Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Blogcation

So here's the deal. I have a lot of things going on in my life right now and something needs to give.
A quiet corner and the book I still haven't found time to read after
three plus weeks. 
It's going to have to be the blogging, at least for a couple weeks. Maybe even until the first of next month? And honestly I'm not even sure if that will work out because I'll barely be getting back from our annual church camp-out on the 30th and then my daughters senior graduation is the 6th of June. Busy times as I'm sure many of you have similarly experienced. I'm feeling completely overwhelmed and overextended. A lot frazzled. Just to put it out there for my quilty friends to sympathize and say 'there, there', in a bit of a panic the other day, I almost shut down the entirety of this blog. Like permanently. Why is it that women have less opportunities where they feel comfortable saying 'No, I can't do it all. I'm not superwoman nor do I want to be.' And yet, most of the time we do this to ourselves. Because we are mothers and wives, friends and just plain 'ol good people.

So... while still plugging along with the tiniest bit of quilting, mostly hand quilting and applique, it's not exactly convenient right now to take pictures and get it up on the blog. {Yes I did get back into my quilting room after exactly one week if only to sigh fondly and grab scrap bin fabric for more circles.} And if I can't get back by the first, I'll try to find someone to guest host the June Quilty 365. Because I'm not giving up sewing my circles after making it this far! Until then, happy stitching.....

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Not Much To Look At, But It Is Progress

This seems to be my bit of sewing these days. A little progress but not so pretty around the edges. Just barely hanging on to my quilting mojo while other obligations pile up around me. If I'm not careful I can do the whole 'woe is me' thing and get pretty despondent all because poor 'ol me doesn't have quite enough quilting time to suit.
The tumbler basket centerpiece
Like that would be the entire reason I exist. Huh. But okay, facts being facts, I barely had time to take this picture and I've also been trying to do a quicky visit with all the ones who linked up to May Quilty 365. You know, without every single comment being a carbon copy. It's a challenge because I'm speed reading the posts and mostly just taking in the pictures in one big gulp. Love seeing the progress for each unique variation though and I think every one of us deserves a big rah, rah!

I also saw a fun new QAL floating around quilty blogland and want to be digging through my fabric now, dumping out my applique parts and pieces totes and joining right in. Like this minute. Starting a new project is always the very best way to get over the I-don't-have-enough-time-to-quilt blues. Right? I knew my readers would totally understand how that particular phenomena works.
Some applique basket blocks to add to the tumbler basket centerpiece....
But believe it or not, in the last couple days I am now completely blocked out of my quilting room. My husband moved several totes of his stuff into the opening {ie: doorway} and I am unable to access my sewing machine or alas, even enter the room. It's supposedly a very temporary thing and I am too busy to forcibly remove them at the moment. Thankfully I have a couple applique and hand quilting projects available to me in the corner of my bedroom where I stash them for those quiet evening moments. 

Aha. Yes. Those quiet evening moments which are so very few and far between right now seeing as how my son is still in possession of the hideabed and usually wants to go to bed at the hideous hour of ten pm. I am fast approaching a mutiny. Or a riot. Possibly a breakdown. There are nights where I just yawn and go right to bed without a single protest. And others where I just stare in disbelief at how little stitching I have accomplished for the entire day. This is not me. I have obviously been taken over by aliens.*wink

Saturday, April 30, 2016

May Quilty 365 Linkup

So here we go with May Quilty 365! This months finds me with thirteen unsewn circles. Not scary far behind on stitching, but definitely needing some attention. 
April circles
Honestly I'm not impressed with several of this months blocks. The colors are drab and uninspired or perhaps I chose fabric that makes me feel a little queasy now. I'd like to just throw them out and start over but then I think a little bit more on what this is all about.  Maybe, {just maybe} I need to leave the less attractive circles in there and look at it as part of the journey. For the most part I am choosing my circle fabrics day by day, and life, as we all know, is full of different kinds of moody moods. Even if I choose not to share those moods with you. It's just not how I operate. Feel free to try and read between the {fabric} lines.*wink
The stacks are getting larger!
I'm loving some of the other circle projects I see every month. Why didn't I choose that lovely background fabric? Or why didn't I think of this, or that, or the other? It's a dangerous game because hello? I won't be happy making someone else's quilt. This one's all me, staying in the safe, neutral background and letting my circles pop here and there. Some recede into the background and others are quite jarring when you look at them next to my usual softer palette. Later I look at those blocks and wish I could remember what was going through my mind that day. 'Cuz I'm not keeping a journal. I mostly just want to be able to do a glance-over and remind myself that I made it through 'that crazy, busy year'! 

