Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Going to Pieces

Baggies of squares -- this is only the start.  I decided to do a little straightening in my fabric closet.  After taking out a few bags is batting I realized they were resting on a plastic storage box I hadn't opened in ... who knows? In it were baggies of scraps broadly sorted by color.  That should have been satisfactory.  But no, I was having a neatnik day.  So I decided the cut the scraps -- after ironing -- into usable sizes and shapes: i.e., squares from 5 inches to 2 inches, with all the half-inch steps between. PLUS -- I had already decided to make  6 inch strip-pieced blocks since I had over 30 already made. PLUS #2, I've been thinking of making a Chinese coin quilt for some time so I thought I'd cut rectangles for it.

Well ... I've been at it for three days. The sets have out grown those baggies in the picture and I've now made 80 strip-pieced blocks and am contemplating whether to make a total of 120 or even 140, which I'll need if I put them together  without stripping. But with stripping, I can stop at 80, I figure. The strips are really random and varied and I think a quilt would be most attractive with wide enough stripping to give order to the general chaos of color and pattern so I'm inclined to stop making the blocks. 

I have not quite dealt with half the scraps in that box.  I'm finding scraps that remind me of many quilts I've made in the last, oh, maybe ten years.  My thinking is this:  when I have squares, by the hundred, in various sizes I will be ready for all kinds of quilts.  Or, if I keep doing other kinds of quilts that don't require a lot of squares,  they are always possible give-aways.  So I will carry on, probably all the rest of the week.  And then I'll make the strip quilt. At one cockamamie point I thought I'd probably use up all my strips -- ha!  At the moment I have enough for another 80 blocks and when I'm through the waiting scraps I'll probably have enough for three strip-pieced quilts.  They make good charity quilts and don't require serious quilting -- in fact, at six inches, they are good candidates for tying.  So I will stay quite busy for some days -- or more likely it will be weeks --yet.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Red

This feathered star variation is for the Bayberry Guild's quilt show challenge.  That the challenge is a red and white miniature quilt, less than 100 inches total around the edges, should be no surprise. The quilt is approximately 22x22.  It is quilted in the ditch only.  Red and white is certainly dramatic -- as the quilt world learned in spades about 18 months ago when the American Folk Art Museum in New York City took over the large exhibit space in an armory and showed a huge collection of red and white quilts.

The Bayberry Guild's annual show will be next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  I believe the display of the red and white challenge quilts will be the first thing seen by visitors to the show.  I have not heard how many challenge quilts there will be. 

Last year when the challenge was to make a quilt that pertained to the National Seashore there were 50 quilts -- which was perfect as the National Seashore was celebrating their 50th year.  That group of quilts has been shown not only at the Bayberry show but at the National Seashore, and at two or three other venues and will be shown at yet another venue in September.  Whether the red and white quilts will have that kind of appeal I do not know.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I really like red!

This week I've been to a couple of events where I read an essay I wrote about the state of quilting today.  I chose a few quilts to take as a show and tell.  The quilt now in the header is the same quilt at left -- it is truly reversible.  It is lap size and I've kept it on my comfy reading chair as a lap robe -- when the weather was cooler -- and used whichever side suited my mood that evening. (I read almost every evening.)

The other two quilts I chose to show to my audience were also strongly red, one was also red, white and black but one-sided.  I realized that, although I've made many quilts and many were not primarily red, I am in a red period in my life.  My living room has considerably more red than most people's living rooms: an enameled coffee table and three small rugs are mostly red, as well as a red print on cushions of chairs and settee.

This made me think of a book I read long, long ago so I went to Google.  I believe the book is still in print, the author is Max Luscher, a Swiss psychologist, and it is called Color Theory.  I was very impressed by what he had to say about our relationship to and choice of colors. I used to have a preference for a deep blue.  I discovered that there is now a quick little color "test" here, just click  It takes only five minutes, I did it and was impressed with the results.  Try it -- you might enjoy it.  And if you do you might want to find out more from his book.  It didn't tell me why I have had a particular passion for red, especially since I've left NYC and moved to Cape Cod, but it said things about my present state of mind that I found true--and not because they are so generalized and flattering anyone would agree with them. 

If you've been making quilts with a heavy emphasis on one particularly color, you might wonder what's going on with you.  Have a look.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spiral quilt finished

Finished at last.  I've forgotten what I named this quilt when I turned in the description to the Bayberry Guild's volunteer collecting information so for now it's called the spiral quilt.  It's approximately 65x70.  It was paper pieced and I made it just because I was curious how to to paper piece a spiral.  I did a practice block and thought it was fun and a way to use up a lot of the fabrics I have with some metallic in their designs.  The red diamonds have a metallic sparkle all over -- but it's not a glittery sort. 
As can be seen, it's heavily quilted, all on my little Bernina at home.  The pattern I used abutted the hexagons but that seemed too busy so I figured out how to turn them into rectangles by adding triangles -- which became diamonds and I invented the border.  I've never used rickrack in a quilt before but the original pattern had rickrack hiding the butted, zigzagged seam so that's what I did.  then the rickrack on the narrow outermost border made sense.

