Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Swap Quilt 2.0

Recognize these stars? Remember when I made the quilt to swap and then ended up making another to send instead? It occurred to me that I never showed you the second quilt!

The stars were part of what went into the second quilt. Another part was this bit of intuitive piecing that looked to me like a house, tree, and butterfly. This is a detail shot taken after the quilt was finished.

The first quilt featured a pair of batik face panels. In this one I used another of the panels from the set, but this one had two faces in one panel:

And this is how I put all the parts together:

Unfortunately this isn't the greatest overall shot but it appears to be the best I have. The whole quilt is hand stitched with rayon floss and then embellished with beads and sequins. Fewer beads than on the first quilt but just as many stitches!

FYI, I've added a few links to sites with information about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and the hidden toxins in everday products on my sidebar, just below the "About Me" box. My intention is not to turn this blog into a soapbox for my personal battles but it is important to me that I take the opportunity to educate people as much as I can.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July TIF

The question Sharon posed for July's Take It Further Challenge was, "What is it to be at the half way mark?"

What? That's it? That's almost too easy.

Ha. Not as easy as it seemed. I spent more time pondering, fretting, writing, and stewing over this challenge than any of the others she has given us this year. I have 14 pages of notes and sketches in my TIF sketchbook for this challenge alone. The ideas I had were either too trite or too complicated for the 4" x 6" format I've chosen for this project. Sheesh.

Finally I dug around in my stash for the umpteenth time and pulled out a ruler print I'd recently acquired. It's one of the Wee Play coordinates from Moda:

I fussy cut a strip with the numbers 1 through 6 and another strip with 7 through 12. Fortunately the strips fit beautifully within the 6" dimension of my postcard format! I figured each inch could represent one months' challenge and I would give myself a gold star for each challenge I had completed. Still a pretty simple concept but at least I have something to show for July. Went ahead and gave myself another gold star too!

And there has been a little action on the new preemie quilt:

Still a ways to go but hopefully I'll be able to knock it out pretty soon. One good day of concentrated effort ought to take care of it :- )

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Just Spreadin' the News...

One of our regional television stations just ran a story they apparently picked up from the Seattle Times, and I want to share the highlights with you because this is a real breakthrough for those of us suffering from chemical intolerances. Well, breakthrough may not be the right word. But getting the news out about the toxic and even lethal chemicals hidden in the products people think are safe and use every day is truly newsworthy for some of us. Following are quotes from Ms. Doughton's article in the Seattle Times. (I've added the boldface.)

Toxic chemicals found in scented products
By SANDI DOUGHTON / Seattle Times

The fumes that waft from top-selling air fresheners and laundry products contain dozens of chemicals, including several classified as toxic or hazardous, says a University of Washington study published today. None of the chemicals was listed on product labels, nor does the federal government require companies to disclose ingredients in fragrances, said study author Anne Steinemann.

...Steinemann's study focused on six widely used products: dryer sheets, fabric softener, laundry detergent, a liquid spray air freshener, a plug-in air freshener, and a solid disc deodorizer used in commercial-airplane toilets.

A contract laboratory sealed each product inside a container, then used two types of instruments to identify chemicals emitted into the air... Among them are three chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency considers "hazardous air pollutants" with no safe exposure levels: acetaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both likely human carcinogens; and methyl chloride, which has been linked to liver, kidney and nervous-system damage in animals.

...Children are more sensitive to chemical exposure than adults, said Steve Gilbert, founder of, a clearinghouse on toxic chemicals. And people are usually exposed to a stew of substances, which may interact in unknown ways. "At the very minimum, we should have a right to know what is in these products," said Gilbert, a Seattle toxicologist who was not involved in the study.

Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in air fresheners, laundry products or most other consumer products, Steinemann said in her study, published in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

Steinemann wouldn't name the specific products tested, partly out of fear of industry lawsuits. She also said it would be unfair to single out specific companies at this point. A larger analysis, which looked at 25 different products, found many other brands contain similar chemicals. The second study is under review and will be published next year.

...Some products marketed as "unscented" or "fragrance-free" actually contain the same chemicals as scented products -- with the addition of a "masking fragrance" that cancels out the smell. And many products labeled "natural" or "organic" also contain some of the same chemicals.

I hope you've read through this or will at least click on the link to the video clip and be educated that way. If you had a clue how these chemicals affect the quality of my life - and that of more people in the US than are currently diagnosed with diabetes - you would throw out your scented products today and never buy another one ever again.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More Eye Candy

When I was playing with the kaleidoscope maker a couple of days ago I finally figured out how to input an image of my own work. I used this 4" x 6" postcard:

And made these kaleidoscopes:

Isn't that amazing?! I could easily spend all day doing this sort of thing! Class marches on however, and of course the whole point is to learn to translate some of the designs we're creating into works of fabric and thread. I managed to cut a motif from paper the other day that I can actually visualize piecing out of fabric. woohoo! I haven't done it yet, but it's in my studio journal, waiting for me to be ready :- )

I think the studio journal class is already bearing fruit for me, if not in the exercises themselves. Seemingly unrelated events have come together into an idea for a new project, in fact a new series of small embellished quilts. I'm loving the influx of ideas and possibilities. But all this activity in the "real" world is keeping me from the computer and my blogging buddies. Fear not, dear friends, I will return and catch up with you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Aw, Shucks

I have been presented with an award by two of my fellow bloggers, Jane at Crazy Here & Now and Timaree at Freebird Drawing. I'm so flattered!

