Confidence

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I learned a lot from In Full Bloom. Each block is a separate quilting motif, so I machine quilted it block by block... and subsequently had to tie off ALL those ends.

I learned a lot from In Full Bloom. Each block has a separate quilting motif, so I machine quilted it block by block… and subsequently had to tie off ALL those ends.

I am hoping to get my quilting mojo back.

What? You thought I never lost it?

I had to smush two photos of Airship together because I couldn't step back far enough to get all of it in one shot.

I had to smoosh two photos of Airship together because I couldn’t step back far enough to get all of it in one shot.

Well, for a while I feel like I have been plodding along. Even the new(ish) quilt that I have been working on (Airships) has felt “flat.”

It’s as if all my design decisions lately have been ordinary and uninspired.

Sure, I’ve been excited by the fact that I’m actually getting quilts finished and bound, but I’ve been second-quessing myself for a while now. I have been asking my friends (and some of my fellow group members on Yahoo and Facebook) for suggestions and advice.

So, what happens to you went you get “unconfident” in making design decisions?

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Half-square triangle border strips for Borderpalooza quilt Les Filles Des Mares are done!

Do you stop what you’re doing and just stew on the decision?

Do you just keep plugging away and hope you don’t “ruin” what you’re working on?

Well, I tried to apply my recent writing experience only to find it’s just not directly applicable:

I hit a wall on my current book “The Echoes” and decided to write the plot in the first person from the protagonist’s point of view, as if she were keeping a diary.  I crept up to the point in the story that I had gotten stuck and found that I had more ideas of how to continue. Success!

Unfortunately, working on another quilting project doesn’t seem to help my present project. (I can’t say “related” because none of my quilts are actually related to each other, except the DnA project quilts and I’ve made all of those projects I’m going to!)

Getting confidence back in making design decisions is going to be harder than I thought.

I didn’t like the bright blue background for Airships. I changed it to a green even though it’s not “conceptually right.”  I like it better. I find it’s a better tonal balance, but do airships really fly in green air?

And no one but me seems to like it.

So, I’ll be working on appliqueing the center circles on the blocks for a bit and trying to decide if I should search for a different blue or keep the green the way it is… maybe use a contrasting color for the quilting on those blocks.

How strange (and frustrating!) to have so much fabric and nothing that I feel “works.”

Pictures!

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I have to apologize for the quality of these pictures.  I don’t know what I did wrong (I suspect I had changed the camera settings and forgot to change them back.) Anyway, I’ve been promising them for weeks, so here they are:

And, in case I missed showing off the completed DayStars, here it is.  I didn't do the same Baptist Fan pattern I did on Catherine Wheels, but "bubbles."  It's cute!

In case I missed showing off the completed DayStars, here it is. I didn’t do the same Baptist Fan pattern I did on Catherine Wheels, but “bubbles.” It’s cute!

Sunflower Lattice is finally done!  Now I can make a date to meet my cousin and aunt for lunch and give it to her.

Sunflower Lattice is finally done! Now I can make a date to meet my cousin and aunt for lunch and give it to her.

Got Dots looks awesome finished.  My only problem is that I did very complex border quilting and you can't see it at all (which is actually a good thing, since it didn't turn out as nicely as I had envisioned.)

Got Dots looks awesome finished. My only problem is that I did very complex border quilting and you can’t see it at all (which is actually a good thing, since it didn’t turn out as nicely as I had envisioned.)

And, finally…

The first Borderpalooza top: Japanese Cats is now ready to "age" for quilting.

The first Borderpalooza top: Japanese Cats is now ready to “age” for quilting.

So what am I doing today?  I hope to finish the quilting on In Full Bloom, and to start assembling Airship blocks into a top.  I am also still sewing HST together for the border of Les Filles des Mares.

(I’ve already done my writing, although I can’t enter my daily total into The Magic Spreadsheet ’cause Google Docs seems to be wonky. I also practiced my incredibly bad French with Duolingo.  All that’s left is to clean the apartment and do my laundry… or not.)

What’s Up?

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Not sure this blue is the way to go, but I'm liking the "every other" block layout.

Not sure this blue is the way to go, but I’m liking the “every other” block layout.

I’m still a slug (although I have been writing between 250 and 500 words each day since the beginning of the month.) I still have not taken a picture of the completed quilts and tops that I have mentioned in the recent past.

I have, however, been making my peace with the Airship blocks.

I’ve decided that they are just too “energetic” to be sewn side by side, which, to me, means either a secondary block, or a very wide sashing.

