Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Letters. . . We've Got Letters

Remember that little ditty? (Was that from a TV show? I remember the ditty, but not where it's from. I couldn't even find any info from Google or Wikipedia!)

First, I want to apologize to everyone I upset with my last post. Yes, I really did throw that ugly quilt-ish thing in the trash. I had no idea everyone would be so upset by that! I'm sorry. If I'd known that others thought it wasn't that ugly, I would have gladly sent it to whoever wanted it. I will be sending the ugly fabric strips that I've culled from my stash to Wendy at Inky Threads and Donna (no blog), who are willing to put them to good use.

I have made good progress on my color challenge quilt. And we're going to play a little game with it today. I play with my letters before I sew them together! I put them on the design wall and see how many phrases or words I can come up with, before I get to the one I'm really doing. I think it's fun. So, see if you can guess what phrase I'm really making before you get to the bottom of the post and the photo with the real phrase. This is kind of like Wheel of Fortune. . . just picture me as Vanna! And you don't get to buy any letters, they just show up. *grin* Sorry, there's no prizes, just some general silliness. Remember, playing is good for you!

OK, here we go:

Here's the second bit I came up with. Actually, the first bit is in my previous post, if you want to start there. But if you scroll down to look at it, you'll see the end of this post (and the answer), so maybe you should click here instead.

I don't know how other people do this, but when I'm going to make letters, I start out by writing down the word or phrase, and figure out what letters I'll be making. This phrase is the longest I've done yet, so I thought it was particularly important this time. I figured out how many of which letters, and then started making the easiest ones. Mostly to see what size things were coming out, and as kind of a warm-up before I got to the tougher letters.

I started with the U's, then went to the T's. There's quite a few T's. I got a couple of the T's too short, so I made some more that were taller. They're easy to trim to the height I want when I start sewing things together. I left the shorter T in "got" because it fit well with the other letters in that word.

I wasn't going to make O's, as I wanted to do them with some embellishment. But I quickly determined that wasn't gonna happen, so I made some O's. Then, because I was warmed up on the O's, I decided to do the E and the G, since they're similar construction. Next came the B's. They're a little harder, but still similar construction. I think I got them a little on the small side, but I'm not gonna re-make them! This isn't supposed to be perfect, right?

My biggest problem with this was getting confused with which fabric was for the letters and which was the background! I guess my brain is used to dark letters on a light background, and as you can see, this is backwards from that. This little problem happened way too many times!

By this time, I had all the easy letters done, and had to move on to the more difficult ones. I'm getting better at N's and H's. My first H, which you can see in "the", turned out to really be too small. So I made another H, and then discovered that I can't count. . . I need 2 H's! So, then I made the N's a little big, but I figured they're easy enough to trim to the right height.
On to the "S" - that came out a little small too, but acceptable. I'm getting better at them too, as long as I have a sketch or photo to follow. Lastly, the W. I thought I'd just do that like I did the N's, only upside down, and I think it came out pretty good! And not giganto, either!

Also, please notice my punctuation. It's my first punctuation, and it took some thought. It was pretty easy to sew, once I determined how to do it.

So, have you figured out my phrase yet? This picture up above has all the letters needed for the phrase, just not in the right order. Last chance to guess!

And here's the "real" phrase! Did you guess correctly? If you did, then you should be proud of yourself. That was a hard one.

Please notice my cool question mark! It's maybe a little big, but I think it's good. Another first!
So, now I'm putting together my words. These will be the center of the quilt. The minimum size is 24 inches by 24 inches. I was worried that this would be a lot bigger than that, and now I can see that this is shrinking considerably as I put it together. The top "button" is 17 inches long. I scrunched the next one a little bit, so it's not quite so long. I think this will work well.

Now I get to figure out what border I want to add. It will be "liberated" too. Then I'll be sewing on a whole bunch of buttons!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Here I Go Again

I'm not sure if the title refers to the fact that I'm starting another challenge quilt, or that I've been heavily into procrastination!

