Friday, December 23, 2011

All Tied Up - Make Your Own Twine Tutorial

If you find yourself with some last minute gift wrapping to do, (confession... haven't even started mine yet) and want something other then the standard ribbon to tie your gifts up in, here's a simple way to make your own lovely twine...

First you will need to cut several individual lengths of yarn. Any yarn will do, just keep in mind that the thicker the yarn, the thicker the twine will be. I like to use a thin perle cotton yarn.

For this example I am making a thin multicolored twine and am using just three strands of yarn, one in pink, one in green and one in off-white. (Note that the more individual lengths you use, the thicker the twine will be. Want rope? Just use thick yarn and more individual pieces!)

Cut the individual pieces of yarn about three times the length you would like your finished twine to be. I tend to cut my individual pieces of yarn about 6 yards long, which gives me a finished piece of twine just over a yard long. If you want a longer strand that's fine, but you may need some one to assist you towards the end so things don't get too knotted up... I will explain more later.

Next you will need some device to help you as you tightly twist the individual strands of yarn together. Pictured above are three things that I have used to make twine. The first item is that odd looking wood thing... it's used to wind boat shuttle bobbins for loom weaving, and does the job of twisting super quick. The next item is an old vintage hand drill that belonged to my grandfather. It also works great in twisting the strands of yarn together. And last but not least is the humble pencil, which is what I used for many years and works just dandy... just a bit slower then the other devices.

Whichever item you have on hand, simply tie one end of the yarn strands to the chosen tool. Take the other end of the yarn strands and tie them in a knot. Then tie them to a stationary object like a door handle or a drawer pull. You can also tie them to a clothes pin and drop the clothes pin into a drawer. Shut the drawer and the clothes pin and yarn ends stay inside.

Now, go back to your winding device. Holding your device, stand far enough away from the other end that the strings are not on the floor, but also leave some slack. Now, start winding. (If you are using a pencil the yarn ends will be tied around the middle of it. Just keep flipping the pencil around and around to twist the yarn together.)

Keep winding until the string is tight and taut and there is no slack. (The tighter the twist the better the end result will be.) It will look something like the photo above, (excuse the poor quality of these photos... it's been very cloudy and rainy here and the light has been dismal.)

We are almost done! Keeping the string taut, tightly pinch the ends attached to the winding device and cut them off, careful not to let the string unwind. Then start walking that end towards the other end that is attached to a knob or a drawer. You want to be careful to keep the strings from touching until the two ends can meet. (Note: As I walk to meet the other end, I run my free hand along the length of twisted string helping to keep the tension tight. When I get to the middle of the string I then bring the two ends together. If my yarn length is to long for me to comfortably do this, I have someone else stand at the middle, keeping the tension tight, as I move to join the two ends together.

As soon as the two lengths of twisted string meet they will immediately begin to twist upon themselves, as shown in the photo above. Knot both ends together and carefully run your hand down the length of the twisted twine, smoothing the twists down and evenly distributing them throughout...

And there you go, your very own twine!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Quilted Patchwork Coasters available in my Rural Retro Design Etsy shop

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Search for Just the Right Stuffing

Whenever I have made pincushions in the past, I have always just used polyfil to stuff them, and it has worked out fine. But for these new tetrahedron shaped pincusions that I have been making, I wanted to use something different, and I had two goals in mind...

I wanted the material to be natural, keeping with the whole idea of rural retro living, and I also wanted the stuffing to give some weight and firmness to the pincushion, similar to the feel of those old-fashioned tomato pincushions most of us have had at one time or another.

I know that traditionally often either sawdust, sand or metal shavings were used to fill pincushions. The weight of the filling helped keep small size pincushions from moving around when inserting and pulling out the pins, and they also helped to keep the pins sharp.

Now, I have no idea where to get metal shavings and saw dust seems just plain messy to me. Sand is easy enough to come by, but it's so... well I don't know, sticky? Invasive? It just seems that if you spill some, you are sweeping it up it for days!

After I did a bit of research on the internet though, I discovered another option... pulverized english walnut shells! Have you heard of this before? I didn't know such a product even existed. From what I read this is a favorite pincushion stuffing for a lot of sewers and the tiny grains help to keep the pins sharp.(Just one word of caution... this product should not be used by folks who have nut allergies, especially walnut allergies).

