bananafana staff is doing the BananaVanna routine for us in their fun and fabulous booth. In addition to adorable kids clothes, home decor , bags, quilts, and fun stuffed things Jess also designs modern vintage  clothing for women. You all would have loved her screaming yellow patent leather heels...go look at her patterns and you will see the ones.

love this huge rosette

Good thing I don't have any granddaughters or I would never get any work done the skirt below is adorable! I am smitten with the giant stuffed dino though.

Next to Bananafana was Freddie's Friends. How cute are these little friends? Owls, lions, butterflies and robots....Olive, Lee Lee, Bonnie and Ronny are their names. The robot pattern came home with me.

Last hour of the last day...we are all tired but still smiling! We had a great time at market and met a lot of incredible people!

Ruth Chandler, Shirley Harrison and Kitty Jacobson from Landauer and me. After the show closed Ruth, Marybeth and I decided to have a celebratory dinner at PF Changs. Too bad I didn't remember until after we got there that I couldn't eat soy anymore. LOL! Just a bit brain dead I guess...and too tired to find another place. I had a tasty and healthy pile of steamed veggies and brown rice.

Just one more photo of the three of us at the Riley Blake warehouse located just outside of SLC. It was fun to visit their warehouse and fondle the fabric. We were able to stuff a few bolts of fabric for Nana's Quilt Cottage into the car...Marybeth used them as a pillow for the drive home.

Do you all want a Spring market blog giveaway???? I'll take that as a yes! I have gotten some awesome goodies for you all....but, I will be cruelly making you wait until next week! I have barely had time to get the laundry and this post done and I am heading off for the SAQA conference least I only have to go to Denver this time! The goodies are not unpacked or photographed yet...and I have to photograph my new way cool backpack (orange and green!) I will give you a few hints about the goodies though: Quilting Arts, Havel's Scissors, Quilters Home, Lonnie Rossie...
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