Friday, January 27, 2012

Christmas in January? Oh My!

You've all heard by now that I'm preparing a line of new designs for Spring Quilt Market in May in Kansas City, and that means I'm working the first three months of this new year on fall and Christmas designs for 2012.  I know you feel like you just finished Christmas, but really, what better time of year to start your holiday stitching projects than right now?  In my part of the world (Idaho, USA), it's still cold and there's snow in our mountains, so stitching beside a warm fire is a welcome activity during our cold winter evenings.  So what do I have cookin' now for you?  How about a cute snowman candle mat I've begun this week that's only just made it off the drawing board . . .

I'll start a tutorial on how to make this candle mat next week, but in the meantime I wanted to show you how a design is born on my worktable. First, I start with a very general idea of how I'd like the finished project to look.  When I say a very general idea, that's exactly what I mean!  It's a rare thing for my initial idea to look anything like the final design, as it alters and morphs as work along.

Next, I get out a sheet of graph paper, my rulers, tape and drawing pencils, a humongous eraser and, oh!--I almost forgot--a glass of wine. Yep, I'll admit that most of my designs are created under the influence of a single glass of cheap boxed red wine accompanied by by other best friend, sharp cheese.  Mmmmm, cheeeese.  I tell my hubby there's no room for sissies here--designing is hard work!  Anyway, after the wine has sat a bit, I quickly start to draw my idea out on the graph paper with a very light hand.  I probably draw the initial sketch in under two or three minutes.  My design looks pretty bad, because I'm no artist and nothing I draw is going to look good in under three minutes.  To make matters worse, I take off my "up-close-big-girl-glasses", scrunch up my nose and eyes and try to envision how it would look if I could really draw.  Believe it or not, that process gives me a rough idea of how the whole thing is going to fit together and how it might eventually look when I apply it to wool or fabric.  And to think I owe it all to some badly-harvested grapes grown somewhere in California!

I begin drawing in earnest at that point, although I try not to over-think the design.  If one of my snowmen starts to look like anything more than a blob on the page, I immediately draw over my pencil lines with a fine-point Sharpie marker so he can't be changed anymore.  I think that keeps me from worrying a design to death.  Sometimes, I'll use a photocopier to make mirror images of certain parts of the design or to make it easy to repeat a portion like you'll see in this photo mat . . .

That's basically all there is to it.  Once the design is worked out on paper, I trace the individual components onto clear plastic and then onto the colors of wool I have chosen for the project.  I sometimes end up with several different colors of noses or hats which auditioned for the candle mat and eventually end up on the cutting floor (I wish there was something reasonable I could do with all those tiny little pieces of wasted wool!).  And that, girlies, is how a design is born on my worktable.

Well, I gotta close now, as I'm headed to the mountains this weekend to play in the snow with my hubby. Yes, I'm taking some stitching with me (isn't that sick?).  Be sure to check back next week when I begin the tutorial for this snowman candle mat and also announce the winner of my "Halloween Jacks" pattern.  If you haven't entered yet, be sure to check out my contest rules you can find in my last three posts.  It's real easy to enter and I hope you win!  Until next time . . .

Happy stitchin'!   xoxo--Melanie

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