Tuesday 28 February 2017

AHIQ - share your improv #18 and some Chinese Coins

Now that I've got a better grip on what I am doing, I am enjoying this challenge.

Out of the box today came this piece

and good assortment of coin strips and little pinwheels. I have been making bits and pieces for the past few days but didn't have the space to lay stuff out and have a good look until today.  

After playing around for a bit I decided that I'm not going to stick to the vertical, but will add in horizontal strips if I fancy it.  Like this:

So I filled in the gap down the side to get this:

It doesn't look too bad in most of the photos but I am finding that one of the things about using every last bit of a shirt is that quite a few pieces are cut on the bias (sleeves especially) so sometimes there is quite a lot of stretch.  It's not too much of a problem.  I could keep trimming everything to keep it even but have decided to roll with it, making little adjustments where I can,  until a particular area is running out of control and then I will piece in wedges to bring it back to order.   

Of course this may not work and the whole thing may run wild, but I'll worry about that when I have to and  not before.  In the meantime I will just keep going.  I am enjoying this a lot, and definitely learning stuff too, which is the whole point isn't it? 

Friday 24 February 2017

Yellow birds, done for now.

A productive morning! The bottom border went on quite quickly, though to be fair I was halfway there already.

Then an extra row along the top, just to bring it up to a nice, square-ish size...

and bob's your uncle, I'm done.  So off to the quilting pile this one goes.

Linking up with Off the Wall Friday and TGIFF too.

Thursday 23 February 2017

Not before time

I finally got the left-hand end of the yellow birds finished and sewn on.  

This leaves me with something about 60" wide, but only about 50" high, so I am going to add on to the top and the bottom, until it is nearer to square.

I am going to use up some of the extra flying geese units, and a couple of pockets, and little bits and pieces to get things all the same size.  

This gives you the general idea, though obviously I need to level off the bottom and the orange-y strip isn't sewn on at the top, so it won't be quite that wide. Some of my geese are much smaller than others, but rather than wasting them I am sewing them into pairs and then adding scraps across the bottom - the two in the left-hand corner are trimmed down already.  I think this will all look okay once it's done.

Monday 20 February 2017

If at first you don't succeed...

...give up and start again!

I should have been working on my yellow birds today, and got it all out only to realise that I had completely failed to print the one extra word I needed.  I had a whole week to get this done and somehow it had completely slipped my mind.  I was extremely ticked off with myself.  

However, tomorrow is a new day and in the meantime I thought I'd do an update on my attempt at the AHIQ Chinese Coins challenge.  Not straightforward here, either.  But the reason we take on challenges is to learn and grow, I tell myself, so here's what I learned.

After a week or so looking at the first coins I cut I decided they just weren't doing it for me.

Why?  Several reasons, first of which was the colours - with the benefit of a bit of reflection I think they were too same-y, sort of mid-tones, nothing stood out except the very strong pink, which was rather too much.  

The second thing wrong was that I had cut them all about the same size.  I know, I know, that's what you're supposed to do, but the way my brain works things just aren't meant to be all the same size. I love it when other people do it, but when it's staring up at me from the cutting mat I'm just not inspired.  I have to thank Sue for making me realise this.

So, back to the drawing board.  This time I pulled a load of shirts and then dug around in stash to see what I liked with them.  One of two of the original fabrics are still there, but most have gone back into their boxes for another day.  I can see that these fabrics too are similar in tone, though the checks/prints/solids maybe create a bit more variety but this time I like how they work together.  Go figure.

Next up, I have started cutting coins.  Bearing in mind that Ann is working with smaller sets, to give her more room for manoeuvre I am taking a leaf out of her book.  

The last aha moment for me was the realisation that I usually mix things up a bit more than this.  I read a great post on Barbara Brackman's Cloud of Quilt Patterns, on quilts that mixed up two blocks.  Inspired by this I have started making little pinwheels, to go in with the strips.  

This may not look like much, but in my head it has started to make sense, so I'm going to roll with it, give thanks for the connections the internet has helped me to make, and see where I get to.

Sunday 19 February 2017

New project and more quilting

Not much piecing going on around here this week, but I have done quite a bit of hand stitching.  I have started a new Alabama Chanin piece: fabric cut and stenciled so now I am back-stitching around the shapes. The fabric is an organic wool jersey, which I hope is going to be nice and warm, especially as it is a double layer.  It may not be finished in time for this winter, but at least I'll be ready come autumn.

I have also been quilting Quiet Quilt.  It felt like I was making good progress but then I made a big mistake.  I realised that since the design is basically 9x9 9-patch blocks I could work out exactly how much of the quilt was done at any given point.  That will probably be fine once I'm halfway through, but when you still have 650-odd little units to do it's not so encouraging.  I have done 7 9-patches this week, which leaves me 74 (or 666 of the little squares) still to do. 

On the bright side, I am happy with how the orange-y thread is working. 

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Next quilt in the hoop

When I finish piecing something I always take a few days before starting the next project, just to let my brain settle down a bit.  But hand quilting, I just keep right on, so the next quilt in the hoop is already backed, basted and ready to go.  Having pushed it back down the queue (so that I didn't end up doing 3 circle quilts in a row) it is Quiet Quilt's turn.  A look back tells me it has been waiting since 14th December 2015.
I am trying out a new thread for this: Auriful lana, which is 50% wool, 50% acrylic and comes in some lovely colours.  I have a couple of neutral shades but thought I'd give this a go first.
Although I wondered if such a definite shade might be a bit much, I actually rather like how it looks, so will keep going for now.

