Tuesday 26 December 2017

AHIQ - share your improv #28

Welcome to the last AHIQ of 2018 (another year just flew by).  In lieu of actual progress on The Shipping Forecast, I offer a quick review of my year's quilting.  

I'm not sure why but I have finished fewer tops this year than in previous ones.  Here are the four that got done.

Actually, if I pause and count on my fingers, I can think of about 5 weeks when, for one reason or another, I did no piecing - I guess that probably accounts for why there isn't an extra picture here.  All of these are Modern Utility quilts by my definition, started with a bundle of recycled stuff and adding extra stuff from stash.

Strangely, for the first time ever, I have more finished quilts than tops, so my backlog has actually decreased by a count of two, which can't be a bad thing.  I have kept quilting steadily, though, except for two weeks in the summer.  

The thing I have enjoyed most about my quilting this year (apart from the count of finishes) has definitely been working with the recycled fabrics.  I like the slightly softer quality that they bring to a quilt, enjoy the challenge of matching up bundles of shirting and then finding stash fabrics to add in.  

I have also loved the AHIQ challenges, which have resulted in quilts I don't think I would have made otherwise.  I enjoy being given a (broad) brief and have found being able to follow other people's progress with the same challenge to be thought-provoking, eye-opening and inspiring.

Looking ahead, I don't have many resolutions for 2018.  There will be more AHIQ challenges to look forward to, so I'll take my lead from those, though I have a couple of things simmering away at the back of my mind that I hope to follow through. 

Having limited myself to recycled fabrics plus organic quilting cottons for the past two years it has become a habit that I can't see myself breaking, and which in fact gets easier to sustain the longer I do it.  I'll probably keep going with my 'pile of shirts' approach for the most part, but there are also a couple of specific fabrics I would like to use, that may get to kick off their own quilts.  We'll see.  

For someone who has developed the habit of resolutions (rather late in the day I discovered that I like them and they work for me) this seems distinctly low-key, but that's where I'm at right now.  If I wake up on the first day of 2018 determined to recreate a Rembrandt in recycled denim or quilt my entire life story in 2" HSTs, I'll let you know!

I'd like to thank everyone who has participated in AHIQ this year, by linking up, participating in the challenges, or simply taking the time to comment on the posts that are shared.  

Friday 22 December 2017

Yellow Birds done and dusted

Piecing is not going my way still - my hsts have acquired an unruly curve (I don't mind a bit of wonk but somehow I've gone way past that) and after a couple of hours arguing with them I have decided to acknowledge defeat, for now.  When time is short, stressful sewing doesn't seem like the best way to go, so I shall come back to it after Christmas.

On the bright side though, I have finished my Yellow Birds.

This is the first quilt where I started with a bundle of shirts and pulled fabrics from stash to go with them.  As a reminder, here's the original pile of shirts.

Added in were the yellow bird fabric, which I'm pretty sure was Joel Dewberry, some grunge, and other bits and pieces from stash. The back, which for the first time ever is just one big piece of fabric, is a sheet.

The wadding is Sew Simple Supersoft Eco Blend, which is 70/30 recycled cotton and recycled polyester and it was quilted using perle 8, in a variety of shades - none bought specifically for this project; I just used what I had already.

I started piecing on 31st August 2016 and finished on 24th February 2017.  Quilting started on 20th October, finished 21st December 2017.  The last couple of years I've been trying to finish a quilt in December but not quite made it; this year I'm home with room to spare.

A reminder that AHIQ will run next week, despite the fact that it goes live on Boxing Day - maybe some of us will need a little quilty pause in the midst of the mayhem (or is the mayhem just us?) If, like me, you don't have much actual sewing to show for the last few weeks, do feel free to link up any review of the year/plans for 2018 posts.

Sunday 17 December 2017

End in sight

This feels better!  Here's what I have left to quilt.

Looks eminently do-able, doesn't it?  So the plan for this afternoon is to quilt, then pop to the machine for a quick bit of binding.  Even if I get interrupted numerous times this quilt will be finished before Christmas.  Now all I need to do is get my piecing back on track and I'll be a happy woman.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, even though I may be getting out the machine today.

Monday 11 December 2017

Back to normal, nearly

Things are finally calming down here and there's a bit more sewing time on the horizon, though of course there's Christmas too...

I've levelled off underneath the second lighthouse and moved onto the next section.  For quite a while I have been plonking the third lighthouse somewhere over on the right hand side when I laid things out, but could never find a spot where I felt completely happy with it, so I'm trying it out on the left instead.

