Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Stringing Along

We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Quilting
The introduction of a story by Donald Hall relates an apocryphal story: 'A man was cleaning the attic of an old house in New England and he found a box which was full of tiny pieces of string. On the lid of the box there was an inscription in an old hand: "String too short to be saved".'

My mother loved quoting the punch line whenever something foolish appeared in our cabinets. We deny packrat tendencies but truth will out. What crazy stuff we save because it might be useful one day. The dreadful warning of this tale {occasionally} restrains me from expanding my quilting stash which I already find overwhelming.

It is also the reason I keep a single small bag for scraps although an amazing amount can be crammed into that bag. I won't purchase containers to subdivide the stuff. My point is to use it up, to keep it moving because this insidious fabric propagates nightly. My scrap bag still looks as full as when I started this recent set of scrap quilts; there are just fewer "pretty" fabrics.

How can I sew this mess? Why am I bothering? How small is too small? What's your limit? What's the smallest scrap you keep? What do you do with the waste? {I know Cathy spreads hers as garden compost.} Questions we face daily.

There are still a ton of strings. I'm tired of diamonds, thought about Chinese Coins, but got the brilliant idea to angle the strings. At least it sounded brilliant. In reality it's been a bit of a pain.

The newspaper foundations are 5.5". No idea why except it's less than six inches so it was easier to cut and the smaller squares don't need such long strings - only about eight inches for the main diagonal. I pulled "longer strings" out so the centers would be easier to plan but still find myself coming up short.

Scrap strings are sewn diagonally across the square blocks, narrower at one end and widening at the other.
String blocks

What should be the middle string? How can I highlight the angle? The X? I'm way overthinking this.

The string blocks have darker strings on the center diagonals that create colorful Xs in this layout.


Wow. It looks like I stuck my finger in an electric outlet. Too wild? I need to think it over.

Projects Around the House

Scanning and shredding continues apace. Two more drawers cleared. I'm finding a few things that still need to be retained physically but hope to limit it to one drawer. Once the compost bin filled I attacked our bookcases and culled three bags of books for the next library sale. QS and I laughingly refer to moving junk out of the house as foundational cleaning. I imagine how happy the house is to lose the weight and I certainly love having more room in the rooms.

We enjoyed a quiet holiday weekend at home. All our family called at some point... and we watched Hamilton. DH took me to the stage play a few years ago as a special gift but the many unique angles of the video recording make it almost as remarkable. 

Voting

Our national election scheduled for November 3 is 119 days away. The Vote411 website can help any American register, check their registration status, and find out what is on their specific ballot. I find printing a sample ballot before going to vote gives me time to double check all my options. Who can you help register? And get to a polling place? Democracy requires the participation of ALL citizens. 

Enjoy the day, Ann

34 comments:

  1. Your string blocks are looking great! I keep almost any and all scraps--why? Just cannot bear to throw them
    away...especially pieces of favorite fabrics--I use a lot of them in various journals I make..gluing them on papers...and cardstock...~ ~ waving under cloudy skies ~ ~ ~ Julierose

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    1. What a wonderful way to use your scraps. I don't make journals or scrapbook but perhaps I should consider it. Waving back under sunny skies although I'm staying indoors.

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  2. Hi Ann, love your string blocks and that story. Yes, I confess I try to keep it all too. I also save good cardboard...stuff to use for templates. Have to curb that one too. LOL

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    1. I used to save cardboard. Now I sometimes use plastic milk cartons for templates. Anything to reuse that waste.

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  3. Your string blocks are not too wild! They are fabulous! I had vowed that 2020 for me was the year of making scrap quilts, but so far I have only made two baby quilts. I need to regroup!

    I kept the corner rectangles that did not have interfacing from those boxy pouches I just made. they are roughly 1 3/4" x 1 1/2". I could trim them and make a postage stamp quilt or just sew them together in an improv style or pitch them. I am still on the fence. I have bins and bins of scraps that need to be turned into quilts so why keep these bits?

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    1. How funny. It annoys at times when I realize I'm pulling exclusively from the scrap bag. Like I can't have dessert unless my plate is clean. Ha. But fortunately, my scrap bag is small. It might have gotten larger but I've moved several times.

