Tag Archives: mamablog

Art Quiltlet: 5/52

Art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

This one is inspired by Matisse and his cutouts. My kids and I really studied Matisse while putting together Issue Five of Art Together, and I enjoy him so much. (You can sample a free excerpt of Issue Five, Drawing With Scissors, for ideas on exploring his cut-outs with kids.) One of the waiting rooms in which I spend time has a print of one of the cut-outs, and I decided to try a small one.

Unlike Matisse, I didn’t just take scissors and begin cutting; I drew my shape on paper and traced it onto fusible adhesive. I tried out a few pairings of complementary colors before settling on this one, and I matched thread to fabric so that the focus is on the shape with no distractions from contrasting thread. I decided to bind it for a finished look. I was undecided on quilting within the orange section and ended up leaving it. I’m still undecided.

I’m having so much fun with this little project. It’s good to have an assignment: every week, something must be done on a 6″ x 8″ “canvas.” And I’m enjoying using this medium of cloth and thread and seeing what I can do with it. It’s exciting.

January Reading List

snowman at amyhoodarts.com

My daughter’s snowman.

My number of books read this month went down, by design. I wanted to be more balanced between consuming and producing; less reading, more making. My making list for January is pretty good, and I still read, so it’s working out so far. Asterisks denote books I particularly enjoyed, although if I finished a book, I enjoy it enough. (I gave up on one 100 pages in recently–it’s almost 400 pages long–because I just couldn’t take it anymore. It needed a better edit. It felt so self-indulgent on the author’s part, like he killed no darlings.)

This Must Be the Place, Kate Raccula (an accidental re-read)
The Sandcastle Girls, Chris Bohjalian *
Summerlong, Dean Bakopoulos
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall, and the Outsiders of Montparnasse, Stanley Meisler *
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume *
The Art Forger, B. A. Shapiro (for February book club)

Art Quiltlet: 4/52

We survived the not-a-blizzard just fine. We never had blizzard conditions here and we only got about 18″ of snow, and yes, “only,” because I lived in New England last winter so it really didn’t seem like that much. Luckily we didn’t lose power. Just in case, we picked up some terra cotta planters to try this. We didn’t need them but we still want to see if it works. Unlike in New England, a huge amount of snow has already melted. Also unlike in New England, my kids have been out of school all week. The learned helplessness in the face of snow down here is incredibly frustrating.

But! On to this week’s quiltlet, whipped up fairly quickly Thursday night. I’ve been head-down in learning new things while sewing a dress for my daughter (post upcoming, as soon as I work up courage for the buttonholes) but meanwhile in the back of my head I was thinking about what to do this week. The Rolling Stones song “She’s Like a Rainbow” was running through my head because it was on in the car, so that was my inspiration.

She's Like a Rainbow art quiltlet, amyhoodarts.com

I layered white on the top and bottom with flannel in between (my very lightweight “batting”), then sewed strips of colors down. I traced my own drawing onto organza, layered it on top, and stitched. This stitching isn’t loose like with the flower a couple weeks ago. I used a walking foot, which is why the curves aren’t always graceful. But I wanted a more controlled line, too, and my free-motion quilting needs practice. Plus, organza! Slippery stuff. Then I cropped and trimmed and finished the edges.

I like the back view too.

She's Like a Rainbow, back view, amyhoodarts.com

I’m jotting the date and a bit about the week on each of these. I’m confused because an entire region of the country just shuts down for a week!

Spate of Sewing

Besides my weekly quiltlets, I’ve been sewing other items as well. Before Christmas I ordered a bunch of knit fabric to make some things for my daughter. I began with brightly colored leggings.

oliver + s leggings at amyhoodarts.com

I use the pattern that comes with the Oliver + S Playtime Tunic + Dress collection. G usually wears leggings and a dress or skirt, and she loves bright colors. It’s fun to make her leggings. I got a bit sidelined by the holidays, but then I began again with a tee shirt and leggings out of aqua polka dots.

oliver + s tee and leggings at amyhoodarts.com

The tee pattern is also Oliver + S, from the Family Pack. The skirt she’s wearing isn’t handsewn, it’s purchased. She decided to go for a monochrome look here. We bought a couple of yards of the same fabric in pink; she asked for a tee and skirt from that.

tee + skirt at amyhoodarts.com

I’d like to see her pair the pink skirt with the blue tee and leggings, but she’s in charge of what she wears, so. She wore this set with the multi-color polka dot leggings in the first photo and it looked adorable. The tee is the Oliver + S pattern again, and the skirt is just a basic skirt with an elastic casing.

Finally, I bought some Cloud9 knit fabric on sale at Joann with a coupon to make a wearable muslin of Seamwork’s Mesa pattern for me.

