21 Jan

Nina’s Quilt

Last year a longtime family friend asked me to make a quilt for her sister’s 50th birthday. That sister and I were best friends from middle school to well into our adult lives. We don’t talk or see each other much these days as our lives have diverged on different paths, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the rare opportunity to re-connect. Of course I said yes to the quilt project and dove in enthusiastically.

 

Nina Quilt WIP1 I started by pulling several color stories from my stash that I thought Nina might like and sent photos to her sister, Kara. I also invited Kara to look at my Pinterest board of quilt inspiration and tell me if anything struck a chord. Kara liked all the colors, and chose a few inspiration quilts that had a single block, sometimes a bit wonky. From that, I created three “sketches” in Adobe Illustrator showing different color and design options.

 

Nina Quilt WIP2 Kara chose a design which I planned to create with the Quick Curve Ruler, a tool I had recently used for a sample at work and really enjoyed. I started with my stash fabrics, cutting and sewing and putting everything on the design wall. At first, it was a big jumbled mess. I had wanted the quilt to be scrappy looking, so my intention was that it have more variety than the Illustrator sketch, but it had gone too far. I stepped back and realized that I had to pay closer attention to the color placement that was indicated on the sketch, and more importantly, that the print fabrics needed solids or near-solids as a foil. Once I got a handle on the specific fabrics, then the quilt started coming to life.

 

Nina Quilt WIP3 About half way through, I ran out of stash fabric in the appropriate colors, so I  went shopping. I really needed solids, which I did not have many of in my own collection.

 

Nina Quilt WIP4Using the ruler made a pretty precise quilt and I had in mind something with bit of bohemian flavor. The mix of fabrics got me part of the way there, but I knew the quilting would take it all the way. I machine quilted it, loosely following the curves, but adding some undulation. I used variegated thread and changed the colors a few times. I also used variegated perle cotton in a variety of coordinating colors to hand stitch, with large stitches, between every second or third row of machine quilting. The result is a wonderful texture and a subtle softening of the regularity of the ruler curves.

 

Nina Quilt med

Photo by Bill Volkening

This project was an absolute joy to make. I thought about my friendship with Nina as I chose fabrics and sewed. I was even able to incorporate a fabric her late mother gave to me about 25 years ago. I wish I could have been there when Nina opened the box since the gift was a surprise. But she later wrote,  “Every time I look at it I smile and think to myself how lucky I am to have a sister who was kind enough to commission it and a friend talented enough and who knows me well enough in a sort of gut way to make something so perfect for me.” That’s the kind of reaction I was hoping for. I couldn’t be happier.

18 Jan

Knit Night

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Knit Night post. Knitting has taken a back seat to home improvement projects, and then to sewing samples for work. It hasn’t disappeared though. Looking back, I see that I’ve actually missed posting knit projects. I think they ended up on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll catch up with a few of the more recent projects in upcoming weeks.

Most recently, like many others, I knit a pink “Pussy Hat” to wear at the Women’s March on Washington (or more specifically, it’s sister march in Portland). It ends up that I’ll be working that day, but a friend of a friend plans to march so I’ll give her the hat. That works just as well!

Pussy Hat

My hat is made from leftovers in my stash. The only pink I had was some vintage mohair given to me by a friend who was thinning her stash. To make gauge, I paired it with Northampton wool leftover from one of the crocheted blankets I made years ago. It ended up that the mohair wasn’t quite enough, but luckily I had a second small skein. It was paler, but did the job. The result is a fuzzy, thick, warm hat that will keep any head warm on a winter day outdoors.

Pussy Hat WIP

 

13 Jan

First Finish of 2017!

In the previous post I mentioned wanting to make scrap quilts from my bins of leftovers. After several years of this being a back-burner project, I finally had motivation to finish it. Leftovers 1 is done and submitted to IQF’s Beauty in Pieces special exhibit. My fingers are crossed that they’ll like this wonky, freeform, take on a scrap quilt.