This is what I've been working on off and on for about four months -- and very much "on" during the last three weeks as I realized I'd better get serious about the quilting part if it was to be done for the first weekend of August Bayberry show.  Made it!  In both senses of the phrase.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Love lots of thread

Obviously that is a commercial photo which I've googled because my camera has gone on vacation without me -- but with my permission.  However, I'm delighted to relate my latest thrift store bargain.  Thread?  You guessed it. Lots of thread on the more old fashioned kinds of spools (and made in the USofA, I think, rather than in China, as the ones in the picture were.

I go to my local Goodwill store only on Tuesday because that's senior discount day -- 25% off makes me feel I've practically shop lifted my discoveries.  So I was checking out with a wonderful sweatshirt (DKNY brand that I've seen for $49 and higher) marked at 4.95 and, with discount down to 3.50 or so. I noticed in a bin near the check out two sizable bags of thread, all kinds of colors, all sizes of spools for $5.00 each.  I know what thread costs, of course, because I buy it often enough.  So I grabbed both of them, happily noticing there was a lot of whites and black and some were still wrapped with plastic film. So, discount applied, I came home with $7.50 of thread and when I'd sorted them I counted 135 spools!  No kidding.  A few were quite small spools but most were middle sized to large (what used to be large, on wooden and plastic spools -- not the paper spools in the above photo and not that large, of course).  I figure I'll be using it for about five years and maybe longer.  Adding that to the thread I already have I won't be buying thread -- expect specific shades for specific, so far undreamed of, projects.

My shopping method has always been to stock up when the stocking/pricing is good.  I'm happy I have place to store my recent finds.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Deadlines -- don' like them

'This is NOT the quilt I'm working on for the Bayberry Guild's show coming up the first week of August. This one is about the same size but was sensibly made well in advance of the Empire (NYC) Guild's show five years ago.  It was paper pieced and has something over 2,000 pieces.  I'm quite fond of it.

The one I'm working on now - which I can't post because I've loaned my camera to my daughter for a week and she's in Haiti - as of today seems to be greatly inferior to any quilt I've ever made. That's simply because the deadline looms and I know I'm going to have it done but I hate feeling pressured in what is a hobby--a chosen, relaxing passtime. When I choose a challenging design I want to make it at my own pace, pausing now and them for something simper, or for other enjoyable activities.

As of today I have the pieced borders on, two of them are quilted -- the whole quilt is heavily quilted, by machine --- which is not a super-duper smart wonder working machine but a simply one that does an adequate the job.  So the end is in sight but it's been "in sight" for three weeks and the labor intensive job I've set myself just gets longer and longer.  And so I'm working up a major hatred for the pattern and for my ambition, for quilt shows and for hot, humid days when I have a lap full of layers of fabric with batting in between.

But I do take time out for my early morning walks on the beach and I take breaks.  This being Sunday, I've read the NYTimes, except the book review, but I've made a good stab at the crossword puzzle.  And I took a little time in the heat of the afternoon to start a light book: Whatever You Do Don't Run, True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guild, by Peter Allison.  Since I did a safari that was largely in Botswana and the Okavango  Delta where Allison was, I am enjoying it -- in fact, I'm enjoying parts of it so much I had a good ten minutes of laugh-out-loud reading and have decided it will be passed on to my daughters to enjoy also.  That greatly eased my hunched shoulders and stiff neck.  I'm ready to see if I can finish the quilt tomorrow ... somehow I think I'll get it neeeaaarrrly done but probably still have the label and hanging sleeve to finish.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A hanuman monkey

This little quiltie has just been mailed off to my swap partner.  The theme was "zoo animals."  Well, who ever went to a zoo that didn't have monkeys?  Right? 

But few, if any zoos, have Hanuman monkeys --which is because they are probably the most common monkey in Indian, the southern Himalayas and other parts of southeast Asia.  I first encountered them in Nepal and later in Darjeeling.  I got the impression they are thought of as simple pest in the way we think of squirrels, although, being monkeys I think they're smarter. They have learned both to beg and to mug victims who carry edibles in too easily an accessible way.

But their name is a royal one and goes back to the Ramayana, one of India's most favorite epics.  It seems the blue-skinned god, Rama, had a beautiful wife, Sita.  She was kidnapped by a demon and carries away to Lanka -- which later was known as Celyon and now is called Sri Lanka.  In order to rescue Sita, one of Rama's most loyal disciples, Hanuman who was the son of the King and Queen of the  monkeys, rallied an army made up of monkeys and bears.  They cleverly made of themselves a living bridge between India and Lanka and then Rama rode across the bridge sitting on Hanuman's shoulders.  As they approached, Ram, still on Hanuman's shoulders, shot an arrow that pierced the heart of the demon.  He and Hanuman rescued Sita and further adventures followed.