Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ditching It

:-)  No, I'm not about to "ditch" blogging -- or anything else, for that matter.

"Ditching" is how I spent most of this afternoon.  Remember this wee quilt?  It's been almost a year since it was sandwiched for quilting...and put away.  It was being made for a babe that didn't survive to term.

The good news is that the young couple involved tried again, and baby Keiran arrived safe and sound just over a week ago!  Thus...the quilt has been brought out, it's folds opened and pressed, and the quilting has begun.

"Ditching" is what quilting guru Ann Petersen calls the machine preparation of the lines of a quilt -- from the borders inward and back outward again, and top to bottom -- before the body of the quilt is filled with the desired quilting design.

Using my walking foot, with a variegated (greys to black) cotton thread in the top and black Bottom Line thread in the bobbin, I "ditched" both sides of the narrow border of this Magic Tiles pattern, and then both sides of the main horizontal and vertical lines.  Now it's ready for some free motion fun!

Because the pattern is all irregular shapes and angles, I'm thinking of a 'free-hand' Baptist Fan.  This means I won't draw precise, evenly-spaced curves for the fan; rather, I'll aim for smooth curves but some might be closer than others.  I found a neat tutorial on this by Victoria Findlay Wolfe -- on her blog -- and decided to go that route.

It'll have to wait till Saturday, though; I'm working all day tomorrow and in Red Deer winterizing my car (winter tires, replace heavily chipped and cracked windshield, repair block heater cord) on Friday.  It's the windshield that takes the time...I'll be spending most of that time knitting.

These may be finished, but there's another pair on the needles and two more waiting in the wings.  Then there's a Fair Isle cowl and an infinity scarf to finish...

And so it goes.

"What about the needle felting?" you ask?

I returned a week ago from a three day needle felting workshop at the MAIWA loft on Granville Island in Vancouver, taught by Briony Jean Foy of Madison, WI.  Formerly a lawyer, Briony went back to university in 1996 for an MFA, first working in weaving and then falling in love with needle felting, usually using a single needle, by hand, creating unique patterns and shapes.

This workshop was an introduction to her world.

I'd enrolled hoping to extrapolate the information to work on my embellisher (needle-felting machine)...and I believe I still will do some of that BUT I have also discovered more of what I can do by hand to add interest to my landscapes (my miniatures) and to create other pieces that stand alone.  Suffice to say I have a great deal more learning to do in this medium...but here are some photos of the samples I made in the workshop:

Day 1 - first samples with yarn, ribbon & fleece
on commercial acrylic felt substrates
Introducing grids -- roving, yarn, pre-felt strips
on plaid wool suiting substrate

Free-form grid - commercial felt, roving, ribbon

Day 2 - Leaves of yarn & fleece on commercial felt
Day 3 - a free-form tree: yarn, roving, fleece on same substrate

Day 3 - another tree experiment -- roving & fleece

Close up of tree trunk

Although I particularly enjoyed playing with the roving and hand-dyed fleece (brought from my own stash), I also tried my hand at making a more dimensional shape with a single needle:

Manipulated floral shape on 2 layers of commercial felt

Even more than the workshop, I enjoyed the entire experience of being on Granville Island for the better part of three days.  There are two MAIWA shops on the island -- "Hand Prints", the source for clothing and home decor items, largely from India, hand-dyed and embellished; and "Supply", my favourite place, brimming with bolts of hand-dyed fabrics (usually natural dyes), undyed silk fabric and yarn, hand-dyed yarn, wool roving (merino, blue-faced Leicester, Corriedale...), silk roving, mulberry silk yarn...shelves of books, shelves of containers of dye powders -- madder, marigold, cochineal, indigo, logwood, walnut (to name a few) -- fabric paints, stencils, knitting, embroidery and felting needles, packages of pre-felt sheets -- it's a textile artist's dream.

Also on the island was a silk-weaving shop -- with a floor loom in action most of the time; a tapestry shop; B.C. Arts Council shop; Opus paint supplies; stationers; pottery studios; glass studios; a micro-brewery; restaurants galore -- and of course, the indoor market with every conceivable foodstuff for sale.  The colours and scents were dazzling and a bit overwhelming.

Here is a glimpse of one side of our classroom in the Loft -- the table immediately behind mine:

Imagine that abundance multiplied in the rest of the room...and spilling out into the entire environment...and you will understand why I came home not just with samples and a binder of instructions, notes and resources, but also 3 lengths of undyed silk fabric, 2 skeins of undyed lace-weight silk yarn, extra felting needles, a length of madder-dyed Indian cotton fabric, and a package of merino-and-silk roving in shades of greens and blues...and a head full of ideas, such that I've had to put it all down till I can focus.

And yes, there was other scenery too...but this post is long enough and it's time for bed.  I'll save that for another time.

Before I go, though, I'm linking this to WIP Wednesday on the Needle and Thread Network...Catch you later!


Jenny K. Lyon said...

It never occurred to me that I could do a free hand Baptist fan-can't wait to try this out. I got into needle felting about 5 years ago and figured out all these fun techniques, but it just never gelled in my mind. I'd love to try it again so I hope to be inspired by your journey. Inspiring post!

els said...

You indeed had an overwhelming weekend. Have fun with all the materials you bought and good luck with your quilting.

elle said...

What great felting examples. I'm taking a four session class myself. LUV it!

Linda A. Miller said...

Here we go again... I see that you are keeping busy! Love the needle felting and look forward to more of the same.

Judy Warner said...

Glad to hear about the felting class. I love #2 - I can see many applications in your work. You know already how I love using roving so I will follow your own development, eager to learn!