Now, where do you find pulverized walnut shells? The pet store of course! It seems to be used for both bird and reptile, (in exactly what way I am not completely sure, floor and bedding I think). I found a 5.5 lb bag in the reptile section for under $8.00. Plenty enough to stuff lots of pincushions!

It's kind of pretty, isn't it? You can see in this photo that it is really ground up very well. The grains are tiny, much like sand, but not as sticky. (I spilled some and had no trouble quickly sweeping it up, and the grains never stuck to my skin as sand does).

I was worried that getting the tiny bits of walnut shell inside the opening of the pincushion would be a challenge, but all I had to do was pour some in a paper cup, pinch the edge of the cup, and pour right in. The shells packed down nicely and in no time at all I had a nice solid feeling pincushion.

It even makes for a super-duper paperweight!


Update on this post: I now have a fully illustrated, easy to follow pattern for this pincushion available in my shop. You can find the pattern here if interested!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hanging Out The Open Sign

Yay! I know I have been gone from the this blog, (and everyone else's) for weeks now, but I am happy to say that after a month of work, (zig-zagged around a head cold that apparently likes me so much it has decided to stay indefinitely) I have finally, (as of yesterday) opened up my new Etsy shop Rural Retro Designs.

I have already had a few folks ask what the point was in opening a 2nd shop, when everything shown in this post, as well as everything else in the RRD shop, could have easily gone into my Silly BooDilly shop, and trust me, I have examined and questioned that logic myself while embarking on this new project.

Ultimately it boils down to this... It is basically an experiment in trying to find balance. As I have mentioned before, I am a bit ADD. Along with that I have a inherent rebellious side to me, (if anyone has doubts on that, they need only ask my mother!)

Together those traits can give birth to some wonderful creativeness, but they can also cause difficulty in maintaining motivation, focus, and clear direction.

And because I am someone who wants to maintain motivation, focus, and clear direction, I often find myself exhausted and at odds with myself...

Without specific boundaries, I tend to wander. Weeks can go by with no creative output, and frankly that leaves me feeling like crap.

Now in the past I have tried to rectify this by deciding I would just focus on one thing, such as art quilts, or art dolls, or mixed media, etc. etc. (because again, I looonnnggg for clear and focused direction!)

However, each and every time I grow bored and restless, and once again, I feel like crap.

Silly BooDilly is vital to me as it allows me to have the open playground of fun and experimentation that I need...

If I want to create pojagi patchwork one week and whimsical embroidered little houses the next, and after that do some stitched paper, well by golly I've got a home for all of it!

And now, with Rural Retro Designs, I will also get to have the boundaries and clear focused direction that I crave. This last month was almost blissful, (even with the head cold) as everyday I had a clear focus and was able to work within specific self-imposed boundaries that kept me energized and on track. The key to all of this was that I also knew that when ever the mood struck I still had a place to go with no creative boundaries.

I understand if all of that maybe sounds a bit schizophrenic, and overly complicated, but for me it's just the opposite. Rural Retro Designs is my way of finding balance and becoming centered in a vast universe of sometimes lovely and sometimes not so lovely distraction. With this venture I get a daily reminder to hone in and focus on appreciating the simply pleasures of life, along with a way of expressing that idea creatively. Having both Silly Boodilly and Rural Retro Designs is like a having a disciplined exercise routine that still allows me to eat all the chocolate cake I want!

Now, if you are so inclined, my newly opened Rural Retro Designs shop could use a little love. Right now it's feeling like the new kid on the block and a wee bit lonely! You would make my day if would be so kind as to go and have a look, and if you like what you see add it to your favorites. Thanks so much to each of you for all of your continued support in my creative journey! xo


Oh, and before I forget... many thanks to all who entered the the giveaway in my last post! The winner was Kim of Pokeytown Kim. Congratulations Kim! And good news... if you would still like a chance to win Candy's Dyeing to Stitch DVD, the blog tour is still going on. Go to the bottom of my post here to see where to go. Good luck!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dyeing to Stitch: Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY!

It is with great pleasure that today I get the honor of kicking off Candy Glendening's Dyeing to Stitch DVD blog tour!

