Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Few More Blocks and Railtown 1897

Setting up more Ohio Star blocks was all I completed this week since we are vacationing. If I had laid them out sooner I might have cut different amounts of each fabric; however, this is all of most of them. That's good from the point of stash reduction but not as good from the point of layout. Still it looks like the scrappiness will work well.

Split Ohio Star quilt block progress

We finally toured some of the Gold Country of California. Cleverly, the state highway running through it is 49 and we only traveled the middle section. I've been around the mining towns of the Rockies most of my life but had never made it to this region. The California rush preceded Colorado's by about 10 years but many of the mining techniques and railroading needs were the same. And Californians really embrace their history. Many of the sites are maintained {or at least enriched} by groups of retiree docents who work tirelessly to inform, improve, and assist at these fabulous state sides.

We started at Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, a steam locomotive maintenance and repair facility. The trains were originally established to move supplies up to the claims and gold down to Sacramento. Visitors may tours of the buildings, including the roundhouse, as well as enjoying train and cab rides and special events throughout the year. We enjoyed the informative tour that included many engines and cars before our ride.

Because the stack can easily be changed to mimic steam engines, this "movie star" train has appeared in more films, documentaries, and television shows than any other. Credits include Back to the Future 3, The Virginian, and Petticoat Junction.

The movie star locomotive at Railtown 1897

This unusual looking engine is a three truck Shay. With gears on the right, the locomotive is not symmetrical but it does make sharper turns.

Three truck Shay locomotive at Railtown 1897

The #19 Hetch Hetchy was originally furnished as an ambulance car and used on the Hetch Hetchy dam project. Later it was used for track inspection and to transport VIPs.

#19 Hetch Hetchy ambulance car at Railtown 1897

After the tour we watched the engineers switch #28 before climbing aboard for a delightful ride.

#28 locomotive at Railtown 1897

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

SIL Quilt Begins

My SIL requested a “farmhouse quilt”... several years ago now so I'm only a few years overdue. I had to ask her to explain since I’d never heard the term and had no idea what it meant. Turns out it’s a casual, countrified, blue-and-white quilt.

Lacking many blues in the shades she prefers, a shopping trip was in order. What fun to spend an afternoon at a quilt shop with SIL. And boy, is she serious about blue and white! Upon returning home I went through my stash for a few more fabrics to add a bit more variety.

The stars pieces are all cut. The split Variable Star reminds me of the split Nine Patch. They both accentuate light and dark furrows when sewn. But the pressing is a pain. There is no way I’ve found to have all the seams flat. So a few will be opened. Not my favorite choice.

Here’s where the project stands today.

Split Ohio Star quilt blocks

We drove over Slumgullion Pass the weekend. Don't you love that name? It's been raining a bit almost every day adding so many beautiful shades of green; not as common this late in summer.

On the road to Slumgullion Pass

Many herds grazed along the way: Deer in velvet in the middle distance;

Deer in velvet
A moose with her calf closer to the roadway;

Moose and calf
But elk kept their distance. No good shots of those.

Last month I dusted and polished the bookshelves, then organizing a shelf of all the books I have yet to read. Do you buy books that sound interesting and then fail to ever read them? I never thought that was a habit of mine but half of a shelf is laughing at me. The plan is to read or donate them within the year - sort of like turning the hangers backwards and donating unworn clothes after a year. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World was the first finish, a very intriguing look at the Mongals who brought so many innovations to the world.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Colorado Shirtwaist

On vacation with sporadic internet service. That’s ok because the scenery is gorgeous, the activities are exciting, and family is close.

One day I tried to quilt but the needle kept skipping so I sewed a shirtwaist dress instead. Hey, it was on my list of projects from the New Year.  A friend helped me adjust the pattern; I brought it in case there was time to work on it. Not perfect but it fits well and the issues are worked out. Hopefully I'll sew another soon.

Shirtwaist dress
We flew over the Great Sand Dunes National Park because our flight detoured around a storm along the Front Range. Wind caused these dunes pile to up against the mountains. Funny how small this park looks from the air. It seems immensely tall and hot each time I visit in person.
View of Great Sand Dunes National Park from air

I gave a very short talk and workshop to the San Luis Valley Quilt Guild then a longer workshop at Kathy’s Fabric Trunk in Del Norte which went very well. Class fees went to Colorado wildfire relief and a summer camp program. It felt good to raise money for these causes.

