Wednesday, March 14, 2012
February CQJP 2012 Vineyard Block
This is the second in the landscape series I am stitching up for the CQJP 2012 sponsored by Kathy Shaw. Click the button on my side bar if you would like to see more beautiful blocks from all over the world.
I have tried to create the feeling of looking down on the vineyards in Northern California. The scene was inspired by two different things. One was an advertisement for wine that I saw showing a landscape of vineyards. It had a large glass of wine overlaying the scene and the colors caught my attention. The ad also inspired me another way and now the glass of wine is gone, lol. secondly, I have family members that live in the northern part of California so I have visited the area a few times. This is supposed to be a composite of things I remember most from that scenic area. I hope you all get a similarly good feeling after viewing this block and that it might inspire you to visit the beautiful fields in California's wine country.
Here is a little bit about how I went about creating this block. Keep in mind that the construction and piecing was done at home and the stitching was all done as I was traveling in a truck on my way to Bastrop, Texas to deliver the Fire Relief Donatons. I had to do some stitching that didn't require percision so the stiches used are very simple ones.
First I chose my sky and mountain fabrics. Then I placed the sky fabric down on my foundation muslin. Next I worked on developing the rows of 'dirt & grape vines'. For this block I had a minimal amount of fabric available to me to use for those rows and I had to decide how to get as much use out of it as possible. I wasn't going to be able to seam the strips together and have enough fabric to make the width of the block even. To remedy that I threw in a wider strip of fabric for the dirt road. I would have liked to have a bit more of a vanishing point for the rows and the road but my fabric shortage dictated a wider vanishing point line. I also had to plan on how low to set the strips and still get a properly placed horizon line. You will note that the horizon line tilts a bit to the left, as do the rows on the left side of the road. I hoped this would give you the feeling of being on a rolling hill side. I wonder if I succeeded?
I butted the strips up to one another (much like you would do when working with wool patches) and I basted them in place at the bottom of the block (allowing for my seam allowance) until I could figure out the mountain placements.
I cut the mountain shapes free hand with the rotary cutter from batik fabrics. Once I had a pleasing arrangement I pinned them in place and determined the direction the light would be 'coming from'. I used cotton embroidery floss throughout the stitching on this block. The mountains and the final row of chain stitches on the vines were done in over-dyed flosses. Feather stitches were used to highlight and texture the mountains and the road. I joined the rows by using a tiny blanket stitch for the first layer of stitches and at the same time I added my very fine black tulle for the shadows between rows and on the road. The vines are built up in layers of fly stitch, chain stitch, fly stitch again and more chain stitches to give some depth to their appearance. I used a varying number of plies of floss for this so there would be some texture throughout the vines.
The next step was to creat some distant trees using elongated fly stitches and some whipped backstitches for the trunks and branches. In front of those I placed some irregularly spaced long straight stitches for the hint of some fencing. Over that I laid a long strip of a funky wooly fiber that I tacked down - hoping it would look like a bank of bushes. The tree tops on the larger trees are made from a multicolored yarn that I pulled apart and distorted. It is held in place with tiny fly stitches to simulate branches. Somethought was given to placement of the lighter shades of green so the light direction would remain constant. The smaller trees have some shredded/pulled cheese cloth foliage.
when I am having a day of plaing with dyes I use snall rags/swatches of cheese cloth for wiping up any spills, cleaning out my dyeing bowls/jars, etc. I heat set the colors with the iron. I keep the rags and then use that cheese cloth for lots of things in my needlework. It is a fun and easily controlled fabric to work with in this manner. You can get some pretty ugly and dirty looking swatches but they tear off into great pieces for use on trees, as rocks, seaweed, etc.
The last element to be added to the block was the beading along the vines. I used a mixture of seed beads in golds, pinks and purples to simulate grapes ready for harvest.
I am pretty happy with the way this block turned out considering I had to do most of the actual stitching in the truck. DH was really good about letting me use his side of the cup holder for holding my scissors, needle book, etc. I used my cup to hold the floss cards. It sure made the time pass quickly on the ride to Texas.