Sunday, April 20, 2014

Two Wonderful New Books Plus New Favorite Tool



  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Search Press (May 1, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844487691

Considering my emerging love of things wool applique, this book was especially appreciated. I noticed it on Amazon and just could not resist it.  There is an excellent section on the basics; selecting wool, needles, threads and some basic instructions on how to dye your wool, as well as an introduction to some most use embroidery stitches for wool applique. The patterns include hearts, birds, stars, pincushions, pillows, a 4-seasons wall hanging and much more. I can't find too much (like a website) for Madeline Millington, but what I can find indicates that she is a very well known and whose use of bright bold colors is one of her hallmarks. It looks like she is building a website, but it does not seem to be working yet. One way or another I love this book, I love her style and I am happy to have added this fun book to my collection

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Lark Crafts (March 18, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1454708476
This new book from Lark (thank you Lark for ending it to me for review!) is a gem. I think that packaging your work is a small, but important part of selling what you make. I tend to truly appreciate small details and attention to detail when I order things. It's about time for his sort of book, and this one really does a great job of providing some great ideas for packaging all sorts of things. There is so much information in this little book that I can't cover it all! 

The sections include:
1.   Materials and how to use them (paper, plastic, fabric, alternate materials, re-purposed and     
      up-cycled materials.        
2.   Designing your packaging: jewelry, ceramics, and glass, foods and plants, bath and beauty, clothes
      Shoes and accessories, soft furnishings, paper goods, home and living
3.   Resources (materials, glossary, templates, useful information and index.

The information is beautifully presented, very well organized, nicely photographed (as are all of Lark 's books!) and, I have to say, very useful. There's no way that you can't find some inspiration within the pages of this great book!

*********************************************************************************

Next up is an item that I have known about for a long time, but I never thought it was important enough to buy. Recently, two friends in our quilt group have gotten this Martelli ergo rotary cutter, and they both have raved about them. I  had carpal tunnel surgery, and after many years now, I still have to wear my wrist brace when my wrist and hand gets too tired. I decided that perhaps, since I am cutting a lot of material again, this rotary cutter might just be a good addition to my sewing room. 

Martelli makes their ergo cutters for both right and left hands and in different sizes. I may add a 60mm version at some point, but the 45mm touts being about to cut through 6 layers of material at once, and I think that is probably a true claim, in which case I am not certain that I would need the 60mm, which I used to use for cutting through multiple layers. Rumor has it that Martelli blades are made from titanium and that they last a lot longer. I ordered an extra two blades, but only time will tell about the longevity. They do feel VERY sharp to me at first use, though, so maybe they will last longer!

I am SO happy that I got it! Once you get used to how to hold it - and by getting used to it, I am talking about minutes not days, you will notice a difference. I don't find that I need to use as much pressure on the blade, and my wrist and hand are, most definitely, in a better, more comfortable position. Fatigue will not be as much of an issue when I use this cutter.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Dumpster Diving For Luscious Silks and Aurifil Wool Thread Delight



The more I use wool for applique the more interested I have become in using wool thread (actually all the brands that I have found are 50% wool and 50% acrylic). I love the look of using wool thread on wool.

I started with this amazing kit of colors from Aurifil. If you do a web search you will find links to buy it. It's beautiful quality and feels so smooth going through the needle and into the cloth! I plan to try some the Genziana brand (also made in Italy and also 50% wool and 50% acrylic) from Sue Spargo's website as soon as funds permit !  I have been playing with lots of specialty threads that I've had in my stash. Wonderfil 'Accent" thread is luscious in wool applique applications. I seem to really like using 12 wt threads and I have a wide selection of Sulky 12wt thread that has been working beautifully. The wool threads (both of those brands) are 12wt.

One of my favorite shops on Vashon Island is called Dova Silks. When we go to quilt camp at Camp Burton this is always one stop that we make. I can't afford any of their amazing hand-dyed hand made silk clothing, but I did buy a skirt there once (on sale) and I love to go and fondle the goods! This year when we stopped by one of the owners, Dorothy Dunnicliff, was there. We were all in the midst of a discussion when she asked us if we wanted to 'dumpster dive' in her scrap bin. I could not believe that she was asking us! A dream! I scored some luscious, amazing pieces - some of which were relatively large ! I am so excited about this score!






