Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WIP Post - Decipher This!

This is some sort of record - the third post I've done in four days!  But it's super fun too.  I'm actually in Houston at the Quilt Festival - am waiting to be able to go in, so I decided to go ahead and pass the time by participating in WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced an Sew Fresh Quilts.  I have several pieces in the works, but the one I've worked on the most for the last few days is my improv piece.  

I'm calling it Decipher This! because well - it's totally made from scraps and was completely unplanned and because I used a background fabric that has words that are really difficult to read as it's really tightly spaced - it's from the Architectures line. Also, after I got it all pieced, I ended up turning it sideways - while I was creating it, I had it the long way up and down, but after I finished I decided I didn't like it that way, so I rotated it and VIOLA! I loved it, but now most of the words are sideways.  Which is fine by me. 

It's all batted and ready to quilt, which will be the next challenge. But it's been totally fun and quite consuming, so I'm glad to take a break from it to be really inspired here in Houston.  But since I still have a couple of hours to wait before I can get in, I'm going to be inspired over the internet by what all the bloggers have shared today!  See y'all in cyberspace.     

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Pinwheels Plus

My second entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival is Pinwheel's Plus.  I'm entering it into the Machine Quilted Category.

Not sure where the idea for this quilt came from.  At some point I decided I wanted to use some of my beautiful low volume fabrics and the soft aquas fabrics, but beyond that, I had no clue.  Except lately I've been really drawn to all the cool plus quilts that I've been seeing on blogs, in magazines, etc..  And also I've developed a passion for pinwheels, so this quilt was born.  

The reason I'm entering into the machine quilted category is because this was really quite a challenge to quilt - there's so much blank white space, and well, I just looked at it and freaked out a little.  I started with the pinwheels and the low volume pluses - that idea came fairly easily and I was pleased with it.   Next was the small squares.  I even had difficulty deciding what color thread to use - white made sense, but i had used gold  and that seemed like a decent, but scary idea.  But no design  could think of really excited me.  I decided I was over-thinking it, so I just went with my first idea.  I quilted three of them before I decided I couldn't live with what I'd done there, so out came Clover, my best seam ripper.   When I tried my second idea -the radiating lines, it immediately seems right. but suddenly the quilt started looking sort of Art Deco to me, which wasn't the original vision I had for it at all.  Lacking a better idea and not unpleased with the results, I continued on and finished them.

Now I had to confront the white spaces around the quilt. Yikes, really yikes.  I could not think of any design whatsoever that I thought would work.  I kind of wanted to keep it minimal, but that wouldn't work with the rest of the piece.  Anyway, I finally literally just stared quilting, and this is the result.  
I think it works pretty well, too.  

I definitely learned something in the making of this piece, and I'm definitely pleased with it.  Even though it turned out pretty differently than I originally intended, I feel like I went with the creative spirit and it took me to the right place.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Amy's Quilt Festival - Art Quit Entry

It's time for the fall edition of the Blogger's Quilt Festival, the brainchild of Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side.  This is a really fun event, mainly because I always find new blogs to follow. (As if I needed more blogs to read, but hey, I get inspired by them, and I feel like some  true friendships arise from blogs, not to mention my learning a lot from them, too...on second thought, maybe I DO need more blogs to read!) and I love to see other people's work, especially from the comfort of my own computer.

I'm entering Tree in the art quilt category.  

This piece was a real labor of love.  I am a tree hugger, you see.  I love them and even think they are sacred in a way, so for years even though I've wanted to make a tree piece, I never felt like I had a good enough idea, something that would capture that ancient beauty and wisdom that trees represent for me.  I couldn't get a picture in my mind of what I wanted it to be.  I can't remember exactly how it came to me, but once it did, I was super excited about it.  I won't say it wasn't a challenge, but I took my time and enjoyed (pretty much)  every moment of it.  And I think the result speaks for itself. 

 Tree is appli-pieced ( a kind of reverse appliqué) using mostly aboriginal fabrics. The background is sewn together, and the tree was inset into the background (perhaps this was one of the moments that was er-challenging?).  I kept the quilting to a minimum as I really wanted the tree to stand out.  

Can't wait to see all the great pieces and make new bloggy friends.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Creative or just FRENZIED?

I seemed to have turned over a new and rather alarming leaf lately and I'm going to blame all my inspiring, quilty friends with blogs for it.  

