Friday, April 28, 2006

News from Paducah!

I've been meaning to post all week that if you were going to the AQS show in Paducah, please say "Hi" to my quilt "Grotto", and stop by the Yeiser Art Center to see another one of my quilts, "Marsh Grass 1" in the Fine Focus exhibit. Then, just now, I found out that I won an Honorable Mention in the AQS show! I missed the awards broadcast on Tuesday, so didn't see the list of winners until now. I freely admit that there was some serious squealing going on here at Ooh!PC for a few minutes. Congratulations to all the other entrants and winners!

In other exhibition news, the opening of ARTQUILTSimages in Cary, N.C. is tonight. It's from 6-9 at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center. My quilt "Bayou Reflections" is in the exhibit, and from what I've seen it should be a very interesting group of quilts.

Off to quilt!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Late Breaking, I Mean Blooming, News

Note: On 5/11/06 I checked back and they've changed the photo, so mine's no longer there.

As some of you may have noticed, I have a little problem with flower photography. I can't stop doing it. Last year I decided to use it for the forces of good, and entered the annual photo contest at Dutch Gardens, a purveyor of flowers and bulbs. Alas, I didn't win the contest. However, they contacted me and asked if they could feature one of my photos on their site.

Just now I glanced at their site, and good golly there's my yard on their home page! Check it out - . They even quote me. That was a nice surprise.

Big Shows

From 1985 until 1994 I lived south of Houston, in the League City/Clear Lake area. Shortly after I started quilting, in 1987, someone told me there was a big quilt show in Houston every year and that I really should go. Well, I did go, and was so overwhelmed the very first day that I had to leave early and come back the next day! Of course, it was the Houston International Quilt Festival. At that point in my career I had very little vacation, and was living a half a continent away from my family, but every year I'd save one vacation day and go to the show on one week day and usually both days on the weekend.

But I never took a class there. When I think of it, I just can't believe it. Why didn't I ever take a class?

Now I'm back in my home state, and we have the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Maryland is small enough that almost anyone in the state would call it an easy drive, so it would be nearly sinful for me to miss Maryland Sheep & Wool now that I'm also a knitter. I'm not saying it's the same as the Houston Quilt Show, but the knitters all seem pretty worked up about it.

We live close enough that neighbors ask "Are you bringing the boys to see the sheep dogs at Sheep and Wool?". We took them once, but they are only interested in seeing so many sheep. (At least one of my children used to call it the "Sheep and Wolf Festival" before he could speak very well.) As for me, I couldn't figure out what folks would do with all that fleece and yarn! Now I know, and I can't wait for the big day.

AND I'm taking a class! Big surprise - it's on dyeing wool.

Today's my birthday (yes, me and Queen Elizabeth), and the umbrella swift I received will be a big help after I dye a bunch of yarn with "real" acid dyes in the class.

(The MD Sheep & Wool buttons at left is from Knotty Mouse's April 06 entry. Thanks Knotty Mouse!)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boy in Motion

This is my favorite picture from our trip to Texas.

It's uncropped - just how it came off the camera. This son is exceptionally creative and sensitive. As a three year old he would regale me with 30 to 40 minute long stories of tremendous depth and detail, pacing nonstop the entire time. I would ask him to stop pacing and skipping during the stories, and he would say "I can't". Too self conscious to be caught accurately in a posed shot, the best pictures I've taken of him have been when he's moving.

This picture made me think about why I don't make quilts of people. The answer is that I don't feel able to capture and honor their spirit. When I can figure that out, maybe I'll make a quilted portrait.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Spring Break - Low Fiber Content

Not much fiber related activity in the last week other than a little sock knitting. Here's a mini travelogue of the trip.

First stop: Longwood Gardens, PA. Bottom line: if you've never been there, you should go.
The conservatory, gorgeous as always. I also took dozens of closeups of various flowers, from clematis to fuchsias to orchids to tulips, but I'll spare you.

It was raining and quite chilly, so we didn't see the outside gardens. Boys were able to have fun anyway.
A professional photographer was sitting next to me when I was taking these pictures. It should be interesting to see what his look like. This is one of my two favorite pictures from the entire trip. The other is also of this same child in motion, but I'll save it for another day.

Next stop: The Liberty Bell. Photos not good enough to share.

On to Texas! There was swordfighting in the backyard. My husband finds the competition so easy that he's able to rest his head on his hand.

The fabulous Lala, our hostess, with her nephews, on the Fort Worth Zoo train (as opposed to the longer miniature train that is outside the zoo, which we rode later in the week). Note that two boys are wearing hand dyed shirts, the third having out grown his. They are easy to spot in a crowd.
Some people claim that their children torture them. Here is one of mine literally doing that to me, as he presses the button on a bed of nails at the Museum of Science and History!
More evidence that I was on this trip. Me checking out the action at an egg hunt at Shady Oaks Country Club on Saturday. There was lots to see, including the best balloon guy ever, as well as a petting zoo, face painting, and two Easter bunnies.
This was the second of two egg hunts that day, as the Easter Bunny cleverly came a day early since we were flying home on Easter. The Easter Bunny is really quite smart, as he always color codes the eggs by child, thus preventing squabbling over who finds the most eggs in the yard.

