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Spring, or Winter, or Both

Or maybe we should call it “sprinter”?

Anyway, most of the winter has been quite mild, with a few cold spells in between. Lately we have had some nice weather with clear skies, frost, and some gorgeous evening skies.

sunset

Last week I took a look in our garden, and was very surprised when I saw these popping up everywhere:

crocus      I cannot remember the crocuses being so early before, – the sun had not even returned to our house and garden after the winter months when this photo was taken.

When driving to visit family this week, we also came across lots of these beside the road:

tussilagoColtsfoot (Tussilago) is a sure sign of spring.

On returning home in late afternoon, we had time to stop and take some photos as the sun was setting.

fyr2

tree

boatsThere were thin crusts of ice floating about on the surface of this fjord.

A bit later we came across this frozen lake:

hornelen

I went out of the car for a better view. It was our last evening of this spell of cold, nice weather. No wind, and all was quiet….

skating… except for a faint sound of a single pair of steel blades on ice, the occasional booming sound of the ice settling into the colder evening temperatures, and also peals of laughter ringing across the lake from the far shore where a group of people had fun on the ice.

skating2I was just able to glimpse some figures moving over there, – one is sitting on a kicksled, and the others skating along.

Now it is raining again, and the ice is probably gone.

🙂

Eldrid

Lagre

Lagre

Lagre

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Transforming a Pillow

The mention of shoddy in my previous post, reminded me of a pillow I rescued from the bin when sorting out things at my parents’ house last summer.

shoddypute

I think it originally came from our grandparents’ home, and I remember sleeping with that pillow when I was a little girl. It was very lumpy back then, and even worse now. Nobody else wanted it, and my first thought was to toss it, but then I rather liked the two fabrics it was made of, and since it would also be good for supporting the breakables during our drive back home, it went into the car instead of the bin.

shoddy

Back home I opened it up and emptied the filling into a plastic bag. This is what shoddy looks like after it has been inside a pillow that has been used for more than 60 years. Very lumpy indeed.

shoddy2

Shoddy is made from old woolen garments, like the socks in my previous post, which have been shredded and carved into fibers, and then carded and made into fillings for pillows and duvets. Close up, one can see some of the original threads and many different coloured fibers.

shoddyputestoff

I washed the fabric and put it away in a plastic bin.

Then we bought a new sofa, and I needed a couple of new pillows. I had seen one in a recent quilting magazine which gave me some ideas, and when looking through my stash for some background fabric, the old pillow came to mind.

kutte

I brought it out, and decided to use both fabrics, and I could even keep the old seam. I cut it one ruler width from the seam on both sides, and then cut the length into two parts, one for each pillow.

Then I added strips of a blue cotton damask fabric, which I had dyed myself many years ago. The two backgrounds are a bit different in size as the inner pillows I had available were of two different sizes. I also turned the stripes horizontally on one, and vertically on the other.

quilte

Then both backgrounds were layered and quilted with a wavy, on point, grid.

teikn sirklar

Next, I drew lots of circles in three different sizes on paper backed fusible web. They were ironed on to the back side of many different yellow, orange, red, and some purple scraps.

 

sy2

Then I placed my “flowers” on the green and blue background. I moved them around till I was satisfied with their placement, then ironed them down.

 

sy

I sewed around each circle using the satin stitch on my machine. Since the background was layered and quilted, there was no need for a stabilizer.

stilk

I drew some stems with chalk, and then sewed them using a wider satin stitch.

blad

In order to make some leaves, I ironed strips of different greens onto fusible web. Then I drew some leaf shapes in different sizes, and made some templates which I used to draw on the paper side of the fusible web already ironed to the strips. I cut out lots of leaves so I would have some to choose from when distributing them on the background.

blad2

When I was satisfied with the placement, I ironed and sewed around all the leaves using the satin stitch.

ferdig1

Then I only had to make backings for the pillows. Since I did not have zippers available, I made the envelope style backing. I use that a lot.

ferdig2

And onto the sofa they went.

