March 30, 2009

Fun at Camp!

Camp Pluckyfluff took place Saturday and Sunday, here in Upstate NY (Genesee Valley Handspinners Guild). It was just as amazing as I had hoped. Lexi Boeger was a wonderful instructor and the casual atmosphere put everyone at ease. New friendships were made as well as some very pretty yarns. Kudos to our fellow guild member Alanna and her helpers for putting the logistics together. The facilities were large and clean and the catered food was delicious. We all hated to see the workshop end.

 Our heads were spinning, as well as our wheels and niddy noddys. Ideas for using our new found skills were inspiring. Everyone had the chance to share and exchange materials, a real boon to those of us who are not fiber farmers!  Thank you to all of the generous shepherds in attendance. 

 Lexi shared demonstrations of several techniques from her book, Intertwined.  We learned core spinning, beehives, granny stacks, shaggy yarn, art batt creation, translucent mohair, lock tail spin, fabric spinning, and a lot more about combining fibers for their particular attributes. A very full two days. We watched in amazement as she spun a pile of Lincoln locks (donated to the group by Frank and Sherry) into a gorgeous boa in a matter of minutes. Wow, can she fill a bobbin or what? I think she was as delighted with the outcome as we were, she promised to wear it on the plane. Given the fact, that true to form, our weather included some snow today, I'll bet she did! She travels all over the U.S. and Canada giving workshops and spreading her enthusiasm and love of the fiber arts. Multi-talented, she also paints and pursues other artistic outlets.

If you are interested in novelty art yarns I can recommend this workshop and Lexi's book. Together they will provide you with hours of creative fun.

March 27, 2009

Arty Birdhouse (non-functional)

I promise to get over the bird thing soon. Yesterday, I finished the fabric applique birdhouse I have had in my head for a while. Inspired by the gorgeous birdhouses, (that are out of my price range, but sooo worth it) made by Abigail Brown, I decided to give it a go. It will be given to my daughter Lauren, who could use a little pink and lovely in her life. She is the mom of three boys, ages 6, 3, 21 months. Enough said!
When I showed it to my husband, he just said "What is it for...I mean what do you do with it?".

He could not fathom why I would spend two full days sewing this thing. This was not a good sign because he usually "gets it". The dreaded "it is a decorative item" came flying out of my mouth. If there is one thing we don't need around here it is one more decorative item. "Not to worry it is for Lauren", (she can figure out what to do with it, I'm thinking).

Right now I am into that rough edge look. I have found that it is just as difficult to do as the finished applique. It is the spontaneity that I love. There doesn't have to be a lot of planning.
Idea to implementation, and immediate results. This was constructed by hand and machine. It is batted and lined, quilted in spots. You can see the pretty lining through the hole. The fabric on the outside is osnaburg, a rough woven cotton. I then use diluted fabric paint to tint it. The bottom is open, but it sits up nicely. If anyone is interested in making one, I will share the other details, just email me.

Meanwhile, in the pantry/laundry room...I did find a "useful" place for it to hang out until it is mailed out to Lauren. So there, dear husband!

I really want another cookie...

Apparently, this is the dirty look you will get from Ava if you deny her any more cookies. She has mastered the "dirty look" at an astonishing young age. There is no crossing this little girl...such a good thing she is absolutely adorable. Oh, and you bet she got that cookie (after all what are Nanas for?), especially after she gave me a big kiss and hug. Big sister Bella, was not impressed, however. I didn't want to tell her how she acted out at that age, the angel that she is now! Big brother, poor guy, just rolls his eyes. Any other spoiling Nanas out there? Probably not. Ha, ha.

March 22, 2009

The Art of Manipulating Fabric

 Sleepless, once again the other night, I looked through my library of books and found this one, "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Colette Wolff, (you can take a peek inside here). It is fabulous, detailed, loaded with photos and illustrations. Everything you ever wanted to do, sewing wise to fabric is in here. The simplest of gathering (and doing it properly) to elaborate smocking, quilting, tucking, furrowing, and raised 3D design are in here. I have been spending a lot of time sewing lately, and this book is inspiring. Definitely a resource, reference volume to own. It will spend time next to me and the sewing machine from now on.

Although I have owned this book for more than ten years, I have an entirely new appreciation for it now. One of the things I like most is that the demonstrations are done on simple bleached muslin. Brilliant, because the fabric itself does not compete with the architecture of the stitches and design created. The book is in black and white which also contributes a unique sense of depth and perception. The art is in the stitch creation. You will be inspired to pick up ordinary cloth and make it into something extraordinary. The "less is more" principle. The pages themselves are an art form. The detailed explanations together with variations, lead you from the simplest to complex in easy stages.  In every page the author encourages you to interpret and incorporate the lessons into your own art. The calm, simple and serene approach reminds me of one of my favorite textile artist Tamar Mogendorff.

If you enjoy the details in sewing projects, buy this book! 

March 14, 2009

Camp Pluckyfluff!

I never thought it would happen...Camp Pluckyfluff is coming to my universe. The Genesee Valley Handspinners Guild (thank you Alanna for making this happen) is hosting this two day workshop with the author of Intertwined, Lexi Boeger. She is the innovative designer of gorgeous novelty art yarns. To say I am impatiently awaiting this event is a huge understatement. The class will be on March 28-29. Two whole weeks to go! 

