Arranging Flowers in Red Vases

July 27th, 2016

When I’m arranging embellishments for a wall hanging, I like to get other peoples’ input. It helps me see things from a different perspective.

In the past, my daughters helped me out (and here, too). In April, participants in the International Quilt Festival (Chicago) Open Studios event arranged and rearranged flowers for Red Vases. We discussed the merits of different color combinations, flower shapes, and number of flowers.

Here are a few options we came up with:

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Back at home, I consulted these photos while making the final arrangement for Red Vases, and this is it:

Wait! On second thought, this became the really, really final arrangement.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Now to sew all those flowers in place.

How Red Vases Began

July 24th, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Quilters and other crafters are generous people. I picked up this long, skinny seed packet panel at a quilt guild meeting—someone was cleaning out old projects and brought it to the giveaway table. The panel was about 11 inches wide and 37.5 inches long.

It lay in my fabric stack for a few years, while I contemplated how to incorporate it into a project. Finally it challenged me to use it as the backing fabric for a long, skinny quilt.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

That was the beginning of Red Vases, only the vases didn’t start out red. Originally I was going to recycle a tan lace sweater. You would be able to see green stems behind the lace and it was going to be great!

Only, as you can see, it wasn’t very great. It was boring.

I dug out some red and red and white checked knitting left over from another project (scroll to the end of the post). Much better!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

Luckily this change of vase didn’t set me back too far, because the wall hanging had to be pieced, quilted, and bound in time for the International Quilt Festival in Chicago in April, and time was growing short.

At the Open Studios event in Chicago, various people joined me in arranging flowers on Red Vases. Our first major decision, unanimously approved, was the choice of Edelweiss over Van Wyk Roses in the little vase.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases--Edelweiss

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases—Van Wyk Roses

Patterns for the crocheted “Edelweiss” and “Van Wyk Roses” are from Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights. See sidebar for a link to the Crochet Garden page at Amazon.com.

Mama Lion Roars Again

July 21st, 2016

Mama Lion by Suzann Thompson

Mama Lion, which debuted in a big way last year on World Lion Day, was featured during June 2016 at the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery, as part of the Animals Art Exhibition, Special Merit Award Category.

Mama Lion by Suzann Thompson at Light Space Time

Mama Lion by Suzann Thompson at Light Space Time

I’m pleased to share (or show off, if you want to be truly accurate) the ribbon and certificate I received for having one of my wall hangings in the show.

See Mama Lion in the Animals exhibit at https://www.lightspacetime.com/animals-2016-art-exhibition-special-merit-kr-thru-z/.

You can also see a slide presentation of the show at YouTube (Mama Lion is at 10:30).

Light Space & Time encourages entries of all artistic media, but few textile works are shown among the many painted or drawn entries. I can only guess that this is because few fiber artists enter their work. So Fiber Artists, please enter! Light Space & Time posts a new show every month AND the site provides a lot of information for artists who want to show their work to its best advantage.

Afternoon: Flower and Button Arranging

June 1st, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

The blue and orange Czech Festival Flowers (from Crochet Garden) made me think of hollyhocks and other tall flower stalks. For ideas on how to arrange with tall flowers, I typed “tall flower arrangements” into Google Images. My screen was filled with interesting, beautiful examples.

My favorite type of arrangement was where the tall flower stalks were surrounded at the top of the vase by a ring of different flowers. It was like they had a collar of smaller flowers.

Once all the flowers were crocheted and blocked, I tried several arrangements, photographing each one, like the one at right. I chose the best arrangement and started sewing flowers in place. Even then, I continued to fiddle with leaf placement and filler flowers.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Then there was the matter of buttons. Once again I photographed different button placements so I could compare and choose the best, which was the one at left. I was very pleased with the black button centers on the yellow flowers (“Aster-oid” from Crochet Bouquet).

