Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Second Month of Maps

My map process to date - which has been very slow - is posted on AdHocImprovQuilts. I sketched and erased, thought about the yards, the streets, the neighborhoods that hold significance in my life and decided to start with my grandparents' house.

When we were small, the streets were lined with elm trees. Beautiful and mature, they arched over the street, cooling and shading us all. My brother and I whitewashed the trunks every summer. For a quarter. What riches!

Mapping all my memories of the times we spent there may take several quilts but I'm starting with a simple map of the neighborhood. I've redrawn it several times; the last attempts are more freehand. I want to emphasize the roads and their offsets more than maintaining an exact block ratio.

I wanted to be further along but decided the better choice was to take my time. Here are three colorways I pulled for possible blocks.

Fabric choices in three colorways for the map quilt

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of tops to baste and quilt. I started with the largest one and am halfway through the quilting.

Quilting Color Study Chinese Coins
So far I'm stitching in the ditch with smoke nylon monofilament on top and cotton thread on bottom. Then I'll pause to determine the next step.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Half Square Triangles and Scraps

"But wait. There's still more." My quilting sounds like those late night TV commercials!

Although I repurposed the narrow columns from the last attempt at Chinese Coins, the wider columns remain. Those encased columns work better when they are very narrow so the wide ones need a different plan. Taking 6-8" wide columns, I sub-cut them into six-inch squares and got busy combining them with new solids.

Six-inch squares of Chinese Coins

Orange, red, and pink also were cut into squares. Mixing them up made this.

HST scrap block of warm solids and Chinese Coins

I'm very excited about this start, especially because it doesn't look like Chinese Coins!! Amazing. It's a great first day of working on this project. Thanks to Cathy for promoting 20-minute interval sewing. It's helped me slow down and consider multiple possibilities.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Still Clearing the Scrap Bag

I've said it before but it's still true. My tiny scrap bag holds an endless amount of scraps and strings. Even though Chinese Coins XI was intended to empty it, the bag looked just as full as always. More sewing was required.

Extra Coin columns

Arranged in columns, these do nothing for me. Not good or bad, just very boring. What else could they become?

They'd make good borders for a medallion but I finished several recently. However, I keep considering sashing. Now would be a good time to actually try that. Since solids are the largest section of my stash that hasn't been worked with, I pulled some pretty sherbet colors.

Sherbet solids with a stripe

Encasing five Coin columns with a different color,  I sewed them together, added two rows of tulips above and below. Is it still a Chinese Coin quilt? Well, since I started with Coins and sashing is the traditional way to make a Coins quilt, I'm counting it as such. Chinese Coin XII quilt!

Chinese Coins XII baby quilt top

It's also an overdue baby quilt for someone special.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Chinese Coins XI Top

What a fun day! Deep thinking about different prints and how to arrange them to tell the maker's story. I forgot to take photos though but hope to get some as the quilts are finished. That's an advantage of working with your own guild. :-)

This top was sewed just in time for the class. I guess I haven't changed that much: still working to the deadline.

Chinese Coins XI quilt top
Since a collage worked so well last time, I made another with the original grouping next to the finished top. They are both diffuse, fairly random arrangements but the final one works better - a soft sorting in quiet {for me} colors. The original pinup had most corals at the top. Additionally, one fabric group was missing which added several columns to the quilt. 

By pinning smaller "sheets" together I retain the ability to easily move, rotate, remove, and add Coins until it's finished. You can see many changes between the two photos which should give you some idea of the versatility of this method.

Comparing Chinese Coins XI top finished and in progress

Fabrics cut up quite differently than they look as yardage, especially large scale prints. Just like a good haircut frames your face, they look so polished and confident when they are cut to display to advantage.

It's a simple, happy quilt. It cleared out some of my scraps. And it made one more example of fabric sorting for the class. Win. Win. Win.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Demo Day

This is a day of remembrance in America. Despite the political turmoil here and abroad, I think most of us hope to coexist peacefully. We need to work towards that end harder than we merely hope. Everyone we've ever known or heard of has lived on this one small, blue dot in space.

Democracy is not only a form of state, it is not just something that is embodied in a constitution; democracy is a view of life, it requires a belief in human beings, in humanity.... Democracy is a discussion. But the real discussion is possible only if people trust each other and if they try fairly to find the truth. 
- Tomas Garrigue Masaryk

I'll be at the workshop all day and hope my demonstration goes well. I plan to show how to use the Value Finder, discuss print scale and density, and get everyone started with their own Chinese Coin quilt.

I've tagged and bagged samples and demos for the various steps. Planning to teach a technique is quite different than making a quilt. I've stopped at each small step, scratched notes, tried to figure out how and why I made each decision, and made more tops than I ever expected to try to include all these points. Each highlights some but none is perfect. Well, we all know nothing ever is perfect.

