Saturday 31 January 2015

Saturday photos # 9

All the wood I could find in 5 minutes in the rain. When I thought of trying this I was worried it would all be a bit same-y, and I did have to put white borders in to stop them all merging together, but actually there is a satisfying range of colour and texture.

My computer tells me this is the 9th collage, and it

Friday 30 January 2015

Urban sprawl

Now that I'm finally moving forward with this quilt, I have a tiny new problem: where to photograph it.  I have given up on my kitchen floor (big enough but too dark right now - remember the blurry photos?) and am now trying a conservatory (loads of light, but blooming freezing).  It is working okay, but in order to make a big enough space I have pretty much piled everything that was in there down one end. I balance on top of the pile to take the photos, but still can't avoid the table legs and bits of radiator that you can see in the pictures. Maybe that's where smaller pieces would win out.

Enough waffling though.  I have been busy making my dark log cabin blocks, and some other bits and pieces and in the process I had to acknowledge to myself that I have a shockingly short attention span. After about four or five blocks, I totally lose interest and have to switch to something else.  That would be why you will see a series of photos where it looks like I am working on the bottom chunk one minute and on the top the next.  

I am telling myself that this haphazard way of working is just how it is for me, and it does seem to work, but I had never noticed my low boredom threshold before.  (I like to think I am quite a patient person in other parts of my life, but not here it seems).

This picture, which is where I have got to as of this morning, illustrates this perfectly.  I have done a bit on the top, a bit on the bottom, a bit on the right-hand side...

Linking up with Off the Wall Friday today.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Inner city news

Finally, this seems to be moving along again. My machine broke, but the beauty of using an old one is that repairs are simple: in this case I just need to order a new belt.  In the meantime number 2 machine (a Singer 237) has stepped up to the mark just fine.  My brain, on the other hand, is jumping from one thing to another, as if all the ideas that had been stuck in transit were all arriving at once, and all demanding instant attention.  

So, I have been making more log cabin blocks to go across the top.  I want these to be darker than the central area so am omitting the three or four fabrics with a lot of white in them.  

At one and the same time I have been re-homing other left-overs in the bottom left.  Oh, and pinching one of my newly made log cabins in the process (see the gap up top).

Never mind, scattered thoughts notwithstanding I am feeling pretty cheerful about this right now.  

Monday 26 January 2015

Making time in the city

Having complained about slow progress last time I reported on this quilt I have given myself a stern talking to and found some time to keep it ticking along.  

I have sewn on the strips on the left-hand side and have started to work on the next chunk to go across the bottom.  I have pulled apart some pieces I had sewn together earlier in the piece and am playing around to see if I can find them new spots  (they are the piece in bottom left hand corner and then the next chunk with the four little squares across the bottom: originally they were joined together).

I'm also thinking about where I am going to add the next red strips/border. This is where I'm at right now.

Will link today with Monday Makers over at Aylin-Nilya's and Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Small patches

This weeks update on my hand stitching:  Little Elephant is making progress - I think I'm somewhere between a third and a quarter of the way through, and the denim bits are piling up.  This week's piece has less stitching on than some of the others, and I don't like this thread as much, but I've unearthed a box full of old embroidery threads so will be going brighter again next time.  I like the look of the little denim patches though, and will spend this week working on the other half of this.

As I've mentioned before, these bits are essentially samples for a project I am working on with my sister, but I realise I can't just leave them at that, so have started playing around with them, seeing what they look like together.  I've done this virtually (using collage software)

and the old fashioned way (crawling around on the floor).

Now that I've started I will keep playing around with this, but if I'm going to think about piecing them together I will definitely need either to do a load more or to find a way to bring something else into the mix.  Food for thought, but I'm in no hurry.

Linking with Kathy's great Slow Sunday Stitching.

Friday 23 January 2015

Fits and Starts

Again a week of snatched moments, but no sustained sewing, and as a result I have lost my rhythm a bit.  I've been adding around the edges of the city quilt...

 and this is where I've got to.  I need a bit longer to look at it before I'm sure about where this is going at the moment: when I do things in fits and starts I trust my own judgement less, so it all takes longer, which means I trust my judgement less...Catch 22.

