Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Neon Brights

Neon! What else is there to say? Just looking at it makes me want to find some jelly shoes (ouch) and big dangly earrings. I love this quilt so much, and I am so pleased that it will soon be on its way to brighten the nursery of a fresh new baby girl!

  • Pattern: Oklahoma, by Villa Rosa Designs
  • Finished size: 45 x 57"
  • Quilting: freehand free-motion posies in Superior Threads Rainbows, variegated Neons colorway, used on top and in the bobbin
  • Eye-popping Factor: 11

Neon delight!
Stitching detail of neon quilt
Back of the neon quilt. I couldn't believe I found a fabric with neon polka dots on soft brown

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Quilting lessons: Young protégé #3

A few months ago, a young friend asked me to help her make a quilt. I like to use the Cloud Nine pattern as a first quilt for a couple of reasons. First, it's very easy and fast to make. Second, the pieces are big enough to use some great large-scale prints. Third, it's forgiving. If a seam or two goes off by a few threads, it all comes out in the end. We went to Quilting by the Yard to pick out fabrics, and she was unerring in her preferences. She found every one of the prints in a single line, even though they weren't arranged together on the shelf. (I can't find a selvage strip, so I can't remember what the line was called. ...Edited to clarify: the line is "13 going on 30" by Maywood Studios, very chic and bold!) She chose a pretty sky blue as her background neutral.

We got all the fabrics pressed and cut in an afternoon. She had already done a few small sewing projects in her 4H club, so she was pretty familiar with basic machine operation. We had to figure out how to set her up with a nice 1/4" seam, and she got the hang of it right away. It took one or two short sessions to get the blocks assembled, then she sewed one entire row together. But then the project went into a box, as projects so often do, and waited...until finally last week we managed to get together at her house one evening and she got two more full rows done. This afternoon she came to my house and worked straight through 95+° heat to get the whole top finished!!

Next, she's on the hunt for some fabric to use on the back and we'll get together to baste the layers.

Diligently working in the summer heat
A finished top!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cephalopod Transfers

In honor of Cephalopod Week, I have been experimenting with some different transfer methods, featuring old scientific illustrations of various Cephalopoda. Lots more to do over the coming months.
The first attempt with gel medium came out well, and has a lot of potential to become an interesting finished piece.

The Citrasolv technique was more ghosted, but I already have some ideas for using it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Monkeys of the World, Unite!

How do you like the new blog look? It's feeding directly into my newly overhauled website as well!

Last night we enjoyed a great JAM (that's "Journals and More" because we've really expanded our reach from our original task of monthly journal page-size projects) meeting. The theme to kick off summer was Games. I had literally dozens of ideas for this topic. I love the graphic elements of board games; you really get a glimpse into the design zeitgeist of a particular era from the illustrations used in board games. I considered projects based on some really ancient games like Ur and Senet...
The Royal Game of UR, played in ancient Mesopotamia well over 4500 years ago. 

...some classic traditional choices like checkers, backgammon (both of which other group members ended up interpreting for their projects), and Chinese checkers, which would have enabled my hexagon addiction...
Chinese checkers...on an isometric triangle grid!

...some more obscure games that I played growing up in the 70s and 80s, like Bonkers, Connect Four, and Tri-Ominos (which is still going to happen on a larger scale, probably as soon as I get back from the Vermont Quilt Festival...). Take a look at this commercial from 1980 -- can you believe how much wholesome fun that family is having?!? I demand to know why they don't show at least one, if not both, of the kids scowling and threatening to flip over the whole damn table. And the parents haven't once checked their cell phones or gotten up for another drink. LIES, I tell you! Corporate lies!

I even considered some video games like PacMan and Q-Bert, which of course was played on a tumbling blocks screen:

QBert must have been designed by a quilter.
Ultimately, I chose a childhood favorite that was more of a plaything than a game, even though it did come with some vague "rules." I found a simple clipart, enlarged it in PowerPoint, and traced it onto some solid red Kona prepared with whatever fusible I had handy. (I don't know if it was Steam-a-Seam, Heat-n-Bond, or Wonder Under.) After a few evenings of painstaking scissor work, the rest of project went together in a flash:
Barrel of Monkeys! quilt: "Ex unitate vires" (2015, Angelina Kendra)

The only quilting I did on the solid yellow background was the curved barrel lines. These were tricky to implement, not least because I was working without a functional walking foot. I used a 12-wt yellow Sulky thread, and I started and stopped between every segment of the hanging monkeys. Once the monkeys and the quilting lines were finished, it was a very cute little project that would look adorable on a nursery wall. Someone should get on that.

