Friday, July 31, 2015

Mokume - Stitched Shibori

Mokume is the Japanese word for wood grain, and is created with rows of stitching across the width of the fabric or filling in shapes.  Parallel rows are set close together so the dye cannot seep into the folds.  Stitches should be relatively even in size but not necessarily lined up.  After stitching, the thread is pulled to gather the fabric and is pulled tightly to compress the fabric as much as possible.  You might also vary your lines by making them wavy or in directions other than horizontal for pattern variation.

During our road trip to Maine Sue spent part of the time in the car stitching on 2 pieces that she wanted to dye in the indigo pot.  One was white (new fabric) and the other was green (previously dyed).

As you can see, the lines are not necessarily straight, and as she got near the end of the green piece (the second one stitched), the rows get further and further apart - she was getting tired of stitching!  But it's all an experiment - no matter.  Below are the 2 pieces with the stitching gathered up.

After dyeing, rinsing and removing the stitching, the pieces hang on the line.
The final wash is in the washer in hot water with synthropol to help remove excess dye.  Here are the results after washing.

Pretty cool!  We think the results are worth the effort, but probably wouldn't do more than a fat quarter size piece (which is what these 2 are), unless it was needed for a planned project.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sun Printing........or Block Printing?

Last week Sue set about doing round 2 of sun printing.  We had just watched a Quilting Arts video the night before by Sue Reno on "Surface Design Essentials for the Printed Quilt" and sun printing is one of the things she talks about.  One of her techniques is to create a "halo" effect with the paint, using one color in the center and another around the edges, so she decided to try it.  She started with 2 pieces of previously dyed fabric - one hand-dye (purple) and one Cherrywood (green).
After applying paint (Pebeo Setacolor), she layered on the 2 plant materials she wanted to print and covered the board with organza, tacked it in place, and set it on the deck in the sun. 
We haven't bothered to press the natural items we print with in the past and have had successful results, probably because they are most often ferns which are easily flattened by pulling the organza taught.  Well, lesson learned - these 2 should have been pressed!  The prints in this case were a big FAIL!
In the purple/blue piece, you can see the leaves and stem, but not very clearly.  Definitely not a stand alone piece.
In this green piece, you can barely see the pine needles near the top.  So, what to do?  Toss them in the scrap pile?

This week, Sue pulled out her wooden printing blocks to play with and decided that these 2 pieces would be fine for block printing.  Certainly more usable that way than as they were.

What do you think?  We think these 2 pieces have been salvaged for future use in art quilts or improvisational piecing. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Maine Quilts (and 2 more shops)

After enjoying the views from Mount Battie, we continued on our way to Augusta for the MAINE  QUILTS show, but of course, there were two more shops to stop at along the way.  Our first quilty stop of the day was in Chelsea at Mystic Maine Quilts.  Once again the GPS took us slightly off track but when it tells you that you are at your destination and you are looking at a thick woods with a large river next to it and no building in sight, you know you are NOT at a quilt store!  After another easy U-turn we were headed in the correct direction and came to this brightly lit and pleasant shop.  
Bolt fabrics, books and all notions were a whopping 40% off and fat quarters were buy 10 get 5 more free.  Who can resist bargains like that?   We had looked up pictures of the rows before leaving New Hampshire and decided our shops based on the row.  The fish row at this shop was the reason to stop; it was high on our priority list of rows we wanted to have.  They also already have a shop winner and it was made by the same man who won last year as well.

Just a hop over the border from Chelsea, Maine, we were in the capital city of Augusta.  Located not far from our ultimate destination of the MAINE QUILTS show at the civic center, Cozy Cottage recently moved into their new location and are adding new fabrics and notions each day.  They also provide alteration and upholstery services.  
We picked this shop because of the row.  Puffins!  Puffins are native to Maine and once were almost totally eliminated from the state as people were coveting the feathers and eating the eggs.  In 1973, The Puffin Project was established to bring them back and we are happy to say that it has been successful.   More about puffins can be found at:
This is not a great picture of the row because of the lighting, but it is very cute.  You can find a better photo on the Maine Row by Row Facebook page.

