Thursday, March 30, 2006

Today's Colors: GREEN and Pink

Sorry to go missing. I was under the weather Monday and Tuesday, and here's what I was doing yesterday:

Yarn is more variegated in person than picture indicates

Let's go back in time about one year. (Feel free to make that Wayne's World time traveling noise in your head while we do this.) Diane to Self: "I enjoy knitting. But I'm never going to knit socks - they seem kind of pointless." In an independent conversation, Diane to Self again: "Why would I ever want to dye yarn? I've dyed and painted lots of different fabrics, and printed them, and all kinds of stuff, but really, you can buy perfectly lovely yarn! I don't need to dye any."

Fast forward (again with that noise in your head if you want) to the last month. Diane to Self: "This sock knitting is kind of addictive. It's so portable. And you can just pick it up and work on a little at a time, and before you know it you have a sock! How cool." And, this week, in another conversation inside my head: "Why not just try that KoolAid dyeing thing with the Knitpicks color your own yarn. You know how to dye fabric. This can't be so hard."

And it wasn't hard - it was fun! I wasn't aiming for green, but a blue/green/yellow mix. I should have known better, from all that fabric dyeing experience, but used too much liquid anyway. I still love the results. I used Koolaid, Easter egg dyes, and some food coloring. I'm going to try it again in a few weeks and go for a more variegated effect. After that I'll post how I did it.

OK, on to PINK. I signed up for Project Spectrum. I fully intended to make something lovely that was pink or red this month. I did paint some pink and red fabric. I also worked on a pink sock. And the ladybug on maple bloom picture fit the theme. But no fabulous pink project was finished this month. Since the month is nearly up, I'll just have to settle for posting these pictures of our weeping cherry (and the tulip magnolia).

They were carefully sited so that we can see them from the dining room window.When I see their blooms I feel like all is right with the world, at least for a moment.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sequin Waste and Foam

I thought I'd answer a question from the comments here. Mary asked what sequin waste is. Rather than describe it, I'll just show a picture.

I bought this roll at Michael's. It sounds really exotic until you see it, and then you realize that you've seen it a million times and didn't know it had a special name.

Also, I can't take credit for the garden kneeler idea in my last post. I read it somewhere - either in a book or on the dyer's list or quiltart. I just can't remember when or where I read it. Another good option might be those large interlocking squares they sell to put in children's play spaces. They are also foam, and often come in primary colors or have the alphabet printed on them. If you turn them to the back I think they'd work great. They're sold in many places - I've even seen them in Home Depot. Some kickboards (for swimming) are also made of a thicker foam and should work for monoprinting.

So that's the news here from monoprint central. My last sock class is the weekend, so by Monday I'll have my first finished sock. I've also started working again on the paper piecing project I first mentioned here, back in January. I don't think I'll make my self imposed March deadline, but at least I've started working on it again.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Monoprints Continued

I finally threw out that gelatin plate. I wanted to make some more prints with a new plate, but thought my husband might be tired of seeing a slab of gelatin in the master bathroom. Then it hit me - the garden kneeler!
"Garden Variety" foam kneeler - found at a garden center in the distant past. Apply paint liberally, then print on fabric.

First I made this print. (This is a detail shot.)

The fabric was ink jet printed several years ago. The initial fabric was not up to snuff - it had lots of black marks on the edges from feeding/roller problems, and it wasn't as vibrant as I'd hoped. I really had no idea how to improve it. It was time to go to town with Prochem's PRObrite paints. After I made the print I removed some excess paint from the fabric with sequin waste, creating the circle pattern. The ink jet print is visible as the terra cotta color with gray variegation.

Before doing more printing, I analyzed what was already printed. No big surprise - everything was a medium.
I forced myself to try and make some pastels. Pastels, though necessary, are less fun to me. Whenever I dye or paint fabric the pastels look somehow not done enough. Of course, with no contrast, a quilt will generally not be as successful. So here are my pastel attempts - some more pastel than others.

The one with the squares was screenprinted while the background was still wet.