Monday, April 14, 2014

A Class With Katie Pedersen, author of "Quilting Modern"

My block
This past Saturday, 8 April, our guild offered a class with Katie Pedersen, and 13 of us had a fun day learning Katie's "insertion" techniques. Katie is one of the authors of one of my favorite "modern" quilting books. Aptly enough, her book is called "Quilting Modern". I have had the book for some time, but now I have it autographed! Very nice!
Katie's book
This block, in soothing grays,
 was made by a lovely woman whose name I don't know!

My focus, most unfortunately, was not on taking photos during this class. I had forgotten to pack my camera and these less than perfect images were taken with my older model IPhone's camera. Also, I did not walk about much so this is a VERY limited idea of what was happening in the class. My apologies to my friends who work is not on this page!
Nurse extraordinaire (recently retired),
Nancy Best, was sailing through this class! I expect, she has a quilt finished by now!
I love these colors!
This 'insertion' technique is taken right from Katie's book. It's not complicated and it IS a lot of fun! It's no stress quilter's play time. Your color choices really does the work for you. The options for using this color insertion technique are numerous, and I'm looking forward to playing further. I will be using my sample block to make a purse perhaps. Some folks were going to make theirs into table runners, quilts, pillows etc. I think that a lot of people were surprised at how easy this technique is and at how quickly a quilt can be made by using this method! You can leave a lot or a little space for quilting - which can become a big feature of these blocks!
This bright block is from the 'queen of brights', Barb Snider
Katie herself is an unassuming delight. Katie is no diva, and is just she is down-to-earth. I found that to be very refreshing!  Her blog is fresh and fun! Have a look.
Another cheerful block whose maker I am forgetting!
A quilt artist from Lopez Island was working
 on these blocks in gray and dark blue.

The color is off on this image, but you get the idea how fun this simple technique can be.
I have a pile of terrific new book titles to share with you - and a give-a-way for one of them too! I have a wee stomach bug right now, but new posts about these great new craft and art titles will be posted in the coming days!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Note Worthy New Books From Search Press

I believe that I have mentioned in the past that one of my favorite craft book publishers is Search Press. The books that they publish are always premium quality and I find that their new titles always manage to entice me. The following two have done just that! Thanks to the great people at Search Press I have been able to take a peek at two of their upcoming releases. Have a look. I bet you will want to add them to your pre-order list!

Jenny Dean is one of my favorite authors who writes about all things natural dye. The first book of Jenny's that I fell in love with and use consistently is called "Wild Color". I love this book. The photography is perfect, the directions are all wonderfully written for ease of comprehension - and they are easy to follow. Nature affords us so many beautiful options for colors of dye!

This new little gem of a book, "A Heritage of Color" covers the colors that are possible to obtain from 50 rather ordinary plants. Plants that have provided our world with color for more than 2000 years. Different ways of processing, using a variety of mordants and "eco-dying" are covered. This little 160 page gem offers a lot. It will have its permanent place on my bookshelf next to "Wild Color" and, I know, it will be an often used, much dog eared book! The release date in June 10, 2014, but this title is available for pre-order now! Get yours reserved!

I have heard the word 'Zakka'  a lot recently, but really wasn't sure just what it meant - or what the style was. In all honesty, I had not been interested enough to find out more about it. That is, until I saw the cover of this book. I had been looking for a pattern similar to the one on the cover for some time. I am so glad that I got to have a look at this book and learn more about Zakka!

According to author Cecelia Hanselmann, the word Zakka "...originates from a Japanese word which originally meant 'household items', ... In recent years, it has increasingly been used to mean home made everyday items...". 

The 'everyday items' in "Zakka Style Gifts" include (a partial list ) the 'Sakura Box Bag' (on the cover), a camera pouch, a tissue holder, an owl paperweight, a mug wrap, a coin purse, table baskets and more. If you like to sew and also like to make and gift handmade items, then this book would be a perfect addition to your library! 

This very modestly priced book seems to be available for purchase now, although the official release date is May 13, 2014.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Quilt Retreat 2014 at Camp Burton, Vashon Island, Washington

My friend Janet and I went to our annual quilt retreat at Camp Burton on Vashon Island this past weekend. We left home on Thursday and returned yesterday (Sunday). My photos are very limited this year, partially because it rained a lot (after the image above that is) and partially because traveling gets more and more difficult for me. The exhaustion of fibromyalgia and the pain of my back issues and body wide arthritis can really become a challenge quite quickly when I travel.  I should have gone back and taken photos of these wonderful quilts as they progressed. Also, I never did manage to take photos of Janet's wonderful work, nor of our room-mate, Sydney's, nor of my own for that matter! Apologies - especially to Janet who helps me so much!

