Friday, September 30, 2011

Finger painting on my iphone

The other night I was poking around on my phone and realized I hadn't played with the Brushes app in almost a year.

Brushes is a painting app that you can either just paint an image from memory, make something up or work over an existing photo by randomly choosing different brush styles and sizes and colors with various amounts of transparency and opacity. Then you draw with your finger on the screen of the phone.

It sounds a little tricky painting with that big ol stump of a finger instead of a fine tip brush, but you can enlarge the image 400 percent so your finger doesn't seem quite so big.

This is the photo I started with. I took it at the fish market in my neighborhood, I was fascinated by the shape of the fishes mouth and thought it would be fun to paint over the photo accentuating those crazy red lips.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New handwarmers for fall

I still have a few projects that I am working on that are not all that creative and art focussed so I am getting my fill of creating in the evenings with some more knitting.

I started this pair of handwarmers last winter, I had one knit and about an inch and a half of the second before spring arrived. The recent cooler weather motivated me to pick them up again and finish.

I love knitting handwarmers because I have made so many that I don't need to follow a pattern I just design them as I go, once I have figured out the gauge.

These handwarmers are knit from natural undyed possum wool that I bought last year in New Zealand. Here's another pair I made last fall from green possum wool.

You can see the fur that is spun in with the wool fuzzes up making them so soft and warm. After washing, the fur blooms and gets even softer and fuzzier. The wool is a blend of 50% merino, 40% possum and 10% silk.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The New Zealand Common Bushtail Possum, originally from Australia, is not like the American possum, it was brought to New Zealand to establish a fur trade because of its beautiful pelt. Unfortunately, New Zealand has no native mammals in its habitat so the possum with no natural predator has decimated native species.

If you are interested in buying some possum wool yarn like this, I found some in the US here. Or if you want to get it direct from New Zealand you can get it here. The wool's a little pricey but 5% of the sale goes to the preservation of New Zealand's native environment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Check out my latest article in Quilting Arts

I recently wrote an article on the way I prepare my work for quilting for the October/November 2011 issue of Quilting Arts magazine focussing on Stitch. In my article I talk about my thought process for planning the quilting designs, my preference for batting, my tried and true method of basting and marking a top with strategic design elements when free motion quilting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cuban Dinner

Last night I prepared one of my favorite meals with friends; Cuban black beans, rice, roast pork and pickled red onions for garnish. My friend Alexa came over and made mojitos and brought a cabbage slaw with avocado and jalepeño and a mango sorbet for dessert. Everything was delicious, so I thought I would share a few recipes with you. My daughter Indigo took the photos.

Cuban Black Beans

1 pound black beans, washed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
5 cups water
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Place beans in a large saucepan with enough water to cover, and soak 8 hours, or overnight; drain. Or do a quick soak method bring beans and water to a boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat, cover and sit for 1 hour.
 2. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, and saute onion, green bell pepper, and garlic until tender.

3. Into the onion mixture, stir the drained beans, water, tomato paste, pimentos, and vinegar. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender.

The easiest way to tell if beans are done is lift a spoonful out of the pot and blow on them, if the skin splits and peel away from the beans they’re done.

Cuban Pork Roast

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pounds pork shoulder

I had a 7 1/2 pound bone in shoulder so I doubled the marinade.

Heat a small, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and peppercorns to the pan; stir constantly until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush toasted spices with garlic, salt, and oregano to make a paste. You can also do this in a food processor. Add orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, sherry, and olive oil.

With a sharp knife cut slits in the roast to help marinade penetrate the meat. Place the pork in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour citrus marinade over meat, and seal. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning the bag over occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Transfer pork to a roasting pan, and place in the oven. Baste pork with marinade every hour until meat is fork tender, about 4+ hours. I had a 7 1/2 pound shoulder and cooked it for just over 5 hours. It's possible you may need to loosely tent the roast with foil if the top starts to get too brown.

Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve, and serve. 

Pickled Red Onions
this recipe is from Gourmet 2006 and was adapted from 
Rick Bayless Authentic Mexican

2 red onions, sliced
1 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Blanch 2 sliced red onions in a small saucepan of boiling water to cover for 1 minute and drain in a colander. 

Then return them to the pan and add a cup of cider vinegar, a teaspoon of salt, and just enough cold water to barely cover the onions.

Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer the onions 1 minute.

Transfer the onions and brine to a glass jar and chill. The onions will turn the color of a pink piñata and will get crisp as they cool. They'll keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

And lastly the perfect accompaniment; a rum Mojito with lime juice, mint, cane sugar and club soda. You can find a recipe here.

Now, I am looking forward to making tacos with the leftovers, yum!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Latest happenings at Harpo

A week ago, taping began on the new Rosie show.

Thursday I heard a commotion and looked off the balcony to see a crowd gathered on the corner. Evidently Oprah and Rosie were down there unveiling the new sign.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This is what I really want to do right now

When those first few signs of fall are evident, I always want to break out the knitting and start a new project. I really love to knit because it engages a totally different part of my brain than painting and quilting and frankly I have a hard time just relaxing without something in my hands.

