Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Diving Back Into Improv.

I've been feeling a little lost without a new AHIQ prompt, but that's just absurdity. There have been several improv. ideas hanging around on the back burner for eons and I never seem to find time to get them started. So this week, instead of doing all the million and one things that I should be doing, one of those ideas finally got going.
2 finished rows for Score #5
I've been looking at Score #5 in Sherri Lynn Woods ' The Improv. Handbook for Modern Quilters' for a very long time. There's just something about the utilitarian look that is very appealing to me. The fabric has been gathered up for ages and it's all stuff that I shouldn't agonize too much about chopping and hacking to bits. The biggest problem has been that I'm a scaredy cat. I've read through the chapter so many times, but after a little bit, my brain just sort of shuts down. I DON'T GET IT. Blah, blah, blah is about all that gets processed. Okay, fine. I decided to start out by copying one of her vertical rows {only in my own colorway of course} and see where it might go from there.
The first row
Aha! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was already a major mistake. If you look at the previous picture, you will see that the dark orange strips don't extend out to the edges of the block on either side. Things would work so much better if at least one of them did! It really makes this {Rhythmic Grid} Score idea a bit problematic.*sigh  That single row remained on the wall while I went downstairs and did normal life things. Apparently I can't even copy correctly....
Considering adding in another fabric
The next day found me diving in and starting to play regardless. Who cares if I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing? Anybody with an quilting eye and a playful spirit can figure out a basic grid, right? I tried to add in some random bits, switching up fabrics from the original four. I don't have a lot of the lighter orange so will run out sooner than I'd like. But no, it's not time to introduce it into the equation yet. More green please!
Going back to the original four
I free cut and sewed, and just pretty much let all the anxiety slip away. The beauty of working with improv. {and something that is destined to have a utilitarian look} is that nothing is 'too precious'. It took awhile, but eventually I started getting a feel for the flow of a 'grid'.
Trying to figure out the grid
Is it going to be what I originally found to be so appealing? I honestly don't know, but it feels like I'm learning something, even if my approach always feels so completely backwards from what the instructions might be. Does anyone else have trouble following quilting instructions like I do?

This sort of play is {still} sometimes amazingly difficult. I find myself wanting to rely on things like, A + B = C, but it's so helpful to occasionally break away from precision and formality, from rules, have-to's and should-do's. There's something very freeing about breaking things down and learning the basics of relying on instincts and our quilting 'eye'. Again. And again and again. And then from a different starting point altogether. Does it feel like stepping out on a very wobbly limb sometimes? You betcha! And posting pictures of my very doubtful progress can make me positively squirm. But learning is such good stuff when we consider the end game. I still maintain that everything we learn {whether it's what we set out to learn or not} is a valuable gem for our quilting toolboxes. I am still so amazed and gratified to see the finished quilts getting richer and warmer, deeper and more complex--in technique, layers, texture and a wonderfully personalized feeling. That never gets old!
Not enough room on the wall
Another improv. project I attacked recently is 'Shattered'. It was way past time to deal with this problem child. This project has often made me scratch my head and wonder what in the world I was thinking. It's been years in the making and I am so very tired of it. The entire middle of the quilt is made out of 'made fabric' squares straight from the scrap bin. That was an awesome idea. Until it got tedious.
Shattered finally a completed quilt top!
The plan was for the whole quilt to be made in that vein, but somewhere I just folded things up and said enough. Then my brain couldn't really find a way forward because nothing else made sense.
Looks better close up...
Finally, emboldened with a long awaited laissez-faire attitude, I just approached the project with an idea to make it large enough to call it a proper quilt. However that happened, I could really care less. Just get it off the UFO lists! Honestly, I was surprised at the fabrics and colors the quilt wanted to include into the quilt--Older than the hills Debbie Mum country blue check? Reproduction yellow gold? But it was an easy fix and also used up most of the remaining scrappy triangles which really gave me a rush. It's kind of an interesting quilt and not one I'm sorry to have tackled. Just wish I could have finished the quilt top back when the interest was running high. For the record, the quilt top is now around 57" square, which should easily translate into a nice comfort type quilt. Linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #33. Neither of these projects had anything to do with 'playing with scale', but everything to do with improv. I'm gonna say that's good enough.


  1. Well done on starting your utilitarian quilt, looks fab. I too have Sherri Lynn Woods book, but finding the time to study her techniques & then play is a problem when one works full time. Note to myself: make time to experiment/play!

  2. I'm sorry you're missing a challenge - I can always set you one of your own (!) It looks like you have found an interesting new project anyway and, for the record, a quick look at the picture and then ignoring the instructions sounds like a sound way to go about things. Shattered has ended well (I think 'it was an awesome idea until it got tedious' may be my new motto).

    1. And thanks for linking up with AHIQ - it's always interesting to follow your evolving relationship with improv!

  3. You learn even more when you find your own way in stead of just following instructions. And the result looks good. So just continue and you'll finish another great quilt. Warm greetings

  4. I can never really "follow" quilting instructions "to the letter" it seems either. I always go off on some tangent somehow ;000
    It certainly makes my own quilts look different!
    I like how this is coming along....hugs, Julierose

  5. Congrats on a nice finish and I like the bold color scheme in the new project

  6. You are bold to go where you've not gone before! Shattered is really a very fun quilt with your own made fabrics. You followed that style all the way through. I have to laugh with the Debbie Mumm fabric, which I think I just recently passed on. I actually just used another old DM piece in my monthly mini. LOL! I guess both of those pieces finally found their place.

  7. Nice work! Thanks for sharing your process, I often think along
    the same lines.
    One thing that helps me, when I remember of course, is keeping a picture of what
    I'm trying for in my head. Instructions bore me half to death!

  8. Love the colours used in your Score #5 Ad Hoc Improv and Shattered is a beauty!

  9. Audrey, don't worry about following quilt instructions! If the writer thinks like you do, then it's easy, but a lot of times the writer has a different mind set.
    Shattered is a lovely quilt, but it's missing something... There are no appliqued vines or flowers running around the shards or starting to come up over the edges. It looks unfinished for an Audrey quilt! Your quilts inspire me because they are usually not so rigid and symmetrical(like I would make) but have a lot of joy in them.
    Thanks for your thoughtful blogs.

  10. I do so love reading about your quilting journeys and seeing how your quilting mind works. Thank you so much for sharing - I love what you do.....however it turns out!

  11. My small group tried the Rhythmic Grid score a few years ago. They were all gorgeous but we were amazed how differently each of us sewed the score. I like yours, too, and feel better/vindicated knowing you are following your own interpretation.
    I'm so glad you're working through your own improv ideas. Thanks for linking with AHIQ.

  12. I googled Rhythmic Grid and found your blog. Which I already love. Your shrug about not following directions was all the explanation I needed. Since I don't yet own the book I am still somewhat in the dark but I can improv with the best of them. Just get out of my way! Thanks for a smile.


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