Friday, October 23, 2009

Hooked on Hand Stitching

I am not the quilt police. Way, way, back I resigned from the hand vs. machine debate. Mostly what I say to students is, "I don't care how you sew it--just sew it well." That leaves me free to judge at quilt shows, like the new World Quilt Show in West Palm Beach Florida this upcoming November 13-15. The lovely photo below shows the convention center at its sunset-best. Here's the link to the event

What I'm discovering, to my chagrin, is that my own machine quilting skills are lacking. Sometimes I fight with the sewing machine and cannot get in sync. Mostly my tendency is to push and pull the layers and protesting machine needles have a habit of snapping on me. I am in awe of anyone who can 'speak machine.' Even after taking longarm lessons, I am a thread-bound klutz.

I also admit that hand stitching is very soothing. At the recent Houston Quilt Market, I got to demonstrate hand sashiko stitching for three days--it was not a hard gig! As weary shop owners tromped the aisles, I was grateful that I was doing what I loved. Handwork is portable and I can pull it out anywhere--even when I'm on an airplane flying between teaching jobs. As long as the flight attendant knows their regs and doesn't freak at the needles and scissors! The regulation states that scissors are allowable if they are 4" or less long, measured from the hinge screw to the tip. The only person who ever berated me was a man flight attendent who might have had his own issues. He screamed, "Sheathe that needle! Put away those scissors!" It wasn't worth the hassle when he was nigh-on hysterical.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The latest thing--Shadow Leaf and Skinny Kitties

At Quilt Market in Houston Texas next week, Avlyn Fabrics will introduce my first line called Shadow Leaf. Totally unlike the neato-o kid prints Avlyn is famous for, Shadow Leaf is only three colorways: grey, taupe/brown, and shades of indigo blue. For years I hungered for brighter colors and in particular, orange. I got my wish. Orange is now everywhere and like the fickle person I am, I've moved on to lust after different colors.

Last Market I saw grey combined with yellow and violet. It gave me indigestion. Grey is water, steel, rainclouds, and quiet shadows. Grey deserves whole lines devoted to it. That's where Shadow Leaf started. The focus print (upper left) is a layered composition of different sorts of leaves. The other patterns compliment the theme. This moderne print, inspired by a 1950s feedsack, is called Lines.

I like a pure soft grey, as in Daisies.

Everybody likes dots. Meet Ditty Dots.

A nice medium grey, with a hint of background leaves, is called Bamboo.

And here's Sprouts in black and an ivory background.

So that's how Shadow Leaf started, with shades of grey.

Grey to me doesn't mean drab. I've found that working in fewer colors means an interesting design can happen. It also means your whole quilt or wall hanging doesn't depend on just that one fabric in just those colors.

Meet the Skinny Kitties. This wall hanging is in honor of Saito, the Japanese artist who loved cats and often painted them. This print by Saito hung in my bedroom for many years and I recently gave it to my niece Sarah as a wedding gift.

And maybe Skinny Kitties happened because these guys now live at my house.

Here's a detail from Skinny Kitties.