Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A day in the studio

I got the gift of some extra time with our young man on Saturday. He enjoys spending time in the studio with me, and was quite happy to bring the iPad and some snacks up there so I could work on some quilting. Today is the monthly guild meeting, and I wanted to finish up quilting some class samples which were long overdue.

So far he hasn’t been too interested in what I have been doing besides cluttering the house and mending his pants, but then again, I haven’t been quilting a lot when he has been staying with us. We did embroider his name on a fabric strip a while ago though, and now he wanted to try the sewing machine again. No wonder; there is speed and noise and a pedal and a reverse button, what’s not to love, right.

We agreed on making a gym bag, and he chose a fabric with soccer balls on it. I did the cutting, but he handled the iron like a pro,

controlled the pedal and buttons,

cut all the threads and threaded the rickrack ribbon using the Purple Thang.

We were both very happy with the end result, but I think he was quite surprised to see how much work that went into it.

Back at home, we spent some more happy hours playing with the PlusPlus pieces. With the little one, there is rarely a big chunk of quite time, so I had almost forgotten what a peaceful activity it can be, and of course all those lovely colours.

The Purple Thang is, by the way, a very useful tool.

My friend Krista of Poppyprint was so happy with hers, that I convinced all my friends to buy one at The Festival of Quilts last year. My thang, however, was left behind at the hotel after I had been emptying all my shopping bags on the sofa when I was packing my suitcase to go home. Thank goodness for good friends; two of them did, at separate travels to the US, bring me a new Purple Thang. Great friends indeed!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Of colour and light, and colour, and light

Choosing colours has never really been an issue with me. I am happy to experiment and whatever I have been working on, whether made from yarn or fabric, have been rather small, you know, when looking at the big picture. Choosing colours for a house is a totally different story, particularly when you consider size and permanency - and the opinions of other people involved.

Our new house will have Accoya cladding. Accoya is an engineered type of wood which is quite new here. When first suggested by the architect, husband was drawn to its 50-years-maitenance-free qualities, and the main part of the house would be natural (untreated) wood. I absolutely hated the bright yellow colour of the natural wood, and even more the dirty grey that it would change to after a few years. I was very relieved when husband agreed after taking a closer look at samples and pictures and a couple of local houses. Colour is important, right?
(Orange to brown colour samples. Do they all read brown to you?)

After an interesting visit to the local supplier, we agreed on something between orange and brown. The interesting part was discussing colour and light with two colour novices; both of them could have benefited from a few quilting classes I'd say. Most warm browns would be ok with me really, but I had of course a couple of favourites on the orange-ish side, like the cherry wood. However, no matter how much I would love an orange house, the light is an issue.

The staining process involves 4 layers of stain and varnish on an already saturated wood, making the surface reflect light in unexpected ways. The beautiful red-orange cherry wood could for instance look pink from an angle or over time, and we would not know until the house was finished. A bright pink house? Surpriiise.
(Teak in the middle, cherry wood to the right - pink in one light, orange in the other..)

Anyway, today we had a meeting with the architects, and we could all agree on the colours. Yeeeey. Would you believe that the middle sample in the picture below is the same as the middle sample in the picture above? It is indeed all a matter of light.

Lots of modern houses here have 2-3 different colours, and so will ours.

(I have been sketching funky face blocks inspired by this drawing. It would make quite a different house quilt, wouldn't it)

We have rich mahogany (the darkest sample), teak (the medium brown sample) and cherry wood (the orange sample). The windows frames and window panels will be black (remote control.). It may sound a little patchwork-y, but I think it will be really cool.
Even in the dim indoor-evening-halogen-light, the colours look warm and fabulous.

This has been one of The biggest issues house-wise, the rest will be easy, well, maybe not the kitchen, and the bathrooms, and the floor in the upstairs living room, although it looks like we have found a common ground there as well...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The 28 strips quilt, a free pattern

This is a fun and easy pattern whether you already have a stash of strips, a jelly roll, or choose to cut new strips from any collection of fabrics. Mine is made from strips from my Treasure Box and measures 36”*36”. You can easily adjust the size to your needs.
(It is a beautiful sunny day today with a little wind which made my quilt dance. The light was a bit difficult; too bright in the sun, and a bit too dark in the shadow, but there you go. We'd better enjoy outdoor photo shoots while we still can.)

I first wrote about my Treasure Box back here, and did an update on what some of the treasures had been made into here. The box keeps being fed new treasures, and some are being used. If you are wondering what these treasures are, they are little pieces and shapes and blocks and stuff which are ready to be used in a project. Instead of being considered unfinished, they are a resource, instant starter pieces. It’s just a way of looking at leftovers and ideas which didn’t quite make it into a finished project.

The first few weeks in the new studio, when everything still was a little up in the air, the Treasure Box, or boxes really, were a great starting point. One treasure after the other was brought out, the ideas kept rolling and fabrics were added to the pieces. It was awesome. Some of the finished projects have been delivered to my magazine editor, and others have been given away, but the boxes are still full.

