Monday, January 30, 2012

Humbled and proud ...

A few weeks ago I joined an online BOM quilting group through What I hoped to learn were new techniques but at my own pace. The BOM is a free one: one, I am sure, to expose and entice you to others that you pay for. Judging by the comments from the group, the following is quit large. I made my introductory comment, which included a general statement about how hard it is to get 100% cotton here in Barranquilla. The next thing that I knew I had offers from a couple of members to share some fat quarters (FQ) with me. I am constantly humbled by the generosity that is found, and from strangers at that.

Thinking nothing further, on Friday last I went to the mailbox and wow, there was a large envelope waiting for me. It was indeed, a gift of FQ’s. I was in tears.

aren't they beautiful?

But then another surprise awaited me in the same manner. There were also 3 more envelopes waiting for me, these much heavier.   But first a little history: I have been teaching various manualidades (skills) to the women in my Damas de Casa group here in Colombia. Once a week we all come together, chatting, exchanging and generally having a good time. I started them a book of patterns to get used to the idea of working as a group and sharing without concerns about “this is mine and she can’t have it because she might do better with it than me!” These women collectively have a great variety of skills – they just needed to be shown through example, that they can share these skills and teach others. Each week when we get together, I try to bring new patterns that I find online (free for download only) for their book and for them to try. Oddly enough they all wanted to learn to cross-stitch. This was one week’s topic. Patterns flowed and then books that were old and well fingered started coming out. They were sharing! Another thing that they wanted to learn was a technique called Bordado Español. I didn’t know how to do this myself. I tried and tried to find patterns. Finally I asked a friend from Panama if she could teach me the next trip I made. Well she did but I still didn’t have patterns, only a sampler that she did as she was learning and subsequently copied for me to learn from. I finally found some very basic ideas called Chicken Scratch online. On a online group that I belong to, I then wrote asking if anyone had more elaborate patterns that they would be willing to share, and told my reason for the request. One of the ladies in the group who is a designer, wrote and asked me if she could donate a few supplies to the women. In her opinion, people like this do such fabulous work, if only given a chance. Of course, I agreed again thinking I would deal with it should it occur. And yes, these 3 envelopes were filled to the brim with supplies and fabric for them. These women are going to be ecstatic when they see this.

And I found 3 magazines on Bordado Español while visiting Medellín which I purchased and will put into the women's shared book of patterns. Life is good!

Another designer sent me a design pattern and gave permission to use it for a class. This will be the last class of my service here in Colombia.

We are so humbled and yes, lucky, to belong to a world where people think of others and give freely. I can only hope that the women, when I explain these things to them, will learn and in turn, repeat a kindness.

As for the BOM, well I finished January's blocks yesterday, using left-over fabric from another project. These are slash and sew blocks that are surprisingly simple to make. You start with a square and slash and sew ins trips to eventually make a pattern, or even just random fractures. (I found a blog where someone didn't like a quilt that she had pieced so she randomly slashed it and sewed in strips for a fractured window effect. Beautiful)You make them bigger than your finished block and then trim to size. What could be simpler? 
  I even tried a little liberated cutting, but somehow these always seem to be straight. So I purposely thought of cutting and ended up with a smooth curve. Go figure! I will have to concentrate on this more heavily. :)
Tomorrow, crochet! Man am I touring the world of crafting. Today, however, samples to be made!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What do you do?

What do you do when, in a moment of insanity, you not only bid on, but win a set of 6inch flannel squares with a Christmas theme? And to top it off, you get them sent to Colombia, ending up paying double postage and 26% tax on cost plus shipping. You use them quickly, and what could be quicker than a rag quilt. But don't forget, you then also have to purchase more flannel for a backing and again, pay the outrageous fees to get it here to Colombia. This is the toddler size quilt that I ended up with ...

... but then, when you are done, you find yourself with a little over a yard of the backing left. So again, another small(well not a true baby-size for sure) baby quilt using up some other flannel (this time white) that is sitting on the shelf. And you get real lazy and tie it instead of quilting it, with a small band at the top with hand quilting in it. You get this ...

So now comes the question, what to do with them? One of the employees in the office's wife works with indigenous people in the mountains. Maybe I can give them to her and she can give them to a deserving family? Yes, that would definitely work.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vindicated: Chicken Scratch alias Bordado Español


So it turns out that I wasn't imagining the name of what I was looking for ... Bordado Español is what Chicken Scratch is called in Latin America. And to back up my statement, and to save my sanity, I found 3 magazines with patterns in a small kiosk next to Parque Botero in Medellín, Colombia.

Now I have more wonderful patterns to share with the women in my Damas de Casa group. They will be pleased with the magazines.
Botero Park, Medellín, Colombia: just one of many statues found in the park that is located in front of the Museum of Antioquia.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chicken Scratch

 I was searching all over the internet for something called "Spanish embroidery" but all I found with that designation was intricate tapestry type photos and blackwork. Not really what I was looking for. What I wanted was something that is done in Panama [oh, never thought to search under that designation]. Instead what I found was: chicken scratch embroidery or depression embroidery. It is embroidery done on gingham material using the squares for stitch placement. You might remember seeing it on aprons, curtains etc in Grandma's home. I wanted it for a class for the women's group here in Colombia.


According to "Guide to Gingham Embroidery Book One" by Laurie LaTour (an eBook purchased from Future Christian Homemakers)...

"Gingham Cross Stitch, reached its height of popularity in the 1940’s and 50’s as women looked for ways to create beautiful things for their home on limited budgets. In the 1980’s, Pegasus Originals produced several books of gingham embroidery patterns and coined the term “Chicken Scratch” because that’s what the lines in the patterns looked like to them! 
"Gingham Embroidery" because it encompasses all the lovely techniques used to turn this humble fabric into a thing of beauty. 

but in Panama they call it Spanish embroidery, hence my difficulty in finding anything online.

I spent all day Monday interpreting and practicing from copies of patterns that I received from a friend in Panama. (copies of her work) so that I could teach a preliminary class on Tuesday. I used what I had available - DMC Perle #8 and an appropriate sized sharp needle.

The obvious question was anticipated ... "It is beautiful but how can I use it when you use gingham for the fabric?" With this in mind, I decided to make a small example on how to incorporate this form of embroidery into something along with other forms. . Valentine's Day is coming up and I do have a pillow form that is currently bare, having taken off the Christmas pillow cover. This is what I came up with (a little lopsided, but I wasn't planning it - only stitching it).

This allowed me to show them how to also use an available fabric - Aida - to do this. I just wish that waste canvas or mono canvas was available to use as well. The women are interested in putting this kind of work onto blouses, skirts and such that are very plain, which they can buy fairly cheaply. So now I will experiment with the Aida to see if the threads can be pulled. hmmmm t-shirts?

I left them with all the copies of the patterns, and ideas. It will be interesting to see what the more industrious of the women bring back next week. What they asked of me, which is very normal, was could I buy and bring them various threads which in turn they would pay me for. For the most part, this works well, but I have yet to break even on this type of venture.

Keep tuned for the follow-up ...