Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Entertaining myself

The house selling process is coming along pretty well.   We hope to be on our way East by the end of May.  The whole time has been exciting, nerve-wracking, tedious, endless, and busy.  We are fortunate to have neighbors who go South for the winter and allowed us to use their house for about a month while we did the spit polish cleaning before the house listed, and then during the showings and inspections.  That was such a help. You can't tell a dog and cat to stop shedding or to quit bringing in debris from their daily outings.  With the dog and cat out of the house and us in socks only state, we managed to get the house ready with minimal stress.

I found I still needed to keep myself creatively busy to get a good nights sleep and to feel a sense of accomplishment so here's what I did during my down time:

Looked for interesting reflections and photographed them.  Here's a sampling
Neighbor's house reflected on the glass of a print of a fisher-boy

Snow, lamp and shade and my husband on glass of another painting

Primroses in the window

the same primroses in the glass of the china cabinet

Had some fun with punchneedle embroidery.
 I don't do this often, as it is tedious, but I was without a sewing machine and I didn't want to haul my scraps over to our "borrowed house".  First I made up a kit as a warm-up project.

4" x 4"

Once that was completed, I sketched a cottage by a lake onto a piece of muslin and had fun picking the thread colors and figuring out the details as I went along.

4" x 6"

Explored lines, color, and space using fabric.
This is just an "exercise".  It is not meant to represent anything.  (The only functional design wall I have right now is a piece of foam-core board that is covered with black fabric.  Its real purpose is a background for photographing light bordered quilts.)  When I was playing with the purple,pink, and white fabrics and began sewing them together, I realized that I could add black scraps to make "empty space" as another feature.

trial and error

"Good and Plenty" - all sewn up.  There is a black border surrounding the center.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Play time keeps me sane

Sorry I have been absent for so long. Since October I've been cleaning, polishing, packing.  We are in the process of selling our home for a move to Maine.  That is a long time dream and for us it is move now or never.  We know where we want to live, but won't own a house to go to until after we get there. This makes for some challenging packing decisions...what to bring... what to pass along to others, etc.

Anyway, we are finally at a point where we haven't too much to do and we can now breathe a little.  Breathing a little means time to play with fabric!  I've packed a lot of my larger stash, but scraps are still accessible.  I've challenged myself to play with solid scraps.  I have a library of Gwen Marston's books and look through them regularly.  I'm sure you'll see the influence of her work on mine.

A Small Study   10" x 10"

Liberated Square in a Square  9"x9"

Another liberated square in a square that morphed into a "stripe in a square".  12" x 12"

Liberated Log Cabin   I didn't like this very much, so I kept one block and cut up the others

Log Cabin Medallion.  The cut up blocks made one border

Log Cabin Medallion as it is now.  22" x 22" .
 Ran out of fabric!  I'll add to it when I get to Maine and unpack my stash.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Buoys... oh Buoys!

During the summer, the bays along the Maine coast are festooned with strands of buoys, those colorful floats that identify the locations of lobster pots (traps) and also the identity of the lobsterman.  In addition,  they hang the sides of cottages,

in souvenir shops,  along driveways,  paths through woods.

Or as seat cushions on an arty couch (in Belfast). They are everywhere!

Why not make a quilt of buoys - liberated buoys, of course, colorful, imaginative, all shapes and sizes?  I did just that this summer. (Actually I pieced the top while in Michigan and hand quilted it while in Maine.)

The quilter and her helper

If you are a cat, the only quilt that matters is the one being worked on!

Last October I was invited to teach a one-day quilting workshop at Lily's House in Stonington, Maine.  (click on the title page and and then on events).  On  Sept 7,  I did that.  Buoys, of course was the theme.  Seven enthusiastic quilters came, some were very experienced and others just beginning.  Once they got the hang of cutting/ sewing odd angles and gentle curves, they took off and had fun. As always, the hardest part was making decisions about what fabric to use.

Kyra provided great spaces to work in, an intimate setting where it was easy to work with each participant, a terrific lunch on the deck, and fresh scones, coffee, and melon just before we began the workshop.  The whole day was lots of fun.

L to R: Kim, Kathleen, Chris, Kyra, Dusty, Jean, Sue, Fran  enjoying lunch

How did my hand crank sewing machine work out?   GREAT!  I produced six curtain panels and sewed together a bunch of squares as parts for future projects.  I found I could easily manipulate the fabric through the machine.  However, the larger the piece of fabric, the more support it needed to stay straight under the presser foot. A typical problem for any machine, but more so when you only have one hand to control the fabric! That is about the only limitation I felt the machine has.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Almost finishes

I have to admit I take my time finishing stuff.  I don't love the process of all the little tasks that finish a quilt. Binding, labeling, sleeve making.... such fuss!

This past month I've been scurrying a bit.  I wanted to finish up a few small things - and I have ALMOST finished the following three.  I decided to show them to you anyway, lest I am unable to blog between now and when we leave for Maine.

International Liberated Medallion is quilted, bound and labeled -- just needs a sleeve. Joes, Isabeau and their friends in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, made this around  my center start.  I told you about it here.

