Sunday, May 29, 2011

A new Toy...

My big news this holiday weekend is that I bought a Janome 6600 sewing machine!

I have had my old Janome since 1997, and I have liked everything about it. At various meetings and groups, I have heard diehard Bernina users badmouth the Janome, but I have never had trouble with it, and it has done everything I needed to do.

I was beginning to think about getting an upgrade, mostly to have a machine with a bigger area to the right of the needle, for quilting and thread painting on larger quilts. I recently talked about the 36" by 48" blue quilt that I quilted, and there were times that I had to fight with it to get it to fit through the space as I quilted...

So on Saturday morning, I went out to Moore's Sewing Center with my friend Emma, and we had a wonderful introduction to the machine by the shop owner, Linda. She was very articulate and well-informed, but at no time was there a hard sell.

Actually, she didn't need to - the features and design of the machine sold themselves. After just a few minutes, I knew I wanted it... I was mostly interested in the size of the space for quilting, but there were so many other features that were equally appealing.

As I have said before in this blog, I always try to give local business owners my business. I have always liked doing business at Moore's, but these current owners have had the business for almost a year, and there are some good improvements in the shop.

The first thing I will do is take their introductory course. The machine has a lot of wonderful features, including the ability to embroider letters and numbers, so there is a lot to learn.

* * * * * *

Although it is hot this holiday weekend, Bob and I went for a very pleasant bicycle ride (actually Bob was on rollerblades) this morning on the Anchorage loop, and in the area around Anchorage. There were lots of wildflowers, and next time I will take my camera.

Then we had lunch at a new restaurant in Anchorage, and enjoyed eating outdoors, but in the shade, where there was a refreshing breeze.

Tomorrow, we will go on the Mayor's "Hike, Bike, and Paddle." Bob helped build the kayak that the mayor will be using, and Bob will be on a paddleboard. The paddlers, in canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards, will go upriver into Beargrass Creek.

I will be on my bicycle; the bicyclers will leave the riverfront, and head toward Iroquois Park, and I'm not sure where the runners and walkers will go. The temperature is going into the 90s, but the activities should be over before the hottest part of the day.

I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Out of My Comfort Zone

I always enjoy my Monday night quilting group. It is a mixed group, and people are there for all sorts of different reasons.

Some are there for purely social reasons, some are there to get ideas, some are there to learn new techniques, and so on. And some, like me, are there for all of those reasons.

The group includes blue-ribbon winners, as well as people who are not competitive, who are just there to absorb and have fun.

We often have a challenge, with suggestions for creating a piece to share at the next meeting. This past Monday night, one of our members gave a short demo about how to use colored pencils on fabric, including the application of a textile medium to give the work a finish that will not blur or smear.

I have never used pencils or paint on my quilts, but I wanted to get some experience with a new technique.

I took some scraps of fabric, and outlined some cartoon-like drawings of barnyard animals with my sewing machine. I am one of those people who cannot draw well, but my sewing machine was a good medium for me to create some simple drawings to color.

I had a few colored pencils around the house, but not enough. So I went to Preston Art Center, and spent a small fortune on two boxes of pencils and a bottle of textile medium. One box of pencils was "watercolor" pencils, and that sounded like fun to me.

I then started coloring. The stitching made it easy to stay "in the lines"

After I finished the coloring, I applied the textile medium.

I was glad this was just a practice piece, because on some of the pieces, I had too much medium, and some of my colors blurred...

But I had fun, and liked the way they turned out.

I laid it out in a 3x3 array,

added some novelty fabric for sashing and binding, and ended up with a cute little nine-patch.

Then I was ready to try a serious piece, since I had a little experience with the pencils.

Years ago, on a trip to the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, I took this photo of three little pigs in their pen in a beautifully restored round barn.

It is what I always refer to as "a quilt waiting to happen." (It has waited several years.)

I traced an outline of the piggies on cream-colored fabric, and started coloring. The pencils I used most were two different flesh-colored pencils and a bright pink pencil...

And here is the finished product.

I will put a simple binding on it, and maybe do a little more thread painting on their faces.

This was a wonderful exercise for me, and in the future, I just might use colored pencils to enhance a detail or feature on one of my quilts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Christmas in May

Ever since Baer's closed, it is almost impossible to get good quality silk in Louisville.

I have been ordering my silk from Waechter's in Asheville, and I have really enjoyed the good quality and the wonderful selection of colors, as well as their good service.

Last year, when I was looking for a particular color of aqua, I discovered Mary Jo's, also in North Carolina. Their prices are a little more affordable than Waechter's, and the quality of silk may be just a little less, but they have wonderful colors, and they also have good service.

Apparently, it is a big mega-store, that is almost overwhelming in person, and also, it is a difficult drive from Asheville, so I do not plan to go in person.

Recently, Waechter's increased their price on Dupioni silk, so I ordered these delicious colors from Mary Jo's.

When they came yesterday, it was just like Christmas. It was almost like an order from a specialty grocery - with names for the colors like "mango". "lime", "sorbet", "pistachio", and so on.

I can't wait to start using these.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another blue heron

Here are two photos I took in Florida. I combined features of the two for a heron quilt.

I made one a while back, and it was a Christmas gift.

This one, facing the opposite direction, was started last August when I did a demo during the big quilt weekend in Berea. I was showing how I create my bird quilts, one feather at a time...

Then, when I got back from Berea, I started a new job, and this heron sat unfinished until a few weeks ago. I have it nearly finished now, except for a little more thread painting on the feathers and head, beak and eye.

My background is one of my favorite fabrics. I have been saving it for just the right project, and I like it on this one, even though I had to piece my last two fat quarters. I have looked all over for more of it, but can't find any more..

Except for the background, all the fabric is dupioni silk, and it was really lovely to work with. I put Pellon fusible on the back of it, to keep it from raveling.

Although the photos were taken in Florida, we see herons here in Kentucky by the river all the time. What a graceful beautiful bird!

We were eating at one of our favorite riverside restaurants on Sunday, and there was a heron fishing nearby.


The quilt measures about 22" x 44"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Public Art in Louisville

Here is the latest public art on Main Street Louisville.

I volunteered at the Museum all day yesterday, and it was so much fun meeting and greeting the out-of-town visitors to Louisville for Derby.

Today is Derby Day, and although it is drizzling rain just a little, it is a pretty pleasant day.

I went to a pre-Derby party last night, and we will watch the Derby on TV.

We had the obligatory mint julep at the party last night. Once a year is enough!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Two woven pieces

Here is one piece I made for the "woven" challenge for my Monday night group.

The fuchsia and orange was supposed to be for a three-dimensional woven piece, but I cut it backwards (mirror image of what I needed) so I couldn't use it, and I didn't have any more...

But I couldn't waste it, so I used it in another experiment. I used two fabrics instead of four, and the results are more subtle, in terms of showing the weaving effect.

I wouldn't call the colors subtle, however!

So far, it is just a "vessel", and has little glass feet. It may become a tote bag, not sure yet.

The next piece has a woven background of Japanese paper, marbled paper, marbled fabric, and a gold fabric.

After I finished the woven part, it needed something, so I appliqued the calla lilies, and did a little machine embroidery. I love the colors.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Derby Week

It's Derby Week in Louisville, but someone forgot to tell the weatherman.

We usually have less than 4 inches of rain in April, but this April, we had over 14 inches.


My irises are blooming, but they get waterlogged and the stem can't hold the weight up.

Some of the Derby events, like the steamboat race, had to be postponed until summer, because the river is flooded, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for sunshine on the Parade day, and of course, on Derby Day itself.

I am getting some sewing done, and will post some photos tomorrow.