From there we continued on to the Augusta Civic Center for MAINE QUILTS, which is their state quilt show. It was a nice show with the quilts in the center and vendors around the perimeter of the space.  Our decision to attend this show was made at the invitation of our friend Terri, who was one of the vendors (Purple Moose Designs) and lives just down the road in NH.  There was a special exhibit of Puffin quilts, and many other lovely quilts to see.  We enjoyed our time at the show, but by the end of the day, were shopped out!

Above is Summer Oaks  (18x21) by Jim Vander Noot, an original design that was part of the Coastal Quilters Four Seasons challenge.
In the Modern Quilts group was Little Bouys by Kathryn Simel of Cushing, ME. (64x84) It is an original design; machine pieced and professionally machine quilted by Stacey Bendure.
The wall hanging group included this delightful quilt, Out on a Limb by Kathy Boudreau of Gardiner.  (33x18)  The background is made of selvages and the birds are machine appliqued.  It is an original design.
Also in the wall hanging group was The Flower Garden by Lori Fasulo of Portland. (25x34)  It is based on a photo of her garden using raw edge applique.
After a jam-packed, fun-filled two days of shop hopping and quilt show, we were ready to head back to New Hampshire.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mount Battie

Friday morning, before heading out to more row by row quilt shops and the Maine Quilts show we took the time to go to Camden Hills State Park which was just down the road between the Bay Leaf Cottages and the town of Camden.
Camden Hills State Park is 5700 acres with an 800 foot summit to the top of Mount Battie where there are vast views of Penobscot Bay.  Luckily, they have an auto road so you don’t have to climb it yourself, but they do have 30 miles of hiking trails should you wish to walk to the top or around the park grounds.

A Camden resident named Columbus Bushwell built a carriage road to the top of Mount Battie in 1897.  In 1898, he built a house he called Summit House and opened it to the public as a hotel.  It was purchased in 1899 by the Mt. Battie Association and turned into a clubhouse and social center.  In 1918 a fire burned the mountaintop and 2 years later the house was torn down.  The current stone tower that stands in the same location was erected in 1921 by the Mt. Battie Association.  Mount Battie became part of Camden Hills State Park in 1948.  It is said that Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote the poem "Renascence" while enjoying the view from the summit of Mount Battie.

It was a memorable way to start the day.  But, there were more quilt shops and a quilt show waiting for us as well!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bay Leaf Cottages and Camden, ME

After our whirlwind tour of 5 quilt shops and a yarn shop, it was closing time.  We actually kept the last store open late. We found our way to the coast line taking a leisurely drive through the beautiful town of Camden, Maine and on up Route 1 to our overnight accommodations at the Bay Leaf Cottages and Bistro in Lincolnville.  Situated with a view of Penobscot Bay, The Bay Leaf has both a small motel of 9 rooms as well as 11 cottages and an apartment for rent. All the cottages are named after herbs and the motel rooms are named as well.  We stayed in the motel in the “Harbor Room”.  The grounds are lovely and well-kept with benches and a small pond that you can sit by to enjoy the scenery.  It was rather sad that our time there was so short.

View of the bay across the road from the cottages.
View of the office & bistro from the motel rooms.
A few of the cottages.  Each one was slightly different.  They date from the 1940's (but updated!).
Breakfast was included in the room fee and was a generous buffet of options to please most anyone.  We learned about the product UMPQUA Oats which was a delicious brand of quick-to-make oatmeal right in a ready-to-eat from bowl.  Although we didn’t have time to follow the Barn Quilt Trail in Lincolnville ourselves, perhaps you will if you visit.  What a nice collaboration between the town and the local high school. You can read about them on the Bay Leaf Cottages website.
If you go to the coast of Maine, consider Bay Leaf Cottages and Bistro as a place to stay and let us know how you liked it.
After checking into our motel, we decided to go back into Camden to explore a bit and find a place for dinner.  Camden, Maine is a charming, quaint town on Penobscot Bay.  The streets are lined with small shops and restaurants.  We parked in a public lot next to the library which is located on the highest point in town overlooking the harbor.  Built in 1928 it is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.   Across the street is a 2 acre Harbor Park which was designed by the Olmsted Brothers of Central Park, NY design fame.  The park design plan dates from between 1928-1935.
Above are the library and a compass on the library grounds.
View of the harbor from the library.

