Archive for the ‘Memphis’ Category

A Stitchy Spring

May 20, 2013

Memphis has enjoyed a real spring season this year (i.e. more than one week between damp/gray/winter and steamy/humid/summer) and I have been out and about with some knitting.

Earlier this year, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art contacted my knitting group asking for collaboration on their upcoming exhibition Angels and Tomboys: Girlhood in Nineteenth Century American Art. They requested that we yarnbomb the front of the museum and we were only too happy to oblige them!

All area knitters and crocheters were invited to join in. On an overcast and unusually chilly day in March we converged on the museum with our handiwork.

We covered the front entrance


and all the posts.

IMG_3765 IMG_3764


We wrapped the benches



and any other random thing we could find.

IMG_3784 IMG_3774


This gate gate was commissioned for a local estate, but the owners decided against using it and gave it to the museum. It was not spared.



Renee took care of the lion.

Knitbombed lion

My job was to fit one of the very tall bike racks with a new sweater. I started out with some big holes


got bored and switched to smaller eyelets with an icord laced through them,


and finished up with colorblocks and lots of stripes. Finally, we strung Kenon’s knitted hearts and draped them among the three bike racks.


We used zip ties to hold everything up. Thankfully, the museum staff had the job of taking it down!


Playing Catch Up

February 12, 2013

Now that Valentine’s Day is approaching, maybe I should get around to posting pics of my booth at the 2012 holiday show.   The show ran from Nov 30 – Dec 24th in an empty store front in Midtown Memphis and participants took turns staffing it.  I had many more sales this year because I had a better variety of products and price points.   I also set up shop with other women makers at a Memphis Cash Mob event in the lobby of our local literacy agency.  It only lasted a few hours one rainy afternoon, but lots of people came and everyone did well.

Here is the whole setup.  It looks a little awkward and there is too much empty wall space, but I will remedy that next year.  We never know where our booths will be until the last minute so it is hard to plan ahead.  This year  I bought some fancy gridwall to better display the bibs.


I went ahead and made aprons even though everyone is making aprons.  I used large-scale prints with coordinating fabrics for backs so that they are reversible.  The best seller was the Buddha apron which is second from the back in the pic below.  I bought a lot more of that fabric for next year.


These birdseed ornaments sold as fast as I could make them!  I made the boxes out of recycled cereal boxes and nestled the ornaments in shredded tissue from last year’s gift boxes.


My sister made these adorable house ornaments.  There was only one left at the end of the show.


This was the big surprise of season.  I made about 30 decoupage ornaments using pages from fabric catalogs.  I was just sure that most of them  would be coming home with me after the show closed.  But I sold every single one of them and many of the people who purchased them bought two!  These take a long time to make and I even took the supplies on vacation with me.  Many were assembled while we anxiously watched last year’s presidential election returns in front of a fire in a cozy condo in North Carolina.


Other merchandise included hand knit caps, black and white fabric books for infants and recycled yarn.  I only sell one or two lots of yarn every year, but I will keep putting it out because people think that recycling yarn is cool and the pretty colors draw them into my booth.

Things went so well in 2012 that I’m looking to do more shows next season.  And I am starting on the stitching now to avoid the last-minute making frenzy that happens to procrastinators like me!

Crosstown Quilt for Project Modern Inspiration Challenge

November 26, 2010

The quilt is finished and the quilt-as-you-go method gets two thumbs up!

The inspiration: a parking garage next to the historic Sears building in the Crosstown neighborhood of Memphis, TN.

Parking garage quilt inspiration

The quilt

Crosstown Quilt for Project Modern

Measuring in at 54″ x 70″, this is the largest quilt I have ever made. The prints are all leftover fabric from a stack of thrifted clothes I sent out for a block swap last summer.

