Wordstock

Among Portland traditions is the all day event called Wordstock, an event currently presented by Literary Arts and held in several venues near the Portland Art Museum. After last year when the crowds were twice the number expected and disgruntled people stood in line but still didn’t get in to sessions, it was a relief to have the six added venues. Large auditoriums were almost filled, but a few empty seats remained, so I’m guessing that most people got in to sessions of their choice.

Several of my choices were sessions recorded for later presentation on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)’s Thinking Out Loud, starting with Sherman Alexie in dialog. He read his first picture book, Thunder Boy, Jr., interspersing many observations and anecdotes. In addition to enjoying his humor, I appreciated his observation that laughter, in addition to making harsh reality bearable, functions as prayer.

Last year I came home with a list of 12 books, mostly all novels, to add to my to-read list. This year there were fewer books and novels for later. One session was a dud–bad acoustics, bad diction. Who knows, I might have been interested in one of the books had I heard what was said.

I did come away wanting to read two memoirs from teachers: Michael Copperman’s Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta, for a more realistic look at what a teacher can accomplish than the Hollywood myth, and Nicholson Baker’s Substitute: Going to School With One Thousand Kids for some of his observations about meaningful education.

Baker and an afternoon presenter, Sallie Tisdale, made similar observations from their childhoods and recommended their freedom: each had been allowed to read anything they wanted to.

From the session titled “Tales of Two Americas,” I came away with novels (Richard Russo), essays (Karen Russell) and poetry (Kevin Young) to read. Don’t hold your breath, but someday there will be posts reviewing these various readings.

 

 

 

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Sketching

No, I’m not stalling on the ocean top. But I have to think interesting thoughts while doing repetitive tasks like trimming HSTs. As often happens, I have an idea for a motif, but not for a whole piece. And I have difficulty expanding.

A while back, Mary of Zippy Quilts sent me some fabric.

fabric

She was decluttering and had decided she had no idea to go with this piece. She thought I might like the challenge. (I had mentioned enjoying making something out of what others thought ‘ugly’ fabric, and while this wasn’t considered ugly, it prompted the thought to send it.)  I found two coordinating pieces.

fabric-plus-coordinate

The motif that had immediately come to mind: a big diamond (to finally use that ruler that I bought so long ago) with a circle cut out the floats somewhere. But what else?

I started sketching.

fabrics-sketches-1

My first idea had been partial Lone Star as in 1,3,and 4. But I wasn’t thrilled. So I thought forget the star and tried #2. (Numbering doesn’t reflect order of drawing.) I also was asking the question: Do I really need odd numbers of items?

I tried some more.

fabrics-sketches-2

Number 5 looks too much like PacMan, #7 looks blah, but I almost like #6. Is it detailed enough?

Those ideas can cook for a while while I get back to trimming. Meanwhile, I’d like to hear what you do when you have a partial idea that doesn’t a whole quilt make.

ETA corrected spelling. Always shows up better the day after.

Linking with Let’s Sew and  Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays.

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Fall Quilt Retreat

It was time for quilt retreat, and I wasn’t about to take the ocean quilt.  I need lots of time and space to design as I go. Luckily I had three kits left over from the last retreat, so I didn’t have to think much, just grab.

I finished this child sized charity quilt top.

6-in-squares

40 x 60 inches

A couple years ago I was making kits for a friend’s project. I kept out some to finish myself, the ones that needed more arrangement than alternating matching blocks . This is the last of them, so I’ll have to start cutting again. It took about half a day to assemble at retreat pace. For me that is slow because I stop to talk a lot. Others power along and finish up way more. Still others think more and are slower. We each have our preferred pace.

And I finished the third of my last year’s leader-ender block tops.

l-e-blue-sashing

~42 x 60

The blocks were pieced and arranged and the sashing cut. And I had labeled the rows clearly enough that I could remember my plan even after a year. This one took about a day, retreat pace. This one is the same setting as the inspiration quilt (here). The first two are here and here in case you missed them.

ETA: It is amazing how much difference a sashing color can make. Mishka used black (in the inspiration link above)  and Deanna at Wedding Dress Blue used white (here). I needed a color because the group I donate to prefers less white, but black would not do for a child quilt.

With all the people at the retreat, I should have asked someone to hold it for a flat shot, but I didn’t think of it, so back to the sofa shots.

Remember the Sunny Lanes block? (here, if you forgot) One of the quilters was doing just what I had been thinking would work well with scraps. Here is her top.

sunny-lanes-top-with-red

This is what it can look like in a top.(Yes there are a couple blocks that need repair. It was an exchange and a couple blocks didn’t follow directions.) I really like the red, but I haven’t decided on what color I’ll be using for the stabilizing colors. Meanwhile, the 4-patches will make a good leader-ender project, and I need another.

