Friday, January 13, 2017

Two new entirely scrappy quilts

At last I finished this UFO. It's tied throughout the checkerboard; the red border is quilted by machine.  The binding was to be all obvious zig-zags like the section in the lower middle of the photo but the fabric, inexpensive and from JoAnne's, was not printed straight.  A shame because I like the effect.  Ah, well. 

I saw a checkerboard quilt in a European Fabric Mania magazine about three years ago and realized it could be made in 12-patch increments by a method of sewing strips together and then cutting them, flipping every other strip and sewing into blocks.  I had quite a collection of blues and also of whites, many with blue print, so this scrappy quilt contains at least 50 different fabrics. As always I love that so many patterns can all lie side by side making a coherent pattern.

This strip quilt is even more obviously scrappy. A similar one (no two could ever be alike!) was on Selvage Blog (see sidebar) a couple of years ago. It clearly did not need a pattern, just many horizontal strips and a couple of rows of shorter vertical strips to break up the pattern. Nothing complex about the sewing. I attempted to chose among the many, many strips, ones with color affinities so there seems to be a little bit of planning -- actually not planning ahead but thoughtful choices as I went along.  That was terrifically enjoyable for me. I love freedom of choice as I sew, it can't become boring.

I did not attempt to make all strips the same width but stayed in the 1-1/2 to 3 inch range, most are 2 inches or a little more or a little less.  I tried to make the entire strip the same width even when I sewed pieces together. The pale pink and black border makes me smile. The entire back is a busy, small scale black and white stylized print. So much fun, I'm feeling tempted to make another  ... but my "to make" list is always in mind. 

Friday, January 06, 2017

On diisplay- Star Quilts

The summer Bayberry Quilt show will have Stars as the theme.  To inspire people, Tumbleweeds, the large quilting fabric store at the edge of town is displaying star quilts.  A call eent out to members of the guild for quilts they can hang for the month of January.  I gave them three of mine to hang. I've been making star quilts for ages. The red-white-black one is the result of swaps on Swap-bot so, of this 9 patch sampler, I made five square from Carol Doak paper pieced patterns and the others were sent to me.

This star "quartet" with wreaths of flower shapes is another Carol Doak pattern (she did a book of 50). I had a spell of making quartets which measure about 30x30. I actually made 24 of the 50. That was several years ago and I have given away the majority of them. This is a  favorite of mine because I used a striped brown/maroon fabric that worked with the wreath and the borders nicely (click to enlarge and see the print).

This lone star quilt was made about 15 years ago from a paper piece design I found in one of the quilting magazines. It has over 900 pieces. I hesitated to display it because the piecing is so time consuming, and I cannot direct anyone to the paper pieced pattern I used. But maybe it would be a bit inspiring ... besides, I'm quite proud of it and showed it in an Empire Guild (of NYC) show when it was new.

If this morning's snow fall cancels plans I had for today, I will make progress on a small "challenge" quilt for that sunmner Bayberry show and possibly also make one or two of the Block of the Month patterns for the January guild meeting.

I love star quilts as much as I love log cabin ones.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Giving Away Quilts

 Happily I've found homes for these two quilts.  I enjoy making quilts but I also am very happy when I can give them to someone who will enjoy having them.  I also enjoy making more space in my closets (top shelves) and under beds so that I can store more quilts as I make them.

The top quilt is made from a design by Karen Griska (see side bar) who wrote a book about using selvages and has authors The Selvage Blog. I very much enjoyed making this quilt but had not seen it for a year or two  when I began sorting quilts last week. I gave it to a long time friend (basically my daughter Rachel's friend) Paloma who had just had a birthday.

The second quilt, a classic snowball block surrounded by bright two inch squares was from a Swap-bots swap.  I made squares for swappers and they sent me squares and then I added a few more to make the quilt as large as I wanted it to be. This quilt I gave to Cheryl who is my daughter Leslie's "near-sister" as they decided a couple of days ago. They were best friends all through grade and high school but have gone separate ways and very rarely see one another. I had not seen Cheryl, as she said "for decades." I had been sorting and feeling overwhelmed with quilts I've made, inspired by first one magazine article or another, so I was happily inspired to give Cheryl a bright and cheerful quilt like the  "snowball among  jewels" as I named it. Obviously both of these are essentially scrap quilts -- I truly enjoy scrap quilts, the great variety of patterns and colors are a pleasure to put together. I always think that scrap quilts are metaphors for crowds of people and for civilization. Individuals harmoniously together within a context. 

