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

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

One More Sashed Chinese Coins Baby Quilt

This is not the last of the Chinese Coins from the "top that didn't work" but it's the last of the pastel solids I cut. Why, oh why do I always overcut? These baby quilts are heading to children in different cities so it's {a bit more} acceptable to have similar layouts. Ok, I'll admit it. I gave into temptation to move them out because they are cute, easy, and the right size. Less thinking required.

The inner border is navy, not black, and the border is a fun green and yellow stripe I purchased in abundance because stripes are great for borders and binding. But the quilt looks unfinished.

Chinese Coins with sherbet sashing quilt (CCXIV)

What can I applique on it? What about tulips? The two Coins in the center row with printed tulips gave me the idea. Plus those rows of them looked so good on the first quilt like this. Audrey's Scrappy Tulips is a stellar example of the flowers running through my mind. I almost made them but then wondered if they would clash against the Coins background. Also, the center doesn't bother me as much as the boring border.

What about rabbits instead? Sue Garman designed Bunny Block Sampler, a charming quilt with running hares around the border. Unfortunately my border is too narrow to hold rabbits.

Chinese Coins with sherbet sashing quilt and an applique rabbit (CCXIV)
Eventually I chose one upright rabbit that fits well in the corner. The template is here. I tried to draw my own rabbit. My folk-art ones are not too bad but they were either too small or too large; I could never get them just right. This one is more realistic and... I'm not an artist. Besides, I wasn't sure if this would work at all.

I traced it on a white print, turned the seams under and machined stitched it with an overlock design. Not too bad for a first attempt. Success built my confidence. I believe I can hand draw my own designs in future. Several ideas are running through my mind. {Breeding like rabbits.} Hooray. Practice with a known design is building my creativity.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Chinese Coins in Yellow Baby Quilt

As I wrote recently, I haven't felt very creative lately; I still don't. Sewing is relaxing but making all the decisions for a new quilt overwhelms me. Working on leftovers, extras, and older projects fits my abilities for now. Plus, they are {finally} moving along. {Go, team, go. On the floor and out the door.}

Case in point: If you recall Chinese Coins XII, made for my co-grandmother, started with columns from a Coin that didn't work. Adding sashing makes a few Coins go a long way so there are still loads of these columns left. As you would expect, I cut several extra WOF solids strips, too. How easy to sew them into another baby quilt.

At the end of last year I had five baby quilts; now they are all gifted. Nothing in the queue and DH's co-workers are still having babies!

This time I pulled the yellows and ochers. The yellow and white stripe sets them off well, especially after  the strong inner border was added. It looks as if these fabric purchases were planned but that is not the case. Buying fabric at one time for a quilt usually is a recipe for disaster for me.

As Audrey wrote recently, it's much better to pull from different years and brands. Making things work that aren't dyed to match gives me so much pleasure. After all, when all the decisions are made, there's nothing else to do but sew them up. That may be why we have so many UFOs. All the creative parts are done and we're left with the chores of sewing, pressing, and trimming.

scrap quilt with yellow and ocher sashing
Chinese Coins in Yellows (CCXIII) baby quilt

However, compared to Chinese Coins XII, this top seems unfinished. It lacks the snappiness the rows of tulips gave the previous quilt. What to do?

The spirals in the border gave me the idea to add spirals in the center. They are black so it was my original choice but when the fabric was laid on the quilt, anyone can see it's too severe. Back to the stash where I pulled this marsala shade of shot cotton. Much improved.

Possible applique fabrics for Chinese Coins in Yellow (CCXIII) baby quilt

With only a ten-inch WOF, I cut it on the diagonal and made two bias strips to put through bias tape makers of 9- and 12-mm. Pinned on the top, they are much too small and insignificant.

It either needs a larger spiral or many more small spirals. I've never had much luck sewing strips together and putting them through the bias tape maker. They always pooch out where the seams join. Shot cotton is very thin so I decided to try it again but didn't have confidence it would work. Wrong-o. No trouble at all.

One larger spiral of 12-mm bias tape pinned on the quilt scales better.

"This is just a baby quilt," I kept repeating but the tiny spirals looked too ... tiny. Eventually I replaced the narrowest one with new, large 12-mm spiral. Then I left it on the wall for a couple of days.

scrap quilt with yellow and ocher sashing and marsala spirals
Chinese Coins in Yellows with Spirals (CCXIII) baby quilt

I like the mixed spiral sizes {and I liked not having to replace the third} so I sewed each side of the spirals down. The inner end is tucked under the spiral; that wasn't difficult. The outer end had to be turned; that took a while. Obviously I need more practice.

detail of Chinese Coins in Yellows with Spirals (CCXIII) baby quilt

The thread ends need to be pulled to the back and tied. And look. Those aren't spirals in the border; they're concentric circles. Someone needs new glasses.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Using the Extra Blocks

I didn't intend to reprise The Square Deal so closely but, while clearing up, four sets of HSTs already sewed into nine-patches surfaced. They surprised me so I dug around extensively but didn't find any more. These are the last of this combination and I need several baby quilts. Soonest! So here we are, choosing between two very similar white prints for the center cross: frogs in a pond or sea creatures.