Other than that it's just a question of keeping on keeping on, though it is encouraging to see this start growing again. 

Wednesday 6 December 2017

I sewed!

All this work is fine and dandy, and as I've said it's in my nature to knuckle down and get on with it, but after three weeks I have become aware that not sewing is starting to send me a little bit bonkers,so I've paused this morning and done the next chunk on this.  Reflecting on it, I think I'm lucky this is the project I've got on the go right now as it's pretty much just about juggling rows of different-sized HSTs, so it's quite easy to get back into the swing of things.  See, I'm looking on the bright side today instead of whining.

I finished this chunk and have quite a lot of bits pieced together ready for the next couple of rows, though first I have to find a missing word (the next bit of the shipping forecast seems to be without its final 'poor') or maybe print another one.

As luck would have it, I've sewed on a Wednesday, so I'm linking up with sew  stitch snap share too.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

AHIQ- share your improv #27

I'm hoping others have improv to share because, as you may have noticed, there hasn't been much going on around here (I'm still working flat out in real life but the end is not yet in sight).  However, spurred on by the desire to have something to share today I paused for a couple of hours yesterday and did a wee bit of sewing, before heading back to the computer.

I knew that the text part of this project wasn't photographing well, but a couple of comments last time made me realise that is isn't showing up at all - trick of the light - so here's a close up to prove that it's there. 

It occurs to me that this is one of those projects that doesn't look very different from one progress picture to the next, and that is even more obvious because progress at the moment is so painfully slow but that's the way it goes sometimes. I have to keep working, and it is in my nature to want to push and push until the job is down,  but I know I ought to take more little breaks, if only for the sake of my poor eyes, which are not enjoying staring at a screen for hours on end.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Yellow Birds - all that's happening here

There is still literally no piecing happening here, though I am determined to make time for a bit tomorrow, if only so that I have something to share on AHIQ on Tuesday.  Trying to look on the bright side, I am telling myself that at least my hand quilting hasn't ground to a halt and Yellow Birds is coming along nicely - maybe half done.  

A couple of progress pics...

 and I am linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Monday 13 November 2017

And onwards...

A bit more progress.  I've just started a piece of work (yes, actual proper real-life work) that is much bigger than I was expecting and threatens to eat up all my time for the next several weeks, but I am going to try and keep carving out an hour here or there.  Non-stop intense concentration can only be maintained for limited periods without a break, so I spent some time today prepping more squares to be sewn for triangles, so that I can use my breaks productively.  It should keep this project moving, I hope.  

My ruler is on the top left-hand corner because I know the first piece I sewed was wider at the top than the bottom.  I haven't trimmed it yet but needed to estimate how wide the chunk I'm making now needed to be.  This is my low-tech way of guesstimating.   

I have been wondering as I went along how much of the text would fit on the front, and think my reluctance to finish printing is possibly connected to the feeling that masses of it would end up on the back (also, the conservatory is really cold now and that's where the printing is set up).  Now I am thinking maybe more than I thought will end up on front, which would be a good thing.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

A pause to give thanks

The pictures that follow are today's progress, but are pretty self-explanatory, so I'm going to veer off topic for a moment.  

It has occurred to me that this is a quilt that would never have been made were it not for the internet and for the world of quilt blogging.

If I hadn't found Julie's blog, I would never have tried free piecing... 

without the AHIQ challenge from Ann The Shipping Forecast might never have been more than a vague notion... 

without instagram I wouldn't have seen Tonya Ricucci's Shark and realised she had found the perfect way to piece water.  
So I would like to give my heartfelt thanks for all quilters, quilt bloggers and instagrammers, for everyone who takes the time to comment on quilt blogs, for the sharing of ideas, techniques, inspiration and support, for communication and creativity.  Thank you!

And, in the spirit of sharing, I am linking up with Linda and Julie for sew stitch snap SHARE.

Monday 6 November 2017

Virtue rewarded

Well, that may be overstating the case rather, but I felt very virtuous piling up my HSTs at the end of last week and today that labour paid off, as I had plenty of options when I started putting things together again.  In fact, though I probably won't have enough to finish the quilt, I definitely have enough to get a fair way through it, so no more chain piecing for me for a while.  Hooray.  

Even better, this starts to feel like it's going somewhere now.  The first thing I did today was to rip out a little strip of plaid and replace it with tiny triangles (just to the right at the top of the lighthouse).  Fiddly and time-consuming but it serves me right for thinking I could get away with a short-cut in the first place.  I like it much better now.

This is in two pieces still, but joining them will be my first move next time, then on to the next chunk, and the next lighthouse.  

