One Of These Is Not Like The Others

August 30, 2015

This is currently the view out my kitchen windows:

little sunflower

I love sunflowers, and suggested that my husband plant a row next to the lawn, so the entire vegetable garden would be hidden from view.  It’s not that I don’t like seeing the veggies.   I just like seeing flowers more.  If you look at the very top of this cropped photo, you can see the corn stalks, so there is a garden behind that wall of flowers.

Can you see that little sunflower in the center of the photo?  Well, my husband thought it looked out of place, and asked me if I wanted him to pull it out.  Oh no!  Not one little bit.  That little flower is my favorite.

It’s standing tall – well as tall as it could go, but its flower is nice and full, and it’s flowering its little heart out.  Yes, it’s different from the others.  So what?  It’s good to be different.   Diversity is interesting.  Funny how one row of sunflowers could teach all of us to embrace everything nature has to offer us.

And the voting on the question I posed yesterday had a clear cut winner.  Only one person left a comment, but I received plenty of private emails about it, and version 2 is the winner.  I’ll wait another day or two in case I get more votes before I do anything to the piece though.

Thank-you to everyone who contacted me.  It was nice of you to take the time to share your thoughts with me.


Improv 101

August 29, 2015

I have very little experience with improv quilting, so when my small focus group decided to try an improv round robin, I went along for the ride.   After all, you never know if you’ll like something, if you don’t try it.  This extremely traditional shadow quilt design was selected as the central block:

Diane original

Challenging, no???

Never in my wildest imagination did I think Marcia could bring this block into modern times, but she did with this wonderful addition:

Diane step 1

And then Sue added the bottom cross blocks:

Diane step 2

And Beth added some flowers, lots and lots of cheerful flowers:

Diane step 3

Are you as impressed as I am, because I’m mega impressed.  I never thought that traditional block could be transformed like this.

Not being able to leave anything alone, I thought the left border needed a little something, something, so angled the two fabrics and am debating between version 1:

Improv 1

and version 2:

Improv 2

Which do you like best?  If version 2 is the one you like, I will use that new fabric for some flower center yo-yos, and most likely the binding.

Inquiring minds what to know – really – which version do you like?




Beaded Bracelet

August 12, 2015

I had started making this ages ago, and finished it last week:


You are definitely going to want to double click on that photo, so you see what it looks like.  It was a lot of fun to make, and was a pattern in a Bead and Button magazine.  It was a 2015 issue, but I got it from the library, so am not sure what month it was published, as the magazine has since been returned.

I’m a slow beader, but enjoy using beads for jewelry and art quilts.  And I also like buying beads.  ;-)

Another Whisper quilt was completed yesterday, and I received the box for next month’s inspiration.   There is no joy in this month’s quilt.  The piece is really wonderful, but the subject matter is depressing, and I plan on turning it around.






August 10, 2015

There are lots of reasons why I haven’t been posting to my blog.

The first reason was I’ve been making Whisper Quilts, and I’m really not supposed to be revealing them.  Little else creative activity has been going on aside from them.

The second reason was I got lazy.  I’ve been taking lots of photos of wildlife around here, but didn’t transfer them to my laptop.  I’ve since done so, and it’s been a real wild kingdom around here.  Deer and fox in the front yard:

deer fox by slate mom and baby fox

The two baby fox are on the slate steps to my front porch – really close to the house.  The whole family – mother, father, and 4 babies have spent their summer with us, and I love the photo of the mother grooming her child’s ears in our driveway.

The backyard has been full of turkeys:


And then my 96 year old father fell.  My husband found him on the floor in his patio home, called the ambulance, and after 5 horrible days in the hospital, and a few short hours in Hospice, he passed away.

Planning a funeral, clearing out his patio home, dealing with financial obligations,  having to go back to the same stinking hospital to have a surgical procedure of my own 4 days later, and then I was home – where I promptly deflated.

It’s not like I collapsed or anything.  All I knew was my daily morning phone call to my Dad wasn’t going to happen anymore.  When I called his phone number the day after my procedure to make sure his phone line was disconnected, I got the message that the number was no longer in service.  it was the catalyst for my grief to surface – big time.    No more good mornings, no more singing you are my sunshine to each other, no more saying I love you as we ended our daily phone calls.  I miss my Dad, but I’m so grateful he was able to stay independent, in his beloved patio home till the very end.