🙂

Eldrid

The Four Seasons Embroidered Frieze

This summer Kaffe Fassett’s exhibition “50 Years of Colour” has been on show at Hadeland Glassverk here in Norway. I finally got to see it during its last week, and it was indeed glorious. But I also got to see a lot more.

Since we had travelled a long way for this, and stayed a couple of nights, we also decided to visit the nearby Blaafarveverket in Modum, as we had heard they usually have some good exhibitions there during summer.

blaafarveverket

On arrival we were presented with the options of buying discounted tickets for any two of three sites, or all three. We thought that we had time for only two, and when hearing that one of them had some embroidery on show, we decided on that one, in addition to the main site, – which showed paintings in blue colours and also lots of blue glass and china, linked to the former production of cobalt mined in this area.

nyfossumbarn

The second site, Nyfossum, used to be the director’s dwelling. The old house and gardens are being restored to former glory, while the log barn in the photo above has been turned into a gallery to house the annual summer exhibitions.

What a surprise to step into the barn and discover that the embroidery on show was actually THE Four Seasons Frieze, also called the Life Frieze, made by Torvald Moseid during the years 1961-1977. I had read about it in some magazine many, many years ago, and I think I also may have glimpsed it on tv at some time, but had never seen it in “person”.

Impressive is an understatement. It is 62 meters long and 58 centimeters tall, and all in one long piece of linen fabric, embroidered all over, mostly using the couching stitch with yarn spun from wool from the double coated Norwegian tail-less breed Spelsau.

The whole piece was hung around the walls in three separate rooms and a hallway. It was not possible to see all of it at once, – you had to move from room to room.

 

Below are more photos showing details from the frieze. I have put them into four groups, one for each season.

For every season there was also a small text explaining some of the scenes. As they were only in Norwegian I have tried to write up an English version, but I fear the poetry of the texts got lost in translation.

springtext

Spring
Early spring starts with naked trees and dead leaves.

The break through is like a powerful gust of wind. Flocks of migratory birds are carried by the wind. They fly with their heads stretched out towards the spring, and the wind is playing in groves and thickets.

The woods turn green, and flowers spring. The tree of spring spreads its glory like an open fan.

Flowers and plants are grown and tended to. Two who are enthralled with each other stand in the middle of them, as if they are part of the flowers’ beauty and vitality.

 

 

summertextSummer

Summer starts with the big wedding feast. Flutes are played, and in the flowering fields there are undulating rows of dancers.

The summer bride has got her finery on. She has a classic profile, she is pale, and a myrtle garland is tied around her brow. The summer breeze is playing with her long hair. A knot of glorious summer flowers is tied behind her neck, and the wind blows her bridal veil into the wedding feast.

The wedding feast is like a flaming bonfire which turns into cascades of colourful midsummer plants.  The midsummer sun shines in bright red and yellow.

Midsummer blooming has a boundless lavishness of shapes and colours. Large flower bowls are opening up, and children are playing with pollen stamens.

 autumntextAutumn

The birds bring the first signs of autumn. They pull golden threads across the earth. The threads turn into light, golden veils which are pulled over the woods.

Nature closes down towards the winter time. Colours and shapes change the trees and plants. Large, brown, knotty plants with filled seed pods are contrasting with the blue.

 

wintertext

Winter

The winter opens with the stormy wind hitting the trees, and dead leaves in brown, yellow, and red are blown into the air.

Through winter cold and frost the death rider on his wild horse charges into the night. Nature is desolate and silent.

The wind plays with light snowflakes, and they are dancing around like pearl embroidered suns.

In the darkness of the winter night a flaming ice rose shines like the fiery northern lights, filled with hope.

 

Needless to say I was above impressed when walking along the frieze, trying to take it all in, – and even more so now, when working with the photos for this blog post, and I really got to study the details.

One cannot help but wonder about the drive and stamina that the artist would need to finish a piece like this. And even so, when comparing the beginning and the end, one can almost get the impression that he did not want it to end, as the sheer masses and density of the stitches are ever increasing towards the end.

