Sometimes the Thinkie Part is the Best Part

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Once again I have noticed this quilt block that I saved on my desktop.

I am mesmerized by it. From a quilt made in the 1870’s. I think it would be so fun to make with my zig zag technique. To say nothing of the massive amount of embroidery on it! I don’t want to do that kind of embroidery, but it is definitely a big part of the design concept and the success of the overall design.

I want to go directly to the studio and start cutting out fabric. I even have a collection of fabric that I think would be fabulous for it.

Plus, look! Every block on the entire quilt is using different fabrics and colors. You know how I like that.

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But I am in the midst of quite a few projects right now. Some of them are very near completion, and I just have avoided the final bit of work needed to finish them.

And, I don’t even want to say it out loud, but the studio needs a massive cleaning out before I mess it up with yet another project.

All this sometimes makes me frustrated. But then I remind myself that part of the fun of a new project is the time spent thinking and refining a plan. Adding this and that, taking away something that doesn’t work as well.

So for now, I will keep this project in the thinkie stage, and remember to enjoy that 🙂

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My Favorite Quilt

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I usually rotate the quilts I use on my bed, but since putting this one on early in the spring, I haven’t wanted to change it out. I love so much about it. And I’ve been musing over the traditional/planned/accurately cut nature of it compared to how I’ve chosen to work in the past few years.

You can see that although its scrappy, it did have a basic color plan–blue and pink with some brown, green, and purple thrown in. Its mostly 1800s reproduction fabrics, which I still love, but I also threw in some of my favorite more modern prints which were in the same color ways.

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I used some of my most favorite “repeater” fabrics–those fabrics that I just couldn’t resist buying a bit more of when I found it in a shop. (That turquoisy blue serpentine print is my most-often purchased repeater fabric. There’s just something about it that fascinates me.)

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I saw the pattern in a magazine, but then I realized that the pattern was much smaller than I had thought. So I figured out how to turn a 4″ finished square into a 6 inch finished square. That made for some funny measurements, but I made little “kits” of pre-cut pieces, and that made it a little easier.

And I especially love that pink border that I was able to include. I still remember where I first saw that fabric–at Greenbaum’s in Salem, Oregon. It was on a tiny pincushion sample and they didn’t have any more of the fabric. Probably more than a year later I found a bit of it somewhere, and have used it in several of my quilts. Its just so perfect, don’t you agree? In fact, I realized after the fact, that the color of my bedroom walls, which I worked with the paint lady to custom mix, was this same perfect color of coral-pink.

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I also love the little patterns that I used to quilt it, and that I kept at it, even though it got so tedious and boring.

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I like that I continued on and made the border as the original pattern showed, even though I was so very done with this quilt by the time I got all the little squares for the middle done. I like this pattern that I figured out for the border triangles.

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Since I sleep alone in a double bed (well, with two little doggies who hog two-thirds of the bed) I like to use a quilt that just hangs over the edge about six inches. This quilt is just the perfect size for me.

I think about whether I will make another quilt like this. I think what helps me is pre-cutting the pieces into those little kits. I put each particular size into little zip lock baggies. And then I chose the pieces in the color combos that I wanted for each block as I went along. I’ve found that I don’t like strip piecing. It actually depresses me. So even though it might be slower, I find it infinitely more satisfying to finish one little block at a time.

 

Time Away

I just returned from a week-long trip to the little town of La Veta, Colorado! My BF decided that she wanted to take an intensive workshop with Judith Baker Montano, and I said, “want some company?” I have done “self-retreats” before, and find it very profitable to spend concentrated time working on projects at a location other than my studio. Plus, Colorado? That sounded fun!

All the other times I’ve done this, I traveled by car, so I could bring all the supplies I wanted. This time we would be flying, and so I had to carefully choose what I would bring. My friend Ricky Tims also lives in La Veta, and he very graciously loaned us two of his sewing machines! So all I needed was to pare down the raw materials I would bring. I ended up bringing my bags of Cherrywood fabrics, a quilt blanket “blank” for embroidering on, and then cut out 8 squares of hand-dyes for a new quilt idea I wanted to try starting on. I also brought some muslin and batting “just in case.” And of course, a big supply of perle cotton thread, scissors, rotary cutter, pins, etc. LOL, both Robin and I forgot machine sewing thread! Fortunately, Ricky had some nice thread for sale in his studio 🙂

We found a great place to rent, with plenty of room to spread out all our quilting supplies. In between visits and “touristing” I managed to get quite a few bits and pieces done.

I admire piecers who work with small bits so very much. One of my current favorites is Maria Shell–check out her work in this blog post! So the first thing I wanted to do was to do some piecing with my bags of Cherrywood fabric. I also had a scrap of Ricky Tims’ multi-color fabric, and I decided that I would cut the center squares out of that, and then use the cherrywood bits to make some abstract log cabin blocks. Nothing was cut straight, but as I finished each piece, I squared it up to 4 1/2 inches. At the end I made three 6 1/2 inch blocks.

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Now, although I admire the work of others who work with small bits, this is about my limit. I get bored. So I will sit and think, and eventually these pieces will work their way into one or more projects. I did this a couple of years ago, and I used all those little blocks to make the “what they said” series, as well as several other pieces.

Next, that big blank canvas for embroidering on. I also admire the work of Judy Martin, Penny Berens, and others who work on daily “scratchings.” Once again, I don’t think I really want to spend the time doing this EVERY DAY. But I love the idea of it. So that was in my mind when I took this big (for me) blank  quilt sandwich to embroider on.

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The first day I took it out and stared at that big empty space, it started to rain. Evidently, this is “monsoon season” in Colorado, and the afternoon rains are very welcome. They don’t last long, and they cool things down nicely. So I embroidered that.

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Ricky and Justin took Robin and I out to their property (45 minutes from town!) and on the way there was an old church, the last remaining building of what had once been a small town.

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I was fascinated by it, and took several pictures of it. I decided that I wanted to try embroidering it.

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You can see with both of these that I started by cutting out simple shapes and using blanket stitch to embroider them to the blank. Hand dyes work very well for this–practically no raveling at all. I really enjoyed the “grass” stitching. Very quick and simple. I hope to do more of this.

So these embroideries were a little departure from most of my work–more representational than abstract. I enjoyed doing them, and I wonder what it will lead to. Right now I think I will keep this blank as a true travel project, and will take it with me on my travels, and add a bit to it with each new location.

The last day I got out those squares of hand-dyes that I had carefully packed. I spent a lot of time staring at my journal, making notes and thinking, and finally started two of the squares. They are for a quilt of Genesis. My brother suggested it, and I think it will be a very interesting project. Of course, some of the blocks will be on creation, but there are other interesting stories in Genesis that I am challenged to try to represent in cloth.

And now home, and I reverted right back to working on my Hallelujah Chorus quilt. I have three word panels done, and one and a half circle panels. I am motivated to work consistently on this quilt. Not only is it enjoyable to work on, I would like to finish it by November for several different display possibilities.

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