“Do The Work” Almost Finished

All that is left to do is a little more embroidery on the big block and to attach a hanging sleeve. And maybe get a photo in better light. We’ll see if the sun cooperates tomorrow. But I couldn’t wait. 🙂 (Premature celebration.)

The dark colors are much darker than the flash allowed them to be. I tried a photo without flash, but it was as much too dark as this is too light. I used a walking foot to do the grid quilting. There are three curves rows of big stitch–a red on each side of the peach.. I’d wanted the red to be subtle, but I did want it to show more than it does. Here is a detailed views that shows one side a bit better.

History of the quilt starts here

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When One Door Closes: from sketch to fabric

This quilt has been incubating for a long time, partly because the 2020 show was canceled and partly because I couldn’t settle on a design. The show theme was “When One Door Closes” (after our 2020 show quilts went in waiting for their show). I’d started sketching over a year ago (here). Off and on I’d tried others.

I’d liked the new idea of the diminishing sizes to show the door closing, but was still unhappy with the larger clump of light to show a new opening. I’d also gotten the book from the library on fabric manipulation and pondered possibilities for the light fabric. But when I got the vintage kimono fabric out I decided that texturing would obscure the design, so I shifted away from that idea. Working with various textures of fabric was a good enough new technique for a show that asked us always to try a new technique. Here’s a look at the fabric.

I’d waffled between two ideas for the background. First, inspired by Rothko Chapel, I’d thought of all black or brown with only the textures changing. I wasn’t able to find enough varied same-color-different-texture fabrics to pull that off, so shifted to thinking of a progression from dark to light as the “window” got bigger. I finally decided that the decision would be made after I cut fabric–I’d just rearrange squares till I was happy. I pretty much abandoned the progression for well balanced as I rearranged.

My thinking on the theme evolved too. I’d been thinking along “Another Door/Window Opens,” then shifted to “Dreaming of an Open Window” because another window doesn’t always open. then the ah-ha moment. The title became “Do the Work” as I remembered a response I’d frequently gotten when making excuses for not doing more. And my statement will be something like this: When one door closes, do the work so as to be ready when another opens or maybe even so as to create the door to be opened.

And so the top is now finished.

24 x 36

The greens don’t stand out so much in real life, and of course the textures’ varieties show more. I abandoned controlling some of the shine as the exact angle made so much difference, and in a show the direction of light source will change it too. I figured if they showed up “too” light, they were just windows thought to be opening that didn’t. (I can rationalize most anything.)

I decided to use big stitch quilting/embroidery to signify doing the work and did a tiny test piece to see whether the white batting would bleed through and if I would be able to hide a knot in the tightly woven coat lining I was using for backing.

Luckily it didn’t bleed and the knot could be pulled in. So it would be big stitch quilting not embroidery. The next question is, of course, whether the big stitch will convey the idea of doing the work to anyone but me.

I have until about the 20th of January to finish.

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From One Rabbit Hole to Another

It’s been a bookish time.

The books in front are books I own. They get neglected because they don’t have due dates. You can’t quite see the two stacks of library books behind them. Some due dates don’t matter because the library automatically renews them ten times; others do when other patrons put a hold on the books. Not a bad set up.

The rabbit hole started with an interview that led to a book about four women spies during the civil war (Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy), which led to a book about women who dressed as men to fight in the civil war (They Fought Like Demons), which led to a memoir of one of them, Francis Thompson. Then an interview with Elizabeth Becker, author of You Don’t Belong Here (about three women who broke the barrier for women war reporting during the Vietnam war) fit nicely into the women-in-war theme and started a new rabbit hole.

Each of the three women Becker had written about had a book to her credit, and my library has all but one. (Inter-library loan is still not functioning; hasn’t been restarted since other Covid cancellations. Sigh.) Plus Becker has a brief section in her book about her own time reporting in Cambodia, and she has written another book, When the War Was Over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution. So far I’ve read (and viewed) two. First, photographer Catherine Leroy’s collection of Vietnam war photos wherein she selected from many photographers, not just her own, and submitted the photos to writers for comment. Some comments reflected on the photo itself, others on the writers’ experiences. And because I never did understand the Cambodia/Vietnam connection, I chose Becker’s book next. As she unpacks the gruesome complexity, I see why I didn’t understand it in the day.