Still, the artist has produced two similar works of art after this one. His second frieze, the 50 meters long Orfeus and Euridike (1978 – 1985), was also displayed at Nyfossum in the neighbouring rooms, and was almost as impressive as this one, although a bit different.  I took lots of photos here as well.

His third and last work of this scale, is the 70 meters long frieze based on Draumkvedet, a Norwegian medieval ballad often compared to Dante’s Divina Commedia.  This was finished in 1993. I should like to see that one as well, – maybe I will be so lucky some time in the future.

🙂

Eldrid

ps

“The Four Seasons” and “Orfeus and Euridike” will hang at Nyfossum till the middle of September this year. There are still two more weeks to get to see them.

Fair Weather Hexagons

The weather has been nice, – in fact more than nice: really, really hot for these parts of the world.

That is when I pull out my ongoing hexagon project and sit in the shade, cutting, basting and sewing.

hexagonjuly14a

When making the shorts shown in the previous post, I ended up with a lot of odd shaped remnants, perfect for cutting up into hexagons. They have all been basted, along with a few other remnant pieces laying around my sewing area.

hexagonjuly14b

A few have been made into flowers, with a few background pieces added, ready to be attached to the growing top.

hexagonjuly14c

I am starting to think that this will become a small throw for the sofa. It is wide enough by now, but has only a third of the desired height, so I will need to add about a hundred new flower blocks, plus some half blocks to make the edges even.

I see I will need a lot of fine weather to finish this one 🙂 🙂   Bring it on!

🙂

Eldrid

Ukrainian Folk Costumes II

We have just celebrated the 200 year anniversary of our Constitution on 17th May, and as usual on the National Day, everybody who own a national costume, wore it to the festivities.

While I was enjoying myself looking at different dresses with a myriad of interesting details, I was reminded of the rest of the photos of the Ukrainian costumes that have been sitting in my computer for some time, waiting to make their way into this post.

Well, here they are at last.

The first one here is a costume from the  Transcarpathian flatlands. We are still in the era of the sewing machine, as can be seen on the vest. It has colourful ruffles made from a very thin fabric, which have frayed a bit over time. The shirt has fantastic smocking and embroideries on the cuffs. The photo of the skirt is sadly out of focus, but shows the multiple colours of the ruffle border.

I have been studying the belt, but cannot quite decide on the construction technique. I have been wondering if it might be made in the old braiding technique called “sprang”, but I am not sure. Maybe someone reading this will know. As I wrote in the first post, there was no information on the individual costumes other than the region they came from.

The costume above comes from the Lemko area. Again, the amount of detailed work is amazing. I like the dense embroidery of the head dress, which is also repeated on the cuffs, and I love the large pearl collar, – and not just because quilters are partial to hexagons.

When studying the embroidery on the skirt, you will notice that each motif is perfectly aligned with the pressed folds of the skirt.

I wonder how many pearls would be used for a dress like this.

Then we move on to Bukovyna, and here they had costumes for both men and women on display. The one above is for males, and it looks like they were not averse to wearing flowery decorations embroidered in many colours, – including hot pink.

The detailed work done on leather is impressive, and I love the woven belt. Also, I was surprised to see that the bottom of the trousers has a border of drawn thread embroidery. They show very little wear, so these trousers  must have been for very best use.

Above is the female costume, which, as a whole, appears less colourful than the male counterpart. The most impressive parts are the sleeves, which look unusually long, by the way, – and all covered in embroidery in three very different patterns. The edging on the vest with alternating dark and light fur, must have taken quite some time to accomplish. The belt has a similar pattern and colours as in the male costume, but seems to be narrower.

 

Now, this one from the Pokuttia region has everything: embroidery, fringes, pearls, handmade cords, – you name it, – and then some detailed leather work to blow your mind.

First, I love the head dress with the colourful borders. To wrap it around the head and make it sit correctly must be an art in itself. The shirt sleeves are also heavily embroidered.

