50% Scrap Happy

You’ve seen this top before with its mix of scraps and yardage–though the yardage is from my stash and old enough to be considered scrap. ๐Ÿ™‚ What is new is that I’ve finally started to quilt it.

What prompted the quilting finally was an online class by Christina Cameli, Finding Your Flow. We were supposed to have samples pinned to practice on. I didn’t. But this quilt sandwich was pinned, and I’d been puzzling for a long time on how to quilt it. And while I don’t skimp on materials for donation quilts, I also don’t figure that recipients will care if a quilting design isn’t perfect–especially children.

Thus this seemed a good candidate for something free flowing, apart from my wanting to accent the Ts. By sketching, I first figured how to get the pebble-T into 8 T-blocks with continuous stitching, and the rest is a beginning at combining like Christina does. It seems to me that the technique would be wasted on quilting made up of many prints, but I rather like it on these solids and near solids.

The class and a book, Free Motion Combinations, derived from Covid-19 activities. Every morning at 8 am Christina did an Instagram video of a different motif, sometimes combining them. Once I’d learned about it, I watched almost every morning. I thought I would remember the motifs, but I ended up with a repertoire of about a dozen at most, so bought the book. For people who like meandering, this covers space equally easily.

For people interested in scrappy, the solids here are scraps; the batiks ancient yardage from my stash. It you are further interested in what people do with scraps, check out Kate’s blog where on the 15th of each month she showcases her scrappy ideas and links to other Scrap Happy folk. You might also enjoy Cynthia’s Oh Scrap! blog and link party, here.

Here is a photo of the top for those new to the blog who want to see the whole top.

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A Quilt Restored

You might remember the summer of protests in Portland OR during 2020. And though the protests were overall peaceful (in contrast to national news reporting), there was some damage. In the case of the Oregon Historical Society, not only was the front wall of windows broken, but a quilt of significance to African American history was stolen. The identity of the quilt should be a clue that the vandalism and the Black Lives Matter protests were separate groups of people, at least in some instances.

At any rate, the quilt was found, returned, and restored, and here is the Oregon Historical Society’s blog about the restoration.

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Chinese New Year

I have a membership to Lan Su Chinese Garden again after a couple years’ break. What better way to initiate it than the New Year celebration with the Dragon Dance at night? My daughter got the best close up video, but alas I am too cheap to upgrade to Premium so as to include videos here. So if you really want to see a video leave a comment and I’ll reply by email with an attachment.

I started out with a daytime visit. Remember how I used to just miss seeing the plum blossom tree in full bloom? This year I made it. Even though the lanterns overtake the blossoms, I’m including this photo as proof. ๐Ÿ™‚

This photo also shows the tile design called ‘Plum Blossom on Cracked Ice’ because the tree blooms so early in the year that the ice is not always gone. This year, however, was pretty mild.

And here is a close up–not very high as I wasn’t daring enough to climb onto a bench.

The floats were already out, so I got a preview as well as a look at other flowers in bloom. (Many more look just ready to pop.)

Not only do I have the dragon float, but also in the background is the willow tree I always try to photograph for seasonal continuity. The dragon looked a lot fiercer at night.

And I did get a still of the dragon dance, though the video is much more impressive.

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The Black Jacobins by CLR James

Now that I have my computer working again and have explored the new editor a little, I have found out how to share my Goodreads reviews like I used to. That might prompt me to write better reviews. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo RevolutionThe Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by C.L.R. James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very readable history, clearly organized. Even the final chapter which narrates the final struggle for independence battle by battle and intrigue by intrigue is clear and interesting. The inclusion of reports back to France enhance that section. Though there are many actors, there are not too many to followโ€”even as some switch sides.

Toussaint is the main character for much of the book. At first it seemed almost a hagiography, it was so positive. And yet footnotes show this is a correction to some earlier texts. And there is considerable critique in the final section.

Even the Appendix, which explores literary and political West Indian figures from the date of the original (1938) to that of this edition(1960s) is interesting and gave me books to add to my to-read list.

View all my reviews

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“Do the Work” Really Finished

And I can do real celebration now, as the final details are finished. I always forget how long it takes to stitch down the facing, sew the hanging sleeve, and add the labels. And my labels are quite simple and as small as I can make them. One of my friends makes counted-cross-stitch labels on special quilts. I should consider that. The light on today’s photo is only a tad bit better than last night’s.

The shine is closer to the actual look, but the colors are still too light. You can almost see the red big stitch in the lower left. The next photo shows the value and shine closer to the in person look.

I guess when the camera focuses on the light, the dark comes out right. If I knew how to do the manual settings, I could probably have outsmarted the automatic settings–actually I think I can view the settings on a photo and then I could duplicate them. . . . But the quilt is boxed up so it is too late to try that approach. The 8 x 8 block needed some quilting, but I didn’t want much and I didn’t want to distract from the print. This mix of fabrics will never be laundered, so minimal quilting was enough.

And here is a view of all three rows of big stitch.

As I said before, my daughter sent me the vintage kimono fabric when she lived in Japan. I made two small quilts from it right after she sent it. They are dated 2007–didn’t seem that long ago.

Japan I: Torii; Japan II” Mt Fuji

These are 10″ x 10″. Someday I’ll make something big enough that I can give a better sense of the whole fabric design. When I first got the fabric, I thought, ‘Silk=crazy quilt’ and started to gather fabrics. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the embroidery of a crazy quilt would detract from the print. So it sat waiting for another idea. I’m still thinking toward the big one.

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“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. ๐Ÿ™‚ (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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