Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Phew! Finsihed.

Sewing most of the day I added the border the border and binding on this quilt, plus the border is machine quilted with a twisted ribbon pattern. This is a two-sided stash buster. I love two sided quilts, including ones that didn't necessarily start out to be two-sided but became so because the back is interestingly pieced. All the fabric in this quilt is from my stash. The five-inch squares that make up one side are about 80% charms I received in swaps. I especially like the ten or twelve that are from Australia with Australian motifs. The little two-inch squares in the center of the other side are also from a long term accumulation in my stash. Likewise all the other fabrics. [And still the stash doesn't seem to have shrunk!]

I pieced the brown/white side over a long period of time. Each 5" block was quilted as I went along. I put it aside now and then and thought I I would stop at 60, 80, 90 -- there are 140, the center is now approximately 50x70 and the border is 4 inches, thus the whole is 58x78, a good size for a single bed.
It was put together with Sharon Pederson's method. The last photo here shows some of each side, it was laying on the floor half put together and half not.

The most fun part was that when I laid it out on the floor with the 5" squares up, I had to mark the brown squares with a safety pin in each so I could be sure to get a checkerboard. I took pains to arrange the squares [so they don't look arranged but don't clash with each other -- much]. But I had no way of telling what kind of pattern of the centers of the checkerboard side I would have. I hoped I didn't get all the blues on one side and greens on the other. I feel they turned out rather nicely random -- and I loved the surprise of seeing their pattern once the entire top was together -- in fact that was my favorite thing about making this quilt. I love [controlled] surprises.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bits of spring

I love looking at Baby TCW and his lovely mommie but it's time for a new post. I've recently received these delightful buttons in as a swap extra. They make me want to make some springy little quilt -- in fact I also received some great springy fabric that I didn't photograph that inspires the same impulse. Unfortunately I'm up to my armpits in quilt projects. One I hope to have done, maybe not tomorrow as originally hoped, but in the VERY near future. Then I have two sets of four each blocks to make for a virtual quilting bee -- neat ideas and I'm eager to get cracking on them. Then I have that Carol Doak star quilt [showed individual blocks as they were made] which needs to be put together and quilted or more likely in reverse order as I think I'll do a quilt-as-you-go sort of method. It's not a big quilt but not small either and will probably take quite a chunk of the month of May. So ... I really don't have time to start something else much as I'd like to. I can't even count the number of wanna-do projects.

My beloved shell tree has literally been decimated [and I use the word precisely, some 10% of the whole is entirely gone] but the local Druidical walkers are festooning a set of bushes not far away. I'm doing my small bit too.

With real, totally wonderful spring weather here I have been enjoying walks on the beach -- don't enjoy the poor dead seal which is being slowly eaten by gulls and whatever [saw a gull make off with a putrid mouthful today -- I hope it gets a tummy ache]. Have stood and gaped at one big and one little dead jelly fish on the shore as well ... so aptly named! And the larger one had beautiful red stingers or whatever they're called. Of course I did not have my camera. It was really lovely! Unfortunately for it, quite high and dry and dead.

On a happier note I just heard that upwards of 90 whales have been sited [some mothers with calves] nearby in the area of Nantucket. So nice to think of those giants out there caring for their young and enjoying spring in these climes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Great - grandson

It's not every day that someone who believes in her heart and head that she is 36 years old -- no matter what the passport or mirror have to say -- becomes a Great-grandmother. But it has happened right here and now to me. So here is 36 +/- hour old Phineas Cade Winslow and his beautiful mother, intimately related to me whatever my age may be.
And here is the young man all alone, I did not see him unwrapped but am assured he is a perfect 10 in terms of fingers and toes and that the hands are long and likely to be a musician's [Mom and Dad are very musical]. He has red hair like dad and cannot be said to otherwise resemble either of his good looking parents ... but then babies are like that, aren't they? ... at first. He has one made-for-him quilt at this point, you gotta believe there will be others.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fuller Craft Museum

