Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop and My Oldest UFO

One of blogging's delights is meeting people with common interests as well as intriguely different ones. It's fascinating to see what others are doing. Stephie shares her work and personal outlook at Dawn Chorus Studio. She and I were both working on soft blue Ocean Wave blocks when we met. She also knits, draws and paints. It's a special treat when she posts something she's finished. Stephie runs... miles and miles it seems. I don't, although I used to hike and trek a lot. Her photos of the Cornish countryside are always enjoyable. (Hooray for geology!) I was so pleased she asked me to join this blog hop celebrating creativity and friendship around the world.

I grew up in a family of very talented women. My mother needlepoints, my grandmother knitted and sewed. She knit suits with notched collars and pleated skirts that fit her to perfection. It was my paternal grandmother Martha and great-grandmother Marinda who quilted. Marinda had the first sewing machine in her county. She loved sewing so much she'd sew for anyone who brought her fabric. Both these quilters died when I was a baby so although we had a houseful of fabulous quilts no one taught me. 

Never fear. I read all the Little House on the Prairie novels. I was sure I knew everything. At twelve I made my first quilt, a double bed log cabin, by cutting up dresses my sisters had outgrown. (Because that's where you get scraps, right?) I machine pieced it with quilting thread. (Hey, it was a quilt.) I machine quilted it every twelve inches whether it needed it or not. This quilt went to college with me then to my first house. My children fondly remember picnics on it. It finally fell apart after thirty years. I'm surprised it lasted that long.

This is my oldest UFO - 25 years old. It's hand pieced and quilted. Why isn't it finished? Frankly, I forgot how much quilting I'd completed already. Now it's by my chair to work on in the evenings. Perhaps I'll have it done in another year or two.

Original design of traditional quilt blocks in green, black, pink, blue, tan and white
Sampler Medallion 

Blue center star surrounded by compass points in dark brown, green and black
Sampler Medallion detail

I've always liked really 'ugly' fabrics; friends have even given me yardage as a dare. Even so, I wasn't always happy with my quilts. Color combinations I'd thought would be fabulous frequently looked flat. After a lecture by Pat Bishop of Quakertown Quilts, three friends and I started a scrap block exchange bee in our guild. By making a personal challenge to use every block I received I learned to use colors and prints I 'hated.' Not only could these blocks be worked in, they frequently brought the quilt to life. My problems were underdeveloped taste and overdeveloped color snobbery.

I already posted several quilts that used scrap bee blocks including Bow Tie, Princess Feather, Flying Squares and Baskets of Friends but here's one more... still unquilted.

A nine-patch variation made with solid colored scraps.
Amish Gems - a scrap bee exchange quilt

My stash is fairly small - two clear storage boxes for everything quilt-related. Petting fabric is a major hobby; I take it out and rearrange it frequently. While I try to fill in color and value gaps, I buy fabric because I like it. These are usually quarter- or half-yards although I buy more of stripes and solids. Running out is always fortuitous. My quilts are improved by forced creativity.

I sketch pieced designs on graph paper but use an unlined pad for pictorial quilts like A Daisy a Day. I may start with a fabric or color in mind but I don't consciously use color theories at the beginning. I just sort through my stash setting random fabrics next to each other. I keep anything that creates a reaction either by fitting in well or standing out glowingly. After that I'll have an idea of missing fabrics or colors. Then I go shopping. Yea!

Why do I quilt? Because I simply must. I love fabric - touching it, feasting on the colors and prints - but I especially love making quilts. Planning a design, layout, cutting, sewing, layering and quilting both calms and invigorates me. There are always quilts dancing in my mind.

Thanks again, Stephie! See you online.

Enjoy the day, Ann

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