Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Creative Strength Training--Yarn Mandala

Summer is officially here, which is bittersweet for me.  I love the weather, long days and flowers, but long for the fun and joy of attending and working at Summer Camp.  Lucky for me and anyone interested, Jane Dunnewold is hosting a Creative Strength Training Camp and there is plenty of time to join the camp fun via the public "Creative Strength Training Prompts" Facebook group.  This camp is designed for "creative types and those who want to be more creative."  It is structured in that each Monday, a new creative action prompt is issued as a challenge.  If you choose to participate and do a post by Saturday evening, you are eligible to win prizes!  Anyone who joins the group also receives a discount code for use in ordering Jane's desk of "Creative Strength Training" Prompt Cards.

Week 1 of CST Camp just kicked off on Monday and prompted participants to gather sticks from the street or backyard for use in a creative project.  Its been lots of fun seeing such creativity from participants interpretation of stick, as well as how they have embellished and used the sticks into a personal creative art project:  bridges, weaving, figurines, fences, totem poles and much more.

I enjoyed my walk about the backyard and front of the house in search of sticks to serve as my muse.  On the prompt card, there was the suggestion of wrapping the sticks, which immediately reminded making Ojo de Dios/God's Eyes with yarn.  A quick Pinterest search found an amazing array of God's Eyes, including some really advanced designs that reminded me of a mandala.  I found this great online tutorial by Jay Mohler to help me get started.  I grabbed my three skeins of ombre yarns and got to work weaving my own Mandala.
Ombre Yarn Mandala, Finished 6" x 6"
There was a bit of a learning curve, but once I figured out the pattern and designs, the weaving process was very meditative as I watched new designs and color combinations emerge from the center out.  Unfortunately, just as I was getting the knack of it, one of the sticks began to give and bend a little (evidenced by the section of looser weaving).  Then another branch broke along the edge of my current weaving.  I figured this was nature's way of telling me my piece was done...and so I proceeded to snap off the other long stick ends, tie off any loose threads and call it finished!

But I will be in search for longer/sturdier sticks to try making larger mandalas!!
A Rather Fitting Easel to Display my Nature Inspired Art!
And if you happen to be in the San Jose area in late July...Jane Dunnewold will be delivering a Fiber Talk for the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles on Sunday, July 24th from 3-4 PM!  Tickets are available for purchase online.  I am looking forward to meeting Jane, hearing her speak and hopefully getting her to sign a copy of her newly released Creative Strength Training book!!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Beach Breeze

This month's Modern Quilts Unlimited "Everything Old Is New Again" challenged us to do a modern makeover on the Drunkard's Path block.  Not only did this block feature curves, and with that came a number of curve balls that required me to rethink my original block design.

Using EQ7, I experimented with several different block designs and colorways before landing on the block design below left.  I liked how it incorporated rays and tied in with previous block makeovers including my Whimsical Whirligigs and Bow Tie Burst.  But as you can see, the final block included a few "adjustments" from the previous design.    
From Plan A to Plan E!!
As you probably noticed, the sea foam rings are missing.  I tried to add them using two or three different applique techniques, all of which failed miserably!  So I decided to abandon the ring entirely and opt for a simplified quarter circle in each corner.    

Now that my four block units were complete, it was time to assemble them into my 12" finished block.  As I was laying the units out, I realized that by simply rotating the blocks, you could feature a lime or grey center.  Choices, choices!!
Plans D and E!
After much going back and forth, I chose to go with the grey center, which surprisingly seemed brighter!
Beach Breeze, 12" x 12"
As the blocks seem to fan out...I brainstormed a variety of block titles featuring breeze:  Summer Breeze, Ocean Breeze...before landing on "Beach Breeze."  Online voting will be open through June 15th (facebook username required).  Be sure to vote for your favorite(s).

It's hard to believe this is my 11th modern block makeover as part of the MQU "Everything Old Is New Again" challenge series.  We have one block left to design, before putting them all together into a finished quilt top.  As we will only have a month to finish our quilts, I've already started sketching out a few layout ideas.  And I have quite a bit of print yardage featuring chevrons and dots, both of which helped inspire my fabric palette, but have only been incorporated into two of the block designs.
11 Blocks Done...1 Left to Design...Before Putting Them All Together!

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Walk In the Woods

Today began with a road trip to Mt. Madonna County Park.  The girls' excitement began as soon as I put on my sneakers and continued for most of the trip.  They remained on high alert for the entire drive, with Panda ready to help navigate. 
"The mountains are calling and I must go." --John Muir
We were truly blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day on the trail!  The weekend crowd hadn't started arriving yet, so we had much of the park to ourselves...passing only one group of hikers!
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."--John Muir
The girls had an absolute blast exploring all the sights and smells along the trail.  Our 4 mile trek provided a wealth of breathtaking views, including some spectacular floral arrangements.  Upon arrival, we were greeted with several fox gloves blooming along the parking lot, with many more to to be found along the trails.  
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."--John Muir    
What a perfectly delightful day of exploring.  9000+ steps later, we begrudgingly returned to the car to head home.  Before we had even left the park, both girls had settled down in the back seat for some much needed rest...and they have both been napping ever since we got home.  I am looking forward to our next walk in the woods...
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings."--John Muir

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Focus on Fabric Challenges

The month of May provided me with some much needed downtime from quilt deadlines.  Not only did I manage to complete 7 quilts, I also got started on two new batches of scrap quilt blocks!!
Two New In-Progress Scrap Attacks

These two batches of blocks will have to go on the back burner, as June has arrived...and that means it's time for me to shift my focus on two challenges due at the end of the month:  
  • Cherrywood King of the Jungle Challenge
  • Hoffman Challenge

Challenge Fabrics:  King of the Jungle and Cherrywood
Having survived six one-week Project Quilting timelines and eight 2-week deadlines for all my color & composition class assignments concurrently...this should be a piece of cake!!  ;-)  But I should get started on bringing my visions/sketches to reality...wish me luck!!