Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Abby doesn't look too happy, because she would rather have some of the warm cranberry bread we are eating, instead of posing for this silly photo. Don't you think she looks a bit like a Dr. Suess character in her christmas sweater Nina made her?

Have a fabulous holiday! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

A rare solstice lunar eclipse!

Wheel of Time, detail, 1999 Judy Coates Perez
Tomorrow, December 21st, is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. For the ancient Celts it was a significant holy day because it meant that the sun would begin it’s return, bringing longer days and potential warmth. Because of this, the solstice represents new beginnings and the tradition of making New Years resolutions.

This year there is a very rare lunar eclipse coinciding with the solstice, the last one occurred in 1638. The moon will completely be in shadow at 2:15 am central time, unfortunately here in Chicago it will be snowing, so we won’t get to see it, but knowing it's happening is pretty cool and maybe it will make the idea of creating new ways of being more meaningful.

I have never been one to make new years resolutions, thinking that I should always strive to be the best self I can be, but maybe this year I will give it some extra thought, concidering my life these days is all about new begnnings.

Happy solstice to you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Check out Creative Time and Space

Rice Freeman-Zachery does a review of her wonderful book and talks about a project she is starting on her blog to help you be ready to be more creative in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Felted Wool Ornaments

With the holidays here, I thought it would be a good time to repost my tutorial on making felted wool ornaments.

To make the ornaments shown in the 2008 issue of Quilting Arts Gifts, you need to make felted wool balls.

Warning: once you start making these, it may be really hard to stop.

To make the wool balls you will need:

panty hose

wool yarn- this is a great way to use up leftover yarn

colored wool roving- my favorite place to order roving is from Outback Fibers, the colors are gorgeous and it's very reasonable

Begin by rolling golf ball size yarn balls as a base for the felted ball. Wind yarn into oblong shapes to make a berry shaped ornament. I usually use wool yarn because I know it will felt better, but in a pinch I have used other yarn fibers too.

Unwind a length of roving, while holding it in one hand, grasp the end portion with the other hand and gently pull off "tufts" roughly 5-6 inches in length. Spread the fibers into a thin flat layer with all the strands going in one direction. Pull off another tuft of roving and layer it on top of the first at a 90 degree angle. Repeat this process several more times, criss-crossing 4-6 thin layers.

When lifting the blanket of roving there should not be thin spots or holes. Changing the colors of yarn in the layers will create a heathered multicolored wool ball.

Wrap the roving blanket you have created around a yarn ball, making sure there is full coverage of fluffy roving with no bare or thin spots.

Close the roving covered yarn ball in your hand and bring it to the foot of a knee hi panty hose. (buy cheap ones at the dollar store, or use those ancient ones in the back of your sock drawer) Gently remove your hand from around the ball and tie a knot with a small piece of yarn around the hose to secure the ball in place.

When all the balls have been wrapped in the hose, place them in the washing machine, set the water to lowest level and hottest setting. Add a small amount of detergent, about a tablespoon, the exact measurement is not crucial but soap is important in the felting process. I usually run it on a long cycle, the more agitation the better the felting.

When you take the chain of balls out of the machine, you will see little fibers have come though the mesh of the hose. Snip the tied yarn between the balls, gently peel away the hose removing the ball and roll the ball in your hands to smooth the fibers.

Click here to watch my video tutorial for making felted balls, just ignore the second half about turning them into pumpkins.

These make great cat toys, but dogs will want to shred them to smithereens. My chihuahua thinks there is nothing more fun than stealing felted balls when I am not looking and peel all the fuzz off.

These are some of the ornaments I made stitching wool felt on the balls with embroidery floss.

Theses ornaments make a great portable project. Everything you need fits in a baggie; a couple felted balls, several small pieces of wool felt, embroidery floss, scissors, crewel needles and a couple pins to hold things in place when you begin to stitch.

Stitched with beads.

They make great hostess gifts for holiday parties and are perfect for ornament exchanges.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lucky winners of Cindy's patterns

Here are the lucky recipients of Cindy's patterns


Congratulations, Jan and Hilda! Please email me with your address and I will pop the patterns in the mail to you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quilting Arts TV - Series 700

The next season of QATV to hit the air waves is series 700, here's the episode line up so you can set the DVR to catch your favorite guests and projects or you can pre-order the DVD now.

Series 700 Episodes 1–13
Episode 701: An elegant portrait finish for small quilts with Jean Wells Jeannie Palmer Moore shows how she stitches first, then paints with water-soluble crayons Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal introduce a quilt exhibit and share tips for shipping quilts

Episode 702: Inspiration, techniques, and “Boro Bobbles” with Victoria Gertenbach Transforming commercial fabrics and free-motion quilting with Deidre Adams Tea bags as imagery for mixed-media art quilts with Judy Coates Perez

Episode 703: A messenger bag with Candy Glendening A painted, collaged, and stitched tote with Valori Wells Save My UFO (UnFinished Object): Pokey and Susan Brubaker Knapp address a viewer’s design dilemma

Episode 704: A kitchen ensemble with Pearl Louise Krush Unique, colorful scarves with Diane Gloystein Hanging sleeve how-to with Leslie Tucker Jenison

Episode 705: Surface design with Kerr Grabowski demonstrating the permanent application of pastels, charcoal, and water-soluble crayons Pokey monoprints with oil paint and transfer paper Screen printing using dye and facial cloths with Leslie Tucker Jenison

