Sew Teach Me Fundraiser

Tropical Beauty

Tropical Beauty

One of our local quilt shop treasures is closing this August after nine years in business. QuiltWorks has been a mainstay in the Central Oregon quilt community and has put on amazing gallery shows every month since it’s inception. I was honored and delighted to be a featured quilter there in March 2012. I’ve also had quilts in multiple other exhibits over the years, most notably with my Undercover Quilters group. So, it’s with great sadness that we say good bye to this wonderful shop.

This August 2nd is the 100th First Friday for the shop and they are going out with a bang. The gallery show for August (and really just the first week or two) is a fundraiser for Sew Teach Me which is a non-profit founded by Marilyn Forestell, the owner of QuiltWorks, that teaches young people how to sew. This has become a real passion for Marilyn and she will be traveling around the country to spread the word about the organization and to help get new teams started. If you have a shop or other group interested in the program please check the website for more information.

Marilyn asked friends of the shop to donate small quilts that will be sold to benefit Sew Teach Me and I was happy to oblige. All the quilts you see here will be included in the sale which starts on Friday, August 2 and continues until all are sold or until mid-August. I can’t wait to see all the quilts that will be available. If you are in the area, the First Friday reception will be a huge party and a great way to say goodbye to Marilyn and all the QuiltWorks folks.

Pink Flower

Pink Flower

Black and White and Spooky All Over

Black and White and Spooky All Over

Three Pink Trees

Three Pink Trees

Autumn

Autumn

Little Red House

Little Red House

Boho Baskets

Boho Baskets

Autumn Baskets

Autumn Baskets

Night at the Improv

Night at the Improv

Books on My Mind

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I pretty much always have books on my mind, but even more so right now as I have sold several of my handmade blank books recently.

It reminded me of a recent blog post by Sarah Swett (Bookish Thoughts) that made my jaw drop. Please take a look at it and if you like what you see consider subscribing. Sarah’s blog is a new favorite to me, but always beautiful and insightful. I am inspired to try her little woven book covers someday.

In the meantime, I have made the hand patterned blank watercolor books you see here which you can find in my KMS Handmade shop. Some have sold already, so look quick if you are interested. I also have plans to make a fabric covered book soon. I want to do a hand stitched cover with watercolor paper inside and I’m still figuring out how to put it all together.

In addition to books I’ve been making, I am always reading 2 or 3 books at once. I’m listening to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles right now (it’s my third time reading this one), because it’s my next Undercover Quilters Book Club quilt book. On this listening I’m making notes in my hard copy of the book of all the passages that speak to me. Later on I’ll go through them and decide which one to base my quilt on. I’m also re-reading my very favorite childhood series of magic books by Edward Eager (start with Half Magic). I discovered my library has them available as e-books and the newest edition of Half Magic has an introduction by Alice Hoffman where she puts into writing all my thoughts about these books and how they shaped me at the age of 10 or so.

I tend to read a pretty eclectic mixture of genres. I recently finished several interesting books including The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (utterly charming), Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (somewhat baffling, but it made sense in the end), Educated by Tara Westover (beautifully written, but horrific subject matter), and The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King (learned a lot I didn’t know about Mr. Rogers).

I belong to two book clubs. One is pretty traditional and really discusses the book and the other is my quilting group which may or may not discuss the book for a while, but always has fun. I love them both and get great recommendations for books from both. Sometimes it can be hard juggling all the books I try to get through which is one reason I listen to a lot of audio books. I can get a lot of studio work done while listening. It’s the absolute best thing for machine quilting which tends to get boring if I don’t have a book going in my ears.

So, how about you? Read anything good lately?

Winter Stitching

Chicken Bag

Chicken Bag

A very Happy New Year to you. Sorry for the long delay in posting. I have been doing some studio work, mainly these three hand embroidered bags which are in the shop now (see all three below). All started with some hand dyed indigo fabric (vintage linen in the chicken bag and new linen in the two zipper bags). I then went through my vast collection of hand stitching threads and stitched in a very intuitive manner. For each area of the bags the thread type, thread color and stitch pattern was decided as I went along. it’s a very freeing way to work and leads to surprises. I wanted to weed out some threads that aren’t my favorite to work with and I did set aside quite a bit to pass along to friends. Now my favorite threads are all sorted and organized and easy to find.

What makes a good thread? That totally depends on the stitcher’s comfort level, the stitching substrate, the visual effect, tactile pleasure, and the desired thread composition. In the past I have had been introduced to all sorts of unusual threads, especially by Sue Spargo. Some of them are best for working on wool because it’s more loosely woven than cotton. However, since I am doing so many pieces on cotton I decided to weed out those that don’t meet these criteria:

  • natural fiber composition (mainly cotton and silk)

  • thread size (too thick and every stitch becomes a struggle, too thin and the stitches don’t have the desired impact)

  • ease of stitching (will differ for each individual)

  • tactile pleasure (differs for each stitcher)

  • visual effect (personal preference)

As I get older I have more issues of pain in my hands and wrists and I have to be mindful whenever I do handwork. The threads I decided to keep make my handwork time pleasant, comfortable and visually exciting. I thought I’d make a list of various threads from most liked to least. Perhaps it will be helpful for you, whether you are just starting out in embroidery or you are a long time enthusiast.

