Wednesday 26 April 2017

Decisions, decisions

Yesterday evening I thought I knew what I was doing.  Well, to be fair I seldom know exactly what I'm doing, but I knew where I was starting.  I wanted to use this pile of  fabrics, and although I'm still tweaking I'm not far off where I want to be.

I also knew where I was starting with block choice.  

But when I pulled my fabrics out today to get on with it they didn't want to co-operate.  In fact they wanted to do something else entirely.  I'm getting the urge to turn them into blocks I hadn't even considered.

Now I'm happy for the quilt to tell me what it wants from time to time, but I've never had one think it could do that before I'd cut so much as one tiny strip and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I will probably do what I'm told, but would like to maintain at least some pretence I'm in control, so am giving it 24 hours to stew and then I'll decide.  

In the meantime, I'm still quilting!  At this rate I'll get a whole quilt finished before I start piecing again.

Linking up today with Linda and Julie for Sew, Stitch, Snap,Share.  

Tuesday 25 April 2017

AHIQ - share your improv #20 and a new challenge

Welcome to the start of the second AHIQ invitational.  We were thrilled that so many people chose to join in with the first one and enjoyed the experience of seeing how others interpreted the theme and of learning from what was shared on the link-ups each month.  

The thing I found the hardest when I started my first challenge piece was the feeling that I had to stick to something close to a traditional Chinese Coins quilt. That traditional block felt like a constraint that blocked my creativity and I had to get past that in order to progress. If you read my posts you may remember that one of my 'a-ha' moments, which enabled me to get over myself was when I saw this post by Barbara Brackman.  It reminded me that I could tinker around with things and seemed to point out (gently and politely) that the limitations I was struggling with were chiefly in my head.  On a more practical level it resulted in the addition of pinwheels.

While I worked I kept mulling over the quilts she shared in that post,which I had found very appealing.  That thought process has resulted in this quarter's challenge which is to make a piece of work that combines/incorporates two blocksHopefully this is a challenge that builds on the previous one; you could choose to carry on working with coin-style units if you wanted, and for this reason many of the images we have collected use either striped fabric or pieced strips as one part of their design.   However, please also feel to branch out in a completely new direction if that's what floats your boat.

In fact, there are a number of different ways in which this might work, so here are some examples. (Where I've shared an image rather than a link,you can click on the picture and it should take you back to the original post).

Alternate two blocks

Barbara Brackman's examples include strips alternating with 9 patches, with pinwheels, with Shoo Fly blocks and with Single Wedding ring blocks. And here's a couple of other examples where the two blocks alternate in a pretty straightforward way.

Maria Shell's modern quilt matched strips with circles

This quilt alternates Square in a Square with stripes@ traditional, simple but striking.

Choose two blocks but play around with how you use them

Bars are used to form a border in this Amish quilt,

This fabulous quilt, from around 1890 uses pieced strips as the main component, but  combines them with HSTs and hours glass blocks

The pieced squares in this 18th century fragment play support to a selection of star motifs

And moving a bit more up-to-date, Malka Dubrawsky used striped fabric to surround her stripy square blocks and Margaret (margaret-pw on instagram) produced this lovely,muted combination of stripy squares and star blocks.

Use strip pieced blocks as a background for another design

This blue and white quilt is from the Childress Collection, (via  Quilt Love on Facebook)

No automatic alt text available.

Abandon all restraint

Of course, you might end up with something far removed from traditional versions of your two blocks.  

There are plenty of examples of this freer approach amongst African-American quilters. Here's a small selection, all from the Souls Grown Deep website.

Ella Mae Hall Pettway Nine patch and strips 
Rachel Carey George Housetop and star blocks
Ruth Pettway Mosley Housetop medallion combining a checkerboard and Monkey Wrench blocks

Of course there are examples of from elsewhere too:

This quilt made from shirting fabrics combines blunt-nosed triangles, stripes and pieced strips in a crazy yet harmonious whole.

