Friday, May 1, 2015

Finding Balance or Finding my Quilty Self. And Never the Twain Shall Meet...

I think I'm in a bit of a sluggish, slummy slump lately. Never really feeling like I get anywhere. I play, dribble and dabble at things but it never seems to add up. Am I ill? Look at this gorgeous fabric! And I haven't even cut into it yet. So indecisive. What if I ruin it I think to myself.
A potential quilt top
And I'm being sneaky and working on this quilt already. 'Cuz I just can't stand not to. Plus, my word for the year is 'mindful' and I've tried to think about what and how I work. What my goals are or if I even have any. I'm not sure about that yet. But for now I'm thinking this particular quilt may go into a show. If I get it done in time and if I don't chicken out. Oh yeah. And if they like it well enough to give the go-ahead. It's part of my 'what is my style' considerations. I seem to be all over the place and it's a curious thing to me.
The log cabin quilt...
And Yay for me! I got 2nd place with my marlsala entry in the quilt top category! When I opened up to the announcement post, I was so very shocked! Wowsers. The hosts and judges are primarily modern quilters and my stuff really isn't. Am I slipping over to the dark side? hehe Totally kidding. I think there's room at the table for all of us dedicated quilters and no labels required.
Marasa and An Uncertain Crossroad
The biggest source of my sturm und drang is no doubt the quilt project below. As of yesterday, I finally feel like I got through the very worst part of the dreads with it. {I hope.} The part that makes my arms feel enormously heavy as I'm stitching and causes me to feel incredibly restless the whole time it's staring me in the face. It's so painful and yes I'm whining. blah, blah, blah... Don't bother reading, I'm just getting it off my chest.

It takes me an hour {an hour!} to sew about four or five letters and the entire time, I'm think, think, thinking. I'm sooo.... tired of it and I just want to be done. Yet at the same time I'm getting very excited to see it start coming together. It's exhilarating to lay it out on the floor together and imagine what it will look like all together. Exhilarating is good. I don't even care if it turns out to be a mess, it's exhilarating! And now you think I'm crazy.
Auditioning some fabrics....
So it all adds up to not having much mental energy to put into any other quilt project 'cuz I'm a bit drained. Plus my kids are crazy busy with tennis matches and baseball games and I'm back to the book work in the office. Ughh. Let's not go there.

Lovin' these thoughtful and/or funny posts lately too.... so funnytoo funny, and something to think about. There's something to be said for balance. In everything.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Simple Blocks

I like working with simple blocks occasionally. What an easy way to get into a comfortable 'zone' and just play with our fabrics. I finally found a use for my one itty piece of Liberty fabric too. And to think I started out quilting years ago thinking I'd never buy fabric that cost more than Walmart prices!
Chain piecing in sets of four...
Oh my. How times have changed! I wondered about the mix of greens in these blocks, but the more they sit on the wall and simmer, the more I really, really like them.
Letting the 9-patches simmer for awhile
Hmm.. I wonder if nature might be playing a part in my color selection? This is a picture of the hill directly behind our house. It's covered with weeds and grasses this year with huge pink/purpley patches of wildflowers higher up on the hill. They say it will take almost five years for the native sagebrush to come back anywhere near as plentiful as it was before. Some people don't like sagebrush, but it helps tremendously to lesson the chances of having severe flash floods. We just need to get some trees growing again this year. The work just never ends!
The view from behind our house
Next up, I'm going to put triangles of pink fabric on the 9-patch blocks so they will be on point. It seems like an awful lot of pink, but since they will be the every-other-blocks for the mini cake stands, I think they will hold up nicely to the pressure!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Back To the Hoop

I would love to show you all sorts of progress on my Happy Flowers quilt, but alas, quilting has been rather hit and miss here lately. We survived the yard sale and even managed to get all the remnants bagged up and ready for donation. Yay us! It left me with quite the dilemma though. I can't decide if I want to spend my little bit on quilting fabric or a new spring outfit. Decisions, decisions!
Happy Flowers in the hoop
I have been doing a very basic big stitch quilting on my flowers until I see for sure how it is coming together. I can always come back later and add more if it starts demanding extra stitching!

I'm trying to keep this post short and sweet as being on the computer is cutting into my precious quilting time. For those interested, the voting has started on the Marsala Challenge Quilts. It's rather fascinating what others have done with their version of the very same color. We may be heavily influenced by current quilting fads and trends, but we are all very different!