I used the quilt-as-you-go-method and will definitely do this again unless the long-arm fairy visits me in the meantime. Here are the steps I used:

1. Made all lantern and rectangle blocks. Arranged them on design wall.
2. Decided the quilt should be larger and made 21 more blocks for an extra row and two more columns.
3. Pieced the blocks into 9 larger sections measuring about 18 or 20 inches square.
4. Quilted each larger block to a piece of batting.
5. Sewed the larger blocks together.
6. Pressed the seams from step 5 very very flat with lots of steam and Mary Ellen’s Best Press.
7. Basted the seams from step 5 down using long running stitches to keep them from bunching up in the wash.
8. Pin basted the top to the back and quilted the whole thing by stitching in the ditch on some of the vertical and horizontal seams.
9. Pieced the binding from remaining fabrics and stitched it on.

detail of Crosstown Quilt

I was concerned that the seams with batting in them would be too bulky and look lumpy. Here are my recommendations for preventing this problem

* Use low loft batting such as Warm & White.
* Piece blocks into larger sections before quilting them to the batting. Fewer quilted sections means fewer seams with batting in them.
* Vigorously press seams with batting and baste them down as in step 7 above.
* Allow for a 3/8″ or larger seam allowance (instead of 1/4″) as these seams have some extra bulk. I did not do this and found myself with a few seam allowances that were too narrow to be stable. They had to be reinforced with hand stitching and it took forever.

For the back, I used a thrifted sheet.

The back is a thrifted sheet

I love this quilt even though all that precision piecing nearly left me cross-eyed. Now I am inspired to do a series of smaller quilts with Memphis-inspired themes and imagery. But that will have to wait until next year because there is much holiday knitting and sewing to be done!

Outdoor shot

Here are links to other quilts I’ve made from recycled clothes:
Men’s shirt quilt
Cherry print clothing quilt
Jumpers Baby Quilt
Pink prints mini quilt

Parking Garage Quilt for Project Modern Challenge

October 2, 2010

The Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring Project Modern, a year-long series of fun quilting challenges. Challenge #1, the Inspiration Challenge, is simply to make a quilt based on the inspiration of your choice.

The announcement of this challenge was all it took to get me started on a design I had been thinking about since the first of the year. Back in January, I took these photos of the parking garage adjoining the historic Sears building in Midtown. I thought the motif just screamed to be made into a quilt.

Parking garage

A lot of people hate this garage and call it a “mid-century monstrosity” because it doesn’t match the art deco style of the massive Sears Building. They’re right- it doesn’t. The store itself is an elegant structure, one of nine comparable mail-order and retail centers erected nationally by Sears Roebuck & Company between 1910 and the beginning of the Great Depression. The parking garage was added later.


My dad told me that he loved to go to Sears with his mom because they had rows and rows of shiny new baseball bats and gloves. Sadly, this building has sat empty for two decades despite several attempts at redevelopment. But improvements in the neighborhood make it much more likely that something can be done when the economy rebounds.

parking garage tail

I began by taking this close up shot of the concrete forms. Then I enlarged the photo so that only one repeat of the design was visible. From there, I printed it out and enlarged it a little more at the copy shop so that the lantern shapes were 12″ tall. I cut paper templates from the copies, transferred them to template plastic and started cutting my fabric.

I am using leftovers from the summer block swap quilt. The prints are cut from thrifted clothing and the sashing is Handspray by RJR Fabrics. This quilt will be about 54″ x 70″ and I’ll use the quilt-as-you-go method to quilt it. There is no way I am dragging such a large swath of fabric through my home machine! The backing will probably be a vintage sheet.

Here are a few of the 26 lantern blocks I have completed. I love them!

a few blocks for the parking garage quilt

I’ll keep you updated as this project progresses.

The A-Go-Go’s Do Memphis

July 14, 2010

Jek A-Go-Go (aka Lobstergirl, Jekbot, Jek-in-the-Box) has been an internet friend of mine for years, and last month I had the pleasure of meeting her and her uber-creative husband, Mr. A Go-Go in person. These two had a few hard knocks and decided to chuck it all and travel this summer. They are documenting their travels so that we can all ride along on a virtual road trip.

The A-Go-Go's visit Memphis!

They were only in Memphis for a day, but we made the most of it. Our first stop was Graceland to take in all things Elvis. I hadn’t been there since the 80’s and was glad to see it all again.

The living room
Graceland living room

Cute poodle wallpaper in Vernon and Galdys’s bathroom
Vernon and Gladys's wallpaper

The pool room. Every surface except the pool table is covered in fabric.
Graceland Pool room

The infamous “Jungle Room” lounge. Check out the waterfall wall, fur lamp and tiki bar.

