Eastern Span Coming Down

Immediately after opening the new eastern span of the Oakland Bay bridge the task of dismantling the old span began. The top level is completely gone. And here’s a glimpse at the kind of view we’ll have along the whole eastern span in the near future (click on the image for a larger view):

Eastern span Bay Bridge

Eastern span Bay Bridge

Watching the progress on the dismantling of the bridge is proving to be just as fascinating as the construction of the new span was.

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Progress on Sunflower VI

Progress, though slow, is being made. I decided to add a few large motifs in the background fill quilting. Here is the top portion of the quilt where I’ve added a leaf and berry spray (click on the image for a larger view):

Sunflower VI progressI have a variety of designs and design sizes with the dominant navy quilting and I want to create a similar variety with the background fill quilting. I think it’s just plain more interesting. I’ve added leaf and berry spray designs to the bottom portion of the quilt as well. The question I’m debating now is whether to add some sunflowers as part of the background quilting. I have 11 sunflowers in navy; the centers of those will be beaded. It might be interesting to have 2 peach-color sunflowers — without beaded centers — as part of the background quilting. They could add more interest without taking away from the featured sunflowers in navy. Decisions. . . decisions.

Once I make this decision I’ll be able to move forward with the quilting. Stay tuned.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays. Go check out some very interesting things that were happening this week.

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Buddha Hand Harvest

This fascinating fruit always draws comment when newcomers visit my back yard. ‘What is it?’ and ‘How do you use it?’ are always asked. The short answers are that it is a citron and I primarily use it to candy, though I have plans to use it in jam. For more details, check out the explanations here.

And here are the bad boys I plucked from the tree this week:

Buddha's handEach one is between 7 and 8 inches long  and (left to right) they weigh 14 oz., 1 lb. 5 oz. and 9 oz. Hefty!

The largest one is the most ornate — a real stand alone.

Buddha's hand 1It’s almost a crime to cut it up and candy it. I said almost because that’s the next thing that will happen to this beautiful citron.

Visit my posting of last year to see the tree and fruit in various stages, including candied.

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Back to the Sunflower

It’s not usual for me to step away from a large project the way I have with the sunflower scrap piece, but I certainly did. Time to refocus and move this project forward.  Progress may continue in a slow manner, however, because I do have several small projects that are time sensitive and need to be completed soon. But for now, here is where I am on beginning the quilting that will fill the background on Sunflower Scrap VI.

Franki Kohler,

Beginning progress

I am quilting with a 60-weight cotton that coordinates with the peach fabric surrounding the sunflower fabric scraps. I’m pleased with the effect this contrast is having — standing several feet away, you cannot make out the detail of the quilting design but the thread imbues a kind of ‘glow’ to the fabric. As the quilting moves away from the flowers and vines I will switch to a light blue thread of the same weight.

Time to get back at it. You can see the beginnings of this project here.

This posting has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays.

 

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Notebook Cover and Postcards Embellished

I headed for Blue Door Beads — I just love the name and, yes, they have a blue door — this morning to find something special for the closure on the notebook cover just completed. I think I found just the right thing (click on image for larger view):

Notebook front

Notebook front

I had fun choosing the fabric for inside flaps

Notebook open

Notebook open

and the photo image on the inside cover of the notebook is from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

Notebook back

Full notebook cover

Here are 3 of the postcards that are embellished and ready to address and finish edges.

While I was completing the above project I decided to make use of a Mola that my sister gave me recently. (If you aren’t familiar with the origins of the Mola, be sure to visit the link above!) This one is particularly lovely and deserves to be useful.

Mola Notebook cover

Mola Notebook cover

Mola Notebook cover 2

Full Mola Notebook cover

I think Christy will be pleased that this lovely Mola is not going to languish in my stash.

To see the Genesis of all this, click here.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays.

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French Knots and Finger Cots

I’ve completed the on-line course at Craftsy with Carol Waugh. I have thoroughly enjoyed working through her methods, constructing my own machine stitch reference and doing some needle work I haven’t done in many years — embroidery.

I used a fat quarter of fabric to create my surface design. There is extensive machine work in the form of couching, decorative stitching and quilting. When I completed that much, I cut the piece apart to create a notebook cover and (as always, click on an image for a larger view)

Franki Kohler,

Almost done with this notebook cover

some postcards.

Franki Kohler,

Almost done postcards

Then there is the hand embroidery. Carol took us through the techniques for stitching French Knots, running stitch and the lazy daisy stitch. That took me straight back to my childhood and learning those very stitches from my Grandmother. Whoosh! Nostalgia time.

Even though it’s been quite some time since I’ve done crewel embroidery, those stitches are still with me. I pulled Judith Baker Montano’s Elegant Stitches from my book shelf and looked through it. Her instructions are great and soon I was stitching a Squared Palestrina Knot — on the left, the ‘x’s’ with a knot in the middle– and combining buttonhole stitch with lazy daisy for a simple design.