On a bright note, today is the first time we've made it to 75*F this year! It's been something like 270 days since we made that mark. Whew! What a looooong spring. It's wonderful to have some sunshine and warm temps! Yay! And I think most of my seeds I planted haven't drowned and are starting to sprout! I may yet have some flowers this year.

I'm supposed to be starting the color challenge for my local quilt guild, but I was definitely in stall mode. I went into the quilt studio and was supposed to be clearing the decks for the next quilt. Instead, I got distracted with the scraps from Snuggle. They were just too pretty to be tossed, and really too small to put away. So I just starting sewing scraps together, and came up with the above quilt top. It's 19" wide by 21" high. And all scraps. The batik border is what I used for the back of Snuggle. I feel better now. . . .got this out of my system!

I really like how the dark pieces kind of fade into the background, which was an unexpected effect. And yes, the border is kind of crooked, and I like that too. I've used up all the scraps, except for some teeny-tiny pieces. Which I'm saving. I just love that Cherrywood fabric!

I finally got the quilt studio all cleaned up. I even dusted! The cleaning was necessary, as I had piles of books and magazines and stacks of fabric all at critical mass. And it was really hard to tell what color the carpet was, what with all the threads and stuff. It was becoming dangerous in there! So, it's all put away and vacuumed and spiffed up now. It must be time to make a mess again!

So, I got in the studio last night and started making more letters for my color challenge. I made good progress! This is not what the quilt will be saying. . . I was just playing! The background is a dark red-purple, which you can't tell from the photo. I have more to go.

In the midst of my procrastinating last week, I decided to try a lasagne-style quilt with some of my 2 1/2" strips. My drawer of them was over-flowing, and I've been wanting to do this. I also need to make more charity quilts.

I managed to come up with just about the ugliest thing I've ever made. I wouldn't even show it to you, except my DD pressured me to! I'm really embarrassed at how ugly this is. In fact, it's so ugly, it's going in the trash. I don't think anyone, except maybe a really visually-impaired person, would enjoy this. And I can't bear to work on it! Ugh. I also decided to cull my strips drawer of all the ugly fabric. Ugly fabrics = ugly quilt. So, I have a large pile of strips to give to the charity quilts committee, and more space in my drawer. I'll try another lasagne quilt another time.

After I took the photo of the ugly quilt-ish thing, I left it on the floor. As expected, it attracted the local wildlife. Above, you see what I found after a little while. What you can't hear is the awful growling coming from the cat burrito. Dunkel was way too close!

Yes, it's Shade in there. He really didn't want to be seen.

I finally got him to look at me. Sorry for the blurry photo!

Dunkel is begging for Shade to please, play with him. Isn't he silly? If you look closely, you can see that Shade's tail tip is sticking out of the burrito. It was too much for Dunkel to resist, in spite of the growling.

It wasn't too many minutes after I took this photo that Shade got up and walked away, trailing the quilt-ish top behind him. After that, neither cat wanted it any more. It's still in the floor, but someone has wadded it up into a ball that will be convenient to pick up and put in the trash!

Oh, by the way, Cats on Quilts website is looking for photos of cats (or any pets) on/with quilts or even quilt pieces. Both Dunkel and Shade have had their internets Moment of Glory. Just click on the icon on my right-hand side bar. You can see my babies, and learn how to have your pet have their internets Moment of Glory!

Time to go work on that challenge quilt!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Finish!

54 " x 68"

Ta Dah! It's all done. . . well, to flimsy stage anyway. You can see Dunkel is critiquing while DH holds the top up for me. This is an un-retouched photo, and hopefully pretty close to the real color. We're having rain again today, so it wasn't very bright today, but we were having a moment of "lightness" (DH's term), so we quickly took the picture.

The background color is a Cherrywood fabric and I think it's either Indigo or Cobalt. (I lost the label a long time ago!) To me, it's similar to Crayola's Midnight Blue crayon. Anyway, my point is that it's one of my favorite shades of blue. I'm so happy I had a big enough piece in my stash, and it was exactly the color I wanted. (The inspiration quilt is really kind of a navy blue but it's close to this color.) The 9-patches were made with some of the fabrics from two Cherrywood grab bags.