I realise that the width of this piece was not decided upon, but just dictated by the length of the first strip of lettering.  Probably I need to go wider - I could do this before I add further chunks, or make the whole thing this wider and then add something all the way round.  This has only just occurred to me, so I've no idea yet which way I'll go.  

And just in case I get too smug, having made some progress, I should own up that my 'to do' list for this quilt still includes two items 'finish printing' and 'make third lighthouse' which have been there for the better part of a month.  I'll have to cave in and do them in the end!

Finally, a quick note for Liz and Linda, both of whom have left lovely comments recently.   I can't reply directly as you are no-reply commenters, but thank you, and do let me have an email address if you'd like direct responses.

Friday 3 November 2017

Squares, triangles, squares, triangles

I searched high and low earlier in the week for white shirts and only managed to find two, one completely plain,and one a dress shirt with lots of tiny pleats in a panel on the front.  So yesterday, while I was waiting for another boiler man to come and finish off the job the first boiler man couldn't do,  I used my time cutting them up.  By the time he was done I had a nice little pile of blue squares and matching white squares, ready to be turned into triangles.

A bit of application this morning and I now have an equally pleasing, but rather more useful, pile of triangles.

Onward and upward.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

A little bit of actual stitching

Having spent the better part of two days sitting in an unheated house while a gas engineer charged me an arm and a leg to fix my boiler, a process which took longer and cost a whole lot more than I would have wished, I am thinking that maybe instead of quilting I should use my spare time to learn a handy skill like, let's say, how to how to do boiler repairs.

At least I got some work done in the garden, which was distinctly warmer than the house, and a wee bit of piecing too, though I was limited by the need to keep most of the floor clear.  

Currently this is what I've got.
 Unlike my previous posts, where a lot of stuff was just sitting on the floor, I have a good proportion of this stitched together.  

I realise that I have been struggling with the idea that this piece is going to consist almost entirely of quilt-wide rows.  Maybe that's how it will end up, and there is a strong argument for that but I have decided to approach it by making this chunk, (until I'm level with the bottom of the lighthouse) and then start on the next.  I might well carry on across, but it leaves me head-space for  shuffling things around a bit if I want to.  

In the meantime, I am completely out of white/cream fabrics.  This is one of those moments when I think about abandoning my self-imposed rules since I can't find an organic option, but instead I am off tomorrow to search for a couple of nice white shirts.  

Sunday 29 October 2017

Yellow birds in the frame

Well still not much piecing going on here.  Fortunately it's Sunday and I have at least been doing some quilting, so here's a quick peek at the start of Yellow Birds.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

AHIQ - share your improv #26

I am making progress with my shipping forecast quilt, which is to say that I have made a lot of HSTs.  I had great plans for yesterday, but then the boiler died and I had to sort that out and before I knew it the day was gone and not one stitch had been sewn.

However, since it is AHIQ time I thought I'd mention that I have decided to quilt my Yellow Birds next (it has words on at least) but that when I got it out, and in fact after I had pin basted about a quarter of it, I decided I didn't like the shape.  It looked like this.
Seemed fine at the time but now it's just too square.  I know that's a bit perverse when I've just finished a square quilt, but that worked (because it was consistent, I think: square blocks, sewn into bigger square units, sewn together into square quilt) and this doesn't.  So I unpinned, un-backed and am in the process of adding a couple of rows of geese to make things more rectangular.  It's a bit of a pain, but better than quilting something and then deciding I don't like it.

On to AHIQ and this was scheduled to be the start of our next challenge, but after some discussion we have decided to postpone this until the beginning of next year - Ann very elegantly called it "consolidate and review".  The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly there seem to be a few people who have started one of the previous challenges but not had time to finish yet, so this creates an opportunity to catch up a bit.  Also, in case you hadn't noticed, Christmas will soon be bearing down upon us and that tends to make quite a few demands on people, so if you don't want to make up quilting ground, you can have a few extra moments to wrap stuff, or eat mince pies or do whatever you like to do at this time of year (mince pies and Christmas cake for me, all the way).

If you are all up-to-date/don't do Christmas/are super-organised/never stop sewing and would like a challenge then maybe you could try something new on the quilting front.  You could go graffiti style, like Karlee Porter, try circles if you usually quilt in straight lines,or vice versa, mix hand work with machine quilting.  I have a notion to try something based on Welsh whole cloth quilts some time soon, if I can figure out how to get what's in my head onto fabric, though it won't be happening this year.   Alternatively you could try a different thread - maybe thicker or thinner than usual. 