My first was just a plain “every other block” layout. I did like that it calmed the blocks down, but it means that I have to do so real searching for either a fabric that holds up to the energy of the Airship block, or a secondary block that does not take away from it.

My favorite layout so far.

My favorite layout so far.

When I was testing, I was using blue, but I’m not wedded to that color either.  Red is also energetic, but my last black & white quilt (i.e. The Wrong Color of Red) used red and I want to use something else.

The greens I have are either not right, or I don’t have enough and I want to keep the “B” blocks all the same. Conceptually, blue works since they are supposed to be AIRships. Maybe I should look for cloud fabric.

I like the blocks on point, and the thought of having those empty spaces to put quilting in kind of tickles my fancy… although what kind of quilting to put there remains to be seen.

In addition to the Airship blocks, I am quilting In Full Bloom on the long arm.  It’s turning out really cute. Except for one border (the green and black one), it’s all designed.  I may just leave that one blank since it’s only 2″.

This week I finished the horizontal rows so now I have to reposition the zippers and do the two side borders. Of course, while I have it at home, I’m tying off the stray ends and burying them while listening to books on tape (which I discovered I can get out of our library through Overdrive.)

I did  the quilting on In Full Bloom block by block. It's really cute!

I did the quilting on In Full Bloom block by block. It’s really cute! (There’s an additional plain border added since I photographed it as a top.

 

A Short Post to Pass the Time

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Quilt I saw at Brimfield

Quilt I saw at Brimfield

I have been really tired lately.  So tired I haven’t been able to get up early enough to photograph the quilts I’ve finished.

I did, however, drag myself to and around Brimfield this past Saturday. I didn’t get very far, but I did see more gorgeous quilts than I usually do (probably because I was in the “higher end” fields.

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Detail of Rose Quilt

As I was going to the bathroom, I should this beautiful rose quilt (I’m sure it has an official name, but I didn’t bother to look it up.) It was all hand quilted in a grid pattern except for the roses.

It had some problems with wear, but the quilter knew what she was doing when she appliqued and quilted this.

I was too afraid to ask how much it was and if it was for sale since it was in BEHIND the booth and not actually being displayed in the booth.

Airship Propellor blocks

Airship Propellor blocks are dying on the vine and need some kind of energy injected in them to make them sing.

Of course, seeing these vintage and antique quilts usually makes me feel better about my projects, but I am kind of stalled on the current one.

I was hoping, when I drafted it that I could get a secondary pattern going if I didn’t add sashing, but it’s not “going there” for me.

*sigh*

And it’s not just the colors and fabrics that are not working. (Well, maybe the Black and Whites are a bit too graphic to be put so close together.) I’ve decided to piece what I’ve cut out, but not put them on the design wall until more of them are finished.

An alternative layout for the Airship blocks. I'm still thinking I may have to take the corners off and float the circles.

An alternative layout for the Airship blocks. I’m still thinking I may have to take the corners off and float the circles.

I’m also working on the border for Les Filles des Mares. It’s a simple border of half-square triangles in the same bright homespuns as the center.

There was JUST enough fabric leftover from the Fat Quarters I used for the center to piece enough HST for the border, thank goodness!  Nothing is left. Well, none of those fabrics.

Other than that, I’m about 2/3 of the way through quilting In Full Bloom on the long arm. Probably not done this week, but maybe next.

It’s turning out to be dead cute. I am learning to program the quilting block by block.

I’m also writing fiction again. Yay!  I hope that now that I’ve set aside a block of time to write on my novel that I will be more consistent in posting here than I have in the last couple of months.

That’s it for me. “See” you (I hope) on Thursday!

Unplanned Sabbatical

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My grandmother, at 20, just after she came to America from Scotland.

My grandmother, at 20, just after she came to America from Scotland.

Well, that I took a little more time off than I expected to. I guess it should refresh my store of tales to tell (even though here I mostly “talk” about what I’m doing now.)

First of all, I went to visit my mom in Pittsburgh.  We hung out and went through old family photos to see if she could identify some of the older generation.  I ended up coming back with an album of my father’s family’s pictures to scan and “clean up” and put on disk.

It’s a long-term project, especially since I’m always curious to know who is in the photo and how they relate to people I’ve met. The very first photo enabled me to discover the ship my grandmother came over to America on (and no, it wasn’t The Mayflower.)

Both before and after this trip, I worked on Sunflower Lattice.  The quilting is now all done and I’m about 2/3 of the way through the binding (thank goodness for Colin Firth!) But, yes, my cousin, the intended recipient, saw it, and yes, she says she loves it. So, lots of incentive to finish it.

