No Country for Fools

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Big Snow, February 2019

Last week we had a huge snowstorm that went on for several days and in the end we had nearly 3 feet of snow on the ground. It was a record amount for this area and led to all sorts of cancellations. It’s also been so cold since then that not much as melted. Now, a new storm just blew in and we’ll get several more inches. I can safely say that just about everyone is kind of sick of snow. We live so close to the mountains that we’d be just as happy to have it stay there and not come down to town! Anyway, it does give one lots of indoor time to catch up on projects when you aren’t clearing snow.

Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

No Country for Fools, 21” x 24”

No Country for Fools, 21” x 24”

One project I managed to finish is called No Country for Fools. it’s inspired by Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes. This book was chosen by QuiltWorks as an alternative to the Novel Idea book this year. In this case, the author lives in Oregon and she will come to town for the quilt reception and will do an author talk the next day. Here’s a link to the book trailer which is pretty fascinating. Maybe you’ll want to read it too!

The title of this quilt comes directly from the book and is a description of the area of eastern Oregon where it takes place. I took one line that the author had about a dream that she is reminded of just as she drives toward her new life in the wilds of eastern Oregon. Her dream was about a crow flying beside her car window as she drove.

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I used some old shirts that my dad was done with. I cut them into various odd shapes and saved a couple of labels that I incorporated. I combined the shirt fabrics with some Japanese taupes that were in the perfect colors. The background was pieced improvisationally. Then, I appliqued the bird down and added some hand embroidery with embroidery thread (some of which was hand dyed).

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This piece measures 21” by 24”. I machine quilted it around the embroidery. I would have liked to hand quilt it too, but that would have taken too much time and I am having arthritis issues again so I have to be careful.

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I really love the fabric that the bird is made from (you can see it up close below). I have this stuff in several patterns and colors and it’s really different from any other fabric I’ve used. I call it bubble fabric, but I don’t know the official name. The pattern is created with texture rather than printing. These fabrics were made by Diamond Textiles and I haven’t seen them in a long time, but they are really great for turned under applique because they are thin, but very sturdy and the turned under edge just holds a crease really well. I added the embroidery embellishment by just following the pattern on the fabric.

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I washed the old shirts from my dad, of course. But I also didn’t obsess about stains or holes as you can see below. They tell the story of the cloth and the quilt, so I actually highlighted them.

I have seen a few of the other quilts in this exhibit, but I am really looking forward to seeing them all up. It should be an excellent exhibit. If you can be there, the reception is Friday, April 5, 5-7 pm and the author talk is the following day. Contact QuiltWorks directly if you are interested.

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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.

New In Shop :: Forest Friends DIY Embroidered Ornaments Kit

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I’m pleased to introduce my newest DIY embroidery kit. This one is called Forest Friends and includes some critters that are so much fun to stitch. Whether you are a fan of rabbits, fox, raccoon, or marten, there’s something for everyone. This kit will make all four ornaments and you can switch up colors and stitches as you like. Check out this and all my kits in the DIY section of my shop.

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New Work in the Shop

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I have finished several slow cloth pieces to add to the shop.  A couple have sold already, so if you're interested, please check it out soon.  Speaking of the shop, I've also added a bunch of new items including original paintings, hand painted greeting cards, stickers, printed greeting cards, and some hand stitched wearable art cuffs.  As a reminder, handmade blank art journals, project bags, and pillow covers can be found in my KMS Handmade shop.  I have changed all shipping options to free for domestic shipping and a small upcharge for Canada and Everywhere Else.  I hope that makes it easier for those outside the US to purchase from my shops.  If you feel so moved, I'd love it if you'd share my shop info with friends.  Thank you!

***Free Domestic Shipping in Both Shops***
Shop Kristin Shields Art
Shop KMS Handmade

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These handmade cuffs were fun to make with vintage linens and some hand embroidery.  Check them out in the shop to see all sides.  

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Night Tree detail

Night Tree detail

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Sail Away detail

Sail Away detail

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Cloth Weaving Sampler

Cloth Weaving Sampler

Pink Silk

Pink Silk

Sunflower

Sunflower

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Sunrise over Haleakala

Sunrise over Haleakala

See My Voice

Only One Earth

Only One Earth

Finally, these three quilts will be exhibited out in the world!  I entered the Quilt Surface Design Symposium "See My Voice" museum exhibit on a whim.  My notification email was lost in the shuffle, but today I found it buried in my spam folder and was delighted to see that all three pieces were accepted.  

Ross Art Museum, 60 Sandusky St., Delaware, OH 43015
Exhibition Dates:  May 18th – June 29th 2018      
Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday 1-5pm and Thursday 1-7pm

If you are in the area, or attending the symposium I hope you'll get a chance to check out the exhibit. I wish I could see it in person!  You can read more about these pieces in this blog post.

She Persisted

She Persisted

#hashtagsofourtime

#hashtagsofourtime