You see he loved his patio home.  He loved seeing the turkeys and deer play outside his windows.  He loved having his privacy.  He was happy talking to his 3 daughters every day, visiting with them weekly, and singing his heart out at all hours of the day and night.  He did so love to sing – especially love songs about my mother.

My mother passed away almost 9 years ago.  My Dad had her wedding picture in his bedroom, and he woke up every single morning and said. “Good morning, honey.  I love you.”  And when he went to bed, he told her, “Good night, honey.  I love you.”

My Dad was laid to rest on my mother’s birthday this year – reunited with the love of his life forever.

Good night,  I love you.

More Wonky 9 Patch

June 4, 2015

Following up on my last post, I sewed the strips together from the wonky 9 patch I thought I ruined:

6 slice 9 patch

Much to my surprise, I actually like these two blocks.   Cutting those blocks into 6 narrow strips was a mistake, but a mistake that resulted in yet another look.

The blocks could be rotated too, or I can place a square ruler on top of them – at an angle – cut around the ruler, and create yet another look.  I think that might look good too.

What started as trying to make one wonky 9-patch block, turned into creating many variations, and something tells me, there are lots more to be discovered.  Don’t you just love it when a simple idea spurs creativity?



Wonky 9 Patch

May 31, 2015

This week was spent exploring different methods of making a wonky 9 patch square.  Now you’d think this would be easy, but I had a heck of a time trying to be a wonky piecer.

I started by making a traditional 9 patch a little larger than wanted, then placed a square ruler at angles on top of the square, trimmed around the ruler, and voila:

red green straightred and green

I did not like this one little bit, most likely because I used 10″ blocks, and the center block – be it white or a fabric print, was way too prominent.  Attempting to get rid of that large center square, I sliced and diced one of the blocks, and inserted some fabric strips.  Still didn’t like it.

Next, I thought it might work much better if I used uneven fabric squares, or long strips of fabrics cut with a gentle curve:


Now this might work well, but I used a striped fabric, and it really distracts from the effect I was trying to attain.

Onwards to another idea.  This time I used a 9″ block – 1 solid, 1 print,  placed them on my cutting mat right sides up, then made an angled straight cut:

step 1

Took the print fabric from the bottom right, and sewed it to the solid color piece of fabric on the left, and sewed the bottom pieces together also.  Then another angled straight cut was made on the left.

step 2

Again the fabrics were shuffled, and sewn together:

step 3

Then I made the spectacular mistake of cross cutting these squares into way too many skinny strips.  I didn’t bother sewing them together, as I thought I royally screwed up.  Now that I’m taking the time to reflect on this atempt, I will sew them together.  Like all good fiber artists, I saved the cut fabric.  I’m so glad I did.

Next was a smaller block – 6″, again a solid and a print, cut and shuffled like the last attempt, with only 2 horizontal cuts made:

step 4

Much better proportions.  One set was made with straight cuts, and one set was made with gentle curves:

4 finished blocks

Now this is more like it.  Finally, I got some wonky blocks.

I hope some of you get inspired to get your wonkiness on.  ;-)


Design Wall & Telephone/Whisper Quilt – Fiberistas Members Don’t Read This Post

May 14, 2015

Four  design boards have been added to my sewing studio lately.  I used the tutorial from The Quilting Edge, and it is brilliant.  I now have 10′ of horizontal design wall when I want.

I placed two boards on either side of my north facing window, and when I want to utilize the entire width, I remove the window drapes, place a flannel sheet over the drapery rod, and Voila, I have a nice wide design wall.  When I don’t need that large a space, I remove the sheet, and I still have 4′ on each side of the window, and that works great too.

In between way too many doctors’s appointments and tests, I’ve been quietly creating art quilts, but haven’t posted what I’ve been making as the pieces are part of my Fiberistas group Telephone/Whisper quilt challenge.

