Friday, February 15, 2013

No Mush

Hi, guys. How's everybody doing? I'm doing okay, just a terrible blogger is all. Thanks for the emails checking up on me.

On Sunday I gave a demo to the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild which happens to be my guild. I talked about working with ugly fabrics (and how I've grown to love them), showed off Ellis Island and some larger chunks of ugly fabric that went in it, and emphasized the importance of value. I didn't bring any value-less (hee hee hee) examples with me because it was supposed to be a short talk. So let's see if I can do a better job of explaining myself here.

In order to check value in my quilts in progress, I use red and green value finders. I have a mismatched pair but these are  Cottage Mills Color Evaluators and they work great.

You can get the filters from Amazon for sure and sometimes get lucky at a quilt shop. Or, use camera filters or plastic or acrylic in red and green. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, but you need both colors.

You hold one of the filters up to your eyes and look at your fabric or blocks. I put the blocks for Pokey's Quilt up on the design wall today and this is what it looked like through the green filter.

I could not get a photo through the red filter for nuthin, but it would look similar (but different). The point is, I can see light lights and dark darks and no area where everything is blending together. If I find the same contrast looking through the red filter, I know this quilt is working great. (Which it is, woohoo!)

What is mush you ask? Here is Kansas City Troubles which I made in the 1990's. Very typical of my colors of the time. 

It's a quilt that never worked and I didn't understand why until many years later. If I'd had the filters I could have looked through them and seen something like this:

Okay, there is some contrast here. It's not really sharp, but I can see triangles and sawteeth and a strong inner border. And here it is through the red filter:

That's a lot of mush, with an inner border.

I faked these two filtered pics using Picasa, so this isn't entirely accurate BUT you can get my point right? Use both the red and green filters and you need to see contrast in both unless you are purposely doing a low-volume quilt but that is a whole other animal.

So if you keep the red and green filters by your sewing machine you can make frequent checks on your progress. I've gotten much better at seeing it myself without needing to use them.

Another great tool, which many of you already know about, is your camera. Look at a photo of your quilt in black and white (on your computer using photo editing software unless you have a really peachy camera).

Mush. This is the most accurate representation of the value, but not necessarily the easiest one to work with constantly.

Did that make sense? Was it helpful? Feel free to ask questions.

Here is a tutorial by Piecemeal Quilts that I think is wonderful. Great examples of pushing your fabric choices so there is less mush and more zing.

I surprised myself at just how much fun I had doing the demo. I need to remember that and not be so intimidated about teaching. Speaking of which, I'm coming out to Colorado to teach in May! fingers crossed.

Okay, before I go, here are a few kitty pics.  Old photos, which says something about how long it's been since I've done this. Annabelle

She was three months old when I took these last July.

 And not to be left out: Cooper

They've gotten so much bigger since then. Annabelle is still getting into trouble and Cooper is sleeping a lot (growing boy).

If you want to see more kitty pics, Friend me on Facebook. I am better at posting there...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

15 Minutes of Play

Hurray for Victoria Findlay Wolfe (aka V aka Bumblebeans) and her new book, 15 Minutes of Play. Today is my day on the blog hop to celebrate the book.

Do you know the common denominator in my favorite quilt books like Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking and Roberta Horton's Scrap Quilts? No patterns, lots of quilts, and lots of words. And woohoo, V's book is all of that. It's like sitting next to V and listening to her explain how she made her improvisational, scrappy quilts. Her inspiration and enthusiasm are so contagious.

In the book, there are multiple techniques for making "made-fabric" by free-piecing, using paper as a foundation, and the quick way. I love that, because not every one likes to work the same way. For instance, I love using paper foundations and don't mind ripping all the paper off while other people can't stand that. There are directions for some of the blocks in the book and multiple challenges to get you started playing.

Okay, I am admittedly biased about this book because V is a friend, we love a lot of the same quilts and quilters, and woohoo, I have a quilt in the book. Starburst, the quilt V and I collaborated on because I'd made all those string star diamonds and was anxious about the Y-seams involved in getting it all together. V is fearless and actually loves Y-seams. AND she has a tutorial on them in the book, so I'll have that the next time I have to face that task. Anyway, Starburst used to look like this:

but sure doesn't anymore. You'll have to get the book to see the final quilt. It doesn't come with a photo of Pokey though...

More than that, there are quilts by some of my favorite bloggers, like Nifty Quilts and Fiberliscious Mary Keasler amongst others, and quilts by V's grandmother that are just amazing.

You can win a copy of the book 15 Minutes of Play right here by leaving a comment on this post. (US winners receive a hard copy of the book. International winners receive a Electronic copy of the book, direct from C&T.)