We spent a few moments wandering shops and looking at menus until we settled on eating on the porch of “Peter Ott’s on the Water” restaurant right on the harbor with a view of the boats coming and going.  It was a pleasant evening.

We shall have to return some day to do justice to seeing Camden, Maine.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Road Trip - Maine

Our 2-day trip to Maine was planned to do some row by row shop hopping and also attend the Maine Quilts show in Augusta with an overnight stay on the coast.  As we were driving, we made an impromptu decision to stop in Freeport and we were glad we did!  Cotton Weeds is conveniently located right off the Interstate highway.  When we arrived, the shop was full of people.  A tour bus on the way to Maine Quilts in Augusta from New Brunswick, Canada had stopped for an early morning visit.  The shop was well staffed and the cutting and cash register process was very quick.  We even got a bus tour goodie bag each.  We each liked it enough to buy the kit!  The shop row is a very Maine seaside scene of a sun, two sailboats and a dock in the center and two narwhals on each side.  Unfortunately, they did not allow photos inside.  Next door was a very nice yarn shop called “Mother of Purl”.  The collage below includes photos from Cotton Weeds as well as our second stop in Bath.
From Freeport to Bath is a quick and easy drive down US Route 1.  In Bath we found Mariner’s Compass Quilt Shop on Front Street.  A friendly staff greeted us with the invitation to take photos in their row by row photo “booth”.  It was a clever wall decorated with their row, made with reverse appliqued raindrops (available in two color choices-rainbow and blue gradations), and a rainbow (made from covered pool noodles) along with stuffed raindrops hanging from above and a cute umbrella to pose with if you do not want to have raindrops falling directly on your head.  We thought it was a great way to encourage people to spread the joy of visiting their shop on social media.  Next year, we predict more shops may join that trend.  The store owner was at the Maine Quilts show so her mother, Wendy Ulmer, a children’s author, who recently wrote her fourth book, “My Twelve Maine Christmas Days” was tending the shop along with another employee.  Wendy told us all about the reproduction ship figurehead in the shop, named Amanda Fenwick.  It is a reproduction that was from a ship built in Massachusetts and found in Fenwick Island, Delaware.  The shop owner is named Amanda so it was very fitting.  Apparently, on holidays the figurehead is dressed in costume, another fun feature from this nice store.  They’ve already had a row by row winner and the quilt was hanging in the shop.  Elizabeth also learned that the Whoopie Pie is the state snack of Maine from reading Wendy’s book.

On Board fabrics.  What can we say?  We loved this shop!  It has A LOT of really nice contemporary upholstery weight fabrics.  They specialized in making pillows and have many from which to choose under the name Molly Hutchins Designs. They also have a nice selection of quilting fabrics, webbing, and laminated fabrics.  Both Molly and her store helper were very friendly and helpful.
Their row was two whales and were very reminiscent of the sea coast.  The whales face each other and have a heart in between them.  Cute and they should go together fairly easily and quickly.
We got a bit off track following directions to Alewives in Nobleboro when the GPS said we were there and we obviously were not, so we reevaluated by consulting an old fashioned paper map and soon we were back on track.  Talk about a lot of fabric.  This store really had a large selection; lots we had never seen before.  Liberty of London prints and many samples of bags and clothing were on hand to help sell patterns.  That really does make a difference.  Some of the items we bought were purchased because we had seen a sample made up. They also had some lovely hand screen printed panels for sale.  Their row features appliqued starfish on a background pieced of many squares.
The final quilt shop of the day was Maine-ly Quilts.  We drove right past, luckily seeing the sign as the GPS told us we had another mile to go.  Fortunately, the driver was proficient in making U-turns.  This shop had a lovely quilted stained glass ceiling window over the cash register.  Lots of batiks lined the walls of the porch and the store had many notions and other fabrics as well.  Upstairs was a 40% off sale room.  Who can resist fabric at 40% off.  Their row features elephants playing in the rain.

5 quilt shops and a yarn shop in one day and yes, we picked up the row by row pattern, the license plates and made purchases at every single store!  Now it was time to continue driving to Lincolnville and our rest stop for the night.