Friday, February 29, 2008

Attention Deficit Disorder?

I'm beginning to wonder if I have quilting ADD. I can't seem to work on just one project at a time and always seem to have at least 3 or 4 going on at once. I guess that doesn't bother me too much because sometimes you're in the mood to piece, sometimes to cut, and other times to quilt. So it is nice to have projects at all different stages of the game. Right now, I seem to be growing a small stack of projects that need to be quilted, but I don't know how soon I will get to that, given my schedule in the coming weeks (I'm also doing a bit of binding, so I'll share some finished projects soon too!).

Remember the Pull Your Palette quilt I showed you at the beginning of the year? I blogged about it twice on January 1: here and here. That was supposed to be one of the quilts that I really wanted to make progress on? Well, I finally finished piecing it last week and here it is (above)! Now I have to decide what for quilting pattern to use on it. Any thoughts?

I also finished two small tops from the Paula Stoddard booklet Hooked on Charms. I showed you a block for the one in a post about six weeks ago. I enjoy these projects because I can quickly chain piece them through will also working on larger projects. It almost feels, then, like you get a bonus project out of your sewing time. Both projects are made from the Folklorique line, by Fig Tree Quilts. The first project is called Swirly-Gig, the second is Fancy Four-Patch.

Also sitting around and nagging me is this Geraniums quilt designed by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. This one certainly has me thinking of warmer weather - which can come ANYTIME soon, says the woman who shoveled yet again this morning. I love her projects and also have a poinsettia one that I had thought I would have gotten done for Christmas last year, but that was a laugh. I do think I now have all of the fabric, so perhaps if I start it soon, I might have it done in time for Christmas! We'll see whether that happens...

This is just a sampling of the items I have in my "to-be-quilted" pile. I'm hoping I can make a dent in them and that I can be disciplined about finishing them before starting into something else. But then... I need to have projects at all stages right, so I have a feeling I'll still be cutting and piecing soon.

Creativity Workshop

Last Saturday, my quilt guild hosted a creativity workshop with Amy Climer, an art quilter from Madison. The point of the workshop was to let the creative juices flow, to try some exercises where we might get inspiration, and to work towards letting go of our inner critics. I was a bit hesitant: I know that I don't draw well and haven't attempted things like this since middle school at the latest. But I knew that it was time to try something new, to challenge myself to grow in new directions, and I'll admit that it was really nice to go to a workshop and not to have to pack up my machine and tons of other supplies. And I chose to borrow Ben's chalk pastels, a medium in which I have never worked before. What fun!

Amy is an advocate of The Artist's Way, a book by Julia Cameron and finds much inspiration for her own creativity in its pages. I thought I'd share some of the stuff that I did (or at least the ones that I feel comfortable sharing).

We started off by sharing the magazines we brought along and going through them and ripping out anything that caught our eye, then pasting the images into a collage. Here's mine. It's interesting to see that there is a group of colors that apparently is working for me lately (a rather muted group of colors) as well as to see that I really like elements like maps, plans, and type. Next time I'm struggling for color inspiration, I might give this a shot again and see what emerges.

Another exercised involved reacting to short pieces of music (3.5 to 5 minutes long) in a variety of styles. We listened to five or six different ones and each piece does really evoke a different feeling - and requires a different COLOR. Here are three of mine - the first in response to a "classical" piece, the second to a modern-rock-type piece, and the third to a more African drum piece.

Another exercise involved doing some quick drawings - 20- 40 small ones - of an object found around the house. In some sketches, you might choose to focus in on one small part of the object, in others, you might zoom out, or you might skew the proportions, etc. I had a spatula in one of the two exercises we did. Here are two of the quick sketches I made.

It was really interesting to see other people's drawings of the objects they had. Some sketches could easily be translated in quilt designs and/or quilting designs. I'll have to use this exercise sometime when I'm bored and see what happens. (I'm thinking this could be fun to do sitting through some long meeting.)

After the fact, I learned that Ben probably would have enjoyed attending; I didn't really even think to ask him and feel badly about that. AND I learned that somewhere in this house, he has a copy of The Artist's Way. I'll have to go root around for it and work through a few of the exercise on my own, as I do believe these exercises can be good sources of inspiration.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fabric Diet - NOT!

Well, I've tried to work toward cutting down my new purchases at the quilt shop until I finish some of the projects that I already have and also so that I can save up towards making some purchases at the April International Quilt Festival in Chicago, where I always see tons of stuff that I would just love to have come home with me.

I haven't been doing too terribly. I have made good progress on some projects (and will share photos soon!) and resisted making purchases when I was in Patched Works for Moda U. last month. However, this month, I did make a few purchases beyond the necessary. Here's what I came home with:

1. Three charm packs of the new Sentimental Studios line Kashmir II (one swatch shown above). This was actually the fabric featured at Moda U. last month, which I managed to resist the urge to purchase then. (Random aside: I really disliked this month's fabric, which was Swell, by Urban Chicks and makes me think of 1950s kitchens. Um... no thanks!)

2.The Schnibbles (by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.) pattern called Four Corners, which I may use the aforementioned Kashmir charms to make. (Yes, I probably could have figured out this pattern on my own, but I was feeling lazy.)

3. A new quilting book by Laura Lee Fritz called Mindful Meandering: 132 Original Continuous-Line Quilting Designs. Seeing as I am building up quite a stack of small tops that need to be quilted, I am looking for some meandering patterns like this that I can perhaps execute a bit more quickly than some other recent quilting I have completed on my own. This book will give me lots of things to practice and I think I really will benefit from having this in my library. And, as I was Googling around on the author's name to try to give you a link in this post, I discovered that C&T Publishing has created an instructor's lesson plan for teaching from this book. Now I have a way to make myself work through this on my own. Yay!