But the most impressive part is the vest. I have no knowledge of leather work, so can only guess at how these things are done, but even to an untrained eye, there is no denying that a lot of work has gone into this piece. Just look at all those small pom-poms, – they look like they are felted. Anyway, each and every one of them have been fastened, – probably sewn, – to the leather along with an accompanying dark triangular leather piece.

The narrow checkered borders on both sides of the the front looks like narrow dark leather bands have been woven into slits in the light leather background. Then there is some cross stitch embroidery, and red and yellow twisted cords are couched on both sides.

The alternating pieces of dark and light fur on the edges of the vest, are even narrower than on the vest we looked at above, and there are also lots of small triangular leather pieces, looking like praerie points, on top of the fur pieces.

 

This women’s dress from the Hutsulian area is also rich in details, and colours.

The head dress is interesting, consisting largely of pearls, – but I wondered about the tinsel. I guess it must have been highly valued at some point to be displayed so prominently.

I love the pattern in the pearl necklace, – although there are repeats, it appears quite irregular.

The upper part of the shirt sleeves has a very dense, colourful embroidery.

The vest has similar decoration details as the one above, but they are arranged a bit differently. Lots of couched cords, and the edges of the dark triangular pieces are also couched in dark thread, – so much so the leather almost disappears. Lots of eyelets are also used as pure decoration. It also has a colourful embroidered border at the bottom, in style with the shirt embroidery.

Here it is obvious that the base leather is sheepskin, which I also suspect is the case of the vests in the photos further above.

In addition to a woven belt, there is also a woven band adorned with pom-poms wrapped across one shoulder, reminiscent of a ceremonial sash, some times used at weddings. Now, if this is a wedding outfit, maybe that would explain the tinsel, – just guessing here.

 

The corresponding men’s costume from the Hutsulian area is even more adorned than its female counterpart, minus the pearls.

The shirt front is richly embroidered in many colours and patterns, including numbers which indicate it was made in 1961.  The woven belt is quite wide and has stronger colours in it than the one on the women’s dress, – maybe it is newer and less faded.

The vest has similar decor elements and placement as the one above, minus the embroidered border at the bottom. This one has larger, dark triangles, and they are adorned with lots of eyelets and have their edges couched with green cord. The checkerboard strips are wider and have three bands woven into them.

The footwear is also similar between the two costumes.

This is a woolen cape from the same area as above. It has some embroidered decor around the neck, down the back, and along the seams.

The tip protruding at the back looks like it could be a hood, but  I have not been able to detect an opening for the head. It is a mystery to me why it looks like this, unless it is meant to cover a load carried on the back.

The last two costumes that were on display, are from the Podillia area. The men’s costume has a long shirt, with a wide embroidered border around the opening at the front. Stitches around this opening also serve as a strengthening of the fabric, which can easliy tear at the bottom of the split.

The decorative leather work on the west is more similar to the ones from the Bukovyna area than to the two shown directly above. This also goes for the belt, which seems to be woven in a jacquard technique.

The most prominent feature of the women’s costume from Podillia, is the strong decor on the sleeves. With two heavy, black and red pieces at the top, – not sure whether they are embroidered or sewn in fabrics, – and a wide, black zig zag ribbon sewn in a spiraling pattern around the sleeves, they sort of define the whole costume. The red colour is also repeated in a many stranded pearl necklace.

The vest is decorated in similar technique as the one above.

——————

Seeing this exhibition, and then studying the individual photos afterwards, has been like a journey, – very interesting. People everywhere like to dress up, and being well dressed is always a way to show off either wealth or status.

A lot of these costumes has been very time consuming in making, showing that these people had time on their hands, and material, to spend on other things than just scraping a living.

—————–

The first post about the exhibition can be seen here.

 

🙂

Eldrid

Ukranian Folk Costumes

During the recent Olympic Games in Sochi, quilters everywhere admired the Games’ patchwork theme, which I wrote about back in May 2011.

The fact that the patchwork bits were inspired by different traditional crafts, including embroidery,  reminded me of some photos I took not very long ago, and which I intended to show you here.