I first met Candy last year when we were both in Ohio filming segments for Quilting Arts TV. Having Candy there as part of the experience was like having the sun, (with a spectacular rainbow above) right there with you; as she was that warm, that friendly, that full of energy, and that spectacularly colorful!

It was the first time for both of us, but watching Candy in front of the camera... well, you would never have known that she was a TV virgin, as she took to it like a duck to water. When her taping was over, everyone of us watching from the green room burst into applause, as we were so impressed! No wonder then that Candy was invited to come back and film her very own DVD for the Quilting Arts Workshop series.

Last week I got a chance to preview Candy's new DVD, and it was like watching an old friend... partially because it was so nice to see her in action again, but also because that is simply how Candy makes you feel... like she is an old friend... and a fun and talented one, too!

In her Dyeing to Stitch DVD, Candy walks us through the steps of her dyeing techniques. Breaking down the steps in a very user friendly way, she shows us exactly how to measure, mix and dye fabrics using the same low water immersion method that she uses to dye all of her fabrics, and provides 6 recipes to create her jewel toned color pallet.

Now, you should note that along with being a textile artist, Candy is also a scientist. Really. She teaches biology at the University of Redlands... how cool is that?! This might explain why her DVD is so absorbable. Candy knows how to present information, how to make it interesting and informative.

Watching Candy talk about color theory was great!

I was fully engaged and totally enthralled as she showed her amazing hand-dyed “Candiotic Table of Elemental Color”, pictured above. Is that not AMAZING!?!

And along with all of that great info, Candy also demonstrates, (in a very delightful way) how to combine various colors onto one cloth to achieve really cool effects. She swoops and scrunches wet cloth in almost a magical way, dribbles and pours her dyes here and there, and voilĂ ! pulls a dyed rabbit out of her hat! (No, not really a rabbit! A super-duper piece of dyed fabric... that combines the thrill of random surprise elements with the comforting knowledge of knowing where you are going.)

And last but not least, Candy demonstrates her wonderful “free motion machine sketching” and the fun ways she uses her fabric!

Okay, and here is the best yet... Candy is offering one of my lucky blog readers a chance to win their own copy of Candy's Dyeing to Stitch DVD! Just leave a comment, and make sure I have a way to contact you should you win. I will keep the contest open for one week, and announce the winner in my next post thereafter.

Update: 11/18/11 - Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! I will be announcing a winner later this week. For more chances to win a copy of Candy's DVD, follow the tour and visit the other blogs listed below!

- Friday, 11/11 – Victoria Gertenbach of The Silly BooDilly (that's me!)
- Monday, 11/14 – Susan Brubaker Knapp of Blue Moon River
- Wednesday, 11/16 – Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio
- Friday, 11/18 – Melody Johnson of Fibermania
- Monday, 11/21 – Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side
- Wednesday, 11/23 – Diane Doran of Ooh! Pretty Colors
- Friday, 11/25 – Vicki Welsh of Field Trips in Fiber
- Monday, 11/28/11 – Brenda Gael Smith of Serendipity and the Art of the Quilt
- Wednesday, 11/30 – Amy Webb of Amy Lou Who Sews
- Friday, 12/2 – Robin Ferrier of Simply Robin
- Tuesday, 12/6 – Natalia Bonner of Piece N Quilt
- Thursday, 12/8 – Beth and the gang from Sew Mama Sew

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Next Step: Expanding Vision, Narrowing Focus

After my last post, where I laid claim to and named my own personal style, (and by the way, many heartfelt thanks to each of you... your support and enthusiasm greatly touched me) I started seriously thinking more about what comes next... expanding my vision of what I would like to do, and where I might like to go with the idea of 'Rural Retro'.

(Note: Nothing has to come next... my restless nature simply wants to go explore!)

After thinking of areas in which I could expand, I began to hone in on the specifics of each of those areas... narrowing my focus, breaking down the various steps.

I have a lot of ideas on expansion, but if any are to become reality, then I must go step by step and follow a path that makes sense to me.

One area of expansion would be building a line of products, (of which I am in the very early stages of creating and developing) and finding a venue to market them.

Now, seeing as I am already on Etsy and fairly comfortable there, the logical first step for me would be to open another Etsy shop, this one geared specifically to selling handmade items, (and possible some vintage items as well) all keeping with my vision of Rural Retro esthetics. (I am still keeping my Silly BooDilly shop, and will continue to sell artwork there, as not everything I do would fit into this new and more tightly focused venue... for as much as I like a tight focus, I also like room to roam when the mood strikes!)

