Saturday, August 31, 2013

Moving On


When I cut this quilt to make my 'kit' for it, I labeled the pieces and even started pinning. Also, I highlighted the pattern so I would know what was done on it. Then I left it to go on with other projects.

Thing is, about memory, that I think I will remember it all and hadn't written notes. Now, when I leave a quilt project, I've decided to leave myself notes that clarify it all just a bit more.

So here is the layout of of three steps for what I would like to do today. And even then, there will be more later. As I said, this is a more complex pattern than I realized. Many of the newer patterns come with some sort of indicator of the skill it takes to quilt. This one did not. If I were to rate it now, I would say its Advanced. My skills are still at the Intermediate BEGINNER. This year will push me beyond the Beginner stage, but I have a year to go where I will really feel comfortable.

I've had the opportunity to see what happens to a quilter as she ages and then passes. This friend's family had no idea what to do with all her fabric, notions, pattern books and unfinished quilts. Nothing in her sewing room made much sense to them because none of them were quilters. I took the lesson of what I saw quite seriously and started keeping records of what I planned. I knew that the pattern had to be kept with the project as well as all the fabric intended for it.

There is a quilting term for what I have: PIGS, or projects in grocery sacks...I am actually using clear plastic bags that linens come in, but its the same concept. Some of them are WISPs or works in slow progress. But they are organized and they do make sense to me.

One of the classes I teach online is about making end-of-life plans, and includes deciding what to do with all the stuff one accumulates over time. 

I've put so much into my quilting projects that having them as PIGS gives me some peace of mind. If I was not able to finish them, someone could. Each of the PIGS has the name of the future quilt owner, the pattern, and fabrics for at least the top, and sometimes even the back. 

However, that's the overall picture of my work, and the picture on this post is what is on my agenda for today. More to come as I find myself moving on.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Natural Consequences

I used that phrase when my Sons were growing up to indicate that while they could chose what to do, every choice comes with natural consequences.

A lot of the older quilting patterns were not written well, and some confuse me no matter how I work with them.

I think I follow directions. I want to believe I follow them. Yet, sometimes, only when something is not working and I go back, I will see that I didn't get what the pattern author meant. 

Very few things we do come with formal directions. We learn how to fall in love watching movies and reading books. Most romance novels end with the promise or at best, finish off with the wedding of someone's dreams.

No where do those books or movies talk about credit cards, bank accounts, monthly bills and the high cost of living. That dream turns into a nightmare over snoring, bathroom sounds, stress that turns into arguments. 

Even fewer good stories tell us how to say good-bye.

You would think that after all these years of living in this culture that I would realize the possibility of misunderstanding directions. You would think that I would realize that if I do something different than the directions, that I would have to spend time figuring out a plan to make something work for what I have done to it. You would think that even if there are directions, I serve my own greater good by knowing what I am doing, why, and how. I am responsible for what I do in the end. Me. Not someone else. Me.

THIS is the way quiltmakers are born! It is often said that 'finished is way better than perfect'. I know that no one else will see this pattern and say to me, "Bellezza, these corner pieces are going the wrong direction." They won't know how it is supposed to look only how it looks when it lays on their chair. 

I am going forward on this quilt, and working to correct the natural consequences of my misunderstanding. I've learned how easy it is to do that, so my lesson is to be aware of this communication challenge and to take even more time.

Isn't that true of all we do, and with all people who come to us? Communication in all forms has these burps...we think we hear what someone says or means, until its obvious that the burp is a blunder. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Winter Golf quilt


A friend showed me some panels she's collected over the years and said I could take whatever I wanted. At first I didn't want anything because I couldn't think of how to make a quilt with them. Then, as I browsed a magazine, I realized that by substituting a panel for what was in the middle of the pattern, I could make my Brother-in-Law a great "winter golf" quilt. Their family room is in blue and has an 'Up North' feel to it and he is a golfer. I asked if I could have it and she graciously gave me the entire panel. 

It took me a couple of hours to select fabrics from my 'stash' that coordinate with the golfers on the panel, and that gave me enough to follow the pattern. Little did I know how much work this one is.