This quilt, also by Margaret P_W, uses bright strings and black and white triangle units.  This started life as two separate projects but came together in a striking improv quilt.

Of course, since this is an improv challenge you could head in any direction with it.  You could create your own blocks/units rather than using traditional ones. You could begin with an idea for using two blocks and end up with a quilt that uses 3 or 4, or where only one remains by the end of the process - there are no rules, just a starting point.

If you want more ideas, Ann and I have put together a Pinterest board with lots of gorgeous inspiration, covering everything from modern quilts to Welsh antiques to African textiles.  In fact, even if you don't need the ideas, it's worth a look!

So if you are joining in,and we hope you are, let's get started and meet up back here on next month's AHIQ link up where we can share where we are, what we've discovered, and any questions/thoughts that have come up. 

If you are an Instagrammer, you can tag your photos with the hashtags #AHIQ2017Invitational and #AHIQtwoblocks so everyone can find them more easily on social media.

Sunday 23 April 2017

A home for my needles

I won a needle-case in a giveaway on Doris's blog.  Doris is a bit of a whizz at hand stitching so I thought I'd show it off here.

My favourite thing is the rows of little knots. 

It has also motivated me to sort out my needles.  I still have them all over the place, but all the ones I use for quilting are now housed in here, and that makes me feel happy.  Small pleasures.

I'm still quilting away and now that I've left the idea of tieing this behind me, I am loving how the stitching looks on denim.  As I hadn't planned to quilt this, I used what came to hand, which, as it happens, was more Aurifil Lana (earmarked for something else, but what can you do?)  I'm using a very dark blue and a lovely light sandy colour, just for a tiny bit of contrast.

I'm making good progress, but know that's mostly because I'm still not piecing. When I start again (this week) things will slow right down.

Speaking of piecing, next Tuesday is AHIQ link up time, and the launch of our second challenge theme, so do check back here then, or visit Ann to see what everyone's getting up to. 

I'm linking up with Kathy again for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Making plans

Well, I'm not so much planning as pre-planning (if that's a thing: the plans you make before planning).  While I might normally have been kicking off another round of piecing about now I am waiting for next week, when the next AHIQ invitational will get going.  

WHile I wait I am playing around with groupings of fabric.  I have two piles of shirts (3 or 4 in each pile) I would quite like to get to grips with.  One is mostly blue/turquoise and red while the other is centred around a stripe of purples, dull yellow and blues.

I've been pulling stuff from boxes, to see what I can come up with.

Excuse the blur - photos were taken on my phone so I didn't notice they were rubbish until they were on the computer and it was too late.  You get the gist, though.

Fabrics that might work with the red/blue pile:

and fabrics that might work with the lovely stripe:

I have no idea yet which of these I'll go on with; it may well come down to my mood on the day.

While I was building these piles I realised that the way I currently sort and store my fabric doesn't help me at all.  It used to be all jumbled - any mix of colours and patterns in a box, willy-nilly. Last summer I decided to be better organised and sorted everything by colour but you know what?  I find it much harder to work with now.  It takes me much longer to find things I like; it even takes me longer to find specific lengths of fabric that I know must be in a particular box.  My brain obviously just functions more happily in chaos!  So I will slowly allow myself to reverse last summer's work.  Now when I take a fabric out, I am not putting it back where it came from but just adding it to whatever box comes to hand first.  I am embracing my chaotic mind!

Sunday 16 April 2017

Next quilt in the hoop

It's denim circles next, though mostly because I am still waiting for the wadding for All at Sea to arrive.  Once it does, the circles may go on the back burner; it will just depend on my mood.  

I was certain I was going to tie this quilt.  I do love a tied quilt, admire other people's but have never tried it myself, and this seemed like a good candidate. I got as far as having a go but for some reason just wasn't feeling it.  I thought maybe I needed thread of a different colour - I should have taken photos to get some feedback, but it was just a cream-y sort of colour.  Anyway I cut it all out and tried again with a really pretty, and strong, linen thread, space-dyed in a soft green-y blue and a warm light brown.  Didn't like that either. I considered keeping going, but am not so keen on the idea of spending, say, a couple of weeks doing something I then think looks wrong.