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching.

Friday 10 February 2017

First finish of the year

First finish of 2017 - hooray.  If I'd applied myself more diligently this might have scraped in at the end of 2016, but I didn't.  That's the way it goes sometimes.

This had a working title of Circles, but given that I've used this for at least three quilts recently it needs a better title, so I am calling it At the Edge. This is taken from a quote by A.S. Byatt, in an interview on The Art of Fiction for the Paris Review.  You can read it here and it's well worth the visit. It's a long piece and the section on language and colour is quite a long way through it, so I guess if you didn't want to read it all you could just scan through for the relevant section.  Anyway, she says "I think the names of colors are at the edge between where language fails and where it’s at its most powerful".  I like this a lot in itself but it seems particularly appropriate given that I started this piece with a desire to use the colour definitions from Webster's.

Crumbs - that's the most long-winded justification I've ever written for a quilt name!  

As is the way of these things it's making a half-hearted attempt to snow right now, so I was faced with the thorny old problem of how to get a picture.  This is the best I can do right now 
Here's the back.
And a slightly closer view, just because I like the patterns the quilting has made on the back.
A little bit of binding.
And here it is on a bed.  I should point out that this is an extremely large bed, so the quilt would come down the sides on a standard double.
The details:

Size 85" x 70"
Pieced entirely from Oakshott shot cottons and Kaffe Fassett striped fabrics. Binding: more of the stripes.
Wadding is wool, probably Hobbs Tuscany Wool, though I honestly don't remember.
Quilted using a selection of Sulky 12 variegated cotton threads - I just used what I already had, which turned out to be quite a lot.
I started piecing this on 13th January 2016, finished on 1st April 2016.  Started quilting on 16th October 2016, finished today, 10th February 2017.

Linking up with TGIFF, this week over at Lisa in Port Hope, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop, Whoop and NinaMarie for Off the Wall Friday

Thursday 9 February 2017

Lost for words

I am not often short of words, but on this occasion I need one more than I have.  

I have finished the column on the right hand side that was nearly there last time I posted.

And started to work with the remaining three birds, which need to go over on the left.  If you look at the picture above and then the one below you will see that my first step was actually to chop a load of stuff off one of my little blocks.

I didn't dislike it, but just couldn't get things to balance properly and decided that a rethink was in order.  This was partly because I had quite a clear idea of where I want the words in this column to fall and that big chunk was just making it impossible.  Taking it back to a smaller shape gave me much more room for manoeuvre.  

I also ended up shifting the birds around for the umpteenth time.  I'm done now though: this is where they will be staying.

Now I need to print one more word, to go in that gap.

Linking up Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Three suns rising

I've finally made it back to my yellow birds today, and had quite a productive morning.

I grew my last sun block until it fitted with its fellows.

then I added them all onto the big piece I'd already done.

Then, for the umpteenth time I laid out my remaining yellow birds, changed my mind twice and ended up with the chunk that is now in the bottom right corner. All I need to do now is attach the top bird and then this side can be added on.

The remaining birds are not so much a well thought out set as the ones I haven't wanted anywhere else, so I'm hoping that they will not take this amiss and that I can piece them together without too much difficulty.  If that goes smoothly then I can think about what next.  

Friday 3 February 2017

Chinese coins and a bit of déjà vu

For slightly complicated reasons I find I can't work on the yellow birds today so thought I'd have a think about the AHIQ challenge set by Ann.  Funnily enough I have always liked Chinese Coins, and looking back there are a couple of quilts where I started with the explicit idea of using this sort of structure.  

The first was Inner City:my original idea was to use bigger strips of the city fabric along with lots of 'coin' strips.  You can see from this early picture what I had in mind.

 I kind of veered off a bit after that, but I think you can still see elements of that initial idea in the finished quilt.

By a strange coincidence I started with a similar basic idea in the current quilt. Again, looking at an early picture you can see how this would work, incorporating the bird bits with coin-type strips.

This one has, of course, moved even further away from that starting point.

So I am going to try again.  My starting fabrics literally just came from a pile sitting on the table waiting to be tided away, though I may add stuff from my boxes as I get going.  I'm interested to see whether what I will end up with this time.  My personal challenge (thanks, Stephie) is to see if I can produce something that works whichever way up I look at it.

Linking up with NinaMarie for Off the Wall Friday.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Spot the difference

A little bit more progress, though I have also spent quite a bit of time just mindlessly making flying geese.  I don't really mind that; it's quite soothing just running stuff through the machine and it's good to have plenty of little units to play around with.

When I started this morning this is what my floor looked like.  The first thing I did was so go backwards, which is to say that there were a couple of bird bits that I decided I didn't like and I have pulled them to pieces.  There was one in particular where the little dark bird was right on the top edge and the whole thing looked sort of round-shouldered to me.  I've liberated it from its surroundings and will try again.  It is currently the middle bird on the left-hand side and now just has a tiny yellow strip added across the top to try and make it look less squashed.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that the bird bits go down in different places each time I lay this out.  If I like something at the end of a session I do take a quick snap on my phone so that I can reproduce it next time. Unfortunately when push comes to shove I usually lack the discipline to keep checking that picture and just  put the pieces down in whatever way appeals to me that day.

This is where I left it today - who knows what it will look like when I start again tomorrow!