Leftovers web

Leftovers 1, 2017, 76″ x 83″

I started by making the quarter log cabin blocks, not exactly sure where I was going with them. I played with setting them on point to make zig zag rows which looked pretty cool, but then I bored of making them. I was distracted by seeing posts of Sherri Lynn Woods’ Get Your Curve On workshops, so I started sewing wedges, happy that they went faster than the log cabins. That’s the point where the pieces told me they wanted to be a medallion and it grew from there with more purpose. I had lots of squares already cut and leftover from making Temporary Safety which came together easily as a checkerboard, and the center of the quilt was set. The mostly checkered border was inspired by my trip to the San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum and seeing Margaret Fabrizio’s Kawandi-inspired work. I still have enough fabric to make another round, and as a bed quilt, it could use it, but I stopped when I reached the maximum size for the exhibit, since I think it’s submission-worthy. I quilted Leftovers 1 on my home machine with wonky leave and scallop motifs mixed with straight-ish lines. It’s quirky, but hopefully that’s it’s charm.

With seven bins of fabric and twelve months, I hope to keep this momentum going and make more medallion style quilts in 2017. The rules will be to endeavor to use just the fabric in the scrap bins, but if necessary, I can go to my regular stash. New fabric is only allowed for backing. New batting is allowed. For continuity, I’ll create these from the center outward, Medallion-style, but other than that anything goes design-wise. It’s going to be fun!

08 Jan

2017 Goals

I’m kind of hit or miss with the end-of-year or beginning-of-year blogging. I think it’s worthwhile though to look back and see that yes, it was a good and creative year, even though looking at everyone else’s lists might make you feel like  slug. Looking forward at potential goals for the upcoming year isn’t a bad idea either. Apparently I didn’t do this last year, so I don’t have a comparison of what I wished to accomplish in 2016 and what I actually did. But, I know that my intention for the first year in our new house and new city was to just roll with it. And that I did.

Now, six months beyond “The Year of Great Transition” home renovations have slowed down, and I mostly fill my time working at The Pine Needle Quilt Shop (which I thoroughly enjoy). There’s been a few art quilt moments, like Home is Where the Army Sends Us being part of a superb exhibit at the Textile Museum in DC, ‘Murica going to the big quilt festival in Houston, a gorgeous commission quilt that was a joy to make and very well received, and Death Shroud for Democracy being accepted into SAQA’s Layered Voices show to debut at the Quilt Study Center in Nebraska.

 

scrappy-quilting-wip

Sliding into 2017 I am looking forward to a few more home projects, some relatively quick DIY ones like patching walls, painting, swapping light fixtures, and installing a stair runner, and some which require professional help, like new front and (possibly) back doors, and some backyard landscaping. I’m still working on the #notnormal quilt to enter into SAQA’s Posters exhibit, and the scrappy quilt for Beauty in Pieces. My pie in the sky goal for 2017 is to not only submit a proposal for a book, but to also have it accepted and start working on making it a reality.

 

scrap-bins

But back to that scrap quilt. See all those bins? They are stuffed with scraps. In 2011 they were similarly stuffed, so I sewed all the bits together, cut them into rectangles, and by 2015 finished four quilts made from all those bits. There was a brief moment when the bins were nearly bare, but not anymore. I had so much fun making the medallion quilt from the neutrals bin (that is inexplicably still pretty full) that I’ve decided to make 2017 the year of the scrappy medallion quilt. I’m going to take each bin, or a pair of bins, and build quilts from the center out until I run out of fabric. I think, if necessary, I will allow myself additional fabric from my regular stash, but nothing new unless for a backing, and the quilt must “read” as predominantly scrappy. I think this will be fun!

Happy New Year and happy sewing!