Below:  This quilt, whose maker's name escapes me at the moment (if anyone remembers please let me know), was started many years ago. She made remarkable progress as the days went by!
Below: This God's Eye quilt was made by Merilee. She set it in black and it's wonderful. It's now on my list of quilts to make. I have always been a fan of log cabin derivative quilts. Merilee made this so darn cheerful and happy!
Below:  This quilt, made Barbara E., is a Boston Common that she is making for her son. He specifically requested these colors. He lives in, ta dah!, Boston! She managed to keep her diagonal strip remarkably straight. Most of those of us who made this quilt ended up with a lot of line distortion while Janet has somehow managed to keep it spot on!
Below: This absolutely stunning "Stormy Seas" quilt was made by Julia. She, like me, has recently returned to the quilting group, but it's obvious that she has been quilting all along! I love what she did with this pattern. It is truly a knock-out! I think it is one of the best of this pattern that I have ever seen!
Below: The beginning of a wonderful quilt that will lend itself to some amazing hand quilting! It's made by Joyce who is a wool applique like no-one else I've seen! I am a sucker for thirties prints - and this quilt really makes fine use of them in a wonderful, traditional, way!
 Below: The next four (4) photos:  

I have never used any machine for embroidery. My Bernina 180 had the embroidery unit but I never even opened it, and my beloved Janome 8900 doesn't do embroidery. Truth be told I have never had any interest in machine embroidery, and in the past, I have thought of most of it as a wee bit 'tacky. I should say, that was my thinking until I met Carol, and got to see what high quality machine embroidery really is all about. She teaches (you can see why) for a local sewing store and she uses her Pfaff embroidery machine to do things that are truly remarkable. The machine and embroidery attachment walked into and out of the retreat in impressive suitcases. I somehow doubt that I could lift the machine, which is why I travel with my Featherweights whenever possible.

Her work is truly amazing, and she has changed my perspective about machine embroidery. If I wanted another obsession, and had the money for one of these machines, I can see where, in the past, I might have jumped right on board the  'embroidery ship' !
 The image above and below are parts of a Christmas wall hanging that she was working on
Below: 
 This is the block that Carol made that really changed my point of view about embroidery machines. 
This is a machine done wool applique on a cotton backing. Isn't is wonderful?  
Below: Another wool applique on cotton. 
Below:
This charming Christmas quilt, replete with its mini 4 patches is one of Joyce's 
- the same maker of the thirties quilt above. I'm sure that it will become a family heirloom.
I feel so badly that I did not get up off my butt and take pictures of everyone's work. I ended up requiring naps each day. Two hours the first full day there and an hour the next day. I never anticipated having this sort of an exhaustion issue at my age. All in all I feel lucky, but it surely crimps my style a lot of time! To my friends whose work is not displayed here, I apologize. Next year I hope I will have a bit more pep! 

I have some amazingly talented friends and their works always inspire me! A quick shout out to our group leader, Barb Snider. She is one of the most energetic, organized women that I know. She makes it all seem so easy. I want to thank her for all of her hard work on our behalf. 

Camp Burton is located right on Quartermaster Harbor, so the views are amazing. The food is fresh and healthy - more like gourmet than 'camp' fare. One of the best things about this retreat is being able to enjoy Vashon island itself - it's just a great town, and one of the things about the town is Island Quilter. Shop owners John and Anya are the best, most accommodating people ever, and the staggering selection in their shop is almost overwhelming. In addition to a plethora of 'regular', super high quality, fabric lines, Island Quilter is the premier vendor of Kaffe Fasset fabrics. If it's Kaffe - Island Quilter has it, and they are happy to ship things right to your door for a nominal shipping charge. They also feature a gallery venue that always features a wonderful show. They have a yearly show of "man made quilts" that never ceases to please. Yes, I am an Island Quilter fan!

Since I have not taken any photos of the quilt blocks that I am working on - below is an idea of what it will look like.

The pattern is called "Fractured Quilt" and it is designed by Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession (a great place down under that I would love to see one day!). This pattern is from her book "Making Quilts with Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession".

PLEASE NOTE: This image is NOT my version of the quilt.  I copied it from one of  Kathy's blog posts (this is the link). Have a look!  I am sure that this post would inspire you!

I used my existing stash, and I just out pulled out reproduction fabrics in bright reds, bright yellows, some oranges and some blacks to work with. It's quite amazing how contemporary and 'modern' reproduction prints can look when used in an unanticipated way. I'll post some images soon. Fun pattern no?!!!