Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Checking My List...

 

Not my Christmas list....my 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 season...one 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!

Before



After
After


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 some....is 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 water...it 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 yet...it 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 yet...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 top...love 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 tutorials...here 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 class...as 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 tutorials...best 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 August...it 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 buildings...like Amazonian  women gathering at the water's edge. This fountain seemed like it was built to allow those Amazonian women to dip their feet in...it 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 format...it 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 lately...you 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 rust...so 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 loudly...it 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 booth...love 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 soft...so 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 tomorrow...at 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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ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist!

Threads: The Basics and Beyond


I am soooo excited....Threads: the Basics and Beyond by me and Debbie Bates is a finalist in ForeWord's Book of the Year Awards in the Craft and Hobby category.

This is such a huge honor! The category includes all craft and hobby books not just quilting and fabric art. Wow...can you say thrilled?? I may need to tie weights to my ankles to keep my feet on the ground!

Passport for Threads Basic and Beyond


I am so delighted that I think this calls for a giveaway! Don't you? Leave a comment here and on April 1st ( no fooling!) I will use a random number generator to give away a copy of Threads: the Basics and Beyond! Tell me what you love about thread, your favorite thread or just cheer for thread!

And, for all you thread lovers don't forget that I have a FREE on-line book study in the forum on this site. Actually two FREE on-line book studies...Fabric Embellishing and Threads. We even have a few dedicated stitchers in both studies. Come on in and play with us. You don't need to sign up for the class but you do need to get a user name and password to participate in the forum...you can look as a  guest. Getting a user name takes about 1 minute and you can find the log in on the forum page.
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Dove Grey to Deepest Blue Black

 




Ann Johnston demonstrating painting on fabric with color on our last day





I know, I know, I said I would never go down the fabric dyeing road but some friends dragged me along on their adventures last summer and I was quickly hooked. I loved the results of low water immersion dyeing so when I heard that Ann Johnston was coming to Colorado to speak at Front Range Contemporary Quilters and offer a workshop I jumped in with both feet. Who better to learn from than the Mistress of Dyeing?  

Deb Prewitt and Chris Dickinson working into our lunch hour



 I had no idea there were so many shades and variations of black until I spent 3 1/2 days with Ann Johnston last week. From dove grey to deepest blue black we brushed, smeared, thickened and stained dyes on different fabrics until we started to be able to pick out which ones were slightly greenish from those that were slightly purplish. Working exclusively with black dyes, we focused on line, texture, pattern, value and shape as well as rhythm and repetition. It was awesome to spend so much time focused on art and the confusing science of dyeing with no interruptions...just one of the many reasons I love workshops and retreats. Ann is a great teacher and shared every shred of knowledge she had stuffed in her brain...or at least as much as we could drink in.  

Liz Hoops with one of her mono-prints



 The other amazing thing about attending workshops and retreats is getting that glimpse into other artists' brains and thought processes. We had 19 people in our class and the energy was amazing and it was boggling to see so many variations come out of the exact same assignment.  
 




Laurie Gibb focused on mark making





Ann is a closet scientist and tests, tries and explores every variation of dye process that you can imagine so that we can learn from her adventures and not spend so much time experimenting. I highly recommend her classes. Ann did give us some demos of how she paints her beautifully colored art fabrics on the last day...we were so excited to see color after all that black and white. Here are a couple of my favorite pieces that I made.

Cotton and Cotton Linen blends



Silk Habotai ~ dyes black very differently than cotton

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In Stitches Blog Tour...


Welcome you intrepid In Stitches blog tour followers, welcome to my home on the web! I want to tell you a little bit about my article in this jam packed issue of In Stitches. Conquering metallic thread is the topic...Metallic thread questions are the most frequent ones I get. It is a finicky thread but with a few tips you can easily become a metallic stitch queen! Here are my top metallic thread tips!


1. The thread you use in the bobbin is important. I find that a fine(50-60wt) or ultrafine (70-100wt)polyester thread solves a lot of problems. Metallic threads are wiry and often not smooth so pairing them up with a soft drapey poly thread eliminates a lot of tension problems.


2. Speaking of tension...reduce it! The upper tension dial is one of your best and often underutalized tools on your sewing machine! Reducing the top tension (lower numbers) means less tension on the thread so it will be less likely to break. When I am free motion stitching with metallic threads I set the top tension to zero!


3. The needle...A metallic needle is handy but not necessary. Depending on the type of stitching you are doing a size 90 embroidery (for free motion) or 90 topstitch (programmed and straight stitches) work just as well.


4. Slow down. Sewing fast creates more friction on your thread and friction causes heat and increased force on your threads...causing them to stretch and break. In addition, when you are free motion sewing and moving the fabric fast you are adding stress/tension to the thread. So often in our daily errands we do things in a hurry; slowing down allows us to actually get into the zen of stitching and relax!


5. Thread delivery. Some threads just need a bit more time and space to relax before they hit those tension disks...wow...I could go down this philosophical path on how we would all benefit from more time and space before we face our own daily tension...but let's get back to thread! Try using a thread stand or a jar placed behind and away from your machine. Make sure the thread path goes no where near your fly wheel! Also make sure that the thread is coming off a stationary spool. Dragging the spool along as it unwinds adds more tension.