This was really disappointing, but I'm not going to dwell on it right now, though I will try again on another quilt.  For now, I've just sorted out some different threads and have made a start on quilting this one. 

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, and wishing you all a very pleasant Easter weekend.

Saturday 15 April 2017

Easter in my garden

I know I have done collages before with my tulips, but since they are my favourite flower and this is the moment in the year when I love my garden the best I'm showing them again.  I put in new ones every year.  This year the bronze-y orange have come up for the second time, but the deepest reds, the bright orange and the ones with pretty pointy petals are all new.

Friday 14 April 2017

Quiet Quilt - done and dusted

All finished.

A close up.


And a shot of the back, as it blows away from me.

Quilt and backing made from stash fabrics.  I can't identify them all but there is some Oakshott (that bronze colour solid), some grunge (the blue-y bits), some Lotta Jansdotter (the black and white stripe), some Janet Clare, I think some Lecien Japan...
Wadding is Sew Simple Eco Blend (70/30 cotton/polyester, all recycled), which I toy with occasionally as an alternative to wool.
Quilted with Aurifil Lana, which is a rather lovely 12wt wool thread.  It's the first time I have used this and I would be happy to use it again.  

I pieced this what seems like ages ago, between 9th October and 14th December 2015.  Okay, that doesn't just seem like ages, it is ages.

Quilting started 12th February, finished 13th April 2017.

Some of you may remember I went off this for a while and it missed it's allotted turn for quilting as a result.  Happily I like it now!

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Quilting like a maniac

Actually it's hard to quilt like a maniac, what with hand quilting being such a calming activity, but I have been putting in a lot of hours and as a result I am now binding, so the end really is in sight for Quiet Quilt.

Yesterday I pin-basted my denim 365 circles.  In a moment of distraction I did this with the backing on top, but don't really mind that everything's back-to-front.  

I've also almost finished a back for All at Sea, but keep running out of fabric.  I am always surprised by how much fabric it takes to make a backing for a big quilt.  I've no idea why this comes as a surprise, especially when the top is sitting right in front of me.  Somehow I think a couple of fat quarters will cover the back of something 80"x 90". Yup, I know that's ridiculous but I keep expecting it to work that way.  

I'm linking up today with Linda at koka quilts and julie from julielou for their new link-up Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share.  

Thursday 6 April 2017

Still quilting, and a bit of housekeeping

As mentioned, I am mostly quilting this week, letting my "what next?" thoughts sort themselves out in the back of my mind.  I clearly can't quilt for several hours at a time, the way I piece,  but am picking it up and putting it down maybe three times most days, and as a result am making good progress.

I can't quite bring myself to stay away from the machine completely though, so am trying to get a couple of backs put together.  This one is for All at Sea, and I'm also making one for my denim 365 top.

The backs are one of what I think of as my quilting chores, like making bindings and sorting scraps.  So, while I was at it, sorting some shirting scraps seemed in order.  I don't seem to end up with much left when I use shirts, but, in the spirit of using every last piece I thought I'd have a play with the little scraps.

I've admired Cathy's butterfly quilts several times over the last couple of years so I'm wondering now about using shirting to do something similar.  I've only made 2 little blocks, and this would be a slow grower, but I rather like them.

Cathy and Ann also run a link-up for all things butterfly-related, so I'm joining that this month.

Sunday 2 April 2017

234 little squares to go

Actually, I just made 234 up.  I know I have fewer than 30 of the 9 patches in this quilt left as I only counted yesterday, but now I can't remember exactly how many.  234 is in the ball park though so I'm calling it poetic licence.

Since I've either finished, or almost finished my most recent piecing, I'm going to take a week's pause, give some thought to a couple of other projects I have on the go and try to get a good chunk of this out of the way.