A First Cat

This afternoon, as soon as I had my other stuff done, I wasted no time attempting to make a cat. Fortunately, the three books I'd ordered from Amazon arrived today, and so I had several cats to choose from. I chose to make this cat

from this book:

There are some really cute projects in this book. 

So the cat starts with making a cigar shape for the body, and a ball for the head. Then it says to wrap some wool around my finger for the neck and to use that to attach the head to the body. That wasn't completely clear to me, but this is what I ended up with. It also reminded me that the stomach of the cat is ideally more slender than the chest, and so I felted it a little extra there to slenderize its tummy. 

By the way, it was tempting to make a Smitty or a Gracie, but I decided to start with a George. Those of you who don't know George can see him at the bottom of my right side bar. Good old George.

After that I made some legs. The book points out that getting the proportions right is the hardest part of making the cat. I'm just about to demonstrate that to you.

I tested him out to see if he could stand on his own, and he could, although his legs seems a little flimsy to me. They probably should be compacted a little more before they're attached because it's hard to do once they've been attached to the body.

After that, I added the ears. I'm most proud of the ears on this first attempt. The book had me add the darker fibers to the inside of the ears after they'd been attached to the head. I think in future attempts, I'll do that first.

Then I did the rest of the face. There's something not right about the eyes. I think the green is too large, and I might have moved the white spot more to the center of the black and made it much smaller. I think the cheeks, nose, chin and mouth are pretty good for a first try. You can see the darker center of the ears in this image too.

He's a little fuzzy...obviously he needs some cleaning up too.

When I was in the workshop, Heidi pointed out that one of the challenges with wool felting is to decide how much wool to use for any given piece. On the face here, I did a pretty good job with the cheeks, chin and nose, but the eyes are definitely too bulky. I might be able to fix them with more felting, but for now, I'm leaving it as is.

Then I added the tail...probably a little thick, but there you go.

Finally, I gave him some whiskers, and voila!

It could be worse, right? I'm critiquing myself here, but I'm actually pretty happy with how he turned out for a first try. Hopefully, the next one will be better. 

I want to do a little more work on this one...try to make it less fuzzy, and I'd like to give him some stripes. That's as much as I'm going to do with him today, however. I need to let him sit for a while so that I can study him and decide how to proceed. His legs are a little too long for his body. I might be able to felt them closer at the shoulders to shorten them a little. We'll see. I had fun, and that's what counts.

Stitches in Bloom Quilt Show

As promised, I have some quilts to show you today. There are still more after this, but I'll wait and post them tomorrow and perhaps the next day. I didn't photograph all of the quilts...it only seems that way. Of course, it takes quite a bit of time to go through all of those, and so I'll be doling them out to you over a couple of days and continuing on with the rest of my life while I'm at it.

Let's start with one of my favorite quilts of this show, this exquisite Baltimore Album. The near exclusive use of red, green, and white made this one of the more striking Baltimore Album quilts I've ever seen.

This next quilt reminded me of my red birds on white trees from last year's show. Here's a different take on the "put a bird on it" motif.

I like the way this quilter fussy cut her cardinals and placed them on the tree branches.

I apologize for the terrible lighting in some of these pictures, but I liked this quilt.

And I especially liked the quilting on the dragonfly.

My picture doesn't show off the shimmer and glitter in this next quilt very well. At first, I thought it was embellished with crystals.

Closer examination revealed that the glitz was in the metallic fabrics.

And this appears to be painted on to me. What do you think?

The snow quilts really caught my eye yesterday. I'm nearly finished embroidering all of the quilting snowlady blocks, and I'm starting to think about how to set it. This next quilt was both simple in appearance, and yet complicated in its piecing.

Look at these beautifully paper-pieced snowflakes. I really like what the quilter did with the metallic thread.

Here's the attached card. I was happy to see that this block is available in one of the Quiltmaker 100 blocks issues. In case you missed it, all of the issues are now available for purchase as a PDF, and so I now own the patterns for Volumes 1-10. (Strangely, I just now tried to link to that, and it doesn't seem to be available any longer. It makes me wonder if someone overstepped the bounds of copyright law.)

Padsworth, this one is for you:

The volunteer standing near this quilt happened to be the quiltmaker. When I snapped a picture of her quilt, she told us all about it. Most interesting of what she told us is that the quilt survived the entire Christmas season on her bed. With all that embellishment, that must have been quite a feat. I know some cats who would have influenced how well it would have fared in our household.

You may recall when I blogged about designer Janet Fogg visiting our guild. Her designs are incredible. I regret that I wasn't able to attend the workshop she gave when she spoke with our guild. If you read my post (click here), you'll see that she uses an appropriate block to the subject matter in her designs. In this polar bear quilt, she has used the bear paw block.

I like the quilting in this one...sort of stippling with some other design elements incorporated in.

I've been showing you a lot of designs related to cold and snow, and so I thought I'd end off today with some sunshine. I've bumped the contrast up quite a bit in this one so that you can see the words quilted across the top...this is from Shakespeare's As you Like It: "All the World's a Stage..."

Okay, so I have lots more quilts to show you, but I need to get some things done around here too. I still need to unpack. The birds are starving since the bird feeders are all empty. They're sitting around the yard with their eyes fixed on the house and their tongues hanging out. At least, that's how it looks from where I sit. Also, there's not a crumb of food in the house, and so I need to make at least a quick trip to the grocery store or we'll all be sitting around looking like the birds. It's hard to keep the critters around here fed, be they two-legged or four-legged, with fur, feathers, or none of the above.

