Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cover Girl

I've never been a cover girl before and I guess technically I'm still not, but can I fudge it a little now that my quilt is on the cover of the December/January issue of Quilting Arts Magazine?

See. There are my little twinkle circles.
A couple of months ago the editor, Pokey Bolton, contacted me and asked me if I had any ideas for articles. The first thing that came to mind was to write about the process I use to make my twinkle circles. I've had a lot of folks ask me about this and it's a technique that I've turned to off and on for several years, but recently I've used it a lot on commercial fabric. The technique itself is not new or exclusive to me, but I felt like I had a perspective on it that I wanted to share.

I wrote about the process and included a few examples of finished work. I even got to include some of my process shots. For some strange reason I really liked these photos. Not because they're particularly good images, but rather because they were taken in my dye studio. When I first saw the pictures I called one of my girls over to look at the pictures. "Look,"I said,"in the background you can see our door and, way over in the corner, almost out of the frame, you can make out the handle of that broom we never seem to throw out." No one else in my family got a kick out of these pictures, but I did.
One of the best parts of writing this article was the writing itself. I was frankly taken aback by how much I enjoyed putting pen to paper or more accurately digit to keyboard. I was also a little surprised that I could put together coherent sentences. Having spent the better part of 17 years speaking primarily to children I'm shocked that I didn't describe at least one thing as "so cool" or pepper my text with the word "freaking".
Another amazing highlight was finding out that my quilt was going to be on the cover. When I went to quilt festival in Houston, I stopped by the Quilting Arts booth. I knew I would get a chance to see a copy of Stitch and I thought I might have an opportunity to meet some of the folks who worked on the magazine. Thankfully they were all wearing name tags, so I approached Pokey Bolton, introduced myself and was very warmly greeted. Then she told me the big news. I was floored. It has taken the most amazing amount of willpower not to talk about it, but once my copies came in the mail I knew that the magazine would be on the newsstands very soon.

I won't deny that I'm prone to hyperbole but this is...so freaking cool!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just a few more

I had to move the furniture and stand on a step ladder to take this photo, but I managed to get the entirety of the twinkle quilt in this shot. That's no mean feat when you factor in that I have ten foot ceilings. Just positioning the top row of blocks requires that I stand on the top rung of my step ladder, stretch out as far as my 5'3" frame will allow me, slap the block on to the felt wall and smooth it out with a ruler. I just plain can't reach the top. All the edge blocks are just pinned onto a corner of the felt board. This baby is big. But boy am I happy with how it has come together. As of this writing I have about 40 more circles to make. That means I've already made 714.
On the one hand I can't believe I said I would make something so labor intensive, but on the other hand I'm so glad I did. While it's nice to make small, quick pieces there's something deeply satisfying about working on a piece that feels expansive and ambitious. I usually don't have a problem sending my work on to new homes, but I'll be a little sad to see this piece go. I know I can make another, but for now I also know that this is probably the best quilt I've ever made. That is if all goes well with the quilting. I'm pretty optimistic about that as I've done the training on a long arm machine and set up an appointment to come in and quilt.
For now I have the last of the circles and some piecing left. Though there too I'm glad I didn't just make a pile of circles, but pieced periodically as I dyed. It gave me the opportunity to see the quilt top come together and I don't have a huge, daunting task waiting.
I'm planning more pictures when the top is completed and, of course, a few more shots once it's all completed.
So, stay tuned...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winners and More

Wow! There are a lot of you interested in Stitch. I had a lot of fun reading your comments and was frankly kind of surprised by how many of you couldn't find the magazine locally.
Anyway, courtesy of www.random.org, we have two winners:
Jeni said...

Me, me, pick me! Love your blog and that mag looks great. :-)

November 14, 2008 2:37:00 PM CST

Micheala said...

Beautiful sweater! I once started knitting myself a vest (I was probably 11 or 12, by the time I finished it was too small already. Here goes my knitting.

November 14, 2008 4:31:00 PM CST

Jeni and Michaela: Email me your addresses and I'll get your magazines to you ASAP. My email is malka@stitchindye.com

Other than reading your comments, or should I say in between reading your comments, I've been finishing up a few projects.
I finished knitting the second sleeve on my February Lady Sweater and it's now blocking. I hope to attach the buttons tomorrow and have pictures of the completed cardigan in a few days. I also made some pillow covers for a wonderful customer. I've mentioned before that she has quite the amazing collection of Oillily fabrics and I've made several items from that collection before. These are the latest.

I especially like the pieced backs on these pillow covers and the little embroidered Oillily ladybug.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sweater Update and Giveaway

I don't write a lot about knitting. That's primarily because I don't do all that much knitting. But I like to knit and I like wearing and giving knitted items and I like to use knitting as a distraction from what I really should be doing. So, there's been some knitting going on here.
In the heat of the summer I bought some yarn to make the February Lady Sweater and oftentimes that's where the project ends. This time though things seem( I say cautiously) different. Hey, don't take my word for it. I have evidence.

I have one sleeve to finish and then it's ready to be blocked. I've already bought the buttons.

