Saturday, December 30, 2017

Racetrack Quilt

Well... I planned to think about 2018 but I'm in the doghouse. Someone has wanted a racetrack for his matchbox cars all his life. {He's two.} I have been delinquent; such a tragedy. Better get busy. {By the way, it wasn't the two-year-old who acted like a two-year-old. Just sayin'.}

I pulled novelty fabrics: race cars, space, guitars, fish, butterflies, giraffes - anything I had on hand. Then worked on arranging the colors. I thought most of my novelty prints had white or light backgrounds and was pleasantly surprised to find so many with color. {That means the road can be white instead of grey.} At first it seemed blue, orange, yellow would be the range but these alligators on green are simply too cute to leave out. Besides they are also in a quilt given to his youngest uncle. Nice connection.

Laying out the Racetrack quilt

When I first laid out the track I realized it would be a single circuit. That would quickly become boring. My first thought was to make gridded city streets on the back but then I realized I could modify this side with intersections and on/off ramps.

Racetrack quilt laid out

Layout complete. Sewing has begun.

With holes in all my old pairs, these Blue Q cotton socks were a Christmas present I really needed. I relate most to the pair in the middle. At least it looks like me on my bike. Plus it reminds me of that song by Queen. You know the one.

Blue Q cotton socks

Librarian Maureen Paschal explained how she teaches critical thinking in research and news. I remember my teachers emphasizing verifiable sources but Maureen has updated this information for the internet and social media. Her article shows we can all be involved in teaching discernment. It's not just politics; kids believe the craziest stuff about diet, exercise, needs vs. wants (what kid doesn't think a cell phone is a necessity?) Some of her points resonated with me including questioning my computer searches, "Why has this source appeared in my results list?" and the perils of using news aggregators. Her article is making me think about whether I'm being an intelligent consumer and citizen or a patsy.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Bars Quilt Sewn: AHIQ 28

Happy Boxing Day to readers in the UK and Commonwealth countries. In the US it's just the day to exchange unwanted Christmas gifts. My gifts are delightful. No store hubbub for me.

I'm not sewing this week but had a busy time this month finishing several gifts. In between, I worked on this class project. Since there are actually photos of the process (whoo-hoo) let's walk through my final changes to this quilt.

At this point it seemed ready to sew the rows. You can see I'd sewn the first two rows but wandering through on my way to bed... {Remember the circuitous route our kids took on their way to bed? Mine is now similar as I check everything one last time.} it was simply too dark. The only color combination seemed to be pink and orange. All the others are "a color and a neutral." Not exactly pushing the color combination boundary. Where are the sample combinations I'd made in class?

Dark Bars quilt ready to sew

First I covered seven bright or dark sections with lighter sets of two colors.

Exchanging some of the orange sets in this Bars quilt

Next I moved two rows to the top so my favorite section is nearer the middle.  A couple of the bright sections were uncovered.

Moving rows in the Bars quilt

Finally added a chambray and white section back on the right and swapped some dark and light sections to balance the top.

Bars quilt top sewn

For comparison, here's the final top  with the starting layout.
Comparing finished Bars quilt with dark Bars quilt

These photos almost seem like a filter was added to brighten the colors rather than all that work. I guess my strips have their own rhythm of size and spacing.

I want the lighter one today but the dark version intrigues me with it's foray into cheddar. When I looked at it in daylight, it was very attractive. Funny how different the colors appeared at night. Note to self: don't make changes after dark.

This has been a exciting year for me and AHIQ has been part of that excitement. I've learned so much from Kaja and all of you who have linked projects and shared opinions. I've grown so much over the year and look forward to future work in this community.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bars Quilt Class

Tara Faughnan spoke to our guild the end of November. Several of us joined her at the San Jose Museum of Textiles and Quilts for the latest exhibit highlighting some of their collection.

Tara Faughnan admires Koi Diptych by Tim Harding
With it's long narrow columns, Tim Harding's Koi Diptych has aspects of Chinese Coins but despite looking at the details for quite a while, I'm still unsure how he constructed this masterpiece. Parts I would have sewn on at the end were some of the first things sewn. A lovely puzzle.

