Friday, January 15, 2016

The Woolly Fish Quilt is finished!!

 Woolly Fish, the idea of it, is so crazy.  I used the drawings from my Tropical Fish pattern which I first published in 1990 as a cotton quilt.  I've been focusing on wool since 2007 when I found the felting tool.  I have been tweaking my technique ever since.  Behind each critter is a wool applique on top of a hand dyed wool background.  Then I used the felting tool with three barbed needles, to poke wool hand dyed fibers, covering up the applique so you can't see any of it.  The applique serves as a easy way to copy the shape of a design without tracing.  More and more fish appliques were arranged and poked and then the environment was incorporated into the design...a sea fan, sea weeds,  kelp, sea cucumbers that look like tubes, and corals...

The backgrounds are composed of 10" hand dyed strips, going sideways.  Some were not the right size for the width of the quilt as it was developing, so I added scraps by felting the backgrounds together and embroidering over the joints, or adding more felting representing sea weeds. Nothing was pre-planned.  The quilt had a mind of its own, and it told me what to do next.  Most of the fish have 3-D side fins. They were made by felting directly of the foam block without a background.  Just keep turning the piece of roving over and over while your poke with the felting tool. When it won't pull apart, then you can use scissors to cut it to shape.

I had the good fortune to visit the NE Aquarium just before Thanksgiving.  I took lots of photographs of the vegetation so my quilt would have more visual interest and that gave me more opportunities to embellish.  Here are some of the photos I took:

That cauliflower looking coral could have been done with beads, French knots or ruching the fabric. I didn't use this idea, but I may sometime in the future.

A cute puffer fish.

 Brain coral!

 Lots of textures and colors.

Tubes and flat corals.

A wonderful starfish sucking on the aquarium glass.

Spiral shaped coral.

Not all my blocks which I had photographed in an earlier blog entry, made it into this quilt.  My thinking was that this block's colors didn't work with the other blocks.

Here is what one block looked like then in the last few weeks I've been adding a border, and  embellishing with beads and embroidery.
This block was not working with the colors of the final quilt, but I am working on it to show that the Woolly Fish could work as a smaller wall hanging. I wanted the tubes to stand up and the feather stitching on the tubes made them stay where I wanted them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Here is my husband,Paul's, cat Pollyester learning how to quilt.  She weighs about 7 1/2 lbs. and was actually riding around on my Woolly Fish quilt was I tried to finish. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Why was I so hesitant about getting a Smart Phone?

I am quilting the Woolly Fish quilt now, and I have given myself a deadline to finish it by Dec 15th so I can sent the photos to my niece, who creates my "artwork" that gets uploaded to the printer in California, so they can FedEx it to me in Orlando where I will be teaching a class using that new quilt pattern on January 8th.

I ran out of the invisible thread this afternoon.  Dreaded situation.  I needed it to finish the quilt for the bobbin thread.  No, I couldn't get it sent from Joann's.  No time to wait.  I called on the cell phone the two fabric stores I've been to which might carry the thread.  No dice.  Then I remembered there is a quilt shop in the area of Kutztown (the next town south of here).  I asked the smart phone for Covered Bridge, before I could say quilt shop, I was shown all the covered bridges within 10 miles.  I asked the phone again "Covered Bridge Quilt Shop in Kutztown" and she sent me to Wooden Bridge Quilt Shop"  Yeah, that's the one.  I called them (push an icon) "Do you carry invisible thread?"  "Yes we do."  "Is it in stock?" " Yes."   "I'll be right over."  (I was there once maybe 15 years ago. It isn't on Main St.)  By the time I got in the car, the google maps was directing me how to get there.  Go left on Rt. 222 for 4 miles then turn left on Topton Rd...The right, then straight, the left, then right, round the bend and it is there on the right ... 8.3 miles from home.  I was lost after Topton Rd, but the phone stuck with me and there it was, on a farm complete with cows.  I went inside and the sales girls were busy (they were Amish, they had bun covers on their hair) with other people so I wandered around.  The place is HUGE!  4000 to 5000 bolts of cotton quilt fabric and fabrics that the Amish women use to make their dresses, and dungarees and gloves and sweaters and every thread known to woman, and a huge classroom.  When one of the girls was ready, I told her I had called about the invisible thread, and she took me to it.  I bought one in clear and one in smoke so I wouldn't have to come back before the weekend.  I paid $3.79 each knowing that Joann's wanted $3.99 plus postage.  I'm a happy camper.  I told the phone to take me home, and off we went.

That phone is a better invention than sliced bread!  Kutztown is in a different county so they aren't in my phone book, if I had looked there.  But the fact that google knew to suggest the "wooden bridge" when I had said "covered bridge" is genius.  We just got the phone in July because our GPS device broke and we were using the old one that took us to the show in Essex Junction, by taking us up the NY State side and then told us to "take the ferry" across Lake Champlain, to get to Vermont.  No, we don't do ferries.   At that moment we knew the GPS (both of them) needed to  be replaced with something more modern.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New theme for felted applique: Woolly Fish

Fish felted from wool fibers is bizarre, don't you think?  Recently I've been working on fish appliques with my hand dyed wool fabric.  Four wool fabrics have been felted together using my felting machine which saves time, instead of felting them by hand. They could be sewn together too.There is a separate strip of three fish at the bottom.

Two black fish are ready to be felted.  Right below them is a yellow fish still in progress.  The fins on the fishes sides are 3-D.  By shading the wool fibers from lighter bellies to darker on the top side, the fish look more realistic.