My personal rule for this wall hanging was “no pink.” But I couldn’t resist sprinkling my dayglow pink buttons across the flower arrangement. They looked so wonderful, so delicious, so mouth-watering (as my mom would say), the no-pink rule evaporated.

TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon, detail

Afternoon was finished in time to hang at the Town & Country Quilt Guild’s exhibit at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council (Stephenville, TX) in the final months of 2015 and in the TextileFusion exhibit at the International Quilt Festival (Chicago, IL) in April 2016. It still needs a couple of tweaks, but there’s time for that later.

TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Afternoon: Vase and Teacup

May 31st, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

I created a rough draft of the design for Afternoon using Adobe Photoshop Elements. After saving it as a pdf, I used the “poster” option to make a full-sized print. Well, actually, the poster was sixteen 8 1/2 x 11″ sheets, which I had to trim and tape together.

First I cut out various parts of the poster to act as place holders while I was piecing the background (see last post). When the background was done, I cut out the vase and teacup to use as patterns.

I cut the cup further, into saucer, outside cup, and inside cup pieces, and those pieces into pieces again. I arranged the pattern shapes onto knitted fabric so the direction of the stitches and the color variation would look like the shape of a cup with shadows. Quilters call this “fussy cutting,” because you carefully choose how to cut the patches of the quilt.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

After piecing these onto a foundation, I embroidered details and enhanced shadows.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

What is inside a vase? Stems and greenery. I started the vase by piecing together patches of green knitting.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Layers of lace and tulle suggest shadows and the reflection of light. I embroidered the vase’s ribs and the intense reflections. Not exactly like the original, but close enough for art.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Afternoon in the Making

May 30th, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Slanting afternoon shadows fill me with anticipation, melancholy, satisfaction. Late in 2014, I knitted yardage to make a wall hanging with slanting shadows and those feelings in it. And for once, no pink was allowed. I put pink in almost everything, because I love pink. But not here.

The yardage sat on my stack for months, while I finished other projects. Finally, in the summer of 2015, I started working on Afternoon, the wall hanging.

I considered afternoon-ish things. Afternoon tea is a thing, so I photographed a teacup and a vase in the afternoon, to get the shadows and highlights just right. I enjoy reading a book with afternoon tea or coffee, so I included two books in the photo. Autumn is kind of like the afternoon of the year, so I crocheted flowers in autumn-like colors. Afternoon light seems more golden, so I used a lot of golden yellows in the knitting.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Thank goodness for technology! I planned the wall hanging with Adobe Photoshop Elements and then printed it at actual size, putting the printed sheets together with low-tech scissors and tape.

The piecing began. Red and green pieces leftover from other projects suggested leaves and flowers in the background. I shaded from dark to light, using stripes and checks for slanting shadows. As usual, I cut shapes without any pattern, fitted them together, and pinned them to a foundation fabric. The foundation for this wall hanging was fabric that a friend gave away.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

To block out space for the vase and cup, I cut those shapes and more from my printed pattern and pinned them onto the foundation fabric as place-savers.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

The oblong shape of this doily from my collection gave the impression of perspective.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Open Studios at IQF-Chicago

April 18th, 2016

I was happy this year to present three Open Studios sessions at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago. It’s great to talk to so many interested and enthusiastic people.

For “Quilting Sweater Knits” I hurried up and prepared two more minis in my Yellow Circle series.

 Open Studios—Quilting Sweater Knits  Open Studios—Quilting Sweater Knits

“Tropical Sunflower,” at left, was pieced and ready to quilt. For the one on the right, the pieces were pinned to the foundation but not yet sewn. I may name that one something like “Searchlight in a Blue Norther.”

 Open Studios—Quilting Sweater Knits

On the third yellow circle mini, closest to the viewer in this photo, I demonstrated how to piece knitted fabric onto a foundation.

