Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mohns Hill Quilt

Anyone who has been a reader of my blog for any length of time, or familiar with my work, knows that I keep coming back to my neck of the woods, Lancaster County, PA for inspiration. So, it dawned on me that I just needed to do a series of Lancaster County Quilts. 

Minimalistic, abstract quilts that try to capture 
the feelings and impressions that fill me as I travel around here, 
and the deep affection that I have for it.

"Mohns Hill" is the first of these quilts.

Named after a local road, (which I plan on doing for all quilts in this series) 
the appliqu├ęd pieces draw on the off-kilter shapes of the old worn and weathered barns, 
and the quilting reflects the beautiful landscape of rolling hills and plowed farm fields.

Made with assorted shot cottons, (including the woven selvages of some, as they were just too lovely to cut off) along with some homespuns and a pretty flower print, it also has a faced binding. 
(Never done a faced binding? See my very easy tutorial here). 

Quilt is currently for sale in my Etsy Shop.

And speaking of inspiration, I'd love to hear what inspires you all...
Do you find yourself revisiting themes or sources of inspiration?
Do you gather your inspiration from a special place close to your heart or a favorite subject matter?
Or are you more inspired by technique, fabrics, colors?
tell me what inspires you in the comment section, and how do you stay connected to it.
It's an on going source of fascination for me and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pretty Pincushions

 It's been a while since I've made any pincushions for my Etsy shop
but over the years it's something I seem to go back to time and time again.

And with good reasons! They are super fun to make and can be made in so many different ways. 
Do a search of pincushions on Pinterest or Etsy sometime, 
you will be amazed at the variety and creativity! 
(You can see some of my past ones here.)

With my newly found interest in punch needle embroidery, 
it seemed like a great time to make some new pretty pincushions featuring this technique.

As of this post I have made these two and am working on a third. 

They each feature a center flower motif done in punch needle.

The motifs were then stitched onto a wool blend felt base,

and simple traditional embroidery stitches were used around the edges.

The two pincushions shown in this post can be found in my shop here and here.
Hope to be listing more soon.
(Once listed they can be found in my shop's Pincushion Section).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

100 Patches: Mend Series

So far,  2015 is proving to be an experimental and contemplative time, in the creativity department. 

I'm spending much time thinking, sketching and reflecting, 
as well as playing with new ideas, revisiting old ideas, and continuing to explore various textile arts, 
(like punch needle, which I will share more of in future posts!)

Patch #1

One of the avenues I am exploring is an old one... 
the idea of patches, mending, and working small.

Patch # 2

To make it more challenging and give it a bit more life, 
I decided to set a goal of making 100 patches.
The only other criteria is that they all be the same size 
which is working out to approximately 5.25" x 5.25".

Patch #3

I don't have a definitive time frame, but do plan on working on them consistently, 
weaving them between other projects.

Patch #4

I also don't have any plans for what to do with them...
for now, I am just thinking of keeping them as a point of reference.

Patch # 5

I'm looking forward to:
~ seeing how long it all takes,
~ how they will morph and grow
~ how they all will look together when done

And ultimately,
~ what they will teach me

Patch #6

There above, are the first 6 patches. 

I am keeping track of what order they are made in 
by stitching small hand typed labels to the back, 
(sort of specimen style!)

I'll post others as they develop.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Punch Needle Embroidery

In my last post I mentioned that I was starting to explore "Punch Needle", (also known as Punchneedle, Needle Punch, and Russian Embroidery). You may have heard of it before, or remember it from years back... I remember it back in the '70's when I worked at a craft store as a teenager. We sold the needles, and I bought one. Unfortunately it came with no instructions outside of how to thread it and I could never figure out what to do with it. (How did we survive before Google?!)

I had all but forgotten about punch needle until the other week when I was at the Lancaster, PA.  AQS Quilt Show and happened to wander into a booth selling punch needle supplies as well as little pieces of beautiful folk-art style punch needle pieces.
I was instantly smitten and my head spun with design possibilities. 

Above is my first attempt. The punch needle tool is that blue pen looking thing. Yarn or floss is thread through the hollow tube and the hollow needle. A design is usually marked onto a piece of cloth. It's recommended that one uses "weaver's cloth" which is a poly/cotton blend. The weave is very strong and forgiving, quickly closing up after the needle is removed, helping to hold the punched threads in place. I did buy some, however seeing that a piece smaller then a fat quarter cost $3.00 and being of frugal mind, I was determined to try other, not recommended fabrics. The above piece was done on  some old and stained utilitarian osanaburg cloth I had. I'd read that this type of fabric wouldn't work, but I had no major troubles with it. I have since visited a wonderful fabric warehouse near where I live, and although they didn't have any weaver's cloth I did find some great poly/cotton blends that work fabulously and were a mere .63 cents a yard! 

