Saturday, February 27, 2010

Charity baby quilts

Two baby quilts for the charity project of the Empire Quilters Guild. Obviously blue and pink -- well, orange-y pink -- boy/girl quilts. These were made with strip pieced blocks most of which I received in a swap, a few of which I had to make to reach the number I needed for the quilts. These were quickly made, lightly quilted and now I'm looking for a box the right size so I can mail them to the charity chairman since I probably won't get to another meeting for a few months.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Another Dawn

Dawn is still wonderful -- after nearly 30 years of not being able to see dawn, the pleasure of living where I can look out any and all my windows and see the dawn continues to make me pick up my camera and take yet one more photo. I wake up early, I can always see the dawn but it will always be different. This particular photo reminds me of the frequent phrase in at least one translation of the Odyssey, "rosy fingered dawn."

I just read on someone else's blog a quote from the Islamic poet, Rumi. The breeze of the dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep." I take his advice. I am not mystical enough to think in terms of secrets being told by the dawn. I think the "secret" is just that when one is aware of something repeatedly, when one pays attention to the simplest facts of nature [that no two dawns are alike] one is grounded in the real world, which is much larger than ourselves.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The final four stars

These are the last four of the twelve Carol Doak paper pieced stars that will make a lap quilt I have a bunch of things in progress and these must have the paper removed -- not really a big deal, just a bit time consuming.

Then I will quilt them one by one in a "quilt as you go" method because I want to do mostly outline quilting. And finally I will put them together.

Happily I found another black that is very, very much like this background fabric of which I have only about a third of a yard left. The new fabric is the same black but instead of the polka dots, it has tiny hearts which are in the same colors. I think the blend will be close enough that one will need to look carefully to realize I've used to different fabrics.

And I purchased enough of the new fabric for the back so there is no question now of what to use for the back. I have a couple of completed stars that did not satisfy me enough to use on the front. They may find a less conspicuous home on the back. Very little happens quickly in the world of quilting -- well some things do. I have just finished a couple of crib size quilts for a charity project and they went quite rapidly. I don't have a photo yet, but soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February Journal Quilt

My February journal quilt is about waiting for that pale yellow sun to turn warm so the nascent bits of green on the tree limbs can burst forth as leaves. It is also about the fact that the roots are waiting as much as the branches are and that they are the equal, in size and complexity, unseen, to the tree that is seen. My journal quilting theme for the year is trees and birds, so there is a tiny bird also waiting.

The mistiness across the earth line is melting snow which is made of thinly stretched batting that is lightly glued in place; naturally you can't get the texture in a photo. The old gold colored line is a matting of dry grass such as cover the lawn beyond my patio. The trees were fussy cut and then fused but they were quite a light print [same print, two different trees, one upside down for roots]. So I enhanced them with marker, brown for the roots and black for tree, plus I added lime green marker to the edges of the branches. The sun was actually white so I quilted it and its rays in pearl gray and then added yellow marker lightly to suggest the weak winter sun.

The bird part of my theme has so far been minimal, simply a fused bird from a commercial fabric. Birds may come into their own during the summer months. This journal piece has no border, it was finished "pillowcase" style and ironed so the edges would be fairly sharp. I've long wanted to do a monthly journal quilt project and am enjoying this.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

500 Art Quilts

I have just received my pre-publication copy of 500 Art Quilts, by Lark Publications. It's a fascinating book, which is too small in format and has too little information about the quilters who made the 500 quilts. Lark publishes lots of craft books and does a lovely job of reproduction and sometimes a barely adequate editorial job. The latter is the case with this book [but for $16.95 from Amazon, I'm very happy to have these quilts to look at, if not study in detail because many are reproduced too small]. Yes, I"m quibbling and bitching.

The art quilts are extremely various and I'm happy about that. I've only got a short way into the book and already have put post-it type indicator notes on a few that I want to consider for inspiration on "some day" projects. Photos are never adequate for telling me what a quilt is really like. Nothing but the real thing, where I can look at the texture, the stitching, the surface, the true colors, in short seeing the actual quilt, is adequate. Given that fact, I can't see all these quilts but I can get some idea. The great diversity of quilt artists is always exciting and inspiring.

By the way: Lark has a series of craft books, the "500" series, although some are 400, some range up to 1000 [rings, for example] They're not perfect but it is a great service to those of us who love crafts of many types.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Year of the Tiger

The Chinese new year [and the Tibetan Losar] were this weekend. It is now the Year of the Tiger and I was born in a Tiger year so that means it's my year. [Except I claim not to believe in horoscopes Eastern or Western. On the other I like to say "I'm a Tiger" If I were born in the year of the Rat I would be mum on the matter.]

I just read that not only is the Tiger person very brave but also lucky. And I read the advice that for a Tiger person to keep a tiger in the house brings excellent luck against theft [go figure!] and fire. I'm afraid very few of us Tigers can keep a tiger in our house.

