Monday, May 1, 2017

The Art of Beading

How many of you think beading is tedious?  This bug shape is from our Beetles pattern I punch needled the blue and green threads to a piece of white cotton, and then added the beads and then appliqued it onto the sleeve of a white wool jacket.  The hairy legs are small bugle beads.  I made this around 2006 when I was testing out alternative techniques to applique.  I eventually gave up punch needle because my left wrist started to hurt, holding the hoop that held the cotton taut.  I own a Morgan hoop now, but the other issue was that it just took too long to see a finished result.  Needle Felted Applique goes faster, filling in an area.

I started doing needle felted applique in 2007 when I found the tool that I use now: Clovers pink felting tool with three needles.  My first felted quilt/pattern was the Crazy Sheep. and it was started as  machine applique quilt and grew into felting and there are even some beads on the quilt in the centers of the flowers in the crazy quilting.

The trick to making the beading go faster is to string 6 beads on the desired location, go down with the needle into the fabric then come up between the 3rd and 4th bead and couch the bead string so it doesn't move (sew a stitch over the 6 bead string to anchor it).  I outlined areas around the head and eyes this way.  In other places I used three beads in a row (on the wing covers).  I can bead without much concentration, in ront of the TV for instance.  I use the arty side of my brain to choose bead colors and textures.  So I am watching a show and keeping my hands busy.  Women are good at multi-tasking.

The jacket fabric is wool yarn sewn to a base.  The yarn is not woven or knitted.  I had seen this fabric in a store window in Australia when we were doing shows there.  When I saw it on sale here in the US there was hesitation.  The jacket had my name on it.  When it get too dirty, I think I will dye it.  The art of beading 

You've got to start or you'll never get better...

One of my customers is getting paralyzed with starting...spending a lot of time collecting fabrics, rovings instead of diving in on her project.  Here is what I shared with her to get her off the dime:



You just need to get started and work a little bit every day.  If something doesn't work, it isn't failure, it is a learning experience.  Felting is quite easy to change.  You can cut areas away, pull off the felting, cover up something you don't like and don't forget, the most important guide: it doesn't have to be PERFECT!!  Art is a progression.  I am never satisfied, I could always do it better...The NEXT piece will be better,  but you have to get over fussing and actually DO something today.  or you will never get to being better tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I was bitten by a tick on Thursday last week.  He embedded his head really well into my chest.  I used a tick twister, which looks like a green plastic mini-crowbar, but I couldn't get it under the tick.  I ended up using a tweezer but the body broke in two, leaving the head stuck in my skin.  I learned that tick have reverse barbs on the heads, making it difficult to remove.  I had a friend who got a tick bite as a kid and the skin grew over the tick part.  This later gave her some health issues.  So I knew I needed to have the head removed but where should I go? I called my family doctor's office and a P.A. called me back and agreed with me to have it removed at an Urgent Care facility.  So I went to the internet expecting to find one close to me.  I couldn't find any.  I finally called the local hospital and was directed to their "Express Care", which was the same location where I had gone for a cat bite, four years ago.  only the name had changed.  From the time we got to Express Care, till the time we drove away was less than an hour and I was much relieved to know that the tick was gone.  That was a good experience.

As I was looking online for advice, there was a link to the cdc.  It said, not to worry.  You don't need to get the partial tick out, it will fall out on its own.  I was shocked at this advice from our government.  A Professor of Nursing said have your husband dig it out after sterilizing the needle.  That didn't work.   So the problem was where is an urgent care place?  Now we know where it is, just in case, we need them again between 8 AM to 8 PM.  Don't get sick at night.

Monday, February 20, 2017




I just finished quilting this quilt top.  I was crunched for time because I needed send the quilt off so I could enter it in the 2017 Mountain Quiltfest in Pigeon Forge TN.  There is no chance to win any prize money since they have a clause that disqualifies me because I am a pattern designer.  When I get the quilt back, I will quilt some more on the borders.  The name of the quilt is Another Flock, because it is loosely based on my New Flock of Sheep pattern.  



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Birds in Wool, the pattern will be available January 30, 2017 at Critter Pattern Works
 Exploring feather stitch..to attach a leaf shape to the background or,
 draw the shapes of feathers,

 double feather stitch over the the background overlapped joins
 different lengths on the arms of the feather stitches.
Feather stitching with fly stitches and lazy daisy stitches on the arms.
Herringbone stitches and do-dads attached to the x's.