Detail of Koi Diptych by Tim Harding at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

The next day, Tara taught a color class using her Bars quilt. She's a textile designer who works with Michael Miller and other clients. In fact, her Fireworks quilt was translated to fabric. Perhaps you've seen it?

She started class with a short lesson pairing fabrics. After a quick mention of the color wheel we selected two fabrics based on her word prompts and created a page of samples. Then we spent the rest of that wonderful day playing with all the colors.

And I forgot to take any photos.

I put my sewn strips on the wall at home but they aren't in the same arrangement.

Strip sets from #Barsquilt class
Strip sets from #Barsquilt class.

Then I noticed I'd set them as horizontal coins. Tara had us work with vertical bars. I might have continued horizontally and then rotated it but I decided to try her style. It was surprisingly difficult to work with rotated strips. Obviously a good challenge for me.

At this point these are arranged like the original photo although I've sewn a few more.

End of second day making Bars quilt

Almost done.

End of third day making Bars quilt

I started sewing the rows. Then went to make dinner and didn't return till bedtime. When I looked at it at night, I didn't like it that much. A good night's sleep helped me determine why.

#Barsquilt in progress
Bars quilt ready to sew

Time to make some adjustments.

AHIQ linkup is this coming Tuesday. I love Kaja's idea to link work, reviews of this past year, or plans for next year. This is certainly a good time to pause, reflect, and plan ahead. What have you been doing this holiday season?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Stockings on the Mantle, Spiderweb on the Wall

Christmas Stockings
now decorate the grandchildren's mantle so I can share photos of these most recent additions.
Velveteen Christmas stocking with beads, sequins, jingle bells,.and events in outer space.
Velveteen Christmas stockings for grandchildren
Loud and proud. As usual.

Funny how frequently we forget all the finishing details. While it takes time, beading the ornaments isn't that difficult. But then you have to
  1. Attach them to the front,
  2. And add snowflakes or other details with reinforcing fabric on the inside,
  3. And sew the stocking together,
  4. And the lining.
  5. And shape the cuff.
  6. And bead names on the cuff.
  7. And cut the scallops.
  8. And make the hanging loop.
  9. And attach the cuff and loop and lining.
  10. And sew fourteen bells on.
  11. And package it so the velvet doesn't crease.
  12. And mail it before the rush. Oh, too late for that.
Somehow this reminds me of childbirth. Oh, how quickly we forget all the details there, too. And what bundles of joy at the end.

Previous posts:
1. The Fairmont and our Christmas stockings
2. Beading the stockings

Scrap Spiderweb Quilt
In the meanwhile, the scrap bag is filling up and I need a baby quilt. I had a few spiderweb kites and string triangles left from my own spiderweb. It seemed like it would be easy to make a few more.

Scrap triangles for spiderweb quilt
Here they are.

Spiderwebs laid out for a small quilt
Scrap spiderwebs layout

After adding twenty blue kites, some of the triangles seemed too dark so I changed them out. Now I have more leftover triangles, probably as many as I started with. Grr.

Blue stars added to scrap spiderweb quilt

I could have cut more blue but liked the white of the design wall better. And I had a bit of leftover white and pink print.

Scrap spiderweb quilt with blue and white stars 

Now it's partially sewn and I'm not sure if I should have made only blue stars. Ah, well. The baby will like it.

DH took me on a quick trip to New Orleans this weekend. Our flight was cancelled last week; snow closed the airport. With snowfall only once a decade or so, they don't purchase snow removal equipment anywhere in the state.

We breakfasted at Cafe Beignet. The chairs are duplicates of a set my grandparents owned. Their chandeliers had lovely prisms. The interior roofline reminded me of old subway tunnels.

Cafe Beignet, New Orleans

We visited the WWII Museum to see the newly opened Road to Tokyo section

World War II Museum, New Orleans

and finished at Sacred Grinds across Canal Street from the Hurricane Katrina memorial and in the middle of acres of cemeteries. They advertise coffee "good enough to wake the dead." It's the best coffee I've had in years; my latte was deliciously smooth. I'd be there daily if I lived closer.