Linking up with NinaMarie for Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Form vs function

At the end of last week I posted a photo of my quilt based on a New York City fabric.  The response has been positive but a number of people have assumed it was a completed top.  I can see why they think this too, and if I were making it just for fun, I might well leave it here.  In fact, I will have to find a way to make it bigger, as it is currently under 3' square and is a gift for my oldest son, who will be very pleased with something warm to throw on his bed, but would be pretty underwhelmed by something that he had to hang on his wall or drape artfully somewhere.  I know this for a fact as I once bought him a very cool framed movie poster, which his brother reliably tells me lives on his bedroom floor!

This has got me thinking a little more widely about the question of form versus function, and led me back to the well known quote from William Morris "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".  Perhaps my take on this will change over time, but I realise that at the moment I am much more comfortable making a quilt that will have a use, ie one which is large enough for a bed, or to snuggle under on a sofa.  I often admire other people's wall quilts and mini quilts, but without making a clear decision have never made anything in either category.

Maybe this is just because I am often cold and like the idea of a good blanket (I have a whole pinterest board devoted to the subject); maybe it's a Protestant work ethic thing: ie the expense, and time taken are justified by the fact that they result in a functional object .  I don't really know, but now that I've thought about it I shall go on musing and see if I can understand it better.  In the meantime I have to find a way to expand this quilt!

Sunday 18 January 2015

Slow stitching and more denim

If my piecing has been on a go slow this week, my hand work, perversely, has been moving along quite nicely.  I am confidently expecting Little Elephant to take an age to quilt, but am making good headway.  Reflecting on this I don't think it is because I have been putting in much more time than usual, but using one thread everywhere, instead of constantly changing colours, means I spend a lot - and I mean a whole lot - less time stopping and starting, threading needles, tying knots, burying ends.  

As suggested by Kathy, I have a picture of myself quilting, for Slow Sunday Sewing.  I will confess that I had to get help with this - my one-handed camera attempts were way too shaky.

I have also started the next bit of denim.  This time I am trying little denim patches, and have opened out a pair of kids jeans but kept the shape of the garment.  I recently bought Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar by Rodnet Kiracofe and there are a couple of quilts in there using old jeans, including one which has an entire pair of dungarees.  (By the way this book is just brilliant; I would encourage you to seek it out if you haven't already seen it).

I'm still using the random threads I have lying around, and having run out of the dark reds am giving these a go.  I'm not sure the blue will show up enough, but we'll see.

Saturday 17 January 2015

5 minute photos

My inside tree.  What's hanging on it changes, but right now it's birds.

I posted in a hurry this morning, but realise I should have named the artist whose birds these are.  He is Mark Hearld - you can find more here.

Friday 16 January 2015

Driving not sewing

This has been one of those weeks when loads of things have conspired to reduce my sewing time. This morning, for instance, I made the same 40 minute round trip twice, because my brain wasn't working and I left behind something crucial the first time.  

As a result I haven't achieved much since I posted last week, but have resolved the question of the red border.  I found another fabric I was happy with: a much darker red, with a subtle stripe.  I only have a fat eighth, or thereabouts, but I think that will do.  

I'm itching to get on with this now (having finished the bee block), so my resolution for next week is less driving, more sewing!

Linking to Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Trying something new

One of the reasons I started blogging - in fact probably the main reason - was that reading other people's blogs made me want to be part of the online community.  This is especially important to me as I don't belong to a local quilt guild. 

Toward the end of last year I was thinking about other ways of participating online.  I would have loved to find something improv-based, to let me stay roughly in my comfort zone, but instead, in a moment of madness, I signed up for this year's Stash Bee.  Now I would say I'm not naturally a joiner of things, and I don't remember the last time I pieced a proper, carefully measured, quilt block, but I figured that it might be fun, and also know that there are probably old skills I can improve, new ones I can acquire, that I could then put to work in my own style.  