I also pieced the blocks for a Rail Fence twin size quilt. You’ll see it when it is together. And when that was finished, I knitted on a pair of socks. It was a totally good retreat–I’d packed exactly the right amount of projects, always a challenge.

ETA: Linking up with Oh Scrap!

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A Book Instead of a Quilt

The OrchardistThe Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This amazing book caught my interest with the first paragraph, and that without the ‘in medias res’ beginning. Oh there was back story, but the actual plot began in Chapter 1 with two girls stealing fruit.

The pace is leisurely for the first two thirds, then speeds up, the style descriptive and immediate. There were few characters, though towns and other activities were implied. The characters were well developed with flaws and virtues–all but one, who had no redeeming qualities.

Much of the book was about ideas never stated (the Orchardist himself, Jane and Della, sometimes Caroline Middey, though she was the most likely to speak) or about inability to speak (Clee). Angeline was more the one who wanted to know than one not communicating. Each had their own type of isolation, though there were also relationships.

The novel deals with aging, birth, the growing up of children, and the diminished abilities of the elderly, always matter of factly, sometimes understated. Never heavy handed philosophizing.

This is a rare book that remains excellent through the ending. (view spoiler)

View all my reviews

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Another Start–The Ocean Quilt

Perhaps the title should read, Another Shift in Priorities.  December suddenly seems close and I have two projects due then. So all other pieces in progress move to the back burner.

The ocean quilt has been planned for a long time, in general concept: Work the traditional ocean-wave block into it. A diagonal line. Tans to one side for beach. Blues to the other for water. It is the details that have not gelled. Should the shapes be square, diamond, or triangle? Should they be the same size or variable? Then along came curved strips, and I was ready to begin.

The traditional ocean-wave block looks like this.

ocean-waves-quilt-block

And it is usually set in an all over pattern. Here is a link to Kat and Cat’s quilt so you can see the overall traditional look. Some day I may try that, but not for this quilt.

My first step was to gather many blue fabrics; now that is one of my favorite parts of planning. The other day I got them out and arranged them dark to light.

blue-fabrics

Some of these are fat quarters, which went well when I was thinking small pieces. I may have to get creative now that I want longer, wider strips.

Now come some less interesting steps, like cutting squares and sewing half-square triangles (HSTs).

480-squares

Here are 480 2-inch squares, patiently waiting. I did avoid drawing the diagonal lines with the Clearly Perfect Angle tool from New Leaf Stitches.

perfect-angle-tool

I think it was meant for modern machines that are mostly in white cases, but I can see the three places to align the squares. (It is set up so you can either sew with a 1/4 seam allowance as I am here or directly from point to point.)

But I don’t know any way to avoid pressing and trimming. Since those steps are not very photogenic, there will be a pause until I have something interesting to show you. Meanwhile, linking up with Kelly’s Needle and Thread Thursday.

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NW Quilting Expo Sampler

Although I am back from vacation, there is too much unpacking chaos for me to get back to quilting yet. However, that didn’t stop me from heading out to the annual NW Quilt Expo in Portland OR. I saw probably 3/4 of the 700 quilts hanging.

Three special exhibits caught my attention:Western Modern Quilt Guild’s Native American themed challenge, Cover to Cover’s interpretations from two novels, and Latimer Museum’s antique quilts. A couple photos from each.

From the Native American challenge, I appreciated most the quilts that though inspired by history didn’t closely reproduce traditional native images, rather creating new ones.

This one gave the traditional Crossed Canoe block a new meaning.

nw-fishing-hole-canoe

Fishing Hole by Nancy Schaefer

Schaefer described deriving her design while watching the fish ladders at the Bonneville Dam and thinking back to a time when salmon were so plentiful they could be speared from a canoe.

This quilt also referenced salmon.

nw-tails-and-fins

Tails and Fins by Beverly Shoger

Shoger, noting that salmon linked the coastal tribes, chose to represent them by abstracted tails and naming the better known groups.

This quilt was based on a collaboration.

nw-shamans-view

Shaman’s View by Kathy White

White’s granddaughter had done a senior project that included shamanism. She drew a sketch that White translated into fabric.

Cover to Cover Book Club Quilters is a group that designs quilts based on novels, usually doing two a year. One was Gone With the Wind. There were quilts showing Tara, quilts with abstractions in blue and gray, and quilts representing grand living and the Atlanta fire. This humorous one caught my fancy.

flowered-and-southern-fried

Flowered and Southern Fried by Patricia Goodwin Andrews

(Not so humorous from the chicken’s point of view.) Andrews says, “It’s Saturday and this chicken has another day till it is Sunday and southern fried chicken day.