Tuesday, November 1, 2016


This is the newest mini quilt in felted applique technique called 
Cat Faces in Wool.  It is a good beginner pattern to start needle felting because it is only 15" square.  


I had a duplicate design that I made by accident.  It was exactly like one of the birds in the Birds in Wool quilt top I am working on.  So I just made it into a block.  Maybe I'll frame it.  It is 10" high x 11" wide.

This is my wool birds quilt so far.  I am going to add two more birds in the corners at the bottom.  The borders and the cornerstones are just pinned on, so they are a bit wonky.  The borders are 6" wide to give you an idea of scale. 


The question right now is which border arrangement will I choose? or something totally different?



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Birds quilt in progress

It is always a challenge to think up a new theme to try for my Felted Applique technique.  I have been kicking around the idea of birds since my Birds and Flowers machine applique pattern is about to run out.  There is so much more I can do with felting than machine applique to make the birds look more real with shading and hand embroidery for the details.  The trick to getting the birds to look like their real buddies out at my bird feeder is getting the beaks the right shape and with sharp points.   The dove at the bottom left still needs legs and feet, but they may go into the border.

Birds and Flowers

The crazy quilt stitching where the blocks overlap is my unique take on basic stitches like feather stitch or herringbone stitch and adding more stitches to the “arms” of the base stitch like a chain stitch, or fly, or French knot (I prefer a Colonial stitch to French knot because they don't get pulled to the wrong side of the quilt top).
Birds and Flowers

On our trip to Manchester NH for the World Quilt show in August, I was working on the 12th bird in the car.  We got out of the car for breaks and the bird went missing.  I thought maybe he fell out as I exited the car.  Once we got home I found him in between the passenger seat and the console.  The gremlins follow me around and rearrange things like The Borrowers did in the book I read as a kid.  I am so happy I didn't lose this bird, but the quilt top is square and he doesn't fit anywhere.  Now, I need to increase the number of birds to make another row.  I have time yet.  Somebody suggested that I include a hummingbird and the throated flowers they prefer.  If you have a suggestion, email me back.  All new patterns will appear on my home page of my website as they become available.

The plan is to have the finished birds quilt photographed so the cover is ready for the printer in California in early December.  We need the covers to complete the pattern by mid-January when I start teaching it in Orlando and Hampton VA and Somerset NJ at the beginning of the year.

I am working on one more project to submit to MAQ to teach on Sunday next July.   Four Cat Faces will be in the group for the pattern.  This is what I have so far:
Cat Face

You probably recognize her as Grumpy Cat of internet fame. I am struggling with striped cats, trying to get three more examples.  Although they are pretty in the photographs, they just don't work for a pattern, especially for people who possibly can't draw.  So I need to simplify the designs.  Everything is a learning experience for me.  There will be solid colored cats or maybe like a calico cat with spots of color. I have ten days until my proposals are due.  There is no guarantee that MAQ (Mid-Appalachian Quilters guild) will choose my projects.  I'll cross my fingers.

If you are interested in taking one of my classes in Hampton VA, make sure you sign up in December, because last year my two half day classes sold out very fast.  The classes aren't ready for sign ups yet, so keep checking back.  This show is probably the best and largest show on the east coast.  It is well worth making the effort to attend.  You will be inspired.  Plan on taking it in for two or three days as there is so much to see.

We had a lady at our show in Oaks PA last weekend who wanted to try my Felted Applique technique but she didn't see a theme she wanted to do.  I suggested that she choose a machine applique theme and I gave her a free conversion pattern with tips so she could learn what to do when she got home.  She chose Fancy Fowl.  I helped her choose a hand dyed background and an applique fabric, and she chose the roving colors to do one chicken.  She was thrilled to be exploring something new.  We'll meet again in Hampton.  Now this works both ways, if you like the critters and layout of one of my Felted Applique quilts, you can make it a machine applique quilt in cotton or wool fabric.

I made a terrific discovery when I quilted the Woolly Fish with WOOL batting.   I quilted it on the sewing machine because wool is too thick to hand quilt.  I only quilted on the background in spiral shapes (to indicate water and movement).  What I learned was how lofty wool batting is.  Where I didn't quilt, the appliques popped out creating a very nifty bas-relief effect.