This particular treasure was a set of 28 pastel strips,

so I challenged myself to use them all, only adding a border fabric if I should want to. Looking around the studio, the perfect match was sitting on top of one of the bags - a light and lovely thrifted curtain. While the finished quilt does not really have a border, it appears to have one.

It also has a big couched flower which adds extra texture and movement and ties the pieced blocks and “border” together.

Couching is a great design tool for scrappy quilts; depending on the colour and thickness of the yarn, it can blend in or pop.

The pattern would look just as lovely in any other colour scheme or theme - Christmas fabrics, baby fabrics, delicate pinks, greys, modern geometrics, or luscious flowers; leave the couched shape out, or make a different one to fit your theme.

You can download the free pattern here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Of geese and fine print

I have been spending a lot of time this past week chasing wild geese, which mostly could have been avoided if everyone, including yours truly, had read the fine print.

On Friday, for instance, I had organized the afternoon so I could take our young man to his first swimming lesson. We left little man with MIL and went on our merry way with his brand new swimming cap and goggles only to find the pool filled with a group of 3-5 year olds with their parents. Obviously there was some mistake, but the person who had done the booking did not bring the confirmation email, so we did not know whether it was the day, the time or the pool that was wrong.

It turned out all right in the end though as I took young man on a little road trip on our way back home. We used to live in that part of the town when his mom was little, so we got to see his mom’s kindergarten, where I used to work and so forth. I was quite nice. The swimming class turned out to be on Monday afternoons by the way.

Then there was the saga of the blue suitcase that had an unplanned stop at the local airport yesterday. An aunt of mine caught her flight back from Scotland, but her suitcase did not. It took two trips to the airport, lots of fees, lots of texting, lots of missed calls, lots of Amazing Race-style running around from this point to that, and lots of giggling at the silliness of the situation, all which could have been avoided if we all had read the fine print. I was ever so happy when the suitcase was finally dropped off at its next stop on the way back home.

There have been dinners that have been cooked at the wrong temperature, some unsuccessful attempts at refilling the orange fabric stash, unnecessary load of homework that have been done by young man, half a quilt's worth of blocks that have been cut in the wrong direction, papers that have not been picked up, papers that have not been dropped off, oh yes, it has indeed been quite a week.

And then there was today. While I was waiting for an appointment, I decided to quickly add some touches to the challenge quilts I have been working on; just emphasizing the quilted windows with a little touch of silver and a little touch of volume paint.

Yup, I should have read the fine print, or rather the whole print, because all I read was blanc (blank means clear in Norwegian)

and now I have a line of white goo around the windows on three quilts

- and more white goo on a different project from a fabric glue stick that is supposed to dry clear.

Apparently it does not, it dries white, but hopefully it will wash out. Maybe I should read the fine print, or maybe just stay a day or two in bed with a good book..

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Welcome to my blog, Mrs Moen, and thank you for stopping by for The Around the World Blog Hop!

My name is Nina Lise Moen and I am a Norwegian quilter who most of all love the creative side of quilting. Quilts come in so many varieties, and just like with ice cream, life is too short to pick only one.

I have been so fortunate to get to work with, and share, my favourite pastime through having a book published, designing patterns for the Scandinavian quilting magazine, Quiltemagasinet, and teaching a variety of quilting classes. You’ll find tabs to my patterns and tutorials on the top of the page.

Husband an I are so lucky to live not too far from our daughter and two awesome grandboys aged 7 and 2 ½. This year has been rather busy as we have demolished our house and are in the process of building a new in which we all will live (in separate floors). As a part of this process, I moved all my quilting stuff into a brand new Mrs Moen studio not far from home.
Why I did not do this sooner, I don’t know, but I am so very happy that I did. You can see more about the studio space here.

I was invited to this blog tour by my blogging friend Rene’ of Rene' Creates, and a part of the tour is answering a couple of questions.

What quilting project am I working on?
I always have several projects going at the same time so I can switch back and forth depending on my mood and time available and where I’m working. I get quite easily bored, so this helps me stay interested. 

Right now I am working on the finishing touches on two new classes:
“Green and glittery”
These trees are a part of a series of Layer upon layer classes in which we work with non-typical fabrics and fibres and build our projects layer by layer. The process of turning little bits and pieces into works of art is magic, and the great part is that everyone can do it. I have been working on this “painting with fiber” technique for quite a few years, and it is evolving all the time as I try out different ideas.
My plan is to add some hand stitching, and two of the samples will be made into pillows. You can see previous posts about Layer upon layer classes here.

“The dark side”
This is a class in which we play with a simple technique to create dimension. I am rather taken with templates right now, and have been working on different ways of making and using them that can be easily taught.

I had great fun creating these blocks in various colour combinations, and now I need to quilt them as quilting suggestions will be addressed in class.

A Christmas present:
“The Pretty Pink Project”
My daughter has wished for a new pink quilt as they are fighting for the old one, so I’ll be making her a new for Christmas when we’ll all be moving into our new house. Without spoiling her surprise, I can tell you that the design fits the occasion. I posted a little how-to about cutting pieces for a scrappy quilt yesterday, you can read it here.

These old scraps will become a Christmas table runner. The idea has been on hold for years, and now I’m ready.