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  4. NOT to wild - in fact Electric Socket Shock would be a perfect name for this! It's fabulous - don't change a thing. Scraps - I quit saving strings after my Great String Reduction Project that started in 2015. I also gave away all of my saved selvages after making several projects. Now I keep crumbs but nothing less than 2" x 2" and only if they fit into the boxes I use to sort by color. Also - if I don't like or love the fabric, it goes in the trash or is donated if usable. Life is too short to play with toys I don't enjoy.

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    1. Julie, I love the name! I, too, gave away my selvedges after one project but still save scraps. Good point about donating the ones you don't like. That's part of what makes your quilts so lovely.

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  5. Love your string blocks just as they are. I have one string quilt ready to quilt but can't figure out what quilt design to use. I also have another stack of string blocks just waiting for inspiration.

    I know what you mean about the books and the weight on the foundation. I recently moved and moved my whole collection of quilt magazines dating back to the 1980's! I took them out of the boxes and put them on the floor in the closet. One day, I decided to estimate how many I had. 7 magazines equaled an inch. Then I measured my stacks. I had about 2,000 magazines! OMG what an eye opener! I have been taking them slowly and looking through them one last time and then tossing them. One thing I noticed was that the fabrics have changed and the techniques have changed but pretty much, nothing is really new.

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    1. Thanks, Pamela. Every time I think there aren't many designs for string quilts I soon realize they look so different depending on the strings.
      I worked through my magazines a few years ago although I did scan a very few articles before tossing them. Yes, you are so right. The fabrics have changed. Some techniques have but some are the same as always. We like to think quilts are timeless but they come in and out of fashion.

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  6. I did 2 quilts like that in 6 weeks back in 2001-I called them my stress quilts. I was building a new business for 15 surgeons and I couldn't sleep much. I love those quilts! I think yours is fantastic!

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    1. That would be a good way to relieve some stress, Elle. And they must be a good memory of an exciting time in your life. I'm glad you still have them around.

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  7. The smallest I save is about 1" x 1.5" and I have WAY TOO MANY scraps. If we could just find the right people who have very little or no scraps we could ship them a box of them. But could we part with them?

    Not too busy for me. Just a little less organized than a lot of others you make but making different styles of quilts broadens your vision for future quilts. And you know I like busy quilts.

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    1. Wow, that's small, Wanda. Shipping them off would be a delight some days but I often find the yardage I've finally decided to part with speaks to me on the way to the donation bag. Then I have another great quilt.
      I like busy quilts, too. This one looks better in the photo than it does on the wall. But I'm going to let it sit there a while.

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  8. I think Electric Socket looks great as is. Thanks for the tip about putting fabric bits in compost - I need some "browns" in my bin. Although I do wonder about the dyes and what they might break down to or leave behind.

    I don't have a lot of scraps since I haven't yet made lots of quilts. Right now I'm making Hunter Star quilt with die cutter and am using the little triangle bits left after cutting as leader/enders and ending up with 1 1/2" HST as the smallest. NO clue what I'll do with them yet.

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    1. Love that name, Gail. Cathy is the one who first mentioned putting bits in the compost. I hadn't thought about the dyes. It would take some research perhaps.
      You are just starting on the adventure of using "all the bits." Smart to have a plan and start sewing up those leftovers from the beginning.

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  9. "String too short to be saved" will be on the label of my next string quilt, and maybe should be on yours too! I love the wild eclectic exuberance of your string blocks! Have you ever pieced your string blocks on used dryer sheets? They don't have to be ripped off after the block is pieced and they are a perfect foundation. A friend has just pieced a gorgeous top of plaid homespun fabrics on the dryer sheets and they are holding their shape beautifully. I use my longer selvedges for tomato plant ties every summer. Recycling at its best, lol.

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    1. I think that's the perfect name for our string quilts! Perhaps it should be the next AHIQ prompt? I've never used dryer sheets. I don't use them in laundry so it never occurred to me to use then for piecing. It would be a good foundation. Thanks.
      Oh, yes. I once used strings to tie up lilies.