Time to link up with Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching once again and then get off the computer and go do what I love to do best. Guess I'll have to catch up with all the other slow stitchers at a later date!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The View to my Lap

Quilting has been knocked off the priority list this week, but I still manage to squeeze in a few moments here and there. {I do value my sanity such as it is.} After a nice longish break, I picked up the fire quilt again. On to panel #4! 
My coffee table is feet friendly on purpose...
I've been semi-dreading it because there are more words to applique.*sigh So many tricky areas to stitch! And wouldn't you know it, I forgot to use those clever little Clover applique pins I love so much. La, la, la... pinning down all the cut-out letters with the regular pins that so easily get caught up in the thread. Oh well. Such is the life of an absentminded appliquer. And don't talk to me about fabric glue schmoo. I still have my stubborn pants on about that too...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marsala and An Uncertain Crossroad

My Marsala Challenge quilt top is finally sewn together! It's been such an interesting color to work with. When I first read about the color, I couldn't believe it had been chosen as the Pantone color of the year. Wowsers! Such a drab color. Now I can't believe how much fun I had working with it. Kinda funny to think there were actually fat eights and fat quarters of this stuff already squirreled away in my fabric totes!
A quick look at An Uncertain Crossroad on the floor...
And well..., yeah. Nobody had to twist my arm to buy it. If you really stop to think about it, this color is a foundation sort of color--an earth tone. Colors from nature are always among the first ones I'm drawn to even if some think they're on the shh... ugly side! Come to think of it, my favorite quilts have always seemed to incorporate a few questionable colors. Nature plays very well with colors like marsala, so why can't we?
Love the chunky circles!
For this challenge, I didn't want to run away from the color at all--or try and bury it in the details. I wanted to give it some respect! And although it was tempting to overwhelm the marsala with some of its prettier cousins, I decided to play with how the color might work as a base for making other colors shine or possibly intensify. All the very light strips of sashing in this quilt are what I consider to be the very lightest version of the color marsala. Some are more dreary looking than others, but used as an accompaniment for the unassuming marsala, they work very well. I really like how they provide a strong, vital foundation to help make the rest of the quilt sort of 'pop'.
An Uncertain Crossroad
As many of you know, I've also been playing with quarter circles for awhile. It was an easy jump to come up with the idea of blending the marsala challenge with yet another circle quilt. The older 'crossroads' block just seemed to perfectly bridge the gap between the antique look {where I get so much of my inspiration from} and the {slightly} more modern look I was hoping to achieve. It was a really great block for playing big slices of colors off of a receding background and I got to do my needleturn applique thing too. Win, win, all the way around.
And again....
Too, I love how my instincts steered me towards cutting the circle units in four different widths, making sure that the circles would come out less than perfect.  The crossroads in my life aren't usually what you'd call a smooth transition, so the somewhat jagged edges of these circles feel very right to me. For once I'm not adding a border onto my 61" x 72" quilt top as this one looks very happy as is! Time to link up with the Marsala Challenge over at On the Windy Side and play crafts. Thanks to the hosts for all their hard work and effort in getting this together!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Figuring Out the Mini Cake Stand Quilt Once Again

These little cake stand units have been ready to go for quite some time now. I just needed to remove threads and put them back into some kind of order. Ripping blocks apart is a messy job! Ugh! So many hanging threads to take care of.
Mini Cake Stand units
I decided to go with a plain Jane background of various cream backgrounds and keep the emphasis on the mini cake stands. There are three  or four original blocks with dark brown fabric used for the connector blocks, but that should just make things interesting in the final quilt. Or not. We'll see when the quilt gets closer to layout if I have to change those out too.
Sewing them into the larger blocks...
Figuring out how I wanted to put the larger blocks back together proved to be the bigger challenge. This entire quilt was originally based on an antique 'make-do' style of quilt. The fussier I get with the layout, the farther away I get from my intended goal. The thing is, just using a square of fabric {no piecing} for the every-other-block isn't getting me very excited either. Finally, I decided that over thinking the entire quilt is driving me batty. What am I trying to make, a masterpiece? Bah on that. The every-other-blocks are going to be scrappy nine patches set on point. And yes I'm adding in some pink. My gut says this quilt desperately needs pink!
Some of the fabric cut out for the alternating blocks.
Also, I have come to the end of the handwork on my Marsala blocks. Basically all that is left to do is to trim off the excess applique fabric on the edges and sew the top together. Must find time for that...
Marsala blocks ready to sew together...
And.... another wedding to attend on Saturday (this is apparently the wedding year for our extended families) and then I have a yard sale to get ready for next week. I am still reeling from shock that someone actually got me to agree to ever having another yard sale. In my opinion they are an enormous amount of effort for a very small reward--it's not like we sell anything worth keeping! lol  Although I do remember selling a quilt once to help pay the electric bill. Thankfully all we're trying to do this time is de-clutter.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Scrap Bin Fun

I wasn't going to play in the scrap bin this month, but then I couldn't stand not to! It's so very much fun, that mindless play. First of all, I sorted through some scraps to give me a quick grab and go selection.
A few bits and pieces for play...
Then I settled on a plan. Sort of. The beginning of a plan is almost the same thing, right? I've been eyeing the Amish style quilts with the four mini basket blocks lately. Really giving them the 'ol 'do I want to make one of these lovelies or not' kind of stare down. And the answer is no. I can't handle the thought of making an entire stack of identical blocks in a meager two or three fabrics.*sigh
Starting a new Scrap Bin project....
Color me bored. So... I decided to do things a little more improv., a lot more scrappy and a lot more (for me) interesting. {Which of course translates into possibly being finished some day in the future.}
A scrappy 4-basket quilt
It's still a work in progress, but I'm having fun with it. The kind of fun that can take me anywhere, because scraps really don't like to be bossed around. Thanks Beth! for all your scrappy basket inspiration through the years! Time to link up at Scraptastic Tuesday with Nicky and Leanne!
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