There are many, many steps to it. So I spent another couple of hours just cutting. As you can see, some of the pieces are pinned, and today, I pieced strips and cut them into the 5 1/2" widths for one of the borders. You are only seeing the green colorway, however, it has a burgundy and a beige, and then is really more blue.

As I make more quilts for the members in my family, there is an awareness how individual we all are.

I like my Brothers-in-Law. This one has the sweetest smile with sparkling eyes. He is soft-spoken, quite a bit shy, generous, and very welcoming. His personality adds a balance to our family, and I am sure, to my Sister's life. It is easy to put love into the quilt as it gets made. 

(More pictures to come as more of the steps are completed)


Change of Mind

I wonder, sometimes, why it is difficult to have a change of mind about something? Its as difficult to have a change of heart about someone.

Our culture makes it easy to fall in love because all the books and movies are there, and they end happily ever after (at least the movies made in this country). We are not taught to say good-bye, or taught how to release, or taught how to change our minds.

If you read my last post, I wrote about the Flying Geese pattern and how I made myself a kit. I really don't want to make that particular quilt, and attempted to convince myself I could build it into something wonderful. This morning, I woke up with the realization, that I could it break up and re-distribute the pieces of fabric for other projects.

I wonder how many times in my life have I hung onto something that really wasn't quite working, and really wasn't in my best interest. Yes, its true that I could negotiate, could compromise, could make do.

However, I tossed this 'kit' to the bottom of my project container with no intention to even look at it today, next week, next month and maybe next year. I was willing to let it take up space. I was willing to let it be a UFO (unfinished object), even though I knew it had become undesirable.

I threw the pattern into the trash basket and will integrate the fabrics into the stash so that they can be pulled out for use in other quilts.

Today is the day that I do not settle for less than what I want.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The cost of freedom

When such a major project went off the table as happened this week, there is suddenly an emptiness that became hard to fill. I kicked around the house today, and pulled out various UFO's to test my interest in them. I went from project to project and wasn't inspired to bring them to the machine.

After going online, I found my favorite batting will be on sale at JoAnn's with free delivery, given as an incentive to spend $50. What I want to buy will easily be over $50. This saves me a trip, and gas the trip would take to get out of town. You probably remember I live in a small town with stores about an hour away. Shopping online is simply a smart choice for me.

After checking all my 'to do' lists, there was one entry that said: Review Flying Geese. Ah ha. This is an early pattern I found in the early stages of my quilting experiences. I really didn't know what I was doing all those years ago, so put together my own 'kits'. 

Kits, by the way, sell upwards from $50 to several hundred. A store owner will create her sample, and then cut the fabrics to make the same quilt as her sample. In this way, a quilter can come into the store, see what she likes and leave without spending time pulling bolts of cotton from the shelves.

The pattern for my self-made kit comes from Connecting Threads and has been around as a free pattern for some time. Suddenly I was less interested in making it, however, it is actually my own well-assembled kit with some of the pieces pre-cut. I've quilted enough now to know how to jazz up this relatively plane pattern with more interesting border details. AND I think making the flying geese is still going to challenge me. Look at all those triangles! This pattern makes the flying geese a bit more difficult than they have to be. Maybe that's why its free.


It does raises a new issue for me to consider. If the UFO (unfinished object) lays around long enough, will it become an undesirable object?

Wow, can I relate other parts of my life to that question! And the answer is, yes. 

Oh, the Freedom!

As I mentioned, its a good thing and a difficult thing to let go of projects, and well, people too. I made a choice to move finishing one of my projects for this year onto next year's list. Deciding this did not come easily. However, so much changed as a result!

Yes, it is an interesting metaphor. I still shake my head at all the times I held onto dysfunctional relationships, crap jobs, and being in groups where I simply did not fit in. Perhaps a life time of those experiences help me with these kinds of choices in fabric arts.


This is a pic of one of my quilt projects still going out this year and it looks a little blurry, so I hope you can see it with soft eyes. The binding is machine sewn and pinned, and I am working on hand sewing it to finish. That part has already taken four sessions. 

As you can see by my 2013 project list on the sidebar, I have more to do, so the one I removed from the list takes off some pressure and does provide a bit of freedom in finishing the others on time.

