So What’s Next?


Even though I said I was finished with the cross quilts, I continued to work up until the night before we were to hang the exhibit. As the finish approached, I already had another little idea working in my head. I had seen this ad in my rug hooking magazine, and was enchanted by the colors in it.


I had already pulled a huge group of solid fabrics that mimicked the colors of yarn in the ad, so I thought about what I would do with them when the time came. I find this is a good way to work. Instead of being pressured to COME UP WITH A GREAT IDEA when confronted with a group of fabrics, I have plenty of time to think about it. So coincidentally, I saw this little snowball quilt in Jenny’s blog (thank you, Jenny!) and for the first time ever, I really really liked the snowball block. I think it is the fact that I perceived them as small blocks, and also that they really mimicked circles, with the spiral quilting. Anyway, I decided to use the snowball block as the basis for all these colors. I looked at different sizes, and decided that a 3″ block would make me happy. Pretty easy to cut out 3 1/2″ squares, and 1 1/2″ squares for the corner rectangles. Here’s the start:


And then, one night, I was sitting in my chair. And I wanted to make another knitted rag rug. Here’s the thing about these rag rugs. They are really comfortable to stand on, and they have held up well to multiple washings. They are completely thought-free–the only thought required is choosing the group of colors you want to use. That’s just fun. They are scrappy, so you don’t have to think about what color comes next. And I like the repetitive motion of putting the strips together and winding them into balls. I always stay ahead of my knitting, because I actually like putting the strips together and winding balls better than knitting!


As I worked on this, I started berating myself. Why do you waste time like this? You could be working on a project that has meaning and purpose. But pretty quickly I realized that this is part of the process. I need to give myself time and mindlessness in order to renew and cultivate my creativity. I wonder if Leonardo da Vinci did mindless knitting between his masterpieces. NOT THAT I AM COMPARING MYSELF WITH LEONARDO. Just wonderin’ ūüôā


I Am Rich

Can you believe how my stash of solid fabrics has grown?  I think often of how I am inspired by people who just use what they have and make art (like the Gees Bend quilters.)  I try to emulate that, but the truth is, I can (and do) go and buy fabric when the mood strikes.  But I am not referring to being rich in fabric (which I am.)  I am rich in so many other ways.  I am blessed with good friends, and my best friend went and bought me 1/3 yard (my favorite amount to buy) of almost every kona color imaginable!  That whole first row was a gift from my BFF!  As I told her, it was so fun to receive such an extravagant gift, but more than that, it made me feel that this new venture was validated, and it made me feel loved.


Here is the first little ‘art quilt’ that started my venture into using solids. ¬†I finished embroidering the words, quilted it, and then used the backing fabric to do a quick machine binding.

Here is another way I am rich–my two little furry friends. ¬†They are quite the pair–Sophie the dachshund was from a rescue organization, and Mr. Monk the pug came from the local pound–they gave him to me half-price because he was a senior citizen. ¬†He is a jewel! ¬†Do any of you use quilts for chair covers?

I am thoroughly enjoying my venture into ‘housetop’ quilts. ¬†I have finished 4 tops already, and am in the midst of ¬†quilting them. ¬†Fun!

Solid Success

So in my last post I mentioned going through a bunch of old magazines for inspiration. ¬†Most of the quilts in the little pictures that I cut out were made of large simple shapes. ¬†Some were wonky, and others were straight. ¬†But they were mostly simple shapes, and large pieces of fabric. ¬†In the last magazine that I looked at, one picture really caught my eye. ¬†It was a pattern by Pam Rocco (she doesn’t seem to have a website, but she is a frequent contributor to Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine.) ¬†It was patterned after the ‘Housetop’ quilts made by the quilters of Gees Bend.

I am a real fan of the Gees Bend quilters.  I love the fact that they just took what they had, which was very little, and made art out of it.  And, I was fortunate enough to see several of them at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.  I was very touched by the depth and reality of their relationship with God.  As they talked to the hundreds of women at  that quilt show, they just naturally talked about God, praising him for the good in their life, and how they had to rely on Him in hard times.  They broke out in song quite often, singing some of the old spiritual hymns.  I bought one of their books that day, and I refer to it frequently for inspiration.  I had just found this quote in their book about a week ago, and I LOVE it!

Didn’t nobody teach me to make quilts. ¬†I just learned it by myself, about twelve or thirteen. ¬†I was seeing my grandmama piecing it up, and then I start. ¬†I just taken me some pieces and put it together, piece them up til they look like I want them to look. ¬†That’s all. ¬†Mary L. Bennett

So that was it!  I would do a housetop quilt!  I picked out my colors, which were a little different than my usual choices, a little bolder colors.

I got to work, cutting pieces without measuring, and fitting them as I went. ¬†I did use my rotary cutter and ruler. ¬†I didn’t finish it that night, so planned to put the last few rounds on the next morning.

