Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I finished my Portrait scarf last night, but I'm underwhelmed. In an effort to distract you from the scarf pictures, here's a prettier picture.

Stitch markers, made in December. I'm still not sure what made me make them.

OK, on to the scarf. Notice how dramatically different the color appears indoors
vs. outdoors.

I much prefer the outdoor color. (Please excuse the above photo. A small child was anxiously calling to me as soon as I stepped out the door.) It's also just a tiny bit too itchy to me. Maybe once I block it I'll like it more. It was fun to knit, and the Portrait yarn has a black core, so it's easier to count stitches than with some other mohairs.

Now that the scarf is finished, I can do the little bit that's remaining on the baby bonnet, and all I'll have left on the needles is a Ribby Cardi that I started last year (but that's another story). By then we'll be into Olympic knitting for sure.

The photo below is to remind me that I'm not the only one in the family who is a wee bit obsessive. It's Pinewood Derby time! For those of you unfamiliar with the Pinewood Derby, Cub Scouts, with the help of their parents for power tool use, make little cars and race them down ramps. Our pack also allows sibling to compete (in a separate category) so this year we'll have three contenders! I keep telling them that all they have to remember is that F = ma, but since I'm just an engineer, and not a physicist (like my spouse), they don't always listen.

The littlest guy is napping - I'm outta here!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I'm In!

Yesterday I received notification that my quilt "Grotto" was accepted at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. This is great news, as I've been sort of out of the quilt show loop for the past few years. Here's a picture:
"Grotto" is a difficult quilt to photograph (the slides came out better than this). I printed out panels of fabric and sewed them together. I didn't have my pigment ink printer when I made the top, so this was made using dye based inks. The border is hand dyed. I designed the fabric by scanning in two tiny (maybe 1 inch by 2 inch?) fragments of a painting at super high resolution. I upped the saturation and manipulated the images considerably before coming up with this arrangement.

Here's a detail shot. That's a bobbin on the right to give a sense of scale.

Something I remembered (once again) as I quilted this was that I need to streamline my process. I have a tendency to use lots of different types/brands of threads. This may get me the palette of thread that I want, but it means readjusting the tension every time I change thread.

After my post about the horses I realized that it would've been much more exciting if I'd also had on the spot photos of the horses, the construction guys, etc. Melody is really good about that sort of thing, I'm just not there yet.

I haven't posted for a few days because I've been doing things that aren't very blogworthy, like starting to clean out the basement. This is serious business. We have a spacious, finished basement that's evolved into the place where stuff is shoved when people are coming over. The carpet is a vintage 1988 dark teal color that sucks light into it like a black hole, but otherwise the only things lacking are organization and proper lighting. I made significant progress yesterday, added and abeited by this

I'm officially endorsing this bubble machine! We've had other bubble machines that were good, but this one really rocks. "Kids love it!"

There's been some ongoing knitting progress, but I'm waiting to finish the objects before showing them.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wild Horses ...

Literally couldn't drag me away from quilting today. My doctor's appointment was cancelled (the doctor was sick, ha!), but I already had a babysitter arranged for Dr. No (who until his last birthday was my main Yes Man). On the way back to our house, three large horses ran right in front of my car!

Our neighborhood has farms along one side of it. These horses live in a new, fancy schmanzy development that's being built on what used to be an old farm. The wind must have blown the gate open. Another man and I stopped to alert somebody. After I let the guy who seemed to be in charge know what was going on I assessed the situation. Very large horses. Large construction type guys. Rather smallish me. I decided to let them handle it from there, and came home to quilt.

I'm paper piecing. Here's some of my progress.

The circled areas denote where the pattern designer stupidly put split points. Oh wait ... that was me. Keeping the points pointy, even with lines to follow, is slowing things down. The arrow shows the intersection that appears to be sewn wrong, but trust me, in person it's plenty pointy.

Here's my tip for the day:

I've never been able to hold the new piece of fabric on top of the already pieced portion of the paper piecing, while turning the whole thing upside down and backwards to sew on the line. Pins wrinkle the fabric, so I use tape. I used to use clear tape, but it frays the edges of the fabric, so now I use blue masking tape to hold the new piece in place.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I've had a really hard time lately staying focused on anything. Somehow, with two children I could start a quilt and stay the course. After the third, that just hasn't seemed possible. (He's great, it's something that's happened with me. Age?)

Friends from Fiberlectic, can you believe that I've made no progress on the quilt I was working on at our retreat last March?