The lesson in all of this is about setting priorities and rather than pushing myself through, giving myself some ease of movement. Its not failing in the task, but actually a mark of personal growth to do a check-in and reassessment of those priorities.

One of the first group of quilts I shipped to my Sons and a Daughter-in-Law went out at one time last year. When I was back in MN and stayed with them both, I discovered a corner on one quilt missed a seam. It was heartbreaking for me to see because I thought I had looked them over so carefully. I hunted down thread and needle and repaired it best I could, but ouch-ouch-ouch, did I feel bad about it.

Speed is not always the best skill in this work or any work, even if you are a race car driver. Speed needs to partner with things like competency, confidence, clear sight, good directions and accuracy.

What I did learn about that quilt with the missed seam is to check and recheck every step of the way, and then check again before it goes out. 

Mistakes happen. Yet, I hate when they happen.  


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tutorials

There are so many ways to learn, from attending real sit-down classes to reading books and magazines, and to watching videos. Each has its benefit, and most are dependent upon our energy, our time and where we actually are in our learning experiences.

Today was a busy day out of the house, and when I came home, it was getting dark and I needed down time. Didn't feel like reading, didn't feel like bringing out quilts or fabric or my machine.

However, my mind was whirring with way too much and it was far too early to fall off to sleep.

I pulled up You Tube and keyed in 'machine quilting for beginners'. No matter what your interest or your skill at doing it, you can probably find a short video on You Tube about it. I watched a few of them back to back and smiled all the way through them.

Who are these people who feel confident enough to teach other people like me? Some either work for or own their own company, some have been doing this for long enough they simply want to share their knowledge. Some are skilled at making videos and others end up talking too fast, letting their camera jump, or simply rambling as they speak. 

I laughed. I listened and watched, and I learned. My only investment was my time, and tonight, I had enough to watch for an hour without moving from my cozy couch.

I have been learning a lot this week. It started with the women in my class over the weekend. We were just chatting as women do when they gather.

Someone asked about tying quilts. Someone else said that the success of a tied quilt depends upon what it is for and what materials you use. I learned that its best not to tie a quilt filled with cotton batting because it will shift. Bags of batting will tell you how close you need to quilt and if it is best done by hand or machine.

That lead to someone asking about adding batting to a flannel quilt, which, I learned depends upon how warm you want it. 

Women like to share their victories as well as their failures and talk more about what works. I learned that many of us get more angry at ourselves for things we do incorrectly and often we tend to hold our comments and do silent corrections, even though we fall behind the group all making the same project.

Our sense of self is always fragile. These classes are often made up of participants who are friendly strangers, so there is still a bit of putting one's best foot forward.

While learning from a book, magazine or tutorial video, its only you in the room with an instructor who cannot see you. You can 'see' them, go back and check what they said, stop the reading or watching and walk out of the room. You don't have to be polite. You can also go onto something else or someone else without losing your investment.

I want to learn free motion quilting even though I have practiced it. I am far from pleased with how mine looks. There is no one looking over my shoulder to see what I am doing and how to change something to make it better. I am on my own.

And in this solitary practice, my self-esteem is fragile. No one sees this. Not on my face, not in my heart, not with the work I do. What if I stumble along on practice piece after practice piece and don't improve because I keep doing what I do and don't know how to change?

Well, it is late and dark, and I am tired. Luckily tomorrow is a new day and with the sun shining, it will all look brighter. Right?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Thread Heaven and other such tools


I just bought another container of Thread Heaven, and use it a lot when I hand sew the binding or otherwise use a needle and thread.

As you know, I was off learning a new quilting process this weekend and creating a quilt that will go to one of my granddaughters for her graduation next June. 

Some of the benefits you get by going to a class or on a quilting retreat is seeing how more seasoned quilters do this art work. I really recommend in-person classes even though those YouTube and other tutorials are readily available online. Yes, you can learn a lot from them, but its nothing like being in the presence of other learners.

This holds true no matter what you want to experience for your personal growth. I really believe that there comes a time that we progress further when we are face-to-face or somehow are able to interact with an instructor or other classmates. 

I came with lots of questions for women in the group. Because I work alone, its an opportunity to change my mind.