14 Dec

#notnormal

Like so many people, I am overwhelmed. There are so many things I see happening that I can’t figure out what action to take, or if it’s even worthwhile to take action. Every day it’s some new outrage. I’m trying to put myself in others’ shoes, to see things through other eyes. Not everyone sees the country the same way I do and that’s fine. So, I want to respect the needs and beliefs of my fellow Americans. But a month after the election I’m having a hard time seeing how this is going to be OK.

“Give him a chance,” people say. “Checks and balances,” they reassure.

  orange“His bluster and “straight talk” on the campaign trail was just that: bluster. He’ll be more Presidential if he wins.” OK, but a month on, he’s lashing out via Twitter at SNL, newspapers, and a union boss for not gushing over him. Businesses and offices can probably handle the backlash, but individual people are not prepared to fend off the consequences of targeted vitriol (see last year’s college student who asked a reasoned question of the candidate and received not only a crude response from him but also a year of online harassment from his followers). I don’t see a move towards either Presidential behavior, nor any effort to bring Americans together as he promised.

“He’s so rich he won’t be corruptible. He doesn’t need to be in this for the money. He’ll work with the average worker in mind.” OK, but before the election there was no evidence of altruism. He still doesn’t show us where his money is or what he does with us. Not long after the election, he said he was working with lawyers to disentangle his conflicts of interest. I actually told my cynical husband that this was movement in the right direction and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. But, a month later, there’s been no discernible effort to distance himself from his money. In fact, it actually looks like he’s putting his ducks (children and business interests) in a row to take advantage of of his and their positions of power to guide policy and decision making for personal financial gain. Oh, and he’s put off until after the electoral college casts their votes, his public explanation of his intentions vis a vis conflicts of interest.

not-normal-1

Heal the divide? Not gonna happen with continued Tweet storms or nominating cabinet members with nihilistic tendencies towards the cabinets they’d head. Don’t like the appearance of Pay to Play? How do his big donor advisory picks and cabinet nominations look?

The backlash (mine included) against him can’t merely be sour grapes. This is not the first time my candidate has lost, but this is the first time I just can’t wrap my head around why the other candidate won. I swear I’m trying to suss out the ways his election will address the issues people say they care about, but I just can’t see it yet.

“Government is corrupt and has done nothing for me. We might as well burn it all down.” Ah, now here’s something I think he can deliver on. Unfortunately, I just can’t bring myself to believe that a scorched earth approach to governance is good for the American people. This is not normal…

not-normal-2

…but I fear that it WILL become normal.

11 Dec

No Electricity Needed

I finally, after three years (way too long), took my “daily driver” sewing machine into the shop last week for servicing. One reason I had put it off so long was that I always seemed to be using it. So now what was I going to do?

I have a 50 year old Husquvarna machine from my mother in law. It’s serviceable and is basically my backup machine. But I also have this…

treadle-1

A friend purchased this Naumann Kl9 for me when we lived in Germany. I had wanted a treadle base to make a side table, but for the same price, she found me this complete machine with a beautiful inlaid top. I agreed it was too nice to pass up, even though it meant I’d still have to shop for another base (which I did and used it for my modern sewing machine).

 

treadle-2

The only problem was that the Naumann has a scary looking bobbin case and instructions in German, which intimidated me, even though I actually can read a fair amount of German. Check out the cute little bobbin storage box though! Long story short, I’ve had the sewing machine for almost 15 years and have done basically nothing with it. Time to justify hauling this thing halfway across the globe.

 

treadle-3

I did get as far as learning how to load the bobbin from my friend Nanette when I stayed with her in NC for the Homefront and Downrange exhibit. But I never sewed more than a quick test because 1: we packed up to move soon after, and 2: I still didn’t know how to wind a bobbin with desired thread. So, with my regular machine in the shop, (and a project that actually lent itself conceptually to a little zombie-apocolypse sewing) I decided to figure this out. Thank the Germans for a well-illustrated manual! Between Figure 7 and a few key words I loaded up a bobbin! It’s not beautiful, but it works.

