28 December 2014

'Twelve Days of Christmas' Socks

Many of us are World Champions when it comes to starting new projects, but find it a little more difficult to finish these projects, as there are so many other fun projects to start! I'm a prime example! I have a book which is jam-packed with beautiful sock patterns (Around the World in Knitted Socks), and I want to knit most of them. Well, at least make a start on them... It seems it will take me two years to finish each pair, so the 26 different models will keep me busy for the rest of my life.

Two years ago I finished my first pair from the book (link), and I have been using them this Christmas as my official Christmas socks. As soon as I finished the first pair, however, I started on another pair, which I finished today. Yay! I think they will replace the first pair as my official Christmas socks, or perhaps they could be my Twelve Days of Christmas socks. They have the right two turtle doves theme to be appropritate.

Thanks for visiting my blog! Grab a UFO (UnFinished Object) and finish it! Big or small doesn't matter, it will be most satisfying no matter what!

20 December 2014

Deck the Halls

In a recent episode on Design Matters TV, Linda Kemshall demonstrated how to make some beautiful little Christmas ornaments, and I was so intrigued that I had to make one myself.

The shape of the ornament wasn't unfamiliar to me. In fact, Ive seen something similar by Clover called a 'Clam Shell Accessories Case'. You can buy the pieces that make up the walls of the case, and cover them with the fabric of your choice. In DMTV Linda demonstrated that it is very easy to make these pieces yourself from card or sturdy watercolour paper. Or why not stencil plastic to make them even sturdier? For a Christmas ornament, however, card is probably enough, as most of the time it will just be hanging in your home looking pretty. I say most of the time, because you can also use them for hiding little objects or sweets, if you leave an opening, so they'll have to be able to withstand a bit of handling. If you don't have access to DMTV, Clover has also published an instructional video that will show you another method for making these little cases.

So, with a bit of patience, three little leaf-shaped fabric-covered pieces of card

could turn into something like this:

And if you want to hide something inside it, you just press it open like this:

Pretty neat, right?

And while I'm on the subject, here's another Christmas ornament that Linda and Laura Kemshall have inspired me to make. A few years ago I learned from them how to make triangular hanging bags (here's one that I've made), and that inspired me to make a tiny version that you could hang on your Christmas tree. There's room for a sweet in this one too!

It is so enjoyable to make precious little ornaments like these that I'm thinking perhaps I should start a tradition and make a new one very year.

Thanks for visiting!

18 December 2014

I [heart] Sashiko

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I enjoy experimentation just as much as working with a particular product in mind. However, once in a while it's very satisfying to actually finish a project that's been hanging around in the UFO (UnFinished Objects) basket for a while. A few days ago I put the final touches to a little sashiko drawstring purse that I started working on 1,5 years ago, on my trip to England and The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham. For this little baggie I followed the instructions in Susan Briscoe's The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook.

This image will illustrate how I went about creating the sashiko embroidery:

I marked the fabric with the help of my favorite marking tool, a Prym mechanical chalk pencil, and a circle cut out from card.

On one side of the purse I embroidered a pattern called 'linked seven treasures' (shippo tsunagi)

and on the other side a pattern called 'circular Bishamon' (maru bishamon) for courage, prosperity and protection.

This is what it looks like when the purse is closed:

I love the flower decorations at the end of the strings:

I hope I have inspired you to try some sashiko embrodery. The stitches are basically just a running stitch where the gap between the stitches should be shorter than the stitches themselves. I'm always amazed by how much you can do and how beautiful work you can create with the simple running stitch. I think it must be my favourite stitch along with French knots!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

20 November 2014

Breast Pockets Revisited

Two years ago I participated in Melanie Testa's Breast Pocket Project, together with a group of  students at the adult education centre where I worked at the time. If you want to revisit the blog posts I wrote then, you can check this link for information about the project and this link for an image of the breast pockets we created and sent to Melanie.

The reason I mention this is that in the October/November 2014 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine there is a Reader Challenge that calls for breast pockets in honor and support of all who are or have been touched by breast cancer. The challenge is connected to Melanie and the earlier Breast Pocket Project, as all the pockets that are submitted will be donated to her project. Every pocket will also be published either in the April/May 2015 issue of the magazine or online. The deadline is 9 December, so there's still time to join the challenge! You can find the instructions if you follow this link and some more information here.