Then there are the unrelated rabbit holes. My young grandson was into the Percy Jackson variations on Greek and Roman mythology, so I thought I’d read a couple so as to be more conversant with him. I got hooked enough to read 8. Then Susan of DesertSky blog introduced me to Kate O’Hearn’s Pegasus series, also related to the Olympians. They are quite a different tone and seem more independent of the myths which mostly form a backdrop. And in between various mysteries that I’d been waiting for forever (sometimes being #350 on the wait list) would become available at random times. Ya gotta have some light reading!

I love being retired. My time is mostly my own. One of my friends passed on her mother’s advice: don’t make too many commitments too fast. I didn’t.

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Fourth–and last–Border

The official name of this project is “Make it up as you go.” I mention that because I may have to remember it later.:-)

I left off after the third border (here), got two sides of the fourth finished last month,

and got my act together to finish the last two today. I find it interesting that I considered the third border fiddly but not this one with all its little pieces. All I can figure is it’s the difference between working with triangles and squares. I may have liked it better before the forth border. But I have felt that way after other borders were half finished, so it may be a pattern. Here is the full fourth.

I do like it a little better finished, but I’m not thrilled. My original thought had been 1) I wanted a small amount of red, not the big pieces of borders 2 and 3 and 2) the zigzag pattern would relate to the big while the small squares would relate to the center. Well sort of. The zigzag doesn’t look as big in the real as it did ] in my head. I wonder if that is partly because of the widely varied shades of the red scraps? They look bigger when I squint at it. This was one of the two suggested borders in the guild project. In fact I had pictured something like it but not done the math yet, so it was nice to have the math done for me.

The reds are from scraps. As I recall,when I originally made the center HSTs I realized that when you cut batiks up they no longer look like wonderful combinations, but like different fabrics! Since they were varied in the center, I thought to vary them along with other reds at the edge. Most likely I’ll add a narrow strip of the cream background to float the fourth border and bind it in the navy. My overall feeling is that this quilt remains separate parts instead of becoming a unified whole. I suppose that is mostly because of the separate colors of the middle two rows and the matching narrow strips. Any other thoughts as to why?

For my serious scrappy work, I made another hat. Someday that unending supply of yarn ends will be gone. Sigh.

If you like to see what others are doing with scraps, check out Kate’s blog (here) for a list of people who often work with scraps and post near the 15th of the month.

My other accomplishment for the month (plus reading a lot of books) was finally hanging a wall hanging.

Back when I made the quilt and took its picture on the sofa under the watercolor, I noticed they went together. Till then I’d not hung any quilts because they just didn’t go with the other art I’d purchased over the years at a local art festival. So I was happy to have one that worked. I dawdled over making hanging stuff and finally asked my daughter’s partner if he would. It was more work than I realized I was asking for, so I’ll have to think of something nice to do in return

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Another Border and Then Some

The third border has taken a long time. First it is more fiddly (four seams and a trim for each of 48 blocks) so I stalled. Then I decided to cut the pieces for border four before sewing border three because I’d run out of leaders/enders with these two blocks.

The four-patch blocks were mindless enough, but making a patterned block got too fiddly to do much more of it as leader/ender. Since border four was made up of 60 16-patch one-inch square blocks (well a little cheating as some are 1 x 2 inch rectangles), that seemed to have mindless potential. So cut I did. Then it was so hypnotic that instead of making one 2-patch, I made all 120. Next time I needed an ender I made 60 4-patch blocks. But have no fear, mindlessness remains.

But finally border three got finished. I’m feeling ambivalent about it.The dark navy border felt finished. I almost pondered stopping and making a lap quilt. But I wanted to play the guild game, so continued on.This border follows the suggestion exactly. The only change I made was to continue with 1-inch “resting” borders instead of 2-inch ones.

My thinking in planning the colors was navy in the middle to sort of echo the navy in the middle of one block in the center Turkey-in-the-Straw block. Maybe it will have that effect more after the fourth border is added. Stay tuned.

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Bear Paw and Border

Scrap Happy Day has rolled around again. While I used only 12 squares of red scraps on the border, I did finish a scrap block as a leader/ender. The block is ancient history. The brown fabric is left over from a housecoat I had made around 50 years ago, I guess that makes it vintage fabric? Twenty-five or so years ago, I had looked at the scraps I’d been gathering for a long time and decided it was time to begin to use them. It was long before I’d ever read a Bonnie Hunter post and maybe even before the internet. My concept of scrap control was to select fabrics and see what block I had enough fabric to make. Needless to say, that was less than efficient. In fact I made up only one kit. It traveled with me to many quilt guild retreats as a back up project just in case I finished everything else I had wanted to accomplish. I was out of leader/ender items, so decided to try making a block. (I don’t recommend it for leaders/enders–too much thinking required..)