 

treadle-4

I marked a quarter inch with some handy blue tape and got to sewing. Check out my Instagram feed for a couple videos of both sewing and bobbin winding.

 

treadle-5

Ta-da, I sewed a whole bobbin-full. I’ve now re-filled that bobbin three times, and pieced a small quilt top. I can sew forward and backward, adjust the tension, and adjust the presser foot pressure. I’ve oiled the machine a couple times and it’s purring along nicely. I’m ready to pick up my regular machine, but it’s been fun prepping for the apocalypse.

 

treadle-6

18 Nov

Quilt Storage

I Instagrammed a bit of this home improvement project, but never really took all the photos I wanted to write a blog post about it. Oh well, sometimes yo have to write the blog post you have, not the post you want.

storage-1

I sketched the storage that I wanted to build and then went to my mom’s house to use her tools. We also bought my supplies at her local lumber yard, Jerry’s, which is pretty darned awesome. I wish there were one in Portland.

 

storage-2

We cut angles, and nested pieces together with dado cuts, and bolted it all temporarily in my mom’s basement. Then I didn’t take any photos of me painting the pieces back at my house, or of me removing bits of wallpaper in the closet/boiler room and painting it.

 

storage-3

And here’s the contraption assembled in the closet/boiler room off my studio. The rails are closet rods and sit in the same cups that one would use in a closet so that I can easily remove each rail and roll and unroll the quilts. Each roll is a sturdy tube covered in archival tissue paper. The rolls also now have dust covers. They should have tags with pictures of each quilt on the roll, but I haven’t gotten to that yet.

12 Nov

IQF Houston 2016

Here’s where I was last week (or was it two weeks already!). This was my fourth visit to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX. (Here’s a link to lots of posts about previous shows and a few tangential things).convention-center

Quilt Festival is a huge event. Between the exhibits and the vendors and the potential classes it’s overwhelming. I’ve found that over the years, having a plan and a buddy has helped to make the event manageable. This year, Quilt National ’15 was one of the special exhibits and included my quilt ‘Murica. Seeing my quilt in this venue was the main reason for going, but I also wanted to support my friend Deborah as she promoted her new book and taught at Festival for the first time. And, since I was a bit at loose ends, I also took the opportunity to work for The Craftsman’s Touch Books. Working for the book shop had the unintended benefit of giving me a behind the scenes look at the Festival, and early access to the show (which I could really see during normal hours since I was working).

forklift

It’s a little surreal to be dodging forklifts and drivable vacuum cleaners in the aisles of the vendor area.

unpacking

Day one was unpacking boxes. It’s a brutal day for vendors. They set up their booths on Tuesday and then fill them on Wednesday. Some booths just had a little work on Wednesday, but many worked 9-5 to fill inventory. At 5pm, the show opens and visitors fill in, shopping until 10pm. I was lucky to have only worked until 7 and then previewed the exhibits for a few hours. I left hungry and tired, but excited.

overview

There’s a lot to cover! I did not have the time to browse the vendor mall, but I did ping around, checking out things that caught my eye, and looking for inspiration for The Pine Needle where I work in Portland.

silk-amish

The unveiling of the major prize winners is always a big part of the excitement of the show. October Sky by Bethanne Nemesh is my favorite. The silk just glows, and her stitched drawings are expertly rendered.

 

old-denim-square

Old Denim Square by Noriko Nozawa also won a prize. This one grew on me the more I looked at it. I love the denim log cabin blocks. Then I grew to appreciate the deft use of custom machine embroidery in the details and the way she incorporated the pockets and brads and various parts of the denim clothing used in the quilt. Deborah predicts that custom digital embroidery will be the next big thing. We saw several examples at the show.

old-denim-detail

 

Denim must have gotten to me, because I was also attracted to Just Before the Lights Come On by Ana Buzzalino:

just-before-the-lights

 