Color choices always intrigue me when everyone is doing the same pattern and often buying material from the same manufacturers or store. Everyone looks over the shoulders of each quilter to see how she uses her machine, holds her hands on it, the speed she uses for all those insights into the technique. I did get one comment about my blocks that will help me in future projects.

My rotary cutter has gotten so old that it wiggles when it cuts and causes the cut to change the length or width of a piece.

This got me thinking about the tools I use in quilting as well as in other parts of my life, and my relationship to them. A tool serves me better when it does something I need for my greater good.

For instance, I know the garden shovel is going to give up someday soon. New ones have non-wooden handles. Mine is so old its starting to sliver, so I wear garden gloves. Another tool. My use of the shovel is almost daily because it comes out to help me turn over my small compost pile. That soil is soft so there is little strain on the tool. I take it for granted. Hard clay elsewhere in my gardens may one day snap it.

My stove is a glass top, so one of the fry pans recently was replaced because it started to bow and wobble, which is not good for the glass top. My primary relationship with kitchen tools is the glass top, so it gets cleaned every time it is used to avoid scratches and burns from spills. Nothing is set on it, nothing is slid over it. Every other tool that gets used on it is secondary.

And then there is my computer. How I love this tool. It opens the world to me in endless ways.

My list goes on and on, so back to quilting and those tools: Books, patterns, rotary cutters, thread, fabric. Are my choices to save money? Sometimes when it doesn't matter. 

I believe we need to see the relationship we have with things and people who make our lives easier or more frustrating. 

The old rotary cutter got tossed in the trash when I got home. It made more work for me to square up my blocks. I have a newer one so holding onto one that doesn't work is just silly. Why do we do that? 

Sometimes we have to let go of things that no longer serve our greater good. Its a lesson we can take to other parts of our lives as well. 

We hang onto jobs, organizations and even people who cause us more heartache, more work, or provide more frustration than is necessary for our growth. I don't believe in the phrase, 'no pain, no gain' and am of a mind to say that I can learn any lesson in life without having to be hurt by it.

First row completed.




Sunday, August 25, 2013

New techniques


This weekend class/retreat gives me an opportunity to learn something new in quilting, and I have so much to learn. See the small square in the middle of this block? It joins the other quarters together. There are four quarters to the block that have the one lavender square (with polka dots), and two rectangles and two other small squares. Many steps to each of those small blocks to form this one. 

Its more complicated than you think. It has taken me several sessions. Other women in the group are more advanced in their quilting than I am and have created stunning blocks by the use of color choices. 

I look at theirs and wish that I was at that stage of thinking beyond how the pattern is written.

I am where I am...an intermediate beginner. My color choices did go beyond the pattern shown which has a cream base and used retro fabrics. I chose purples, blues, pinks and a lavender. It is really going to be pretty.

Funny how there is always someone more skilled or educated than I am (or you are), who is prettier, younger, thinnner, wiser, funnier. And we notice them and perhaps aspire to a higher level of our own personal growth.

There is always someone less pretty, more wrinkled, heavier, too serious and sometimes ...bottom line...stupid.

Why we compete and compare has got to be a cultural thing and it changes with the era we live in. 

So serious for a Sunday morning when the sun is shining, with a gentle breeze.  Getting another cup of Italian roast coffee with Italian Sweet Cream. That will perk me up and get me ready to get back to the group and finish this top. Pictures to follow.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The more I learn

The more I learn I need to learn much more!  I think that was a song I remember, but the concept holds true with this fabric art.

I finished the machine quilting on the Night Sky yesterday. I am not posting photos of it until after it ships to its new quilt owner.

I tried all sorts of techniques on this one and came away knowing that it became a sort of a sampler and larger practice piece. It shows me a lot more of what I don't want to do again because it didn't work to my satisfaction. 

Its hard being a perfectionist in life because often more things go wrong than right, and you end up second guessing your choices or beating yourself up mentally for not getting something perfect.

Then it seems that everything we do is practice and everything is a learning process. 

Another thing I think about is the person who puts herself out on the line in public is often subjected to criticism by folks who keep their works to themselves. Its easier for them to hide behind a silent curtain. I try to remember that and when someone has something to say to me, I ask if they are following up on something I say or do, or if they ever put out original material and put themselves on the line in public?

