Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Whole Lotta Inspiration

Gwen Marston has been a huge inspiration to me ever since I stumbled upon her {and Freddy Moran's} 'Collaborative Quilting' book back in 2006. Without having ever heard of her, I bought the {rather expensive} book on a whim after simply flipping through it at a quilt store! Since then, I have bought several of her books and read them all completely through. Several times. What an incredible quilter!
Color Study Quilt by Gwen Marston
So when Sharon, over at Grass Roots Quilt Studio, mentioned a Gwen Marston exhibit here in Washington State, I was beyond excited. Surely I could fit in a visit sometime in the two month window! And yay! just this past weekend, I convinced my husband to take a slight detour previous to a family obligation near the area. LaConner Quilt & Textile Museum was only about an hour out of the way {but added up to several hours total by the end} and was totally worth the visit! At least to me. My husband sat out in the car and caught up on a couple phone calls. What a sweetheart.
Quilt by Gwen Marston
So many have taken Gwen Marston classes {or sat through a lecture} and raved about the experience on their blogs. Not having that opportunity has made me sad, but I have to say, looking at Gwens quilts in person was very moving. The sheer personality and life in her quilts is quite incredible, especially when you consider the subtle ways she uses simple form and color. It's brilliant really.
Quilt by Gwen Marston
There were two other exhibits in the museum at the same time, Sharon Tucker on the first floor, and Charlotte Bird and Ree Nancarrow on the top floor. All really, beautiful work that I'm so glad to have the opportunity to have seen. Sharon's tiny little piecing and wonderful use of color, Charlotte and Ree's fabulous stitching and thought provoking works--all wonderful stuff! But honestly, Gwen's quilts are what made my heart melt. Sorry guys. She's my hero when it comes to quiltmaking!
Quilt by Gwen Marston
I stared and stared at the stitching and considered how much texture it gives to her quilts. Roamed around the museum and then came back for another look. Pondered the many hours of work involved and was charmed by the human element in the piecing and stitching. Marveled over the fact that these simple quilts could be so intensely compelling to me and wondered if I, personally, could ever learn to incorporate elements of real connection through my own quilting efforts! Any sort of comparison kinda makes me feel like the dunce in the corner, if you know what I mean.
Quilt by Gwen Marston

The cheapest quilt was $4000 so I only bought three of them. haha  Just kidding. But I did buy her latest book which had all the exhibit quilts included. Figured I could splurge on a souvenir of such a great day.
Quilt by Gwen Marston
So jealous of all you quilters who have access these kinds of great quilt showings on a regular basis! Thank you to the many who share online though, as it gives us rural quilters an opportunity to get the occasional glimpse of a larger quilt world....

*The gal at the museum said it was perfectly alright to upload photos of these quilts on my blog provided I give credit to the maker. It didn't seem right to post a pic of every quilt though so you'll have to visit the exhibit to see them all.*wink

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A New Day, A New Score

Got the initial top put together for the Improv. Pinwheels, which, incidentally, seemed to have turned into wheels. Now it's getting an opportunity to simmer while I decide what the border will look like. Not quite ready to stop with this one as it doesn't feel finished yet.
Improv. Pinwheels
Also, yesterday saw me diving into another Improv. project. And right after I was so determined to get three other on-going projects up to a quilt top stage first!*sigh  It was one of those days. Put a kaleidoscope to your eyes, turn just a tiny bit and wallah, your whole viewpoint is changed. Yesterday was one of those humdinger of a days where 'what I thought' wasn't quite my reality any longer. Oh the joys of belonging to a large, fairly close-knit family. Things happen because well, there's a bunch of us.
Score #4--Patchwork Doodle
Which doesn't mean we have any control over any of it, except perhaps for our reaction. So to settle my jittery, out-of-sync self, I impulsively decided to turn to improv. work. After first buying Sherri Lynn Wood's 'The Improv. Handbook', the intent was to slowly work myself through all of her scores, one by one. Thus far I have only attempted two of Score #1 'floating squares' and numerous tries with Score #2 'strings'. The strings of course have been my favorite and where I have gladly stalled out for several months. A place I'm sure to return to because of how immensely satisfying they are to work with.

Anyhoo! About yesterday. Opening the book, I flipped past Score #3 'round robin' {don't have quilting partners to work thru that at the moment} and ventured straight into Score #4 'patchwork doodle', a score I've had serious doubts about the validity of. What's the point of playing with lots of different units in the same quilt. Chaos? The title to that particular chapter is 'Letting Go of Expectation' which yeah, completely appealed to my current frame of mind.
The strangely intriguing vintage fabric....
I took a second to think and then grabbed a stack of odd fabrics sitting on the back of the counter.  A smallish chunk of vintage, picnic style fabric {bought at a quilt show a couple years ago} had been luring random bits and pieces over there for months now. Strange color combination to be sure, but I've been kinda intrigued with the novelty of it. Why not play instead of carefully plan out? See where it might lead?