Since the participants say they are most interested in how I put fabrics together, one simple layout - vertical columns - gives us more time to work with fabric.

Hearing something one hundred times is not as good as seeing it once. 
- Chinese proverb

I'm taking all the Coin quilts still on hand. The white/yellow/blue/green Coins might help others visualize different results from the same pile of Coins - from pale yellow-and-white to background to loud-and-proud. Three others showcase used household fabrics, a selected group of red, pink, blue and green fabrics, and finally clearing the scrap bag.

Chinese Coin quilt examples for workshop

Collaged together, they showcase my fabric choices. We all have color combinations and values we prefer and mine show up here although I definitely cut too many yellow and green strips. {Yellow is not one of my usual colors but I'm coming to like it.} Even though those started from the same batch of scraps, they highlight how we can start with one framework but end with different quilts. {Like the two authors and their books from Throw Mama From the Train... without the murderous intent. Ha.}

Hopefully I can take photos of the day to share later.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Clearing the Scrap Bag

It's too much effort to go through the stash although it desperately needs straightening. Clearing the scrap bag is easier. There are lots of whites, lights, and clear colors that remind me of spring or early summer.

And I figured another way to sort the scraps for a Coin quilt. First I separated them by color then assigned each fabric to one of three groups. Each has the same number of fabrics in each color but they are different fabrics. Does that make sense?

Here's what I have so far. It's only two of the three groups and needs work. Obviously. I pinned the sheets together to get to the length I want but don’t like how they are arranged currently.

Chinese Coins XI in progress

This is the last top I'm making for the very delayed demonstration at my guild. It was rescheduled to next week. I've already given several of these quilts away; I always do. I had to make some more to have variations to show.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bars 4 Quilt Finished

Cathy's 20 minute method is working well for me. Forty minutes total is about all I can do in a day. I like moving two or three projects along, especially when I can only work for short times anyway.

Bars 4 quilt

The back used up larger remnants and some extra strips. Always a win in my book.

Back of Bars 4 quilt

With so many bright colors in the top the only binding that looked right was a dull tannish brown chambray. Ok, several of the darker brights looked good but there wasn't enough yardage. As usual with the size quilts I make it took over half a yard. Note to self: occasionally purchase more than half a yard in order to have binding choices.

Binding and quilting detail, Bars 4 quilt

Basic straight-line quilting with the walking foot is still my preferred design. These strong graphics don't need competition. This time, the stitching runs across the quilt. Perhaps that will keep certain gentlemen from breaking the threads as they pull the quilt up. {Naming no names.}

Quilt Details
Size: 78" x 65"
Design: Bars variation of Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: grey Gutermann cotton thread
Quilting: Straight lines with walking foot

Previous posts:
1. Piecing the top
2. Quilting Bars 4

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Chinese Coins VII: Strewing Roses Top

Hand-turning the leaves took a while but machine applique went much faster.

Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses quilt top

I thought turning the blanket stitch around would imitate the hatching on the rose leaves. It wasn't that successful. The stitch pulls the background fabric up a bit. Temporary paper backing would have helped except I forgot about it till now. A darker green thread would have better shown the jagged edges.

Some thorns were added in a solid lighter green fabric. {A friend pointed out the thorns are lighter than the rose stem.} However, unless the thorn sits on white or light blue, it really doesn't show. We always hear "value is more important than color" and here is the proof. The thorns and the background are equal value.

Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses detail of machine applique leaves and thorns

Happy Labor Day weekend. I hope you, your family and friends enjoy time together.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Old Map, New Map

I've been thinking about maps and quilts for years. As a geologist I created maps and cross sections, working to illuminate topography, reservoir limits and potential hazards. My dad loved them, too. We'd collect USGS quadrangle maps for every vacation to locate hiking trails and points of interest. {Our vacations were always in to wilderness.} Then we'd visit AAA for road maps. He had us navigate along the route. These are the kinds of maps that most interest me.

I do have an old quilt that could be considered a map quilt {or a pictorial quilt} recording the many visits we made to my sister. Summer, spring and winter but rarely in the fall with so many school activities.

Tucking the kids in the car in their pjs early in the morning meant a good four hours head start. Regular stops. Then turning off the highway up a one lane asphalt road that quickly turned to dirt. Over the bridge, around the curve, and there we were. At last.

The Road to my Sister's House

This was one of the first quilts posted on my blog. Part map, part story, part memory, all the love I feel for my family.

My newest idea is piecing those skinny strips. Will they look like roads? I made my first very small practice one but I've been thinking about them for a while.

Angled parkway cutting city streets
Rather than black, I'm choosing white for streets. They need strong contrast with the land/houses. I'm good at lining up 90 degree intersections but need some more practice with the angled streets.