Our educational system doesn't really support individualism. I understand that most people at the top believe it can't. When I think of how wild we all are as kids and teens, the adults around us demand conformity just so they keep control in a classroom. We compete for grades and create learning curves. 

If one person always gets A's, they raise the learning curve and teachers expect more from the rest of the class. It is in school that an A student learns to downplay her abilities if she wants to fit in. Maybe its different now, but that was how it was for me in school and at home.

This might be another reason why a lot of families do home-schooling.

One day, I found myself saying 'screw this' to the band of bullies, and figured they could just try to keep up. Well, it gets mighty lonely at the head of the line and you become an easy target for biting criticism. 

What people don't know if they are not a perfectionist is that nothing they really say is as bad as what goes on in the head of a perfectionist.

By the way, I was just playing with the background and ended up with this one and a white reading column. I am not sure I like it but couldn't get it to work the way I saw it in my mind. Maybe later. .....well, did have time this afternoon to change the color and am more happy with it than white.

I understand how white is used as a place to rest your eyes, so I will try this for a few days and see how I like it. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Doctor, Doctor


Sigh, shaking head, sighing again.

I know better than this. Can you see the lint? Its there and lots of it. 

Recommendations say to load three bobbins, which are equal to the usage/time on the machine where you clean it and change out the needle!! That or take the chance of a trip to the tech who charges at least $75 and makes you wait three weeks or more.

Same thing about your body. No smoking, drinking and eating in moderation, getting some exercise every day and reducing stress in your life. We know this too. The price we pay may not be required until we get older.

We can get by on some things and pretend that everything is fine. I know that when I start up the machine again after this cleaning and needle replacement that it will sound better and move more smoothly.

Same with my body. Admittedly, I was harder on it than some folks are, and loved how I was able to do so many fun physical things, like dog-sledding, competition volleyball, water and snow skiing, and hauling these boulders for my gardens. Some days, when I wish it was as easy as oiling my joints and muscles, I wonder if I would have given up any of it for easier moments. 

And so I quilt now. Even with quilting, I get up and stretch, drink lots of water and take better care of myself. At least I try to kid myself about it the same way I extend the time I stop to clean the machine.

There is a saying that sometimes is my daily motto: Quilt til you wilt!


Left-overs


I've never been much for eating left-overs. 

However I saw a presentation at a Quilt Guild meeting where one of the women made a sampler-type quilt from the odd-blocks or samples she made over the years. A lot of times a pattern will call for making an even number of blocks and then one is not used in the quilt. Or you give something a try and decide its not what you want or imagined.

So I started bagging the ones that didn't fit in what I was doing at the time. What a surprise when I laid them all out on my bed! There is more than enough to make a top. However, as you can see, they are a scramble. 

And suddenly those left-overs were as unappealing to me as left-over salad or veggies. Hmmm. I know I have to change my mind about them.

Its all about recycling or repurposing. In this case, its going to take some work, some contemplation and planning.  Ah well, another day perhaps.

There are 9 house-blocks on the Night Sky quilt left to do free motion quilting. I need to finish this part of the quilt so the binding can be done. You can see my project list on the sidebar. First things first. I do not want to put frantic energy in any of them and cannot afford to get side-tracked by working on something different.

It seems that its easy for a quilter to get caught up in one of the stages, perhaps the one she likes best. Some of it can be tedious and frustrating. This is where some projects get set aside to be lost in space or become UFO's (unfinished objects). I have a couple that I look at and say, 'not today' and know that to work with them or on them, I will need to dedicate a section of my time and give them more direct focus.

Again, this all seems like another adventure in life that we all take to some degree.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Borders Define Us


I spent the morning working with 'strip piecing' and this time actually have the correct words for what I did. Instructions said to cut material 9.5" long in widths that vary from 2.5" to 1.25". Then randomly sew side by side.

Tyra Banks was known to say, "I'm competitive with myself. I always try to push past my own borders." I say that too in various ways that use other words like riding the edge, or being outside the box. 


The next step to this process is to trim the strip to a 9.25" block. It ceases to matter how the strips align because they are all coordinated colors. The final cut is at the diagonal with the strips on each block going the same direction. I screwed up with one, but then realized I would need to make two additional blocks to have 12 for the border pattern.