Quilt club was today, and a member mentioned it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, so thought I’d risk posting this, and hope my Fiberista friends stop reading this post here.

Each member created a small quilt in January 2015, and passed it to another member.  The second person creates a quilt inspired by the first quilt.  The first quilt is then sealed in an envelope, and then placed in a box with the second quilt.  Together, they are passed to a third member.  The third member makes a quilt inspired by the second quilt.  Seals up the second quilt, puts that in the box with the sealed first quilt, adds the quilt she made, and passes it on to another member, and so on, until we’ve all created a quilt for each phone line.

There are 9 of us participating in this challenge, and we aren’t supposed to cheat by opening any of the sealed envelopes.  Here is a picture of the most recent small quilt I created for the challenge:

Steph finished quilt

I selected some quotes about leaves, attributed them to the author, and printed them out on interleaving paper, cut out squares and rectangles that were then sewn onto the base fabric.  I do wish I had printed this out on fabric instead of the paper though.  I’m a bit worried the paper will be easily torn.

Btw, it’s really easy to design and print text using a Word type program.  I used Microsoft Word and it has oodles of fonts.  You can change the size, and color, plus you can change the background color.  Nothing like customized printing.

Then I took a cloth napkin, cut out some rectangles, and free-hand drew some leaves on it with a brown Sharpie.  Sewed them down, and frayed the fabric edges.

Some of you might recognize the base fabric from an earlier post that was dyed, painted, shibori dyed, and then painted a bit more.  There are gold circles on this fabric so I thought a little repetition of the shape would look nice, but do wish I had used sheers for the circles.  They are awfully prominent on this piece.

Those are the only two things I would change, but when you have a deadline, you have to keep it.  With 9 people participating in a challenge like this, you really don’t want to be the person who messes up the rotation.


Back Home

April 19, 2015

Hi Everybody,

We did make it to Arizona, but I managed to lose my Arizona themed Tibetan prayer flags somewhere.  Hopefully, they’ll turn up, but I have no idea where they could be.

We had a great time on vacation.  The weather was perfect, we met old friends, made new friends, our daughter came for a visit, and we were happy campers the entire time.

I set up an outside sewing studio and made a few items:

  • A chair cover
  • A telephone/whisper quilt
  • A tablerunner
  • Worked on a knitted counterpane

Lots of sight seeing, lots of eating out, pool time, and just chilling outside on our patio reading good books.  It was a wonderful getaway from all the cold weather back home.

Taxes are done, and I’m back to attending local meetings, and sewing in my home studio.  No gentle breezes, birdsong or visitors walking by my patio studio, but it’s great to have access to my fabric collection, have lots of thread choices, and room to spread out.

While I was in Tucson, one of my Arizona quilt clubs decided to make charity quilts for Casa de Los Ninos in Tucson, and those who wanted to participate brought thirty 12″ blocks.  They were put in a pile, mixed up well, and we took turns selecting blocks for our quilts.  We used the Fons and Porter RandomActsofHappy pattern to make our tops.  Here is how mine turned out:

Quilt from Arizona

While all the fabric came from Tucson, this quilt top will be donated to my local quilt guild’s Comfort Quilt project.  I’m 2,500 miles away from Tucson at the moment, so my local Comfort Quilt club will benefit.


Tibetan Prayer Flags

January 17, 2015

I’m still home, but dreaming about going on vacation, so thought I’d try my hand at making some prayer flags in the Tibetan manner to help nudge me on my way.

Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five: one in each of five colors. The five colors are arranged from left to right in a specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow, but I’m making my flags with Tucson on my mind. This is the first one I made:

Tucson Emb

The sun embroidery was sewn out a few months ago with plans of using it for the base of a Bead Journal Project, but thought it was perfect for this project. The sun always seems to be shining in Tucson, so I used a built in alphabet in my sewing machine to sew the city’s name in lots of different rayon thread colors. The design is from Kreations by Kara

The second design was done this past week when I got home from the hospital:

Hand Spiral

Inktense pencils were used to create the watercolor background on the same muslin as the first flag. The colors used were Burnt Orange, Sicilian Yellow, Baked Earth, and Chilli Red.