At the last minute I added the squares to make a Churn Dash center again. It makes the center more interesting; however, the inner border is blue {instead of white.} A small change.

Final decision: which print for the outer border? My first thought was the lovely one at the bottom but after looking at the photo, the triangle print floats my boat. Why does it look better? When it was in the box, the colors looked quite different than the center blocks. Viewed through the reducing lens of a camera, it changed appearance somehow. It has a richness the other lacks.

After looking at this photo for a few days, I've decided the scale of the right border relates to the center better than the bottom border. They are nearly the same colors but the slightly larger design on the right gives them more presence. What do you think?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

May the Fourth be with You

May 4 is coming this week. Star Wars Day because - May the Force be with You. We finally found the Yoda fountain in San Francisco. If you're a Star Wars fan, it's an iconic landmark.

Yoda Fountain at Lucasfilm, The Presidio

We joined some friends at the Presidio to view the Walt Disney Family Museum and walk the grounds. The Presidio was formerly a Spanish and Mexican fort, then a US military base but now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Congress mandated the Presidio Trust manage the park in a financially self-sufficient manner - no federal funds. Lucasfilm {along with other companies} rent some of the buildings and restored others but all property is owned/managed by the Trust.

Leaving the Museum, we stepped onto the main parade ground. There's San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz in the distance. What a view. Many of the officers quarters have become rental condos and duplexes. Some of them enjoy this scene daily from their windows. Wouldn't it be fun to live here?

Alcatraz in the distance from the Presidio's main Parade Ground

With my usual photographic abilities I managed to perfectly line up the window bar at the Visitor Center with the Golden Gate bridge roadbed. Not the best photo of the bridge but doesn't the window view look artificial? It must be the change from dim interior to bright exterior.

View of Golden Gate bridge from Presidio Visitor Center
In the foreground you can see they are in the process of building Tunnels Top park over Doyle Drive. Dallas built one over the Woodall Rodgers freeway that is lovely and well-used.

Between the day trip and other responsibilities, I didn't get much quilting done. I've also noticed a lack of creativity. I don't have the energy to work on something new. But... there are several old UFOs that could use some attention.

Currently I'm sewing sawtooth sashing for the {very old} New York Beauty blocks. One smart move is staggered starts - four each time - so something's always close to done. It also helps keep the scraps more random as older and newer ones mingle on each sash. Here's a representative sample.

Sawtooth sashing for New York Beauty blocks
Seventy-two are needed but a few extras will give me some design flexibility. Sixty-four were finished when I snapped the photo and the rest were done yesterday. What a relief. I've been {not} working on this quilt for years. Although I can't remember the exact year it was before the Millennium. Sigh.

The next step is the posts. I have some ideas to draft and play with.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Several Improvs in One

It's been a while but I finally pieced the border of the Square Deal. After swearing I wasn't going to make more blocks... I did. The top needed a few more strong reds and light blues.

The Square Deal quilt top

What's different? Compare the upper right corner of the final version above with the previous {partially sewn} version below. Five blocks were changed out on the top and right. They were lovely blocks but "pushed the envelope" a bit too far in value. The borders were getting muddled. That's always an issue with printed fabrics where several colors coexist. It can add movement or simply cause designs to become lost. Now there are still diffuse areas but also more definition.

EDIT: I reshot and replaced the photo above. The colors were too acid. I still think the photo below has truer colors though.

Previous layout for The Square Deal quilt
Do you notice my crosses became much wider with each set of Xs? The last set is pretty wide indeed. The first ones were so narrow that the seams overlapped after pressing. Guess I loosened up as time went on.

Evaluating this quilt it meets criteria for:
  1. Chinese Coins {because those were the original units for the striped triangles} 
  2. Two Blocks
  3. Red is a Neutral (because I played with several fabrics before deciding red looked best with those striped triangles}
However, this is not exactly what I envisioned as a Red quilt. Here red becomes the foreground while I wanted to use it as a background - more like Cathy's Confetti quilt. So another quilt idea goes on the {increasingly} long "to-be-made" list but it still feels good to combine several challenges into one quilt especially since life intervened several times keeping me from fully participating.

At some point I need to make a back and baste this top. That's a task for another time.

Enjoy the day, Ann