For some time now I have wanted to try knitting a mobius scarf, click on the link to get a full description of the mathematics of a mobius circle. A mobius scarf is a knitted circle with a twist in it, that only has one edge. If you run your finger along the top edge starting where the knitting was tied off, it will go along the whole top and bottom of the circle in one long continuous line bringing you right back to the beginning.
This is a small sample to help understand how it would knit up.
When you knit a mobius, the top and bottom edges of the scarf are all on one long circular needle. It has an unusual caste on, I followed Cat Bordhi's great tutorial here. I found that it helped not to try and figure out what was really happening as you cast on and knit those first few rows, but just have faith that it's going to work.

That tail sticking up next to my thumb is the beginning of my first row, it ends up in the middle because when you knit the first row you knit the top and bottom edge in one continuous line. The first row is knit all the way around but half the stitches will be knit and the other half will create a row of purl.

For my scarf I cast on 150 stitches of heavy weight worsted yarn on size 10 US needles, this should create a 50" circular scarf that can be looped around twice for a big cowl. I have two skeins of yarn and am just going to knit until it's a width I want (maybe 10"?) or until I run out, whichever comes first, using a pattern of knit four rows and purl four rows and repeat.

I am getting the itch to start painting and sewing, it seems like it has been so long since I have worked on something for myself. I really need to unpack my suitcase from my trip to Cleveland

and then clean off my table so I have a place to work

but first I have to write an article for Quilting Arts magazine based on one of the segments I taped a couple weeks ago for QATV.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Color is Amazing!

Earlier this year my daughter Indigo came across an interesting example showing how one color can be extremely affected by another color, she created this series of images to illustrate this particular phenomenon.

In the image above, it appears that the eye on the left is blue, matching the blue circle on the upper right, and the eye on the right is gray. Believe it or not, both eyes are the same gray!

In the image below, cover the gray side of the image with your hand and watch the half of the eye on the red field turn blue to match the blue circle on the right.

Pretty cool huh?

If you are interested in learning more about how colors interact and how to make them work for you, my online Color Theory class is on sale during the month of September for $45.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Taping Quilting Arts TV season 900

Susan Bruebaker Knapp, Elin Waterston, Me, and Candy Glendening,
after a wonderful dinner at Taza Lebanese Grill
These are the artists who were taping on Tuesday and Wednesday in Cleveland. Susan and I emailed before hand and arranged to meet at the airport on Monday and Candy's flight also happened to arrive when mine did, so we had a nice little reunion in baggage.

Setting up
The first segment I taped was about removing color and adding it back in to fabric with two different products that are similar in that they are non toxic alternatives to bleach, yet very different in how they are used.

I demonstrated multiple techniques with each product. A few reverse shibori techniques with Color Remover by RIT and painting, stamping and thermofax with DeColourant

By the way, my daughter Nina designed the thermofax image I used and Lyric Kinard made the screen.

Preshoot photo
We're on...

Shown here on the monitor: the first half of the segment was about using Color Remover by RIT. This stuff is soooo cool, I wish I had played with it sooner. It is a non toxic alternative to bleach for discharging that is activated by hot water and neutralized by rinsing in cool water! I showed several easy alternative ways that I discovered to use it besides boiling it on the stove.

Working with both products in one shoot was a lot to cover, the segment could have easily run twice as long.

Susan was great about taking photos while the show was taping from the tv in the green room.
There's my hair hanging in my face again, film crew doesn't like that, lol

QA Editor extraordinaire Helen Gregory with Susan Bruebaker Knapp preparing for her taping.

Some extra makeup to get us through the day.

Candy stopped in after lunch to start setting up for the DVD she was taping the next day. Isn't this color chart amazing? Candy is a college biology professor and this is her Candiotic table of elemental color. The upper left triangle are all the colors created by the dye primaries, cyan (turquoise), lemon yellow and fuchsia and the lower right are colors created by using cerulean, tangerine and mixing red.

notice barrette in place for following segments, lol 
My second segment was about different methods I use to create freemotion quilting designs with the Christmas Tree Skirt I designed for Quilting Arts Gifts last year.

This is the sound guy who puts our microphones on, sitting down at the Bernina. Maybe we should teach him to sew, we could use a few more cute guys in the quilt world.

 My last segment was about painting fabric with acrylic inks.

I love the way the inks create such beautiful texture and layer over each other.

It was a fun, exciting and always a bit nerve wracking day of taping. The crew for the show is wonderful to work with, but I'm always worried I'll forget something crucial, either a specific tool for a segment or an important bit of information to say on set.

Now I can give a sigh of relief, to have it all behind me and catch up with so many things that have been put on the back burner for way too long, but first I need to start writing an article for Quilting Arts magazine on the techniques I showed in the segment on removing color.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!


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