Nearly four years ago I started a quilt using the above gradations. (Plus a few other fabrics that I can't put my hands on.) It's not an art quilt, but a quilt that I'd really like to finish and show. I'm hoping that by publicly making a commitment to at least finish the top that I'll make some progress.

My goal: Finish the top by the end of March. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Fabric Printing Tips Part 1: Mechanics of Printing.

Several folks wrote me to ask about some tips on printing on fabric, so here goes!

Edited 4/17/11: Though Bubble Jet Set 2000 is still available and a viable option, I no longer use it. I prefer using commercially available, prepared for printing, paper backed fabric. For smaller projects I love EQ5 printables. For larger projects I'm experimenting with Jacquard FabriSign II sateen and silks. I no longer rinse my prints, simply letting them "cure" by leaving them alone for at least a week after printing. I'm still using Epson printers.

There are many sources of information on this topic. Two recognized experts are Caryl Bryer Fallert and Gloria Hansen. Caryl has written a book about printing on fabric and offers detailed information on her website. Gloria has written several articles for The Professional Quilter, as well as offering countless online tips on her website, and on the Quiltart list. I’m sure there are other books that are also relevant.
That said here’s the quick and dirty version of how I print on fabric.
I soak Southern Belle Broadcloth in Bubble Jet 2000, let it dry, iron it, and then iron it to freezer paper (the shiny side will stick to the fabric). I trim the freezer paper backed fabric to fit the width of my printer, trim the two corners that will be fed in, and use a sticky lint roller to remove lint. I feed the fabric through the printer just as I would a normal sheet of paper. I set my printer to the matte paper setting – you will need to experiment with your printer to see which setting yields the best prints for you.
Let the prints set for 24 hours, iron it, rinse in cool water, dry flat, iron, and you’re ready to go!
I have two Epson printers, an Epson CX4600 and a 2200. The CX4600 uses Durabrite inks, the 2200 uses pigment inks. Both of these inks will print fine on untreated fabric. I like the look better when I use BJS2000. BJS was created to allow the use of dye based inks (such as most inkjet printers have) on fabric and make them wash fast. Regular inkjet inks are more liquid, and do not sit on top of the fabric as much as the pigment based inks. However, the pigment inks are more lightfast and more water resistant. They also can crock if treated too roughly, so you want to wash them by hand.
Many people skip the BJS soaking and use pretreated fabric sheets, such as Printed Treasures and EQ5. Some folks also print on silk. There are those who find that using full page labels to back the fabric as it goes through the printerworks best for them. If you plan to fuse your design you can back it with Wonder Under and keep the release sheet on as you run it through the printer. The options are endless. Use these tips as a jumping off point and see what works best for your situation.
If you go through the Artful Quilters web ring you'll find plenty of good examples of printing on fabric. Yesterday I chanced upon BJ Paraday's blog, and she had some lovely examples.
Most of all, have fun!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Knitting Olympics

So last week the Yarn Harlot announced the Knitting Olympics. I was immediately torn. This time of year is very conducive to knitting. But I have several large quilts (larger than I've ever finished) that have been in progress for years. They are not art quilts, but one in particular is very nice, and this is also when I tend to work on older projects.

I realized that during the Olympics I can not not watch them. Also, I must cry (out of joy) during each medal ceremony, and during each moving moment when someone unexpectedly does their life's best, or alternatively wins the gold medal that the whole world fully expected them to. So not much quilting would get done during that time anyway.

Then there was the issue of what to knit. Maybe Butterfly, on the cover of Rowan #37? OK, stop laughing! I knit an airy scarf last month, I've done a tiny bit of lace. But you're right, I couldn't do it in 16 days. How about Tubey, using the huge hank of beautiful Blue Face Leicester that I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool last year?

Isn't it purty?

I really know nothing about the durability of this yarn. I haven't seen many folks talk about using it. It is super soft, but I think I'll save it for another day.

I've always (well, since I started knitting last year) wanted to make Sitcom Chic. I realize I am one of the few knitters on the planet who haven't made it yet, so I'm a little behind the curve here. I have some Cotton Ease that would work, but last year at MD S&W I ran into a very nice lady from maybe Richmond? who had on a slightly dressier version . It was beautiful! So, in search of a (very) slightly dressier yarn, I got some Austermann Mayfair from Elann in Polished Turquoise. (Shown on top of some Cotton Ease for comparison. Doesn't look much dressier here, but in person it is more crepey/drapey.)