I have learned that borders can make the quilt come alive. This border will be so gorgeous because the fabrics in the center of the quilt are also here. The focus will allow your eye to dance across the top.

Borders mean something in my family because we came from the old country (Europe) where borders changed all the time depending upon the political or religious rulers. One generation might be able to identify with a certain nationality for as long as that king or emperor stayed in power. What people called their nationality was not how they identified their core. It was only a word, only a name, and it was someone else's name for who they were, how they lived and what they believed in. 

I will enjoy this quilt as it progresses, again for one of the Great-Nieces who enjoys a late fall birthday.



Concept of Triangulation


One of the more difficult things for me at this stage of my work is matching points. Even in this example, my points are not yet 'perfect' but will pass. Is that so in life? Do we pass with less than perfect, or are our blunders overlooked by those who love us?

What I learned here is a different way to do the sashing and cornerstone...in this pic, sashing is the white with pink polka dots and the corner stone is the darker pink square. Sashing frames the blocks and the corner stones set them off.

I learned that you piece a sashing to the left of each block first. And you piece a corner stone to to a sashing, then join it to the top of each block. Rows become easier to match.

Getting the squares and rectangles are easy to match corners, but the triangles are still challenging for me. I am getting better but it takes time. Every time I work with these shapes, I am thinking about the relationships in my family and among friends. Matching the corners is a way for me to bring healing at a spiritual level.

There is a deeper meaning to those shapes if you think about it. We are very accustomed to the balance of a 4-legged table or chair, and need a triangular shaped piece to be fully balanced or it will send things tumbling to the floor.

Same with relationships. As I mentioned earlier, one of my undergrad minors was in Communication Disorders. It became vital for me to see and understand how it works, and to take action to reduce it in ways I behaved and interacted with others. 

Triangulation is a negative communication practice. Here is a modified quote for more information on it:

by Kibbie Simmons Ruth , Karen A. McClintock

Of the several negative communication patterns people practice, three habits are particularly problematic: triangulation, pass-through communication, and anonymous feedback. While these three may be strategies for getting needs met, they all block rather than help healthy communication. Even if well intentioned, they are deadly habits that in the long run allow people to dodge accountability, gain power, and alienate others. Once everyone understands how to break these habits, those who persist will eventually have to stop or they will become so uncomfortable and isolated that they will leave or avoid the relationship. To clean up bad communication habits, people can do three things: reduce the triangulation, eliminate pass-through communication, and reject anonymous feedback.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quilt Terms

It was brought to my attention that I used the term 'strip piecing' instead of the correct 'chain piecing' for the assembly line fashion. I found a glossary of quilting terms and quilt definitions online.

Hard to say if my brain was on vacation or if I had one of those senior moments. What they say is: Chain sewing --to feed block pieces into the sewing machine one right after the other, without snipping threads in between each seam. This allows you to sew many pieces without stopping after each one, saving both time and thread. They also call it 'chain stitching'. 
Read more: http://quiltbug.com/articles/quilt-terms.htm#ixzz2cfIfSJGr

And that is what I meant. Strip piecing is a whole other process.

Its a funny thing, how our brains work when it comes to communications. We forget, we remember. Most of the time, it all flows pretty easily. We usually only notice when something isn't correct, isn't in the right place at the right time. 

One of my undergrad minors was in Communication Disorders, so I had classes in Neuroanatomy, and labs in speech and hearing therapies. Among my friends and in my family, I have known adults with Aphasia, Dyslexia, Strokes, Dementia, MS, Autism, various forms of Depression, and chemical imbalances from Alcohol as well as prescription medications.  Usually our brains work quite well. Usually.
My Neuroanatomy classmates were able to dissect some brains that year. We had to cut them from the cadavers, and so it was a complex process. I had one question that went unanswered: Is it possible to unfold the folds in a brain and lay it out flat? Got an A in that class, but can no longer spout off the names or functions for different parts of the brain. It comes back when its part of a diagnosis so I do know what a surgeon is talking about.

I've always been a list maker of some sort. There are small notebooks everywhere to accommodate random thoughts, notions and ideas. I work hard at not forgetting, but I still forget names. And occasionally I struggle for the right word. 