As the atmosphere around this wonderful duck sculpture and the lake beyond appear in the photo, Saturday was a gray and drizzly day for our drive to Brockton, Mass, to visit the Fuller Craft Museum to see the Nancy Crow exhibit discussed yesterday. We both fell in love with the museum and very much so with this duck. The same artist had a wildly collaged statue of a seated woman on display in the gift shop -- we didn't ask it's price.
The museum is a little architectural gem set in a beautifully landscaped area, the lake behind the duck borders one side. The rest of the area is wooded except for the necessary parking lot. Sculptures of many sorts are happily arranged around the museum and in the atrium in the above picture. [I'm sorry there is a reflection,the photo was taken through a window.]

A reader of my blogs commented some days ago that she felt she needs to make occasions to enjoy the culture available to her where she lives. It does require thought an effort which comes easily to me because I am not tied to a 9-5 job. Also Rachel enjoyed many of the things I enjoy. Besides our Saturday trip to the Fuller, on Sunday we went to a nearby cultural center to hear a free cello and piano concert. She actually knew the cellist; it was a beautiful concert and well attended.

Either of us could have said, "Oh, one event is enough," but both were appealing so we went and enjoyed both very much. The picture below is a quote painted on a wall in the Fuller museum. In case it is difficult to read on your computer screen it says, "Actions speak louder than words so shut up and get back to work." Advice not only for craftspeople.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nancy Crow, one-woman show

Rachel and I went yesterday to see a one-woman show of work by Nancy Crow at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass. [I will write about the museum tomorrow] This was a smallish exhibit of work done in 2006,'07 and '08. I was not allowed to photograph inside the galleries so the above photo is all I could take and I'm sorry I can't show more.

Half or a little more of the works were characteristic very bright strips of plain dyed-by-Crow fabric in geometric arrangements with wonderful shading of the colors and very strong geometry. Most were in the first of two small rooms where the walls were white allowing the colors to speak for themselves and the geometrics to be emphasized. They were strong, and dramatic and what I expected to see. Most were hand quilted by other women, [at least one was machine quilted] as I know Nancy has long preferred to plan the quilting and entrust it to a few quilters she knows. The quilting was simple in most cases which add the desired texture but did not distract at all from the impact of the strong lines.

In the second gallery three walls were painted a very saturated marine blue; this was the most interesting room for us. Only one of the "usual" multicolored quilts was here [on the one white wall] the others were pieced with gradation of color, specifically on the many reds, or whole cloth quilts. All were screen printed. A couple used yellow and subtle blue/green as well as black, the others, including the red one used only black. Most had an ecru background. These were entirely different than her familiar work. We liked them very much. They had great strength but were serene compared to the brilliant colors and forms of the pieced quilts. They were larger than usual screen printed pieces. It is exciting to see artists try new methods and express themselves in different ways.

In the other galleries of the museum we saw a variety of crafts, wonderful ceramics, a whole cloth [royal blue] quilt by Michael James -- again very unlike the brilliant geometric pieced quilts he first was known for, likewise, unlike the ones he has been doing the last ten or so years. There were a few very beautiful, simply pieced quilts for sale in the gallery/gift shop at what seemed very high prices. I'm now sorry I didn't photograph them.

Now that some of the earliest American quilt artists are getting into their 70s, it will be interesting to me to see how their work evolves. I'm sure it's too soon to suppose that the screen printed pieces represent a mellowing and turning away from Crow's signature use of piecing and strong color. I have been watching the art quilt movement with an outsider observer's eye for some 30 years. I am neither an art critic nor a quilt historian -- and certainly not an art quilter myself -- but, as a curious and knowledgeable observer I was very happy to see this mixed exhibit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finished but no name