You can see in the close up that the edges of this fish still show a little the black fabric I used for the applique, and under the gill area.  I am having so much fun with the embroidered details.  The coral in the upper corner are felted down using the felting machine.  They are scraps of hand dyed wool.  I haven't 
embroidered them yet.

Here is another block that may become part of the group above, or it may be a little quilt as it is.  The orange seaweed is wool yarn that I've couched with different shades of pearl cotton thread.  The star fish has beads radiating from the center.  I see the blue parrotfish needs to get an embroidered gill.  The fishes eyes are beads.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Woolly Alphabet pattern is now ready for sale.  It took us a long time to figure out how we wanted to include six printed color pages in the pattern.  The color cover was a given but the keep costs down, we assembled five color pages so there are detail photos of ALL the blocks, rather than making a little bit of color on many pages.

We dithered on making posters of our felted applique patterns and decided to make a poster of the New Flock of Sheep in 18"x24" and we will be printing our Noah's Ark machine appliqued quilt on the other side.  The paper will be 100 lb coated stock and there will be no ink bleeding through as we have used this paper for our paper pattern covers which are now sporting double sided printing as we publish new patterns and reprinting the older ones that we have reprinted.  The second side is a detail shot of part of the quilt on the cover, or many detail photos showing the technique used.

So now the quest is to update my whole web site indicating which patterns have the back of the covers showing the detail photos.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Show Schedule for 2015

I updated the Show Schedule for 2015.  As we are getting older, Paul and I are flying less and driving to shows closer to our home which is in PA.  (Believe it or not, not wanting to fly has to do with the disruption of our body cIocks: if we have to get up at 2 or 3AM to catch a flight at 6AM to someplace out west, losing 3 hours of time change...we never seem to catch up to local time and it is time to come home. Then it takes three days to get back to normal.)   I have indicated which shows have invited me to teach.  You can click on those shows’ web sites to see which Felted Applique class I will be offering.  We still have a few shows that haven’t gotten back to us yet, so we may be adding a few more.

Woolly Alphabet and embroidery progress

I finished the Woolly Alphabet quilt in September and am now writing the pattern.  This is a pattern that needs to have all the designs in color detail photos.  We have decided to add an extra color page or two so you can see all the stitches and beads and color changes, not for you to copy exactly what I’ve done, but to show you options.

The first time I will be teaching the Woolly Alphabet pattern will be at Mancuso’s best show on the east coast: Hampton VA.    Nothing like having a deadline over your head to get things done.   I entered the quilt in PIQF, Mancuso's best show on the west coast, and it didn't win any prizes.  When I saw the judges comments I understood.  They said glowing things about the quilt until they got to the zinger (encouragement to make better quilts in the future).  They said I should have hand quilted it.  Okay, my next crazy quilt will have no batting…I am thinking it might have a fish theme.

Paul and I have decided that posters of Crazy Sheep and Sheep Wannabees will be our next offering.  Then Paul came up with a unique idea: let’s print one quilt on each side.  The paper is the same as we use on our pattern covers and the ink doesn’t bleed through it.  That gives you, the customer, options.  Which one will you hang?  Or maybe you want to buy two posters.  You know Pau, l he’ll give you a deal.  And the Wooly Alphabet and the Dragonflies in Wool will be another poster.  Our thinking is that these posters could be incentive for quilters to finish one of these quilts if they had it hanging on the sewing room wall, or it is something that show goers could take home to remember what they saw at the show.  

Because we have five shows bunched up close together in the Spring, I have been dyeing up a storm.  We were invited at the last minute to the Fiber Festival of New England in November.  There were large bags of fleeces to be had, and I bought four of them.  I thought that was a LOT of wool.  They are now all washed and dyed and some are still drying so the rovings will be bagged up shortly.  In this photo, the curly fibers are goat hair (angora) which are shiny and take dye well, and the smooth fibers are sheep wool which sometimes have different colors on the tiny curls on the tips.  None of the fibers I dyed look like anything you can buy at a big box store.  They only sell flat one color dyed  combed roving.  My colors in the baggies are assorted because I want more variety in my colors  to work with.  I never mix one color and dye that in a batch.  I put the fibers in a container, and pour one color and then another shade of that or another color close on the color wheel, or sometimes opposite color on the color wheel, and heat set it.  Then the fun happens when I rinse the wool and see how the colors took.   IMG_5086.JPG

So this is what  three of my baggie assortments might look like:IMG_5089.JPG
Two on the left are going sideways, and one on the right going up and down.  The goat hair is on the very left. All my white wool is now dyed or bagged up, and I asked one of the suppliers for more of her Cotswold wool and all she had left was "natural". What color is that I asked? It arrived this morning and it is heather grays, beiges, and darker, all with nice curls. I washed some right away and this afternoon it will be dyed. I can't wait to see how it comes out. The natural color will change the dyed colors, but how?

I am also dyeing wool fabrics in 6” strips  (think quilt border) and 10” strips  x the width of the wool fabric, to be sold at shows.  They are all different, so it would be hard to put them on line.  I used these colored wools as my backgrounds in the Wool Alphabet.   If you are interested in having some of these to play with, give me a call or email what colors you like and I can take photos of some for you.  They can be cut into shorter pieces.  The price is not outrageous.. for a unique piece(s) for your art.  A 10” square is $4.00, a strip 10” x 58” is $24.00, a 6” strip is $14.  
This is a piece I’ve been working on.  It is still a work in progress, but it gives you an idea of what can be done with a piece of hand dyed wool in odd colors for a landscape.  What is it going to be? I don’t know.  The important thing is that I am having fun talking back and forth with this piece.  My friend thinks that is a fire going on in the forest.  It looks like fog to me.  I took lots of photos of trees to make this piece.