Episode 706: Pokey and Pippa Eccles discuss fabric choices and show how to create a table runner for all seasons A simple Y-piecing technique for machine stitching with Malka Dubrawsky Save my UFO with Pokey and Leslie Tucker Jenison

Episode 707: Free-motion zigzag stitching and zippers with Jamie Fingal A stenciled and free-motion stitched business card holder with Susan Brubaker Knapp Save My UFO with Pokey and Beryl Taylor

Episode 708: Piecing techniques with Jean Wells: gentle curves, narrow inserts, and detail piecing Mary Hettmansperger uses metal and found objects to enhance beautiful fabric choices Pokey and Helen Gregory share 10 time-saving quilt tips

Episode 709: Mod house ornaments with Candy Glendening Art dolls from found objects with Mary Jane Butler Save My UFO with Pokey and Judy Coates Perez

Episode 710: A reverse machine appliqué series with Beryl Taylor Judy Coates Perez uses oil paint to create and enhance imagery on fabric for art quilts  Save My UFO with Pokey and Helen Gregory

Episode 711: A mixed-media shadow box combining freeform strip piecing and knitting with Valori Wells A potholder and trivet set from improvisational piecing with Malka Dubrawsky Contemporary fabric beads with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Episode 712: Pokey demonstrates a reversible dog jacket Susan Brubaker Knapp makes a quilted dog bed Pet portraits with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Episode 713: Dyeing embellishments (from buttons to raffia and fabric trim) with Dianne Giancola Art quilts that incorporate zippers with Jamie Fingal Shelley Brenner Baird discusses her techniques and inspirations

pre-order your DVD today

Friday, December 10, 2010

I want to introduce you to Cindy Shake

from Anchorage, Alaska. Cindy is an artist and designer currently working in metal sculpture and fiber art design.

Cindy and I became blog friends a year or two ago after she revealed herself to be another lover of squid, while she was working on these gorgeous wall sculptures combining her metal and clay work.

Don't you love this flock of "Steel Wool" sheep!

The Raven, a symbol of creator and trickster in the mythology of the native Americans from the Pacific Northwest, pops up on occasion in Cindy's work.  I think these carved clay images are so beautiful.

Cindy also works in fabric, designing and making bold and graphic art quilts and she has recently created a new line of art quilt patterns called Raven & Friends.

If you would like a chance to get a couple of Cindy's new patterns, leave a comment and next Monday I’ll let a random number generator choose two lucky winners. 

Visit Cindy's blog and see all the amazing projects she's working on.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Laura models my tree skirt

Today was the PAQA (Professional Art Quilters Association) meeting where art quilters from all over the midwest meet to share info on exhibition opportunities, classes, accomplishments and their latest work. During our show and tell portion of the meeting Laura Wasilowski, ever the comedienne, modeled the Christmas tree skirt I designed for this years Quilting Arts Gifts magazine, who knew it could double as a wearable garment.

Check out this mixing gradations of paint tutorial Cloth Paper Scissors editor Jenn Mason put together based on one of my paint mixing techniques from my new dvd Design Paint & Stitich.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Try your hand at the first Rit Creative Challenge!

1. Share Your Creativity
The first Rit Creative Challenge is themed around UPCYCLING, which is defined as:

Laying hands on potential throwaways and
breathing new life, quality and value into the result.

All you need to do is upload a do-it-yourself upcycling project to the community — a project that showcases some creative way you transformed a potential disposable to make it cool and new and useful, with at least the partial help of Rit Dye. Share “before” and “after” pictures of the project, the steps you took along the way, and the Rit Dye colors you used.

Indicate that you want your project to be entered in the contest, confirm that you’re at least 18 years of age, and you’re entered. Simple.

Share as many examples as you wish with the community: your fabulous fashions, your brilliant crafts, your crafty brilliance. If the panel of judges finds a project of yours is truly inspired — based on originality, creativity, and color sensibility — you could win $250 worth of DIY supplies. Not to mention some well-deserved exposure within the community and on our site.

(A tip: take inspiration from the Color Stories section of the RIT blog, where Team Rit points you to online dye ideas from creative colorists across the globe.)

Ready to roll up your sleeves?
2. Join The Community
The Rit Color Community is open to anyone interested in joining. They make colorful things with their hands, and they often share those things online at — in hopes of inspiring other folks to do the same.

The contest begins 12/6/10 and runs though 1/28/11. Official rules are here.

Friday, December 03, 2010

One of a Kind show 2010

Yesterday, Nina and I went to the One of a Kind show at the merchandise mart in downtown Chicago with this dynamic duo. I feel so bad about not taking many photos, I snapped this one of Frieda and Laura in the elevator of my building on our way out.

There were lots of beautiful things as always. If I could have bought anything there, it would have been a silky soft sheepskin coat, but it was way out of my budget ;-(  so I settled for some caramels from my favorite local truffle and caramel maker Katherine-Anne. I bought a box of rosemary and sea salt caramels that are just to die for, they are new this season and aren't listed on her website, but I bet she would send some to you if you asked.

We ended our day with a lovely meal at the french restaurant La Sardine, downstairs in my building.

Laura's husband also joined us for dinner, he happens to work for an architect a couple blocks away from me.

Nina never goes anywhere with out a sketch pad.

It was a lovely day and a fantastic meal with good friends and my daughter Nina, doesn't get much better than that.


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