Graceland jungle room wall

Jungle room fur lamp

Tiki bar in the Jungle Room at Graceland

There was plenty of memorabilia to see, such as gold records, movie posters, various awards and costumes. I love the leather duds Elvis wore in the ’69 Comeback Special. Glitzier Vegas jumpsuits were also on display in all their rhinestone glory.

Graceland '69 comeback special outfit

Graceland - Glitzy vegas costume

Mr. and Mrs. A-Go-Go like to collect jumping photos and were very happy to get this one in front of the mansion.

The A-Go-Go's jumping at Graceland

At the end of the tour, we went back to check out the graffiti on Graceland’s walls.

Graceland walls

The rest of the day was spent downtown. Here we are eating lunch at the Arcade, Memphis oldest cafe.

A-Go-Go's in Memphis

Feeling refreshed, we visited the Memphis Rock n Soul Museum and spent a little time on Beale Street. Before they took off for Jackson, we all did one last jump together. Can you tell I have had years of ballet training?

One last jump before hitting the road.

Jek and Jeff are both very talented artists, each with a boundless imagination. Jek writes for Craft, Mixtape, and Blanket and has a fun Etsy shop. Her two blogs are a visual treat. Jeff is a master of sock monkeys and has made many astonishing sock reproductions of Buddha, Venus de Milo, Michelangelo’s David, and Venus of Willendorf to name a few. Click the link and prepare to laugh until you cry.

That Sinking Feeling

March 28, 2010

The big news in Memphis last week was not basketball or health care reform, but an 8-foot sinkhole that opened up on the I-240 loop around the city. A few cars were mangled, but no one was injured. All but one northbound lane remained closed during the two-day repair, and city streets were gridlocked during rush hour with detouring commuters.

Forbes magazine recently ranked Memphis as the nation’s third most miserable city. So yeah, we have poverty and corrupt politicians. But we also have a sense of humor. Almost immediately after the news about the sinkhole broke, it had it’s own Facebook fan page with lots of really great fan photos. Here are some of my favs:

Obviously, Steve Forbes

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

Lots of politicians

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

The scumbag Calipari who left the U of M basketball program last year for Kentucky, taking last year’s recruits with him. Everyone here is thrilled with West Virginia’s win over the Wildcats yesterday.

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

“Um, yeeeah. I’m gonna have to, go ahead, and ask you to uuh, pave this up on Saturday. So if you could uh, just go ahead and get that done for me….that’d be greeeeaaat!”

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

Kids love sinkholes!

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

Look who else is in the sinkhole:

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

“I’m all right”
Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

A classic!
Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

This is my favorite
Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

Now the sinkhole is fixed and traffic is flowing smoothly.

Memphis Sinkhole Fan Photos

Fabulous Fabric News!

March 18, 2010

The Memphis area has a new fabric store!

New Fabric Store in Town!

Local quilter and fiber artist Arlene Blackburn has opened Delta Patchwork in Collierville, a fast growing suburb east of town. This is mostly an online business (go shopping!) with monthly open warehouse days for the locals. If you live in the area, sign up here so you won’t miss a chance to see the fabrics in person.

raiding the warehouse
Diane (the Left Out Knitter), me, owner Arlene Blackburn

Through a friend-of-a-friend connection, I was able to shop the warehouse and drool over bolts and bolts of modern up-to-date fabrics that are not generally available in our area. When I walked in and saw it all I started vibrating! There was Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett, Martha Negley, Phillip Jacobs, Brandon Mably, Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, Art Gallery, Lecien, Studio E and others at very nice prices made possible by extremely low overhead.

Have we died and gone to heaven?

It was exciting to find that the inventory at Delta does not overlap with that of the other quilt shops in our vicinity. Now Mid-South fabric fiends now have an expanded selection rather than just more places to buy the same thing. The shops in our area are all locally owned businesses and we want them to thrive, even if it is at the expense of our bank accounts. But, I suppose we must all make sacrifices for the sake of economic stimulus in this challenging economy 😉

The White Stuff

February 9, 2010

We woke up Monday morning to beautiful snow. Fluffy, sticky snowman-and-snowball snow.

Snow Day

Snow Day

Kitty print

Snow Day

Snow Day

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