Monday, December 14, 2009

Today, I shipped my Crazy Sheep quilt off to Road to California. It is a scary thing to trust that the quilt will arrive in good condition and on time. Since I am writing instructions for a pattern on the crazy quilt stitches and all the embroidered flowers in the borders, I held onto the quilt as long as I could.

I had the quilt appraised as the first step. I found my appraiser at The Professional Association of Appraisers.

Before I shipped the quilt in a new box, with a plastic bag around it for added protection, I Googled shipping a quilt. I found this article at Mark Lipinski's site. I hope you find it helpful too.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sharing some details of the Crazy Sheep quilt

That is what I am all about: details. In my quilts, I want you to spend time looking at the details. Most of you will never see this quilt in person, so it is hard to give a feeling of scale here in this blog. This quilt is not huge, only 52" x 49 1/2" Here are on the some photos of the embroidery stitching in the Crazy Sheep quilt. All the fabrics used are suiting weight wools.
When you look closely, there are only about six basic stitches throughout the whole quilt. What's your favorite? Daisy chain? That makes sunflowers, French knots in the centers. Stem stitch? That is useful for stems, of course. Or feather stitch? I used that for stems and leaves, and ferns. Straight stitch? I used that for the petals of the dandelions (lower left). Blanket stitch? I used that for the grass at the bottom of the photo. Satin stitch? I filled in some of the leaves with that one. The chunks of felted wool behind the flowers make up my stone fence that goes around the sheep in the border. In the Woolly Sheep pattern, which I published in 1998, there is a split rail fence. All the fabrics were cotton, with some wool yarn details. The stone fence in the Crazy Sheep, in wool felting is brilliant. I must say that it wasn't my idea. A customer who saw the quilt in progress at a show, suggested it. It didn't work right away though. When I created the stones, visually they read as a stone path, not a wall. It wasn't until I embroidered the flowers on top that the wall stood up. The cattails are felted brown roving, with stem stitching for the stalks and leaves.

The gray sheep in the photo,
has felted horns with variegated pearl cotton embroidery thread sewn on to indicate the rings around the horns.

The sheep is fused with Steam-A-Seam Lite (a glue that comes in a sheet that you iron on the back of the applique) to the background and satin stitched with Sulky rayon thread. The ears are two pieces of wool fused together, cut out in an ear shape and inserted under the face applique before it was stitched. The ears stick out from the face. The details of the faces are hand embroidered with iridescent glass seed beads stitched on for eyes.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Crazy Sheep

Are you having fun yet? It really feels good! My Crazy Sheep quilt got accepted to be in the Road2CA show, and I had it appraised last week so I can ship it off worry-free. The fun part is finally being finished. I haven’t wanted to add anything to the quilt since it was appraised. From the time I photographed it for jurying into the show, I must admit, I was still adding some more details. This is new experience for me, since I don’t normally enter shows. I usually don’t have time to work on something as intricate as this quilt. Where did the time come from? The quilt was always calling to me to be working on it; I couldn’t put it down. If you have seen me at any of the shows we did this year, the quilt was with me and usually I was working on it or showing it or explaining it and how it grew from the Woolly Sheep pattern which I designed in 1998 to Crazy Sheep today. Passion has a lot to do with getting quilts finished. It sure beats the alternative: cleaning, doing dishes, or the all time fave, emptying cat boxes. Yes, there are some dust bunnies living at my house, but that is nothing compared to the month and a half we had a chipmunk living with us. Chipmunks can really run fast.

I started this quilt when I bought the woolen remnants at a Creativ Festival show in Toronto about 17 years ago. The fabrics stayed in a pile for many years, then I got the brainy thought: What would sheep look like in pinstripes? I started applique-ing all my sheep by fusing the sheep in pinstripes and solids onto background wools from my collection. The backgrounds were odd shapes so putting the sheep together in a crazy quilt was the only arrangement that made sense. Then I put the blocks away in a bag and they didn't come out until two years ago. I became interested in felting, a craft that uses wool roving pushed into a background fabric to make a design. It was a perfect technique for my sheep, except that I had satin stitched them, and raw edge stitching would have been easier for felting. Oh well, I muddled through the felting of the edges of the sheep okay. Then I learned that I could actually make portraits of the sheep for the cornerstones of the quilt. At the Quilters Unlimited show in Dulles, VA, I had bought some wool that was right off a sheep's back in Charlottesville VA. It was full of brambles and lanolin and had to be washed with dish washing detergent before I felted it onto the largest of my sheep appliques. then some of the curls ended up on the sheep's heads in the corners. I learned how to draw in wool. What an amazing discovery.