The award doesn't come without responsibilities however. The rules of acceptance are:

1. Put the logo on your blog. (check)

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you. (check, check)

3. Nominate 7 other blogs. (oof!)

4. Add links to those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

I have to confess that I'm not feeling up to speed at the moment for the last three requirements. My get up and go seems to have gotten up and left. If it comes back in a day or two I'll revisit this award and pass it on then, okay?

I've been the recipient of one other surprise recently too. My friend C~ brought a belated birthday gift to me:

These are fat quarters from last year's Western Washington Shop Hop. The fabric on top was made by In The Beginning specifically for the Shop Hop and, I think, is an almost perfect rendition of the region. I'm delighted to have more of it to play with now! (I used some for a pillow I made for one of my sons last year.)

The most recent sewing I've done was to begin another preemie top, again trying to use up some of those old prints from the 1980's. There's still some work to do, can you tell? ;- )

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Studio Journal

Bet that got your attention!

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I'm taking an online course in studio journals from Sharon Boggon through We're in week three now, and I have to say that it's an interesting experience.

This is the first online class I've ever taken. That aspect of it is going well. Better than anticipated perhaps. (Technology is still a little scary for me.) What I'm having issues with are the exercises in design that she's giving us. Mind you, she's very good about not pushing us to do things we may not have time for. She's just trying to get us in the habit of using our journals on a regular basis. Every day if possible. So we've cut up magazine pages to do color studies, and this week we're cutting shapes out of paper to play around with design elements like repeated motifs and postive/negative relationships. All well and good. But something about these exercises makes me cranky! I love color, I love pattern; why in the world do I find playing around with paper and scissors so annoying?! Sharon also encourages us to try interpreting some of this work into fiber, whether with threads or fabric or whatever. I have absolutely no desire, so far, to do that. I do not find any of these exercises inspiring in any way whatsoever. {sigh}

This week she gave us the link to a kaleidoscope-making tool. That was fun. What you see here today are only a few of the many variations I made. You can even insert your own photo from which to make kaleidoscopic images. I haven't done that yet, but I'm sure that will be another hour or two on the computer!

I have tentatively come to the conclusion that I have actually been keeping a studio journal for several years. I just wasn't using it quite as visually as other people might, nor was I "composting" in it the way Sharon recommends. In fact, I have had more than one journal going at a time whereas Sharon advocates keeping everything all together in one volume. After the paper-cutting exercises in my journal I now have pages and pages of handwritten notes taken from Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit, which someone in class recommended. I also have notes from a blog post Sharon did about how she manages her time that I'm going to add to my journal. Apparently these things are currently more important to me than the elements and principles of design. The beauty of the class is that I can go back at any time to do whatever exercises I may skip this time around :- )

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And Speaking of Baby Quilts...

Here's an orphan I found in the thrift shop the other day. It's about 34" x 37" and looks to be bound with commercially made binding tape. I'm guessing the maker just sewed up a bunch of four-patch blocks and set them together however it felt right. She has two patches of the same red gingham butted up against each other in one spot but the rest is amazingly well balanced.

I'm surprised at how easy it is for me to date fabrics from a hundred years ago but how difficult it is for me to pin a date on this quilt. 1960's - 70's? I see a few patches that could have been from the 50's. Let's just call it late 20th century :- ) There are a variety of fabric types in it too: seersuckers and other textured weaves, heavier cotton prints that may have been curtain or upholstery fabrics, and at least one patch that is pieced.

It is not heavily worn but was dirty when I first brought it home. It washed up beautifully. I can't decide whether that blotch in the blue and white stripe patch was a flaw in the fabric from the beginning or whether it is a stain acquired along the way somehow. The quilting was done by machine, in a salmon-y pink color, and on the diagonal in one direction only. Oh, as I look at it more closely I see that there are some quilting stitches that have come out. Guess I'll have to do a bit of repair work there.

This backing fabric looks familiar to me but I can't place why. I may have owned some at one point; I may have seen it used in something an aunt made. It looks very 1980's to me. I suppose this could have been a rescued top, made into a quilt some years after the blocks were made. For four bucks ($4!) I couldn't leave it in the thrift shop. My granddaughters can play with it, sleep under it... whatever. It's simple but charming. Just the sort of thing I love!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Giraffe Preemie Quilt

This one's for Carol :- )

It was this giraffe print that started this whole project, even though some bunnies managed to hop into it too...

The giraffe print has been in my stash since the 1980's. (Actually, now that I think about it, most of these fabrics have been!) It was only a quarter yard cut or so, and I'd fussy cut some of the images for a previous project at some point. The colors are just so pure and happy and it's so cute! That's probably why I've kept it in my stash for so long. But I have to make room for the newer prints coming in... I'm not getting any younger... I may as well let someone else enjoy the cuteness...

What's funny is that I didn't feel the urge to make this into something for one of my own granddaughters. I'm sure there will be more grandchildren in our family (I have two sons to marry off yet) but it just felt like the right time to finally make this up into something someone could actually use and enjoy. It's only 24" x 30" and is backed with a marbled yellow flannel. The layers are held together with stitching along the vertical seamlines. It took me a couple of weeks to get it started and finished, but there's no reason a person couldn't whip one up in a day. That's the beauty of preemie quilts. That, and the fact they provide color and comfort in the neo-natal intensive care units around the country.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Please Stand By

We are experiencing some techincal difficulties here in the Nest. Hope to get it all sorted out over the course of the holiday weekend. Just in case, though, here's wishing the citizens of the United States a safe and happy Fourth of July :- )