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color wrote a salute to John McCain that I wholeheartedly support. America is less with the loss of this great man.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Spending Coins and a Question

Wink at the Moon for Neil Armstrong tonight, the anniversary of his passing. The human race cooperated to advance science when man first walked on the moon. Respectfully working together lifted us all to new levels of achievement. Surely we can do it again to resolve issues closer to home.

Since there were still a bunch of Coins and Coin strips cluttering up my space I added them to my 20 minute projects. The first one simply needed two more columns sewn to the top. The other was all the leftover sheets - that's what I call the short sections of Coins.

While the dark colors were on the design wall I pinned these strips to see if sashing would work. I'm not thrilled with any of these, perhaps because the Coins are uniformly dark. Obviously I will add sashing to some future Coins quilt; I keep trying to put some in.

Dark Chinese Coin columns with possible sashing fabrics

Then I sewed the remaining yellow coins in two short sessions. There are almost enough columns for two more toddler quilts. On one hand I can't believe I cut so many coins; on the other hand this amount makes a bed-size quilt. Think about it: four or five toddler quilts (40x50") equals one queen quilt (90"x100".) It's like cooking after the boys leave home. Without those bottomless pits, food stays around forever. How many days of leftovers can you stand before you just toss them?

Chinese Coins IX needed some sashing strips to increase the width. At least I thought so. Placing funky green lozenge fabric between two blue columns makes an interesting variation. {You can't believe I purchased this fabric off the sale rack four years ago, can you?} Needing to cut vertically on a third of a yard, each sash was made of four pieces. After working hard to match the first one through the middle of the lozenge, I wised up and sewed across the relatively empty area between them. {Too soon old and too late smart.}

Chinese Coin IX quilt top

The second of these quilts ran short on fabric in two columns. I added some narrower sheet sets to lengthen them. To make those wide enough I pinned the last of the green lozenges along the sides. I like this one although it doesn't quite match my lesson plan.

Chinese Coin X quilt top

A Final Question
This yellow and blue English wax batik has been in my stash for 20+ years.

English Wax batik

I loved it when I bought it but have never used it. At one time I planned to cut it up for a kaleidoscope but that never happened. Should I use it on the back of these quilts? They are the closest I've come to blending with the batik. In fact, I wonder why I didn't include some Coins from it.

English wax batik (8" vertical repeat, 13" repeat across WOF)

At 45" wide and 96" long, it will easily make two backs but using this stunning fabric as the back of baby quilts seems wasteful.

Guaranteed English Wax, Veritable Wax Anglais

It could be a fabulous baby quilt back or borders or a fussy-cut kaleidoscope. What would you use it for?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Using Little Bits of Time

This time I'm hand turning the applique leaves before attaching them. I haven't used this technique in years but it's going faster than I recalled.  As they are turned, more "space" opened up so I cut more leaves until the fabric ran out. This is it. Must work it out somehow.

Adding leaves to Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses

The photos were shot after dark making the fabrics darker than reality. But I like the way the leaves are backlit and/or they fill in the lightest area of the quilt.

Recovering my full energy has taken a long time. I'm not there yet but am better every day. In the meanwhile, I was inspired by Cathy's post last month detailing 20 minute work segments. While I can't work on as many projects as she does {How do you keep them all straight, Cathy?} this seemed a good way to push some older projects forward. As I learned from my Thirty-Year Sampler, consistent work is the only way to complete it. And besides, 20 minutes is about all the strength I have these days.

The Bars 4 quilt needs to be finished for a future gift. Again I'm using very simple straight lines with the  walking foot. Twenty minutes uses part of a spool and keeps it moving along.

Machine quilting Bars 4

After a nap I switch to these old paper-pieced sawtooth borders planned for the New York Beauty. The papers were drafted and strips were cut. It's been languishing under my sewing table for a couple three years and the blocks are even older than that. How time flies and styles change. I'd like to finish it before I'm completely disenchanted. BTW, I chose an alternate (and older) name for this quilt: Rocky Mountain Road.

Paper-pieced sawtooth borders for Rocky Mountain

Several triangles can be added before I have to change the bobbin. And then it's time for another nap.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Coast to Coast

On our last day in NY we walked along the High Line to the Whitney Museum. Two and a half miles of a former elevated railroad was repurposed to green space with gardens everywhere {and active volunteers working diligently}, outdoor theaters, seating areas, cafes, small shops, and this charming wading puddle. About an inch deep, the water flows two-three feet from the edge towards the center. Yes. I took my shoes off and enjoyed the experience.

The High Line, NYC

The Whitney concentrates on works by artists who work in America. Each floor had a different exhibit; Where We Are focuses of visions of 1900-1960 community, work, home, the spiritual, and the nation.