Favorites top to bottom : Presencia Finca perle cotton (8), WonderFil perle cotton (8) (solid and variegated), Valdani perle cotton (8 ) (also 12), Soie et silk thread, DMC embroidery thread.

Favorites top to bottom : Presencia Finca perle cotton (8), WonderFil perle cotton (8) (solid and variegated), Valdani perle cotton (8 ) (also 12), Soie et silk thread, DMC embroidery thread.

My favorite threads are:

  • Finca by Presencia size 8 perle cotton (I only have one spool, but it’s very nice)

  • Valdani size 8 and 12 perle cottons (solids and variegated threads are all fabulous)

  • WonderFil Eleganza size 8 perle cotton (the variegated threads are beautiful!)

  • Soie et 100% silk 3 strand embroidery thread (swoon ***)

  • DMC 6 strand embroidery thread (yummy color selection, high quality thread, versatile since you can use any number of strands from 1-6)

***I discovered this silk thread in a sampler set sold by Superior Threads and it is the most luxurious thread I think I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I have only one spool of it, but I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more. There are other silk threads I’ve tried (Silken Pearl and others), but I didn’t like at all, so this is the only one I can recommend.

Second Favorites: Sea Grass, Silken Chenille, and Silken Ribbons

Second Favorites: Sea Grass, Silken Chenille, and Silken Ribbons

My second favorites that I plan to keep, but don’t use much are:

  • Sea Grass, 100% organic cotton tape thread (works well on cotton and wool, I like the matte finish and flat stitch effect)

  • Silken Chenille (works best on wool, especially for couching)

  • Silken Ribbon (works best on wool)

Least favorites: DMC perle cotton (8), Aurifil embroidery thread, sashiko thread

Least favorites: DMC perle cotton (8), Aurifil embroidery thread, sashiko thread

These are threads I plan to use up, but wouldn’t buy more of:

  • DMC perle cotton any size (I think these threads are more coarse than the other brands of perle cotton, also limited colors)

  • Aurifil 6 strand embroidery thread (meh, I just don’t like it as much as DMC and it’s more expensive)

  • sashiko thread (I like the matte finish, but I don’t like how thick it is, it hurts my hands to use so I’ll save it for mending jeans)

Pretty, but not for me: Bozzolo Reale silk thread, Silken Pearl, Kreinik metallic braid, WonderFil Razzle, WonderFil Dazzle, DMC perle cotton (5).

Pretty, but not for me: Bozzolo Reale silk thread, Silken Pearl, Kreinik metallic braid, WonderFil Razzle, WonderFil Dazzle, DMC perle cotton (5).

These are the threads I am getting rid of. Many of them are absolutely beautiful, but they lead to sore and tired hands and/or lots of frustration. I know many people love these threads, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt.

  • Bozzolo Reale silk thread (too slippery, too easy to tangle, frustrating to use, but beautiful to look at!)

  • Silken Pearl silk thread (too easy to tangle, stretchy, but again, absolutely beautiful!)

  • Kreinik Metallic Braid (polyester, scratchy, frustrating to use)

  • WonderFil Razzle (rayon, slippery, too shiny, frustrating to use)

  • WonderFil Dazzle (metallic rayon, slippery, too shiny, frustrating to use)

  • Perle Cottons size 5, various brands (just too thick for me, useful for tying a quilt, but I don’t need to keep it in the stash)

I’ll pass those threads to friends to try. Just because I don’t like them doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If you have a favorite natural fiber embroidery thread please let me know in the comments. I am quite sure I have several lifetime’s worth of thread here, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on something great!

The chicken bag is very densely embroidered with lots of different threads. I also added some chicken patches I had set aside. It’s fully lined and has batting between so it feels very substantial.

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Stripey Indigo Zipper

Stripey Indigo Zipper

The Stripey Indigo Zipper is made from my hand dyed linen and simply stitched in vertical lines. I love the minimalist look of this one.

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You Are My Sunshine Zipper

You Are My Sunshine Zipper

The You Are My Sunshine Zipper was also made from hand dyed indigo new linen fabric. The embroidery was done in an intuitive manner with just a few different threads. I also included one of my hand printed labels as embellishment. The cheerful polka dot lining makes me smile. All in all, it’s the perfect antidote for a rainy day.

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Details and prices for all the bags can be found in my KMS Handmade shop.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Hello Friends! I hope my US readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. Ours was a small family affair with my sister and her husband and our parents. Three dogs livened things up and we had a long time to relax and chat. We saw only a few snowflakes, but lots more rain. I was born on Thanksgiving, so we always celebrate my birthday on the holiday even when my actual birthday is next Monday. Birthday pie is a tradition!

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I have been busy with house and family this week, but have been squeezing in a bit of time to update my shops since the Christmas Goose Fair last weekend. I still have a few more of the hand stamped cards to add, but mostly the shops are as full as they will get for the holidays, unless I get a wild hair to finish items already in progress or start something new.

Lucky for you, the Etsy Cyber Week Sale is on now until Monday, November 26th. Purchase at least $50 and get 20% off. This includes everything in both shops including drawstring bags, zipper bags, handmade books, original art, ornament kits, Christmas ornaments, Christmas cards, everyday note cards and stickers, and hand stamped Moleskine journals. Unfortunately, with the way Etsy works you can’t combine items from the two shops to make up the $50, but hopefully you can find goodies in either shop to get there. No coupon needed!