Or, you can buy a copy directly from V at her shop  or from Amazon

These are all the folks who have or will participate in the blog hop:

Nov: 26: "Victoria Findlay Wolfe",
Nov 27: "Bonnie K Hunter",
Nov 28: "Alissa Haight Carlton,
Nov 29:  "Pat Sloan",
Nov 30: "Kimberly,"
 Dec 1st: "Karen Griska",
Dec 2nd: "Angela Walters",
Dec 3rd:  Generation Q,
Dec 4th: "Tonya Ricucci",
Dec 5th: "Michele Foster",
Dec 6th: "Scott Hansen",
Dec 7th:"Amy Ellis",
 Dec 8th: "Rachaeldaisy",
Dec 9th:"Jackie Kunkel",
Dec. 10th:

Monday, October 01, 2012

Fabulous Blocks

I am so lucky to have fabulous wonderful people out there in quilt blog land who sent me blocks to make a mourning quilt for my baby Pokey. And how do I repay you all? By not blogging for the last 6 weeks. eeeek, how did that happen?

Blocks from Marathon Quilter Cher and Heidi B. Heidi was sweet to send me German fabric to include with the quilt.

I never would have guessed Cooper would be so photogenic. He's great at cute poses and sitting still.

Smazoochie Beth made this oh so cute little Pokey face and the letters for MEOW:

Giraffe Dreams Carol E sent me an X and crumbs, and sweet Mary E., whom I met in WA last summer, made the hearts:

I'm sad to say that my horrible disorganization, procrastination, AND kitty mayhem means that I'm not as sure of who made what blocks as I should be. Diane S made the cappuccino heart (cuz Pokey was my cappuccino-colored girl) and I think it was Lynette who made the other lovely blocks. right?

Annabelle with an X made by A Moment of Whimsy Laura (a new friend from the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild - how dare she have the nerve to have to start back to school teaching instead of playing) and blocks from Margaret C:

Em Celebrates:

Quilt It Marit, who recently lost her beloved Venus. Breaks my heart.

Pokeytown Kim who's been blogging lately about her Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen Marston (woohoo):

Blue Mountain Daisy Rachael:


Indigo Threads Sharon K:

Note to self: never go this long between blog posts. My brain melted and I can't remember a couple of blog names. This is a lot of blocks. They are all so beautiful - this is going to be a wonderful quilt.

Laura took pity on me and cleaned out her stash.

I'm grateful for the lights and I have already used a bunch of these. Such a hoot to have all this Williamsburg Blue and Dusty Pink. Yes, I'll always take donations of uglies, especially lights. Oh and I did receive some lovely scraps to use in Pokey's quilt but did I keep track of who sent them? no, bad blogger.

I mentioned Debra in my last post. In addition to letters, she sent cat toys (those big mice with the long tails are *awesome* - they throw really well) and this cat bed (in Pokey colors) which the bigger cats take turns lounging in and catching rays. Here's Lily modelling it:

I'll leave you with one final picture. Destructo climbing girl Annabelle scaling my design wall (there's insulation board under the batting):

That's 6' off the ground at the top there. You can see all the gouges in the batting from her previous mountain climbing adventures. If there are blocks up there, she leaps up at them until she can get them down. If blocks are stuck up there with pins, that just means an extra toy to play with when she gets it down to the ground. She's a very silly girl.

So interesting how the kittens personalities differ. Annabelle is mischievous and loves to pull towels down. She leapt one too many times at the large quilts on the walls, so they've been put away and my walls are barren. Cooper meanwhile is so sweet - he jumps up and sits on my chest and rubs his face against mine. I think they've both had goes at the toilet paper - Annabelle likes to pull on the end and run with it, Cooper likes to chew through the roll. But really, that's the only naughty thing he does. I'm enjoying it all - I know they'll outgrow this kittenness all too soon.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Talented Kelli

I want to share a marvelous quilt with you made by the very talented Kelli P:

Isn't it fabulous?  Kelli says
We've never met but I am a HUGE fan of your work.  For many years, I followed your adventures without yet having the "nerve" to try your techniques.  Finally, several years ago, I worked up the nerve to improv a project and it was a epic failure - except that I learned two things.  I learned that I was way more dependent on someone else's patterns than I had previously thought and that improv was a lot harder than it looked.

Fast forward to earlier this year when a good friend of mine was injured and I yearned to make her a quilt.  I had purchased your book Word Play and decided to use it to make her something.  I have attached a picture.  It is my first improv project and I love it.  The wordless borders are extra long so that she can use the quilt on her hospital bed and still read all of the words.  I call it "For Adina: Do Something".
The finished dimensions are roughly 120"x 89. Kelli won 2 first place ribbons at the NJ State Fair.  Well deserved. Woohoo! You can find Kelli blogging at HobbyWhore - Too Many Hobbies, Not Enough Time.