I have been working on this quilt since sometime in the fall -- or, really since early last summer when R. and I were at a wonderful quilt shop in Barnstable where she found this Amy Butler fabric and suggested it would work as a Maxine Rosenthal type one-patch [basically a Stack-n-Whack, a la Bethany Reynolds] quilt. I was then in the throes of making my first such quilt which is very different from this. It has a dark black/deep green background with magenta flowers. This was chosen especially to be a very different experience. It was -- not in terms of sewing but in terms of the visual experience of making it. The kaleidoscopic hexagons are very different than and far less blendable than in the other quilt.
For this one I decided to leave two ends uneven against the darker border batik and then to further emphasize the structure, I used extra hexagons on the border in two corners. As I said to R. the other day when I had finally finished quilting it with hexagons all over, including on the fairly wide border, I like it better on the floor than on the bed. When I am as close to the surface, as on a bed, I am too aware of the quilting and the pattern does not blend very interestingly. When I look at it from farther away the patterns do blend interestingly. It is full bed size and I grew very weary of sewing the hexagon quilting. I am sure I do not want to make a quilt any larger than this, not even if it is made of quilt-as-you-go blocks. The quilt has a hexagon that is mostly the plain cream sewn on the back and needs to be written on with it's name, and the usual data. I haven't been able to think of a name yet. I'm cogitating. Suggestions would be welcome.

I'm also cogitating whether I should decide to be a bit more Type A in the future and keep a log on my sewing table of when I start quilts and maybe how many hours I spend on them. I've never been that kind of compulsive and this is far from a business so I don't need to know but my quilts seem to be getting more complex and time consuming and I'm getting more curious about just how long they take.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vintage Stuff

Although I am not a vintage fan, I appreciate the vintage stuff that came my way in the mail recently, especially these jet buttons. Three are bouquets of roses and would look wonderful on a short jacket, they arrived with several faceted jet buttons, most square, some round. There were also some big red ones and smaller orange-red ones. I never know when I'm going to think of some quilt that needs embellishment -- or perhaps buy a very plain jacket at a thrift store that cries out for some oomph in the form of new buttons. They become promising additions to my button box.
And then there was the surprise of truly vintage stainless steel straight pins [not shown] and a whole assortment of needles, mostly long, some made in England, heaven knows how long ago. These I will share with others to whom I send sewing related packages for Swap=bot swaps. I do not sew much by hand but it is comforting to any sewer to have a variety of needles so that when a job needs doing the right one is there in the notions box.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Wonky blocks

I have never done a "virtual quilting bee" but have agreed to a small one -- just three participants. My quilt choice is a wonky log cabin-ish block using up some of my current abundance of pink fabric, and coincidentally using strips from my strip-scrap bag. Here are two examples I made this morning.

Using up scraps somehow makes me feel even more righteous than using up great chunks of my stash, although I may make this a reversible quilt since I've lately been on a reversible quilt binge. I can use a different fabric on the back of each wonky square although I may rein in my exuberance and us only one color, no, not that hot pink ... or, come to think of it maybe ... Thinking about future quilt ideas is as much fun as making the one in hand.

The virtual quilting bee will have each of us making four blocks for each of the others according to their directions and with some of the fabric supplied by them but not all. That means I will receive eight blocks. Certainly I'll want twelve total and maybe more. We'll see when all have been received. I'll make a couple more blocks in the relatively near future.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April Journal Quilt

My April journal quilt is a celebration of new leaves, little flowers and the return of birds. This is a collage of fused elements. The branches are a brown batik on which I had drew the limbs -- I had a card with a slightly similar design and then I improvised it to size and added extra branches. The other elements are from different fabrics in my stash, leaves, flowers, birds. The background is a prettier batik than it looks in this photo -- a sort yellow-green background with light green leaves and bits of blue like sky seen through a tree. The size is 8-1/2 x 10-1/2 inches. And you can see I did a lot of quilting and then finished with a pillow-case type back which is a very light print of flowers and leaves on white. I had the idea for a long time and when I finally got started, it went very quickly.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Poem on Quilt

April is National Poetry Month, which I have been celebrating on my Big 7-0 Blog by posting poems every day. On a blog I read regularly was a mention and photo of poet Mark Strand and, of course, I recalled making this wall quilt, sewing on a few hundred star shaped sequins, and sending it to daughter, Leslie, who has hung it in the facility for handicapped adults at which she works. I have recently learned that one can purchase LED lights that can be used on quilts [they come with a little battery pack, as I understand]. I think that a few little lights would have been an interesting addition to this quilt. Maybe I should make another ... but I think I had enough sewing on of sequins to discourage me from trying it again.