So he remaining link ups 2017 will run, as usual, on the 4th Tuesday of each month and the next challenge, possibly in a slightly revamped form, will kick  off in January. In the meantime I look forward to seeing what people have to share this month.

I'm linking this up with Sew, Stitch, Snap, SHARE 

Friday 20 October 2017

Small decisions and an extra lighthouse

I'm still mostly just making HST's but since no one seemed to mind last time I shared stuff just laid out on the floor, I'm gong to do it again.  The first one shows the second lighthouse (at the moment I think there will be one more).  What looks like a big mess of white fabric is actually me wondering about changing the direction of some strips and what that might look like.  

The second picture gives more an idea of where I think I have decided to head, and, in my own defence, also contains quite a lot more actual sewing.  

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Final circles done and dusted

Isn't it amazing what a little application can achieve? This is the last of the quilts that sprang from last year's Quilty 365 challenge (you can see the others here and here).

The back is pretty simple.

I started making one circle a day on 28th May 2016 and finished putting it together on 14th December 2016.  Quilting started on 8th September and I finished today, October 18th 2017.

It turns out to be the smallest I have made, at 50" square. I did spend a while thinking about ways to make it bigger but it felt done, and I'm still okay with that decision.  It's made from a pile of Oakshott charm squares and another pile of old shirts, wool wadding, hand quilted using a Madeira Lana variegated blue thread.  

Monday 16 October 2017

Repetitive action

Now that this is the only top I am properly working on, I am hoping to make some progress, though of this morning things looked like this.

I realise that if nothing changes I am going to be making a lot of HSTs.  I will try not to post lots of pictures which all look the same, but it's a fair bet that any regular readers need to tighten their seatbelts and prepare for some whinging.  It's a question for me to ponder: why do I commit to projects which require me to make lots of bits the same when I know full well that this will make me bored and grumpy somewhere down the line?  Maybe when I get bored enough it will be the impetus to change things about.  Who knows?

Sunday 15 October 2017

No excuses

This quilt still isn't finished and there's no excuse for it.  About three weeks ago I thought "one good week and I'll be done", but then what happened?  I didn't quilt at all, evening after evening.  I've got a whole heap of justifications for this, some pretty good and some pretty blooming poor, but I don't really know why I didn't just get on with it.  

I figure if I put it up here and say out loud that it could be done in literally one or two days, I might drum up some motivation.  I have just one round of little squares to get through, and some of those are already done, then a binding.  

So I am linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching and publicly announcing my intention that by this time next week I will, at the very least, be stitching down a binding.

Monday 9 October 2017

Hourglasses done for now

It's amazing how being short of time can concentrate the mind.  I looked at this first thing and wondered if I even liked the HST-ish blocks I was adding around the edges.  But I knew that I might not get another good run at it this week and decided to keep going.  Now I'm pleased I did: I like how they look and the top is done for now and heading for my quilting pile.  

Normally I'd take a wee break from piecing now and just quilt for a week or so, but since the next project is already underway I am thinking I'll just move seamlessly (!) on.  

Saturday 7 October 2017

Saturday butterflies

Ever since Ann and Cathy started their Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up I have been trying to take pictures of butterflies, and with pretty poor luck, it has to be said.  While I was in France I got two great shots and then,naturally, completely forgot to link them up!  I've remembered now, though; better a month late than never.  

Thursday 5 October 2017

No geese, but a solution of sorts

I must have tried twenty fabrics this morning, in an attempt to find something that I could use as a wider border for this piece.  I realised that what I really wanted was more of the black floral, but I didn't have nearly enough, and am too stubborn just to order more.  

Then I tried the flying geese again, then various other permutations, and nothing was quite right. Though I really, really wanted geese to be the solution I was looking for, this quilt wasn't having any of it. Finally it occurred to me that since what I wanted was more black, I should find a way of using what I had left, and started cutting black triangles and adding them into the mix.  I have also laid them out as squares, so that they echo the units already in the quilt.  

This is just a tiny section, to give you a feel for things without exposing the enormous mess all around; it is possible to take warts and all photography too far!

Monday 2 October 2017

Really, really slow sewing

It's been one step forward, two steps back today.  I added black borders on the last two sides, and am happy with how they look and the way they seem to bring the centre into focus.  

But I'm less happy with my next steps.  My initial idea was something triangle-based, on account of how I've got lots of triangle-y leftovers so it would be an efficient use of precious scraps.  I wondered about a  flying goose border, then something like the arrangement in the picture below (okay, they're all just slapped down willy-nilly, but you get the general idea).  Somehow though nothing is really grabbing me.  