QS took us on a boat trip down the Gunnison River above the Morrow Point Dam and what a treat that was! The weather was perfect, the scenery striking, and the NPS guides informative. We saw Curecanti’s Needle, a 700' granite spire formed by two intersecting faults that was the symbol of the Denver and Rio Grande Western narrow gauge railroad running through the canyon until the 1940s.

Curecanti's Needle

The other highlight of the trip was a pair of bald eagles hanging out in a dead tree. Wow!

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Well Basted; Finally Finished

This quilt was basted two years ago. At that time the sashing was SID but I never could decide how to quilt it. Finally I hung it neatly alongside some tops where it remained until this week. Enough! Propellers turn so they make spiraling air currents and that's a good enough design.

The more I fret about quilting, the more I try to "match" it to the fabric prints. So I considered tracing those large circles, small daisies, and wavy lines. Too constrained. Too many thread changes. The spiral looks cleaner and more effective.

Propeller baby quilt

The only problem was the center of the spiral. It's very hard to turn the quilt smoothly in such a tiny radius. I have used FMQ in the center and switched to the walking foot when the circle was larger but it's hard to enough keep the spacing the same with one foot. It's almost impossible with two different feet. Marking a spiral wasn't a good option this time because my marking pens blended into the print.

Original spiral quilting in the center is not well aligned

I resewed it by simply following the printed design of the center. The spiraling starts at the edge of the center circle. The lines still have some irregularities but those are much less obvious.

Center is quilted by following the print with a walking foot

Then I pulled fabric for the binding. Lots and lots of fabrics. Red, blue, light blue, grey, white, striped. You name it; I tried it. Most were too harsh. The pale grey striped border called for a light- colored binding. Here are three of my final ideas. The black at the bottom made a very severe line as did all those strong blues and reds. I liked the grey and yellow but preferred the soft blue with orange-red flowers... even though it looks like a 30's reproduction print. It ties to the center better.

Binding choices for Propeller baby quilt

The back is a soft twill-like weave in baby pink that was a bit wider than normal so it didn't need piecing. I wish I knew the name of the weave. It drapes beautifully; not a bit stiff like my idea of twill.

Binding detail of Propeller baby quilt

One more detail photo. Without realizing it,  Propeller baby quilt is a small exercise in scale change, too. Woo-hoo; invitation met - even if it is a bit late.

Propeller baby quilt detail

Previous posts:
  1. Leftover blocks
  2. Designing the top
  3. Basted and ready to quilt

Quilt Details
Size: 44" x 44"
Designs: Airplane Propellers and Flying Geese
Batting: Mountain Mist 100% cotton
Thread: Gutterman 50 wt cotton, grey on front, pink on back
Quilting: SID and Spiral with walking foot

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Is the Tethys Waves Quilt Top Finished?

I'm uncertain whether I like this top or not. These are all the red triangles. After testing several other red fabrics I thought a cream solid looked best to fill in the missing sections. Now I'm not so sure.

Perhaps the cream should have been an inner round? Or perhaps it should be dark? Would applique help? Does it need a narrow cream border? I will ponder this for a while.

Meanwhile, DH and I saw the Van Gogh exhibit at the Houston Museum of Art. It was the last week and I was determined to make it. And I’m glad I did. So much in exhibitions has changed for the better. The layout made the show as much a biography, travelogue, and art history lesson as a simple art exhibit.

The curators enlarged several of van Gogh’s sketches and placed them, along with large aerial maps in each room to highlight the different areas Vincent traveled while painting. BTW, did you know he only painted during the last decade of his life and still left over 900 works?

Enlarged sketches by Vincent van Gogh highlight his creative journey at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts

The exhibit brought together complimentary sketches and paintings like this pair of Montmartre.
Sketch and painting of Montmartre by Vincent van Gogh

It highlighted his friendship with Paul Gaugin who visited Vincent in Arles where they set frequently set their easels side by side as each painted the same scene or model. For example, Portrait of a Man (Joseph-Michel Ginoux?) by van Gogh is believed to be the proprietor of the Cafe de la Gare in Place Lamartine, Arles. A photocopy of Gaugin's painting with the same name was included on the information card. Although at a different angle, it is the same man in the same clothes with the same lime background.

