Project Gap

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The first of the DnA quilts to be quilted is, of course, the last one  to be made: DnA4: In Memory of Edison.

The first of the DnA quilts to be quilted is, of course, the last one to be made: DnA4: In Memory of Edison.

I haven’t been feeling very creative (quilting-wise) lately.  I have been finishing stuff, just haven’t been able to think of a new project to start. It’s been like that since I came back from Pittsburgh.

I have been quilting, however. I finally finished the last of the Dragonfly Path quilt tops. It was like pulling teeth at the end. I don’t know what I was thinking of when I volunteered to make THREE Drunkard’s Path quilt tops, one right after another. (And, yes, there still in a fourth one in the pipeline, but I just don’t have the strength at the moment…)

I was so glad to see the end of the Dragonfly Fabic, I didn't even snap a photo of the finished top!

I was so glad to see the end of the Dragonfly fabric, I didn’t even snap a photo of the finished top! This is the layout in progress.

New case for my new laptop. (Now I know why people buy these things!)

New case for my new laptop. (Now I know why people buy these things!)

I couldn’t figure out what next to do, though, so I made a laptop case for my new MacBook Air. (I got this new computer so I could have all my writing software on it and write wherever I was, especially when I was out of town, or needed someone else to make coffee for me. Worked great at Mom’s house, where I got both at the same time.)

Anyway, I learned lots in making this piece, most important of all is: it’s really worth paying someone else to make the next one!

Between the zippers and the piping and the doubled batting (to cushion the little Mac from life’s many bumps), my lack of a working walking foot (long story) the only real surprise to me was that I finished it. As you can see, it’s string-pieced on a foundation. You may notice some fabric from my other projects, including the yellow plaid from Les Filles des Mares. the iridescent dragonflies, from THAT project (above), and, of course, the obligatory Hello Kitty fabric.

Doesn't look like much now, but this is part of the pieced back of DnA3, which I'll be quilting next.

Doesn’t look like much now, but this is part of the pieced back of DnA3: In Memory of Rumor, which I’ll be quilting next.

At least two of the strips are backing fabric from some recently completed quilts. In fact, the third strip down is the back of the quilt I have on the long arm at the moment.

The last of my “filler” projects is the backing for the next DnA quilt: DnA3: In Memory of Rumor. It’s pieced from all the cat fabrics I have left… and I still didn’t use everything up. My now much-more- rationally-sized stash of cat fabric includes two 1 yard pieces and less than half a dozen FQs of cat fabric. (So don’t send me anymore for my birthday!  Send airplane fabric instead :) )

I, of course, am trying not to go out and buy new fabric in the hopes that inspiration will hit again. I think until I find a block or vintage quilt that inspires me, I will simply go back to Borderpalooza.  I think there are 2 or 3 more than can be finished this year.

Pittsburgh Album

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EL-shipI have been plugging away at the last drunkards path/fairy frost quilt.  It’s kind of been putting me to sleep, so I haven’t been posting.

Another reason I haven’t been posting is that I went to visit my Mom and snuck into her studio to photograph her in-progress (has been for quite a few years) Baltimore Album-style quilt she calls Pittsburgh Album.

I believe she expects it to be 25 blocks in all, but she keeps making them and then saying others are not good enough.  Sound familiar?  I guess that’s where I get it from! Anyway, here’s some blocks from Mom’s Pittsburgh Album: EL-amish El-corn El-vase1 EL-vase2 EL-wreathAnd here’s something I did that was nestled in Mom’s blocks: AL-bwstrip   I hear some people’s moms save their kindergarten refrigerator art… oh gosh, do you think she saved that, too??!

Inspiration From Vintage Quilts

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Many dealers at Brimfield have quilts even though they don't specialize in them.

Many dealers at Brimfield have quilts even though not all who feature them specialize in them.

I try to post on Thursday, which is also when I go to use the long-arm. This past Thursday, however, I was cleaning and prepping for the visit from a friend, and so I didn’t get to this blog.

