Wednesday, July 12, 2017

And The Latest On The Fiber Front...

I did take a bit of a break from things art quilty after the leaf cluster push, but then I remembered I'd promised to focus on the bishop's stole once ArtWalk was off my plate. I edited the design given me after adding a bit to the width and stretching out the design area as well. Everything felt so very cramped. Still some areas to refine but at least I got my ideas for additions and improvements sketched in and as long as I was at it, pulled some fabric possibilities for the various areas. Cut swatches to glue in the appropriate areas and sent it off for approval. Haven't heard back yet and frankly I'm not in a big hurry to proceed. Still mulling how best to execute parts of it.

This is what I did on my July Pause day. I filled the studio with the sounds of Jimmy Buffet and sat at the machine running parallel quilting lines over this "I don't care" print. As you can see, I still have some thread tails to pull to the back and tie off, but since this will likely go in a frame, no burying to do. I was struck by how "at home" I felt at the machine with its familiar hum. I've spent so many hours of my life at the machine doing basic piecing that when I've been away from it for while, coming back to it again sometimes does for me what comfort food does. And I find myself thinking I really should spend more time at it doing basic simple things like this. I was hoping the diagonal quilting would quiet down or mask the business of the background printing but I was surprised to find that it didn't make much difference and rather blended in. Will have to ponder this more. The masking tape along the side was used as a guide when laying down the first line of stitching. When I pulled it up, some of the paint came up with it. Not the acrylic paint I used on the leaf cluster, but the Speedball Fabric Printing ink used in the test printing back in 2013. It smelled to high heaven and took several weeks in the garage to dry enough not to be tacky. After 3 years it should be air cured, plus it got heat applied to it when I heat set the new printing over it. I am so glad I tossed it and moved on to something else.

The fat quarter quilt is back under the needle. Did I mention that most years my July pause lasts more than that one day? Our wedding anniversary falls just a week beyond and so I have the whole week to "do what Allen might want me to do" in the studio, pushing "should be working on" to one side. This time I decided to make good on that thought late last year that if I just did a few rows most days, like the daily drawing I did for a month, rather than think I needed to designate big chunks of time to get it quilted in a backbreaking marathon, I'd be more likely to get it finished. I haven't managed every day, but most of them, spending about an hour and a half to freemotion quilt the two rows top to bottom. The steady progress is heartening, each session a little easier and better, and my body is grateful for the short stints.

I mentioned that I would be trying out the dry-erase pen soon, and I have indeed done that. I need to make a correction. The ink is not actually dry-erase, as you can see on my effort to re-familiarize myself with the fat quarter quilting pattern. I rubbed quite hard on that spot near the top and couldn't get it all to come off. The ink is actually called "waterase", indicating that once the ink has dried on the non-porous surface, it actually needs a damp cloth to remove it. If you decide to "erase" while it is still wet, the cloth needs to be very absorbent. The piece of 80/20 batting I used just moved the ink around on the board rather than soaking it up. Better to let things dry first. And actually, I think I like this feature of the ink, it's not rubbing off easily. And I do appreciate the finer line this pen tip gives me.

Last but not least, today I finally did some dyeing, trying out the new dye colors I bought last December. The fabric had been scoured and ripped into half-yard pieces for this dye session back when I was prepping fabric for snow-dyeing. It DOES take me a long time to get from a to b to c on most grand ideas I have! I went back to my standard low water freezer bag method to produce 4 step gradations of Ashes to Ashes, Sky Blue and Moody Blue. It's been really hot here, another day in the 90's, so I'm trying something I've not done before, although I keep reading about people doing it: leaving the bagged fabric in its dye bath sit in the sun all afternoon. That zap in the microwave before rinsing out my snow-dyes really did seem to have an affect on the results, so why not try a little natural heat on these?

And as a last bit of catch-up, though not fiber related, I finally transferred some plants I'd bought in May into their planters on the back deck sometime in June. (I here you thought I shared everything with you as it happens!) It's not much, but I can see it from the sofa and as I pass through the living room. I refused to buy geraniums again after the deer neatly trimmed all the blooms I'd nurtured off the plants last summer. I hoped they'd leave the columbine and bachelor buttons alone, and I scatter some "bee seeds" in the two small planters.

The first burst of blooms came and went and I feared that might be it, but the columbine rallied and is full of blooms again. The bee seeds sprouted and are almost big enough to thin, the extra moving into other containers. The deer haven't been a problem, or more likely, aren't browsing behind the house right now. 

They are so beautiful and give me such pleasure. I hope they will winter over.  

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