The thing about doing an improvisational quilt is that you have to be prepared for some failures. You never know how something is going to turn out until you do it. I've certainly made my fair share of dogs.

I've been getting envelopes and packages in the mail. Makes me so happy. These are blocks for Pokey's quilt from Nifty Quilts:

Joe Tulips Quilts,:

And Debra B:

Debra also included wonderful gifts for the kitties. Bibi getting that catnip high:

Look at how well Pokey's quilt is coming together:

The colors are wonderful, a great balance. I really do want to just put this together kind of randomly so it's not love love love in your face. Thank you so much guys.

The deadline for getting me Pokey blocks is Columbus Day, 'bout the first week of October. I can't believe how soon that is coming up.

On a completely different topic, are ya'all aware of the upcoming AQS quilt show in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Well worth going to. There are two special exhibits that I would love to see: quilts from Gwen Marston's Liberated Medallion book by Gwen and her students (woohoo!) and Stitch Like an Egyptian. The latter is tentmaker applique pieces that are truly stunning. Two of the tentmakers will be there in person. These are some photos I've taken of Tentmaker work.

Time to get back to work in the coalmines. Later.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quilt Blocks Go Wild

Hey all ya'all. I gotta do a little bit of shameless self-promotion. See this?


Shazam! It's the block I redesigned for the book Quilt Blocks Go Wild just published by Leisure Arts.

It's my version of Rail Fence. You know my Dr. Seuss Christmas Quilt? Well this is the way to make it. The easy way I figured out how to do years later...

I've got a mixed opinion of the book. Of course there is my block--which is fabulous-- and made UnRulily. That is, no marking or real fussing - although you do have to pay attention. I love that we were allowed to use photos to illustrate the steps, so I think it's pretty clear. (If not, give me a holler.) I love Malka Dubrowsky's Drunkard's Path redo. I love that the book shows you alternate methods for working.

But. But there are some methods in the book that do not appeal to me in the least. Freezer paper and templates. So this book isn't about Liberation. It's about how to step outside the traditional zone in baby steps. And of course not everyone loves Liberation and UnRuly so hopefully they'll find a way to play that they do like.

The book will be available on Amazon (Quilt Blocks Go Wild) and at JoAnn's stores. Possibly other places as well.

While I've got you all here, can I make a request for blocks? I know I don't deserve them since I still have several UFOs-worth of wonderful gifties from readers. I do, I know. If you don't worry about it eventually becoming a quilt and just think of it as a gift to Lazy Gal, who looks at it and feels loved... I'd appreciate it. Not that I'm trying to guilt you into anything ;-)

I'd like to make a love quilt for Pokey. I still miss her so much.

I have a quilt in mind. I know what the components are, but not how the quilt will look. I'd love to receive Pokey-colored blocks. White, cream, all those lovely shades of brown and dark brown/black accents. I called her my cappuccino girl - coffee with cream. And of course turquoise/cyan for her beautiful eyes and pink/red for her nose and paw pads (and love).

And the type of block? It's a love quilt. UnRuly L-O-V-E letters and UnRuly XOXOXOXO hugs and kisses. And wonky hearts.  Individual letters, or joined together. Just one or several. Nothing too big please unless you're piecing the letter fabric. Any questions, just ask.

Summary: UnRuly Letters (as found in Word Play Quilts)  E, L, O, V, and X and wonky hearts in white, cream, and all sorts of brown with hints of turquoise, red, pink, and black. (not that you have to have all those colors in one block). The goal is to have a quilt for the next book (yes, I'm finally working on one) so it's gotta be UnRuly.

If you make some letters/hearts and they don't come out well? Don't throw them away. Send them anyway. The UnRuly Orphanage takes in all sorts of strays.

To be even more obnoxious: as always, I'd love any spare orphan UnRuly letters you'd care to send. And teensy bits of ugly ugly fabric in light colors. I've got way too many dark fabrics in my stash...

I hate sunless, overcast days. This blog post makes me sound so sad and dreary and that's really not the case. I'm enjoying the Olympics and sewing. Yes, I'm sewing again and book plotting. woohoo! And enjoying the company of the cats. Even the little stinkers, Annabelle (or should it be Annabowl?):

and Cooper:

They both love the dishwasher, why I don't know. Shiny cave to explore, oh boy! These are older photos, amazing how much they grow in just a couple of weeks.

Later, gators!