Monday, August 29, 2011

A challenge, something unexpected & my mind is blown (again)

I had a pleasant Sunday.

I spent the morning cutting and sewing HSTs for the Modern Quilt Guild challenge using Jay McCarroll's Habitat fabric line.  I am thinking of doing something kind of old-school with this edgy, urban fabric.  I'll show you more of my progress later, but until then, here is a tease.

Habitat challenge

In the afternoon, I did something I very rarely do: I got a book, stretched out in bed & "read". It felt indulgent and a little nurturing to nap in the daytime, but I think I needed to do it.

In the evening, while I was stitching on a quilt binding, I re-watched NOVA's Fractals: A Sense of Scale.  It is a great program, watch it if you have a chance.  There is something they say that gets me every time: a line defining a closed space -- think a circle or a square -- is, when fractal-ized (my word), mathematically Infinitely Long! Wait!?! WHAT?!? No Way!!! KA BOOOMMM!!!!
My mind is BLOWN!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome to my nightmare

Don't worry. I'm just tired and whine-y.

I am recently home from a very stressful trip up to the midlands to see my Mom. She wasn't doing so well, was, in fact, the worst I've ever seen her. (Have I mentioned that Alzheimer's sucks.) We are at a place with her house when we really have to start making it not look like our family home -- closets & cabinets & drawers & the basement are pretty well cleaned out, next comes taking down things from the walls, dealing with furniture, etc, etc, etc.
I made the road trip up & back alone -- 13 hours up, 14 hours home. I brought home yet another load of miscellaneous stuff that I think I want and have to try to assimilate into our home. Everything from my family home smells of ancient, stale cigarette smoke & mildew and that smell permeates into everything -- I always have loads of laundry to do when I return, even re-washing clean clothes. So a looong day of driving, a day of laundry, then back to work. pooh

this trip's haul

But I found this awesome blog post. And I found this awesome video. Both reminded me that simple pleasures are the best and they still are all around me, I just have to open my eyes to them.

*My trip was bracketed with brief but pleasant stays at my Mother-in-law's house.
*Even though my Mom makes less and less sense, she still knows me and still loves me.
*While I was away, Shug got us a case of Hatch, NM green chiles.
*I drove 1600 miles without incident. I got safely home to find Shug eagerly waiting for me with a gin and tonic in hand and the makings for a breakfast burrito (with green chiles!) on the stove.

So, I'm feeling better now. I am still tired and sad but can see there is still joy out there to be enjoyed.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I LOVE these quilts!

I had so much fun with my last 'I LOVE this quilt' post when I looked at 3 quilts (I felt like a real curator!) that I thought I would do it again.

Today I'm looking at 3 quilts inspired by painters. (I am reluctant to say "artists" because I think that we who make quilts are artists.)

The first quilt was made by Maritza at m_soto and was inspired by the work of Ellsworth Kelly. Kelly is a hard-edged, minimalist painter whose work lends itself to patchwork interpretation. The randomly-placed, colored squares dissolving into the white edges are similar to several canvases by Kelly but not a re-creation of any one. The movement of the colors and the restful white spaces keep my eye busy. I am eager to see how her quilting takes this quilt beyond the painting.

The second quilt is called "Homage to Mondrian" and was made by Noga at noga quilts. This quilt was a personal challenge & Noga well-met the challenge. It is not a literal interpretation of any particular Mondrian painting, but is true to the spirit of his work. The black edging with the occasional, un-edged primary color blocks is very like the artist. She has added a bit of herself with the quilting -- the perpendicular & diagonal lines are an added 'something' that Mondrian could not achieve with paint. She has kept the edges simple with a pillow-case finish.

The third quilt was made by Fabienne at chabronico and is called "a la maniere de Vasarely". This quilt is a beautiful salute to this abstract painter. The shape-within-a-shape theme is one often seen in Vasarely's work. Fabienne has made this piece her own with the rich and varied palette of southern France. The piece is not finished in this image but she later added spiraling quilting within the ovals and a white binding. She has continued to expand this pattern with other colors and with prints -- all beautiful and all unique.
(As an aside, reading in a foreign language about a subject you know well is an excellent way to learn. "La toile thermo-collante double face" -- fusible webbing, of course!)