Sacred Grinds Coffee Shop, Canal Street, New Orleans
Sacred Grinds Coffee Shop, New Orleans

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, December 16, 2017

More Decisions for Fifth Chinese Coins Quilt

For once I remembered to take photos while finalizing the design. Four of them are grouped to hopefully enlighten my thought process. At this point many Coin sets are sewn. Each column still has three to five sets so some movement or insetting is possible. And there's always the seam ripper.

Putting the upper coin facedown on the lower coin and aligning the left side before sewing means a wider column in the end. When they are sewn the left side is smoothly aligned and the right side is uneven, only that right side is trimmed much. It also helps me remember how they go back together.

Top left: All the Coins are laid out for the first time. It looked good in large scale but the photos shows a horizontal line of greens, some of which are too bright. I pulled greens from columns one and nine then added a few quieter green coins at the bottom of column one.

Top right: Column one now has a long section of light in the middle while column ten has darks weighing the bottom. I switched a set between one and ten.

Bottom left: Better but column one has too much bright blue while column ten has too much purple.

Bottom right: Before using the dreaded seam ripper, I folded out one blue coin on the left and covered two purples with white on the bottom right.

This is the old-fashioned, quiet look I want. It reminds me of my grandparents although none of this fabric came from them or even their era. A bit of bright to liven things up but not too much. My opinion of the whites varied as the quilt grew. They were moved and rearranged more than any other section. Scattering throughout is my final decision.

We're ready to launch!

Thoughts about Mobile Devices
When answering machines appeared years ago I wanted one immediately. Finally a faster way to contact people combined with a more convenient way to receive messages. No mislaid phone messages or depending on sisters who forgot to relay the message. The caller only had to phone once and the callee could pick up a message when she was free.

Then came pagers. All my engineer friends proudly clipped one to their belts, ready at a moment's notice for any emergency. But how many of those calls were really important? I remember them leaving concerts, school events, dinners... just to answer a question that might have waited until tomorrow.

So when mobile phones came out I was not an early adopter. My children argued people could reach me anywhere. That's exactly my point. Sometimes I don't want to be found. Sometimes I want a little "alone time."  Mobile phones make it impossible. Like one of our favorite scenes from White Christmas:

  • Bob Wallace: What's all back of this?
  • Phil Davis: Nothing. Only your happiness.
  • BW: My happiness?
  • PD: Yeah.
  • BW: You know, when you get an idea that's for my sole and ultimate happiness, there's always lurking behind it a little angle for you. Now what is it?
  • PD: Do you really want to know?
  • BW: Yeah, I really want to know.
  • PD: All right, I'll really tell you.
  • BW: Then lay it on me, will you?
  • PD: Ever since the day we became producers, you're a changed man. You've gone absolutely berserk with work. And the strange thing is you like it. You like being Rodgers and Hammerstein.
  • BW: It was your idea.
  • PD. Sure it was my idea but I didn't think I was going to create a Frankenstein. From that day on I haven't had one minute I could call my own. 
  • BW: What do you want to do about it?
  • PD: I want you to get married. I want you to have nine children. And if you only spend five minutes a day with each kid, that's 45 minutes, and I'd at least have time to go out and get a massage or something.
I do have a cell phone and in many ways I like it. But {especially with my sister's nagging gentle suggestions} I've come to realize I use it too much and miss real events. I don't watch a parade; I film the parade and watch is later. And miss the excitement of the actual event. And my photos are never very good.

Tristan Harris believes companies design cell phones to addict us. He's begun a movement to change phone software. He wants a "Hippocratic Oath" to stop enhancing our psychological weaknesses and return power to the people.

Addicted to your mobile phone is quite an interesting read. I doubt companies will change but I can make my own changes. The phone goes off after nine; I practice leaving it behind. We played board games at Thanksgiving. Still working on not taking it out during meals. But I'm not addicted. Ha.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fifth Chinese Coins Quilt

Jade Snow Wong's autobiography, Fifth Chinese Daughter, relates a first generation girl's struggle to find her identity in both her family and American society. Published in 1950, it has never been out of print and still resonates with women worldwide.

This is my fifth Chinese Coins quilt for #AHIQChineseCoins. Who'd have thought there would be a series of this basic design? Not me. However, the simple structure has given me freedom to explore other ideas. I've found quite a bit to say.