Bear Paw: 7-inch and 14-inch

I have no idea what I will do with them. Maybe take them to the guild free table when we meet in person again and let someone else play. If you want to see some more scrap work, visit Kate’s blog (here) where she posts and lists links to folks who play with scraps.

On to the second border of the guild medallion quilt (first border here) The directions called for a 2-inch resting border, but because I’d modified the first border and had a row of one-inch squares, I felt the need for more one-inchness and made two one inch “resting” borders to maintain the measurements. Then (gasp!) ripped out the cornerstones and replaced them with red.

The left photo is the first try. After I added the cornerstones I realized that the effect I’d wanted required the two one-inch pieces to be sewn as one border and a four-patch used for a cornerstone. While pondering if I could live with what I had created, I got another idea. I’d been wondering how to keep bits of red as accent without overpowering–how about red cornerstones? Yep, I liked it.

I put off the next step for a while because I thought it was going to be difficult to attach the triangles in a straight row. Seems I’d tried it once before and ended up with a crooked mess. But with the help of a tri-rec ruler it was a breeze.

On the right is the way the ruler is meant to work. See the notch? It guides the placement so that the triangle with two “wings” makes a square block. Well, I was hoping to save a seam and just alternate triangles, and it worked.

So here is the second border.

42x 42 at this point

And I added the first half of the next “resting” border. I decided to keep the one-inch with red cornerstone thing going. I had decided to consider the offered instructions, and if I liked them, use them. This one is as directed (except without the seams in the yellow triangles). I’ll be following the directions for the next two as well. The third is square in a square which echoes the same in the center block. I’d been thinking about the fourth and thought I wanted one inch squares in it somewhere, and they offered a good idea.

I’m not sure I’ll use the idea of moving from small to large in a border again. It sorta looks like ‘I got tired and wanted to hurry and finish.’ We’ll see if drawing it back to one inch squares works to overcome that effect.

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First Border and a Hat

I’d sorta planned on having more than the first border before posting next; however, I got sidetracked with Paul Farmer’s Fevers, Feuds, and Diamonds: Ebola and the Ravages of History. In it he argues for long term efforts at creating a stable medical system over short term focus on containing an epidemic, the latter efforts ending when the epidemic is declared over.He argues for contextualizing understanding of an epidemic in terms of history and reviews West African history back to the slave trade. It was an introduction to W African history for me as well as social medicine. So, a good read, but it did my sewing time in.

So what I accomplished was the second half of the first border.

One thing that I like about medallion quilts is how each addition totally changes the feel ( Here, if you want to see before the blue). Also seeing the whole totally solved the design issue I was talking about last time–more about that when I get it sewn and show it. In the abstract, I would prefer two or more rows of either or both size squares; however, this gets me to the measurement I need at the end of the first border, so I’m stopping with the two. In spite of preferring more, the last time I did a medallion, I used this same combination of two–it fit just right there too. I am always interested in how color changes the look, so here is a comparison.

In case you want to see the pastel border in context of the top, a photo is here. The top has been pinned and ready to quilt for quite a while. Back when I thought I had a deadline I was going to meander since I didn’t have a better idea. I still don’t have a better idea, but who knows what time might bring, so I’ll let it age a bit more.

And the hat. This time I used up bits whereas before I’d had enough to try to work out design.

I have folded it as I would wish the design to fall; but when worn, I think the brim will be narrower. There was enough of the multi-colored yarn to make it longer, and I wish I had. Somehow what I measure on the needles is never the length a piece is when completed, nor is my estimate for what the length of the decrease rows the same as what I end up with. Maybe if I make enough of them and stop changing needle size . . .

So till next time . . .

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Somewhat Scrappy

I’ve been reading Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s the fourth and last in the series, Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I’d read and enjoyed the first two, then missed that 3 and 4 were translated. One problem with 800-page intense books is finding stopping places! But I managed to do a lot of mental quilting and a bit of stitching and scrap control.

Way back in October I had dug out an orphan block to use as center in a guild medallion project. ( https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2020/10/15/turkey-in-the-straw/ ) I don’t really like to wait for next clues, so it was easier to let it sit till there were three. One more is due next month. Three was enough to start sketching options.

