eight by eight

May was the toughest yet by Blair
June 9, 2008, 10:05 am
Filed under: Blair, finished | Tags: , ,

Dear Daria,

The box of green bits you sent for May threw me for a loop and I didn’t even realize it. There it all sat…on my work table…staring at me. Capped off by those little pots of fabric ink. My thinking ran the full gammet of possibilities. I could use a little of that ink…or a lot… I could use a little of the fabric…or a lot… Some days I would feel like just jumping in there, with no plan, and tackling it with whatever on-the-fly inspiration I had that day, but I held back and finally felt I came at it with some sort of creative plan. Here’s what I did.

Rather than use the large green piece you gave me as the base/background, I decided to use some quilter’s muslin I had (I worried that the green fabric and the light green ink were too close in color). I fiddled around with a pattern repeat I’d pulled from somewhere ages ago, which I drew out onto acetate (2 separate sheets, to cut out one for each color placement). Then taped them down over the muslin, one at a time, and pounced the ink on with a sponge. I like the way the darker green ink came out, but I was hoping for more even coverage for the lighter green (I think I should use a finer sponge). Each color required a couple of coats, which also affected the surface hand. But anyway, I reach a point where I was ready to move on to the fabric, so added the various fabric you sent a dots in between the patterns. I like the way it turned out.

This whole fabric printing business came at a really good time for the amount of brainspace I had for it. Its something I’d like to do more of, so you pushed me in the right direction D.

And yes, I think June’s theme is hard. Hard to put the box together, hard to find the inspiration for. Maybe now that the kids are home for summer break, we should get them to help us, no? :



march by Blair
March 28, 2008, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Blair, finished | Tags: , ,


Dear Daria,

You’re probably amazed at how ahead of our deadline I am this month (I know I’m amazed!). I think this one is my favorite so far. Paper bag piecing is so fun! For readers who may not know what I’m talking about, as I cut strips out of the individual fabrics, I put them in a bag and pulled them out in pairs- without peeking- and sewed them together. Then those pairs were put back into the bag, pulled out in pairs, sewn together, and so on. What you end up with is something like the idea of my finished pieced. I put a few pictures of the process over on Flickr. There was not a bit of thought as to how these were going together, I really followed the rule of no peeking!


What is really freeing about a process like this is that the colors just come together on their own, there’s no planning and wondering if there’s too much of one color here or a pair that doesn’t work over there. And its so quick! Because there is not much planning and contemplating, I completed this in one rainy afternoon, from start to finish.

The handquilting is rather, um, rustic. But I actually tried to do that (you believe me, don’t you D?). I bought some various colors of orange and blue thread and just played around with stitching different shapes. The muslin piece you sent worked perfectly as a neutral border and the twill tape became the top and bottom edge. I *love* the way the colors came together in this, and how they are framed by the neutral border. I plan to play around with this whole technique some more. Its so simple to think by just putting the strips in a paper bag and not actually looking at them when choosing could inspire me, but I often go through periods of overthinking color combinations.


OK, Daria, we are three months into this and I couldn’t be happy with where this project has taken me. It has not been daunting, it has not felt like a burden (well, except for when I was knee-deep in school auctions, but at that point sleeping was a bit of a burden too.) Quite the contrary, it has inspired me and gotten me thinking in new directions creatively. Hope you think so too.


cozy patchwork sampler for February, which can also be called good crafting therapy… by Blair
March 2, 2008, 9:16 am
Filed under: Blair, finished | Tags: , ,

I have a story around what came out of this month’s theme. First of all, the colors of what you sent just jumped out of the box with all their vivid-ness. They were a welcome surprise (although I don’t really know what I was expecting, which I guess is part of the fun). I formed an idea of what I would do immediately. Then a h u g e project landed on the little lap of our small business, and everything was put aside. Everything. I found myself working not only while the kids were away at school each day, but at night after they were in bed, and sometimes even through dinner. I can’t say its put me in the best mood. Feeling as if I had no time for anything at all and most definitely no balance…well…yes…I was pouting a little. Anyway…

Just as I was about to go to bed the other night, I switched gears and decided to jump into my eight by eight project instead. I suddenly felt the urge to do something completely for me, and let me tell you, this was the perfect thing. Funny how sewing all these little stitches created such a total calmness in me, I immerged from my studio feeling so much better about everything, immediately calmer and just more “me”. I love having a pre-defined size and a pre-chosen set of materials to work with (that I did not choose). This month especially, it just seemed like the best kind of crafting therapy.


Looking back at the original pile of bits I got in my box, I was most interested in the felt dots and immediately called them my favorite part. They definitely fueled my initial inspiration. I found it most fun to use them as a foundation to play with different embroidery stitches. As for the fabrics themselves, they all seemed to come together as a patchwork, with the dots on top. I loved how the polka dot corduroy balanced with those round felt dots.