Portrait of a Man (Joseph-Michel Ginoux?) by Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh considered wheat a symbol of life. He used it repeatedly as the focus and background of his portraits of peasants such as this pair.

As you all know, van Gogh was repeatedly entered an asylum near the end of his life but continued to paint there. I think The Garden of the Asylum at Saint-Remy is my favorite in the exhibit for the movement of the leaves and his masterful use of black outlining.

The Garden of the Asylum at Saint-Remy by Vincent van Gogh

Mel Beach's Summer Lovin' projects, with their black thread outlining and writing invoke a similar feeling in fabric.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Still Sewing

Sewing continues although I see little progress. {Sigh.} However, I do like the way the triangles twinkle. It's the mix of mediums and darks that causes it. It just takes a bit of careful placement so the lightest of the darks is still darker than the surrounding lights. Make sense?

Here's an example of a light green surrounded by several cream triangles.

Ocean Waves quilt in progress

The same green fabric appears again next to one of the red diamonds but this time it's next to a darker light... much closer in value to the green than the creams above. This green won't twinkle as much because the neighboring value is so close. At least, that’s what I think.

Ocean Waves quilt in progress

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is currently exhibiting H2OH, a SAQA member show juried by Linda Gass who gave a lecture one evening about how she approaches her art. Linda made a second career as an artist focusing on water resources. Her beautiful work combines silk fabrics, hand dyeing and machine quilting as she interprets maps of various areas of concern.

Memory of Water by Susan Else

This three-dimensional sculpture intrigued me most - Memory of Water by Susan Else. It looks like wood but it's all fabric. Growing up in Sacramento, Susan remembers that water was free and wasted. Great fun for a child but a sorrowful memory of an adult.

On another note, I saw this picture at a San Francisco hotel. It glittered in the light so at first I thought it was a diamond painting like Julie's been making recently.

Art made of screws

A closer look revealed it's made of screws, attached at different heights and painted single and double colors.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Tethys Waves Quilt in Progress

About the time the first Ocean Waves quilt was laid out, I had an epiphany. Just combine both triangles in one quilt. The concentric triangles are in the center with a round of perpendicular ones circling the outside.

Tethys Waves quilt top in progress

And it has a name. The Tethys Sea existed during the Mesozoic Era but modern remnants include the Mediterranean, Black, Caspian, and Aral Seas. Since many of these scraps are both ancient and reproduction, Tethys Waves sounds like the perfect name.  At least it amuses me.

But there's a problem I constantly forget... Once all the design decisions are made, there is nothing left but to sew the units together. Tethys Waves is many, many tiny QSTs.

Tethys Waves quilt in progress

When the first units were sewed and laid out it looked so neat. "Almost done!" I thought. But no. I match more points and pin. Sewing sections together dislocates them from the next section. I have to put them back on the wall to ensure I'm sewing them correctly. And I added some cream triangles on the border so all the red triangles are used... which just makes more sewing. And I unsew the intersections at the back to allow them to spin. And I press carefully without steam because of the bias edges.

Tethys Waves quilt in progress - only ten more seams to go

And  all I want is to be done. Sigh.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ancient Ocean Waves

Not in the scrap bag {where I frequently toss leftovers.} Nor in the drawer that holds extended projects {that actually get forgotten most of the time.} These little HSTs were hiding in an old shoe box at the back of the closet. Truth to tell, I knew a box was sitting with the shoes but was surprised to find three boxes. Go figure.

How did I get so many? Well, several people hinted quite strongly that they'd like an Ocean Waves quilt after I made one for DD. Somehow I started using lots of darker blues with lights. I do remember not having many white/beige lights and eventually cutting up some reproduction fabrics. And that's where I lost interest. At least a decade ago.

Julie mentioned putting a "Discard by" date on her leftover scrap packets. I need to commandeer that tip.

