Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bordering the Square Deal and the Grand Canyon

Liking the microdot inner sashing, I was ready to sew the center together but decided to make a Churn Dash of the innermost triangles. The first attempt included very narrow pink rectangles {no photo} but quickly grew to squares for more presence. The extra pink balances the weight of the Square Deal.

The Square Deal quilt in progress: working on the borders

With that part looking good I sewed on the mermaid inner border before going to bed.

In the morning the quilt appears too dark and/or heavy with four black crossroad blocks in each corner. Reducing that to two made it much better but there's another, larger problem.

Where did the blue blocks go? The yellow, green and pink blocks in the outer border make a decent contrast with the red ones but have little relationship with the center strips and HSTs. Looking back at my original layouts, the darker border adds needed presence while the light blues make the center sing.

The Square Deal quilt in progress: working on the outer border

So now I'm reworking the outer border.  I'm not done but it looks better.

On to the Grand Canyon

Despite a lifetime in geology, I'd never been to the Grand Canyon. So glad I made it last week, especially because it was off season {meaning the North Rim was closed.}

My visit started at the Desert View Watchtower. It highlights the Painted Desert  to the east and the beginning of the Canyon. Inspired by native art, the watchtower incorporated Pueblo designs and styles including native artwork on different levels.

The further west along the South Rim trail, the deeper the canyon and the more complex the carved channels. Eventually that appears to be all one can see. I never knew it was this size: 277 miles long, 1 mile deep, 3 miles wide.

Desert View Watchtower

Grand Canyon from Yavapai Point

Elk posed all over the park. While leaving a calf was casually nursing along the road but I couldn't get a photo. (S)he was so tall I doubt mom will allow that much longer. Two more cow elk from a harem of five grazed near the parking lot. The bull elk rested in the trees nearby.

Cow elk grazing near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center parking lot
We're already planning our next trip. So much more to see.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Sashing the Square Deal

Once the center {minus one block that kept falling down} was arranged, I started laying out a border. The darker border seemed to make more contrast but a single round lacks weight. A second round on the right creates better proportions.

Starting a border around the Square Deal block

With that start in hand, it was time to think about the sashing and inner border. The inner and outer blocks are different sizes. About six inches is required to get them to fit together. Black was too dark {forgot to photograph}. I next tried some narrow strips of Chinese Coins. {Surely you didn't think the last baby quilt used up all those skinnies.} Now there's no contrast; this is not the solution. Finally I realized the white design wall was trying to tell me something. I cut some mermaids printed on white. All the strips are the same width {and a bit larger than necessary} while I consider whether they should be the same or different widths.

Testing sashing and border fabrics

Making borders and sashing of the same fabric doesn't thrill me either so a different white print was cut. It has blue microdots although it reads white here. After trying it as a border, I decided it looks better as the sashing between the four quarters of this block.

Then I added Crossroads blocks on three sides.

Laying out sashing and borders on the Square Deal

The quilt must be repositioned on the design wall to finish the fourth side.

In the meanwhile, my family and I attended the State Fair of Texas. We went every year while my children were growing so it was fun to introduce a new generation to the Fair. Events have changed. We still enjoy the trained animals, the milking contests, and the beautiful jewel-like jelly competition. We watched pig races and performing rescue animals.

Pig races at the State Fair of Texas
 The murals dating from the Great Depression were restored a few years ago - ready for a new generation to enjoy.

Mural from the Hall of Varied Industries, State Fair of Texas

These umbrellas shading a lunch site are new. Colorful day and night!

Umbrellas shade a lunch area at the State Fair of Texas

VOTE! It's election day in the US. I wonder how different our lives would be if everyone was required to vote like Australians. Much more emphasis on the center; much less from the fringes. It sounds good to me.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Square Deal

Right before sewing things together, I found a huge flaw in my design: it would be just under fifty inches. Too large for a baby quilt and too small for a throw. This one feels like a keeper so it needs to be larger.

A double border overwhelms the small center {no photo} but increasing the block to a 16-patch makes it a bit larger without ruining the design. This works well for me. The layout works, the right scale looks good, and it adds eleven inches to the length. Two weeks later and I'm almost back to square one. Haha.

The Square Deal quilt block
In Jinny Beyer's Quilters Album of Patchwork Patterns, this block {without the strings} is called The Square Deal. It first appeared in the 1932 Kansas City Star. Was it named for Teddy Roosevelt's domestic program whose basic goals included conservation of natural resources, control of corporations and consumer protection? I'm not sure; however, anything that strengthens the middle class, reins in oligarchs, and protects our environment would be welcome to this day.