But I am on the concerned wagon because something strange is happening to me.  Uncharacteristically, I keep starting new projects before I've completed the current ones.  (Well, I did complete the plus quilt at least.  Dang that was a lot of straight line quilting and for such a small piece, took up rather a lot of  my valuable time - rude thing!)

Well, it's not completely complete unless - does still having to cut the little threads count as complete or incomplete?

At the moment I am already working on one commissioned piece, one "I have no idea where this is going piece,

 a seasonal quilt (which I'd like to finish before the season is over, btw) 

and the Fly,Boy quilt for my son, and suddenly I feel the urge to start another that I've been tossing around in my head for a while.  (I'm going to blame this on on Yvonne over at Quilting Jet Girl - she's doing a piece she designed on vacation and it reminded me of an idea I had while back..)  Yikes! this is not me.  I've long been a one at a time girl (Well, on occasion two, but no more than that!) and now suddenly I'm all over the place.  

So, being me, of course I'm wondering if this is a good or a bad thing?  

 My organized, efficient self rationalizes that it's actually quite fine to have different projects in different stages, so I can work on whichever one I'm in the mood for, feeling inspired by, or have time for at the moment, as long as I have a plan or at least a loose time frame for completing them, and if I make a little schedule to work on each one.  But then there's that annoying practical (BORING!) voice in my head, too, wondering if I'm giving the right amount of attention to each piece, really giving it my all, doing my best work or if I'm just flitting around projects like the light-blindied moths hitting the window with soft thuds again and again, getting a massive headache, but never getting through.

But-but-but-being in the middle of the creative vortex makes me feel like I'm firing on all synapses, fueled by gorgeous fabrics and fabulous ideas - I can make this!  I can make that! Oooo- another idea, can't wait to work on that.. I'll just get started on this while it's fresh in my mind, do a little bit to see if it will work, and then I'll work on's exhilarating, really.   I'm a creative genius, bubbling over with fabulous ideas, Yippee!  I'm dancing around the piles with joyous abandon, fabrics swirling gloriously all around me...Uh oh,  here comes  the VOICE, that downer, bummer voice insinuating it's way into my brain, asking me if I'm really going to finish all these projects - or am I going to end up a lonely old schizophrenic quilter still seeing visions while getting more deeply buried under my plastic project boxes, suffocated by my own mountain of ideas, all (gasp) incomplete.  

Hmm - can't there be a happy medium?  I think there must be one.  Somewhere.  Just haven't found it yet.  While I'm looking for it, I think I'll just get started on this cool idea I have... 

Oh - and here's a commercial break, shameless plug, helping out a fellow quilter  - whatever you want to call it - CALL it because it's a great idea:  Head on over to Indiegogo and snatch up a copy of Stephanie Palmer's (Late Night Quilter) 2016 Quilter's planner.   It's chock full of fun stuff for creative types.  I'm really excited to get my copy, it may even help me with my current dilemma OR it might just make me come up with even more ideas to get me even deeper into quilting debt...Oh well, either way I'll be organized about it.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Change//Time = Life

One of my spiritual teachers talks a great deal about how change is a fact of life - no matter what, things change.  I get what he is saying completely, and tonight I'm sitting here drinking a glass of wine and thinking about how much my style and tastes have  changed in the last few years. 

When I was in my twenties, I had one kind of taste - I'll call it my "developing" taste.  It was heavily influenced by my mother, who gave me an entire tree's worth of Christmas ornaments.  They were all these lovely Victorian pieces, and my tree was lovely.  I also liked florals - I had large swaths of a pretty navy blue floral material around my windows as a treatment, and I even painted flowers above my door and had a floral wing-back chair.  I think if someone had asked me about my style at that point, I would have been all over the place, or simply unable to answer the question. It wasn't, yet.   

After my son was born, my tastes seemed to change significantly.  Creativity began to well up in me -  I started painting whimsical animals and bugs.  Gone were the swaths of floral and flowers, replaced by playful sheer pocket curtains that I had a ton of fun changing out with my mood or the seasons.   I discovered a love of bright colors against neutral backgrounds, and a love of what I will call "art-y-ness."