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I pieced this blue background for a friend who intends to put LARGE applique fish on it.  Miko says she can already see them!

I have just resumed the Borderpalooza and all the spools are done (FINALLY!) and on the Japanese Cats quilt. I will put on one more solid border and call it complete and ready for quilting.

I got a bunch of blue batiks from a friend to make the background of a quilt for her. I probably worked more on that than on the spools, since the spools were frustrating me towards the end of the project.

Which lead me to a very strange dilemma.  I had planned the quilting order of my quilts up to Sunflower Lattice, but I couldn’t figure out what to do next.  I guess I never thought I’d get those five quilts done, so I have no batting or backing earmarked for future projects.

Dither, dither, dithering.  What to quilt next?

As far as I can tell this quilts has been crying out for a border for 2 years or more...

As far as I can tell this quilt, Road to Ruin, has been crying out for a border for 2 years or more…

For the long-arm. I’m starting  In Full Bloom. I pieced a back but still have no idea of what motifs to use to quilt it.  It will give me some practice in planning border quilting on the long arm since there are multiple borders.

The next quilt to be quilted will probably be Aiming For Accuracy, and then, maybe Spirographology. I’m also thinking of basting Starina to quilt by hand starting in the Fall. I know I’ve said that before, but this time I really, really mean it!

And, yes, I WILL get the threads buried and the binding put on Got Dots as soon as I get over the fact that it didn’t quite turn out as I had planned.

Next up in the Borderpalooza will probably be either the Civil War Sesquicentennial quilt (i,e, the first of Barbara Brackman’s block of the week quilts I did) or, possibly the Road to Ruin (which I thought I had a blog post about long ago, but I can’t seem to find it.) I probably called it something else. I have no clue of what to do with either of them.

So, I guess I was busy enough without blogging, but I will try not to let it go as long between posts again.

Memorial Day Weekend Doings

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daystars-1

Fresh off the long-arm, Daystars only took two sessions and now needs to be bound.

I guess my joy at posting on time last week was short-lived.  I missed Thursday again this past week, although I did make it to Cricket’s for long-arm time.

Today I am binding Daystars, which I finished quilting on Thursday.  I had planned on using a Baptist Fan, like Catherine Wheels, but that wasn’t available, so I used these bubbles.  I think they’re cute!

I have also chosen binding for Got Dots, but I still have some machine quilting to do on the DSM.  My Merritt seemed to have problems with the thread I was using on top, so now I plan on seeing if I can get either the 99 or the Featherweight to cooperate.

Yes, after some consideration, I chose the small, finicky spools for the border. The others just didn't seem to be in the right proportion.

Yes, after some consideration, I chose the small, finicky spools for the border. The others just didn’t seem to be in the right proportion.

And, of course, I am in the throes of making of spools.

When I “left” you last week, I was deeply troubled by the spool dilemma.  I had several (actually 3) ways to make the spools for the border and one of them took considerably more time and brain power than the others.

Since my brain has not been exactly humming along recently (witness the dozen or more extra leaves I made for In Full Bloom, among other things), I was trying to wiggle out of making the complicated ones, even though I liked them the best.

Of course, they fit in better with the other “cat toys” on the quilt and they were also the “winner” of the discussion (i.e. whining post) I had on Facebook. I’m about half-way done, and I’m getting a bit better at constructing them. (I’ll let you in on the tricks I’ve figured out a way to explain in words and when I get around to taking pictures.)


To end this post, I hope everyone has a nice weekend.  In the U.S., it’s Memorial Day weekend, which is everyone seems to think is the time for cook-outs and gatherings.

On Memorial Day, of course, we are really supposed to remember the people who served in the armed forces and died for their country.  None of my immediate family was killed in a war, but several who had served are gone now: my dad’s family was traditionally Navy (my aunt was a Navy nurse who commanded a floor of Bethesda Naval Hospital.) My aunt’s husband, Frank Shemanski (retired a full Commander and who had captained a ship) just joined her this past January.

I like to take a moment to think about them and their stories on Memorial Day.

Spooling Around

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We had lots of small quilts in our show.

We had lots of small quilts in our show like Scottie MacPup by Judy Gordon

Oh look! It’s Thursday and I’m actually posting.

This week is kind of a whirlwind of activity (and cleaning.) It started with my Guild’s show last weekend.  Our show is traditionally on Mother’s Day weekend (or so it has been for as long as I’ve been a member… which I admit has not be that long.)

I did not get a quilt in because I really didn’t finish a show quilt I felt was good enough, but the rest of the Guild members made up for my lack. Our show has no ribbons. It’s sort of like a “standing Show and Tell”, which takes the pressure off.