It amuses me that Coins was one of my go-to plans for philanthropy quilts - a quick, mindless way to use up scraps. I made a dozen quickies before my current exploration began with this improvisational version. Now I an enthralled with Coins. Two more quilts are percolating in the back of my mind.

Designing a Chinese Coin quilt with vintage household materials
Chinese Coin quilt using vintage household materials
So what's different this time?

First, it uses household fabrics and old clothing. While DH's shirts have appeared for a while this is the first time I've used kitchen goods and old dresses. It has a homier, old-fashioned, and quieter feel that continues with the quilting scraps.

Second, I didn't differentiate the columns. Look back at Pflugerville Coins where a different set of fabrics makes each column; no overlap. This time the fabrics are distributed across all columns and will depend on the vertical sewing lines to highlight individual columns.

I wasn't sure how well this would work and set a (short) sashing strip between two columns but don't think it will be necessary. It doesn't add to the conversation right now.

Perhaps the top needs a bit of bright green. It may be too quiet. [That would never do for me.]

Designing a Chinese Coin quilt with vintage household materials
Adding strings to a Chinese Coin quilt
Still adding judicious amounts of red. It's very easy for me to overdo color so we'll see how these work when the rest of the strings are added.

I got my Christmas present early. DH bought me a new sewing room chair. The old one was perfectly fine except it no longer stays up. Every time I set it in the highest position, it soon sinks to the lowest one so my shoulders align with the sewing table. The arms on the new one fit under my table but I may take them off. It's just a test right now.

New sewing room chair
Christmas morning I'll act very surprised with my gift.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ready to Quilt

Propeller Baby Quilt
Final decision for the posts is slightly larger circles. Previously they were the same size as the propeller centers which was too small. As Robin wrote, eye movement stops there. I also tried circles large enough to touch the geese but that was too far. {And I forgot to snap a photo.}

Also the bright red colors on white were too strong. The new reddish print is darker, subtler, and {perhaps}mimics the angles of the flying geese. The off-white background matches the propeller backgrounds better and tones things down.

Until now I hadn't considered a pale blue grey. That might have looked good. {Back to my old "rushing" habits although I have paused several times constructing this quilt. What is the right balance between forward movement and thoughtful pauses? I haven't found it yet.}

The red and orange fabrics of the geese repeat in several places. I also paired them to emphasize flight.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing and red circle posts
Start Your Engines quilt is pin basted
There's a two-inch border around the outside in a soft grey/white stripe. Somehow this quilt wanted to float a bit. If if doesn't work after it's quilted it can be cut off.

Check out Mel's post at Piece, Love & Happiness to see some flying geese with more movement.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science
My niece took me to the Perot Museum recently. Although it opened more than a decade ago I've never been. What a treat I've missed until now.

Quite a collection of minerals including this 1.25 ton amethyst geode. There were rooms of weather, astronomy, and of course, energy. After all, this is Texas.
Amethyst geode and tornado machine at Perot Museum
1.25 ton amethyst geode and a tornado machine

Did you know central North America from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay was under the Western Interior Seaway during the Cretaceous?  The Perot staged a striking display of several including this Fiat-sized Protostega swimming above a bus-sized Tylosaurus.

Protostega and Tylosaurus, late Cretaceous (80-79 mya) from Rockwall Co.

This Dallasaurus is the link connecting the evolution of aquatic mosasaurs like the Tylosaurus to terrestrial monitor lizards. It's always interesting to see fins turn into feet and vice versa. Did you know residual hand bones still exist in whale fins?

Dallasaurus fossil swims above a monitor lizard skeleton at Perot Museum
Dallasaurus fossil swims above a monitor lizard skeleton

This guy is an Alamosaurus. With a name like that, how could I not include a photo?  The cast is made of bones from several of this species. You can see the real fossilized neck behind him near the bottom. It's the only set of articulated vertebrae from this dinosaur. Fossil pieces that large are too heavy to mount; that's why museums must make casts. These bones were found is such a remote location of Big Bend they had to be helicoptered out. I took one of my field work courses there so it always has a special place in my heart.