Layout, layout. Too busy to think much on that subject this month, although I did see an interesting rug that got me thinking about circles. Funny what sets us off into the land of inspiration. Also, I have been leaning more and more toward wanting my pieced circles to be presenting horizontal or vertical, which totally leaves out the 'on-point' setting I am so enamored of. Good thing I have several months left to get this all sorted out in my mind! 

Do I still have some quilty folks circling with me? There's a few people falling away at this point and that's perfectly okay. Unless I miscounted, the end of April leaves me at 188 days of circles. Woohoo! In case you were wondering, I'm posting the linkup early because this weekend is booked solid and I'll be lucky if the computer ever gets turned on. If you're still hanging in there I'd love to see your latest. Really. Join us in the linkup with your thumbnail picture and:
  • What particular day you  happen to be at now {such as 'day 150'}
  • A picture of your April circles whether they are stitched to the background fabric or not {can add a picture of all your circles to date if you want}
  • A link back to this post
  • Any thoughts or introspection you might want to add about this particular project.
   
   

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Finding My Way With Another Improv. Sort of Quilt

As always, I'm not sure what I'm doing or where I'm supposed to be going with this Adhoc. Improv. thing. It seems to pull me down some interesting roads though! This is the second effort with improv. strings and I have yet another project I'm quite desperately wanting to dive into. It never ends. First things first though!
The centerpiece coming together
Auditioning the layout for this quilt was a very quick event. No matter which way I turned the blocks to check out various sashing pieces and layout options, I promptly flipped the blocks back to the 'hills' facing downward. That is the way they want to be and that is that! Having the sashing running both horizontal and vertical  made everything look busy to my very fussy eye. I also immediately tossed out all the darker, brighter reds in favor of this red homespun check. Either I'm getting more confident or this quilt is quite, quite determined to be made a specific way!
Looking at the unfinished border piece facing toward the quilt
It's a fairly simple serene looking quilt and too much of anything easily makes it look overdone to me. I'm still scratching my head in wonderment, but the border-work is completely the thing for me. It makes the quilt almost make sense in a weird sort of way and I just nod my head and say 'Yes, this is it, exactly what it needs!' Any of this making sense to you?

In fact, I cut the border pieces out on a late evening after some very busy {and possibly stressful, haha} days and made a bad cutting mistake. All my border background pieces are approximately 1 1/2" too short. I just wanted to pull out my hair. How could that have happened?  But... I like the fabric choices so well, I just unpicked the two checked sashing pieces and made them slightly more narrow. Just a bit, because I'm also going to trim just a smidge off the outside of the quilt. The border pieces shall remain the same because 'they work'. And I don't even know why or care. It just is.
And facing away....
And there's more of these chunky crossroad blocks happening too. I'm now at the 3/4 mark with these and still enjoying them very much.
More chunky crossroads blocks
Hopefully by next months Adhoc. linkup I'll have all 100 of them sewn, trimmed and be looking at layout options. One can hope. It's been a busy spring with no sign of let-up..... Linking up with Ann and Kaja

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Enjoying What's In the Hoop

Lots going on as usual, but I have finally managed to spend some quality time with my hoop. It's always exciting to reach the outside of the quilt even though finishing that part tends to take more time than we ever really expect.
Hand Pieced Bow-Ties
I'm finding that my stitching is not very even on this particular quilt. When I'm visiting with my kids or my mind is not entirely on what's in my hoop, the stitches get a little wonky.
A closer look....
That's okay. This is my first ever hand-pieced-block quilt and I can definitely tell my first blocks from the later blocks. Uhuh. They aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But mistakes are part of the learning curve, the human touch. A few wonky stitches here and there are not going to make me love this quilt any less than I already do. Linking up to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching where {for most of us} the process is more important than the finished product.....

