Thursday, February 28, 2008

More String Diamond Settings

I'm almost finished stringing my diamonds - I just have seven more to do - woohoo. Then comes the hard work.... But first, more playing with blocks:

String diamonds with alternate blocks:

On the diagonal:

I didn't expect to, but I like these blocks set with sashing:

I'm happy with how my colors are turning out on this. I'm using lots of yellows and orange - I love how those colors look with the turquoise. There is some pink in there, but I've been good about using it just a bit so that it's an accent, not an equal partner.

I've been trying to get black in every block and white. And to get contrast from one strip to the next. It used to be that I didn't worry about that - so long as I liked the colors together (ooh orange and red) that was what mattered. And now I look at those quilts and they look dull to me. So definitely working on contrast.

Hmm, think I still have some work to do on values. This is mushier than I thought it would be, though I'm happy there are some dark darks and some light lights.

Darling Pokey girl has continued her campaign of keeping me from hand quilting by giving me lots of love. It seems like whenever I have the quilt out, she's on it. I only sewed a couple of hours today so that the little nipper could sleep on my lap while I read. I'm a sucker for my baby.

My sweetie and I finished watching the second season of the tv series Bones. Have to say there were some good episodes but for the most part, just bleah. Didn't care for all the personal stuff -- I hate when the criminals come after the investigators and the whole thing with Tempe's father? bleah. I want investigations, not blithering around. And what happened to Dr. Goodman? I loved him. So I may watch an episode if it comes onto tv, but no moer spending money on it.

We also finished the tenth and final season of Stargate SG-1. I am so bummed the show was cancelled. Those actors have such chemistry and I loved the addition of Vala to the team. I'm glad to hear that there is a movie that will tie up the Ori story line, but I'd still rather have my show back.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Color Blue

This is not the kind of thing you're usually likely to run into on my blog, but I wanted to show you this stunning example of the color blue. On my last visit to the Louvre I was rushing through the paintings on my way to the good stuff, when this gorgeous glowing blue caught my eye.

Victoria Finlay describes in her book Color: A Natural History of the Palette how important it was for painters to get the best blue paint. I loaned out the book so I can't tell you more, but I do highly recommend reading it.

Anyway, just seeing this painting really brought that point home. Sometimes you just need that certain color, the exact right material, the extra bit of zing that will bring your quilt to life.

And by the way, no, it's not usually this lightly populated in the Louvre. This was out of the way of the high traffic areas (not near the Egyptian stuff and well past the Mona Lisa), mid-week, in low tourist season.

On a completely different note, I have to admit to being a bit cranky - not enough sun this last week. Sigh. Definitely feeling springy though and I have the increase in allergies to prove it. I have gotten quite a few more diamonds pieced though. I'm definitely having fun with that job and avoiding the boring part of putting it all together.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

String Diamond Chevron Setting

Here's another way to use string diamonds, this one is a chevron setting.

This is what it looks like close-up.

Gwen Marston's excellent book Liberated String Quilts (do you have your copy yet? Don't delay too long - it's out of print) has a couple of examples of antique quilts using string diamonds set this way. This one has a lot of solid diamonds:
I LOVE this one. I was considering making this quilt when I started stringing my diamonds, but only after getting them together did I realize these are fatter diamonds (for a 6-pointed star, rather than 8-pointed). I would still like to use this quilt as an inspiration one day, but I think I'll do it in red, white and blue with touches of cheddar and yellow like this one:
I'll have to make it when I have a chance to raid Bonnie's stash of shirtings and repro fabrics. Hee hee hee. Yes, you heard it right, I want to use repro fabrics instead of brights and novelty prints. What's happening to me?

Speaking of Bonnie, she just made a great tutorial for making Maverick Stars. They are great. You could do a whole quilt this way or just make a few for your crumb quilt.

On a similar topic, I believe I have enough diamonds for my String Lone Star, but I'm going to make more. I love the idea of putting smaller string stars in a crumb/orphan quilt, ala this utility quilt also pictured in Gwen's book: I received these orphan letters from Clare:

And these from Kimberly, along with some fun orphan blocks.

A big thank you to both of them.

And now some links. Vera has made several very fun small quilts using free-pieced letters. Check out her Feb 21st and 23rd posts in particular.

Knit One Quilt Two Kristin is playing with arrangements of her crumb blocks. Go see what fun she's having.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Another glimpse of the freehand fan quilting on Orphan Train. This block, called Memory, is above my name on the right side of the quilt.