Oh my, I love making quilts. I love the colors and designs and seeing how they go together. I don't love the actual quilting really and do very basic machine quilting.  (I also don't like a lot of the currently very popular long arm complicated quilting patterns over-laying the block designs). 

Currently I have three completed tops to be sandwiched and quilted. One will be finished soon, the other two may take longer.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

First Day of Winter

At 6:00 the local newscaster said, "Winter began 21 minutes ago." I listen to these newscasts just before I get out of bed especially for pieces of information like that. I will forget where there was an auto accident and what some town's selectmen decided. But I want to know that winter just started. A few minutes later the other newscaster will tell me the weather (changable but okay through Christmas) the temperature in Boston and three or four other towns on the Cape and finally, "outside our backdoor" --  36 -- which might as well be my backdoor as the broadcasting studio is only about six blocks  away.

The 80+ little woman (with fanastic posture and great energy) who calls her class "Yoga"doesn't teach much yoga and always tells us about the moon phases and season changes. So this morning she told us that in Chinese medicine the emphasis moves from stomach and gut to kidney and liver and that our bodies will want more sleep than previously. The latter seems Darwinian and obivous -we want to conserve our energy and heat even though we are not a hibernating species. Actually I truly enjoy  sleeping -- usually a simple 8 hours but I am aware of enjoying the coziness of lying in bed when the clock radio comes on, snuggling under the covers and against the pillow. But I do not stay in bed, I'm ready to get up. 

So the majority of the class was spent doing a series of qi gong movements which are meditative and peaceful, very little foot movement, mostly arms making graceul gestures repeatedly. This is very much like the tai chi chih that I've had a few lessons in - the major difference being that the tai chi chih emphasises shifting weight from foot to foot while doing the hand gestures which are very similar. It's all from Chinese practices.  We Americans cannot just leave good enough alone, we put our stamp on the Asian exercises thinking it's more appropriate for us. Maybe it is but I doubt it. I look at all those variations of yoga that have popped up all over the US, some even espoused by Indian gurus (they are nto averse to a money making idea). 

The movements are paired with breathing -- obviously an important factor. At the end of  today's class we did some  alternate nostril breathing,which I learned long ago to call pranayama -- a "powerful"breathing exercise -- when done under the direction of a well versed, traditional yoga master.  Peaceful when done as we did, at the end of an hour.

So winter is here.  I'll definitely get my sleep. I'll learn more of the new version of tai chi and am enjoying a week of relative quiet before next week becomes a time of much family busy-ness.  And I have both quilting and writing projects to  work on.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Work to do

I just put this together this morning.  It will not be quilted for a while but I hope I can do it before February 1st.  Yesterday I finished the fall semestet at the Academy for Lifelong Learning.  The next semester (spring which makes me smile as I look out the window at our first snowfall of the winter) begins Feb.1. Meanwhile I have many things I hope to do with quilting high on the to-do list. I finished this quilt top this morning. I think it has a very "modern" look but actually it was designed in 1945, by Laura Wheeler and printed in several newspapers.  It was revived with a paper piecing pattern by Jean Nolte for Fons and Porter's Fat Quarters magazine and printed several months ago.  I love paper piecing and I love quilts where I can use my extensive scrap fabric collection so I have enjoyed making this very much. 

Here are four other quilts I've made in the last eight or twelve months lying on top of the asterisk quilt. They all need quilting. I began hand tieing the checkerboard quilt last winter but have less than a quarter of it done. The strip quilt in the middle is from a design by Karen Griska of The Selvage Blog (see sidebar). It has been sandwiched with batting and a back. I will quilt it probably before the asterisk one, some kind of very, very simple quilting.

The two quilts behind were made just to use up scraps, the one with pink stripping was to use up floral pieces that I don't think I'll use any other way. and the other quilt, a log cabin variation was because I had a collection of pinwheels and wanted to use more scraps.  I really, really adore scrap piecing.  Some things become uninteresting once sewn together and that is the case with the last two.  I may give them away as is and hope they'll find a home that will quilt them.

