Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Off With Their Heads!

I have bunches of garlic chives growing in the front garden.  They came with the house and they're very tasty.

They have always attracted a lot of bumblebees, which are amusing to watch, but otherwise useless.

But lately, I've been noticing more of these. Honeybees!

It's becoming an issue because all of these flowers turn into seeds and, as much as I like the chives, their use is limited.  I don't need nearly as many as I have growing, so in an effort to slow the takeover of the garden, I have been ripping off the flowers before they go to seed.

Aside from the possibility of getting stung, I have serious problems with the idea of limiting the places for honeybees to hang out.  They seem to be rather rare these days.  Also, as soon as I rip off the flower head, the chives send up a new bud.  The buds are tender and delicious in stir-fries and with eggs, but I can't keep up with the production (and I'm not really crazy about eggs.  Unless they're in pie.  Or cake. Or ice cream).  So I just keep an eye on the flowers and as soon as they show signs of seeds, off with their heads!

I wonder what garlic chive-flavored honey is like.

I think maybe next year I'll try to plant more bee-friendly flowers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Design Wall Monday

Last Friday, I went to a class with a very friendly group that meets in Monroe, Wisconsin.  We meet a couple of times a year to do a fun and easy quilt project.  We always eat brown bag lunches and have show and tell.

This time the project was "Chain of Brights."  I finished piecing the nine inch blocks Saturday afternoon.

I used a piece of rainbow-dyed fabric from last summer's dyeing projects for most of the bright patches and a fun print with purple whales and other silly-looking sea-life for the background.  I think I'm going to use the rainbow-dye for the binding.  This quilt is for a certain new baby born this summer.

To see other design walls click here to go to Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chubby Stars, EQ7, and a Couple of Rhinos

While blog-hopping, I discovered these really cool stars: Chubby Stars!  They are part of a "Chubby Stars Quilt Along" by Tracy at Tracyjay Quilts.  She has a button you can add to your blog:
chubby stars quilt along banner copy
And all kinds of information about it on her blog.  Tracey kindly gave me permission to feature it here on my blog.

I don't have time to join -- although it's tempting.  But I love this block.  OK, I pretty much love all stars.  But this one is unusual and, depending on the fabrics and values one chooses,  it could have some pretty cool secondary patterns in a really beautiful quilt.
In my Third Thursday EQ class, we were assigned homework.  Pick a quilt and figure it out in EQ.  Easy peasy, huh?  Well, that all depends on the quilt.  And the blocks.  And because my EQ skills are, um, shall we say, developing?  Not so easy.  So I drew the block in "patchdraw."  It took me several tries before I got it right.  I finally figured out the correct grid values, and, VOILA!  It was easy!

Then I played with the cornerstones.

After I figured out the blocks,  I could play with values and colors.

I like 'em all.  Thanks, Tracey!

Beth wanted to know which of the fiberglass animals at the zoo yesterday was my favorite.  I liked a lot of them -- and took pictures of most of them.  This rhino was my favorite.

The backbone and tail were a snake!  So cool.

And just for reference, here is the real thing.

Backside of "Pieceful Tigers"

Because Beth asked, I took a picture of the back.  It's not the best -- I'll try to get a better one after it's hung.

 I pieced together three different fabrics -- all from my stash.  There are two pieces of the tiger  print that was the inspiration for the whole thing.

I took my daughter and her friend to the zoo yesterday and saw a real tiger.

They had these fiberglass animals scattered all over the place that had been painted by local artists and will be sold at a fundraising event this fall for the zoo.  I liked the bear paw blocks painted inside this one.
And of course, we visited the penguins.This one is "greeting" his buddy.  They make the most awful noise just to say "hello."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Small, Green, and Gorgeous Challenge

"Small, Green, and Froggeous"
5" X 7"

This was created for a challenge to Madison Contemporary Fiber Artists for a piece of environmentally concerned art.  It will be on display with others from this challenge at the Madison Senior Center on Mifflin Street, Madison, Wisconsin, during the month of September.

I painted used dryer sheets, then cut them up and fused them to a piece of batting which was stuck to a scrap of stabilizer.  This was inspired by Terri Stegmiller's "mosaic collage" technique.  I printed the frog image onto a used tea bag, cut it out and stitched it to the collage background.  Then I stitched some more and added the little stones that were left over from another project.

In the interest of reusing -- I have to compliment my garden.  I planted these tiny yellow light-bulb shaped tomatoes a while ago and every year since, they volunteer.  By August, we have to have tomato salad twice a day to keep up with the production.  What a problem to have.

The flowers reseed themselves too.  Yes, this is the garden in front of my house -- the one where most people grow, um, ornamental items.  I grow tomatoes, peppers, beans, basil, garlic chives, oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and flowers.  I also grow rosemary, lemon grass, chiles, tomatoes, and beans in pots.

On a good year, I grow zucchini  -- for some reason, it's not growing this year.  But we did have some kind of pumpkin volunteer -- I must have thrown some seeds there when I did the jack o'lanterns last year.  Trouble is, the bunnies keep biting off the flowers.   This is the best place on my property to grow things, so I use it.  And I think it's all kind of pretty.  And even the neighbors would agree -- it's better than the ugly overgrown bushes that used to be here.

Shameless Plug! Vote for my Pets!

SewCalGal has opened up voting in her Pets on Quilts Show!  Click here and vote for "Creative Kick" for best dog, cat,  and "other" pet!  There are lots of cool prizes that I would like to win -- so feel free to go on over there and vote!  The original post I wrote is here.

For a refresher, here is another shot of Rosie.

And Rex.

And my "Kool Kat House Quilt".