The wool roving you sent stumped me initially, but then I decided to pull out my needlefelting supplies and create pom poms (you can see these pom poms inspired other aspects of my crafting this month). I have wanted to do some needlefelting again for a while now, and while this is not a huge amount of work, my hands immediately remembered how theraputic the process can be (well, when I don’t get poked). I sewed these onto the corners, and this all suddenly felt very pillow-like to me. You know how I love the pillows. I added some stuffing, added a backing of red felt, and present you with a very tiny, eight by eight (actually a bit smaller) patchwork pillow.

On to March, a surprise color pairing is on its way to you!


January: finished project by daria
January 31, 2008, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Daria, finished | Tags: , ,

Dear Blair,

Well, here it is: NEW*.


Except for the pale green button you sent, which was supposed to go on the pale leaf sticking straight up on the right side, only last night I looked away for two seconds to thread my needle & when I looked back , ready to stitch it in place, it had completely vanished. But believe me when I say that that there’s an imaginary pale green button right there.

As I’ve said, very early on I got stuck on a version of the postcard you included very early on, a branch half-covered by snow, tiny green leaves poking through. I liked the imagery, plus it seemed like a good way to pull together the colors you sent: green, blue, peach, brown. The idea of the January package I sent you was also very obviously lingering over the entire project, too, since everything I added was white or ivory. (This was a complication I did not expect — I had such a clear idea for the January box I put together that it was hard to approach the materials you sent me in a completely fresh way. I’m going to keep that in mind in future.)


I’ve never done much with appliqué before, so putting the branch together was my favorite part of this project. I love the way the stitched woodgrain turned out.


I did a little bit of hand quilting in green under the branch (with poly batting to keep things as puffy as possible), then layered two kinds of white tulle (sparkly & regular) & did some machine quilting over the top of that, randomly bunching to try & get a mounded sort of look. I got about halfway to the look I had in my head, which isn’t bad for the first time out, I don’t think. I maybe should have put some more beading on, though.


I quilted the remaining white space pretty heavily, with a few lines of echo quilting around the top of the branch & leaves, then random loops for the rest. There was a lot of white space left; 8″ square seems so small until you have to fill it, turns out.

Next month I’m definitely paying more attention to scale. Scale, & maybe some more woodgrain.

*Here’s most of it, anyway — I posted larger images than usual for the big reveal but looks like our template cuts off the sides so be sure to click the pictures for full size or check them out on the 8×8 flickr.

January: clean is still the thing by daria
January 22, 2008, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Daria, inspiration | Tags: , ,

Dear Blair,

The funny thing is, I have never even picked up a Jane Cumberbatch book — so if she’s hovering somewhere in my inspiration, I’m pretty sure I’m getting it by way of YOUR blog (though, thinking about it, your pictures aren’t so different than all of the airily-styled Japanese craft books I’ve got around). Those images are great, though; I wish my own January involved such a quiet white room.

I did manage to get my hands on the Williamson book, & here’s my favorite:


I like the stitching as line drawing plus the small spots of paint, like you mentioned with your pick from the book, the cleanness of it appeals to me. I know that a lot of people are very excited about her use of unusual materials; I think maybe I should check this book out again in six months, when we’ve been working with the idea of this project for a while, because right now I am less excited about sewing with onion bags or etc than I am about messing around with all the regular supplies in my studio & just seeing what I can do.

Turns out that the first thing I could do was use eightbyeight as the perfect excuse to buy a new packet of Moleskines.


Which also seems like a January kind of thing to do. Also, there are few things I love more than filling a notebook with sketches & swatches.

Now the thing I’m doing is being a little stuck on a point of technique, since there’s a very specific thing I want to try to do, only I don’t know exactly what that thing IS (I hope I’ll know it when I see it). Good thing we have a few more days, hm?

a small peek… by Blair
January 16, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Blair | Tags: , ,

january peek

Dear Daria,

When the sun came out yesterday and reflected off the snow, I was struck by how much fun I was having working with the sequins you sent in the box. My whole worktable was glistening! This is just a tiny peek at what’s going on from my box so far. Far from done. I had really planned to just go for it, pull out the box contents and make it all happen in an afternoon, but this month hasn’t gone that way. I do envision doing that in the future though. Since I tend to overthink projects at times, I like the way that would get me feeling spontaneous.

To answer your question about Jeanne Williamson and the size of her projects, she says the smallest was 4″ x 6″. She recommends starting with an 8″ x 10″, which we’re close to with our 8″ x 8″. I have to say I really like the small size, its easy to visualize filling it.

Just as an aside, I just spent way too much time surfing for a good soundtrack and have come up emptyhanded this time, but I’m still thinking…