 Open Studios—Flower Arranging for Quilters

On another day, we practiced “Flower Arranging for Quilters.” Two different groups of Open Studios participants came up with possibilities for my new wall hanging. I like this one a lot. I liked the other one a lot, too.

The wall hanging’s working title is “Blue Onion,” because the inspiration was my mother’s Zwiebelmuster or Onion Pattern china.

 Open Studios—Doilies in Your Quilts

Finally, I showed how to include doilies in quilts using several samples, including this new wall hanging, “Red Vases.”

Whew. That was a lot of prep. But it’s a good thing, because often the most difficult part of a project for me is starting it. True, I was going to start these projects eventually, but because of the Quilt Festival, they’re already begun.

Now all I have to do is finish them.

Crochet while Waiting…and Waiting

April 16th, 2016

 Garden Path Shawl in progress

Life and travel include a lot of waiting—at least for me they do.

Thank goodness for knitting and crochet, which makes the time fun and productive–like last Sunday, when I was in a long, long security checkpoint line at the airport in Chicago.

My pink shawl was packed in a carry-on bag, so I just pulled it out a little early.

Our line moved along, about four steps every minute or so. By the time I arrived at the head of the line, I had finished several rows.

Garden Path Shawl in progress

Here’s the pink shawl in progress on the plane.

 Garden Path Shawl in progress

Tuesday was my day for getting together with friends and sewing or crocheting. After taking my daughter to school, I had about an hour to work on my pink shawl and listen to the radio. This row of Russian Spoke Stitch* took a long time to finish, but I just worked and enjoyed listening.

I’m planning to publish the pattern for this shawl in the next month or so. That means it’s your turn to wait. You know what to do.

* Find a tutorial for the Russian Spoke Stitch or Double Bullion at my other blog. My book Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights (see sidebar) has two flowers that feature the Russian Spoke Stitch: “Russian Picot Daisy” on pages 76-77 and “Russian Spoke Flower” starting on page 100.

More PopKnitting

March 24th, 2016

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Britt Marie Christoffersson created variations on garter stitch, using double pointed needles to enable knitters to slide the work back to the beginning of a row, instead of always turning the work to the other side before knitting a new row.

That’s what’s going on in these two samples. They both have garter ridges separated by one row of plain knitting, plus a little or a lot of garter stranding.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

The swatch below is straight-up garter stitch, sometimes turned, sometimes slid back to the beginning of the row to start a new row. Slipped stitches form some of the color patterning.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

The orange bands of this stripey sample are knitted welts, with garter ridges above and below, and a row of elongated stitches in teal. It will always remind me of listening to Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce novel #7, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Knitting for Nothing but Fun

March 18th, 2016

PopKnitting by Britt-Marie Christoffersson is full of interesting and different stitch patterns, perfected by a master knitter.

For years I’ve been admiring the patterns, promising myself “I’m going to try that pattern and that one and that one…oh, and those two, and maybe this one, too.”

I was waiting for the right moment.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

The time finally arrived earlier this month, when I could knit for fun and edification, without distractions, without worrying about doing anything else. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me very often, so I was ready with specially-chosen yarns, patterns, needles, and a plan.

So here they are, over the next couple of posts: my swatches from PopKnitting. They were fun to make. I’m very pleased with each and every one.

This soft, light brown piece is Slipped Stitches and Reverse Stockinette Stitch. When the light hits the subtle texture just right—wow! The yarn: Berroco UltraAlpaca.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Here’s another subtly-textured piece, in the category of Slipped Stitches and Stockinette Stitch. The yarn is Plymouth Yarns’ lovely DK Merino Superwash.

practicing the patterns of PopKnitting

Six rows of welt-knitting are about the height of three rows of stockinette, so it takes a while to get much length to your knitting when making welts. I passed the time by listening to a Flavia DeLuce novel by Alan Bradley while knitting welts.

This teal swatch has sets of three knitted welts alternating with sections of stockinette stitch, in Berroco UltraAlpaca Sport.