The 9-patches were free-pieced using a number of different methods to achieve that. As I got more of the blocks made, and starting running out of fabric, the 9-patches got wonkier. I think I like the wonkiest ones the best. You can see some close-ups of some of the 9-patches here.

This came out a bigger size than I thought it would, and I'm happy with that. DH is 6 foot tall, and he can hide behind it pretty well, don't you think? It's big enough to really snuggle in!

Here is a close-up shot of my free-pieced letters. The E is actually a lower-case E, but it's hard to see that dark-colored piece that makes it so. It was supposed to be an upper-case E, but I got confused in the middle of making the letter! I suppose I probably shouldn't admit that in public. . . .

And here's a closeup of the border. This was my solution to meld the two fabrics in the borders together. I don't know if you can see it very well in the top photo, but there's the Cherrywood fabric in the right-hand border and the dotted fabric in the left-hand border. The two fabrics go around the corners and then meet in the top and bottom borders. Even though this is subtle, this was what I came up with to avoid just butting them up next to each other. This kind of looks "interlocked" to me.

Due to the size of this quilt top, I won't be quilting this, but sending it to my favorite long-arm quilting artist, Shari. I know she'll do a fabulous job for me.

I really love this quilt, and I'm so happy I took this challenge. A huge "Thanks!" to Tonya for hosting this challenge. And, in spite of my whining and stalling, it was a lot of fun. It made me stretch and learn. After all, that's the point of a challenge. And if you haven't yet visited the blog for the Liberated Amish Challenge, go right now and take a look. There are so many wonderful quilts that everyone has made, and wonderful stories about them.

One last thought. . . . if you have the opportunity to participate in a challenge, I urge you to take it! It's good to challenge yourself, learn what you're capable of, and learn new things.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I Think It's Working

We've had some sunny, warm-ish days and my mood has improved. Saturday was so nice both DH and I put on our shorts and did yard work. The poor yard has been so neglected due to being "under water", so to speak. I finally got my flower seeds planted, some weeds pulled and some fertilizing done. Since Saturday the weather hasn't been quite as nice (Sunday was rain all day), but it's finally starting to mostly stay on the warm-ish side. Maybe my seeds will grow!

I managed to force myself back into the quilt studio. . . . finally! And I've been making some progress. The border for my Liberated Amish Challenge quilt has certainly been challenging my creativity! (I guess that would be the point, huh?)

Here is my sketch of my original idea for the border. My inspiration quilt has a double inner-border thing going on (see it here), but I don't really have enough fabric for that, and I thought that might not be "liberated" enough. So, I had thought maybe a double-serpentine border, but thought that would be too much too. As in, too much work!

I got my free-pieced word all done, and here is where I was starting. I've since decided that, due to the size of the word, it would look better along the side than on either end of the quilt.

Well, then I got to thinking about the serpentine border. I was really stalling, and thought "maybe that's not what the quilt wants". So, I putzed around with some other ideas, like maybe a square-in-a-square border, or flying geese, or any number of other ideas. Then I was stuck. Big-time stuck. Just frozen in place, and I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to do. I really hate that phase in quilt-making. I seem to run into that in almost every quilt I make.

So, I talked it over with my DH. He encouraged me to just do the serpentine border. And I didn't want to. So, I called my daughter and discussed the issue with her. She's been my sounding board/design consultant for years now. I respect her "eye" for design, and she's always encouraging. She was having touble visualizing what I was talking about, so I emailed her the above picture.

She took the photo into Paint and played with it, and this is what she emailed back. (By the way, did I mention that I LOVE this technology thing? I think it's so awesome that we can do this!!)

When I saw this, it stuck me how much this looks like the Fibonacci sequence (read about it here). Very exciting! However, after playing with it a bit, I've decided that , although this is a great idea, it's not right for this quilt. It seems to over-power the quilt. However, I'm definitely keeping this in mind for another quilt.

Shade, meanwhile, was offering great moral support! Yes, my sewing desk is really messy, so just ignore it, please. Shade helped by moving some of the mess onto the floor for me.