The neutral fabric being used here is a really light green fabric that doesn't want to photograph very well, but I think it will do the job as negative space. As uninspired as the initial results were, I didn't really care. Honestly. I just needed to cut and sew. No rulers, no plan beyond one unit at a time--no precision or serious forethought. Two improv. rows at a time {one repeated unit at a time} and eventually I reached a point where a subtle adjustment on the design board gave me something to be interested in. Instead of placing the rows together in sets, right now the intent is to move outward from the middle, mirroring unit rows top and bottom. It's starting to, well...., turn into a plan of sorts? Ha! Only up to and as far as sewing the next set of units! The one thing we quickly learn about improv. is that the outcome is very fluid. And that's okay.

Being in a mood really helped bring about instinctive decision making, something I've noticed {after the fact} two other times in my quilting life. When I don't actually care, it becomes a gut reaction, something a bit more primal. The thing is, if I were really awake on all fronts, I would have quit after the first unit results and probably tossed it all in the trash, emptied all the fabric pieces back into the proper totes, {what was I thinking!!} and promptly turned to another, much prettier project. Being on auto-pilot definitely got me over the hump of feeling queasy about design decisions and yes, firmly up to the point of considered thought and contemplation. Hmmm.... What do we have here?

I'm so glad to have fabric as a calming effect, working it's magic and smoothing out the rougher edges of life. Gotta say, in hindsight, yesterday is nothing that's going to change the course of my life or my love for anybody--one way or the other.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The 2017 Quilty 365

Just a quick post to make an announcement! As we've come to the end of the first year of Quilty 365, I've been wondering about the few 'circlers' who started in later than the rest of us. It made me a little sad to leave them out in the cold and asked if anyone would like to take over the monthly link-up parties.
A whole year of circles...
Yay! for Leanne over at Daisy and Jack Handmade! As of today, she has it all set up with a brand new blog button and everything! After checking out her blog and communicating with her for a couple days, I knew she would be perfect. I mean, look at how cool her blog button is compared to mine?

And I know there are a few people who got behind on their circles {but want to rededicate themselves to finishing}, some who started in much later in the year, and even the ones who weren't quite ready to dive in last year. Now's your chance to have some monthly encouragement for 2017 too! Please go check out Leanne and her new Quilty 365 post. Her first monthly link-up will be on February 1st. Got a feeling she's going to be a wonderful host!

p.s. Don't forget to come back here on May 1st for a finished quilt/quilt-top linky party for those who are further along in the project!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Moving Things Forward

I am always uncertain about committing to any QAL involving finish-it-up goals. Frankly, it sort of panics me, which sounds very odd as I actually do finish things occasionally! But... Meredithe is a great friend and her '17 in 2017' sounds very no pressure. Thanks to Kyle I had access to a nifty little pdf and so now, after much pondering, here is the list.
17 in 2017 QAL
After perusing the other links, I noticed everyone has their own way of listing the projects.  Mine is simple: #1-11 are quilt projects still currently ongoing. The only really dusty one is 'Shattered', and I totally credit Meredithe for helping me dig that one out. #12-17 are completed quilt tops that hopefully will become a full fledged quilt sometime this year. Along with others of course, but I can't know exactly which quilt tops I'm in the mood to get started quilting. This leaves me lots of wiggle room!
Vintage Coxcombs
In the meantime, I've been trying to be very disciplined about not starting a new quilt project just yet. Tho I am itching, itching, itching to do just that! My tentative plan is to get three of my eleven ongoing projects to the completed quilt top stage before allowing my greedy self to jump into something new and shiny. Lots of applique work here, so I need to get cracking!

The quilt above, 'Vintage Coxcombs' includes 20 blocks. {Because I am insane and don't know when to stop.} Most of the background blocks are sewn together in similar, but different looking fabrics, pieced together as the leftover bits dictate. Since I mostly buy fatquarters, getting 20 similar background blocks can be complicated at times, but I love the look of this way versus made up of all of one fabric.

After I complete appliqueing the coxcombs to the oval shape {done!}, then next up is the possible star background. I'm going to do a test block to see if the triangles are large enough and proportions work out properly. This is the part I hate--thinking the triangles look perfect as is which would means re-cutting and adding the seam allowance once again. And yes, I've already cut out ALL of the triangles for 20 blocks.*sigh Thus the test block. I've been fooled once before.
Chunky Crossroads
Don't judge me by my crinkly looking applique, It's all coming along rather nicely! Two borders out of four down with two to go on the Chunky Crossroads improv. quilt. I ended up adding the fat looking flower buds as it just looked too barren without. I'm still a little {okay, a lot} waffle-y about whether the quilt sincerely needs the applique borders or I'm just indulging myself. Ahh... Self doubt. Always there to rain on our parade.... Too, I get kind of jumpy after sewing the same exact thing for hours on end and usually make myself a bargain or two just to keep going. It helps to have perspective and not let sheer tedium come up with our answers!