It was the last Brimfield of the year and this time we went on Friday when more dealers were open. Saturday is good, but some of the dealers pack up earlier because they are traveling on Sunday.

Anyway, I had nothing I was really looking for, so I settled for looking at quilts. (I also have to warn you that I forgot my camera, so these were taken with my “stupid phone” which you really can’t see in the sunshine.)

One of the things I really love about antique quilts is that even when they’re imperfect and downright wacky, they seem to represent that “real” human women were making them.

The piecing is great on this one.  The quilting... not so much.

The piecing is great on this one. The quilting… not so much, but the quilter obviously did as good a job as she could and the resulting top looks terrific!

The quilts that generally show up at Brimfield are not the stellar, “hang-in-the-museum” types, but more like the kind that I do which makes a great counter-weight to going to Quilt Shows.

“Ah, yes, these quilts were made to be used.”

Unfortunately, quite a few of them are used as packing, which seems a bit sad, but at least they’re not just sitting around. (She glances around her room at her stacks of quilts on the trunk at the base of her bed… on the closet shelves… in a pile on the drafting chair waiting for their binding…)

BrimStarTopSpeaking of making quilts…

Since I didn’t get to use the long-arm last week, it means that I still have to choose a project to work on for the next couple of weeks.

Coming back from Brimfield, I thought Brimfield Star, but I don’t think I have a backing I like with it, and I’m not even sure what kind of thread to use. I might have even decided all that, but if so, I forgot.

I really should write these things down… oh wait, I probably did.  I just lost the list.

The second of the Drunkard's Path quilts.

The second of the Drunkard’s Path quilts.

As for piecing, I am still working on Debbie’s Drunkard’s Path projects.  I’ve just finished the second (which I am considering calling Dragonfly Path: The Fairy Frost Strikes Back!)

So, that’s what I’ll be up to this week.  I may post again on Thursday, or I may make a move to Mondays… who knows?

Why I Am Grateful For Modern Quilting

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I've been sewing so much that another spool has "bitten the dust."

I’ve been sewing so much that another spool has “bitten the dust.”

I have been quilting for more than 25 years, so I can’t really claim to be a “Modern Quilter” and wouldn’t ever describe myself that way.  I am a quilter. Period.

But, for some reason, the term “Modern Quilting” doesn’t annoy me the way it does many of my contemporaries (i.e. quilters who have been quilting a while).  I see it mostly as a marketing thing, but anything that brings more voices in my art, and more fabric to my stash, I see as a good thing.

So, for my quilting buds, I am listing reasons why I am grateful that Modern Quilting has come along.

An orphan block from  Grandmother's Choice might be the inspiration for a quilt of its own.

An orphan block from Grandmother’s Choice might be the inspiration for a quilt of its own.

1. Gray.  I love grays because they sink back and are a team player.  It was getting really hard to find nice grays (and solids, too, for that matter) before “Modern Quilting” took off.

Like the Japanese quilters popularizing taupe (another color “discovery” I love), I will always be grateful for the new fabric designers for bringing back nice grays.

2. Online resources. The rotary cutter really revolutionized quilting. I remember it (mostly because I used templates to cut out the pieces for my first quilt… templates, and scissors, and (oh horrors!) a Sharpie!) It’s a wonder I wasn’t burned at the stake back then.

Since quilting has become popular again, there are dozens of podcasts, thousands of blogs, and millions of tutorials, both video and written. There are books, and rulers, and templates, and stencils, and patterns directed at all interests and skill levels. There are more ways than ever to connect to like-minded quilters all around the globe, and that’s just wonderful in my book.

Crossed Purposes is hot off the long arm!

Crossed Purposes is hot off the long arm!

3. The death of the Quilt Police. Oh, they’re still out there, but they are easier to ignore than ever by attributing your quilting style to something they are less familiar with.

You clipped your points or your corners don’t match: you are exploring “freeform piecing.” You like lots of white space, or you adore the new fabrics? You’re “modern.” You like using billions of scraps? You’re a “scrap quilter.” You’re exploring elements of design using fabrics and other stuff? You’re an “art quilter.” There are now more ways than ever to shut those pesky quilt police down.