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  10. I love the story about the string. We aren't necessarily packrats around here but we certainly have full cupboards and closets. Everything could use a good clean-out. When I have scraps while I am sewing I usually just wrap them inside the big piece of fabric and put it back on the shelf. What I am discovering is that I really could use just a bag of scraps. . . not pieces carefully enclosed and hidden. I don't really know what I have. As far as how small a piece do I save, I try to cut things in 3" blocks and 1 1/2 " strips. Don't really know why but it seems to work.

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    1. Sometimes I think it's been a blessing to have moved so many times if only because it forces me to sort and clear out. I've never folded the extras back into the original fabric. Probably because mine are fairly small to begin with. But I am accustomed to having a scrap bag and frankly, don't know what I'd do without it.

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  11. I love it! It's definitely not too wild for me. It's one of those quilts I could wrap in on a cold wintry day and stare at all day.

    I don't save for quilting anything less than a 1.5 square or a string less than 1 inch in width. Itty bitty pieces go into the compost and into some of the garden paths to keep weeds down on them. I use the longer strings less than 1 inch for all sorts of garden ties or as gift bag ties or I top homemade jam with fabric circle tied on with skinny strings to give as gift with homemade bread. I have very long hair and have even used them for hair ties. Sometimes I throw the really short and skinny strings under the poles with bird feeders. The birds like to use them in their nests.

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    1. The birds must love them. Clever idea. I often use slightly wider strings to tie presents myself. but hadn't thought of the other uses you mention. You are always a source of inspiration, Cathy. Now, where do I go for that homemade jam and bread???

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  12. Love your string quilt! And, I do like how the 'x' is strong in some areas and not so defined in others. Ah, those strips & strings and other small pieces … I keep all my cut offs & scraps in a large basket under my sewing table and now & then sort thru' them. Anything larger than 5" or so gets put back into its colour basket.

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    1. Thanks for pointing out the varying strength of the Xs. The different ways people organize their materials always amazes me. A general basket and color baskets. Wow.

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  13. String Too Short to Be Saved is one of my husband's all-time favorite books. He rereads it about once a year. (He has volumes of Hall's poetry and other prose writing, too.) I think your strings look great in the layout you show -- the splash of yellow in the upper corner may be intentional or coincidental, but it is kind of a fireworks explosion. As for scraps? Well, when I mailed off the churn dash blocks for the memorial quilt I filled the box (flat rate/large) with the contents of the scrap bucket. I did take care to neatly fold/roll/package them. (By weight: 3 lbs 8 oz, so 15-1/2 yards.)

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    1. I don't have Hall's other writings but will look them up. There's not much yellow in my stash but I love the way it brightens that corner, too. It probably wouldn't look as good if all the lights were yellow.
      Perhaps I should consider mailing scraps away, too. Love you weight/yardage conversion.

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  14. I LOVE this wild and wonderful quilt in the making it's glorious. I'm with Julie here, don't change a thing Ann and you're so right, Julie has also come up with the perfect name!
    This is my sort of quilt and I might have to use up some of my scraps with this design, with your blessing.

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    1. I hope you do use this idea and can't wait to see what you make with all your gorgeous scraps, Maureen.

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  15. Your quilt looks like sparkling rhinestones! Actually even prettier than that!

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    1. Thanks. I like country western so rhinestones should fit right in. ;-)

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  16. I'm another chiming in with "not too wild for me!" I was just thinking how glorious it was when I read your comment about the electric socket!

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  17. I was positive that I had posted a comment over here, but somewhere, somehow it managed to disappear! Love the bright pops of yellow especially. It doesn't have an especially wild look here in the pictures, but sometimes quilts have a much different feeling in person. Actually very frustrating to not be able to accurately represent things the way we see them here on the blog.

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    1. We are all getting accustomed to the new Blogger. I’m finding comments in Junk. Go figure.
      I am constantly grateful to have digital cameras. They help tremendously with quilts although you are right, sometimes the values are off. Thanks for the positive comments. I feel better about the quilt.

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