Alamosaurus sanjuanensis cast mounted at Perot Museum
Alamosaurus sanjuanensis cast mounted at Perot Museum

On the way out we saw this message carved on a bench.

Bench at the Perot Museum in Dallas

Dinner anyone?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It's a Bird, It's a Plane

Propeller Baby Quilt
Flying geese complement the airplanes. Their dark background contrasts nicely with the light background of the propellers.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing
Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing

But what to do for the posts? What about circular designs already printed on a dark blue fabric? Too dark.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing and dark blue posts
Another post possibility for Start Your Engines quilt

These small red circles are blocks I still haven't put together from Audrey's Quilty 365. They look like the Japanese flag but seem a bit small against the blues.

Propeller baby quilt with flying geese sashing and red circle posts
One post possibility for Start Your Engines quilt
That blue fabric that didn't work for posts also doesn't work on the border. It's enclosing the quilt too much for me. A lighter border might work better.

A bit more thinking and I'll have the right choices.

Dia de Muertos and Coco
We took my family to see Pixar's new movie, Coco, after Thanksgiving. Craft in America's episode, Neighbors, played recently and was amazingly pertinent to my recent trips and the movie. By comparing Dia de Muertos celebrations and art in LA and Oaxaca, Mexico, it increased my understanding of the festival and enjoyment of the movie. Then the show segued to weaving and dyeing. Turns out those cochineal dyes in 19th c. British uniforms come from a scale insect that lives on prickly pear cactus. After silver, the dye was the most important export in the 15th and 16th centuries. Mexico lost its monopoly on cochineal dyes after their Independence. Development of synthetic dyes almost caused the demise of the industry but it resurges today as people realize many of the synthetics are carcinogenic. Shades from pink to scarlet to dark red are created by varying the original yards and the time and temperature of the dye baths.

When Alamo Drafthouse plays a movie they include a special menu reflecting the show's theme. For Coco that included quesadillas and a butternut squash milkshake.

Alamo Drafthouse guitar-shaped menu for Coco screening.
Alamo Drafthouse guitar-shaped menu for Coco screening.
Although my first reaction was that I'd never thought of squash as a dessert, I do have a recipe for zucchini pie. When chopped zucchini rests with sugar it releases lots of liquid just like apples. Although I liked this in the '70s, it's way too sweet now. Perhaps I'll combine it with apples and reduce the sugar. Ha. Just in time for the holidays.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Friday, December 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies #23

Cathy and I have decided this will be the last linkup for Kaleidoscope of Butterflies for a while. We've enjoyed the quilts, butterfly photos, and ideas for creating butterfly-friendly gardens. We hope you have too.

A few weeks ago QS captured some wonderful images of milkweed in her yard: a pod bursting with seeds...

The cottony fluff transports milkweed seeds on the wind.
Milkweed seeds with fluff

and blowing in the wind.

Milkweed seeds in autumn.
Milkweed seeds ready to float away

No live butterflies around here but I beaded one for the second Christmas stocking. Of course, the original idea was to bead a monarch but there's no need to be literal. I originally intended to let some of the felt show like the other ornaments. Got a little carried away. The mitten looks sweet. The snowman's carrot nose is perfect but he needs coal eyes. And it's all sewn down. Oops. You can tell I don't bead much: no consistent style but it's fun to try to figure these designs out. As long as they are bright and colorful, I think the grandchildren will be pleased.

Beaded Christmas stocking: snowman, tree, mitten, butterfly
Beaded Christmas Stocking in progress

Several of the vintage fabric Chinese Coins are sewed into pairs and on the design wall. [For a nanosecond I considered making it completely random, without any layout. Fortunately I returned to my senses.] The fabrics are mostly blue, white, cream, and black although the two curtain cutoffs were cream with light green or red pinstripe plaid. I envision this quilt as quiet and old-fashioned but... it's just too quiet.

I found one purple polka dot remnant from my sister's apron which inspired me to add a few more purples.

Still too quiet.

It got a bit better when I added a few greens but...

What about a bit of red?

Chinese Coin strips from vintage fabrics are sewn into a quilt top
Laying out pairs of Chinese Coins into a quilt top

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.