Here is the poem [or I think the end of a longer poem]

And I stood in the moonlight valley
watching the great starfields
flash and flower in the wished for
reaches of heaven.
That's when I, the dog they call Spot,
began to sing.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Some imagine Santa Claus who as a being capable of visiting thousands of homes with packages of presents for good little girls and boys. The same imagination can invent an alchemical superman, perhaps named King Midas, who turns every spindly bush, or lush years-old hedge of forsythia golden overnight. That superman was here over the weekend.

As I drove home today and even as I had a brief detour because of road work, I discovered, dots, dollops, spreads, hedges, fountains and miracles of gold all over town in yards, beside houses, dividing lawns. Everywhere I looked behold -- GOLD! Such abundance. For perhaps a week our eyes will be dazzled with these untamed splotches of color. Then the leaves will pop out and we will forget that those bushes were ever so miraculous.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter -- Spring Springing

I don't celebrate Easter but I do celebrate the coming of spring although in this part of the country it's one step forward, one step back. This afternoon the morning gray had turned sunny and the temperature got over 60. I went for a walk in the woods surrounding a couple of ponds looking for signs of spring in the still brown/gray of leafless trees.

My first intimation was a young couple sitting on a picnic table, he in sleeveless turquoise tee shirt. They were gazing at the pond and totally self-absorbed. Ah, spring and young lovers. My walk was slow and meditative. The lichen was a brilliant green, a couple of men were fishing in the pond. I met the expected dogs and their people and watched a sure footed young couple jog down a tricky steep part of the path. And I found that briars were turning an acid green and had mean sharp thorns already. This is the beginning -- rhododendrons are evergreens and so was the one holy tree I saw. Back home at my apartment I look out on a green lawn which is beginning to sprout dandelions like bright yellow buttons attached to the grass. Robins have arrived and are busy chasing both bugs and one another. Spring is springing.t

Friday, April 02, 2010

Patchwork Jacket

This patchwork jacket is the first garment I've made in about three years -- since I made a somewhat more complex patchwork jacket in purple-pink-blue palette. The style is somewhat different and this one has no batting layer so is not as warm -- made for to a coolish day -- especially as it only ties closed and the other buttons snugly. The previous one was more embellished with quilting and with more simple buttons. I'm very fond of it.

This one is not quilted but merely patchworked on a middle layer. The embellishment began with some felted wool buttons that were given to me. I liked them so much I purchased another package of them plus some novelty buttons which can be seen on the detail in the third picture. But several novelty buttons aren't pictured. I think April should bring some sunny, warm days when I can wear this jacket with a turtle neck and pants and be comfortable. I hope so. By the way, the top picture is the back the second is the front. Long before I began quilting I made garments .... lots and lots and lots of garments. Probably more garments than I have made quilts and I've made a heck of a lot of quilts. Making this technically very simply jacket was a kind of nostalgia trip. It made me think of making more jackets although I definitely do not need others, still I have several ideas. I have not needed to make garments for years. During the years I lived in NYC I discovered the joy of watching sales in department stores and off price stores and in certain excellent thrift stores and found I could purchase higher quality garments than I could possibly make for a fraction of the cost of material, let alone my time -- because I love to shop and can spend hours carefully looking through rack after rack of garments until I find the one that I love at a low price. So, I turned exclusively to quilting, which I love also.
In my current lifestyle I do not need a complicated wardrobe so I do not need to make garments. However I've had fun with this jacket and the second one that keeps coming into my thoughts may HAVE to be made in the not too distant future.