Every two months two borders are suggested and directions given. Of course at any time we can do our own thing including figuring out our own measurements. I sorta thought I’d consider options offered first, but design my own if I felt the need.

The first two suggested options were four-patch or pinwheel blocks. That was easy because there is no way pinwheels fit my center. But the four-patch didn’t work either. My orphan piece measured 23.5 x 23.5. Because it was set on point already, I didn’t feel the need of a resting border. The first border was designed for a piece 24.5. I could trim to 22.5, add a row of one-inch squares followed by a row of two-inch squares for a workable modification. I’ve had time only for the one-inch row.

The reds are scraps; the background isn’t. The 2-inch row will be the medium blue, part scrap and part the batik of the center for some continuity. The next row will be dark blue. I have yet to decide whether to point the dog-ear triangles in or out. And sketching hasn’t solved it. I’ll probably have decided by next month. The third two options were square-in-a-square or flying geese. Again an easy choice of block, but undecided where to put background/pattern colors.

Then since I stitched the last of my prepared leader/ender pieces, I had to press some 2-patch pieces so I could start on 4-patch blocks.

I’ll set them aside for some 54-40-or-fight or Jacob’s Ladder blocks.

The 15th is Scrap Happy Day. Visit Kate’s blog to see how much scraps can earn and links to some serious scrap usage. https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2021/04/15/scraphappy-april-5/

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“Flyover Country”—Scrap Happy Day

My local quilt guild has some very interesting challenges. This year we were given a piece of vintage fabric, of which we had to use 1 square inch in a 9 x 12 inch quilt.

The theme was something we had done without this year. As an introvert, I have adapted pretty well to isolation But there was one major disappointment: my daughter’s bargain tickets became null when Covid caused airlines to cancel flights. So airplanes would be my motif. I consulted my reference book for ideas.

I found 9 blocks that showed airplanes and several more designs named “Airplane” but were not representational. I chose #904, Airways (Washington), attributed to McKim’s Patchwork Parade of States. A square block. I had a rectangle to fill and also wanted to do more than make a block. I pondered making a city across the bottom, but couldn’t make the combination work. So the idea remained dormant till the deadline was a month away.

I thought of how many times I’d heard a comment about how land looks like a quilt from above. The background would be “made fabric,” an idea from Victoria Findley Wolfe.

So I went to my crumb jar and pulled as many green, gold, and tan bits as i could find.

Not nearly enough. So I dug deep into my scrap bin for baggies of sorted crumbs. Yes, once in the past I actually sorted what I had on hand.

And started sewing.

When I had some sizable pieces, I made templates and tried to fit them on the pieces. Most pieces needed additions.

That process took way longer than I expected. I think the basic idea of “made fabric” is that you mindlessly attach pieces when you don’t have any other ideas, then when you need it, it is ready. Maybe someday.

Finally the piece was finished and ready to mail. It is amazing how quickly a 9 x 12 inch piece quilts up. Time was absorbed not only by making fabric but also by working with the odd angles. I even basted and pinned—gasp! And ripped because when it comes to angles, I am spatially challenged.

So here it is.

Flyover Country. 9 x 12

It’s all scraps, batting and backing. At last a use for small pieces of batting other than making Frankenbatting.

If you want to check out other scrappy projects, find the Scrap Happy list on Kate’s blog : https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/

And if you want to see the finished scrappy Surprise Jacket, click on “ previous post” below.

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Finished: Adult Surprise Jacket

It takes a lot longer to knit the adult-sized sweater. Then the finish takes longer than expected after the false-finish feeling once the “blob” is finished. Especially the I-cord bind off.

But I like the look of the finish and would do it again. The buttons are pottery, which my daughter got me from Japan quite a while ago. Since they require hand washing, I’d always thought their best use was on a wool knitted sweater. However, I don’t make sweaters very often. These buttons are decorative only because I didn’t make buttonholes.

I got the I-cord instructions from this handy book.

But it didn’t give any hints for a smooth join. I wish I hadn’t made the join in the front.

I suppose it’s one of those flaws that will be visible mostly to me and other experienced knitters.

And here is the end product.

Jacket history.

Begun https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2020/12/31/take-two-already/

In process 1 https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/adult-surprise-2-3-finished/

In process 2 https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2021/02/10/major-piece-finished/

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