The next morning, before I started sewing, I read a bit in my Bible, and it just happened to be in Matthew 10.  I noticed a verse that I had never noticed before:

“What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” ¬†(Jesus speaking to his disciples, ¬†NLT)

Huh! ¬†And here I was working on a ‘housetop’ quilt. ¬†I finished the last few rounds. ¬†The brown fabric that is the last round is a special fabric that I wanted to include in this quilt. ¬†It was from a line of fabrics made to replicate the fabrics used by the Gees Bend quilters, and I bought it in Sisters when I met the GB quilters. ¬†I had to do a little finagling to figure out how to use the 1/2 yard of that fabric to make it fit. ¬†And as you can see, I actually had to ‘fill in’ with a bit of the other fabric. ¬†Making do with what I had, just as the original quilters would do. ¬†I am very happy with how it turned out. ¬†I would have made it a little larger, but then I really wouldn’t have had enough brown fabric.

Later that night, I was still thinking about that verse and the quilt. ¬†And I came up with my next BIG IDEA. ¬†You guys are going to get tired of me and my big ideas LOL. ¬†Anyway, I was VERY excited about this one. ¬†I actually like quilting words. Its pretty easy, and I just like the idea of it. ¬†And I thought, how perfect–these solid fabrics are the perfect vehicle to quilt words on–and how great to choose some of my favorite passages from the Bible and quilt them right into the quilt.

My BFF and I joke that we have a ‘manufacturing’ gene, and so of course, I am thinking about all the variations I can make with this, both with colorways, and verses. ¬†I imagine I WILL make a few more of these. ¬†I have my solids all re-organized and ready for me to pick the next colors out. ¬†And then I will be done.

Solids, Attempts Number One and Two

So, even though I said I didn’t like fusing, I decided to give it a try. ¬†I had a bit of an idea in the back of my mind, and a picture in a magazine that was intriguing, so I went ahead and picked out some of the fabrics I wanted to use, and pre-fused them with Wonder Under, Melody Johnson style. ¬† Ack. ¬†Did I mention I don’t like fusing? ¬†Anyway, I carried on, and finished fusing this little piece. ¬†I left the middle blank because I wanted to feature this verse that I just love:

‚ÄúAnd the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart, till the Devil whispered behind the leaves ‚ÄėIt’s pretty, but is it Art?‚Äô”–Rudyard Kipling

Isn’t that the fear that most of us have–“Is it art?” ¬†Anyway, I am happy enough with this little piece. ¬†I will finish embroidering the verse, and add some more embroidery touches, then add the back and quilt it a bit. And then it will be done. ¬†I think it is a very unbalanced piece, but somehow that seems perfect for the tentative question in the verse.

Oh, and one more thing. ¬†You might be looking at this and saying, it doesn’t LOOK like solids to me. ¬†And you would be right. ¬†I ‘allowed’ myself to add a few batiks into the fabric choices, and then they were basically almost all the fabrics I chose to use. ¬†So now the batiks have been banished to the cupboard so I will be FORCED to work with solids!

So then , before I finished this little piece, I came up with what I thought was MY BIG IDEA.  I was very excited about the prospects of this project.  It involved doing some strip piecing for the background and then appliqueing circles and shapes on top for my perle cotton embroidery.  I love the work of Marianne Burr.  I actually was fortunate enough to take some lessons with her last summer.

I re-organized my piles of solids into lights for the background and medium darks for the foreground, with the third pile (in the background) available for accents if necessary.

I finally had a free morning and I got busy cutting strips and piecing them back together. ¬†I put them on the design wall and then plopped some of the darker fabrics on top to see if there was enough contrast. ¬†Meh. ¬†I didn’t really like what I had done that much. ¬†Sometimes I will leave something on the design wall for a while to see if it grows on me, or if maybe I’ll get the NEXT BIG IDEA.

At this point I was quite discouraged with myself, so I took the doggies out for a walk, and then I came home and sat in the big chair thinking about what a failure I was. ¬†Finally I picked up a pile of old quilt magazines and thumbed through them looking for ideas. ¬†I cut out little pictures of what I liked, ideas that might work with solids. ¬†That was Fun! ¬†And eventually, I came up with the NEXT BIG IDEA. ¬†But you’ll have to come back tomorrow for that one!


Solids…What Are They Good For?

I dunno. ¬†But I guess I’m gonna find out! ¬†Over the years I’ve been attracted to the work of artists who work with solid colors. ¬†So I would pick up a few solids here and there. ¬†And of course there’s the wonderful Amish quilts. ¬†And then I started reading Melody Johnson’s blog. ¬†And she kept encouraging you to get more solids. ¬†She would even tell you when Joanne’s was having a sale on solids.

So Sunday I went to Joannes and picked up a few more solids… ¬†their thread was on sale too…

I am not putting these solid fabrics away until I do SOMETHING with them!

Did you know my favorite color was pink?

Today or tomorrow I plan to work on a new project using these solid colored fabrics. ¬†Right now I am just using the ‘think method.’ (those of you old enough will recognize The Music Man quote. ¬†I use the think method a lot…)