Monday, June 27, 2011

I am Sewing!

Today I came home from work, ate dinner (TOMA did the dishes--he is so good to me) and started to sew. I have completed a block and 1/4. I realized that this is the perfect project for the beginner who wants to learn how to sew or quilt. You just keep making straight lines and 1/4" seams. I promised I would teach a friend to sew by making this quilt.

So, here is my work table with my blocks.

I thought I would give you a tour of my studio. This is my inspiration board over my work table. I need to put up some new images.

My bins of strips on the floor for this current project.

My Janome sewing machine. The best part of this project is having my work space for pinning, sewing and pressing at the machine. And I love the hera marker for finger pressing.

My other bulletin board. I purchased this beautiful Guatemalan piece of fabric and kept it in a drawer for over 10 years. I cannot use it as a table runner because of the the fringe--the cats would destroy in a minute and a half. It is too stiff to use as a shawl. It was a big expense for me at that time at $65. I recently decided to just pin it to the board so I can admire the colors (which is why I bought it in the first place[colors not true in photo]). Notice one of my flea market finds perched atop the board. And the evil eye in the upper right hand corner. (Only good spirits need to enter my studio!)

The "Love" sign is from my childhood bedroom. My parents brought it back from somewhere for me. I grew up in the '70's and my room was lemon yellow and lime green. I had lime green shag carpet and a really cool bed with drawers and secret compartments made from Formica and chrome. The little quilt was purchased from Tallgrass Prairie Studio. And of course the best advice: "Keep Calm and Carry On."

A 20 year old shelving unit that now holds some paper, knitting supplies, knitting books and binders full of interesting things/projects/how to's found on the Internet. You can also see one end of my knitting machine with rolled paper on top of it. It is covered with a dust cloth.

Next to the shelving unit my filing cabinet, sewing notions, and printer. Under the printer: boxes of larger cuts of fabric, Velcro, netting, etc.

Some drawing stuff near the work table. I took the pretty Harry & David round box from work last Christmas after everyone ate the holiday goodies inside. Another expensive purchase, the little Amish quilt, was $35, a lot of loot for me over 20 years ago. I did not sew or quilt at the time, but just loved it. I thought it would inspire a knitwear design.

Ikea shelving unit #2: fabric, art supplies, beads, glue, embroidery and quilting hoops, the sock blockers that you put wet hand knit socks on to shape, new sketchbooks, and some more books. The bulletin board is full of information I don't want to loose. The small bookshelf under it is full of quilting and drawing and journaling books, paper, a bowl of seashells, a cotton boll and feathers and sticks that I have collected. The cotton boll was a gift from our friend who visited from Italy by way of his home away from home in Mississippi.

As much as I wish my studio was bigger, I am very lucky to have a room to myself. For years I had a knitting studio and my husband at the time and I lived out of one room, a kitchen and a bathroom for 10 years. TOMA and I live in a small row home but there is plenty of space for us and our three cats. Sometimes I just wish I could pick up the house and plop it in a field in Lancaster. The city can get to me, but I admit the convenience of art supply stores and fabric and yarn stores is great. Although quilting and Lancaster go hand in hand like a bird in the hand. (Couldn't resist...) Any way...

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Class Today-Part Two

Those of you who read this who know me, know that I make plans and then when it comes time to do it, I just want to stay home and regret having made the plans. Today was no different. But as usual, I was pleasantly surprised.

The class was good and fun. I really like making string quilt blocks. If you quilt you know that you usually press after sewing each seam. This quilt allows you to finger press each seam until the end. So it goes faster. You can do all of the cutting, then sewing, then press, cut again, sew again and "whalla," you have a quilt top!

It is always fun to take these classes with other women. You sew, you talk, you sew a little more and talk a little more.  The class was at Cloth and Bobbin which is a shop in Narberth, PA. Johanna Hertz is the owner and she is really nice and helpful. She has a beautiful selection of fabrics--all the big names--check out her site. Here are some pics of my work station.

The class was about making a String Quilt

My old Singer broke and could not be fixed until I purchased my Janome. So I take my Singer out for classes and the Janome stays home. Perfect. I enjoy the Singer now that it is not making teeny-tiny-tight stitches that were impossible to rip out.

You begin with a foundation (muslin or any other fabric that will not show in the finished quilt). Then you sew strips onto the muslin on the diagonal. Easy peasy!

The pile of strips.

The final square before the edges are cut off and it is a square again.

I am going for some color pattern within the placement of the squares.

As a reference the darkest stripe is the center of the square that is showing in the photo as a diamond. (Upper right of photo: yellow and tans, dark brown stripe, reds and orange) Three squares placed next to each other in the color pattern.

And you cannot leave the store with out making a purchase... Roosters, graph paper, and a fabric that I used in the quilt on the sidebar in a different color way. I almost did not buy the graph paper, but I am thinking something artsy, like a wall hanging.

The best part was that the fabric and some notions added up to over $36.00, when I gave Johanna my little card of past purchases I had $25.00 of free goods coming to me! Yeah!! I should not have bought anything so $9 and change is not so bad and I love the roosters.

A good day, and a good weekend. Yesterday, TOMA and I spent the day doing errands. Tomorrow back to the grind...

Buonanotte. Baci e abbracci.

Class Today

Today I signed up for a class at Cloth and Bobbin in Narberth, PA on String Quilting. I am waiting for my friend to pick me up. Last night and this morning I did the prep work of cutting 10 x 10 inch squares from muslin and strips galore from pretty fall colored fabric I purchased with another project in mind (but we know how that goes so I grabbed the opportunity to actually use this fabric). I found that in my tool box I had this nifty ruler thingy from June Tailor called the Shape Cut Slotted Ruler. Hell-o! My tortured strip cutting days are behind me. I was the Speedy Strip Cutter. Even though I am leaning toward the Nancy Crow style of free cut strips, this tool is the cat's pajamas!