 We moved to our family land in Texas when our son was four and here we have no need for window treatments, so my windows are gloriously bare.  And it turns out, that's the way I LOVE them.  I can see nature from every room in my house - beautiful, unadorned, in-my-face trees, grass, open space.  And for a while after our house was built I was unable to necessarily decorate it to my own style, but this was a good thing.  It basically allowed me to figure out what I truly love.  Slowly I began to find pieces that really appealed to me, and if they were super expensive, I would wait years to buy them.  I decided I would rather wait and have the thing that felt right rather than have some thing.  I still don't have a dining room table and chairs (Actually I do have one, but not "the"one.)  And I still have one hand-me-over chair in my living room - not because I like it, but because it is so darn comfortable it's hard to give it up!  But it's going soon. 

As I look around my house now, it definitely feels right.  I would say that there isn'tt a particular style that dominates - I have mid-centuray modern, for sure.  I also have world bazaar, natural, and funky.  I still love whimsy and there are touches of it here and there, and I definitely love color, which also runs throughout the house.  But there are no florals, except for the funky floral pouf I made.  And I love it all.  I decorated this house for myself and my family, not for show.  

Then there's art.  As I've said before, it wasn't until I was around thirty that I discovered or should I say uncovered a deeply imbedded need to create in myself.  (I was a teacher, and I think teaching used to be quite a creative field, so I guess in some ways it was there all along...)  But when I moved back to Texas and began quilting, well - let's just say I had no idea what kind of fabric-chewing, mess-making, time-sucking, joy-filled monster I was unleashing in myself!   Like all beginners, I kind of went with the flow of simple, following patterns, then starting to modify them a little, or to use completely different fabrics than the ones that were shown.  When I went to the Houston Quilt Festival for the first time everything changed immediately when i realized I could basically do anything I wanted - this was art!  The next "Aha moment" was when I discovered the modern quilt movement.   Here was a place where I belonged too, not a doubt about it.

As for my own art - well - it's pretty much all over the place at this point.  I still really like to create art quilts.  I also love the modern quilt aesthetic.  But I find myself coming back to making more traditional-type squares pieces, too.   Where my tastes have evolved quite a bit is color and style.  Many of the types of fabrics and colors I used to use a great deal, I rarely use anymore.

I have a huge bin of African Fabrics. I still occasionally use them but I'm not drawn to them anymore.
All the Batiks I have left.  I may never use them, but I might...we'll see.                 

And some things I thought I loved it turns out I don't, necessarily.  For example, from the time I was in first grade, purple was my favorite color.  But I've not made one purple piece of art!  I've used it in bits and pieces, but never featured it.  I don't even have much purple in my house, either - go figure.  I would say that although it's difficult to pick a favorite color, I lean now towards sky blues, yellow, orange, lime-ish or chartreuse greens, and turquoise.   I do still love nature's colors - rich browns, oranges, greens, blood reds...but I also love bright colors, grays, low volume...a good clean white.  Not so much florals - I tend toward geometric patterns.

Here's a look at some of my current stashes:

Some busy fabrics that I love but am not sure how I will use.

A few greens and yellows

A small sample of oranges and sky blue/turquoise/aquas,  of which I am overflowing.

Oh these fabrics have captured my heart and my fancy.  I have a ton of 'em!
I have a bunch of these but can you believe I want more?!

This is not everything by any stretch - that would get boring, I know.  But it's a small representation of what I love now.  I also have bins for purple, pink, regular blue, grey, black, white, hand-dyed, gold, brown..there's more but it's an embarrassment of riches...and I love it all!  And I use it, too. (If I don't, I donate it.  I love the idea of someone going to Hospice and finding something that really excites them at an affordable price.)  

As for my current tastes - Yeah, I'm sure I've been influenced by others; I'm sure the media has wormed it's way into my brain and tastes, but as time goes by it seems to me that what's happening is that I'm becoming more and more - me.  It feels comfy, like yoga pants and soft cozy shirts and Chaco flip-flops. 

Who knows where the journey will lead, but now I see it as more an evolution rather than a developing and I hope I always embrace it.  I have a friend I used to teach with and we used to promise each other that whenever we heard ourselves complaining about or resisting new ideas or methodology, we would tell each other it was time to retire.   Because change is good.   And also, inevitable, so we might as well get comfortable with it.  

