Sunday, September 1, 2013

September starts the push

Sometimes I wonder about blogs. I read a few links but rarely read about people's lives I do not know. Even if there were to be meaningful content, there is so little time to explore the thoughts of friends or strangers in the world. We move along at faster paces. Blogging could be a dynamic exchange, however, as I use it, it becomes a more personal journey into simple routines. Is everyone a philosopher? Maybe? But do we care? Will what someone else thinks really change much in who we are and how we progress? Ah well, this is my blog and because it is mine, I get to ramble or come up with some fine thoughts early this morning. And anyone reading can continue, or go onto another blog seeking instant gratification.

It is a blog about quilting after all, right?

I worked several hours on the Winter Golf quilt on Saturday and then finished binding the Cardinals quilt. Most days are like that for me, wherein I just keep moving them along. By this time each year, quilts for the Project Linus are ready to donate, and anything going back to my family for this Winter is in the finishing stages. 

Someone once told me that if you wait long enough, everything goes on sale, and in the quilting arts, this holds true. Seasonal materials are in stores several months ahead of the actual holiday to give those of us creating a chance to start and finish projects.

Its an expensive pass time and there are reasons why. Cotton growers turned their fields to other crops when consumers turned from natural products to synthetics. By the time those fabrics lost their appeal, Cotton manufacturers were in business out of the country, and now the demand exceeds production sending prices out the roof. Where one could buy a yard of fabric for 29 cents, its well over $12 a yard, and of course quality improved as well. Some people still want and hold out for cheaper fabric.

Many quilters turned to using up every scrap from their projects. I do. Most of the time, my purchases are for batting, thread, needles and larger pieces for backs. This is the reason why I have a number of projects going. I piece until the project reaches the point of needing batting and backing.

I've developed favorite products and have learned that they will go on sale on holiday weekends. Even the online stores will offer free delivery and special sales, which helps because I live an hour away from those stores.

The library had the book I wanted too, so this weekend felt like major 'scores' came in. Someone ripped out the templates in the back of the first book I checked out, and they were kind enough to re-order another copy within the system, but out of the county. It wasn't until I started copying the templates that I realized why a person might destroy a library book. Again, old pattern makers didn't use the greatest of logic in their work. For this one pattern, I will need to copy 12 of the 23 pages to get the templates needed. Well, they must have had their reason for doing it the way they did. 

In order to conserve fabric scraps, I decided I would make quilts using a winter solstice (Christmas) theme. Everything matches. This particular pattern that I found in this book is a house-block pattern. 

The house-blocks were originally schoolhouses. There are lots of ideas for them, including one I finished this year named Night Sky. I like that block pattern a lot, and may make it again, but wanted a different experience with the concept, and will get it when I make the Winter in the Woods pattern. Like most quilts I start, I pull out fabrics that will work for the pattern and have two plastic bags stuffed and waiting to be cut.

It seems that I am the kind of quilter who needs all these projects in their various stages just for stimulation and the challenge.

As I worked on the Winter Golf quilt Saturday, I found myself frustrated with all the steps. As an Intermediate Beginner, I make mistakes that teach me how to have more patience, to become even more aware of details, and to check and recheck my own work. I have learned to recognize differences in how patterns are written, and to see more clearly that there are skill levels in working with any pattern.

I see how I learned the hard way when I checked the Cardinals quilt after the binding was done. It was laid out across my bed so every seam could be pulled, every loose thread cut, and every corner checked. I know one quilt left my home with a corner that came apart and know that I don't want that to happen again. And all I can do is my best with where I am with my skill now as an Intermediate Beginner. 

Maybe at the end of 2014, I will consider myself an Advanced Beginner who will be ready to shift the words and say the next stage is to be a Beginning Intermediate quilter. Can you see the subtleties? I'll let you know if you are still reading this in 2015, or if I am still writing it. 

That's another thing I see in blogs. People don't always keep writing.


The book pattern for Winter in the Woods is a night mare for me right now. I've copied 13 pages, written what the template is for and how many pieces I will need of it. The correct way to work with templates is to cut them out of cardboard so they last through many cuttings. I am going to test that.

And because I need to get this book back to the library, this particular quilt moved higher up on my project list even though its not set to be finished until next year.  My plan is to cut the pieces to ensure that everything will work. 

And before I even start cutting, I am taking the book and reading the pattern over once more to make sure nothing is missed in how I understand it.

For this quilt, every portion of it is done as a 'charm' which means the fabric is only used once in the entire quilt. There will be 5 tall trees, 3 short trees, 5 small houses and 2 tall houses, each with a patterned roof and a solid color house. There are coordinating windows and doors.

My next step was to lay the background blue as a sort of design board to see how each will relate to the others as well as look with this blue background. Its going to be scrappy, have enough flannel it in to be cozy. Its got plaids, solids and a few holiday fabrics in it to mix things up. It will be perfect for one of my Great-Nephews. So now, I cut.