Mesa at amyhoodarts.com

This is a size small, lengthened five inches because I wanted it to work as a dress. I’d like to make another version out of one of the Charley Harper Maritime Knits, and I think the next version will be lengthened by only three inches, extra-small neckline, small torso, and medium hips. Because while this one is definitely wearable, I’d like it a bit smaller along the neckline and a bit looser around the hips.

I still have two yards each of green and purple knit to make more leggings, tees, and/or skirts for G (I forget exactly what she “ordered”). And I’m sure there’s enough leftovers of various knits for me to make myself a long-sleeved shirt (maybe?). I reorganized my fabric earlier this week or maybe last week (days ran together; I had a sick child at home) and rediscovered a few yards of Tammis Keefe cats that I think should be a Dress No. 1. I’m also working on a sampler quilt in Lizzy House Natural History, but that needs its own post. In other words, I’m whipping through bobbins like they’re snacks over here.

In non-sewing news, we’re under a blizzard watch, which is hugely annoying as former, more northern home is only expecting 2-6″. Snow doesn’t make me anxious, but not knowing what to expect as far as power outages and infrastructure in a brand-new place that doesn’t seem to handle snow well does make me anxious. We had a two-hour school delay this week due to a dusting that didn’t even completely cover the pavement, so I don’t have much faith these folks know what to do with two feet of snow beyond flail in panic. Which is fine, you know, as long as we’re not freezing without heat in a rented house where it makes no sense for us to buy a generator. If the power goes out, I can’t sew, but I can knit until my fingers freeze. So we’ll wait and see.

Art Quiltlet: 3/52

Art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Finished art quiltlet 3/52. Reverse applique

This week I decided to try reverse appliqué and free motion quilting. My free motion quilting needs lots of work, but this is part of this whole challenge–getting better at various techniques. It would help if I’d remember to switch to the darning foot. It’s a process, people! This little quiltlet had a few steps.

First I gathered some brown material and cut and sewed strips, making two 8×10″ rectangles, one with horizontal strips and one with vertical. Then I cut and sewed a few times to make a block with various directional stripes. I layered my fabrics with the blue on top, then the pieced brown, then the batting (I’m using neutral flannel for these so far), then the back. With me so far? Because I didn’t take photos of the steps.

Next, I drew a tree onto the top blue layer, stitched outside the line, then cut on the line, revealing the brown pieced layer underneath.

Close up of reverse applique, amyhoodarts.com

Colors are off here because it was under artificial light on the sewing table.

I neatened up the cut lines a little more after this was taken. Next step was to quilt, with my wonky free-motion quilting that needs so so much practice, and finally to crop. This is what it looked like before cropping (again with the off colors on the sewing table).

before cropping, amyhoodarts.com

While I think about what I’m going to do beforehand, a bit, I like doing these all in one go, and this one was sewn start to finish Monday morning. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve done reverse appliqué and the purpose of this is to get comfortable doing new things. Stretching! It’s good for the creative muscles.

Knit: Momoka

This was intended as a surprise Christmas gift for my daughter, who began ballet lessons this past fall. But I wrapped it up and gave it to her without sleeves, because the pattern was absolutely eating yarn and I had to order another ball and I wasn’t sure I’d get the same dye lot (I did, thank you, Jimmy Beans Wool!), so just in case I’d have alternated balls on the sleeves. But it’s just as well, because it was much easier to knit the sleeves with periodic tryings-on to check them. Anyway, let me back up a minute. The pattern is Momoka, and it’s knit in Classic Elite Song (in Ballerina, of course), and here it is, on the girl. (Ravelry notes here.)

Momoka ballet sweater at amyhoodarts.com

Front view

Momoka ballet sweater at amyhoodarts.com

Back view

I admit to some frustration with this pattern, which was written in a bit of a wordy way and didn’t give an accurate estimate of how much yarn to buy (I bought more than listed, was on gauge, and still needed to get another skein). I changed the sleeve decreases too, from every 7th round to every 4th, so my girl didn’t look like she had wings. I’m glad I have the know-how to adjust patterns when necessary but more and more often I find I need to do that with a pattern I’ve purchased, and it annoys me every time, because if I’m buying a pattern, it’s because I didn’t want to have to think much about what I’m doing. I have the ability to create a sweater pattern, but I just wanted to knit one. Ah well. It’s done now and she’s happy with it, even if she’s only wearing it to class, not in class, because she’s a warm-blooded girl.

Art Quiltlet: 2/52

flowers @ amyhoodarts.com

One day last week my neighbor called to say her son had been placed on the school bus by accident; could I possibly get him until she was home in a half hour? Of course! It’s not the first time I’ve had him over during a gap, and this time she came over with flowers, telling me how grateful she was that she knew she could call me and it would be okay. Flowers were totally unnecessary, but so cheery and welcome on my table. I also used them for this week’s challenge quilt, in which I practiced drawing with thread.

flowers and finished quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Finished quiltlet and inspiration.