When I first moved into my studio I was a bit overwhelmed by the space and seeing all my accumulated stash in one place, so I grabbed some fiber scraps and “painted” a surface.
I have been looking at it for a while now and want to finish it up. All it needs is some sort of binding, or maybe being turned into a pillow cover?

How does my creating process work and how does my work differ from others?
While many people are being inspired by things like nature and architecture and other people’s work, I go inside my own head for inspiration. I see quilts. To keep the visual noise out during the creative phase, I keep my studio walls bare and I’ll stay away from the internet, magazines and books. I simply need to hear my own voice, but that being said, listening to TV shows and movies while I work doesn’t bother me.
(Some well loved gifts and pieces gives my eyes a place to rest, but other than that there is no quilts or art on my studio walls)

It is often a word or a phrase or a feeling that triggers the on-button, but it can also be a colour or a scrap of fabric. Then the idea will simmer up there until I have solved all the technicalities, which I, by the way, enjoy very much.
(My country)

The process can take a second, and it can take years. I’ll just know when I have everything I need and am ready to start. I am fond of challenges and themed competitions, but quite often I don’t feel the need to actually make the quilt as it’s already done in my head.

(“His wedding, and hers” 2014)

It does indeed get quite busy up there.

Art therapy
Some of my best works are the really personal ones, carrying little pieces of my heart. They are parts of grieving processes, of coping with difficult feelings and issues, and making them are incredible freeing and incredible hard.
("The barrel", 2011)

One of the most important one is “Hot and cold, 7 ½” years” 2006, which is about my daughter getting sick at a young age and my feelings around that as a mother.

Design work
I want my designs to be for everyone who likes to create, using their stash. Although I am fond of fabric, I’m not into designer names and fabric fashion, and will use whatever fabric I have on hand.

My book, Gledesspredere, free range appliquê 2012, is filled with fun little story quilts made in different materials and techniques.
And my patterns are mostly scrappy.

(Flower bed)

Thrifty love
I have a love affair with thrifted fabrics whether it is table cloths, curtains or bed sheets, and I often use them in my work.
(“Whatever you say I am” 2013; recycled and repurposed materials only except for the binding)

In fact, my quilting career started in the thrift store, and I keep going back. (You can read about how I got started on quilting here.) The Layer upon layer series was all built on thrifted goodness, and I have acquired quite a stash to be able to supply my students with everything they need of special fabrics and fibers.
(Landscape class)

(Movement class)

(Playing with yarn class)

I think that should be more than enough about me, so it’s time to pass the torch on to some of my quilting blogging friends who will post on Monday the 15th:

Miranne of Miranne. There had been some emails and comments between us before we accidentally ran into each other at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham back in 2011 and had dinner together. Miranne is a quilter who also makes clothes and works with a variety of traditional Norwegian crafts. She mixes materials and techniques, and everything is beautifully made.

Audrey of Quilty Folk. I have been reading Audrey’s blog for quite a while. She generously shares her process, and being a process quilter myself, I find it fascinating following hers. She does a lot of handwork, and her work is beautiful.

Beth of Love Laugh Quilt. I have been following Beth’s blog for years. She makes everything from beautiful art quilts to lots of happy scrappy quilts, mixing up new fabric with recycled ones, and making do. She also knits and weaves and her blog is very inspiring indeed.

Thanks for stopping by, and make sure to visit the next blogs on the blog hop!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The lowest common width of a strip

When I’m cutting fabric for a scrappy quilt, which happens more often than not, I usually try to cut just one strip from each fabric. To do this, you need to figure out the width of this strip. It should be wide enough for the biggest piece, and still give the least amount of waste. You can calculate the length the same way, but when possible, I’ll cut the width of fabric and save the rest for another project.

I wish there was an easy formula, but drawing all the pieces on a piece of  paper will help you visualize; grid paper is even better.

This pretty pink stack is the start of what will become a Christmas-/ housewarming gift for my daughter. She knows she'll be getting a pink quilt, so I'm not spoiling anything here.)

There are 64 different fabrics, and I’ll make one block from each. One block needs the 4 following pink pieces:
6 ½”*8 ½”, 2½”*6 ½”, 1 ½”*2 ½” and 2 ½”*4 ½”

First you need to decide which is the biggest piece, which in my case is 6 1/2"*8 1/2". With the shortest side being 6 ½”, the strips need to be 6 ½” wide.

The pieces will fit nicely together like this

If you need a lot of different little pieces, you may want to cut them out in paper, and puzzle them together.
The length of the strip needs to be at least 14” (8 ½”+ 2 ½” + 2 ½” + 1/2” extra).

The first cuts go width-of-strip like this

and the two smallest pieces are cut from one of the 2 ½” pieces. There is only a ½” waste at the end there.

When the strips are cut, I’ll layer 4-6 strips and cut them at the same time. It saves a lot of time, and also a lot of waste. And, the next time I want to work with pink, I’ll have a nice stash of strips just waiting to be used. All they need is a suitable design; no ironing and folding and messing about, just Go. Gotta love that!

Thanks for stopping by!