If you live in Austin or are visiting and want to be amazed, startled, brought to your knees by beautiful buttons(and who doesn't want to be brought to their knees by buttons), then you've got to stop by Silk Road . They have these amazing antique display cases filled with buttons unlike any you've ever seen. Seriously, you're not going to run into buttons like these at Joann's. Go ahead, buy a plane ticket and come into to town to eat Tex-Mex at Guerro's and buy buttons at Silk Road.
Before you do either of those things though, leave a comment and I'll enter you in my giveaway of these:

I got three complimentary copies of Stitch. Impatience led me to buy a copy at the store and my Mom only needs one to add to her collection of everything I've done since second grade, so that leaves me with two extra. And who better to share them with than you. Any comments between now(11:33 CST) and Sunday at 6:00pm CST will be entered in the drawing. I'll announce the winners on Monday.
Happy Weekending!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I couldn't help myself. I didn't go there planning to buy it, but it just happened.
I was in the bookstore the other day and browsing the magazines when I saw a copy of Quilting Arts Stitch. I already mentioned that I had a design in the premiere issue of this magazine and, in fact, I'd seen the magazine at Quilt Festival. I resisted buying a copy then because I knew that as a contributor I would get a few complimentary copies along with my quilt when it was returned. But something about it staring at me on the magazine rack got the better of me and before I knew it I was buying it.

I'm not going to lie to you, I think the magazine looks fabulous and not just because I happen to have a design included. I'm especially in love with the feature on modern skirts and am planning to make at least two of the designs. By the way, the magazine includes the patterns for the skirts so you don't have to purchase anything additional.

My quilt had a lovely spot on the contents page as well as being part of a feature on patchwork alongside several other terrific projects.
I had written some incredibly lengthy instructions which they managed to condense into something a lot more understandable and drawn up quite a few sets of templates. It's very complicated to explain to someone how to do something improvisationally in a way that allows them to repeat it.

The quilt that I sent to Stitch was a re-creation of a quilt I made a while back.

The original was smaller than this version and featured exclusively hand dyed fabrics. Also the green and black checkered sections were made with discharged cottons. In the remake I pieced the checkered sections so that the quilt could be made by others.
Both versions were inspired by a wonderful book that I've owned for many years called Traditional Indian Textiles . If you can flip through this book and not be amazed by the fiber goodness coming out of the Indian subcontinent then you're probably unconscious.

Here's a view of the traditional Indian chakla or quilt that inspired my chakla.
Oh, so beautiful!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Too Tired to Twinkle

Personally that is. I stayed up way too late last night watching election results to sparkle much this morning, but several of you asked for more pictures of my soon-to-be-finished(Yay!) Twinkle King size quilt.

I'm still making circles, but it's too big to fit on my design wall and a little difficult to photograph.

This Sunday I'm getting some training on a long arm machine and I've already scheduled the time for quilting this piece. The woman I found charges a set price for an initial class and then you can rent the machine by the hour. I'm incredibly happy and relieved that I've decided to quilt this baby with a long arm. Frankly just the thought of the hours it was going to take me to baste it was making my head spin and my butt hurt( I usually baste big quilts on the floor).

I also wanted to let you all know about a feature and interview the folks over at NC Triangle Street Team posted about me and my work. Thanks so much Carolyn! You can check that out here .

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Vini, vidi, vinci

I came, I saw, I conquered. Well, not exactly conquered, but I did go and see....Quilt Festival in Houston that is. I wasn't planning on going this year because I've got so much work I didn't think I could afford to take the day off. Thursday was the only day I could go and I wasn't relishing driving to Houston and back in one day. But I came home from swim team that morning and declared to Abi, " Karpe diem!"(notice the Latin theme). She replied,"Huh?"(Latin's pretty much Greek to her) and I explained that we were heading to Quilt Festival.

Look how happy she is to be at Festival.

I've been going to festival for several years and what struck me about this year was a feeling that there were fewer vendors and attendees. Maybe it was just Thursday's crowd, but there just seemed to be more room in the aisles. I was also struck by how many companies were selling long arm quilting machines. I don't think I've ever seen more vendors offering these. In the past the idea of a long arm has always perplexed me. Why would you want a machine that takes up an entire room? How many large quilts would you need to make to justify this thing? Well this year I found myself inquiring about long arms. I've got several large quilts to quilt in the next few months and the thought of quilting them on my Bernina is really daunting. Also, salesman Mark at I-don't-remember-the-name-of-the-company company showed me a long arm that could be easily assembled and disassembled in 15 minutes. Suddenly, a long arm seemed like something I might be interested in.
Raise your hand if you knew that a basic long arm costs $7,000. I didn't. I thought it might run $1,000, maybe $2,000. Imagine my shock when salesman Mark quoted me the price and told me that it was a show special. I walked away claiming I would think about it, but that was just to make salesman Mark feel better about his selling prowess. Instead I've decided to rent time on a long arm locally.
Since I didn't have to figure out how I would cram a long arm quilting machine into the trunk of my Toyota Corolla I had room to bring this little dandy home.

I purchased it at ROM Woodworking and it's going to change my life or at least organize my thread.

It's called a thread barrel and has 72 dowels that once assembled by a willing, hammer-toting 11-year old can be mounted on a wall.

Isn't it pretty?