 

February Table was just one of the quilts my friend, the awesom appliquer Maryann Geiser showed.

February Table was just one of the quilts my friend, the awesome appliquer Maryann Geiser showed.

It was great seeing everyone and their quilts. We have a creative bunch!

And I was very good. I really only bought a bag of scraps and a couple of books (and a lightbulb for my Merritt), entered a couple of raffles (didn’t win, as usual), schmoozed and had lunch.

Our raffle quilt was also unveiled, but I don’t have good pictures of it (I’ll post one and a link for information when the official pictures are taken.) It was awesome. The quilting was done on the same long arm that I have been borrowing to do my quilts, but Cricket really out did herself!

I was also astonished to discover how many of my fellow Guild members read my blog.  It makes me want to be more timely in my posts.  I got to talk about “Borderpalooza” and see if anyone had any suggestions for my Japanese Cats quilt.

This Dimensional Spool block is one of the borders I am going to test out on Japanese Cats.

This Dimensional Spool block is one of the borders I am going to test out on Japanese Cats.

A couple of days later, however, I woke up and had my own idea: instead of repeating a motif (I was leaning towards mice, but several people told me that the fish were cuter) I would make a new one.

Miko plays with my empty spools, so I decided to use a spool block.

spool2

This is a more graphic spool (and easier to sew), but I’m not sure it “reads” as spools when put next to each other.

I found a couple of possibilities.  One of which is a bit more graphic and the other a little more “realistic.”  Right now I’m sewing several of the blocks up to see which looks best.

I like the dimensional spool, but it’s a bit finicky in the size I need it (3″ finished.) I think it will make a cute zig-zag border, but nothing else in the quilt is dimensional, so I’m wondering if it “fits.”

The other block is plainer (and therefore easier to piece), but it doesn’t “read” like a spool even though it fits more with the “graphic-ness” of the other cat toys on the quilt.

If you have any input (please!) or other suggestions, leave me a comment or drop me an email.  Thanks!


In all the quilting news, I forgot the last bit of rushing around for this week is prep for BRIMFIELD.

I am hoping to go with my friends, but Joey’s poor car is no more so I might not be seeing him.  Katie, coming up from NYC, also might take a pass since the weather is supposed to be dreadful, but *I* am cleaning just in case. I really hope to go so I can see my sister (and perhaps get some ideas for more quilts!)

Borderpalooza

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Got Dots is all done except for the binding (and some minor details.)

Got Dots is all done except for the binding (and some minor details.)

I finally got Got Dots off of the long arm.  There is still a bit of work to be done on it. I decided that the straight “in the ditch” quilting lines would be easier on my home machine and I have to tie off a bunch of stray threads because of the way I eventually ended up doing the border. Oh, and I still have to decide on a color/fabric for the binding.

I still like the quilt, but I no long consider it “show worthy.”  When I’m done, it’s going on my bed and I may or may not make another Drunkard’s Path quilt in the future. I love the quilting motif I used on the center of the quilt (Bauhaus by Urban Elementz)

I am one seam away from finishing the center of In Tribute to Maryellen Hopkins.  Then, I have to think about borders. Again.

Les Filles des Mares, Barbara Brackman's Civil War Cententiall Quilt, and Stairway to California all need borders but were stopped because I couldn't think of what kind and how wide.

Les Filles des Mares, Civil War Sesquicentennial, and an unnamed Stairway/Road to California all need borders but were stopped because I couldn’t think of what kind and how wide.

It turns out that I have several quilts which have been stopped at the borders, and so, for at least the next couple weeks, I’m going to holding a “Borderpaloosa” for myself, which means that I will be getting out my quilts lacking borders and trying to decide what to do with them: pieced or solid, which colors, etc.

I think I’ll put up a new board on Pinterest for my Borderpalooza ideas, and if you have any suggestions or directions, please let me know.

Japanese Cats is based on a cat quilt I made long ago from a pattern.  I got a long time ago.

Japanese Cats is based on a cat quilt I made long ago from a pattern. I got a long time ago.

First up in the Borderpalooza will probably be Japanese Cats.

The cats themselves come from an old pattern named “No Ordinary Cats” which I must have bought in the mid-1990s. I vaguely remember it was when my sister lived in Arkansas.

Instead of random pieced vertical borders as in the original pattern, I have added “cat toys” (balls, mice, fish) in japanese fabrics. I may keep this quilt or I may offer it to Siamese Rescue to auction off to raise money (and maybe get the inside scoop on a kitty when I’m ready for an annoying feline companion for Miko.)