4. Three and a half yards of one of the brown fabrics from the Chocolat line. This actually has a use in helping me to finish a project. I'm going to use this as the backing for the Sonnet collection charm quilt I showed you a few weeks ago. I've decided that I am going to put on a brown border; it would have been close to do that and back it with the brown from the Sonnet line that I had on hand. And the shop was out of significant amounts of brown in the Sonnet line. I figured this would work.

5. This is where I really got into trouble. Or maybe not too much trouble, depending on how you define it. See, we were finally able to turn in our receipts from shopping at Patched Works for over a year to earn our points on those purchases. I ended up with a nice sum of "Monopoly money," based on those purchases, to spend at the shop before the end of March. Understandably, I wanted to spend it on something special, and the Four Patch Shuffle pattern here, done up in Chez Moi's Fresh Air line really called my name (unfortunately the United Notions website is having issues, so I've given you the link to kit made with the line on a commercial site). I already know that Ben hates this line (it's too busy for him... I'll tell you how I know he dislikes it soon, when I show you a small quilt I already made out of this line), but I simply love it. I know it is busy and retro, but the colors are so rich and speak to me. Seeing as this was essentially "free" (in a relative sense), I didn't feel so guilty about buying something that I knew he would dislike.

Not a bad shopping haul! Hopefully I can avoid temptation in the coming weeks better than I did on Saturday.

Valentine's Postcards Received

To date, I've had the pleasure of receiving three of the postcards from my Valentine's postcard exchange. I showed you my own designs in my last post and thought you might enjoy the creative cards I received in exchange.

From Connie in North Carolina, I received this one featuring a central heart made of roses (a print) and applied on top of both a red and white lace layer over a bottom layer of red fabric. Connie bound her postcard in fabric, using fusible on the inside to iron it on. I learned this method last year in a guild workshop with Frieda Anderson and it's pretty slick.

From Karen in Colorado (the organizer of this postcard exchange), I received this card with what appears to be a hand drawn flower appliqued on top of several layers of vabric and featuring a number of heart decorative stitches and the words "be mine." Karen's satin stitch around the edge is amazing and way more perfect than mine was.

The third card I received is from Margaret in Virginia. Margaret paper pieced a heart in red and browns and put it on a lovely romantic floral background.

All three ladies downloaded a template and printed their postcard backs onto fabric through their printers. That was probably a wise move - I struggled to write on mine using Pigma pens.
In the future, I'll definitely be borrowing this idea from them.

I can't wait to see what else I get in the mail and I'll be sure to share them with you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Valentine's Postcards

I don't participate very actively in the Bernina_Aurora Yahoo group to which I belong, but it did come in handy when I was having issues with my embroidery machine and all kinds of useful tips do come through, when I have time to read them (along with a lot of chaff). In the fall, I'd seen various postings about a postcard exchange that one of the members organized. Unfortunately, I was too busy at the time to give it much thought.

When I saw a posting about a month ago for a Valentine's postcard exchange, I decided to sign up. I thought it would be a good way to challenge myself to do something new, and at the time, it seemed like I had all kinds of time until Valentine's day. Well... time does have a way of slipping away. Tonight I finished my five postcards to mail out to women across the country - one each in Colorado, Texas and North Carolina, and two in Virginia.

I ended up creating three designs using whatever fabric I already had in my stash. The base is fast2fuse interfacing, a double-sided stiff fusible interfacing, and I am SO glad that I didn't accidentally fuse this to my iron or ironing board. Thank goodness for the inventor of the applique pressing sheet! The satin-stitched edge could use some work, but hey, I've never tried that edge finish before. I am getting marginally better with the satin-stitched applique, but my overall design skill evidenced in these is rather simplistic. I'd hoped for something artsy-ier. I guess you gotta start somewhere.

I'm looking forward to receiving my postcards in the mail and will share photos with you when I receive them. Hopefully the recipients - and you - will enjoy these.

Civil War Reproduction

I know, I know, it’s been two weeks since I posted and you probably have wondered what in the heck I’ve been doing with myself. With Ben doing all of that travel, shouldn’t I have all kinds of time for quilting? Well, in theory, yes. In reality, however, that hasn’t been the case. What with all of that snow last week – and more projected tonight – I’ve had to go to bed earlier so that I can get up to deal with the snow. Then all of the time spent to actually deal with the snow. Plus, I’ve had a fair amount of volunteer stuff to take care of for my alumni class.

I did this weekend finish the binding on this quilt, which is largely made from Civil War reproduction fabrics. It’s entirely a fat-quarter quilt, and all of the fabrics were purchased from the Primitive Gatherings shop in Menasha, which I visited when we were up in that direction to run the U.S. Cellular Half Marathon last September. Civil War repros didn't used to be my thing, but they have grown on me, and I particularly liked the blue and cream combination. The pattern is from Evelyn Sloppy's 40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts and is called Old-Time Treasures. The quilt in the book features reds and creams, which was really gorgeous too, but I settled on the blues thinking it had more decorating possibilities in our house.

I pieced the top at the weekend retreat in Lake Geneva in November (already I’m looking forward to it this year!) and Sandi Goulet quilted it for me (another fabulous job!). I have loads of “freebie” half-square triangles that I’ll develop at some point into some small bonus project, but I doubt that will happen any time soon. I’m planning to enter this in the guild’s quilt show next month, so I’m sure I’ll post more pictures then.