Thursday, June 9, 2011

Creativity Ketchup

It's been a while since I posted about any creative undertakings, so get ready for a deluge. I didn't want to post about the quilts until they had been given to the intended recipients, and that made it all the easier to put off writing about any of this. So, without further adieu, let's plunge in.

Readers of this blog for several years know that I often make quilts for the instructors in our Myo Sim Karate and Kendo program. The year that older son tested for his first degree black belt in Myo Sim kendo, I made our master kendo instructor an indigo quilt centered around a print of Mount Fuji. You can see it in this post; it's the third quilt shown. Two years later, older son tested for his first degree black belt in Myo Sim karate, and I made similar indigo quilts for two karate master instructors as well as another instructor who was promoted to the rank of master in the same test. You can see those three in this post. Our principal local kendo instructor was also promoted to master rank during that test, but I did not have time to make him a similar quilt. Nor did I have time to make one for him last year, due to my own testing for black belt. He got his indigo quilt this year; I fortuitously finished it the night before I was invited to test for my second degree black belt, just three weeks before the test date. Because the recipient was the final local master instructor to receive an indigo quilt, "The Last Master" seemed an appropriate title. I had and used the time to quilt this a bit more closely than I have some of my other "master quilts." You can see some of the detail here. Had I not been invited to test for my second degree black belt, I would have had another quilt ready to present after the black belt test; instead, I presented it a couple of months late. That one was first shown in this post celebrating my new studio space. Another photo of this quilt top got posted to my Facebook profile. I think I said in commenting on the photo that the recipient had yet to be determined, in response to which one of our karate instructors posted a series of "please be mes" that won my heart and earned him the quilt. Here's the quilt in its finished form, spread out on my bed. Next up on the quilting front is to quilt the top shown here as a slightly-more-than-one-year-late wedding present for a friend's daughter. First, though, I need to finish the quilted sword bag I promised younger son as a Christmas present. No photos of it in progress, but I'm at the stage of putting on straps and buckles after which I need to sew the pockets. I was actually going to do all that yesterday and today, but the noise from a basement remodel was a bit more than I wanted to deal with in the studio.

The state of having a sewing machine and knowing how to use it is similar to that of having a pickup truck and knowing how to drive it. It's always handy to know someone with a pickup if you need to move furniture or other large items, and it's always handy to know someone with a sewing machine if you need something made or mended. I traded altering two long, wide drapes into two narrower, shorter ones for a bottle of wine better than that which I typically purchase. I also made the largest things I've ever made in my life, two sets of (two each) drapes to separate a large, open space, into three smaller spaces. I started with four lengths of 108-inch-wide black flannel, the shortest of which was five yards long. After pre-washing and shrinking said pieces (Did you know that there's a Mega-Load washer that can wash 75 pounds of fabric things at once?), I made four drapes, the smallest two of which were 132 inches long and 79 inches tall. Here's what that looked like. This is the shorter of the two sets; the longer ones, 163 inches long each, did not fit, lengthwise, into the empty room I was using as workspace. While my four cutting boards taped together worked in terms of cutting the short dimension, they had to be oh so very carefully re-positioned in order to cut along the longer dimension. Fortunately, I had to do these curtains last weekend, because here's what the room in which I worked looked like last night. This is the basement remodel I mentioned above. The floor seen here was today leveled a bit. Next week, a floating bamboo floor will be installed to turn a former sunroom into a miniature dojo and exercise room, the christening of which will likely merit its own post here.

When not fondling, folding, or otherwise having fun with fabric, I've been yarning. Here's the busband and his brother; the husband is the one in the Icelandic sweater knitted by his loving wife. When people compliment him on the sweater, I tell them that I will gladly make them the Icelandic sweater of their choosing as long as they pay for the yarn and for me to travel to Iceland to purchase it at the Alafoss outlet store outside Reykjavik. I'm serious, just in case there's any question about that. I'm now working on my own Icelandic sweater in zippered cardigan form after finishing another cardigan from yarn I got for Christmas 2009. I still need to block that one, after which I will post photos and possibly run a poll as to whether the frilly style suits me.

In moving into my studio last summer, I discovered a box of wool yarn that I'd forgotten I had, left over from when younger son was in high school and I was holding an after-school group for some academic team members who wanted to learn how to knit. I've so far made three felted bags, large enough to be nice weekend bags, I think, once I add zippers and straps. Here they are, with a sample strap pinned on the first one I finished. I took this photo with my pocket digital point-and-shoot, and the accuracy of the colors leaves something to be desired. The bottom and top bags are actually more purple than the blue that appears here. I also found nine skeins of mauve wool yarn that I bought at an online sale when the mauve looked a lot more pleasant on the screen than it turned out to look in reality. Since I wasn't working on younger son's sword bag yesterday, I used grape, tropical punch, and black cherry off-brand Kool-Aid drink mix to dye those nine skeins of mauve somewhat more pleasing shades of red and maroon. Here they are hanging on the front porch to dry. These will be made into one or more felted bags, though probably not as big as the weekend bags shown above.

And what will I do with all these bags? I occasionally toy with the idea of opening an Etsy shop, but it's actually somewhat hard for me to post my works here for simple public viewing let alone post them somewhere with the intent that people give me money for them. Maybe I need to expand my Christmas and birthday lists since the people on those now may not need or want any more bags. I'll think about that later, possibly while working on one of the works-in-progress mentioned here.


Debi said...

You haven't been busy or anything, have you? :) Good heavens, girl, how the hell do you do it all?!!! And do it all so damn well, I might add!

Debi said...


Jayne said...

Bags are so lovely! Typical Jean!!

Jayne said...

Oh, and the quilts are amazing, as is typical of your art.

Ellobie said...

Love love love the master quilt! Awesome work, Jean!

Also, this:

Caroline M said...

Busy, busy, busy. There looks to be a lot of pressing in those black room dividers, lots of work there before you reach for the tape measure.

I know how you feel on the selling of stuff but you have to get it out of the house somehow.