Five years ago…..

There are certain things in each of our personal histories that we will NEVER forget!!! It may be a wedding, a birth or even a death.

Sometimes though it is an accomplishment and that is what I am remembering today.

In October of 2015, Michael and I participated in a 10 day trek in the Himalayas, climaxing at Annapurna Base Camp!! On October 8, 2015 we reached what seemed to be the top of the world…..

At the top with our guide Badri

After 6 hard days of climbing stairs and crossing rivers, we were there!!

The scenery was astounding…..

….and the sense of accomplishment was huge!!!

Interestingly, one of my favorite parts of the day was spent by myself in a dry lake bed, just enjoying the sight of the mountains surrounding me and hearing the glaciers breaking and falling on far slopes

Naturally, when I got home there had to be a quilt about this trip and inspiration started with the Buddhist shrines and Stupas that we passed on our journey and also the prayer flags that fluttered in the breeze.

Those inspirations and ruminations resulted in “Himalayan Hallows”……

I was pleased when it was accepted as into the “Tactile Architecture” exhibit in 2017 and loved that it traveled during that year.

This is what I wrote about the quilt for the exhibit and I think that it is the best description that I could ever give…..

I almost feel that this quilt should be called “Serendipity” because so many things happened during the construction that were not planned by me but ended up being exactly what I wanted to portray.  I started the project knowing that I wasn’t sure how I would complete it and  that at any point, I might ruin it, but decided that I just wanted to enjoy the process and see what happened.

As I worked on it, I thought about our 10 days of trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp and how the mountain called Machapucherie was always in our view.  It is the highest peak portrayed in the quilt.

I also fondly remembered the Nepalese guides and porters who assisted us on this journey, and of the great care that they showed for each of the trekkers.  I  remembered how hard it was to say goodbye to them at the end of the trip and how we waved and waved until they were out of sight.

Finally, as I worked, I could smell the  wood smoke pouring from the teahouses and hear the sound of  the bells that hung around the necks of the pack animals that walked the trails with us. 

My  husband and I are privileged to have the opportunity to travel overseas often and I love making quilts that come from these journeys, but this one will always have a very special place in my heart and in my mind.

Meadow for a favorite “Wildflower”

This is my friend Lyn……

…..all spiffed up and ready to begin her epic journey up the Appalachian Trail, a trip that covered 2,190 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine…….

My parting gift to her was a “Hello Kitty” doll that made the entire trip and I loved getting photos of how far “HK” had traveled…..

As she hiked, the other thru-hikers presented her with a “trail name”….a name that says something about her personality that her given name never could. Her name is Wildflower!!!

As I created the Meadow Art piece (now called “Meadow Walk”), I kept thinking about Lyn and her connection to nature, so “Meadow Walk” is going to live at her house now and hopefully remind her of her much loved trail days!!

Meadow Play

Don’t you just love it when you finish a project, and especially when you feel like you did a good job!!!

This past weekend I spent several hours doing the last of the hand embroidery and yesterday I called the Meadow Art piece complete!!!

The final thing to do was to put it in a frame. I had bought a reclaimed wood frame from Amazon a few days back and was so excited to see it ready to hang……

This has been a fun project and one that has opened my eyes to ways of adding texture and depth. There is another design in this book that uses architectural designs and I can see lots of possibilities in it as well.

So what’s next??? Today I start quilting on the Brown Stripe quilt and then I need to look back on my “Inspiration Day” to see where I want to head next!!

Practice makes…..one crazy!!!

The last step on my Meadow Art project is to add the daisies. In my last blog installment about this project, I showed some of my attempts and concluded that the best way to do them was to do the initial work on the machine and then use embroidery floss to finish the petals (#4).

THEN, I started thinking about using Perle cotton in the bobbin and working the flowers from the back. The first few attempts were not successful as I didn’t have the tension set correctly……

I kept changing settings until it looked like this…..

Those are better and would work for another type of flower, but not for these daisies!!

I made several other tries using a smaller Perle cotton (size 5) in the needle but it just didn’t look right.