One thing that's been interesting to me during all this printing is using different types/brands of paints on the same print. Some of the paints are very fluid, like Dr. Ph. Martin's Ready Tex, others are creamy PROfab opaques or some truly ancient Versatex inks. In my experience the creamier paint, the more it makes distinct marks. The fluid paints create a more diffuse look. I often spray the print with water after it's made to blend the colors a little more. I'll also remove excess paint from a print using another piece of fabric - two for the price of one!

I hope everyone else is finding some time to have some creative fun.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Good Mail & More Gelatin Prints

Friday was a good mail day! I received two Little Treasures in exchange for the two I'd sent in to the Little Treasures Exchange.

The left treasure was made by Pam Rappaport, the right one by Little Treasures designer Carol Fletcher. Pam's won second place in the contest. Don't they look lovely together?

I used my gelatin plate one last time, and here are the results.

I wasn't going for as much patterning or marks as on the previous days. Also, the longer the gelatin sits, the harder it gets, and I think the lack of resilience makes a difference in the printing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Playing Around

Another exciting few days here at Ooh!PC. After facing Strep Round Two: The Return of Strep (as of this moment only 40% of the household has it, we're expecting that to reach 60% by this evening) and the daunting task of filing all of last years' pretax spending account documentation, I needed a little R&R - how about gelatin plate printing?

Here are some of the results of my little playtime.

There's lots more, but that's a representative sample. I tried it several years ago and was unimpressed by my results. I was inspired to try it out again after seeing posts about it on Rayna's, Mary's, and Cathy's blogs. My response to this batch is that it was fun, but I'm unsure how I'll use these smallish (about 10"x13") pieces of fabric. I do think they would make great backgrounds for screenprinting, or fiber postcards, and maybe they'll shout out to me in the future how they'd like to be used.

There are lots more flowers in the yard today, but I'll grant everyone a reprieve and not post any pictures of those today.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Little Treasures, Part Deux

Over the weekend I was delighted to be notified that I won first place in the Fiberart For a Cause Little Treasures Contest/Exchange. Virginia Spiegal lists all the details, and has photos of the winners here. My winning Little Treasure will be auctioned off beginning May 16 to benefit the American Cancer Society. Details are here. A variety of lovely fiberart will be reverse auctioned, so go check it out.

My original post about the Little Treasures I made is here. The leftmost box, with the circles screened on it, is the winner.


It's been a busy few days. I haven't blogged because I haven't finished anything quilt related, but I'll just show you what I've been up to.

I finished this Chickami in November, but didn't weave in the ends until this weekend. I don't have a picture of me modeling yet, and all the in house photographers at the moment are underage.

I've reached the heel flap on my first sock. You can see that I couldn't restrain myself, and started another sock with a different yarn.

And now for a disclaimer. When I started this blog, nothing was blooming outside, so there were no flower pictures. I have a little problem with flower pictures. I take waaay too many. It's a bit embarrassing, but I would wager a guess that I have more flower photographs than photos of my children - and I have many, many photos of my children. The flowers inspire me, even if they don't end up in a quilt. Someday hopefully many of them will. We've had unusually warm weather the last few days, so everything's beginning to pop. Here's a purple crocus, and some blossoms on our Fall Blooming Cherry (that really blooms sporadically year round).

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ladybug, Ladybug

Today is that day in March when it hits 74 degrees and you're fooled into thinking "Winter is over!" I took a long walk, wearing short sleeves, with my littlest best buddy. We looked everywhere in the neighborhood for flowers. We found darn few.

When we got back to chez Ooh!PC it was clear that there would be some time spent in the sandbox. I took the opportunity to survey the side yard for signs of new life. Here's what I found.
New companions for the first bloom of last week.

An intrepid ladybug on one of the first maple blooms.

I had a hankering to quilt, but instead stayed outside and enjoyed the glorious weather and the happiness of watching my preschooler in the sandbox.

Preconceived Notions

Yesterday morning I awoke to two good things - my husband came home on the red eye, and my friend Linda has a blog. She did a great job of detailing the goings on at a quilt retreat I would've loved to have attended. I went last year, and really had a great time.