Another winner, The AEIO Ewes by Janet Stone charmed me. It’s clear design and sweet (but not too sweet) colors look great in photos and holds up in the cloth as well.

aeio-ewes

 

Skinny lines were on display in many ways. Fire in the Stone by Kimberly Lacy just blew me away. The color, the composition, the construction — gorgeous!

fire-in-the-stone

Look, more tiny strips — this time in Bobby Dole’s Blue Jeans by Chawne Kimber (my finger for scale, and hey, more denim in concept at least).

bobby-doles-blue-jeans

 

Machine quilting and long arms have finally come into their own in regards to whole cloth quilts. This one, Don’t Tell Me it’s Not a Dream by Ximo Navarro Sirera, is deceptively simple technique-wise, but strikingly elegant in design.

dont-tell-me-its-not-a-dream

dont-tell-me-detail

Deborah’s miniature art quilt won a prize too. I didn’t get a photo of her or it, but it was so exciting to be with her at the awards ceremony when she found out she won first prize in the category!

One of my favorite categories is Traditional Pieced. I particularly  liked this section with bold, fresh, quilts (from left to right, Flight Path by Mary Menzer, Amsterdam View by Carolina Asmussen, and Wall of Sound by Maria Shell)

traditional-pieced

 

Here’s a closer look at Maria’s. She’s doing exciting work in my opinion.

wall-of-sound

 

There were several quilts in various exhibits which were simple one-patch blocks, in bold colors, with a combination of machine and hand quilting. I really liked them all. Diamonds Quilt #2 by Tara Faughnan was one I returned to again and again.

diamonds-quilt

 

This sample for Sizzix by Victoria Findlay Wolfe is a great example of how great she is at taking a traditional block and “removing” parts (often by matching it to the background fabric). I thin this is a variation of the Arabic Lattice.

vfw-arabic-lattice

 

I like the movement on this one too, though I think the hard work was done by mid century Dutch designer Wim Crouwel whose design was inspiration for Betsy Vinegrad’s Mod Blocks.

mod-blocks

 

I’m thinking 2017 might be the year of the scrap quilt for me. I also have a ziplock bursting with half square triangle blocks. Obviously I was inspired by Chesapeake by Aline Joulin.chesapeake

 

Homespun by Mary Kerr and Donna Ferrill James reminds me of my own quilt, Partisan. It’s part of an exhibit of quilts marrying vintage blocks with modern settings.twisted

 

I find myself drawn to Baltimore Album quilts and almost as much to Whig’s Retreat quilts. I may actually get around to making a Whig’s Retreat some day. Sunshine And Bluebonnets by Laverne Matthews is a variation. sunshine-and-bluebonnets

 

And in another exhibit was this interesting contemporary variation, Spot On by Karen K. Stone, which caught my eye as well.spot-on

 

And a detail:spot-on-detail

 

One of my favorite “traditional made contemporary quilts” is New New York Beauty by Katherine Knauer, which I saw a few years ago at the Texas Quilt Museum.  Here’s another of Katherine’s quilts, Solar City, which contains all kinds of fun fabrics, including some fantastic ones she designed herself. solar-city

 

Look, fuzzy fabrics and cabs and green streets!solar-city-detail

 

Zinnias in the Rain by Martha Wolfe has the loveliest transparencies and line work.zinnias-in-the-rain

zinnias-detail

 

Finally, me with my quilt, ‘Murica. It was great to talk about the quilt with people, and see it getting attention from a new audience. The best reaction might have been the one a friend relayed to me of a genteel southern woman who was so shocked and unprepared to see this that she had to go sit down in a quiet place and pull herself together (particularly after witnessing another person identifying with the quilt in a guns are good kind of way). Apparently, she had no problem with the two quilts with nudes as “nudes are in museums,” but guns at a quilt show was a step too far. The experience led to a really interesting (and nonjudgmental) conversation between my friend and this lady, so the quilt has done it’s job of opening dialog.murica-and-me