As a result of all this background, I have become somewhat of a research geek and know how to find the best answer within three sources. I don't trust one source for information to be the true one. Yet, things puzzle me all the time, so as result, I ask questions constantly.

And this is where I get in trouble with simple terms and need things like glossaries. There is too much in my head, too many facts, and things I want to do, and too little time to become expert at anything...good at some things, maybe even better than good.





Creating with Contemplation

There are days that I do not quilt in the formal sense of the word where my hands touch fabric and I am either at the machine or have a needle and thread.

This bothers me as if I have some obligation to do this work every day.

Creating is more than the act of it. To create, at least for me, the first stage comes in contemplation. When I was younger, my Mother walked into my room to ask what I was doing. I was sitting in front of one of my bedroom windows looking out into the back yard gardens. 

I told her I was writing. And her response was that it looked like I was wasting time. I knew, even then, that I had to dream things into reality, and spend a certain amount of time contemplating.

This is the time where we are still and quiet. It is a time, in quilting, to become open to possibilities and to connect with colors, textures, patterns and yes, the person we want to create a quilt for...


(Athena, patroness of creative thought and works)


Quilts become objects of comfort, of warmth, of connection between the quilt owner and the quilt maker.

Before I begin to create a quilt for someone I love, I examine my relationship to them and ask if I am centered with them or if there is a dissonance that can be healed in my work. The energy I put into all the steps is a positive effort. I know there will be lessons that I learn along the way, and when it is completed and shipped to them, they have choices to accept my gift, to cherish it, to even roll it in a ball and toss it in the corner of a closet or give it away.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Good day's work

Its become important to me to keep working on projects, not always to finish them in the moment, but to do the next step. Its almost a way to stay centered in life as well. 

I learned to strip sew some time ago, and try to make it happen with all my projects when possible. It saves time and thread. You feed the pieces in one after another without taking them apart at the feed. There is no real stopping and starting. Then, after they are all through the machine, you cut the pieces apart and take out the pins. Easy. These pieces in the photo above are to a pink and yellow pinwheel quilt destined for my oldest great-Niece. 

The other thing on this quilt is a newer way (for me) to add sashing and corner stones. More about that at another time.

Then, I cleaned up the Harvest quilt by cutting off loose threads and ensuring that the seams were done correctly. This one has two florals and that lovely rust, and a beige that were given to me. I had the green and light beige, and bought the brown acorn print, as well as the leaf print on the final border. Its so very striking and cozy with a flannel back. Just love this one. Its got a very simple machine quilting. It lays across the very top of my queen size bed without falling off the edge, and makes a nice personal lap size quilt.



Scrapping

As I have told you, people give me their leftover fabrics and I have the pleasure of combining colors and textures to create something I value and want to gift to a person I cherish.

This photo represents my ongoing projects: Some quilters call this UFOs or unfinished objects.

To keep them from getting lost in the bottom of the container, each one is on a spreadsheet with who will receive it, the name of the pattern and the stages the project is in. I like to gift an entire family with quilts---one for each child and one for the couple. 

With about 30 family members, and my ability to get about 6 completed (though that number grows each year), it will take me a few more years to finish what is already started here.

And just like how life gets in the way of your best laid plans, there is always a new idea that pops into my head for something I want to create in the moment.

It helps to have the pattern pieces cut so that the extra fabric can go into the stash and perhaps be used in another and another way. So today is a cutting day...cut, cut, cut.

It reminds me of the three Fatas, one who spins, one who weaves and one who cuts. Some days I spin the ideas, some days, I put them together, some days I cut. And then the process starts all over.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Binding on the Harvest quilt


Wow, this is going to be a very cozy quilt, with only one side flannel. Most of this fabric was given to me. The outer border didn't get much into this pic and after its completely finished with all the loose threads pulled and seams checked, it will get photographed vertically to see how it looks. 

I rather enjoy the hand stitching for the binding and know I am still learning to keep the stitches evenly spaced. Mitered corners aren't aways as easy as one thinks...got it one time and then woahhhhh.  

Tried to tell Rexie R about the 'pig's snout' on the corners and my camera simply will not keep the corner in close enough focus. When you fold over a corner to miter it, it forms a 'snout hole' in the fold.  You don't want both sides going the same way so they form a complete snout, so the inside fold has to go the other direction.