Tigers are seriously endangered as almost everyone knows -- still some greedy people in Southern China are raising tigers to be killed for their body parts which are thought to impart virility to those in need -- and what a hell of a lot of men, the world over, worry about virility. What is wrong with those guys? We don't need more virility in the world, we need more gentleness and love and kindness and the courage, yes, tiger-like courage to express those positive attributes. I know about greed and I loathe it. I looked at pictures in the paper of two tigers in wire cages. They have faces anyone who has a heart would have to love. Do those impotent men totally lack hearts as well as balls?

If I could have a tiger, I would, but as it is I live in an apartment that doesn't even allow house cats. Well, happy new year to all who count the years the Asian way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dancing in the Snow

This is not me; this is a child making a snow angel; I haven't made a snow angel for a very, very long time. But I like blogs with pictures on them.

What I do when my car has a small wall of snow behind it created by the snowplow guy is dance, sort of, in the snow. Well, it's not so much dance as kick. Today was my second opportunity to practice this bit of choreography. I think I could have successfully simply backed out over the 4 or 5 inch pile of snow behind my back tires. There were also drifts on the right side of the car which had not bee protected by another parked beside me since no other was parked beside me.

I have no shovel. I did have -- which is almost too silly to tell, was a dust pan, blue, plastic, short handled, which is a little bit like a shovel, isn't it? Anyway, it was not strong enough to do any digging. I had previously discovered that I can simply kick the piles of snow back into the plowed area. They're light and not very packed and ten minutes of kicking, patiently and persistently can clear the entire car. The nice warmth in the thighs after that exercise is very much like having a dance lesson, maybe ballet warm ups with lots of plies and stretches to the side. It actually feels very good.

Well, yes, there I was in the big parking lot, visible to anyone looking out their windows, or to people driving by. But I'm past the age of embarrassment about being expedient. I kicked and enjoyed myself. Perhaps I'll buy a shovel next year ... perhaps I won't. Maybe the reason that barrel full of monkey have so much fun is that they aren't burdened with a lot of tools to do things efficiently.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Vintage Fabrics

I received a package of vintage fabrics yesterday which a swapping friend had purchased at an estate sale. I am not an expert but I do have a good memory for fabrics and patterns and these are the colors and sort of patterns I remember from when I first became aware of quilts, which was back in the '50s. A cousin of my father's, an older woman, was the only person I knew who quilted. When we visited her she always had a quilt in progress. Looking at her quilts was far more interesting than the conversations about gardening or cooking or whatever the adults talked about.

This morning I ironed the fabrics which had been folded and crushed together. The photo above shows the smaller pieces, i.e., ones that were less than a quarter yard -- most pieces are irregular. I think they were not used for quilting -- except for the diamond shaped pieces of which there are six each, dark and light. I think they were left overs from clothing or household projects.
They all feel like 100% cotton, and I do believe they are old enough that very little polyester was being used in the fabrics generally available to home sewers. The fabrics in the bottom photo are larger pieces, mostly between a quarter and three-quarters of a yard. The printed lavender gingham actually is flocked. The lavender and the blue ginghams are true woven ginghams, not printed but the blue checks with the tiny flowers are printed.

It is fascinating to me to see a collection of vintage fabrics. If any readers of this blog are better versed in vintage fabrics than I am I'd love to hear how old you think these pieces might be. The pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Finsihing Another Quilt

Months ago I showed a picture of this quilt in progress. It's finally done [almost -- I have loose threads to tie and clip on the buttons]. This is the second in a year with the stripes turned into blocks with button embellishment. The first had real shirting stripes from a big armful of shirting samples. They were used up so when I wanted to make another I began collecting striped quilting fabrics.

As you see they have been cut in right angle triangles and sewn together to make patterned blocks. Some were remnants and because they were different sizes, so are the blocks, which was part of the plan. This is not entirely my own brainchild. I saw a picture of a shirting strip quilt with the shirting handled this way that was designed by Kaffee Fassett. But the button idea is my own. The top picture shows the center of the quilt where every block has buttons. There are no buttons on the border blocks although I'm thinking about adding them. As I so often write, it's very labor intensive so I hesitate.

The picture of most of the quilt which is below has, again, crummy color reproduction -- it's either me or my camera and probably some of both. I'm happy to have it done even with a question mark on the done. It is twin bed size. I've got another quilt with the center all done and ready for border and quilting that I'll tackle next week but that's going to take quite a while. Of course the star quilt is still in progress and so is another block quilt that I'm not ready to write about.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Mini Quilt

What a wonderful surprise when I opened a package from a swap friend, Heidi, and found she had made a mini quilt inspired by the candle holder Christmas present that I had pictured in a blog. Isn't this a wonderful quilt? She used fabrics that have some sparkle, she appliqued the "tile" pieces. As an extra, I now realize, looking at the quilt, that this has a very Chinese feel -- it suggests an interpretation of the I Ching. It's wonderful when artists inspire other artists.