Another possibility for the leftovers from the (many) Drunkard's Path quilts I've been playing with.

Another possibility for the leftovers from the (many) Drunkard’s Path quilts I’ve been playing with.

4. Experimentation and whimsy. I admire people who can take existing patterns and make them new and fun.  In fact, that’s what I try to do when I quilt: start with a parameter and see where I can take it.  Solve a “problem.” Probe deeper into a concept.

The Drunkard’s Path Blocks are my current “research” and I’m really enjoying myself.  Isn’t that the point of an avocation or hobby?  If I sewed as much for my business as I do for fun, it would be drudgery. I wouldn’t look forward to my time with my fabric. But because I can’t wait to see what happens when I put all those blocks on my design wall, it’s exciting and fun.

Edison had the right of it: the best part of quilting is enjoying the quilts you've made.

Edison had the right of it: the best part of quilting is enjoying the quilts you’ve made.

5. Making useful stuff is “in” again. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in thinking about what others see when they see our quilts that it seems like we’re constantly preparing for a Quilt Show. One of the things that the Modern Quilt Guild claims makes a “modern quilt” is that it is a utility quilt.  I find this really funny because that’s what I’ve been doing for 25+ years, but if they want to make it “cool,” then I’m “down” with that.

So if someone describes themselves as a “Modern Quilter.” Don’t regard it as if as if they are looking down their nose at you. Don’t pooh-pooh them as if they are merely following a trend (they may be, but didn’t we all when we started out? And some of us still do because we prefer that specific style.)  Think of it as if they are proudly proclaiming themselves “art quilters” or “traditional quilters” or “hand quilters” or “slow quilters” or whatever.  Concentrate our commonalities. They are easy to see. It’s in that second word: Quilters.

Playing Games

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Drunkard's Path #1, which I have dubbed (after the iridescent Dragonfly fabric): Dragonfly Path.

Drunkard’s Path #1, which I have dubbed (after the iridescent Dragonfly fabric): Dragonfly Path.

As I think I mentioned in my last post, I received some Drunkard Path blocks (and the makings for many more) from my friend, Debbie, who doesn’t piece anymore. My quest is to put these together in a cool and fun way and give the top back to her.

Perfect for me, ’cause I LOVE making tops… but the quilting/finishing part is not as compelling for me.

I finished the first top earlier in the week. With the flash (indoors) the dragonfly fabric is much more prominent that in “real life.”

Part of what makes this project fun for me is that I get to play with Drunkard’s Path layouts.  I had already done that with Fan Dance, and you may notice a similarily between the four sections of Dragonfly Path and the quarters of Fan Dance.

Another Drunkard's Path layout using the black background as sort of "pinwheels."  Can you see it?

Another Drunkard’s Path layout using the black background as sort of “pinwheels.” Can you see it?

Now, of course, I have about 400 more blocks using black and the dragonfly fabric as the background with 25 different Fairy Frost quarter circles. I want to make these as different from Dragonfly Path as I can.

I’m playing with layouts of blocks in groups of four.

The thing I thought of was to view the Drunkard’s Path blocks as a sort of half-square triangle and try out layouts using that idea.

If you look at the first layout, the first four blocks in the corner I tried to make look like a pinwheel, but skipping over the first two on the left side, you can see the next four from a “Broken Dishes” block.

This version looks a bit more "Modern" to me but I can't really tell why.

This version looks a bit more “Modern” to me, but I can’t really tell why.

So, I decided that I needed two different 4-block units, and I came up with a layout I call “all in/all out.” I’m sure there’s an official name for it somewhere, but I’m too lazy to look it up.

I rather like this because it means there can be some motif quilting in the center areas with a contrasting thread.

I have to say, though, that I never really gave a thought to the quilting of quilts while piecing until I started trying to finish up my tops this year.