So the swatching has begun! I am officially a member of the

On a more somber note, tragedy struck on or about 9:00 PM EST Saturday night. During a ritualistic pre-bedtime frenzy, local youths clashed in a tug of war. There was one injury:

The yarn is broken in several places. I don't know how to mend this without some knot tying or additional unraveling. Any suggestions? There are two different types of yarn here (knitted together), and I only have some left of one.

Next time: Tips on printing on fabric (part 1).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pretty in Pink

I finished three Little Treasure Boxes.

The top view

They look different from every angle. Here is the leftmost one unfolded and pre-bedazzling. I screen printed the circle design over top of a digitally produced design. The center box is fabric I painted and screen printed, the right hand box is digitally produced fabric.

The arty diagonal view.

Why am I making these? Virginia Spiegel started it all with her American Cancer Society Fiberart For a Cause fundraiser last summer. She has joined forces with Little Treasure Box designer Carol Fletcher and Quilting Arts Magazine to start another ACS fundraiser. This one's called the Little Treasures Exchange Fundraiser. Basically you make two boxes, send them, along with a $5 check (written to the American Cancer Society) and return postage to Carol, and you get two back from some other creative person. They're easy and fun to make, so check out the (numerous) links in the last couple of sentences. They also make great little gifts or gift boxes.

I should note that I did not use 50 weight Pellon stabilizer, as the pattern suggest, but Pelmet Vilene that I had on hand. Sewing through the Vilene was a breeze - I liked it much more than Timtex. However, if memory serves, it is more expensive than the Pellon.

Next time: The Knitting Olympics!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two Pennies in My Coffee*

I hate to waste leftover dye. I had some from pre-Christmas, so I dyed a few scarves last night.

The pastel colors are the result of a combination of old dye, diluted dye, and not really paying too much attention to the batching temperature. That's OK, because I find it easier to screenprint over paler colors.

Here's a slightly more vibrant set.

The pink and green scarf was purely serendipitous. I put a scarf in the drip pan below a pink scarf and a green one, and expected, um, interestingly complex neutrals, but ended up with this instead. As always, click on the picture for a bigger version.

As the knit bloggers know, the Yarn Harlot has thrown down the gauntlet. I have been debating the pros and cons of competing for a medal since she first announced the project. It has caused me so much angst that I'll have to devote another entire post to that.

Things have been frenetic around here. I have been busy working on my not quite ready website, doing my best to learn HTML and CSS. Yesterday my husband came home early because of a power outage caused by high winds, so we ended up working on paperwork that really needed to get done. (Maryland's new state motto: The Extreme Weather State.)

*I was working so fast to try and accomplish the biweekly declutter around here, that I accidentally threw not one but two pennies into my coffee instead of into the clutter catcher next to it. My husband thought that would be a great title for a short story or a blog post.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Little Bit of This and That

My post was delayed today because the junior partners here at Ooh!PC had no school, and were busy doing Important Internet Research. At least they were not fighting.

(They do not usually wear matching shirts. This was purely coincidental, and not staged for the picture.)

Last night I finally started a Little Treasure Box. These were featured in the last issue of Quilting Arts. I have not done any stitching on it yet. I digitally created and printed the fabric at some point in the distant past.

Progress continues on the baby bonnet. The cable cast on was not so bad once I got the hang of it. Unfortunately, one of the above junior partners changed the number on my row counter, so I'm not exactly sure how many rows I've finished.

I am finding that this blog is really becoming a creative outlet for me. Look for exciting additions and changes in the next few days, including a gallery of my quilts!

Confidential to "Wild Woman" : Please send me your sock picture!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Just A Note

Notecards. As a long time crafty person, I have way too many supplies for creating unique and interesting notecards. Yet somehow, whenever I need to send a note, I don't have any already made. I have two great printers, and have made notecards as gifts in the past. I printed on watercolor paper, cut out the images, maybe cut out a matlike background, didn't always have a suitable envelope ... you get the picture.

Last month I discovered that Avery now makes matte white notecards, and I love how prints come out on the matte paper.

So now I have these, ready to send out with scarves that are late gifts for that big holiday that passed about three weeks ago. You probably can't tell, but I added Swarovski crystals on the corners of the images.

Casting on (slowly):

I am making the Baby Bonnet from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I say slowly casting on because they call for a cable cast on, and it seems a little awkward to me. Also, this Rowan Kid Classic seems to split a little.

We do not have sunlit pictures here at Chez PC today, because of "Extreme Fog".