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Looking Ahead

As always, I'm looking ahead, wondering which quilts will be in the hoop next. Is it possible to do a combination of machine and hand quilting on anything? That's always in question these days as I am trying to speed things along. These four quilt tops keeping grabbing my attention, so I suppose you'll be seeing one of these 'in progress' by early next month.
Quilt tops
Maybe earlier if I put the peddle to the medal with the stitching. haha  I've also been talking to a friend of mine about doing a bit of long arm quilting for me. She's wanting to get started in the business and I have a couple quilt top I've decided I don't want to bother hand quilting or actually even try to stitch on my domestic machine. They are much older quilt tops, quite large and my heart just isn't in it to spend a million hours each on them. It's expensive though as I certainly don't expect my friend to do this for me out of the goodness of her heart. And that's why I'm thinking maybe two this year. Maybe a couple more the next?
Jelly Rolls
And these Jelly Rolls keep looking at me from the corner of the quilt room, probably wondering if I have even noticed them hanging around. Two are identical so I suppose together they could make a lap sized quilt. Anyone have any incredibly wonderful jelly roll patterns they could point me to? I always pre-wash my fabrics so I'm nervous about combining these strips with anything from my stash. They were all given to me in the last year, so I'm not out any money {thank goodness}, but I can already see this is an odd way to approach quilting for me. Not in my wheelhouse at all.....

Monday, April 18, 2016

Do you ever find yourself looking at a quilt top and wondering how you ended up here? I do pretty often. It all started over fifteen years ago when the quilt group I was part of had quilt block exchanges and monthly challenge blocks. I would have this stack of sampler blocks that needed a proper layout on a fairly regular basis. While greatly challenging at the time, in retrospect it was one of the best things possible for my creative journey.
Exuberance, a finished quilt top....
The possibilities for layout are unlimited except by the boundaries of our own minds. As you can only imagine, my mind was busy rebelling against the naysayers, the hidebound and the quilt police. What do you mean I can't do that? And so began my endless quest for combining odd stacks of quilt blocks with {in my mind} the most interesting quilt layouts for them, and yes, even adding on the occasional border. Which has the added benefit of making a quilt seem even more interesting or perhaps, more importantly, distracting from a less ahem! fascinating quilt.
A fun touch of applique in the border. Simple yet bold...
These improv./crumb blocks, stitched straight from my scrap bin, looked pretty good to me from the beginning. Sewing them side by side didn't seem to be the right avenue for accentuating their scrappy goodness though, and in fact, made them look a little too blended and mushy. One thing led to another until I had me a nice little quilt top. Not very exciting, but pleasing all the same. Every quilt is not destined to be a star!
A lovely blend of scrappy bits. Always engaging!
Then one day, a lot of little {vague} ideas gelled into something that comprised a border unit for this particular quilt. It took some auditioning with bits and pieces of applique, some hem hawing around with color/fabric swatches and a lot of scratching my head and deep ponderings. It would have been easier to give in to that antsy feeling of 'wouldn't I rather be washing windows than fighting through this creative walking-through-mud process?' But... I've learned through years of trial and error that there are only good endings if you work through that itchy feeling. It's not uncommon to feel like you're having to force yourself to make that all important design decision.

Most quilts take a little coaxing. A little sweet talking. They don't just stomp their feet and demand 'I need a specific design element, don't be stupid, there's only one possible design element that will work!' That's called a pattern. Anyway, the point of my little story here today is that I'm so very surprised by the end result of this particular quilt. Even though I was the one making all the decisions during the entire process... It didn't turn out at all how I envisioned there at the beginning. What a happy, yet quietly exuberant, quilt top started from make-fabric, improv. type sewing. Which is why I'm naming this quilt 'Exuberance'. I think this quilt is absolutely delighted to be numbered among the successes....
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