A week ago I went on a bus trip to Tampere for the Finnish Handicrafts 2014 Fair, and as I was going to spend several hours travelling to and from the fair, I felt that a small embroidery project such as a breast pocket would be the perfect way to keep myself busy. I found a piece of fabric that I'd saved from a stamping and stencil printing demo I did earlier this autumn, and picked out some embroidery thread. I wanted a subtle effect, and went for pink and white. I also added green after I took the photograph, to create a bit of interest.

I don't have any process images this time, but I can tell you a little about the process in words instead. To be perfectly honest, it was something of a struggle for me. I soon realised that the threads I'd chosen were not just a bit too subtle, but there wasn't much I could do about that, sitting on a bus in the middle of nowhere, so I decided that I was going to have to make it work. I stitched, and tore out stitches for hours before I felt that I was on the right track. Even so, when the stitching was complete, I still felt that there wasn't enough contrast. So I got out a jar of white pearlescent fabric paint and painted a glimmering layer all over the background, stitches and all. I then took some beads to make a beaded edge, and some glitter paint to add a bit of shimmer to the countours of the main motif. Then, at last, I found my peace, and the piece was declared finished. Here's the result:

The breast pocket

I love these beaded edges

I made it to the post office just in time today, so the little pocket is already on its big journey to Massachusetts, USA. Yay!

Thanks for visiting for my blog!

1 November 2014

Still Away With The Mermaids... but...

there are also new winds blowing. Yay!

I've been very busy all autumn, working, painting, teaching, and I have hardly touched a single piece of fabric, but now that the more active part of The Mermaid Circus workshop is over (has it been 8 weeks already?!), I suddenly felt a little craving for fabric. And there happens to be something fun going on chez Melanie Testa. She has started a Sew Along for her Gather Your Sew-Plies Project Bag, which is a nifty little purse that you can strap to your body, and that will hold the stuff that you need when you are sewing on-the-go, or wherever. I want one!

The pattern is available in the Quilting Arts Holiday 2014 magazine, which is downloadable at Interweave (link), and on Melanie's blog you can follow the sew-along. Just click the tag 'Sew Along', and you'll get all the blog posts that she's written on the subject. I just had a rummage through my stash and found the perfect fabrics. I've saved them for something else, but a girl can change her mind, right?

So stay tuned for Sew Along news, or even better: JOIN IN !

Here are more mermaids that I've created in the Mermaid Circus workshop. It's been so much fun, and I've learned so much. Having a theme to work with makes such a big difference to me, as it helps me to actually get started. And of course, with a such a fun theme as mermaids, it's impossible not to be inspired!

Thanks for visiting my blog!

4 October 2014

Away With the Mermaid Circus

It's been quiet on the blog again, and the reason is, as it usually is, that 24 hours a day hasn't been nearly enough for everything that I need and want to do. So here's just a quick update on the highlights in September:

I went on a trip to Ruka (a bit south of the Arctic Circle) with my parents for a few days of hiking on the fells. And I wasn't disappointed: I saw lots of reindeer. This one is most certainly Rudolph.

I've also taught a couple of mini workshops on stamp and stencil making at the local adult education centre. I'm not teaching much this year, as I'm currently mainly working as a freelance translator,  but I will be teaching one more mini workshop on fabric dyeing in the spring term. I have some experimentation to to before that, so there will be more posts on fabric design later this autumn.

But at the moment my main creative focus is the Mermaid Circus (see the badge at the top on the right side of this page). It's an online workshop that is a collaboration between Jane Davenport and Teesha Moore, and it's jam-packed with techniques and inspiration for drawing, painting and collage. I'd love to be able to devote myself to the Mermaid Circus full time, but alas, my day job has been encroaching on my mermaid time lately. Hopefully October will be Mermaid Month. Here are some of the mermaids I've been working on in a mermaid shaped art book:

Collage in Teesha Moore style

The cover with Teesha More style lettering

Collage in Jane Davenport style

The face on the mermaid above is a printout of a scan made
of this portrait, which is done in alcohol markers

This workshop is so much fun that it's positively addictive. I'm learning so much and discovering things that I know will cross-fertilize my textile work. I highly recommend running away with the Mermaid Circus!