In the end, I moved back to my plan of machine work under and hand-work over.

I decided to color in the centers to give me an idea of exactly where I wanted the flowers to fall…..

….. and then stitched the first five flowers on the machine The two on the left have been finished completely with hand stitching and centers stitched……..

They are not nearly as good as the ones on the sample, but they do look good on the piece. I also noticed that the ones on the sample have some shading on certain sides of the petals so I am going to explore that further before I finish the artwork.

The important thing is that I am still enjoying this process and am already starting to think of other ideas that I want to do in this same format!!

Too many ideas

Do you ever feel like you have so many ideas at one time, that you just want to do all of them…..at the same time?

That was me on Friday evening.

I knew that Saturday was completely free for me to be creative and it was almost overwhelming to try to figure out what I wanted to do…….

  • I needed to make a new mask (since I apparently dropped mine in the Kohl’s Parking lot).
  • I have two quilts that are ready for quilting and “FINALLY” I have an idea AND am excited about doing them.
  • I want to finish the next step on my Mystery Quilt but want to video one of the processes as I do it
  • Since I spent Friday playing with thread painting flowers, I am now ready to move forward on my Meadow Art
  • And, to add another level of creative tension, I just found a video series on operating our new camera and, when I watched for 10 minutes, I learned 4 new things!!!

The first thing that I did on Saturday morning was to go for an early 2 mile walk….in the dark!! As I walked, I listened to a podcast entitled “Calming an Overwhelmed Brain”…..it just popped up on my suggestion list which is a little bit eerie!!

The first thing that the host said was that FOCUS stood for…….

Okay….what can I take away from this??

As I entered my studio, I decided that to maintain any focus, I needed to tidy up a bit…..

Once I had things neater, I decided to pull the batting and backing for my two quilts and at least get them ready to baste.

Next was to make the replacement mask…..that didn’t take long.

With a couple of the “tasks” off of my list, it was time to get interested in the Meadow Art project again!! I had purchased this book…..

….and on Friday I had spent some time playing with the flowers designs……

As you can see, they did improve as I went along!!!

Her suggestion in the book was to work without a presser foot…..

…. but the stitches often wouldn’t catch the bobbin thread so I ended up with a free-motion foot instead. The daisies are supposed to be done in a series of long stitches, quickly moving the fabric back and forth as you take SUPER slow stitches…..

I was NOT good at this technique!!!

Then I started drawing the petals with short stitches (#1 and #2) but those didn’t look great either.

For #3, I pulled out embroidery floss and did it by hand. It looked better but still fairly sparse.

Then I got the idea for #4….. machine sew the stitches and then over-sew them by hand with floss. Ding….ding…..ding…..ding…..we have a winner!!!

So, back to Saturday……

I now decided that I wanted my “focus” for the rest of the day to be on the Meadow Art…..adding the “buttercups”.

These were done by taking a small piece of yellow organza and sewing over it using a “whip” stitch. This stitch is made by tightening the top tension to it’s highest level and loosening the bobbin tension, which allows the bobbin thread to pull thru to the top……

Many of these were stitched over a small piece of yellow organza……

After I was happy with the number of these flowers, I went back in and added a few more “grass” lines over some of the flowers so they would recede to the background.

At this point in the day, my creative brain was fried!!! But I have to say that I am thrilled with the look so far……

Oh, I did spend another 20 minutes with the Camera video but there is SO much to learn and I realized that I need to take it in VERY small bites!!!

So “Creative Saturday” is now in the books and, all in all, it was a good one!!!

Putting the meadow on hold

On Friday I added a few more lines of stitching to the Meadow and declared the background to be finished……

…..and then decided that I wanted to darken some parts of the sky a bit……

I am ready to start adding the embroidered flowers, but feel like I need a bit more instruction before I start them. To that end, I have ordered a book TWO booksto teach me how to do the machine embroidered flowers, but they wont be here for another 10 days or so…..

……SO…. I am placing the Meadow on hold until then!!!!