If anybody reads this, I need some technical help. Yesterday I tried really hard to sub to Bloglines, with two different valid email addresses, to no avail. I was so busy trying to get it to work that I missed this fabulous sunset that Eilene saw somewhere near my neck of the woods. (Scroll to the bottom of her post.) Update 1/22/06: I emailed bloglines and they fixed the problem. Thanks everyone for your help!

Yesterday I was honored that Emily stopped by my little ole blog. If you haven't already, you should check hers out. I only met her once, very briefly, in person. Not only was she nice, but she is a quilting rock star, and produces a seemingly infinite number of lovely hand knits. I am convinced that she is either super human, or has Brownies living in her attic who finish her work for her at night.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Beauty's Where You Find It

And so is zen. I tried cross stitch. It drove me crazy to keep having to look back at the chart.

Then I found quilting. I quickly became a Trudie Hughes groupie. It was sooo relaxing to cut some strips, then just mindlessly sew sew sew. And I ended up with something permanent and useful!

My first completed quilt,circa 1987, from Trudie Hughes' now out of print More Template Free Quiltmaking.

The zen was in the piecing. I loved piecing! And sometimes still do. But once I became a proficient machine quilter, the zen was in the quilting.

Detail, Kaleiding Stars, 1999 Piecing still an almost zenlike experience, but quilting more so

Back in the 90's I started entering quilt shows and exhibitions, and my perfectionist tendencies took over. I started pressuring myself to make every quilt the very best it could be (at least technically). That can be a good thing. But it also meant that quilting was not the escape that it had been. I still love it, but in a different way. I sort of have to psyche myself up to get started, but once I do I love it again.

Last year I found a new to me way to relax, and that was knitting. I had never considered it before. Maybe I started because folks on the Quiltart list were mentioning it. At any rate, it is my new escape. I feel productive and relaxed when I can take 10 minutes of waiting time, otherwise wasted, and turn it into fabric. How cool is that?

Green garter stitch scarf, probably the 4th thing I knitted

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mentally Blogging

Or mental blogger?

I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while. Hence, I have some pics of "Finished Objects" that I completed in the fall, preblog.

Several years ago I unwittingly began a series of mostly small art quilts. I did not have the time or powers of concentration to do intricate piecing or applique, so I played around with various photos and scanned objects, printed them on fabric, and quilted away. Here are two of the quilts in that series. I made the printouts maybe a year and a half ago or slightly longer, but just finished quilting them in October.
"Bayou Reflections" 16.5" x 18" copyright 2005

This image was a photograph of bald cypress trees behind my MILs house, reflected in the small body of water there. I heavily manipulated the image, and added hand painted and screened borders. Here's a detail of the quilting.

Here's another quilt from this series, also finished about October. I scanned a tempera painting, then heavily manipulated it.

"Aqua Leaves" 16.5" x 18" copyright 2005

And the detail:

Totally changing the subject, how about some knitting content? I mysteriously started knitting about a year ago just after Christmas. Knitting relaxes me in a way that quilting used to (more about that tomorrow). I don't knit all the time, but apparently this is the season that I am most drawn to it. I have mostly knit scarves, but also completed a hat, cowl, purse, sweater, and most of another last year. Here is my current project,

Details: Artful Yarns Portrait (mohair, viscose, polyester), Color 161
Needles: Size 10 Denise Interchangeables
Pattern: One Skein Portrait Scarf (on ball band)

The scarf is lacey, though that is not apparent here. After starting it I realized that, like trapunto or heavy quilting, lacework shows up better in solid colors. It's still pretty, and has gone really fast. I'm about half way through now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Detail of Screen Printing

Here is a detail shot of the screen printing on one of the scarves. I created these images in CorelDraw. Some of the other images were created in PhotoShop from photographs I've taken.
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A New Beginning

I am someone driven to be creative, but often it seems that life's everyday activities get in the way. I have a hunch that I create more than I know. I'm hoping that by using this blog I can document what I do create, and share it with others who are similarly inclined. Let's get started!

(Click on image for a larger view. It's much better!)
These are scarves I dyed and silkscreened as Christmas presents. It all started as a way to make presents for my MIL and SIL, then mushroomed into making 15 scarves.

Several years ago I bought a Thermofax machine after lusting for one for years. Yes, pure, unadulterated lust. I took a screenprinting class with Jean Ray Laury about 10ish years ago at G Street Fabrics, and seeing her work made me realize that this was a machine I really wanted. The year I bought the Thermofax machine was a busy one, and I only made a few screens. Somehow these scarves inspired me to create lots more screens of my own design. I'll post a close up of the screen printing a little later.