International Liberated Medallion

Buoys and Shadows is quilted and faced.  The facing needs hemming, the quilting threads need to be buried, and I need to make a sleeve and label.   This is the first piece on which I have done "serious" machine quilting.  That took a bit of gumption on my part, but I am pleased with how it came out.  No bubbles of fabric. I decided to leave some small spaces un-quilted - as place to rest one's eyes.

Buoys and Shadows

Caught at Low Tide is quilted and bound. Again, I need to hem the binding, make a sleeve and a label.  Ah well, that will get done... I'm taking both buoy quilts with me to Maine.
This little quilt was made by piecing different scraps together to make the background . Then I appliqued the buoys and the "seaweed and rocks".  I am imagining that one is looking from pretty far away- maybe from a boat , hence the small size of all featured parts.

Caught at Low Tide

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Getting ready for Maine

As some of you know, the island in Maine, where we spend a good part of the summer, has no electricity. You can read about it here.

This year I am taking a sewing machine! I converted a Singer Spartan from electric to hand crank.  That was really easy to do.  I purchased (on line) a hand crank attachment , which simply screws on to the spot that held the motor.  This is not an authentic Singer hand crank. It is clearly not up to snuff quality- wise with its metal work and paint job, but heck.  I'm not trying to be a purist.  I want a machine that works.  The crank turns the wheel and the machine sews fine, so who am I to complain?

The Spartan is a heavy little bugger.  It isn't much bigger than the featherweight, but it sure weighs a lot more.  I am rigging up a transport / storage box for it.  Over the winter it will stay on the Island, sealed in its box with some silica gel or other absorbent crystals. Hopefully it won't rust.  That is my biggest concern.

Blue foam board will be cut to make a cradle to hold the machine while in transport

Why not take a treadle instead of a hand crank?  Treadle machines are awkward and heavy to transport. I cannot imagine clambering over the side of a lobster boat into a  rocking skiff and then trying to handle the transfer of such a machine. I can barely hold myself steady.  I'm sure somewhere someone has done it, but I don't want that experience!  Then, I'd have to cart it quite a distance to my place from the beach.  How could I keep the whole thing as dry as possible over the winter?  Already three counts against the treadle.

What are my big plans for using this machine this year?  Making curtains for the bedroom. I have six windows in the bedroom! I've cut some muslin lengths and will sew the sleeves and hems once the final measurements are determined.

After that project is done, I will be concentrating on hand quilting a large quilt.  When I take breaks, I'll play on the machine with scraps.  Already I'm looking forward to NEXT summer, when I can concentrate on creating with this new toy.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

11 - 11- 11 finally finished!

The all corduroy quilt which I made for  Corduroy Appreciation Day (11-11-11) is finally finished! You can read about its beginnings here.

 I backed it with a piece of flannel (which I bought YEARS ago with the idea of making a nightie for myself).  I did not use any batting, because I felt the corduroy was heavy enough; it didn't need the extra insulation.

 I took my time quilting it using either red or light blue perle cotton #8. Sometimes I used the big stitch, but more often I reverted to a smaller stitch length, simply because that is what I am used to. I had no overall quilting plan, so each section was decided as I came to it.  There are two pieces of velvet in the quilt, which I left unquilted.  The binding is made from a tight velour or suede cloth, which was in the bag along with the corduroy pieces that I had received.

 Friends asked me if corduroy is hard to hand quilt. Actually no.  It isn't as tightly woven as one might expect. Not having a batting to needle through also helped.

This is the most free formed quilt I have ever made.  The more I look at it, the more I like it!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A little too quiet..

But, I've been busy in "school".    I took an online course through QuiltUniversity.com on how to photograph quilts. Janice Baehr taught it.  It wasn't the popular "take it outside" approach. It was the studio approach.  My living room turned into a photographer's studio for a month. My husband lashed together a hanging system that tied to the stair railing.  I hung a queen size sheet from the top rail and a couple of chains and hooks and expandable shower rod allowed me to hang the quilt at whatever  height was needed.   I learned to play with lighting and get better balance of light and shadows so that the quilting would show up.  I also learned tricks of how to hang quilts for photographing them when you don't have quite enough room.  I became somewhat more familiar with my camera, though most of the time I used the auto exposure setting.   My goal is to slowly re-photograph all the quilts I have here and make a really good record of them.
Set up for photographing larger quilts.  Hang the quilt horizontally and rotate the picture so the quilt is vertical. 

Photography set up for smaller quilts with light borders.

By the way, Quilt University is closing come this December.  It's founder, Carol Taylor, passed away this past winter and her husband made a valiant effort to continue in her shoes, but found it to be too much.  

This past month, I  repeated the class I took last fall,  Inspired to Design.  I was surprised at how much easier it was for me the second time around.  Experience does count for something!  Elizabeth Barton teaches this course.  She now has a book out on that topic,  which is excellent. You can order it from her -( check her blog).  Her blog, which is interesting to read.  Lots of thought provoking observations.   

I got my piece all sewn up. It is resting  on the design wall as I teach myself a some basic machine quilting tricks. ( I've never done that!) 

Buoys - and shadows.   (15" x 15")

machine applique, folded edges, tiny zig zag stitching

School is over for me and I'll be on my way to Maine, soon.  I'll post once more, before I leave.