Friday, April 29, 2016

Just because

Hello, everyone.

Last weekend we drove down to South Padre Island. It was "between the Easters" and there were neither the clogged crowds of Mexican Holy Week vacationers nor the mobs of Spring Break students. It was, in fact, refreshing.

This is inside the city limits of South Padre Island, the part of the barrier island that is not National Seashore, and because cars are not allowed on the beach inside the town, the city has installed board accesses with pocket parking lots. (The public has an enforced right to access the public beaches. Which are all of the beaches in Texas.) The loads of green vegetation in sight is the area that the local property owners try really hard to keep green--anything below the permanent vegetation line belongs to the State of Texas as part of the public beach.

We didn't even wander around doing a big walk and keeping track of birds, bugs and flowers. We just enjoyed the fresh breezes for a few minutes. (There are, of course, seagulls along here like nobody's business.) On the other side of the barrier island, where the water is calmer, we saw some hermit crabs and regular crabs crawling around in the water near wooden piers, and oyster shells clinging to the wood.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Late April, and the summerlike weather is back again

Hello, everyone.

I must admit that at this time of year the summerlike weather is normal. And it's not 95 or higher (35C for my metric zone readers) every single day yet. (That comes in a couple more weeks.)

Still, my feet feel like they should be out walking in this:

These are from the first three days of the Camino Portugues last summer. It was about the same temperatures. Of course, walking along the levee means no breeze, too. We still miss it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A fabric surprise

Hello, everyone.

Today is more of an update on various ongoing projects.

On the book cover business, I decided that I'd learned enough about using the poly doupioni and took it out of the embroidery hoop. A scrap (large scrap) of poly taffeta had crossed my awareness and I wanted to see if it would be hard or easy to needle. I backed it with a scrap of muslin and tucked the set into the hoop for a look-see.
Testing the taffeta
This is leftover Ivory Two-Tone Taffeta that was off-cut from wedding dress projects. I used a pencil to make a little bird and then got one of the needles from the Bohin sample pack and loaded it with two strands of the same orange DMC floss I was using before. (Hey, it was out already.) The bird is being done in chain stitch.
I am amazed. I had expected the fabric to resist the needle. It doesn't. And the smooth texture of the fabric lets me just sketch with the automatic pencil--it has a consistently sharp point--and go.
I suppose at this point I should consider whether using up the tons of ivory scrap is an idea for this project...even though it would need to be laundered more often...just because it's so easy to work with.
But at this point, I'm really just trying a few last ideas before talking it over with the decision maker.
If the little dove-ish bird comes out this easily, maybe I can trace a pelican on it? Using outline stitches instead of heavy fills would get the project done faster.

On the quilt, I did more auditions: border fabrics now.

A slightly-wild hearts print that didn't work out as a border on this already-very-pink quilt. (Bit I have intentions of using it as the binding!)

This ticking strip didn't work out as border either.

And the winner is: the mottled gray "solid" at the top right. (I fold up hunks of fabric to just about the thickness of the border and lay them alongside the top for the final auditions.) The gray solid at the bottom just didn't have enough contrast and looked "dead" next to the rest of the top. A couple of other candidates are not shown, they were either too busy or just didn't spark next to the top.

Friday, April 15, 2016

So this was going to be the post from earlier today

Hello, everyone.

I had planned to do a post about laundry results on book cover fabrics. Unfortunately the camera chip was at the other end of the house, and it was late. So this is that post instead.

The 4 inch square of handkerchief linen shrank to just about 3 7/8 inches as y'all may remember.

It was going to be necessary to do a wash and dry cycle of the remainder of the piece of linen, just to get it ready to work with. And also to see what happened with color. I tucked the half yard of red Kona cotton muslin that was intended for an underlining to the linen, and a bunch of colored clothing that needed to be washed, into the machine on cool cycle. Ran the whole load through the dryer on "knits" which is a more-gentle heat setting.

Then laid the washed and dried--but not yet ironed--fabrics out on a chair to look at.

Left to right: Kona cotton, red handkerchief linen, red poly lining fabric
 As y'all can see, the linen went from tomato-colored to cream-of-tomato-soup-colored. The Kona held its color.

I am faced with a decision: try the linen color against the actual book color (if it matches we wink at the almost-orange shade?) or switch to using the Kona for face fabric. Or possibly another red fabric. I have tried one of the local fabric shops. I may try the other one...but IIRC they mostly focus on the really fancy stuff for formal wear.

I think I'll do a little more test stitching on the poly doupioni before giving up. The French knots came out pretty and were easy to do in a line. Actually looked better than the outline stitching did. Not as hard to go around curves, either.

Working on quilt squares

Hello, everyone.

Recently I began working on pieced squares for a baby quilt: whales. Pink, gray, the usual baby kinds of colors. Well, my usual kinds of baby colors tend toward brights, as studying the color relationships helps the baby develop his vision and intelligence. IMHO.

Color chunk assortments were already posted a week or so back.

This was exploration of blocks.

Adapted from a block in the *501 Quilt Blocks* book
 The Betterh Homes and Gardens book 501 Quilt Blocks has a whale block. (Also several ships, an anchor, and many other blocks.) The first time I tried to make it, the business with the tail just didn't work out for me. Something about the little dip between the tail flukes was not going to go together no matter what. So I eliminated the little dip. This made the whale a lot easier to put together. I also consolidated pieces where possible.
Sketched after cruising many pins on Pinterest
Hearts just seemed like a baby-welcoming pattern. This heart, however, didn't make the cut. I saved the block for future reference. (And used up some metallic prints that weren't going to go into anything anyway. Metallics tend to tarnish over time.)