Anyway, I pulled these out determined to use them up this week. Here are the four fabrics I considered for the centers. I like the bunnies but they seem to clash with the reproduction fabrics. The taupe is lovely, too. Probably not the best choice for a baby quilt though. {Actually I'm uncertain how well these dark beauties will make into a baby quilt at all.}

Possible centers for Ocean Waves scrap quilt

In the end I went with the red print. Then I cut it wrong. Grr. Instead of cutting long strips and subcutting the triangles from that {you know, so all the lines run the same direction} I foolishly cut them into squares and subcut into QSTs. Now half the lines go across and half run perpendicular.

So I have a small quilt like this...

Ocean Waves quilt block with red centers, straight set

And another like this, which is the one I wanted. The wavy lines on these red triangles make them look like roses. But it will be small.

Ocean Waves quilt block with red centers, on point

I'm pushing forward anyway. It's past time to move these scraps to a finish.

The final chapter of The Golden Thread discussed this fabulous cape by Peers and Godley. Gold and gorgeous, it debuted at the V&A Museum which is currently exhibiting a definitive Dior show.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Chinese Coins with Rabbit Baby Quilt Finished

Spiral quilting is successful. After considering another centered spiral for this quilt, I chose to use concentric circles here. I've done it before. Instructions on how/where I started are at the end of this post from 2015.

Chinese Coins with Rabbit baby quilt (CCXIV)

It much easier to start with a gentle quarter circle starting halfway down one side and then echo quilt along each side than to try to echo from a tight corner. When you look closely, it's obviously not marked. I simply eyeballed a width based on the foot. Those wobbles are not visible in the overall photo and will disappear even more as the quilt is washed, used, and loved to pieces.

Chinese Coins with Rabbit baby quilt (CCXIV) detail

The back is a collection of blues. Not quite as dull as this photo shows. Again, the narrow border was stitched-in-the-ditch first to keep it nice and straight.

Chinese Coins with Rabbit baby quilt (CCXIV) back

Here's a closeup of the bunny. The large floral print looks like Spring. It was fun to use fabric that is not realistic. {I'm such a stick-in-the-mud, I usually try to match real items with their real colors.}

Chinese Coins with Rabbit baby quilt (CCXIV) detail of rabbit and binding
Looking through the binding strips, these yellows worked best. I even pulled some choices from my stash to see if anything worked better but the quilt says, "Enough. Give me a soft, low-key edge, please."

Quilt Details
Size: 41" x 43"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist 100% cotton
Thread: dark and light blue Gutterman 50 wt cotton
Quilting: Stitch in the Ditch and spiral quilting with walking foot

I am still reading St. Clair's The Golden Thread and finished the chapter on Vikings last week. She writes about the longship discovery at Gokstad which I think Kaja visited last year although I can't find her post. She had some great photos.

 Kassia also mentions Ibn Fadlan who I recall from Michael Crichton's novel Eaters of the Dead. The title sounds more gruesome than the book really is. Published in the 70's, it mixes Ibn's journals with the story of Beowulf. I remember the first two chapters were difficult to read as he wrote it in an archaic transcript; however, it then switches to modern language which made it much more easy and interesting. Michael added addendums to his early novels that listed his sources. Oh, how I loved to research those. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Chinese Coins with Spirals Quilt

Wasting no time, I spiral quilted this Chinese Coins baby quilt. It one went more smoothly due to for repeated {recent} practice.

Spiral Chinese Coins baby quilt (CCXIV)

The quilting enhances the appliqué spirals although it required a few extra pins to keep the fabric flat. Even though I tried, those appliqués stretched the background fabric a bit although those improved with practice, too.

Detail of Spiral Chinese Coins baby quilt (CCXIV)

The back shows off the quilting better. Why is that? It also shows the SID on the inner border.

Back of Spiral Chinese Coins baby quilt (CCXIV)

Any wiggling of narrow borders is extremely noticeable so I always SID those first in a color that matches the border. You can't see it on the front...

Detail of Spiral Chinese Coins baby quilt (CCXIV)

but it's visible on the back.

Detail of back of Spiral Chinese Coins baby quilt (CCXIII)

Can you believe this is the fourteenth Coins quilt I've made in this series? I can't.