Thank you for your indulgence in my silliness.  And this shameless pandering for votes.  And feel free to check out the other entries, if you must.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Playing With Color

So today I blew off all the things I was supposed to do and just played.

I used the hand-dyes I dyed last week.  I also pulled a few old ones from my stash and just started cutting and stitching.

"Moonlit Stars"
8" X 8"

My daughter (age 10) also worked on something she's been making out of scraps.  With just a little help from me, she was able to finish this today -- all by herself ;-).  She fused the stars after she pieced it, then used the walking foot to quilt it.

I think I'm going to introduce her to free-motion quilting next.  She was a little frustrated with the limitations of the walking foot -- going in a straight line, that is.  I showed her how to "do a swirl" but it is clumsy to do it that way.  Free-motion is like gliding on ice after you've used a walking foot for a while.

She also made these potholders.  I had all the stuff because I was going to make some.  I never did get around to it, but I'm glad everything was handy.

Two squares of fabric, one of "Insul-Brite" and one of thin cotton batting.  She stitched around the edges, trimmed, then turned them.   I taught her how to slip-stitch the opening closed.  Then she quilted them using the walking foot and some fancy thread from my stash.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dyeday Results

I spent some time dyeing fabric for a couple of projects that I have in mind.  I need darks with lighter edges.  These pictures are one half of half-yard cuts.

I also need something that looks like a sunset on the water.

This is a yard by width of fabric -- about 43 inches.  I did this first -- I think this will work for the project I have in mind. Sorry about the wrinkles -- I did iron it -- obviously not enough.

This was the third piece I dyed for the sunset on the water project.  I don't think it will work at all for the the project I had in mind, but I think it's gorgeous.  It's a yard by the width of the fabric -- about 43 inches.  I'm thinking whole cloth -- heavily quilted.  Click on the picture to see it better.  Any suggestions?

Friday, August 13, 2010

MAG 27

The ABCs of Aging

As I age,
Bursitis in my hips
Corrosion in my colon
Darned if I don't appreciate ---
"every day above ground is a good one," my
father states.  I
grin and grind my teeth,
heavily sighing and
inanely giggling at the ridiculous
joy my
kids express while they
laugh at me trying to get up,
moaning whilst moving,
not quite able to
overcome the
popping in my joints. 
Quickly now -- up!  Before the muscles
retract.  "Getting old ain't for 
sissies," Dad says.  He keeps
telling me this; but
unlike him, I'm not brave or
valiant.  I
want to go without those
x-rays that show rapid deterioration; while I'm
young, vibrant and still
zealous and zany.

-kls 2010

This was written in response to a prompt from Magpie Tales.  Write your own and link here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pole Dancing for Aging Artists

Or:  You Can Learn New Tricks!

Ever drool over those striking stripy hand-dyes?  Ever think: oh, they're too complicated for me?  Well fear not. Those beautiful fabrics, a type of shibori called arashi, are easy and fun to do.

You need to get some poles -- I bought mine at Home Depot -- and your basic dye supplies.  I purchase dye stuff from either Prochemical or Dharma. Their websites also have all sorts of helpful tips for dyeing, painting, and a whole slew of other stuff.  I generally do half yard cuts of PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric that has been scoured (washed in a bit of Synthropol and soda ash and then rinsed).

I like the pre-cut PVC pipes that are about 20 or so inches long.  You can get longer ones, but I find them unwieldy.  However, for larger pieces of fabric, you do need a longer pole.  I wash off my new poles in mild soap (like for dishes) because you just never know what they've come in contact with (or where they've been).  Then I lightly spray them with food-grade silicon spray -- I bought mine at the local hardware store.  The silicon spray makes it easy to scrunch the fabric after you tie it.

Presoak the fabric in the soda ash solution, then wring it out in the spin cycle of the washer.  Make sure that the water is turned off because you don't want the soda ash (also known as "dye-activator") rinsed off.  I do this step because it leaves the fabric damp, but not wet and I think I get much brighter results.  I do this step with all my hand-dyes.  It's best if the fabric is damp but not dry for shibori because then the dye is drawn into the folds.
Wearing gloves to protect your hands (soda ash is a skin irritant), wrap the fabric around the pipe.  I often fold the fabric in half with the selvedge edges together, then wrap it on a slight diagonal.  Then when the finished fabric is cut on the grain, the stripes are on the diagonal.  With the fabric folded in half, there is a mirror effect between the two halves -- which answers my old question: Why are the most interesting parts in the middle of the piece of fabric?
Then wrap the string around the fabric roll.  I like to wrap it fairly evenly so that the stripes are somewhat even, but it's fun to experiment.  I wrap the string tightly by rolling the pole, rather than wrapping the string over the end because then no kinks develop in the string.  (yeah, yeah, kinky string while pole dancing...ahem).
I still haven't decided what kind of string I like best.  I often use perle cotton, because then I have some cool dyed thread to embroider with -- but you have to be really careful to avoid tangles.  Thin rope made from synthetic fibers makes it easy to remove and it's reusable, but I have trouble getting it tied really tightly.  It needs to be tied tightly for the best patterning.

After tying, push the ends of the fabric together so that it's scrunched tightly.  Then either dip it into a dye bath or squirt the dye on the fabric. I usually squirt or roll the wrapped poles in dye because I hate wasting a whole bucket full of dye.  I like to have lots of different colors.

Let it batch overnight, unwrap, rinse and wash as for any other hand-dye.

The patterning on this brownish one was created by folding the fabric before rolling it onto the pipe.  Then the dye was poured into a shallow container and the wrapped pole was rolled in the dye.

This is a detail of the blue one above.  The string leaves cool marks if you pull it tight enough.