The "theme-y" pieced blocks that are being used are four whales and a tugboat.
A cheerful yellow eye for the whale

Does anyone remember the cartoon, and book, about Little Toot the Tugboat?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More than stroll, less than hike

Hello, everyone.

We walked at Falcon State Park yesterday. It was very interesting--and, to our pleasant surprise, a cloudy morning. With bits of drizzle toward the end.

Falcon State Park is close to the Falcon Dam, a dam for flood control and water conservation on the Rio Grande River. It is part of our nation's border with Mexico. It's a fairly large lake, more shallow than Lake Amistad farther inland. The dam was built in the 1960's if I remember correctly, and when Hurricane Beulah came through the dam was filled up in record time. (Beulah camped and loitered, raining like crazy, instead of passing through and disappearing like a normal storm.)

View from the parking area near a boat put-in
 The trail is about 2 1/2 miles long and loops pretty much in a straightforward loop around the road. We parked near the boat put-in and started walking.
Somebody is keeping an eye on his house (the hole)

Luncheon meeting?
At the end of our 2-ish miles, we were a little bit tired, but happy. And we got to see some creatures we don't see often. There were lots of interesting plants too. One oddity: unlike many scrubby areas in the Valley, I didn't see any prickly poppy plants in the area. Lots of mesquite trees and coyotillo, and cenizo shrubs, though.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fabric testing for book cover project

Hello, everyone.

Y'all may remember that there is an embroidered book cover project being considered.

The other day DH and I went downtown and looked at a new-to-me fabric shop. It was quite nice--good variety of fabrics in a variety of types. Loads of sales people, too. (Unusual for fabric shops, honestly.)

I wanted to buy some sample fabrics to test. Well, it turned out that the shop has a minimum cut size. (And it's not the size most quilters get for most of their fabrics.) I ended up buying enough to do one book cover, probably: 1/2 (almost 1/2 meter) in two red fabrics, a red poly that could be a lining and a tomato-red handkerchief linen.

Poly on left. Handkerchief linen on right.
I am currently thinking that the poly will make a good liner layer for the book cover, instead of using Kona cotton for it. (Kona will still be the underlining layer that is right under the face fabric.)
4 inch square cut and serged for shrink test

After machine wash and machine dry, the 4 inches have become 3 7/8 inches.
Well, any linen or cotton was going to need preshrinking.

Picked up a piece of red Kona cotton, too, at my local Hobby Lobby store. (Don't have any red flannel for the padding layer that is proposed, but that will likely come.) It will also go through the wash before being used.

I think that the project proposal is ready for a presentation of concept package to be prepared. (To include the proof-of-concept cover on a hymnal, embroidery samples on assorted stuffs--I'm just accumulating stitch samples in a Ziplock bag--and the fabric pieces.

Right after I preshrink that red cotton and the rest of that half-yard of red linen.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Something we don't see every day around here

Hello, everyone.

A couple of days ago we had tule fog.

The fog was thicker on the north side. As the day warmed up, of course, it disappeared.

Tule fog is named for the tules (cattails) that grow where it often appears, in moist places.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A new stitch thought on the doupioni swatch

Hello, everyone.

There is a new stitch being auditioned on the poly doupioni swatch in the hoop now. French knots!

Orange French knots tracing part of a lobe of the cross design.
This one is a little tricky with spacing, but it looks neater than the other.

Need to go shopping and see about finding some quarter yard pieces of actual candidate fabrics for this project. Feels like saying that I need to dive into that briar patch!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Latest stitch and fabric combo test

Hello, everyone.

Yesterday I pulled the linen and muslin sample piece out of the embroidery hoop and put in a piece of polyester doupioni--backed with muslin of course--and commenced another test of threads and fabric together.

One thing I learned is that making dots *on the fabric* with the yellow Flair pen isn't the best way to go. Probably should have made a tracing on the Sulky Solvy again, in the yellow, and basted it down like with the green linen piece.

Whipped chain stitch, the base in green and the whippings in orange
I think y'all can see how the ink dots spread out along the weave of the fabric. The thread is, again, DMC cotton floss, two strands in the needle.

I read in the archives of Needle n Thread, Ms Corbett's blog, on how she did her lovely book covers. (Two links because she posted on two different book covers. Both lovely!) She used linen cambric for the face fabric. This is a smoother surface, woven from much finer threads than the medium weight linen I have lying around the house. It's still strong stuff! But the surface will lie better under the stitches than something with fatter threads. I'm not sure I can get a fat quarter or so of linen cambric to play with locally. May have to mail-order. I have some handkerchief linen around--not in the sewing stuff--and it's been very good for cleaning eyeglasses with. I wonder if the cambric is more solid than what is sold as handkerchief linen?

It turns out that Ms. Corbett has wondered the same thing. (The link above is to her post discussing it.)

I also found another discussion. This one makes me wonder if it's essentially a fine, plain-weave shirting fabric. They keep saying that cambric is pretty much the same as batiste--and batiste is a very delicate sort of thing. At least, cotton batiste is!

Any readers with an opinion on this, please chime in!