Blog Hop Around the World

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the Blog Hop Around the World.  I said yes, but at the time I was deep into research on Bronze Age textiles, and I wanted to complete those posts before I forgot everything I had learned.  Now that they’re done, it is time to join the Blog Hop!

I was asked by Barbro at Barbro’s Threads.  She shares inspirational photos of Nordic textile displays, and I am always amazed by at the variety of colorful patterns on utilitarian objects like socks and caps.  But Barbro is very modest about her own work and I actually learned the most about her skills from another author.  She recently got a loom and I can’t wait to see what she produces with it.

Barbro was asked by Mazzaus at Local & Bespoke in Australia, whom I also follow.  I want to try so many of her ideas about using plants to print on cloth, (she even prints bed sheets) and her tips on repurposing.  She has also been raising silkworms, but that is one area where I think I will just follow along virtually!

Mazzaus was asked by Leah of Seattle Spinner who was asked by Valerie of Intricate Knits.  I don’t know where this blog hop originated, but there are a lot of threads from it going around, and if you search “Blog Hop Around the World”, you will find lots more inspiring creative people out there who are part of it!

So for this blog hop, there are four questions:

1) What are you working on?

I have just finished up some projects – blue and white handwoven towels, and two pirate shirts from vintage linen and raw silk.  I only have a few works-in-progress, and I think this one best portrays my interests.

autumn blocks

I love the abstract qualities of natural objects.  I take pictures of the things around me, and then use Photoshop Elements to increase the contrast and saturation.  Then I print them on fabric, and use them in wall quilts, like the one in my header image.  I take these quilts along when I volunteer at nature festivals, and they draw all kinds of people over and give good starting points to conversations about nature.

In this one, I zoomed in and cropped the photos where I saw interesting compositions.

nature photos In the piece above I have framed the photos with other fabrics.  So far they are in 4 narrow panels with 4 blocks in each.  I am not wild about this piece, so I am going to use it for practicing techniques that I have been wanting to try.  I’m not sure if I will put all the panels together into one rectangle, or leave them as separate panels.

The image that’s really calling to me right now is the one in the bottom right of the separate photos – I would like to do something with that image on its own.

2) How does my work differ from others?

I don’t think I have a unique voice or way of working.  I know that I what I like is random, unpredictable combinations.  I will pick originality over technical expertise – I love Gee’s Bend quilts more than Baltimore Album quilts.

This is my favorite out of the quilts I own.

Time has faded some sections in a random way and that adds to the appeal.

Time has faded some sections in a random way and that adds to the appeal.

When I weave I usually end up changing the color or the treadling (or both) every few inches.  I can weave yards and yards consistently, but I usually don’t.

twill runner

My choices aren’t always effective, but I just have to see “What will it look like if I try this?”

3)  Why do I create what I do?

I love to give people things that capture the comfort and inspiration of the human touch.

I make textiles because they’re a warm soft way to play with ideas.

4) How does my creative process work?

Usually I start from the materials – donated fabric, or some vintage blocks I got at an auction, or something I bought at the International Quilt Show.  I gather up the ones that I think go together, and make a general plan, but it always changes as I go.

I don’t piece tops separately and then quilt; I do big blocks with minimal quilting-as-I-go.  The most I can fit in my sewing machine is crib-quilt size, so if I’m doing a crib quilt, I do the whole thing at once.  I start in the middle and then see “what the quilt wants” as far as adding borders, or strips of blocks. When these sections of blocks are sewn to the batting and backing, I go over all of it again with free motion quilting.  To make bigger quilts I join three or four of the crib-size ones.

Most of my projects are done for other people, so I consider what they would want.  I try to tone down my natural “design exuberance” because it might be a little overwhelming, but I can’t create a quilt with only three or four fabrics – my “calmer” quilts have at least a dozen.

I want every textile I make to be visually richer and better-crafted than the one before, but I view each one as just a step towards gaining expertise.  I haven’t made any showcase textiles and I don’t know if I ever will – I just enjoy experimenting and seeing what comes out next!

Bonus Question (my own addition) – Where do I need to go next?

I need to work on having each element of a quilt contribute to the overall image – I am comfortable with my sense of color and composition, but I need to put more consideration into layers of surface design, quilting stitch patterns, embellishments, and binding, to create a richer total.

And that’s probably why I chose to pass the torch on to Joanna at The Snarky Quilter, whom I find to be very talented but not at all snarky!  🙂  I love her work because it is varied from one project to the next, and she combines ideas from three or four sources into a beautiful unified and layered image.