18 March 2018

Quilts Japan at the New England Quilt Museum

Miiko Kuwahara, I want to be a Tree.

In March a friend and I visited the New England Quilt Museum to take in Quilts Japan, on view through April 21, 2018. This exhibit features 35 quilts from the biannual competition sponsored by the Japan Handicraft Instructors' Association (JHIA).  As always, the workmanship is outstanding, and many of the quilts bring an imaginative spin to traditional patterns. Japan has a very large cohort of quilters and a long history of exceptional artistry in textile arts.  To my delight, many of the quilts in the show are hand-quilted.

Here, in no particular order, are some images from the exhibit.

I want to be a Tree, detail.

Ayumi Asano, Good Luck.

Good Luck, detail.

Visitors of all ages enjoy the show.

Miyuki Kuwahara, A Summer Afternoon.

Akiko Sumiyoshi, Round Dance.

Round Dance, detail.

Yuko Maekawa, Ring.

Ring, detail.

Yoko Kagegama, Sparkling until the End.

Takako Kita, Oriental Baltimore.

Oriental Baltimore, detail.

Makiko Nakamura, Under the Eternal Starlit Sky.

Under the Eternal Starlit Sky, detail.

Seiko Hasumoro, Prayer for Peace.

Prayer for Peace, detail.

Takako Iwai, Circulation.

Circulation, corner detail.

Toshii Naoi, A Corridor of Memories, detail.

Meiko Hara, Spinning a Happy Moment.

Toshiko Tanaka, Peony Flower.

Peony Flower, detail.

Hikeko Ozawa, Nostalgia.

Mikiko Narita, Cool Breeze.

Cool Breeze, detail.

Mami Noda, Fragments of Snow.

Fragments of Snow, detail.

Norika Sakurai, Raindrops.

Harue Konishi, SYO #80.

SYO #80, detail.

Takako Oikawa, When Night Melts into Morning.

Keiko Ohno, Triangles to My Heart's Content.

Triangles to My Heart's Content, detail.

Hitsuko Kawano, Endless Waves.

Endless Waves, detail.

14 February 2018

Valentine's Day Crafts, or a bunny for your honey

Happy - hoppy? - Valentine's Day.

So, Valentine's Day is approaching and I have leftover red wool yarn. What to do? Make a pom pom of course!

The new toy in my studio is a set of Clover pom pom makers. As you can see the language on the packaging is Japanese and my Japanese is non-existent; however, Youtube is filled with tutorials on making pom poms with this gadget.

Lamb's Pride yarn, Clover pom pom maker set.

Ready to cut yarn.

Sharp scissors needed to cut through all the wraps.

The only tricky bit is tying the pom pom - red yarn is looped around that grove you see in the image above to tie the pom pom strands in place.  Once wrapped around the groove, the two ends of the red yarn are pulled tight as can be and knotted several times.  It is difficult to pull the yarn tight enough to hold all the strands of the pom pom securely in place. I think old reliable waxed dental floss might be the way to go - it doesn't slip during tying, and is virtually unbreakable.  I will try dental floss with my next batch of pom poms, then overwrap with a matching yarn tie.

Two halves of the pom pom maker pulled apart - voila!

The bunny template is from https://mrprintables.com/pom-pom-animals-valentines-cards/ .  This site is affiliated with https://pommaker.com/. Their "donut" pom maker is cute but I found it harder to use than the Clover model. Could just be me. 

I printed the  bunny and bear templates onto card stock, being sure to print in "landscape" mode after enlarging the templates to "100%" in the top menu.

Bunny and bear templates.

Bear and tulips.

18 January 2018

Flow Green, 32" x 42".

The last few years DH and I have been busy with some lifecycle events - moving to a smaller house, the arrival of grandchildren, etc.  - so there has been little time for quilting. However, I did manage to finish the quilt in this post last year.  The quilt showcases fabrics I painted in a workshop I took with Mickey Lawler, a fabulous teacher, ten years ago. 

At the end of the workshop I had a small stack of 18" x 24" hand-painted samples, and no clue as to what to do with them,  so they joined other workshop products in my stash. Eventually, some sketching led to the idea of floating squares, picking up the green and blue tones.

In progress, with wider blue strips.

When I first designed the layout, I made the blue strips 1" wide finished dimension. However, when displayed on my design wall, the blue strips clearly overwhelmed the painted blocks.  So, I recut and restitched the blocks with 1/2" finished dimension blue strips. Much better.

Relationship between painted square and blue "shadow" strips not pleasing.

Stencil and marking pen.

The quilt is hand-quilted using a stencil titled Water Background, from The Stencil Company, and Gutermann quilting thread in color 9837, which perfectly matched the sashing fabric, Kona cotton #253 Sprout.  I marked the entire quilt top before basting the quilt/batting/backing sandwich, using a blue ink water soluble marker made by Clover. The marker came with warnings: test on fabric first, and a time window on solubility of two weeks. So, I had two weeks to quilt this small quilt, and planned accordingly.  I met the deadline, immersed the quilt in my bathtub and the markings did indeed wash out completely.

Tools of the trade.

Final design: squares are 3.5", blue strips are .5" and green sashing is 2" wide.

07 January 2018

Brooklyn General Store

I find this color combo intriguing.

For once, being a cat-lover paid off - not in contented purring, but with cat-sitting in a Brooklyn loft apartment over the holidays. The two cats LOVED us, but don't much care for each other.   But we didn't mind a bit of cat referee-ing in exchange for free lodging, and it gave us a nice excuse to visit Brooklyn.

While in Brooklyn we checked out the very interesting New York Transit Museum - very popular with families on a frigid December day - and made a trip to Brooklyn General Store, a fiber craft destination near the Carroll Gardens area.

Brooklyn General Store, 128 Union St., Brooklyn.

DH seems impressed by the wall of yarn.

This pleasantly jam-packed store has a great selection of luxury yarns, a limited but intriguing range of fabrics for apparel and quilting, lots of notions, fabric dyes, and offers classes too.   There is a comfortable couch near the entrance, a good perch for non-shoppers.  I don't know anything about the history of the building, but judging from the wood flooring and some interior detail, the space looks like it dates from 19th - early 20th century.

Class Schedule.

Buttons, thread and notions nestle next to yarn.

Yarn, yarn and more yarn; every fiber from alpaca to yak. Cones, skeins and hanks. Embroidery floss, wool felt squares, book, patterns, buttons, some serious scissors, fancy wool liquid wash, zippers, kits for embroidery animals, as well as needles for hand-sewing, machine sewing and knitting. 


Zippers and sewing notions.

Ribbons, in dreaming-of-spring colors.

If I have one quibble, it's that there were very few sample swatches displayed with the bins of yarn. Sample swatches are those small squares which many yarn shops knit up so the customer can get an idea of what a particular yarn will look like when knit.  But perhaps the store was still in recovery from a pre-Christmas rush.

This small infelicity didn't prevent me from purchasing some yarn, of course, which I'll share in the future.