The group’s second book was All the Light We Cannot See.

nw-map-in-her-head

The Map in Her Head by Dianne Kane

Several of the quilts referenced Marie-Laure’s blindness; the fabric selection in this one appealed to me.

Last, but not least, are the antique quilts from the Latimer Museum collection.

nw-9-patch-medallion

Nine-Patch Medallion

This one was dated ~1840.  It looked to be double-bed size.

nw-9-patch-detail

Here is a closer view of the trapunta and hand quilting. Notice some of the old fabrics are beginning to shred. Those early dyes were harsh.

The next one was dated ~1880 and looked to be twin size.

nw-ohio-star

Ohio Star

The center square in the Ohio Star blocks looked to be about 3/4-inch on each side–the blocks about 4 inches.

If you live in the area, you have one more day to see the show. I hope the rest of you enjoyed the sampling.

 

 

 

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Sunny Lanes–more tips than tutorial (and weather update)

Last year I participated in Foot Squared Freestyle (F2F). The time came for me to receive my blocks, and I did (link here if you want to see them all; scroll down to March for mine). I had planned to make my three after I saw if any color/shade was needed to balance things. I’d also made Sunny Lanes for everyone and planned to make one for me. That is what stalled the process. I needed yellow-orange and didn’t have any. I finally bought some and prewashed it, but by then I was on to other projects. So I am finally back, and here is my finished Sunny Lanes.

sunny lanes orange finished

12 1/2 x 12 1/2

Since I made one for everyone, I thought it would be fun to see what variety color differences can make for one block pattern. (There are only 11 because I started a month late.) A reminder of the rules: Members could make any pattern 12 1/2-inch block using the colors chosen by the recipient.

After seeing all those, you want to try one, right? I foresee a quilt in my future using scraps for the squares and a unifying pair of colors for the HSTs.

A 12-inch block requires 8 HSTs (Cut four 4-inch squares of two colors–I allow oversizing and trim to 3 1/2 inches.) and 32 2-inch squares (they will finish at 1 1/2 inches).

When I have plenty of fabric, I cut 8 squares of each potential color and make my HSTs and play around. I add the extra squares to my collection for scrap quilts for later use. So I tried three color groupings for the current block.

I started out thinking I wanted the medium brown in the corners, then saw the bright red beside the stripe and thought I’d like it. Last I tried the gold, just in case. In the abstract it was my least favorite, but I ended up liking it best. I thought the medium brown too distracting and the red too bright. I wait till the 4-patch pieces are sewn to fiddle with the direction the corner ones will go–sometimes a diagonal line, sometimes more rounded. Much easier to rotate one piece than four each time.

After making 3 or4, I finally had a system.

Three challenges for assembly: keeping the HSTs going the correct way, keeping the colors where you want them, and pressing the seams so they will nest when assembling the next seam (of course people who press open don’t have to worry about the latter).

I lay the pieces out on my 15 1/2 square ruler.

I start chain piecing with the small squares, L to R, top to bottom. I do not cut them apart until after they are pressed, and I leave the thread bunny (or leader/ender) attached to mark the top. I press seams in alternating directions. That way each pair will nest.

SL string

It would have been smart to show the wrong side, but you can see some of the fold directions. And the thread bunny.

I snip the pairs in twos as I lay them in their place on the square ruler. Then, again moving L to R and top to bottom, I stitch each four patch segment.

This time pressing is a major issue only for the center 16 squares because they will meet up. The corner ones do not matter. I lay all pieces back in place on the ruler and carry it to the ironing board. I press the seams in the two in the center-left column down and the ones in the right up.

Now you have the choice of assembling the center and the pairs of HSTs then assembling the whole as if it were a 9-patch block or assembling row by row. I have found the latter easier as it requires fewer breaks.

I sew pairs down one side, then down the other, then sew the middle seam, making four strips. I lay them out and press in alternate directions. Nothing left to do except the final joining seams.

I hope to see some of your variations on Sunny Lanes.

10/3/17 Linking with Quilting Jetgirl’s and Late Night Quilter’s Tips and Tutorials

And after I come back from vacation, I’ll lay out blocks, make my last two and start setting them together.

BTW I will be without WiFi on most of vacation, so won’t be responding to comments till I get back.

Also while catching up on blocks, I finally made June and July for the weather quilt.

June block

June 14 1/2 x 14 1/2

Yep, that orange is for highs in the 90s and that is what we had at the beginning of June, 97 to be exact.

July

July

July was cooler and pretty boring colorwise. Too bad I hadn’t planned on different colors for each 5-degree increment.

And here are all the blocks so far.

weather-Jan-July

There will be cream sashing between eventually. Most weather quilts are done in rows (some samples here) instead  of blocks and look better, but I’ll finish what I started.

See you in three weeks.

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