(Oh my... "great poly/cotton blends"...who'd of ever thunk those words would come out of my mouth!)

The fabric must be stretched onto a hoop, and it is recommended that you use a hoop that has some sort of non-slip "locking" ridge inside of it. I did take that piece of advice, and although I was promised that the fabric would stay perfectly snug once in the hoop, 
I still have had to re-adjust the tension at times. 

The design is worked from the backside, (in other words the back of the cloth is what is facing upward in the hoop.) In the photo above you can see the running stitches that were made as well as the punch needle tool inserted into the fabric. This is the backside of the work. Notice that there are no knots. The thread tails are simply cut off close to the fabric. They basically are held in place from the weave closing in around them, but fabric glue can be used on the back of the work if one is worried about them coming loose.

Here is my second attempt at punch needle. This time I only sketched the perimeter of the piece onto the fabric, working the inside in an improv manner. I used a variety of 80/2 perle cotton threads that I previously was using in my handwoven work. The look of the piece was inspired by old hooked rugs... the kind someone's grandma might have done using up left over bits of cloth. 
I worked the piece from the outside perimeter inwards and the wonkiness of the inner part was something that just happened organically.

I'm going to digress for a moment here...
Speaking of handwoven, I haven't done any in a long time as unfortunately tying the warp threads very tight, as one must do, was immensely painful on my hands... and speaking of hand pain, I am THRILLED to say that the punch needle is not aggravating the pain, so YAY!!!! 
I was concerned about it, but the woman who sold me the supplies told me she also had arthritis but had no problems with this particular needle craft. 
So, anyone missing hand work due to hand pain... this might just be your ticket!

One of the things that I love about this form of embroidery is how easy it is to add random bits of color here and their. Very suitable to working in an improvised manner.

Here is my third piece. For this one I did mark a simple geometric outline onto the cloth, and filled it all in with many different colored yarns, again, in an improve manner. 

Here's a shot of the various colored yarns that went into the piece. (Forgive the quality of some of the process photos. They were taken on my Android and I just pulled them off my Instagram feed.) You can see again the fabric in the hoop, the punch needle tool, as well as the back of the work. 
This piece was worked on another type of osanaburg cloth, which had a more open weave, 
so I backed it with some interfacing for more stability. 
(The interfacing did make it stiffer to punch through, so for me, it isn't an ideal way.)

Finished pieces can be framed or mounted onto some sort of background. Or not. For my three pieces I simply cut away the excess fabric, leaving an inch or so, which I then pressed to the backside. I then  hand stitched another piece of fabric to the backside, turning in the raw edges. Two hanging hoops were sewn onto the back using some twill bias tape the local fabric store was literally giving away, (I now have a huge stash of various colors and sizes!) Then I inserted a little flat wood dowel. 
If later I, or someone else, choose to mount or frame a piece that I finished this way, 
the dowel can simply be removed.

The final piece is very sturdy and the dowel is simply place over a small nail. 
Simple, and clean.. I like it!

Even though this is relatively new for me, (save that long ago failed attempt back in the 70's) Punch Needle itself is a very old craft originating back to the Ancient Egyptians, who apparently used thin, hollow bones from bird wings as their needles. The craft form continued through the Middle Ages and onwards throughout parts of Europe and eventually made it's way here via a group of Russian immigrants called "Old Believers" who were seeking refuge from religious persecution.

I'm looking forward to exploring this craft more, and hope that you will all stay tuned!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tiny Stitches


Completed this little stitched piece just a few days ago, which I named "Blue Barn with Red Poppy" (It sold within a few hours of posting it in my Etsy Shop, before I had a chance to show it here.)

This piece gives a definite nod and wink to Janet Bolton, whose work always delights, 
and inspires me when I wish to go really small. 
It only measures 6" x 6", so details are very important!

One might think that a small piece like this whips up quickly. On the contrary, as I have mentioned before... a very small piece like this needs to be worked slowly and thoughtfully. Not over burdened by heavy stitching or elements of any kind, 
I find that everything that does go into it needs to be intentional and deliberate.

Working this way is truly one of my favorites, as it makes me slow down and simply meditate on the bits of fabric I am working with and the small stitches I choose to make.
It is a calming and soothing way to work.

Hope to be doing more of these soon, 
but I have also just stumbled upon a new needlecraft obsession...
Will post about that very soon!
(If you are following me on Instagram, you are already seeing me post about it!)