After completely two borders, then I gave myself permission to go straight to work on the 'Gather Ye Rosebuds' quilt which includes the  Big Tumbler Basket and a whole bunch of smaller baskets. It's going to be an asymmetrical quilt with a vine running down the left side and across the bottom before connecting with the text block on the right side. I'm trying to do as much applique as possible before joining it to the larger basket and thus making a big 'ol awkward mess to do my stitching on. Lots of work to do here, but then I'll probably jump back to the Vintage Coxcombs test block before yes, you guessed it! finally diving back into the Chunky Crossroads borders once again. I really do like to mix things up and having smaller goals helps keep me on track for feel-good finishes along the way. Hey, whatever works!
Gather Ye Rosebuds
And of course, there's always a quilt in the hoop around here. The middle portion of this quilt is finally done and next I'm going to be starting in on the outside two borders. Last night I marked off a simple grid pattern and with stitching one or two frames an evening, this could be done by the end of January!
Geese Tracks & Black Shadow Applique
I put this particular quilt off for a long time as I just wasn't 'feeling' it. And honestly, it took getting the entire geese-tracks/applique section getting stitched and finally working of the basket quilting before I finally settled in and started loving it again. So funny. I've always appreciated this quilt, enjoyed working on it so much and then when it's time, I can't feel the love while starting to quilt it.

But that's the way quilting works with me. I often have to reconnect. Just the steady stitch, stitch, stitch, hearing the needle slide in and out, staring down at the quilt, remembering the whys and wherefores. It all works to remind me of what's so great about quilting. This quilt? I'm the one making it, but it has a few fabrics from my grandma who was a quilter too. Just another in a long line of 'makers' allowing the work of quilting to quiet and soothe our {often} worried and troubled minds. I can tell--this quilt's gonna be a keeper...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 Finishes

2016 Finishes
 And a few more....
2016 Finishes
Always so interesting to have a year end wrap up post! To my surprise, I finished more quilts in 2016 than ever before in a single year {15 in all!}. That's absolutely because of the machine quilting I made myself do. Nothing fancy that's for sure, but it sure speeds things along. Here's a look at the quilt statistics which are always of interest to me:

  • 1 wall hanging
  • 2 comfort quilts
  • 1 baby quilt
  • 6 lap-size quilts
  • 5 bed-size quilts
  • 1 professionally machine quilted with little bit of hand quilting by me
  • 5 machine quilted by me, organic straight lines or cross hatching
  • 6 completely hand quilted
  • 3 with combination of machine quilting {mostly stitch-in-the-ditch} and hand quilting
  • 11 quilts {old & new} given away this year
Perle Cotton {#8 and #12} seemed to be my hand quilting thread choice this year. No traditional hand quilting whatsoever in 2016! I use Valdani every chance I get, especially the variegated threads as I love them so very much, but I also used Presencia and DMC if that's what was available in the appropriate colors. Hand quilting is not going away any time soon with me as it is so very relaxing to have a quilt in the hoop. Plus, I adore the look of a hand quilted quilt. It's extra time and effort but so worth it if you love the look. All the machine quilting done around here is with Aurifil #50 weight thread. It works so well, I won't even try anything else!

At the end of the year I still had 25 completed quilt tops that need to be sandwiched and quilted. Yeah. Sounds like a lot, but I think it's 3 less than last year! Incremental progress to be sure, but I don't think it's possible to quit making {for me} and just concentrate on the finish-it-up stuff. If I can't be making, then I really don't think the interest will be there to finish much of anything. A lovely little catch-22 is what it is! So that's that.

I'm curious about 2017, but mostly I'm just thankful to be able to make quilts that speak to my heart. Ones that I'm not embarrassed to be giving away or see laying across a guest bed. Quilts that challenge me as I'm putting them together, whether in color, layout or technique. Sometimes I just want to pinch myself at how far my quilt-making has progressed! Oh and one other interesting statistic: 2 of these quilts were made from a pattern {with a little bit of applique added by me to make it more interesting} and 3 others were started or at least partially made from a pattern. The rest was just having fun with the creative process!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The {2nd} January Quilty 365 Linkup