I discovered something interesting yesterday. When you seam a knitted object, you're supposed to do it from the right side. Duh! The only real seaming I've done was for the underarms of Sitcom Chic. I did it from the wrong side. It looked nearly OK. I figured that it was necessary to do it from the wrong side, because that's how you sew things, right? I'd never read the words alongside the pictures of seaming I'd seen, and do remember looking at those pictures and thinking "Why are they seaming on the right side? That doesn't look right." Good thing I haven't seamed my Ribby Cardi or baby bonnet yet.

When I first started quilting, I assumed that you should use 5/8" seams, because that's how garments are constructed. The instructions I was using didn't say what the seam allowance should be. It's a wonder I ever pieced anything again. Just goes to show you, a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous.

I'll try to come up with some pretty picture later today.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Good Quilting Week

I got into Artquilts - Images (yeah!). I also received very nice judge's comments from the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival folks. So I'm trying to convince myself that it's a very good quilting week. Except that I haven't managed to do any quilting!

It's been one of those weeks where you need to do advance planning - soccer signups, summer camp signups (it's unbelievable how far ahead you need to plan for those), dental appointments, circus tickets, yada yada. My husband was out of town for part of the week. So I'm trying to cut myself some slack.

Before diving back into a big quilt, I wanted to make something smallish this week. My screenprinting experiments today did not go as smoothly as planned. The leaves below were printed four (that's the number 4) times. Four colors of paint.

What's interesting to me about this is that I make lots of little experiments. Some of them go no where. Until today, I never considered screenprinting on the painted/Shiva paint sticked Lutradur above. But I like it. Even little steps can make a difference some where down the road.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kentucky Bound

Well, my quilt is, not me. Grotto was just in the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, and now it's been accepted for the AQS show in Paducah, Kentucky!

Quite a few others on Quiltart have also been accepted - congratulations to you all. Elle went to the MAQF, and wrote several posts with photos for those of us who couldn't be in attendance. I hope someone can do the same for AQS, as unfortunately I don't think I'll be attending it either.

Not a lot of updates here on the creativity front. My weekend can be summed up in 7 words:
Pinewood Derby and
Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Party

Team Ooh!PC was very successful at the Pinewood Derby. Yeah boys! I managed to knit a few rounds on a sock at the Pinewood Derby, but inadvertently inserted a short row in the ribbing at the cuff!!? That's what you get for trying to knit standing up surrounded by dozens of very excited children. I've nearly recuperated from two super loud children's events in two days.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

Yesterday I was pretty grumpy as I trudged to and fro through the yard to meet various school busses. I was searching for something blooming. I sort of keep track of the day each year that I find the first crocus. I know that one year it was February 17, my sister's birthday. This winter has been unusually mild, so I couldn't understand why nothing had bloomed yet. I came inside, looked through the dining room window, and saw it.

Spring is coming!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Now What?

During the Knitting Olympics I learned lots about knitting, and myself. Hard to imagine, but true. Emily made a great list of lessons she learned during the Olympics. I heartily agree with her lessons #1 & #2. Knitting is a source of relaxation for me, and I didn't enjoy pressuring myself to finish a major project in 16 days. Heck, I've done that enough times for quilting deadlines! But I'm proud of myself for finishing.

Last week I sneaked (snuck?) away from Olympic Knitting to take a sock class. I've never taken a knitting class before. I'm pretty good at learning things by reading, so much of what I've learned about quilting and knitting has been on my own. However, whenever I do take a class, I learn more than I expect to. Who'd a thunk it? Here's the beginning of my first sock.
I'm knitting it on a size 2, 12" Addi Turbo circular. I thought we'd be using DPNs. I'm such a nervous Nellie that using DPNs is not so enjoyable for me - I'm always concerned about dropping stitches. So this was a revelation. I'm further along than the photo above shows, I'm now about halfway to the heel. It's so portable - I love it!

Now I'm going to try and focus more on getting a large quilt top finished. If I can just put that sock down...