Inspirations for quilts are, quite literally, everywhere. Painters and architects and graphic designers are especially good. An internet image search of a painting style or a name will produce a delicious pageful of  ideas waiting to happen!

Compare & contrast

I made a hasty post last Sunday showing the finished "Little Opal". Some kind people asked where this quilt had come from, so I thought I would talk about its origins.

At the Quilt Festival in 2006, I purchased a charmingly packaged stack of about 110 2.5 inch squares, hand-dyed by Wendy Richardson. It was kind of a non-standard purchase for me &, I think, my very first purchase of pre-cut fabric. The colors were so pretty that I fell in love. Well, not far from her booth, I came across a booth that was selling Oakshott fabrics. They make absolutely beautiful cross-woven solids, plaids and woven stripes; they are silky, the colors are gorgeous and being a company based in the UK, they are a little hard to find in the US. Their colors coordinated so nicely with my new little hand-dyed squares that I bought a bundle of subtle woven stripes. I lovingly stroked and gazed at my purchases until that Christmas, when my Mother-in-law asked for a package of Thimbleberries charm squares. The colors were perfect for my nascent project, so I bought a pack for her and a pack for me. Fairly quickly, Opalescent was pieced together.

 opalescent detail

"Little Opal" happened because I now always visit Wendy Richardson's booth at Quilt Festival. I think I got my second pack of 2.5 inch squares in 2008; I also got a stack of larger squares. The booth selling the Oakshott fabrics was there again, so I got some solids this time. (No, I had not (and have not) used up the previous purchase -- I just wanted more, OK?). At the Art Gallery Fabrics  booth I got several colorways of a kind of Asian, dahlia-like print. Later, I found a cheap woven stripe from a chain store. This quilt was slightly more of a challenge -- for one thing, I had to keep it 'different' from its big sister. But it was pieced pretty quickly, though I struggled with the quilting.

little opal detail

I like charm pack and jelly rolls, it is a fun challenge to come up with something unique with the very strict limitations of the fabric size. I really like these two little quilts -- no, I *love* these two little quilts. But they are really very similar and I think it is time to move away from the muted-color charm packs!

 opalescent & little opal

Monday, August 08, 2011


I have this tea towel -- I am pretty sure it belonged to my Grandma, my Mother's Mother -- that touches my heart.
It is a humble object, made of humble material -- probably a feed sack. There are several tears down one side of the towel, you know the kind, when you catch on something and end up with an L-shaped hole. Well, someone (Grandma? Great Grandma?) found some of the left-over sacking fabric, carefully matched the stripes, stitched down a patch and turned under the frayed edges of the tear. Not just once, but several times. Now, I will sew up ripped seams in my clothing, replace missing buttons, sometimes darn moth holes; I've patched (in a very crude way) Shug's pants when the knees or seat were worn through. But I don't know that I would mend a tea towel! And in such careful and caring way. I just find it sweet. It speaks to me of a time when things were not so disposable, not so easily replaceable as they are now.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Monday, August 01, 2011

Dazzling... stupidity, that is.

I mentioned yesterday how I began sashing my squared plates *without* measuring them first. It isn't cute enough to call 'liberated' or 'improvisational' -- it just looks bad. So I will be removing the sashing, trimming the plates, then *re-sashing* them before I can move this one into the to-be-quilted pile.

stupid mistake 1

Then today, I began to piece the shirts and slacks blocks. Well, some of you may have already noticed that I had problems ahead -- I didn't until I pressed my first seams. I had Shug cut me a cunning little template for the Crooked Path squares; I made a drawing for him and he cut it as instructed. But, as you know, you CANNOT take a square, cut that square into two pieces, sew the pieces together and expect to still have a square!!! That is Quilting 101!!!!

stupid mistake 2

Well, I had to take a time out. The damage is not irreversible, in fact, there is no real damage. My blocks will just be smaller (and more labor-intensive) than I had planned. But, GRRRR.