Monday, January 24, 2011

Melanie Needs Some Subversive Stitcher Attitude!

Everyone has a burden to bear, whether it is divorce, weird relatives, budgets that won't balance or as in Mellie Testa's case -- the Big C!

She's such a giver and such a gifted artist that I just must point you to her blog. Her dear friend is speaking for her as she tries to wrap her head around the latest chapter in her life.

If you feel moved to help Mellie through this minefield she faces, there are a few suggestions of things we can do to help. And of course, hold her in your thoughts and lift her up in prayers.

And contribute, please contribute to finding a cure. Virginia Spiegel seems to always have a fundraiser in the works or give directly to the American Cancer Society or charity of your choice.

Damn! We've got your back Mel!

Here's some information about Virginia Spiegel's upcoming fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

One Cause, One Wednesday, One Hundred Collages

One Cause – The Fight Against Cancer.

One Wednesday – February 16, 2011.

One Hundred Collages – Created for this event by an all-star team of artists: Natalya Aikens, Pamela Allen, Laura Ann Beehler, Liz Berg, Pokey Bolton, Laura Cater-Woods, Jette Clover, Jane Davila, Jane Dunnewold, Jamie Fingal, Gloria Hansen, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lyric Kinard, Jeanelle McCall, Linda Teddlie Minton, Karen Stiehl Osborn, BJ Parady, Judy Perez, Wen Redmond, Cynthia St. Charles, Virginia A. Spiegel

The goal – Raise $8,000 for the American Cancer Society in just one day. More details and a preview of artwork:

Fiberart For A Cause has already donated over $205,000 to the American Cancer Society through the generosity of fiber artists and their patrons.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My View: A Few Books To Pique Your Creativity and a Giveaway!

It is not even the Ides of January and I'm feeling the overload! How about you? Hopefully your overload is in creativity and inspiration. I'm afraid my good intentions evaporated before the mists of that first January morning dissipated. It seems that I am slogging through this new year watching British mysteries and period pieces and spouting words like 'slogging' and 'bloody hell.' I'm even sipping Earl Grey tea as I write this.

Even in this land of Florida sunshine, there has been a shortage of old Sol. A couple sun rays arrived in the mail yesterday from American Quilter's Society.

I must admit that when I first saw the words 'Sunbonnet Sue' on the front cover of the first book, I groaned. I am not a fan. They are cute, vintage 1930s which doesn't seem to be my favorite era. And the cutie is so not what I want hanging in my house or covering my beds. I've seen them clad in pastels and dressed up as cowgirl or cowboy and wasn't impressed.

Dutifully, I looked again and am sooooo glad I did! Debra Kimball has put together a creative and fun group of Sues. The book is International Sun Bonnet Sue.

The book blurb describes well what you'll find inside "49 enchanting Sunbonnet designs capture the essence of places from around the globe. Each Sue is dressed in her country's traditional costume and holds a symbolic souvenir."

It was the Kimono Sue quilt, inspiration for this book, which drew me in. These little Japanese Sue figures are adorable. The fabrics and details the author chose definitely make these figures inviting. The symbolic souvenirs that they hold really give the figures character.

What a great project for using up scraps, or a great reason to delve into your assorted collection of fabrics. Bright colors, muted, whatever worked from batiks to flower prints. This book is light on technique. It is applique in whatever form you wish to use. What it features are the patterns for each of the 49 Sues along with photos of the author's fabric choices. There's even a little Sherlock Holmes clad Sue. If you enjoy applique -- whether needle turn or the fused or raw edge techniques -- you'll find these are patterns that will make you smile. Each turn of the page lightened my attitude and made my fingers itch to get started.

There is but one finished quilt and that is simply squares set together with sashing and each square has a figure appliqued to the middle of it. Not terribly exciting, but I'm sure once you begin making these little girls, you will find a host of ways to display them. A children's room seems the most reasonable place to display these Sues. I can see them adorning wall hangings, maybe arranged in a circle or on a table runner or even potholders or placemats. A bell pull perhaps? I know once you begin making these sweeties, you will find excellent ways to display them. Maybe even a birthday banner?

The second book may resonate with many who are determined to try new techniques this year and MASTER them! New York Beauty Simplified by Linda J. Hahn may be just what you need to ease into points, paper piecing, and curved piecing. Linda, in her introduction reassures us Subversive Stitchers that "The technique you are about to learn is very untraditional; we are going to break some rules. I have a very relaxed style and I do not like to stress or agonize. It is my opinion that quilting should be FUN and not stressful."

Circles, half circles, quarter circles, serpentine arrangements, and more fill this book. She also offers a variety of photos of many quilts to show off fabric choices. Perhaps it is simply my mood, my need for inspiration, but I found this book upbeat and easy to follow and most of all, calling to my creative urges to give it a try.

Going along with curved piecing, AQS previously sent me a book "Vivacious Curvy Quilts" by Dianne S. Hire. Seeing Linda Hahn's book, brought the curvy quilts to mind and I pulled the book out for a second look. I don't know why I filed it away without sharing it with you -- maybe the holidays intruded. But it is worth examining.

The art quilter may find Hire's intuitive approach and nontraditional quilts more inviting that a traditional quilter who gets high on perfect points, symmetry and matched seams. Yet, if you're venturing into a free style of quilt making -- this book's for you. Hire writes, "One of the most important things to have on hand when creating in an intuitive way is an open mind."

Evidently circles and curves are in my future and a bit of Sunbonnet Sue whimsy.

One more book! Recently in a Subversive Stitchers facebook discussion, someone mentioned that they enjoyed making Temari balls. My first response was "Huh?" "What?"

But of course I Googled and discovered that these Japanese Thread Balls look like a fun project. If you are looking for something to do when not quilting or sewing. Or you are looking for a way to use up some yarns and threads and do something exquisitely beautiful -- check out "TEMARI: How to make Japanese Thread Balls" by Diana Vandervoort. It is published by Japan Publications Trading Company, 1992. It isn't a new book, but definitely a fine book on the subject. There are also some Temari sites online that may help you get started, but Diana's step by step directions, tips, and suggestions take the guesswork out of this project.

I just can't stop! One more book. I mentioned it when discussing my 'Confetti Cats' project on Facebook last year, but it is worth revisiting. It is Noriko Endo's "Confetti Naturescapes" Published by Dragon Threads, this book combines the beauty of an impressionist's painting with the frugal use of snippets of fabric in a 'confetti' landscape. This book is a 'must own' for anyone who has gasped in admiration at Noriko's work. It is filled with photos of her quilts. And accompanying those photos are descriptions and explanations of techniques and what she achieved with various techniques and approaches. For example on her Mother Nature quilt she tells about "Using the technique of free-motion embroidery on the machine has allowed me to introduce texture on the tree trunks."

Noriko has created an art book that is also a learning tool for all who delve inside it. Linda Teufel mentioned that she is interested in offering a copy of Confetti Naturescapes as a giveaway to a lucky winner. If you're interested in trying your luck, please leave a comment and we'll draw a winner on February 1.

Just talking about these books has brightened my day, maybe that's what brought the sun out! I do hope you are all having a blessed and creative 2011! I'm writing this line at 1:11 on 1-11-11. A once in a lifetime moment -- but isn't every moment once in a lifetime?

Books are available through AQS, Amazon, or Dragon Threads.