I do know that I want to use more of the deep yellow, both because I like it and because I've got a fair amount.  Looking at the photos now I don't dislike the arrangement as much as I thought, so maybe I'll stew on it for a few days and then look again.    Or I could stick with the HST squares I've already used.  See?  Completely undecided.  

Tuesday 26 September 2017

AHIQ - share your improv #25

I guess if I say I'm still printing it won't come as much of a surprise, but just look at how many different ways I can cross things off one list.

Luckily the second page has less on it.

I've also been slowly building up the other bits and pieces that I hope will go into this, and at the moment my piles look like this.

Before I started, what I had in my head was a bit like this: the printed strips interspersed with water-y hsts.

But as I printed and printed I  started to wonder if it might be more interesting to add in an extra element, like this.

As you can undoubtedly tell, nothing is sewn here, bar the lighthouse.  I am just laying bits out on the floor to give a feel of what I've been thinking.  Of course this means that once I start proper piecing everything may change, but this is where my head is for now.

Monday 25 September 2017

Ticking over

It was the hourglasses turn today, and I've made some good progress.  It is now the desired rectangle shape (not as long and skinny as in the pic - that's just the camera angle).  

Next up is a skinny border - first bit on already at the top and I'm playing around with the other 3 sides.

 After that I'm going to lay out all my leftover bits and see what I can do with them.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Keeping time

I knew that if I tried working on too many things my brain would start to overheat and that's definitely what's happening.  I thought I would keep it simple and only work on one project on any given day.  The problem with that theory is that it would mean I didn't finish printing my words until 2018. Honestly, it would have probably taken more time if I had decided to hand embroider a prolonged rant about the state of the universe (and don't think the thought hasn't crossed my mind) but it would be a close call.  So I am trying to get a bit done every day.  As a result my poor hourglasses are a bit neglected and when I do look at them I am finding it hard to remember what I thought I was doing.  

However, I made a bit of progress this morning.

These two bits have actually been sewn together, but the sun came out and all my photos featured a large white diamond of light plus darkness all around - not much use at all.  I also need to point out that the curve between the two bits is just a feature created by my slapping stuff down on the floor willy-nilly, rather than the shape of the pieces.  

I know that I want to make it a bit longer next, and have a random selection of hourglasses sitting in a pile, but when they are used up I am out of the purple.     

Sunday 17 September 2017

Quick quilting update

Just in case you thought I wasn't quilting at the moment, here's a quick shot of the latest quilt in the hoop.

This is the last of my Quilty 365 tops from last year.  It nearly missed its turn, as I was a bit unsure about how to quilt something that already had embroidery, but in the end, as you can see, I just decided to keep things nice and simple.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Saturday photos #85

It's been ages since I've done one of these posts but here's a peek at the piece of the French coast we visited this summer.  The little huts are for fishermen  (and you can probably guess how many photos I have of them) - if you look carefully at the top right you can see the net, which is raised and lowered with a crank. 

Friday 15 September 2017

Not forgetting the shirt

I'm still stamping.  It's a big job, but I'm aiming to do the whole forecast; if it doesn't all fit on the front of a quilt, then some of it can go on the back.  In the meantime I have been thinking about what will go with the words.  

First off, I have not forgotten my aim (which I think I have said out loud) to use recycled shirts in every project this year.  Now, that doesn't sit quite so well this time, as my starting point is the shipping forecast rather than just a bundle of fabrics that takes my fancy.  But I am not going to give up that easily so have dug out this lovely number.

I recently fell in love with a top Tonya Ricucci was sharing on instagram.  When I made All at Sea I spent ages wondering about different ways to get a the feel of waves but nothing I thought of was as good as this.  So I am thinking I will try something similar, and mix it up with bits from this shirt.  Might look nothing like the sea, but it's working in my head so that's my starting point.  In the meantime, though, more printing...

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Time is flying past

Back to the hourglass quilt,having not looked at it for nearly a month, one way or another.  As usual I laid it out without much regard for where things had gone previously, but all I have at this point is several biggish chunks.  I moved them around a bit and went from this...

...to this.

Some of the considerations driving me now are practical: things were getting very square and on balance I prefer to end up with a rectangle; I'm trying to think about the spread of my fabrics and don't have masses of the strong purple left now.  At the moment I could easily turn this into 50" square, but am aiming to get to 50"x60" and then maybe see what I can do by way of borders.  I probably need to use more of the dirty yellow and have lots of the black floral and a fair range of scraps, but I'll fill in up the side and across the bottom first and then see where the fancy takes me.