So I now have to make my first block (not yet completed) but I have cut a load of squares, in the required colour.  Not a big deal for most of you, I guess, but I don't usually use a ruler at all, so I am pretty pleased that my squares are square!  Let's hope that they're still the right shape by the time I've finished.

Linking up with Lorna for Let's Bee Social.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Little Elephant in the hoop

Now that Charley Harper is finished, it's Little Elephants turn for quilting.  I am trying something new with this one; in fact I am trying two new things.  First I am using a different wadding.  I have been using wool, which I love, but am giving Sew Simple Eco Blend a go.  This is a 70% cotton, 30% poly blend and the appeal of it for me is that is made from 100% recycled material.  It has a nice, felty feel to it, and is alright to quilt, but I'll do a bit more before I draw any firm conclusions.  In the meantime, my conscience is happy with the choice!

I am also trying a new thread.  I love using perle to hand quilt but I can't find variegated shades that I am happy with.  I don't want a variegated which includes a lot of white or just varying shades of one colour, which pretty much rules out my usual brands (Anchor and DMC).  I have tried Valdani, which has some really lovely colour combinations, but found the thread a bit soft (for want of a better word).  It tended to pull apart a bit too often for my liking, and this meant I ended up working with short lengths - lots of extra starting and finishing.

So I am giving Gutermann's Sulky 30 a go.  This is what I bought:

It's early days still, but so far am pretty happy with the choice.  When I've done a bit more I'll post some close ups so you can see how the colours work out.

Linking this post to Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching and with Aylin-Nilya for Monday Makers.

Saturday 10 January 2015

5 minute photos

It has been raining hard here, and windy, so my photos today were taken in 5 minutes in the bathroom!

Friday 9 January 2015

Back in the city

It's taking me a while to get moving again after two weeks of absolutely no piecing.  The first time I returned to it was a write-off, just a lot of tea-drinking and no idea of where to go.  This time, I think, was a bit better, though I reckon I may be moving backward fast.  

If you want to see where I left this piece, you can click here.  When I laid it out on the floor again it seemed top heavy, so I took the top chunk away and tried it at the bottom.  Like this:

That doesn't seem quite right either, so I stripped the original section back to this, adding a skinny column on the left.

Then one extra row across the bottom.

I think I am going to have a very thin red border right round this.  I laid out the red I have (of course not enough, so I will have to search out something similar).  This is only a 1.5" strip, so will not look as wide as in this picture once it's sewn.

As for that extra big chunk, I may add to it and make it wider, or more likely will chop it in two as it's not really working for me. 

Linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Charley Harper, done and dusted

This was in fact my last finish of 2014.  I just scraped in, finishing the binding on the 31st.  This means I completed 4 quilts in a year, which is the most ever, even if it's a tiny number compared to many.

Charley Harper: named for the American modernist artist. If you don't know his work, do go and check it out here.  He is best known for his nature prints which are beautifully minimalist and have been put to good use by Birch in a range of fabrics that includes the nuthatch I have used here.

The complete quilt is not huge, measuring 56" x 70".  I used two of the Birch line: the nuthatch and a print with swallows (which you can see here).  Also two Kaffe Fassett stripes, some Oakshott plains, a grey Grunge and some bits and pieces. I used wool wadding, and quilted with perle.  The binding is Kona Grellow (I think!)

I started this on March 19th, finished December 31st, though I was not working on it all that time, as it was sitting in the quilting queue.

I'm linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and TGIFF Friday, this week over at Quilt Matters.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Here we go again!

Happy New Year one and all.

Family have come and gone, mess (oh boy, the mess) has been made and cleared, and the broadband has finally been restored,  so back to blogging, though I have to admit I have rather enjoyed the enforced break from the web. I think there might be a resolution brewing - something about less mindless browsing possibly!

In the meantime, I have got a surprising amount of hand stitching under my belt over the break, so it's time for show-and-tell.  

First up, the latest denim piece:

Previously I have trimmed off the worst of the wear and tear, but this time I had a go at darning - I rather like it.

Then I also finished Charley Harper - still no better name for this one, but I live in hope:

He might get his own post in the next day or two.

I'm linking with Slow Sunday Sewing at Kathy's Quilts today.