This is another block from Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! I chose it in particular to learn to piece these Y-seams that seemed to be so important in quilting. Ha! Anyway, I noticed one of the seams coming apart while I was quilting this so I appliqued the pieces down and I hope that takes care of it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

String Diamond Straight Set

Don't mind me ya'all. I just want piecing to be easy, not to have to work at it. So when I have to think, I get cranky. I did finish one whole arm of my string star. Some of the seams were off by a quarter inch by the end of the seam. eek.

That just means more work straightening things up before sewing them together. I can do that. (Crankily.)

I discovered that I can match the diamonds better if I make tic marks on the paper backing to indicate where the seam should be sewn. I still mismatch plenty, but doing better than before.

If I hated all this work, I could just sew the diamonds into rows. This looks pretty cool too, but wouldn't be the stunner that a lone star will be. This is just me having fun with blocks, I'm not going to make this.

Quiltcetera commented that I'm not lazy. I am, really. I call myself Lazy Gal for my technique, rather than how much I get done. Am I going to resew and resew and resew some blocks just to make the seam match? Nope. Am I going to spend a lot of time cutting things out to exact measurements? Rarely. I like to just sew on something extra big and whack off the extra.

Netflix is torturing me. I got all my discs yesterday. Can't spread 'em out, can they. So I gotta get back to the Riches and try to do some quilting. Baby Pokey has been making that difficult - she just wants to sit on my lap. She's even letting me pet her a great deal, which is usually against the rules when she wants to sleep. So lots of kitty love and tv watching, no sewing, but maybe just a bit of quilting.

Oh, but before I run off, thanks ever so much to my fellow science fiction/Joss fans for commenting on my last post. I am really really looking forward to his new show Dollhouse. Read interviews with Joss and Eliza Dushku here. Let's just hope Fox treats it better than they have other shows...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

All You Need is Love - Again

This is my quilt All You Need is Love. Pieced in January 2001 and completed in March of that year. It measures 43" x 40" or thereabouts.

I have actually written about this quilt before, but I only had a lousy photo of it. This isn't the greatest, but you can see how I deliberately used more than one black fabric - I love the different shades.
I had no idea how this quilt was going to turn out. I played with stars, flowers, people and different ways of making words - none of which ended up in the quilt. I made these words using scraps and 1.5" strips. I won't ever do that again - I think it made my letters look boring to have the same width show up again and again.
I made hearts in all sorts of different ways. Lots and lots of experiments, most of which are here (I think only two didn't make the cut and that was because I didn't have room). Some of these hearts came out even goofier than they were initially because I sliced them narrower to fit.

I quilted with black perle cotton size 8 in a wavy pattern. I ended up marking the lines because otherwise they flattened out.

The requisite kitten on the quilt picture. Pokey:

I initially pieced these four string blocks for All You Need is Love but wasn't happy with them - boring, boring, boring. They look much better in Orphan Train:

I've hit a sticking point on my String Lone Star quilt. I've left the newsprint paper foundations on and pieced several of them together. Eek, I keep getting blocks mismatched by about an 1/8" over and over. Yes, I like things wonky, I do, but still... I know I just need to keep going with it and whack off any extra I have left over. Eighth of an inch seam allowances will still work, right?

I've lost some confidence in how this quilt is going together (should I rip off all the papers now like Bonnie did or just keep going?) but not in the quilt itself. I love the fabrics, the colors, the pattern. Must just keep working.

I occasionally blog surf for entries on Gwen Marston etc. I came across Jen Duncan's entry on her class with Freddy Moran. Whee, go look at the pretty pics. The best bit of all is the intel she acquired: Gwen and Freddy are working on a follow-up to Collaborative Quilting. Woohoo!

I watched a couple of episodes of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles and found it thoroughly enjoyable. I don't mind the continuity "problems" with Terminator 3 at all. For one thing I didn't care for that movie much and for another, when you've got terminators going back in time to change history, nothing is static.

My quibble with the tv series is the casting of a 20-year old as John. Sorry, should have cast a real kid, which would have made him much more vulnerable. When the character whines I have a knee-jerk reaction to tell him to shut up and get going instead of empathising with a child in danger. Can you imagine the first Harry Potter movie with adults playing the children's roles? Ick.