Work slowly continues on the sawtooth sashing for the New York Beauty/Rocky Mountain Road. Each uses twenty-one triangles. Currently I'm working on a few sets at a time so something is always "almost done." It's so depressing to work for a couple of hours and only see one triangle added to the overall lengths. Just a way to fake myself out.

Sawtooth sashing for New York Beauty/Rocky Mountain Road

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Maps, Sashing, and Humboldt County

When I'm uncertain how to proceed with an idea I just ignore the situation and work on something else that "needs to be done" so I feel like I'm actually progressing... but I'm not. My friend, Mel, laughingly calls it Productive Procrastination.

Somewhere the map from Valerie Goodwin's class devolved into ignorance and, despite my interest in map quilts I'm confused how to sew something other than a paper map re-creation, petrified of making a mistake, worried that the resources will dry up or disappear. As if I'd ever run out of fabric in my lifetime.

To avoid facing these issues, I've been sewing sawtooth sashing for the Rocky Mountain Trails/New York Beauty quilt. A good thing since they've been in a pile for a couple of years. With 38 complete now, I'm halfway through.

Sawtooth sashing strips

I finally forced myself to start cutting and sewing fabric for my first map quilt. Funny thing. As I sewed, the project became easier. Yes, there are mistakes places I'm not completely satisfied with my work; however, the top went together much more quickly than expected. And many new ideas are inspiring me to create more map quilts. Details of the map project are on AdHoc Improv Quilts.

With the map top completed, there was absolutely no quilting this weekend. Instead we visited friends in Humboldt County. First we drove through coastal redwood forests. Topping out near 400 feet, they are the largest trees on earth, grow in cool regions near the ocean from San Simeon north into Oregon, and collect much of their water from fog.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park: Founder's Grove

Taking a break, we walked the Founders' Grove loop at Humboldt Redwoods. It's less than a mile, very flat, and includes some of the largest trees in the park. The opening in this redwood is much taller than me; my outstretched hands couldn't touch the top. Inside the hollow extended two or three stories. How many people have sheltered in this cozy room over millennia? Top right is the root structure of a toppled redwood. Bottom right is the 346-foot Founders Tree. I never could get the entire tree in a photo. That sign is about two-feet high.

It was foggy and chilly. Temperatures on the road were mid-60s (17 degrees C) but dropped to the 40s on the trail. Brr.

Back in the car and on to Eureka where we toured the Dick Taylor Chocolate factory. This "bean to bar" chocolatier started when two carpenters read about chocolates on the way to a wedding. They purchase beans from several places to make single source chocolates. On the table are two cocoa pods with a roaster behind them. Afterwards they let us sample all their varieties. I liked the Belize but the others preferred Madagascar chocolate.

Dick Taylor Chocolate factory tour

With beautifully clear weather we took an afternoon harbor cruise on the Madaket, the oldest boat in continuous service in the US. It also contains the smallest licensed US bar. Don't you love all the qualifiers?  We saw several islands with numerous birds and sea lions.
Madaket harbor cruise ship

Sunday morning meant a trip to Los Bagels. On their opening day they had a problem with the bagel maker. Instead of bagel shapes, they got slugs - oval shapes with no hole in the center. They cooked those anyway, topping them with a mix of dried onion, garlic, and seeds which they named Slug Slime. They are a big hit to this day as well as a lesson to us all. Not every mistake is a disaster. Open-minded thinking can help us all reorient our results.

Los Bagels, Arcata CA

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Color Study Chinese Coins Finished

Binding attached, signed, washed and dried. The Color Study quilt is ready to use. It's a lovely size for a throw and a friend of mine might enjoy it.

Color Study Chinese Coins quilt

Back of the quilt is a collage of corals.

Back of Color Study Chinese Coins quilt

Originally, I wanted to bind the quilt in dark blue but didn't have enough of any. There was some bright orange/coral in the discard pile that worked well.

Quilting and binding detail, Color Study Chinese Coins quilt

I found a Hobbs 100% cotton batt which is another favorite of mine. Plus, it's made in Mexia, Texas located between Dallas and Houston.