I used natural muslin and black thread, because I wanted to emphasize the line. But when I was done, I decided to add a little color with colored pencils–I looked for crayons, but for all the many art supplies I have, I couldn’t find new, sharp crayons. This piece took far less time than last week’s, but I will probably return to this technique many times this year, as I’d like to get more confident with it.

Here’s a close-up:

finished quiltlet 2/52 at amyhoodarts.com

I definitely need more practice!

Art Quiltlet: 1/52

1/52 art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

Inspired by The Uncommon Quilter, I’m going to attempt one art quiltlet per week. I’ve chosen 6×8 inches and a whole cloth base (versus pieced), but anything else goes. It’s a small canvas on which to improve skills, play with ideas, or just plain play. It’s okay if the result isn’t great; I’ll make another one the following week. As we approached Christmas I was getting a bit frustrated at the way my time was disappearing into…what? The least I can do is set aside a few hours a week to let my creative self play.

This week I gathered together some green scraps for a study in green. While it’s much more green down here than I’m used to for January–there are even flowers blooming–it’s actually fairly frigid today, and I decided to counteract that with some leaves. I used fusible adhesive for the appliqued pieces and wasn’t quite brave enough to try free-motion quilting over them. (I’ll work on that! The year is young.) I appliqued only on the top layer but I think maybe I could have gone through all three. It would be a different look, anyway. I decided to bind it with a bright green piece of (slippery) ribbon I found in my ribbon bag simply because I liked how the colors spoke to each other. I would not bind an entire big quilt with slippery ribbon. Good to know!

One of the suggestions in The Uncommon Quilter is to cut a template for the size you’re aiming for and work just a little bit bigger. The template is, in my case, a 6×8″ window in a piece of cardboard. This is what the piece looked like when I was finished appliqueing and hadn’t cut it down to size. The template allows you to tilt and crop a bit, improving the composition.

in progress art quiltlet at amyhoodarts.com

The white borders are my cutting lines. Color is truer in the first photo; this one was taken in artificial light.

Pretty neat how it changes, isn’t it?

I have not, historically, been good at keeping up with challenges to do something daily. Perhaps I can manage weekly more often than not. And as a side benefit, I’ll be posting every time I make one, so this space will be a little more active. My expectation, too, is that by working creative muscles and stretching with different techniques I’ll be a much more confident art quilter this time next year. We’ll see.

November + December Reading Lists

December sunset at amyhoodarts.com

December sunset seen through my kitchen window. End of year. Et cetera.

I never posted November’s list, so here they are together. I’ve made it through an entire year of keeping track of what I read (!!). The grand total is 111 books, so you know where all my spare time has gone this year, and then some. Hmm. I might be more productive if I didn’t read so much. Something to think about. You can see every month’s list by clicking on the reading category tag.

November:

Primates of Park Avenue, Wednesday Martin
The Burned Bridges of Ward, Nebraska, Eileen Curtwright
How to Start a Fire, Lisa Lutz *
The Children’s Crusade, Ann Packer *
A Better Man, Leah McLaren
Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand *
The Daylight Marriage, Heidi Pitlor
The Bishop’s Wife, Mette Ivie Harrison
Still Life With Breadcrumbs, Anna Quindlen *

December:

Oranges Are the Only Fruit, Jeannette Winterson
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer, Rick Riordan
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell *
The Obituary Writer, Ann Hood
The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant
Days of Awe, Lauren Fox *
Eight Hundred Grapes, Laura Dave
The Marriage of Opposites, Alice Hoffman *
Bastards, Mary Anna King
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
Silver Linings Playbook, Matthew Quick

Knit: Arden Mitts

Arden mitts at amyhoodarts.com

One of my new friends here in Annapolis, who also happens to be an artist, admired some knitting of mine and proposed a barter, pottery for knitting. I’ve never knit for money, but a barter sounded like a great idea. (Why won’t I knit for money? Because when you add up the cost of supplies and my time, I’d need to price it higher than most people would want to pay.) We talked about possible knits, and she decided upon fingerless mitts with long cuffs, to go with a three-quarter-sleeve coat she owns. After looking at several patterns and yarn possibilities, here’s the result–which she is modeling in the pottery studio, where I dropped them off to her. (She expressed concern about the state of her fingernails in this photo. However, those are hands that make. We love those kinds of hands, right?)

Details:

Pattern: Arden, knit pretty much as written.

Yarn: Madelintosh Tosh Vintage, colorway Red Phoenix, close to two skeins.

Needles: US 7.

This was a pay-attention sort of knit, just because of the cabling. But not overall difficult, and the result is gorgeous.