Quilt Details
Size: 41" x 42"
Design: Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist 100% cotton
Thread: Black and variegated yellow Gutterman 50 wt cotton 
Quilting: Stitch in the Ditch and spiral, both with walking foot

Previous posts:
  1. The Chinese Coin columns that didn't work and the sashing strips {because this one was made from the narrow columns of the same foundation as the Square Deal baby quilt.}
  2. Chinese Coins with Tulips
  3. Adding the spirals
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Gifted Deal

Quilted, bound, washed, and dried. These darling blocks made a {fairly} quick quilt for a new baby. It went in the mail and arrived before the new dad's paternity leave ended. Whew!

The Square Deal baby quilt

As frequently happens, I nearly drove myself crazy with the quilting. It needed to keep the quilt together and hold up to rigorous use. Additionally, it needed to be simple with a minimum of starts and stops. Burying threads is such a time consumer.

The inner border is SID with matching thread. This is my usual way to keep the line straight through all the subsequent quilting.

After asking my small group, I determined to try a squared-off spiral. It was a disaster. Not only were my "straight" lines wobbly, they were also too far apart. In desperation I switched to a regular spiral. It didn't seem like it would work well but I was wrong about that, too. It looks great. Yes, those curved lines are wobbly but I bet you can't tell!

Detail of the Square Deal baby quilt

The main back fabric was too short and too narrow. A bit of another blue lengthened the base and the last of the border fabric widened it. The spiral shows up so much better on the back.

Back of the Square Deal baby quilt

I've used this design twice before, but it's been a while. The first time on the Neutral String baby quilt and later on Spiderweb 3.  I like it and plan to use it again. Echo quilting is one of the few designs that shows on patterned fabric. Spirals are a version of echos.

Quilt Details
Size: 40" x 40"
Design: Original
Batting: Mountain Mist 100% cotton
Thread: Blue and peach Gutterman 50 wt cotton
Quilting: Stitch in the Ditch and spiral, both with walking foot

Previous posts: 
1. The Chinese Coin columns that didn't work
2. Making HSTs
3. Playing with HSTs
4. Square Deal block
5. Using the extra blocks

I borrowed The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair, a collection of stories about fabric through history rather than a history of fabric. Thirteen chapters cover pre-historic cave dwellers through the Space Age astronauts and include several stories, each beginning with a literary quote involving thread or textiles. That alone is worthwhile. Kassia writes fluently and persuasively; she based this book on some of her magazine articles. 

The Golden Thread by Kassia St. Clair

All in all, The Golden Thread is much more interesting than the news programs so I will be check her other book on color next.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Queueing up the Quilting

Three new tops are ready to sandwich once the backs are sewed. I've found it easiest to lay the top on the floor and cover it with fabrics until the back is large enough. Sometime I'll make a back like Julie's. What a great way to dress up the back side of a quilt. But not this time. After I sew them up, I'll spend the day pinning all of these plus the Chinese Coins with Roses top. All four will take one queen-size batt and I won't have to worry about storing a partial batt.

I'm keeping the Roses because I've been asked to show my guild how to make them but the baby quilts are all promised. I'd still like to have some finished ones on hand. I'll have to look through the bin again. Surely there are more partial blocks hanging around.

In the meantime, it's been flooding in Houston and Dallas. Fortunately my traveling has been on the dry days because you definitely want to stay inside in these downpours. Then we went to Oregon for a graduation. Precipitation accompanied that trip.

My brilliant idea was to go to Crater Lake on the way up. We've always wanted to see it; the Lodge just opened for the season. We drove past Klamath Lake, the largest fresh-water body in Oregon. It's the geologic remnant of pluvial Lake Modoc which was ten times larger and formed about 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age. {Pluvial lakes form when temperature rises near glacial regions.}

Klamath Lake on a cloudy day

Bits of snow hid in the shade as we entered the park but it was waist high by the time we got to the Lodge which sits at the rim of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake Lodge

And then it started to snow.

The deck at Crater Lake Lodge
We were told this is a wonderful view of the Lake... if hadn't been snowing. We are {allegedly} right on the edge of the lake. Not that we could see anything. Neither the near nor far side.

Still, we enjoyed touring the Lodge and reading about it's reconstruction. And we hope to return on a more auspicious day.

The sun broke out as we crossed the border so DH took a photo of Mt. Shasta. Another future trip.

Mt Shasta

Enjoy the day, Ann