In the meantime I am collecting all sorts of goodies for spinning. The jumbo flyer for my Ashford Traveler has yet to come out of the box. I know I will be needing it for the thicker spins and add-ons. I have a silk dress that is now a ball of lovely spinning material, 2 lbs. of soft wool in two colors, various other fibers like silk cap, banana silk, sari silk, golden thread, silver tinsel, beaded thread,etc. The class requires you to bring some wool fiber nubs and instructions are given for making these. I will be combing my stash for other delightfuls to add. 

I am such a groupie...just hope that she signs my book.

Has anyone already been to camp? I would love to hear from you about it!

I won!

I am so excited to report that I won a blog giveaway! Fifty fat quarters from Patricia's Art Gallery Fabrics. Patricia Bravo designs and sells fabric for her own company, how cool is that? Her blog is wonderful and her fabrics are beautiful. She will be hosting future giveaways so mark her site! I answered a question about the "funniest thing that has ever happened to you as you were about to sit down and sew". My answer is here. You have to scroll down and look for my name at the end of the comments.
Thank you, Patricia for your generous giveaway!

March 12, 2009

Knitted, Felted Nest Tutorial

Here is a project I think you will enjoy. I have received a lot of comments on my knitted, felted nests...we all seem desperate for a sign of spring!
You will need a bulky wool for the base yarn (I like the "Lamb's Pride Bulky", heavy singles with lovely muted colors), or some thick hand spun, and any other carry along yarns that you'd like to add for texture. I've used eyelash, confetti, silk ribbon, fabric selvedges and scraps. Beginning and ending them with little care about weaving them in. The felting process later will secure them. You do not want this to be to perfect (love that!). It should look natural and interesting. Hobby Lobby has many interesting, inexpensive novelty yarns to choose from. This project does not use a lot of yarn. Depending on the size you choose to make, you should be able to make two nests from the bulky wool, at least. Experiment with color, it is a fantasy nest, after all. The novelty yarn will go a lot further. You will use double points, but only for a few rows at the end, which I find easier to do then starting out with them. Remember, felting hides a multitude!
You could also make these larger, (cast on 65, starting dec with 9 stitches) and add handles (I used curly willow) to make these nests into easter baskets like I did here.

Felted Nest

Size 15 circular needles, 16 inch
Size 15 double points
1 skein Lamb's Pride Bulky or equivalent 100% wool chunky yarn
1-3 skeins novelty type yarns and/or 1/4-1/2 inch fabric strips any length
wool fiber, optional
curly twigs, optional
quail eggs, felted eggs, chocolate eggs, vintage rhinestone jewel, optional

With the circular needles cast on 35 stitches. Place a marker and join in the round.
Continue knitting each row (stockinette stitch) for 5 inches, or 4 if you want a shallow nest.
Begin decrease.
Row 1 SSK, knit 5, K2tog to end.
Row 2 Knit.
Row 3 SSK, knit 3, K2tog to end 
Switch to double points, I usually do this here
Row 4 Knit.
Row 5 SSK, knit 1, K2tog to end
Row 6 Knit.
Row 7 SSK, K2tog, to end.
Cut yarn leaving enough to weave through remaining stitches, pull tight and secure.
Weave in ends.
Felt in washer with small load water level, hot water, 1 T. dish soap and some old jeans for agitation. Check after first agitation cycle, before rinse to see if it has felted enough. Let washer finish cycle. Remove and shape allow to dry thoroughly.
Dress nest with optional embellishments as desired.

I have added a Flickr group for finished Meli Melo Art projects here.
Please post your photos of any finished projects, I would love to see them!

March 5, 2009

Isabella Rose's Doll Bed

I want to share with you our latest project. It is a doll bed for our granddaughter's sixth birthday. Papa designed and made it out of maple, with little cedar heart appliques he carved. I made the mattress, sheets (fitted and top), ticking pillows, pillow cases, tied quilt and throw pillows. Her Aunt is sure it needs a knitted afghan at the foot of it! Bella received an American Girl doll (Ruthie, Kitt's friend) for christmas. We decided on making a doll bed for her birthday in March. 

She is going to absolutely love it. I can't stop playing with it myself. Yesterday, a friend was over and we had to "dress" it again. C. came into the kitchen and asked "What is it about these things that girls get a kick out of?" Okay, you can leave now, I will never be able to explain it to you. Let's just say that our daughter Kate (Bella's Mom) is going to be playing with her American doll (Samantha), too! How can you resist something this cute? Those miniature ticking pillows and pillow cases with the lace trim, have put me over the edge. Here, I thought I was the queen of "cute" at seven, when I made a Barbie bed out of a kleenex box. Hey, don't laugh she was pretty hot in her Puffs box car too!
Every single piece of this was a pleasure to work on...don't let Papa fool you, he got a big "kick" out of it!  It is going to its new home
on Saturday and I will miss it. I am pretty sure Bella will let me play with it when I visit. 

Thank you Papa, this was a fun collaboration. If you would like to see more pictures, they are here.

I am soooo asking for a dollhouse for Christmas!

March 1, 2009

Sunday Browsing