In other words, one goes left, the other goes right.

I would love to have some sort of pithy comment here but its later in the day and I've been outside up in the mountains, on a deck in the warmth, high altitude and breezes. Who wants to think?  

If anyone has a graphic for this, share it please!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

More from the show

This one shows a wider meandering free motion stitch than I've been doing. From my limited experience, what this demonstrates is how comfortable the quilter is. I am not there.  Quilters report how relaxing it is and it shows above. 

 This is another example of holiday colors in a scrap quilt. The purchased fabric is most likely the gold for the stars. Its something for me to keep in mind. I plan to finish up my Winter holiday quilts for 2014, but you never know how stash hangs around. 

Lots of vendors come from all over with their products that expand what is available in town or even on line. This morning, I was able to buy two different black and white pieces for my Niece Lisa's holiday quilt. It was so exciting to find the exact patterns and colors that would work!


Several things are going on for this quilt. First of all its not applique but has a look of that skill. Free motion quilting meanders, follows lines, and echos. Its a great use of batik.

Lessons from my observation at the quilt show include: Relaxing, going with what works, keeping nice prints for future quilts and that there is a lot to learn.

A Quilt Show



I could have taken a jillion pictures but found myself needing to look at ones I might quilt someday and started limiting ones I kept. This first one is a 'row by row' or 'row of the month' quilt. The second one uses a very simple quilt pattern combined with applique. 



I  am still in the Log Cabin pattern stage for many of my quilts, and am very intrigued with how different they can look.

More to come later. One thing my camera didn't pick up was how quits were quilted. Some are done by hand with fine stitches, some with heavier threads for utility work. Some are done on home machines, some on long arm machines. 

What a quilter would see that perhaps a non-quilter would not notice is that stitches are not always even, not always identical in patterning, and some are perfect (well to my novice eyes). 

Backs sometimes show stitches, sometimes not. Some backs are very plain, some show a reversible quilt.  AND some of the most beautiful quilts waver on their hangers, pucker in their seams.

Homemade quilts are not commercial quilts. They are one of a kinds works of art. And in truth, photos taken were not done with permission, so no credit was given either. 

More about this in my next post.




Friday, August 16, 2013

Who's got your back?


I finished piecing the back. I carried out the 4-patch theme for it that is on the top, even though all four flannel fabrics here are different. It makes the quilt reversible.

The concept of backs is one I have considered long about many other things. In quilting, some folks don't pay attention to them, especially if they will be wallhangings. I don't feel the same way.

I like back roads, back walls, the back of the Statue of Liberty and back chakras. The other day, someone posted on FaceBook that kids always want to get their parents off their backs until the day they realize that most parents are the ones who have their backs. Some.

And now that I have two layers completed with this quilt, I will spend some cold mornings cuddled under the two and see how it feels both in weight and warmth.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Be it warm


Guess the last border is lost on these pics. 
It is a gold-beige and different from the blocks. 
You can see the color difference here below 
between the block and border.


This is the flannel top finished today. Colors are stunning to me and the warmth of it will be perfect in MN where it is going to my younger Son. I played around with ideas for the back and will post what I come up with tomorrow. One of my fabric gifts came with these pieces all cut about 1  1/3 yards, and so the challenge was to find a pattern that welcomed the cuts as well as blended together in a quilt. The back will have completely different flannel fabrics on it, making it a reversible. 

The 4-patch can be more random and scrappy looking, however, the colors pop well if they are in a more organized layout. There are actually four borders on this waiting for a final color for the binding.  Both of my Sons are in professions requiring precise measurements and so when I make things for them, I know that they will look at them with a more mathematical eye than most people. Like me, they appreciate crisp borders and lines.

I am always straightening pictures on the wall that are even an 1/8" off, so it bugs me to have things that don't line up on my quilts.

And now, the question for me is about the inner piece. Usually quilts are 3 layers. This one is two layers of flannel and that makes it warm. I will think more about it when I finish the back and lay them together. I'll get under it and feel the weight, feel the warmth. 

If anyone is reading this who might have quilting experience, feel free to comment. And maybe I will get an answer at the quilt show in town this Saturday.