My friend, Kris volunteers with them and they have lots of cute things in their kitty store.


This weekend is my Guild’s Quilt Show. We have one every other year and this one threatens to be seriously awesome.

I know of at least two amazing quilts that will be there: Jeff Lomicka’s ribbon winning Robot Maze and Mary Ann Geiser’s Floribunda (which anyone who is into handwork will go wild for…since it’s hand appliqued and hand-quilted.)

As you can see, something for everyone and everything in between.  If you’re in northeast/north central Mass., come one by!

How My Mind Works

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I’m behind times and I thought I’d put up a quick post about my current quilt.

I don’t know if you remember when I changed this quilt:metrib1

To this quilt:BlackWhiteRed

By removing these blocks:

KSDugoutBut I ended up with a ton and nothing to do with them. So I put them in a box as usual (I can’t seem to throw anything that I’ve worked on as long as these blocks away.) They probably would have been donated to my Guild or made into a charity quilt.

But.

I was on Facebook and I saw this quilt:

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I still have to track down the maker of the quilt I drew the inspiration from. Stupidly, I saved the picture without any attribution.  Should have just put it in Pinterest.

And darned of those blocks aren’t a 9-patch, the corners of which are my Kansas Dugout Blocks. So, of course, I dragged this out to work on when I finished In Full Bloom but still had a week or so of Making out with BoB.

AltDugout

A Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins?  Just 1 row of 8 blocks to go until I move everything around and then sew it together.

I realised what had made my original tribute quilt so static was that the red blocks overwhelmed the rest, so I took some leftover Dugout Blocks which had been the leaves of In Full Bloom‘s outer pieced border (I’ve been having trouble with math lately…) and mixed them. I liked what I saw, so I just made more with fabric from my scrap box.

Once again, I haven’t named this one.  The original quilt was intended to be a tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins (whose book “It’s Okay If You Sit On My Quilt” is the reason I actually FINISHED my first quilt…not the first quilt that I started, that one took 25 years.)

I like the way the wild scraps calm and are calmed by those red Kansas Dugout blocks. I changed the centers so that the red ones had dark fabric next to the centers and the non-red ones had light. But, really, it’s a traditional block called “Spool” by Nancy Cabot.

 

 

Show & Tell (and a Little Wind)

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Les Filles Des Mares

Les Filles Des Mares is not done.  It needs at least a border, possibly two.

Thank goodness for 3M.

I had wanted to find the refrigerator clips that I had heard everyone (The Off Kilter Quilt, Quilting For the Rest of Us) raving about as a hanging solution, but couldn’t find them in my area.  Instead, I found hooks meant for holding wiring (like Christmas lights.)

So I strung a cord (in this case a decorative cord that I had from my brief flirtation making quilted purses) and pinned the tops to  it.

Worked great now that I figured out to pin right next to the hooks and half-way between them.

I also needed to tighten the cord a bit, too, but that was easy since the ends were held in place with binder clips.

And, of course, the wind was a problem, but that was true of the former method of putting the quilt and tops up for photographing.

The finished quilts are a bit heavy and required more pins (note to self: buy a pin cushion for your wrist… it would be much easier than pinning the straight pins into your shirt… and probably safer in the long run.)

Anyway, here’s the “big shots” of the quilts I have been working on for the past couple of months.

In Full Bloom was my Lenten Challenge BoB project.  It's only 62" square, but I've been told that that's "big enough. Yay!  Done.

In Full Bloom was my Linten Challenge BoB project. It’s only 62″ square, but I’ve been told that that’s “big enough. Yay! Done.

Crossed Purposes in all it's glory.  I'm actually happy with the way it turned out and I think that border is the reason for that.

Crossed Purposes in all it’s glory. I’m actually happy with the way it turned out and I think that border is the reason for that.

 

Still Searching for a name for this quilt. It's the one I had originally started in tribute to Maryellen Hopkins, but then pulled the Dugout blocks out because they were the "wrong" color of red... Hmmm. That sounds like a good name for a quilt The Wrong Color of Red!

Still Searching for a name for this quilt. It’s the one I had originally started in tribute to Maryellen Hopkins, but then pulled the Dugout blocks out because they were the “wrong” color of red… Hmmm. That sounds like a good name for a quilt The Wrong Color of Red!

And here it is in all it's finality: Grandmother's Choice. (And you thought I never actually finished any of my quilts!)

And here it is in all it’s finality: Grandmother’s Choice. (And you thought I never actually finished any of my quilts!)

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