Monday, August 18, 2014

The Rest of the August Swaps

I finished up all the swaps for this month. To swap means the exchange of one thing for another. In the world of swapping, when a person flakes on sending what they promised, it is seen as a form of theft. I've witnessed people make lists of folks who have flaked on them. It seems harsh to me, yet it has happened to me too. The first ones were hurtful, but I was taking on the hurt and never did find out what the reasons were for them breaking their word.

Was it health? Was it finances? Were they over committed? Did they forget? What? Why? And it was their business.

What I am learning with the swaps I participate in is how to be open to receive, and how to be generous without strings attached. I am so deeply touched by people who do nice things, from those random acts of kindness to acts of respect and acts of love. 

I asked one of my friends if we could swap Fall-themed mug rugs. This is my second attempt and the one I sent her. (the first round Fall-themed one went to my Auntie Carrie in SD). Its not a perfect round and I am not sure how that happened, except to say that nothing is ever really perfect. I could have made a third one, but I like these colors. I realized that when I start buying fabrics that I like the way batik solids show up. Again they are blenders adding depth to the projects.

Along with the mug rug, I made her a lined (and perhaps reversible tote). The inside is a dark chocolate brown with white dots and the outside is a fabric that has a graveyard with a full Moon and Crows in the leafless trees. My friend uses Crow Calling Woman as her creative name and these fabric Crows just shout back at her. She sent me this picture taken against a leafy background.

I finished the 6" blocks for my Australian swap partner too. I did see some examples of what she wanted and didn't quite do the charm-scrap for the block within a block squares. I am not going to take them apart, but might just make up two new ones the way she wants and can use in the quilt she is making. I am still matching more than letting the randomness take over. Even the two 9-patch blocks she requested as scrappy have been colorized.

Its like those wonky blocks. You wouldn't think that making something off center or off the line would be that hard. Yet it is. There is a natural tendency to want quilting squares to work according to conventional methods.

Yet the world we live in is showing us every day that it is ok to be different, ok to have diversity or divergence. Sometimes.

With the tote bag above, I took special care to match the horizontal lines even though they were wavy and once the pieces were cut, it was nearly impossible to match the pattern both horizontally and vertically. Yet, I came close. Sometimes close is all we get. I used to say close only counted in hand grenades, but I am more gentle with myself these days.

I also worked on the Applique Mystery Quilt yesterday too. Its almost ready for me to start assembling the top. Once that is done, I need to make multiple borders, match the top to the back for size, and get it ready to baste.

The first of my Blackwork is done. This is the Zombie Couple pattern from flossbox. It took me several sessions to embroider the pattern and I used up the two partial skeins of black embroidery thread I had. I am almost finished with the second block.

The site, ,   has a lot of embroidery patterns and tutorials if you are interested. Of course, they are not my only source, so as I make these Blackwork squares, more of them will come up. I want to stick with what I know and only make these squares to fit on a finished quilt. 

Blackwork, itself, is a step away from anything I have done before. In truth, what I am working on is not really traditional counted stitches. Historically, it originates in Spain from at least 1500's and was a method used to decorate clothing and household items with silk thread on linen. I am simply using black embroidery floss on white muslin and taking the most primitive of stitches. This seems to hold the spirit of this fabric art in its organic simplicity.

Unfortunately, like many fabric arts, there is little surviving examples of this form of work. By 1598, books appeared with sampler patterns, and other colors were introduced. There were actually laws prohibiting lower class people from wearing Blackwork. The introduction of Redwork and Bluework had much to do with the color industry of Turkish threads. Colorfast Red was produced 200 years ago and the Colorfast Indigo Blue only in 1910. 

It seems that a person could do any color of the rainbow in creating a one-color look to their embroidery. I have to think about this. For now, I hold to what I know.