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.

Why Another Gingerbread Kids Pattern?

December 18th, 2015

Crocheted Gingerbread Cookie ornament

Years ago, my mom crocheted very cute gingerbread man Christmas tree ornaments. They were a lot of work, she told me, because there were lots of starts and stops, leading to lots of ends to weave in.

Do you recognize this pattern? Do you know where it appeared?—if you do, will you please leave a comment to let me know, so I can acknowledge it here?

The front and back pieces were crocheted back and forth. The back piece hides the wrong side of the embroidered buttons and face, and gives the piece more stability as an ornament. The sides are joined with a round of sc.

I always have a difficult time crocheting neatly into the sides of stitches to make borders or, in this case, to make a border and join two pieces. I can never make it look professional or even good.

Also, I’m not the only crocheter who wants to minimize the ends she must weave in at the end of the project.

When I was writing Cute Crochet World, I wanted gingerbread for the “Seasons” chapter, so I pondered the possibilities. The only way to minimize yarn ends AND avoid having to crochet into the sides of rows, was to crochet a gingerbread person in rounds.

And that’s why “Gingerbread Kids.”

Step-by-step tutorial to supplement the instructions in the book at my blog Curious and Crafty Readers. Instructions for making cute Gingerbread Kid ornaments are there, too.

Crocheted Gingerbread Kid Ornament

Embellishment Troubles or Joys?

December 11th, 2015

The title of this post was originally going to be “Embellishment Woes.” This project is causing me trouble. I’m not quite satisfied with any arrangement of flowers and buttons so far. But after thoughtful consideration, I remembered that this is my favorite part of the process. So no woes.

Titled 360 Degrees, this piece is for one of the member challenges at Visions Art Museum next year. It is a small quilt, made from a rug I knitted many, many years ago.

Once again I say, “Thank goodness for digital photography!” It’s so quick and easy to photograph different options and look at them all together. Here are photos of the arrangements I have tried so far.

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Seems pretty likely there will be more photos before I make the final decision about embellishment. Really, I’m waiting for the thrill. The thrill will tell me when I’ve got the combination right.

Knitting and Quilting Puzzling Pinks

November 16th, 2015

Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

At 42″ x 31″, Puzzling Pinks is among my largest wall hangings. That’s a lot of knitting! Luckily, at the Ultimate Sweater Machine, I can crank out the stockinette stitch in record time.

Knitting for Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

As usual, I knitted a varied, shaded fabric by changing yarn every one or two rows—easy on the USM. With the green yarns sorted into groups of gray greens, yellow greens, and plain old green greens, I hoped to knit the impression of sun and shadow. There’s even a little blue for the sky in this garden of pink flowers.

Knitting Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

To create the patchwork squares of green background, I tried a little something different, cutting squares from fusible interfacing first, fusing them onto the knitted fabric second, and finally cutting them out. This worked pretty well.

Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt

My quilting friends look forward to summers, because we get together in Dublin, Texas, for a three-day quilting retreat. Of course we sew, but it’s also three-day talk and laugh fest with yummy food and fun games.

My goal was to have Puzzling Pinks pieced and ready to quilt in time for our get-together. Managed. Quilting the piece took several hours, but this fun group of women helped the time pass quickly.

With three days of mostly uninterrupted sewing, a person can get a lot done. We were all very productive. By the end of our retreat, Puzzling Pinks was quilted, labeled, and bound.

Suzann Thompson's Puzzling Pink quilt