So, after flailing around for a whole day, I finally came to the conclusion that the serpentine border actually is the right border for this quilt. Aaarrrrgggghhhhh! I wasted so much time, just spinning my wheels. But I guess it was a necessary exercise in creativity for me.

So, I finally got going on the serpentine border yesterday. I worked until 10:30 last night and I've got both side borders on now.

The quilt has grown too big for my design wall, so now it's on the design floor. (I managed to keep it free of cats long enough to snap this picture!) If you enlarge the picture, you should be able to see that there's different but similar fabrics on either side border. Now I'll be working on the top and bottom borders, trying to artfully incorporate the two fabrics into both top and bottom borders before adding the serpentine border.

So, I'm off to the quilt studio. I hope your day is creative!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Coming Out of My Cave. . . .

I've been kind of in a funk lately. It's been raining, raining, raining. . . and cold. I've not been feeling particularly motivated to do much. Today was better. . . the rain stopped, the sun came out and we got up to over 6o degrees! I've hardly been on the computer, so I'm behind in reading and commenting. Again. I'm not really sure quite where the time has gone!

I've been doing some sewing lately. I've been completely ignoring my Liberated Amish challenge quilt, in order to finish this challenge quilt:

"Touch of Black: A Study in Minimalism"

30 inches by 38 inches

This is a top that I made in September last year. You can read my blog entry about this here. This spring one of my quilt guilds decided to do a challenge involving log cabins. This top fit the requirements, so I decided to finish it up. So, that's what I've been up to.

This quilt was an exercise for me. I'm fascinated with the quilts of Yoshiko Jinzenji and Ingrid Press, and this was based particularly on Yoshiko's work. I chose to work with log cabins because I thought they would work well for this. But, some of my cabins are a little confused! Some of them go clockwise, some go widdershins, and one goes both ways at once! Obviously I was concentrating more on where to put the accents than how to construct the log cabin. *grin*

I had fun quilting this. I call this "Squilting" - squiggle quilting! Very low stress on the quilting scale! I just did lots and lots of straight-ish lines. The only hard part was the binding. And that was only because I had to figure out how much of the black-and-white graphic prints should appear. I've even got the label on this already. . . yay!

Here's a close-up, so you can see the quilting better.

An even closer detail shot.

Last night was the challenge reveal. I didn't win any ribbons (I knew I wouldn't! This is too different), but I had several ladies come tell me that they voted for my quilt, or that they really like it! That made me feel pretty good. Overall, I'm very happy with this quilt. It's really different for me, but it was fun to try something totally different.

When I was on the field trip to Bellevue (see here and here), I was amazed at the prices they were charging for some ceramic beads in the bead store. They wanted $34 for a raku pendant. (Raku is a particular process for firing/finishing pottery) I was shocked! Then I got to thinking, "Wait a minute! I have clay, glaze and a kiln at home! I could do this too!" Well, I don't do raku, but I do make pottery once in a while.

So, I went out to the pottery studio and made some pendants! They're all done now, and I thought you might like to see them too.

I'm not much of a jewelry maker. . . I just do stretchy bracelets. So, I have to figure out how to put these on a necklace. I went to another bead shop on Tuesday, and one of the employees helped me pick out the right supplies. So, soon the two pendants on the right will be wearable. . . I hope! This may involve another trip to the bead store for further instructions. The rest I think I will sell at a pottery show next month. I even made more pendants today, and so did DH. For as small as they are, they're a lot of fussy work. But fun to do.

Up next, I have to finish my Liberated Amish challenge, which is due this month. I've been stalling on doing the borders. I don't have enough of any one fabric for all four borders, so it will require some creativity. I'm kind of stumped at the moment. I think I just need to get in there and get started. And then I'll probably get an idea of what the quilt wants, and the rest will go easily. It usually works that way anyway. Just git 'er done! And I have another challenge that is due in mid-July that I've got to get done. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be real big (24" x 24" minimum), so hopefully I can get it done on time without too much of a crunch. It will involve more of Tonya's free-pieced letters, and I'm looking forward to that! So, I guess I'd better get busy!

Oh, and it's raining again. *sigh*