The museum at Maihaugen, Lillehammer cooperated with the Museum of Folk Architecture and Customs of Lviv, Ukraine,  to show part of their collection of Ukrainian folk costumes at Lillehammer last summer.  We travelled through the area at that time, so we planned a stop at Lillehammer to visit the exhibition.

ukrainad4

I have spent some time during the last week or so, sorting through the photos I took there. Meanwhile, the political situation in Ukraine has escalated, and is still unresolved and threatening as I write this.

Amidst all the turmoil, maybe it is fitting in this situation to also have a look at the beauty that has been created in this region. One term that comes to mind after studying these dresses is: “Flower Power” 🙂

ukrainaplakat

As the small poster accompanying the exhibition tells us, the costumes are from late 19th century and first half of 20th century, during which time the sewing machine came into use. The poster explains how the shape of the costumes changed after the introduction of the sewing machine. (Click on the photo to enlarge).

ukraina1

At the exhibition, the costumes were divided into two groups: before and after the introduction of sewing machines. The latter group, above, has costumes with sewn waists, while the group below has the older long shirts with woven belts.

ukraina2

Here I will post some photos of the youngest costumes, and will have to make a new post with the older ones later.

(Click on the small photos above to see the full version of the photos.)

Like we do with quilts, I find it interesting to study how things were done, and to sometimes wonder why. The joyful red colour of the embroidery above (which seems to have been colourfast, by the way) is very prominent on the white background, and would certainly stand out in a crowd. The shirt is very well made with lots of detail and even stitches, and the edges of both the collar and the cuffs are beautifully finished off with embroidery stitches. From a distance the waistcoat is the most eye-catching piece, with the larger flower embroideries.

However, when looking closely, one can see that there is a difference in workmanship between the shirt and the waistcoat, and also in the waistcoat itself, namely between the embroidery and the general construction, including the machine stitching. It looks as if more than one person has been involved in the making, or perhaps some older item with embroideries still intact, has been remade into a waistcoat. Lots of questions pop up when you start looking closely.  The buttonholes, for example, puzzled me especially, – why buttonholes (and not very well made at that) and no buttons? At least the maker took care to cut them in between the flowers so as not to ruin, or unravel, any embroidery stitches.

ukraina8

The “make-do”- phenomenon, which we often see in quilting, is also present here. The maker seems to have run out of the flowery ribbon and had to use some yellowish ribbon instead on top of the left front piece (to the right on the photos). It goes both vertically and horizontally at the top, but in the corresponding horizontal space on the other front piece, there is no ribbon at all. Again the question pops up: why?

The skirt raises similar questions. It  looks like hand embroidery, but the border patterns do not fit at the seams, at least not all of them. Why go to all that work and not have the pattern fit?

But let me assure you: none of these questions entered my head while walking through the exhibition. At the time I was just impressed with the gorgeousness of it all, and had no time to contemplate the details. It is when I look at the photos afterwards that I start noticing things.  So, any young or older woman wearing this costume, would just look beautiful, I think.

Below are more costumes, and similar questions could be asked about a few of them. There is always something to wonder about when you are curious, but I will try to not repeat myself too much.

This one was quite restricted colour-wise, – only “a few” coloured flowers and leaves on the vest, –  but the blackwork on the shirt is to die for. You can also see that the machine stitching in black is very well done. The distance between the two parallel seams is so even that one might suspect a twin needle has been used.

There was no written information about the individual costumes beyond the general information on the poster at the top, except for the name of the region the costume came from. The two above, and the next two below are all from the Lviv Region.

The costumes were behind ropes, and the lighting was a bit varied. I had to zoom in on some details where I could not reach close enough with the camera, so not all my photos came out great. I could only use the flash sparingly, so on some of the darker costumes, the details do not show up very well, or they are a bit out of focus. Still, I chose to post some of the lesser photos anyway.