Quilt Details
Size: 62" x 72"
Design: Bars variation of Chinese Coins
Batting: Hobbs 100% cotton
Thread: peach Gutermann cotton thread and YLI smoke monofilament nylon
Quilting: Straight lines with walking foot

Previous posts:
  1. Sewing the top
  2. Stitch in the ditch quilting
  3. Walking foot quilting
Maureen at MysticQuilter is working on these same blocks in batiks. We both enjoy mixing the many fabrics in within the constraints of a block. Each has its own individual style.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Border Ready and Waiting

I'm still working on the HSTs and came up with a great plan while putting the extra HSTs away. In the box were the Cultural Fusion Crossroads blocks that have been waiting over a year.

A dark block anchors each corner while the remaining Crossroads blocks were added in two possible values. They both look good to me. The one on the right needs a very strong border while the one on the left needs something else. The blocks won't fit together without some type of border or adjustment.

Dark and light borders around HST center

Compare the photos above with the one below which was an early version of Chinese Coins II. Even though the stars are about the same size as the triangles and the coins in CCII are narrower than those in HST, my Crossroads blocks changed appearance like a chameleon. They are spindly and fragile below but perfect with the HSTs. Like they were planned for this design. Why this works is something I need to study more.


Chinese Coins II quilt with possible Crossroads block border

In other news, Color Study's binding is on. It should be a finish soon.

Binding strips cut, then sewing to back first
A group of us visited the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles recently. Their exhibits included fifteen or more swing coats by Patricia Montgomery celebrating important women of the Civil Rights Movement.

Honoring the Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement: Patricia A Montgomery
exhibit at The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

Construction is highlighted by the unfinished coat on the wall. The textiles and colors of each coat vary. They are embellished with quotes and photos celebrating each heroines importance. In a time when Helen Keller has been removed from Texas social studies textbooks, it's even more important to remember that women can effect change as much as men.

Strong People Don't Need Strong Leaders - Ella Josephine Baker

This yellow coat highlights Ella Baker who advanced group-centered (grass-roots) leadership where people "directly directly participate in the decisions that effect their lives." One advantage is that the movement becomes important rather than a single charismatic leader. This idea led to longer-lived, independent organizations such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tea and Ephemera with Judy Coates-Perez

Judy Coates-Perez spoke at our guild recently and I was fortunate enough to take her class. A graphic artist, she's taught for decades and has very professional, open-ended classes. Her topics are well-organized; she doesn't try to teach everything in one day.

And the wealth of knowledge she shares! Because she's worked in mixed media so long, Judy knows how almost every paint and dye react, different tools and products that have come on (and gone from) the market, as well as the best uses for everything.


Collage from Tea and Ephemera class with Judy Coates-Perez

We each started class with a piece of fabric Judy had already treated with ink. It looks like old parchment but those dark spots are from ink rather than dye. Then we worked through screen printing, inking and printing on tea bags, collaging papers, stamping, stenciling, painting and using color pencils.

Each of these could have been an entire day but Judy gave us concise instructions and turned us loose to practice them for a while. She encouraged us to view this class as extended practice sessions rather than worry about creating a single finished work. She uses her class examples in an interesting way - cutting them up before resewing as a background for further painting.

She's a very generous teacher, sharing all her knowledge openly. Occasionally teachers want to hold certain information back but Judy shared everything this class encompassed. Our class fee included a CD with all the handouts for this class. Such a clever idea that saved our hands from cramping while we took notes.

Judy recently taught in Karlsruhe, Germany so Europeans might have an opportunity to take a class with her. If you get the chance, take it!

Photos of her work and information about her workshops, books, and supplies are on her website. She brought Primordial Sea and Moon Garden to our meeting. What a treat to view her art so closely.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Designing with Half Square Triangles

The blocks on the design wall make me happy. I had no idea they would look this good. The mix of warm solids float on blue and green strips. My last red quilt was the watermelon quilt and that was years ago.

{Of course} I'd made a few extra blocks, so I added them as a partial block border around the center.

Testing HST border around center block

It doesn't inspire me.

For some reason {probably because the fabric was there} I made more HSTs thinking a four block quilt would work. Think of Princess Feathers and other large appliqu├ęs. A four block design is a lovely solution. But not here.

A four block arrangement of HSTs

I don't like this at all. Too uniform; colors and sizes have no variation. {This from the woman who made so many Chinese Coin quilts. They always contain similar size strips. Go figure.} Also, it needs a border but then would be too large.

Now I have a huge amount of these HST blocks. At least they aren't Chinese Coin columns. Is morphing them into a new {but unnecessary} arrangement progress?

On the 20-minute front, I'm still quilting Color Study Chinese Coins and hope to finish soon.

Color Study Chinese Coins still being quilted

Enjoy the day, Ann

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