Of course, I noticed this painted map of the Brooklyn Bridge. The multiple perspectives and the highlighting of decorative elements remind me of Valerie Goodwin's work. Other's thought so, too. A large class sat in front of the picture while their guide discussed it multilingually. Stella used single point perspective but that point moves up and down along a center line. The angles of his linear features - buildings, support wires, light beams - is masterful. Especially interesting to a quilter, I think.

The Brooklyn Bridge: Variation on an Old Theme by Joseph Stella, 1939.

Somber pictures painted in tempera on composition board mark Jacob Lawrence's service in WWII Coast Guard. The sailors in open air marching up the gangplank for another patrol carrying supplies as big as they are complements the stifling closed deck sleeping quarters as they are shipped out. You can feel the cool breeze in the first and the humid, stifling heat of the second.

War Series: Another Patrol, 1946 and
War Series: Shipping Out, 1947 by Jacob Lawrence.

The exhausted soldier packing all his gear drops his head. No exuberance here; he's experienced too many horrors and lost too many friends. All he feels is relief the mayhem is over.

War Series: Victory by Jacob Lawrence, 1947.

Photos of night scenes never come out for me but I'm almost always enthralled by painted views of expansive night skies contrasting strong moonlight with a small human-made light. Beautiul dark blue sky with many stars. A full moon reflected on snow brightens this Adirondack farm. The lit window in the deep shadows is both welcoming and tiny - having more warmth although only a pinprick against the moon's strength

Moonlight, Winter by Rockwell Kent, 1940

It reminded me of this picture from the Denver Art Museum last year. I wanted to include it then but he's smoking. Still, there are many features in common. Dark blue night sky full of stars; a full moon not visible in the picture reflects on the white horse and brightens all the land. The tiny human-made light, a cupped match, seems to add a much light as the moon by brightening the cowboy's face and shirt and drawing our attention.

Sadly I don't know the name of the painting or the artist. I've checked my records and the museum's. Please let me know if you discover either.

The rainfall differences are immediately apparent between the two paintings. Since John Wesley Powell identified the 100th meridian west as the divide between the humid east and the arid west this line has been a visible boundary between rainfall and desert, between corn and wheat, between population density and scarcity. Recently the line has moved east. Only one degree of longitude. Just to the 99th meridian west. Guess what? That's about 78,000 square miles in the US alone.

Only fifteen of our states have more area. Or... 82 of 192 countries. Not an insignificant effect of climate change. What will we leave for our grandchildren?

Once again the San Francisco airport has a unique exhibit in the terminals. This time it's Maneki Neko, the Beckoning Cats of Japan.

Meneki Neko, the Beckoning Cats of Japan at the San Francisco airport museum

Scholars believe cats came to Japan from Korea in the 8th century. Valued because they killed rodents, cats quickly became pets and appeared in art and literature. During the late Edo period (18th & 19th centuries) artisans began making these figurines with upraised paw to attract people to businesses and homes. The left paw brings good fortune to a business while the right paw attracts fortune, health and happiness to a home.

The cats vary in color, size, facial features, tail length, and bib decoration. They are made of stoneware, porcelain, wood, stone, and metal. While playing Go, the wooden pair below imitate two of the seven gods of good fortune - Daikoku and Ebisu.

Perhaps you recall Google's AI program won against a Chinese grand champion last year. Artificial intelligence researchers like this game because it has many more outcomes than other board games such as chess. In fact, Google says "there are more potential positions in a Go game than atoms in the universe."

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This Old Map

A map project has been pinned in a corner of the design wall for over a year. Sigh. While ideas about my mother and family are swirling through my brain I also "need" to finish this project which started in a workshop with Valerie Goodwin at Empty Spools. Well, actually it started in a one-day workshop with her at my guild almost three years ago. Definitely past time to get it moving.

As an architect, Valerie uses multiple perspectives in her presentations which inspire her layered techniques in art. My map alternates between aerial and side views, expansive and close-up. At least, it does in my imagination. Getting it to fabric is the challenge.

Coit Tower map quilt in progress
I took her class with a friend. We were both excited beyond measure by the ideas spawned in Valerie’s class. I thought I was working on the lowest layer. Only as it neared completion did I realize the water layer is further “behind.” I’m unsure how to layer these overlapping regions without holes. That’s where it froze. No. That’s where I froze.

So I am determined to work on each layer individually and postpone the decision of how they mesh. This is not a bed quilt. It won’t matter how many layers I create nor how they are sewn. And the idea has been pushing at my psyche for a year. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s a flop. Well, I’ve experienced that before and survived.

Did you catch Maria Shell's recent post about the road to her summer home? Another map quilt.

I read this quote on Pamela’s blog recently:
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave it neither power or time.” Mary Oliver

Enjoy the day, Ann