The little monkey on the bottom looked like he was exhibiting a little independent streak. There's a Polish proverb that translates as "Not my circus, not my monkeys" (meaning, of course, "not my problem") which was just PERFECT for this little guy. I can pronounce written Polish (thanks to six weeks of a continuing ed class that I took during the grad school years in Blacksburg, VA), but I had to rely on a Google search for the original Polish words for his protest sign.
Not my circus, not my monkeys
In contrast to Mr. Not-My-Problem, I realized that the others were stronger for hanging together. Their Solidarność flag is the emblem of the 1980s trade union in Poland that was the impetus for the fall of the Communist regime in that country. The day I was finishing this, the NY Times Magazine cover was "Labor's Last Stand." I couldn't stop thinking of how cunningly the current crop of union busters have secured the sympathies of the people who would seem to benefit most from some united strength. I guess we can thank modern globalization for the continuing unraveling of worker's rights in this and every other country. There's always a hungrier mouth willing (or forced) to produce for even less reward. The name of the finished quilt is "Ex unitate vires" ("Strength in unity"). Good luck on your own, little guy.

Fun fact: "Solidarity" (solidarność) was the answer that I missed in the 1990 New Castle News Citizen Bee, thus dropping me out of competition. I did a lot of flirting with my now-husband Barry at that Bee event:
That's Barry and me, front and center. Not thinking about Solidarity one little bit.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Taking the next step

This summer I'm taking the effort to put together a shiny new website, which is nicely underway. I even got brand new business cards, which magically and instantaneously made me feel more professional and serious. I'm trying to figure out whether to start a whole new blog wrapped directly into the new site, or continue this blogger site and just link back and forth. If you're reading this and you have any advice on this decision, I'd be happy to hear from you.

My gypsy wife is en route to the Vermont Quilt Festival, along with Cedric's MTG quilt. If you're at the show, make sure you hunt them down!

In the meantime, I've been stitching up a storm, making a whole bunch of new things of all shapes and sizes, practicing new techniques, refreshing old ones, and improving with every stitch.

I saw an inspiring and thought-provoking piece this week, so I'll close this post with a link to it:

I'm jealous of your success...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Color book

I just found some photos on my boy's computer, accidentally downloaded there from my camera card. These are from a little color book I made for a sweet little girl's birthday. The pattern was in the 101 Patchwork Projects magazine that I've gotten a whole lot of mileage from. For such a simple concept though, this project made a grand mess, since I needed to get out every. single. color. bin of fabric in my closet.

I started with a strip of gray gridlines from my Best. Day. Ever! jelly roll to cross stitch a simple title. I didn't want to use a lot of words, though, so this was the only one.
Colors birthday book
I didn't have any trouble with the first few pages:
Colors birthday book: PINK
Orange is particularly a snap for me:
Colors birthday book: RED and ORANGE
This is my favorite 2-page spread, so citrusy and cheerful:
Colors birthday book: YELLOW and GREEN 
I had to really dig for these ones. I have a lot of blue fabrics, because I never use them, and they just don't all seem to go together. (I think it's time for a major purge of this bin.) Tardis courtesy of my husband's shirt scraps (a Spoonflower splurge); swan courtesy of my mom's birthday purse scraps.
Colors birthday book: AQUA and BLUE 
The purples are fun; I tend to use these up as soon as I find them, but I have lots of little treasured scraps around. I especially love the chair!
Colors birthday book: PURPLE

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Harvest of Hexagonia

Yesterday I woke up with the muse upon me to play with some bits of fabrics that have been accumulating in my space, starting with the sample six-minute circle that I made last week.
This was my first try with the six-minute circle technique. I used fabrics that might be pretty if it came out halfway decent, so this became my starting point for a little art piece.
From there, I pulled out strips of orangey-golds and olives and a big stack of triangles cut off from my forest floor Lotus and Scrapophenia projects. I used half a dozen rulers, including my precious little mini Hex n More, to tame the bits into usable shapes, then just started piecing one segment at a time without a specific endpoint in mind. This kind of shape assembly is my preferred middle ground between completely (right-brain?) loosey-goosey freeform work and linear (left-brain?) hardline geometric patterns. I think that's why I'm so fanatical about the 60° shape family: there are a whole bunch of different choices that all work together, even at different scales. 

Once I started sewing the tiny hexies together, the project took on its own momentum and I couldn't stop working on it. I even came home early from the monthly First Friday gathering at Lisa's Clover Hill Quilts and spent a few more late-night hours (literally quilting after dark!) to finish it up. 

Looking at it in the light of morning, I see summery fields with lines of golden grains, rows of cabbages and other delicious greens, and patches of pastureland carved out of the landscape. The hex field reminds me of the baskets overflowing with crops that our farmers conjure from their soil. (If there's one part of summer that I'm looking forward to, it's the CSA shares from Sub Edge Farm starting back up!!)
Summer harvest piece, unquilted (~16x28")