Okay, here we go! Hopefully most all of you will have completed a full years worth of quilty circles! I've had some people question why this project was named 'Quilty 365' when 2016 was a leap year, but it's a synonym of sorts. When I say 'My Quilty 365', I'm actually saying 'My Quilty Year'!
My Quilty 365
And here it is now in four pieces. Well, five pieces if you count the centerpiece. Of which I'm still playing with! At first, upon completion of the circles, I was gung-ho about having a black centerpiece. Thought that would make the circles 'pop'. Then immediately after laying all the circles out on the floor for a look-see, I changed my mind. Uggh! It needed to be very light. Not white, but maybe a white cream? And when I found the subtle black stripey piece I was sold. Yes! Don't you love it when the perfect piece of fabric is hiding out in our very own stash!
Playing with the centerpiece
This project has been interesting, deeply satisfying, tedious, boring, frustrating, worrisome and now it's turned back around to interesting and yes, even exciting. I'll confess to loving how the centerpiece is taking shape here. I had vague ideas of words in the middle {mostly because I didn't want more than 366 total circles in the quilt}, but never envisioned such a bold look. But it feels right. Whew! We just never know do we?

At times I definitely wondered about the end result of this particular project--all the mishmash of color and odd scrappy bits. So hard to see what's really going on when it's a one-block-a-day sort of project, but you know how it is. Quilts blocks usually end up having a mind of their own. I couldn't believe all the different layout ideas I considering in the course of making these little circles. And then to end up with something so very basic as this! It totally makes me smile. Such a perfect layout for such a crazy, crazy year, having the optimism shining from the inside out to the darker edges of the quilt. I'm often amazed at how happy my quilts often look when life seems to be such a struggle at times. I've tried really hard to find joy in the little things, remember our blessings and not get bogged down in the things I have no control over. The quilt is very personal to me and I'm pleased to have gotten to this particular stage of making.
An idea coming together...
And another BIG THANK YOU! to everyone who stitched along with me. I am so thrilled and happy with all the different Quilty 365 versions. So fascinating having us all start off with the same, simple idea and ending up with something very unique and personal. It feels like a victory, my oh-so-creative friends!

This January linkup is the last monthly linkup I'm doing until May 1st where I will be doing a final linkup to wrap it all up. My Quilty 365 won't be totally sandwiched and quilted by then, but the top will be completely done and I invite you to join me in showing off your completed quilt top and/or finish too. There will also be a giveaway for all those who have participated along the way. 

As there is still a bit of interest in this project being ongoing, I would also urge anyone who is interested, to take over future monthly Quilty 365 linkups. Just a thought. It could be definitely be tailored to match up with how you envision it moving forward! Please email me if this is something to be considered. Otherwise, we'll just let it be and anyone currently doing the Quilty 365 can stitch along on their own. Nothing wrong with that! Happy, Happy New Year! Hope to see you at the May 1st linkup!

If you're still working on this project, please feel free to link a thumbnail picture to a current post on your blog detailing:
  • What particular day you happen to be at now {such as 'day 366'}
  • A picture of all your December circles whether they are stitched to the background fabric or not. Possibly a picture of your current quilt top progress?
  • A link back to this post
  • Any thoughts or introspection you might want to add about this particular project


    An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My AHIQ Make-Fabric Geese

So this 28'x 28' scrappy piece has resurfaced after about a two year nap. I've almost tossed it a time or two and then reconsidered. Nah... There's just something about it that makes me wonder.
Make-Fabric Centerpiece
Wonder if it could be the start to something a lot more interesting. The entire thing is made up of 4" make-fabric {or crumb} blocks straight from the scrap bin. I like that. In the past month I pulled it out where it could be seen and have been letting it sort of simmer in my mind. And that's how I came to the idea of making a whole bunch of make-fabric flying geese {yep, I'm the crazy lady}. Creating wide rows of them in different colors. Possibly have them going in different directions vertically for lots of energy. I'm still contemplating, but need something I can put my hands on for auditioning purposes!
Adding potential flying geese rows
For now I'm working with the red scraps, but next up will be blue, brown/black and then probably some spots of orange too. I'm just sewing bits and pieces together, ironing the tar out of them and then using a template to cut my triangles. To make the rows as neat as possible, I won't be making the end pieces of the geese out of scraps. Very tempting, but I think the rows will look better if there's a straight of the grain somewhere in sight!
Make-fabric flying geese units
So here's my start, about 1/10th of what my math tells me is needed. And I really enjoy sewing bits of the scraps together and watching that new piece of fabric emerge. Then when it all comes together, there's the surprise of how it fits together as a whole. Very unpredictable, ofttimes a bit challenging, but still, so interesting! Will it work? Can it work? All we can do is try or there's really no way to know.

These are the scraps from good things, projects of the past. It becomes glaringly obvious to me when I work this way that working from the scrap bin feels a bit more freeing. I have zero anxiety about the outcome because, hello! I'm not about to {potentially} waste any 'good' fabric.*sigh  Which could definitely be a crutch that stops me from making good things from the stash. Got to watch that! In the meantime, it's fun to charge off in pursuit of yet another AHIQ idea! Linking up with Kaja and Ann for their great monthly linkup....
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