You know, when I opened Silly BooDilly, I really just closed my eyes and jumped. It's always been a happy pool for me to swim around in and explore and I want it to stay that way.

But I have a clear focus and a specific aim in opening this other shop. I feel the need to have it separate. So with eyes wide open, I am now engaging in thought out actions, which include...

~ Conceptualizing various collections and defining what the look of each collection will be, and how they will fit into the overall theme of Rural Retro.

~ Gathering the raw materials.

~ Construction.

~ Photography.

~ Marketing and branding, which includes building the new Etsy shop, (everything from naming the shop, creating a banner, designating sections, writing shop announcements, profile and policy pages, and listing items for sale) along with creating business cards, logo, by-lines, packaging, etc. As well as deciding if I want a separate blog/website, (me thinks I would choose a blog for ease of use and simply have it function more as a website then a typical blog) and various ways to promote.

Whew. Of course, most all of these steps are a continually ongoing process, and in all truth I have second thoughts each day about if I really want to take this on... and upon reflection the answer keeps coming up, "yes" because it's really just one more act of conceptualizing and creating, and that's what keeps me excited!

Please bear with me over the next few weeks, as my posting may be on the extra sparse side while I focus on getting the new Etsy shop up and running. (I will of course let you know when it opens!) However, please make sure to stop back on Nov. 11th as I will be participating in a fun blog tour and offering a great giveaway!

And last but not least... if you are feeling a bit stuck and not exactly sure how to go from the beginning stage of learning the ins and outs of sewing/quilting, (or whatever medium you choose to express yourself in) towards moving forward into discovering your own creative voice, I happened to write a post on this very subject over at Whip Up, where I had the pleasure of being a guest blogger last week. You can find a few tips and self exploring questions to ask yourself... your answers will hopefully help to point you in the direction your heart may truly wish to go. xo

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Claiming Your Own Style

For most of my life I have avoided categorizing or labeling myself.

Probably because I never found one that seemed to properly fit. One-size-fits-all-never worked for me, and this has been very true in the years that I have been exploring the art of quilting and stitching.

It's all been a long and wonderful learning journey for me, trying a little of this, and a little of that, seeing what I liked and what I didn't...

until finally arriving at this point in time, where after many years of exploring I have developed my own personal style that fits me comfortably.

Yesterday I met my eldest daughter in the city for the day, and during lunch we got on the topic of what style my stitched work exactly fell under.

"Hmmm" I said. "I really don't know!"

"They certainly don't fall in the traditional category" I continued, "and they aren't something that you would likely see in a contemporary art quilting show..."

"I most strongly identify with the modern quilt movement, but most of my work really doesn't fit that category either."

"Truth is" I told my daughter, " I don't think there is a category that my work fully fits in."

And that got me to thinking...

After all these years of learning my craft, honing my skills and developing my own style, I am ready to define my work, even if that means creating my own term and definition.

So I looked at my work...

and the photos I take of the things that inspire me...

I thought about my attraction to old time, make-do sensibilities...

And the beauty of off kilter lines and shapes...

And I decided to name my style Rural Retro.

So, after many years of avoiding labels, I have now created one for myself... and this excites me!

Since I am creating a brand new category of quilting, I now get to explore more in depth my definition of it...

What it means to me, and how I wish to express it.

A sort of place to hang my hat, and call my home...

A clearer view of what I want to say and how I want to say it... from creating a stronger and more cohesive look, to choosing fabrics, (it even makes this solid loving girl think more closely about what type of prints would fall into this style) to various projects and collections.

Branding my artistic style will help me move forward in a more focused direction, and I am very excited to begin this new journey.

And if I may, I'd like to offer this... If you find yourself on the newer side to quilting, (which is where I felt I was for many years as there is soooo much to learn) I wouldn't at this point concern yourself with defining an absolute style for yourself. This is a time to learn from everything that inspires you. Don't be afraid to take a bit from one esthetic and a bit from another, and mix them up. Ask yourself a lot of questions as to what attracts you and why. Don't follow trends blindly. Eventually something uniquely yours will emerge, and when it does go ahead and name it, claim it, embrace it.

Happy stitching!