So what about you - do you feel like your tastes, style, likes and dislikes have changed a lot, too?  Think back to your first house or apartment - do you still love what you did, or have you completely started over?  And if you are an artist, how has your art changed over the years you have been creating?  Age is not a factor, because some people in their twenties have been making since they were kids!   

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WIP Wednesday, and Knowing When to Change Something

This morning for some reason, I decided to make my first mini mini quilt.  I decided to do some improvising with HST's.  It was a lot of fun.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it again, because I like the results.  A lot.  Anyway, it took a lot longer than I was thinking it would.  Especially because when I thought I was finished, I wasn't.  I decided to cut the backing of the mini an inch or so larger and use it as the binding.  It went really well except, well - I'll let you look at the photo and you'll see what I mean:

The binding is all wrong - it takes away from the colors and the funky frame pieces.

So naturally I had to fix it.

Much, much better with a black binding.

Here's another example of something that wasn't working:

That yellow - Ugh!  Positively vomitous!

It had to be changed, and after I made the change I fell completely in love with the piece, so I know I made the right decision.

Wow, what a difference with the brown - LOVE it!

Then there is the plus quilt.  This afternoon I worked on quilting it.  I'm all done with the major squares and now I just need to do the white ones.  I like it a lot, but I'm wondering if I didn't over-do it - it has kind of an art deco feel to me, which wasn't what I was thinking about at all.   But in this case, I'm not gonna re-do.  Because even if that wasn't necessarily my original intent, I still like the result enough.  If I didn't, believe me, I'm stubborn enough to pull out every last part I don't like.  Even though there's a lot of quilting there it would be worth it to me, because if I don't like it now, I'll never like it.

Don'l mind the strings, haven't trimmed 'em yet...

It seems as though I've made a realization today which is that it's a very important part of creating to know when to make changes and also, when to leave it as is.  I used to be in such a hurry to finish things that the thought of un-doing things made me, well, curse and complain at the least, but now I realize that more than finishing something, I want to do it right, and if it isn't, I'll go back and re-do it until I feel it is.  As Judi Madson of Green Fairy Quilts said once, it has to be my version of perfect.

My last WIP report is on the t-shirt quilt for Nikolai. Here is the first quadrant, almost complete.  It's turning out well, I think.  I may add a thin blue and white stripe all the way around the edge of the quilt when I'm done if I feel like I need more decoration.  I'm just kind of adding as I go, and so far it's working out just fine.

What about you guys - do you find yourself making a lot of changes as you go?  And do you feel like you've developed the skill of editing?  I think it's a great skill to have, not just in writing, but in creating and even in conversations, 'cause you know, sometimes it's good to know when to keep one's opinion to oneself.

Can't wait to see what everyone's up to..

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Many Works in Progress Wednesday

Lately I seem to be starting more and more projects and finishing well- none.  But I'm kind of enjoying having different projects in different stages, and I can just work on whatever I feel like working on in the moment.

That said, here are a few of my projects:

First, I'm quilting this one.  I'm using metallic gold thread on some of it, which is a challenge, but I'm thinking it's going to add a little something and be worth it.  But I'm going slowly on account of metallic thread is quite finicky and thus a little crazy-making...

My next WIP is this one.  Now I'm not usually one for making cutesy seasonal stuff (not that I'm against it, I just don't do it too often.  But I saw these fat quarters and they called my name.  I wanted to do something a little less traditional with them, and I gotta say I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out.  Had a bit of a hard time doing the "framing." It's much more difficult than it looks, especially when one is spatially challenged like myself.  

And last, the ubiquitous t-shirt quilt.  Except that this quilt is not a t-shirt quilt, it's a hockey jersey quilt for a young man that has been my son's friend since birth.  He's been playing hockey since he was in first grade and is completely obsessed with it still, at age eighteen.  His mom saved all his hockey jerseys and now I must say I'm having a great deal of fun creating a special quilt for him. The first photo is the layout and the second one is the only part I have complete so far.  

Naturally I can't do it the easy way - I have to make it complicated by doing this criss cross design. Plus I'm adding little decorative things here and there.  But it will be worth it in the end.   I'll blog more on this later, though.  Of course I'm still plugging away on my son's flyboy quilt, too although I've had to put it away because he's coming home this weekend, which makes me very very happy. ( I cannot believe how much I miss him.) 

 So I'm busy.  Happy, happy busy.  Can't wait to see the busy-ness of everyone else.  Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts to check you all out!