I am sure that I can find something else to work on between now and then!!!!

Adding Meadow Grasses

Yesterday it took a long time for me to get up the courage to start sewing on the background that I had prepared. Elle, one of my readers, left a comment yesterday saying that it did look good the way it was but that I should be fearless and keep on going. The word FEARLESS sparked my courage and that simple comment helped to get me upstairs and sitting at my machine!!! Isn’t it amazing what a tiny bit of encouragement can do!!

I started out with some thread that was similar in color to the background and placed a few grass lines…..

It didn’t make a lot of difference to the picture but it gave me more confidence.

Next I moved to another darker green gradation thread……

There seems to be a bit of depth starting to happen.

Next step was to add some thin satin stitch lines which meant a change to my Viking machine…..

I was concerned about how this machine would handle the thickness of the fabric but it performed beautifully……

The final step for the day was to move back to my Juki and add some brown foliage and boy did that make it pop…..

I was doing the work on my Juki as free-motion and I found that there were several areas where the thread would shred, probably because of paint build-up. Fortunately, I didn’t really mind if there were some thread nests…..

Today I will continue to add some other lines and may try a few flowers but I may wait until I receive a book that I ordered first.

Regardless, as I predicted…..this is…..

Painting the meadow

Yesterday was painting day….YEAH!!!

Before I started painting, I added a few more couched yarns to the top……

I was pretty nervous about applying the paint but once I had my dyeing apron on…..

…..I knew that I could do it!!!

I mixed up the two paints that I needed, adding quite a bit of water so that they were really thin…..

I also sprayed water over the top of the fiber art before I started painting. To apply the paint, I used three makeup sponges that were stuck together…..

Starting at the top, I began sponging blue paint…..

Then I moved to the green, using paper towels to blot up any excess paint…..

This is one of the interim looks for the piece…..

I kept on going, mingling the blue and green so that it didn’t look so much like a line between sky and meadow. I also mixed in some darker green, adding some highlights.

When I was finished with the actual painting, I added a few more details….. the daisies were lightly rubbed with a blue metallic paint…..

…..and a few darker highlights were added with a copper paint…..

This was the final result of the painting session……

I am quite pleased with it, especially liking the white highlights in the sky and the dark couched yarns.

Now I am off to learn about free-motion embroidery of the flower elements…..or maybe I will just leave it as it is!!!!

Off to a good start

Yesterday I started on my new Meadow Art project and had SO much fun with it!!

As I started, I decided to stabilize the initial fabric base so that there wouldn’t be too much scrunching up as I added stitching. I used a thin fabric with fusing on one side and ironed the two pieces together …..

The fabric was sized at 14×19 inches, although it looked a LOT bigger than that when I was staring at a blank canvas…..

Following the instructions, I started tearing strips of fabric, making sure that I had lots of strings on the edges. You know, the things that we normally HATE when we tear fabric…..

I also cut/tore burlap, flannel and silk and added those to the mix. When it looked balanced…..

…. I took it to the machine and sewed each piece down, staying close to the torn edge……

Next, I started adding bits of trim and lace…..

….and went back to the machine to secure them to the background. At this point I realized just how much I like my Juki machine……

It is a workhorse!!!

After each step, I ironed the piece from the back, just to make sure that it stayed relatively flat…..

I failed to take a photo of the next step, but I used cotton thread to sew in some flower stems, grass and other linear elements.

At this point the instructions suggested putting a heavier yarn in the bobbin and sewing textural lines but I didn’t really want to mess with my bobbin so decided to switch to my other sewing machine and couch the threads instead. I had this thread/yarn in my stash……

….and thought that the extra texture might be nice.

My trusty Viking machine came to the rescue and I was able to use the couching foot……

…..to attach the yarn.

This is where I stopped on the first day……

….and I am really happy with the texture that has appeared. My only concern is whether the darker threads will be covered by the paint, but I think that I can make it work even if they don’t cover well.

The next step is to apply paint and then to start doing more embellishments.

I CAN’T WAIT!!!!