This week I'll try to get a little quilting done as I ease back into real life.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thoughts on Dyeing

(Blogger is listing this as April 6, but it's really April 13.)

I'm in fabulous Fort Worth, Texas. Since my last post we've been to Longwood Gardens (in Pennsylvania), the Liberty Bell (Philadelphia) and various locales in Fort Worth (unfortunately including three doctors visits). I'd post some pictures of inspirational textures from the Fort Worth zoo, but the image editing capability on this computer is limited.

Instead, I'll leave you with two conversations relating to dyeing.

Conversation with a 6 year old while dyeing yarn with food dyes:
6 yr old: Can I help?
Me: Sure
6 yr old squirts dye on skein, points to unopened Koolaid packet, and says "Can I use that one?"
Me:No, I'm not ready for that color yet.
6 yr old: I mean to drink.

Husband comes home from work at 8:45 pm. He's been at work for 12+ hours, working on a very frustrating project. I show him the yarn I dyed.
Husband: So you used acid dyes on that. (Demonstrating that he's been paying attention lately.)
Me: Well, I used an acid process, but I don't have any real acid dyes.
Husband: (Silence)
Me: Yet.
Husband: I was going to say ...

Put on Your Easter Bonnet ...

And your sunglasses. More yarn has been dyed. First the more tame skeins.

Please excuse the "lump o yarn" look - I'm apparently skein twisting challenged.

Procedure for dyeing these two:
Presoak yarn. Spin out excess moisture in washing machine on spin only. Lay flat, and apply whatever colors you can get a hold of from the spice cabinet - Easter egg dyes, food coloring, Wilton cake colors, Koolaid drink powder- mixed with a tablespoon or two of vinegar and 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. As you apply each color, press it into skein so that there is no runoff. When you feel it's done, put it in a glass casserole dish in microwave, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes. Microwave on high for another 2 minutes. Let cool, and rinse in sink. Spin out excess water in washing machine (again spin cycle only), hang to dry.

And now for the third skein. This clearly applies to April's Project Spectrum colors of orange and yellow. For your own safety, put on the protective eyewear before viewing!

Please note: I did not up the saturation on this photo! I think any garments made from this yarn would keep me safe during hunting season. They could also potentially save my life if I were ever lost in a wilderness area - I'm pretty sure the rescuers could spot it. This may be overdyed at a later date with a pinch of violet, or maybe some tan.

This skein was dyed after seeing this post about dyeing prewound balls in a crockpot. I had 440 yards of wool, so I wound two balls, and put them in the crockpot sideways.

I used 3 cups of liquid, a couple tablespoons of vinegar, and too much Wilton's Golden Yellow icing color (about 1/2 teaspoon). I know it was too much, because it never exhausted. I cooked it covered, on low, for about an hour and a half. I let it cool slightly, flipped them over, and added a combo of several pink and red colorings mixed with vinegar and water. In this case, I didn't use enough, as the color didn't reach the center of the balls. I added more color part way through, then squirted food coloring directly into the white areas and cooked some more.

The variegation is astounding, but the drawback of this technique is the extra work. It requires prewinding the balls, then unwinding them when wet in order to let them dry properly.

Posting in the next week or so may be sketchy. I'm headed on a trip to Texas. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I've Got the Fever

I'm besotted. The weeping cherry, the tulip magnolia, the daffodils, the Yoshino Cherry, Grecian wind flowers, grape hyacinths and on and on. We have a little microclimate in our yard that's a few days behind everyone else in the neighborhood. The daffodils finally started blooming, and now we've got hundreds. Here are some closeups, (none of which are retouched) my first entry for April's Project Spectrum. April's colors are yellow and orange.

I've taken hundreds of pictures in the last three days. I look out the window, the light's changed, and out I have to go. I'm not sure that the casual observer can see the differences in some of the photos I've taken, but I can, and I'm hoping that down the road some of those pictures end up as quilts. Definitely a part of the creative process . This spring has yielded one of the best blooming seasons we've had in our yard.

I thought last weekend was my final sock class, but I was wrong - it was this weekend. So I now present my first sock, hanging with the cherry blossoms.
I tried to get a better picture of the sock with the weeping cherry, but the wind is blowing 18 mph, and the blossoms kept blowing out of the picure.Our Yoshino Cherry will probably peak tomorrow - again later than everyone else's.

Other than that, I'm scurrying around in preparation for a spring break trip to Fort Worth, Texas. Packing clothes for three growing boys during a change of season - that can require some creativity too, right?