Thanks for stopping by!

25 August 2014

Stencil Frenzy

Just over a year ago I discovered a new source of inspiration: the Australian artist and art teacher Jane 'Danger' Davenport. (Yes, she really is dangerous: addictively funny and inspirational.) You will hear her name again on this blog, as I have some really exciting things going on at the moment.

Today, however, I'm going to talk about stencils. The reason I mentioned Jane at the start is that earlier this year she released an Art Lesson with Cloth Paper Scissors magazine 'Stencil Auditions', which triggered a veritable stencil frenzy in my life. The Art Lesson is downloadable, very affordable, and very, very inspiring. So inspiring that I immediately went ahead and ordered a whole bunch of stencils online. Many of them were water-themed (corals, waves and ripples), for a reason that I will return to later. :-)

My new stencils had barely arrived before something wonderful happened. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to borrow her Silhouette Cameo cutting machine and try it out for stencil cutting. Did I ever!! I did a bit of research, and got started cutting stencils from stencil plastic. I couldn't belive how well it worked. Each time I removed a freshly cut stencil from the machine I couldn't help laughing out loud from pure joy. The only cloud on my horizon was that I was just about to move, and really didn't have much time to spend on the Cameo, as I was supposed to go through my stuff and pack it into boxes.That's why my stencil-cutting was a bit frenzied.

Test-cutting my first stencil (a face)

I had time to design (the cutter comes with a software that you can use to design your own stencils) and cut about 12 stencils before it was time to return the Cameo, and I have to admit that I'm really tempted to buy one at some point. I'm all for hand-cutting your own stencils, but it's very time-consuming if you do it from quality stencil plastic, you'll end up with a sore hand, arm and neck, and you'll never achieve the precision of a computer. Some patterns are simply not possible with, or worth the time and effort of, hand-cutting. I guess it's all a balancing act where you need to ask yourself when you should hand-cut, or when to buy a commercial stencil or use a cutting machine. There's a time and place for all three of them.

Oh, and one thing that I love about the cutting machine is that all those perfect little bits that are cut out can be saved and used for masks:

If anyone has a Silhouette Cameo and would like to know what settings I used for my stencils, here's the information. But you might have to experiment to get the right settings, as materials and machines differ. So consider these settings a guide and a starting point:

Speed: 1
Thickness: 30
Blade: 5
Double cut
Brand of stencil plastic: Crea Pop

Here are more images of my favourite stencils:

So far I've only used them for work that I've created for Jane Davenport's Art Lessons (on gesso and stencils) and online workshop 'Supplies Me'.

If you're like me, and have a whole Museum of Art Supplies that you never use, I recommend Jane's Art Lessons and workshops. You cannot help being inspired to use everything you have!

Thanks for dropping by!

10 August 2014

Wake-Up Bells

Today is the final day of Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, and the winners have already been announced, so now I'm safe to publish images of the quilt that was sent there. As I've already mentioned here, the theme this year was In My Garden, and spring was the season that was given to Finland. I chose the lovely snowdrop, and titled the quilt Wake-Up Bells. Here's an image of the whole quilt, as well as process images and some detail shots of the finished quilt. As mentioned, it will be on tour for two years, so I took lots of photos before I sent it off.

The size of the quilt is 30 x 30 cm (12" x 12"). It's a wholecloth printed and painted quilt with collage elements between cotton and a layer of silk organza.

First of all I made a preliminary plan of the quilt on watercolour paper to help me make decisions about the colour scheme and texture before I started adding paint to fabric.

I printed cotton with pigment (textile) paint and various handmade and found stamps, transferred the pattern to the cotton with a mechanical pencil and painted the hair with a brush and pigment paint.

I also printed and spray painted silk organza,

and the cotton fabric that I used to soak up the paint that went trough the sheer organza was used for the back of the quilt.

I outlined the image with Derwent Inktense pencils, and started adding the collage elements.

I added the organza over the cotton base fabric, free-motion quilted the whole thing and added hand embroidery as a finishing touch. Here are some close-ups of the finished quilt:

If you're interested in this way of working, I recommend looking up Melanie Testa's book Inspired to Quilt. Melanie works with dye in the book, but it's also possible to use pigment paint, as I have done, if that's more accessible to you.

Thanks for visiting!