Adding that dimension has changed how I view my tops.

When thinking about how I approach quilting, I used to think about it the same way I would approach putting together jigsaw puzzles with my Dad. They usually don’t just “go together” at random, but there’s a “right way.”

pincushion

Well, in quilting, there really isn’t a “right way” and that’s what makes quilting a game for me.  I get to decide what’s “right.” The colors you pick for your quilts are a piece of the puzzle. Then you cut the actual pieces and put them into a block.  You can view the blocks as pieces to assemble into a top. You can add quilting motifs as another piece of the puzzle.

But the best thing is that you have control and you know when it’s “right.”

(p.s. You may eventually see Dragonfly Path in the shop of the New England Quilting Museum in Lowell, MA, since my friend, Debbie works in the shop.)

Should-a, Would-a, Could-a

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Playing with Drunkard's Path blocks from my friend, Debbie, I have put about a third of them into this new top which I'm calling Dragonfly Path.

Playing with Drunkard’s Path blocks from my friend, Debbie, I have put about a third of them into this new top which I’m calling Dragonfly Path.

Last week I finished the quilting on Aiming for Accuracy.  I am happy that it’s done, but I wish I had picked a different  quilting motif.

I like the loopy ribbony part, but the lotus blossom seems a bit dense for the rest of the quilting. So, since I’m not enthusiastic about the way it turned out, I have been dragging my heels a bit.

The reason you don’t see a photo of it here is that, even though I sewed the binding on, I still have to fold it over and hand stitch it. This is a problem for me in the Summer when I don’t watch much TV.

I couldn’t think of what to do next, so I’m taking the week off, but I think the next one on the long arm will be Crossed Purposes.

I have a back that I like that’s big enough (although it needs a seam across the middle), but I can’t think of what to do in terms of quilting.

Miko watches intently as our porch gets really close to flooding our apartment.

Miko watches intently as our porch gets really close to flooding our apartment.

Just  edge-to-edge panto will do the trick since there’s so much going on with the piecing, but should I  something different on the border (which is what I would do if I were handquilting it)?

I could just follow the lines of the piecing, but that will take more time than just “panto-ing away.”

Decisions, decisions…

Am I overthinking this again?  After all, this is the quilt top made from blocks that I had to wash because of Edison, so the reds bled and made the blocks look different from the way I planned (and the edges frayed so I had to cut down the sashing.)

I have made decisions about the Drunkard Path blocks I got from my friend Debbie who said “sew these all together into a top… and here’s some scraps.” Well, there were about 5 billion of these DP blocks, so I decided that the batik didn’t play well with the others, and I split them off.  The result is on my design wall and has been dubbed Dragonfly Path because one of the back background fabrics is printed with iridescent dragonflies.

No clue as to what I’ll do with the other 200 or so blocks.

Well, anyway, I don’t have to choose anything else today since I’m going to the Farmer’s market in a bit and I still have to hack away at The Echoes.

Hope you all have a creative week!


I posted the following to Facebook, but it’s been on my mind for the past few days, so I thought I’d share it here as well:

I wasn’t going to say anything about Robin Williams because my first thought was “one of us lost.” Most of you who know me, know that I have been diagnosed with Depression (or, what I call “cap D Depression to difference it from the emotion.) I’ve been working on it with (with various rates of success) for years.

For me, it’s not about feeling sad. It’s about feeling numb and without energy or motivation. I’ve never felt like committing suicide because that’d be way too much work, but some days, even getting up to make coffee is a major effort.

While we don’t really know how or why Robin Williams died, I feel great wonder at what he was able to accomplish given what he had to fight against and a certain amount of kinship with him because of his struggle with Depression.

In many ways, my quilting is one way I cope with my Depression. Somehow, I am always able to push myself out of a stupor to play with color and texture, to sew “just a few” pieces of fabric together.  It’s been a lifeline for me for decades and is about far more than just “making blankets.”

…Though, of course, since I live in New England, “blankets” are always useful in the winter…

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?

BP_LFDM

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!

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