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Most of the embroidery has been done with pearl cotton. Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting pearl cotton through fast2fuse and a layer of fabric stabilized with shirt tailor. After struggling to pull the thread through, I dove into my supply of tools and pulled out some finger cots. I rolled one onto my thumb and — ta da! — the needle comes right through — even with very bold French Knots. Grandma taught me to wrap the thread around the needle three times for a French Knot but Carol has no hard and fast rules. So I thought, let’s go for it and I was wrapping the thread 4 and 5 times. I’m happy with the bold look it gave  the daisy and solo French Knots on the left.

Bold French Knots

Bold French Knots

I’m not quite done. I have some beads that are screaming to be stitched on and then there will be a trip to my local bead shop to find just the right ones to add to the closure for the notebook cover. Stay tuned, I’ll share the final results.

Here is where this adventure began.

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Stitch Reference Done

Done! Fun! And I’ve already used it.

Stitch Reference done

Stitch Reference done

With 1-inch rings it lays flat

With 1-inch rings it lays flat

There are 135 different utility and decorative stitches in this reference guide for the Janome 6500. My Janome 11000 has 419 stitches and symbols. Time to start stitching!

See the start of this project here.

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Back to Basics

When concentration eludes, it’s time to dig into some basics. Lucky for me, I’ve just begun an on-line class through Craftsy with Carol Ann Waugh.   Stupendous Stitching focuses on using the decorative and utility stitches on your home machine to create your own personal surface design. It’s not surprising then, that the first assignment is to stitch out an example of each of the stitches on your sewing machine.

When I purchased my first computerized machine I did just that. But that was long ago and that machine has been replaced.  Let’s face it: the illustrations for most of the stitches on your machine don’t resemble what actually stitches out when you use it. I welcomed the opportunity to create a handy reference for my machines.

I’ve gathered the supplies: Pellon shirt tailor to stabilize the fabric (shirt tailor has fusible web on one side), Wonder-Under, trim to finish the pages and eyelets to allow the pages to be held together in book form.

Franki Kohler, gathering supplies

Gathering supplies

I became so immersed in this project that — oops! — I forgot to take a few in-process photos. There is nothing revolutionary about the process though: beginning with the first stitch on the machine, use the default setting and stitch several inches; vary stitch length and width to see how the stitch changes — even a slight change in the original stitch could reveal your favorite new design. Use a permanent pen to mark the corresponding machine number on your reference fabric. Repeat this process until all the designs have been stitched on fabric. Here are two of my pages finished:

Franki Kohler, 2 pages of stitch reference

2 pages of stitch reference

The pages were trimmed, pairs were fused together, the edges were stitched first with a narrow zigzag stitch, then with a wider zigzag while applying cording. Here are the final pages ready to be finished.

Franki Kohler, final pages ready to be finished

Final pages ready to be finished

When I finish the pages for my Janome 6500 I’ll be doing the same process for my Janome 11000.

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1000 Quilt Inspirations

I’ll be at least one in a thousand — that’s the news from Quarry Books, the publisher releasing 1000 Quilt Inspirations, a new book to be released in the near future.  Dr. Sandra Sider, a New York quilt artist and independent curator, will be selecting the winning designs.

The Call for Entries states, in part, that Quarry Books is looking for

innovative interpretations of old favorites as well as original blocks and art quilts designed by you that explore the possibilities of modular design.

I submitted eleven art quilts and I have no idea which one(s) have been selected for the book. They promise more news about the project in April.

Even better news: the deadline for entering this Call for Entries has been extended to March 31, 2014. See the official Call with all the details you need here.

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Getting It Right

Not always an easy thing, this ‘getting it right.’ Sometimes it takes days, weeks, even years. I’m just speaking for myself, of course, though the thought of such masters as Beethoven, Mendelssohn, van Gogh — and more — leap to mind when it comes to revisiting earlier works for a bit of tweaking. Some of those masters went back to pieces many times and never were completely satisfied with the results. My resurrection story has a happy ending.

Three years ago this month I completed Orange, a challenge two friends and I decided upon.

Franki Kohler, OrangeAside from the word ‘orange’, the only other stipulation for the art quilt was the size. From the start, I conceived this piece as having a large tree with three persimmons — a sort of banner — at the top. Unfortunately, I added the 6-inch banner on top of a piece that was already the stipulated overall size! So, this piece has been fraught with problems from the start. I didn’t like the proportion of the completed piece. Even more to the point:  I was not happy with the execution of the persimmons. But, after all, it was done. And on time. And it hung in an exhibit before the fabric had cooled from being stitched. Done and hung, now there’s a nice phrase for you.

When it came home from the exhibit it was rolled up and stored away. Every time I’ve come across it since, I’ve been annoyed with it.

This week I decided to revisit Orange to see if I couldn’t salvage it. The answer came to me very much like having a V-8 moment — you know, that big self-inflicted smack to the forehead. What if I removed the persimmons?

Franki Kohler, Orange revisitedIt wasn’t the huge time invested initially anticipated. Just a couple more inches and the edge will be lifted and I can cut off the persimmons. The binding is stitched back on and I have a new art quilt — Orange Redux.

Franki Kohler, Orange Redux, 31 1/2" x 20", 2014, For SaleI’ve always liked this tree. I think it stands alone quite nicely and I’ll be happy to bring it out of hiding.

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