6. Know your stabilizers! Every thread fanatic should have a wide variety of stabilizers at their fingertips! Stabilizers can make your stitch world so much more beautiful and solve so many stitch problems...and you will have younger looking skin as well. Ok, just joking about the skin but seriously...get to know your stabilizers. They are so valuable in the studio!




This ATC was created with metallic threads and free motion stitching on a heavy stabilizer
Metallic thread flag

You will find even more metallic thread info in the current issue of In Stitches and lots of great ideas and inspiration like:




  • Artist Profile with Marianne Burr, including a zoom slideshow with numerous art quilt images

  • A colorful stitched and painted camera strap project with Michelle Allen (perfect for my new camera!)

  • Insight from Lyric Kinard on using stitch as a design element

  • Pokey’s studio visit with art quilter Judith Trager, plus more from Judith

  • Tips for making a stitchery workbook with Debbie Bates

  • Ideas for making screen-printed fabric pendants (these are sooo cute!)

  • Deborah Boshert’s approach to using sheers for stitched silhouettes

  • Embroidered silk cuffs by Jackie Cardy (Gotta make some of these!!)


I wasn't sure if I would like an on-line magazine but was totally sold after I got the first issue of In Stitches! I love being able to zoom in on a photo, watch the videos...what a great way to get to know an artist! And, best of all I don't have to buy another book case to house all the back issues and we aren't using up our natural resources to produce them.

GIVE AWAY! Everyone loves a giveaway and I have a wonderful one for you! The winner will receive a copy of Threads: The Basics and Beyond Debbie Bates and myself plus a  packet of stitch goodies...including some metallic thread of course and some fabrics and some surprises! Leave a comment below and I will use a random number generator to pick a winner on Wed March 9th!

Here is the entire blog tour schedule so you can learn more about In Stitchesand these awesome artists! Pssst...a lot of the other artists have give aways too!! I love prizes don't you?

Monday (Feb 28): Jane Davila: http://janedavila.blogspot.com
Tuesday: Lynn Krawczyk (March 1): http://www.fibraartysta.blogspot.com
Wednesday: Jackie Cardy(March 2): http://dogdaisychains.blogspot.com
Thursday: Deb Bates (March 3): http://stitchtress.wordpress.com
Friday: Deborah Boschert (March 4): http://deborahsjournal.blogspot.com
Saturday: Michelle Allen (March 5): http://allendesigns.typepad.com
Monday: Lyric Kinard (March 7): http://lyrickinard.blogspot.com
Tuesday (March 8): A surprise guest on Lindsey’s blog will be the final stop of this tour http://www.quiltingdaily.com
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Can't Judge a Store by its Cover

This scarf is created with hand dyed laces and frippery...how fun is that?



I am back in my old stomping grounds this week...Northern VA. I grew up here and it is always strange coming to visit...familiar but not the same. There is always construction around here and things have changed so much I can't quite connect what I see in front of me with the memories from my youth. High rise luxury apartments where the train and junk yards used to be...who could have guessed??

Who could resist these hand-dyed vintage fabrics?



I am at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria VA working on some great tutorials and videos for you. This incredible store is housed in a very unassuming exterior....solid brick and businesslike with a parking lot full of BIG trucks. But, once you open the front door you know you have discovered something unusual and delicious. Judy Gula the creative genius behind Artistic Artifacts has turned a showroom that used to house a Porsche race car and high end after market auto parts for those who are connoisseurs of speed and style into the ultimate playground for mixed media and textile artists...we connoisseurs of paint, fiber and cloth!




Judy had gathered together unique and hard to find supplies, hand dyed fabrics (both vintage and new), embellisments, charms, trims and bits of things that simply make my heart sing. This is a very dangerous place for my wallet!! Everywhere I turn there is some luscious bit of treasure that must come home with me...good thing I have an extra suitcase! I regularly shop on Artistic Artifacts's web store for supplies but being surrounded by these incredible trinkets every day for a week has eliminated any sense of will power I had. Judy will be teaching her dyeing and collage techniques as well as how to create some of her distinctive mixed media jewelry at the Textile Evolution Retreat in Aug.


As if this wasn't enough to break the bank Judy and I visited a tiny little bead store in an unlikely location and similarly unassuming exterior. Rosalie, the owner of Beads Ltd has created a jewel box inside a townhome turned store. Every wall and window is covered with beads...lets just say I had really great time and will probably have to ship stuff home! I found a huge selection of rondels which can be hard to find. Rosalie had a plethora of sizes and colors...I bought them all. Unfortunately, Beads Ltd does not have a web presence so you will have to trek to VA to visit.


I am actually working not just shopping! Judy and I are developing some great tools for you! We are creating a series of YouTube videos and companion written tutorials that we think you are going to love. There has been much laughter and sillyness as we stumble our way through learning video taping and a tiny bit of editing...emphasis on the 'tiny'! We won't have 'perfect' videos...they would never get done if we waited for perfect. But, they will be informative and fun. I will let you know as soon as the first one is ready for you.

If you are in the area I am lecturing on thread on Sat. 2/19 at 1:00. Check the Artistic Artifacts web site for details and address.

I just posted another tutorial on the Havel's Scissors blog today too! Be sure to check it out for some thread painting zen!
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