This final quilt is small, 30x30 and obviously not quilted yet.  This is called "Variations on an Amish theme" and is my contribution to the Uncommon Threads group's challenge for doing something that mixes modern and traditional. So the middle square (a starbusrst, paper pieced, designed by Carol Doak) is all the well known Amish colors.  The rest is "modern" with fabrics in modern prints. The colors are not quite true in the photo. I loved sifting through scraps to find the various fabrics. I will begin quilting this later today or maybe tomorrow. (I really have to write some Christmas cards).  Of the many things I've been doing with scraps this gives me the most pleasure. I like making smallish quilts. I do not like quilting -- especially the busy, busy kind of quilting that is currently so much in fashion (due to long arm machines that make the quilting so much faster and fancier).  I do not have a long am and am sure I never will want one.

How much can I do by February 1?  I'm afraid it won't be all.  Oh, and I have another scrap quilt started ... of course ....

Friday, December 16, 2016


Each year now Christmas sneaks up on me.  I really thought about it yesterday afternoon driving home around sunset on Rte. 6A, the beautiful, winding, two-lane old Cape road where the towns have agreed that only white lights will be used for Christmas decoration.   They were on, just white lights, at least candle light in most homes' windows and many trees, porches and so on outlined in white.  It was lovely.  I know from past years that it is lovely in the snow also.  Happily, in my opinion, we have no snow yet.  Although today we're experiencing a shocking drop in temperature, down to about 7 degrees with a wind chill of about -8.  But it is supposed to be short lived with perhaps snow tonight but then warming and soon turning to rain.  A strange, uncomfortable blip. 

Returned, we drove down Hyannis Main Street through the shopping center. There the lights were meant to attract attention, many colors, and simply MANY lights of all sorts.  Fine, 'tis the season. Although I have yet to do much about it. Maybe this afternoon I'll write a few cards.  As we discussed, fewer and fewer people are sending cards. Mostly they are members of my generation who still have the habit of once-a-year reaching out to former neighbors, former college classmates, etc, with little letters of facts about the family.  We don't know one another's grandchildren but the fact that they are getting educated, getting married, having their own children is a comfort. This is what happens -- or is "supposed to happen."  In our vastly changing world this Christmas contact remains a steadying comfort.  I have received a few of those cards already and I will post a few before the weekend is over.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Challenges, after about forty years

This is my most recent "art quilt" aside from the cow on the previous post.  I consider the cow fairly traditional as it's all squares. And I followed a photo I had. This (click on image to enlarge) is called "They Shall Inherit..." It's an exaggerated looked at a world where  there are no people. The buildings (these are all NYC landmarks - from a printed panel) remain but dinosaur-size insects of all colors have taken over. I think of it as the way an infestation of cockroaches suddenly appear and scuttle for cover when a kitchen light has been turned on. 

I like this idea but am not entirely happy with how it turned out. I have a poorly developed artistic sense. It's all in my head and very hard for me to realize in fabric.

I went to a meeting of the Uncommon Threads group this week and, once again, am deeply humbled by the creativity o the others. We are making a group quilt for the guild raffle next summer and each had a section to do. I did my section at the last minute -- a design and method that is deceptively simple using a wonderful fabric pallette that we chose as a group. I am okay with my contribution. I was told approximately what to do and did it. The challenge of the group is to be truly creative in design and execution - that's where I  stumble.

Three others had begun on the next challenge that I had only thought about: combine "art" quilt elements with traditional elements. Two had completed pieces that were stunning in color and fabric choice and delightful to look at. A third had begun sewing a brave hodgepodge of fabrics together to be the basis for a design she had on paper. I had nothing.  Not even an idea.  Happily that was a kick in the pants and, as so often happens, about 4:00 a.m. I was awake and an idea came to me. I am so curious about it, I hope to start on it later today.  Ideas come, carrying them out -- ah, that's the rub.

I had had these bugs in mind for a long time, had saved a page from some magazine with similar bugs in black and white so I knew I could give them antennae and the right number of legs and use interesting fabrics.  When I remembered the NYC fabric it was an easy step to cut it apart so the firey sky would surround and show through.  Now we will see what I can do with my new idea.