So I am set, taking half my studio with me. My friend just arrived!

Baci e abbracci.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Inspired and Off From Work

I took today off to sew and draw. What have I done so far? It is 11:51 a.m., I woke up at 10:15 and talked to a friend on the phone while drinking my coffee, ate breakfast and am surfing the net--this is not good! I feel like going back to sleep--another bad sign. I have so many chores to do and a class on string quilting on Sunday so I must fight the desire to go back to bed.

One of the blogs I just looked at is Kathy Johnson's (see my side bar for a quick connection). I pre-ordered her book, Artist's Journal Workshop and it arrived on Tuesday (and again on Wednesday, which was immediately returned to Amazon). I have been reading it on the train to work and yesterday read about the Derwent Blue Gray watercolor pencil. So what did I do? I went out at lunchtime and bought it. (I am lucky to have Utrecht and Blick in walking distance to my office.) Today on Kathy's blog she has a video of her drawing with the pencil and a waterbrush. Great video! I hope to try it myself today. The book is good so far. I rarely finish the books I buy, but I think I will finish this one and write a review. It would be a good exercise for me.

Baci e abbracci

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jimmie Mirikitani

I just watched a video that I borrowed from the library where I work: The Cats of Mirikitani. The documentary was okay. It is about a 80 year-old homeless man (Mirikitani) who is taken in after 9/11 by a woman (the film-maker). She helps him get his own apartment and social security. He is an American citizen of Japanese decent and was in an internment camp when he was in his 20's at Tule Lake. It was very sad. The best part of the film was his work. Being homeless, he worked with tools given to him, colored pencils, ball point pens, crayons, etc. I love the way he draws. He is a master of line. It is worth watching if you have access to it. His annual birthday party in New York just passed--he is on Facebook. He is 90 years-old today.

Baci e abbracci.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Where Did the Weekend Go? Part-Two

Well at least this weekend was not a waste. I did not do any art work, but I totally cleaned my studio and re-organized it. I finally gave in and took the wool yarn on cones off of my studio shelves and packed them into clear storage boxes in the basement. It was a little sad, taking my beloved wool out of my studio. This just reaffirms that I am not knitting, but it allowed me to put everything in its place so that I can sew. My studio is very small, so it can really only accommodate two disciplines, knitting and sewing, knitting and drawing or sewing and drawing (the current two disciplines). I should have taken before and after pictures. I still have a little bit of filing, but did a lot of shredding of old receipts and my work table is totally clear. I raised it so that I can use it as a cutting table too.

I also decided to put everything in the basement in clear storage boxes. I bought the boxes and hope to start that project during the week after dinner.

I do not mind weekends that I do not do anything creative as long as the weekend is productive in some way.

Baci e abbracci

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Another wasted weekend. If I drank or did some other mood altering thing it would be the "lost weekend." My lost weekend involves sleep, lots of sleep. I consider the weekend a waste when I don't do any art.

I took some photos while walking through City Hall the other day. There is beautiful tile work that needs some major conservation.

The one below is from one of the buildings where I work.

I am trying to motivate myself to illustrate some notecards. I finished one, but am unsure if I like it. I have an idea for a series, we will see...

Baci e abbracci.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It is Almost My Blogiversary!

I was just looking back on some posts and noticed that my first blog entry was on January 6--it is just about 6 months. That is kind of exciting. I re-read the first post and noticed that it had goals listed at the end--ut oh! I forgot about that. Here goes...

  • I have not completed 1 quilting or knitting project every 2 month. I completed one small knitting project in 6 months--no quilting.  
  • I have tried some of the techniques in the well over 20 books I have purchased in the last 1 1/2 years. 
  • "Finish the quilt I started for my mother's birthday, now almost 2 years ago." Funny thing, I signed up for an Unfinished Projects Night at a local quilting shop for tomorrow and 2 hours ago I emailed them to say I was not going to make it. I just couldn't bear trying to figure out where I left off and schlep my sewing machine, fabric, tools and thread to the shop by 6:30 p.m. on a work night. There are other classes scheduled and I paid for a string quilt class at the end of the month. 
  • I have worked in my sketchbook on average 3 times a week,
  •  and on average I have completed one post per week on this blog (actually twice per week--on average). 
So I am doing okay in meeting my goals, although there is room for improvement.

I do not think I mentioned this absolutely fabulous book I purchased recently, Nancy Crow. I have had it in my cart for months and decided to finally buy it. I opened it and was wowed! The most beautiful work ever. She has dyed most of her fabrics herself, which makes the quilts truly exquisite. It really inspired me to start sewing. However, first I have to change my studio a bit to use the sewing machine. That means find a place for all of the books, paint, paper, ephemera--all of it. There is just no where to put this stuff. Also, I would like to get acclimated to the sewing machine before taking this class at the end of the month.

I am drawing in my new sketchbook. I even put a wee bit of collage in one of them alla Roz Stendahl as shown in her Building Your Visual Journal from the Page Up class (free on the Strathmore Visual Journal site). I think her workshop was the best in the series. The first workshop by Pam Carriker was good, it even motivated me to purchase her book, but in the end, it is just not the kind of stuff I want to produce. I think what I like about Stendahl is that she can draw well, and she does it everyday. She doesn't doodle, or draw a variation of the same face/house/cat. The collage is just secondary--no gel medium, powders, mixed media. Drawing is her focus. I like that.

Buona notte. Sogni d'oro.

Baci e abbracci