Once I get all that done, I'm going to try my hand at a little felted cat. My sincere thanks go to Debbie at Woolen Sails who has been loading me up with the most helpful links. Thank you, Debbie. Wish me luck on that. I want to try it soon while the process is still fresh in my mind.

And don't think I've forgotten that I'm in the middle of quilting Shoot for the Moon. I'm hoping to get some work done on that today too. Time to get a move on.


A Santa and A Teaser

This afternoon, I arrived back home from my couple of days away. It surprised me how tired I was when I got here. Nothing's changed. I arrived home to find Smitty with some kind of critter cornered in Mike's office. It's good to know that in this busy and fast-changing world we live in, some things remain the same.

I wanted to give you a little mini-tutorial (although that's probably too high-minded of a word for what I'm about to do). It's really just a reminder for me so that I can remember the steps for putting together my little Santa. He could easily be turned into a witch or a wizard or a pirate...or just about anything.

I still can't believe I was able to put this guy together after just two days! Anyway...here's a quick and dirty little bit about how it's done.

We started the day with some "pieces" of the Santa. Below you see his walking stick, his pack of toys, his boots, his mittens (with separate thumbs) and his arms. The pieces are left intentionally "furry" where they're going to be felted onto the main body of the Santa.

We started by making a little stalk for the body and felting an oval ball onto the top for the beginnings of the head.

Then we added a section of "skull" to the back of the ball to make a more naturally-shaped head.

Then we made some holes for the eyes.

And then we attached the nose. This is done sort of in reverse. A tuft of wool is fastened just above the mouth, and then pulled back over the forehead where it is felted into place. Then we made a mark where the mouth would be.

Then we felted some green wool into the eye sockets and added two little balls for the cheeks.

After that, we put some little tufts over the cheeks to kind of smooth them out and used a single needle to add more definition to the cheeks, nose, and eyes.

We added some eye "brows" above the eyes in a similar way that we added the nose, and then we started wrapping and building up the shape of the body.

When we had the body to the size and shape we wanted, we wrapped it in red wool and felted that down secure.

After that, we wrapped the head with red like a scarf, and then added the hat. That was done by holding a large tuft of wool in the shape of a bouquet of flowers. The fluffy part at the top was felted to the head and the hat was shaped using our fingers and our felting tool to smash it flat and adhere the fibers to one another. We also added the arms. The left arm was felted to the side, and we made a little divot in the crook of the elbow to give it definition.

After that, we added the mittens, thumbs, and walking stick. I found this part to be the most difficult part of the process.

After that, we added the fur to his robe and used the tiniest little bits of orange to put color into his cheeks. Also, we gave him some dark eyeliner under his eyebrows.

All that was left to do then was to add the beard, eyebrows, and mustache, and our little Santas were finished!

Remember the little cat I showed you from my post a couple of days ago?

The woman who made it showed us the book it came from. Squee! Well, don't you think I went immediately to Amazon to order the book. While I was there, I found two other books of critters that I couldn't live without, and so those should be delivered shortly. (I know I'm supposed to be mad at Amazon, but I still loves me my Amazon Prime.)

Then I got a discount on wool fibers at Heidi Leuger's booth at the quilt show today, and I came home with all these in cat colors...both furs and eyes. And I gots me some pink for my pig-loving friend, Sue. I'll just bet I can figure out how to make a pig.

Speaking of Sue, she came for the show today. We went for a walk in the garden before the show. There isn't much blooming right now. We were treated mostly to lots of leafless trees. Nevertheless, we did see a few little things.

I saw a free-motion quilting design in this next leaf we saw in their tropical greenhouse.

The viburnum was in bloom and we could hear bees buzzing around. There were also croaking frogs, but we couldn't see them anywhere.

When you stand in the garden and look back at the resort, this is what you see. This is the building where the class was held, and it also holds the restaurant, a lounge, and all those other hotel sorts of things. The smaller building where my room was located was off to the right outside the frame.

There was a little program handed out at the entrance to the show. I only held onto mine long enough to take a picture of my own name...not that I'm vain or anything.

I took literally hundreds of pictures of the quilts, and I'm not going to go through them all at once, but I have a little teaser for you. This was the first quilt we saw. I forget each year how unfortunately bad the lighting is at this show.

The first few quilts were all modern art quilts.

Here's a detail of the quilt above.

This next one is a quilt by the featured quilter, Cynthia Corbin, who also held a workshop. Her quilts didn't necessarily appeal to me, which is what led me to take the wool felting workshop instead. It was one of the better decisions I've made in my life beyond marrying my husband and deciding to have children.

Her dye job was interesting here. You can clearly see a paper clip there.

Here's one more.

Oh yes, and here's a woman with really terrible hair. I think she must have been walking outside before the show.

We arrived at this quilt just in time to hear a woman who appeared to be an expert at everything informing her friends that this quilt was machine embroidered (!!!!!). Yeah, the quiltmaker set her straight.

The lighting didn't do her any favors either.

So I have lots more quilts to show you, but I need to quit for now. Check back tomorrow for more eye candy. I'll still be trying to get reorganized.