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Thursday
Jan202011

Living with beauty and disarray.

January 20, 2011

     This is the view from my studio window today at sunset.  For 15 years I lived up on a steep hillside overlooking the lush green hills of Vermont with natural beauty out my front porch.  Now that I have moved to the high desert there is not alot of green to be found.  Instead there are stark, amazing reds, oranges and pinks especially at dawn and dusk.  About as opposite from Vermont color-wise as you can get--cool vs warm.  My studio has a view of the red rocks and the view is part of the reason we bought this house.

     However, the studio is a poorly finished "sunroom" which desperately needs the floor replaced.  We thought this would be an easy fix--rip up the nasty indoor/outdoor carpet and put down a nice new oak floor.  Wrong.  Turns out there are structural issues as well, meaning much more money will be needed to fix up the room.  So my weaving and sewing equipment was scattered about the house and garage in anticipation that soon we would be hiring some one to do the major renovation needed.  Well, finances are tight right now so the project is temporarily on hold.  But yesterday and today I decided that I would move my weaving tools into the sunroom, ratty floor be damned!  It might not be perfect, but it IS an incredibly cheerful room with amazing natural light.  Yes, I will have to shlep all the stuff back out of their when it is demolition time, but for now I will ignore the disarray and enjoy the beauty outside my windows.

    

Tuesday
Jan182011

"Sketching with thread" pillow project (and a small rant).

                                                                

     January 19, 2011

     I have been messing about with free motion embroidery.  Instead of letting the sewing machine guide your stitches, YOU guide the stitches.  Tiny stitches morph into long stitches.  Straight stitches switch to zizgzag stitches while you move the fabric about freely as the feed dogs on the machine are lowered.  It is very unprecise and therefore very fun!  After I free stitch on the machine, I do some hand embroidery with fatter thread (usually cotton floss) on certain areas of the fabric.  Here is a brief tutorial on my latest project.

 

 

     I sketch out the general path I am going to free embroider with a washable tailors pencil.  This project is made of a printed fabric, so I just outlined some features that I liked with the yellow pencil.  (Note: you can also do this technique on solid (not printed) fabric and just sketch out your design freehand.)    

  Now it's time to head over to the (in my case ancient) sewing machine.  Lower your feed dogs and set you stitch width to the smallest it will go.  Then get to it--the more random and free form your stitches are the better.  I used a contrasting hot pink thread in the machine followed by pale pink hand embroidery straight stitches to accent it even more.  Embellish as little or as much as you like.  That's it!

     Now for my rant.  I decided to stitch my embroidered panel onto a slightly larger square of contrasting fabric to fit my pillow form.  Found this great black and white bubble print in my stash--yay, I don't have to run to the fabric store to buy a piece of fabric for this purpose!  Well, upon cutting out the 10 x 10 square I needed I realized this fabric is not printed on the grain of the fabric.  There was no way to make those rows of bubbles run in a straight line.  Look, I have a hard enough time sewing a straight line on a good day let alone having my fabric be printed all wonky.  Hmmm, should I ignore the grain of the fabric in favor of not skewing the print?  Or should I say the heck with the print, I'm following the grain of the fabric and hoping for the best?  I chose answer B.

     I attached the free embroidered panel to the 10 x 10 black and white bubble fabric with a zizag stitch.  I was going to use hot pink thread but I was afraid that would call attention to the wonkiness of the background print.  So, I used black thread.  Boring, sigh.  (End of rant.)

     I made the pillow back out of the wonky black and white bubble fabric using the classic envelope design so I can throw this sucker in the laundry after it gets abused by my kids or cats.  Yes, I had a little helper for this photo.  Below is the finished, unstuffed pillow.  It is a bit wonky, but once it is stuffed I think I am the only one who notices (or cares).

Monday
Jan172011

My day off.

January 18, 2010  

Now that I have taken the plunge into the world of blogging, wouldn't you know that today was actually the first day in a looong time that I haven't created something with my hands. 

   My family and I went on a roadtrip to  Payson, Arizona since East is the one direction that I haven't ventured since we moved to northern Arizona last autumn.  I'm a very visual person and I like knowing (and seeing) what is on the other side of those beautiful mountains that surround my home in the valley.

  The drive led us through Strawberry and Pine, AZ.  A little snow under the ponderosa pines, a stop at the Honey Stand for a jar of Wild Mountain Pecan honey, a hike down to see the world's largest natural bridge at Tonto State Park, a tour of the historical museums in Payson, then home in time to make pizza from the amazing dough W had made earlier.  

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