Here the flowers are blooming in a riot of colours. The shirt has lots of flowers arranged in orderly borders. It is interesting to observe the arrangement of the decorative elements on the shoulder pieces. Also, I love the creative use of colours in the embroidery on the vest.

This costume strikes me as a celebration of earthly gifts: golden wheat fields with poppies in them, and an abundance of grapes. And then the flowers on the apron. The amount of work to make a dress like this is awe-inspiring.

The pattern of the necklace could be an inspiration to any quilter.

This costume is from the Polissya region. The flowers have been left behind, except for the cuffs. Also notice that the embroidered pattern on the collar is widely different from the one on the cuffs, – and then the shoulders and sleeves have yet another pattern, which is a bit similar to the woven pattern on the skirt.

I found this costume especially interesting as it was the only one with sewing that resembled quilting on the waistcoat, – or maybe the term machine embroidery could be used.

ukrainae9

Also, we can deduce that at one point the owner must have put on weight, or the dress has been passed on to a new owner and needed to be fitted.  As you can see, some of the buttons have been moved.  The old positions are still visible for the two buttons at the bottom. With the buttons in the old positions, the quilted leaves forming a zig-zag pattern, would have fitted nicely at the front, so this was well planned from the beginning.

When looking closely, you may also notice that the red fabric in the waist border is a twill fabric, while both the red and black fabrics above are satin weave.  The two red colours are so similar that the difference is not noticeable, except when looking very closely.  With so many different elements coming together, one could almost call this a patchwork project 🙂

The last costume for now comes from the Boiko area, and is almost solemn compared to the riot of colours displayed on most of the previous ones. As with the  rest of the costumes, the shirt does not lack decor, particularly on the shoulder pieces. I also love the smocking on top of the sleeves.

This was it for now.

I will start sorting through the rest of the photos, and eventually write another post showing you the older costumes.

🙂

Eldrid

Fading Test

Over the years I have made a few quilts which have included photos printed directly on fabric.

isrose1

Before I started doing this in earnest, I did some research, and found that after the question of wash-ability had been solved, fading from light exposure was the biggest problem.

patchworkrose1detalj

I found that there was a new (to me) ink being used, pigment based ink, which was said to be much more light resistant than the ordinary printer ink, which is dye based.

heimehamn1

Luckily, by then, some printers using this new pigment ink were on the market, and I got hold of one.

I wanted to test for myself, to see if what they said was true.

epsonperm2013

I chose a random photo, which had all the main colours in it to some degree, and printed this same photo onto four pieces of fabric of the same kind.

This was in January 2003. So the test began, and it has been going on for more than 10 years by now.

One of the prints, shown in the photo above, has been kept in the dark ever since, except every time I had it out to check against the others. It is printed using pigment based ink.

epsonvindu2013

Two of the prints have been stapled to cardboard and standing in a window facing west. The window is exposed to direct sunshine from 2PM to around 10PM when the sun is at the highest in summer.

The print above was printed using pigment based ink, and the photo shows how it looks after 10 years.

canonvindu2013

This is the other print that has been standing in the same window. This one was printed with dye based ink, and there is almost nothing left after 10 years.

During one of my firs tests, I found that this kind of ink showed considerable fading after just a few months, even if an UV spray was used. See photos on my website here.

epsonvegg2013

The fourth of my prints was hung on a wall, 2-3 meters from a window. This is where we typically would hang a wall hanging, for instance, not directly in a window.

This print was also printed with pigment ink, and has fared quite well compared to the one kept in the dark.

falming2013

In this photo I placed all the prints side by side when photographing, so they would all have the same light exposure in the photo. The two at the top have been in the window, the bottom left has been hanging on the wall, and the bottom right has been in the dark.

All the ones that have been exposed to some degree of light, have had a yellowing of the fabric itself, while the one kept in the dark still has very white fabric after 10 years.

See more on the topic on my website.

The test will continue, although I think I have found that I can trust my quilts to look almost as brilliant as when they were new, even after many, many years. Especially if they are not hung directly in a window.

nordkalotten

🙂

Eldrid