I much prefer the bottom of the piece. I like how some of the background fabric shows through, and I like how it looks a bit like paint flaking off an old fresco.

Too much water was used in the center, so the colors blended too much for the look I was going for, but this was a good learning experience. If you click on the photo it will enlarge for you, and I hope you can see the difference between the bottom and the middle.
It’s the first time I’ve used these pencils, and I definitely plan on using them a lot more. The fabric was left nice and soft.

Then I placed my hand on the colored fabric, and traced around it with a pencil, and added a spiral design on the palm. It looked pretty flat to me, so to create some depth, I made a freezer paper mask for my hand, and stamped spirals all over the piece. Oh yes, instant depth.

Metallic YLI thread was used to sew around the spiral in a double straight stitch on my sewing machine, and then I hand beaded around the hand image.

I’m pretty sure I’ll make a third flag, maybe with a saguaro cactus on it, but then again, it could be more spirals. That sun is spiraling, the palm design is a spiral, and I actually had that spiral stamp used for the background in my stamp collection. I obviously have a subliminal attraction to spirals.


Dye Play Day

January 2, 2015

Yesterday was a “what if” surface design day for me, and I added a couple of techniques to a piece of fabric I had been saving for a dye day. It all started a little after Thanksgiving.

I had a lot of left over paint from making Child’s Play, and decided to use it all up after the piece was finished. I cut a piece of PFD fabric, placed it on a plastic drop cloth, and proceeded to draw circles and make marks:

Painted fabric 1

I let them dry for 24 hours, then heat set them with an iron. The holidays arrived, and the fabric sat in my laundry room till yesterday.

I love stitch resist dyeing so did some straight line stitching in a 12” block arrangement. 5 rows every 2” horizontally, then 5 rows every 2” vertically. Gathered the stitching to get this:

Scrunched Fabric 2

Now to use the last of the print paste I had mixed up – which somehow hardened. I really didn’t want to mix up more, so added a bit of hot water, nuked the container, stirred, nuked the container again, stirred some more, and Ta Da the print paste was rescued.

As this was a totally fun play dye day, I didn’t weigh anything or do any math. I put a plastic teaspoon full of soda ash in the print paste – and I have no clue how much print paste was in the container, with a dash of Pro Chem’s Deep Purple #8147. The fabric was not presoaked in soda ash, so soda ash had to be added to the print paste for the fabric to dye. Using a sponge brush, I painted all the high spots on the dry, gathered fabric, then let it sit in the sun for an hour:

Print Paste 3

A couple of months ago, I had mixed all the dye concentrate I had into one bottle. I have no clue what colors, or depth of shade it was, and being over 2 months old, wasn’t sure if this concentrate would still dye the fabric, but went for it. This concentrate was poured into a plastic container, but didn’t cover the bottom, so I added some water. The fabric was laid flat and squished a bit so there would be no white spots.

After 15 minutes, I added a cup of soda ash water, and batched it in the sun for an hour and a half, and this is the result:

Finished Fabric Close-up

I’m pretty darn happy with the results, and learned quite a bit.

First off, I lost all the red circles made with the Liquitex ink and aloe vera. I’m not sure if that is because the dye concentrate color covered it or not. Most of the yellow disappeared also – made with Adirondack alcohol inks and aloe vera, while only some of the green did, and a lot of the blue stayed – both made with Daler Rowney inks and aloe vera. The bronze circles stayed the best, and they were made with Golden acrylics with lots of textile medium added for a very watery consistency.

The inks were very easy to sew through and gather. The thinned Golden acrylic did not want to be tightly gathered. It also changed the hand of the fabric. Since I used an iridescent bronze there are wonderful highlights in those circles. Everywhere the light hits, it shines.

I know I’m not done playing with this fabric. The bronze circles are way too dominate, and I liked how the circles linked together in the first step, so will definitely add more circles.

I achieved my goal of using up all my old mixed supplies, and now have a totally clean dye studio – also known as my laundry room. It won’t take me long to mess it up again, but it sure was nice to be able to see the top of my washing machine and dryer again. Anybody want to start laying bets on how long it’ll stay this clean? ;-)



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46 other followers