Thrilled to see Firefly's River (Summer Glau) as a terminator - very fun. [Incidentally, Firefly still the number one tv series ever made in my opinion. Joss Whedon, please come back to tv.]

My husband and I just finished watching the entire Arrested Development series. Hysterical and unbelievably cancelled way before its time. Stupid network executives. I loved watching my husband's head spin as he tried to figure out what was going on (luckily for me, it was my second time through the series). We'll definitely be rewatching this one.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home, which I completed in November 2002.

This isn't the greatest picture, but it's the best I could do. It doesn't help that this quilt is fairly dark to begin with - that whole lacking contrast thing I was talking about. I had leftover piano keys from doing this border and that was what gave me the idea to make Big Love.

I'm really pleased with the quilting (a combination of perle cotton size 8 and 3-strand embroidery floss) I just wish it showed up better. I used a chalk marker to denote all the lines.

I've been trying to build a barricade to keep little kitties off my hutch, but Pokey manages to get up there all the same.

These letters came from Giraffe Dreams Carol for me to put into my student letter quilt one of these days (not anytime soon, I assure you). They are marvelous. Thank you, Carol.

I've seen houses for Bonnie popping up all over the blogosphere. Thanks for making her the blocks - I know she'll put them to a great use. Can't wait to see them all together.

My husband and I went to our favorite Italian restaurant for lunch yesterday and then watched Moonstruck. A perfect belated Valentine's celebration. Now he's kicking me off the computer so I'll talk to you later.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Primitive Art at the Louvre

I finally found my way to the primitive art collection at the Louvre, housing works from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. It's a bit hard to get to (use the Porte des Lions) but well worth a visit. I thought it far more interesting than all those Spanish and Italian paintings I hustled past to get to the gallery.

When I first saw this piece I thought it was new. I've seen welded pieces by Picasso that looked similar. But nope, this was made in Benin in 1858.

A sculpture from Nigeria. XVIIIe siecle. Heck, Roman numerals. 18th century is my guess.

Indonesian statuary from the same time frame.

A huge totem from Taiwan - this was something like 10 feet tall. It's made out of wood, but looks coppery.

A Pakistani sculpture from approximately the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th.

I love the tool marks on the head and the cracking of the wood.

This one is actually in my guidebook. This tall male figure is from the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific and was made in the early 19th centure. The blue paint was made by mixing lime, burnt coral, and "dolly" blue. Dolly blue? I don't know what that is, but the patina is extraordinary.

This is a figure of a god from Hawaii made in the 18th century from wicker, mother-of-pearl, and dogs' teeth amongst other things.

Best for last. I turned a corner and was completely blown away by this head from Easter Island. Oh my, it is glorious. And large.

Sorry I didn't think to get a photo that would give you a sense of scale. I'll do that on another visit, which I will definitely have to do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big Love Quilt

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. In honor of the day, here is Big Love:

I completed this quilt on 29 May 2003. I pieced it during my monochrome red phase, back when I made Crazy Love too. (ooh, and the houses quilt that I teased you with last post, which I will show you soon). I learned a lot about contrast from making these quilts, but unfortunately not while I was making them. I can just see it now. Not enough contrast in any of them. They all needed far more lights and white.

Anyway, I made this quilt by piecing a bunch of piano key rows. I then used those to make letters, the same way I always free-piece letters. I think I did the E first to know what approximate height to make the other letters. It's quilted in free-hand fans with red perle cotton size 8.

Here's baby Pokey to give you an idea of the scale of the quilt, which I forgot to measure when I had it out.

I'm so thrilled to see that there are already gifts for Bonnie's Housewarming Party (see previous post). Here are Paula's and Lynda's. Thank you! By the way, did you notice that I'm throwing the party for Bonnie and yet she's going to end up doing all the work of putting the blocks together. hee hee hee. Typical. And of course I still haven't even pieced the block I'm going to send, having too much fun scarpering off to the Louvre.

Some wonderful blogs for you to visit. I'm really enjoying Meg's new blog Quilt Words. In particular, take a look at the lovely soft log cabin quilt made out of khakis.

Check out the method Brenda's Strip Piecers group used to make a donation quilt. It's got all the joy and liveliness that I love in string quilts.

You know how I'm partial to orphan quilts? Well go take a look at Quilting Twin Keryn's spectacular Orphans & Siblings quilt top. It is incredible and amazing and I love every bit of it. She did such a great job of putting it together and I love how it's set on the diagonal.

I hope you got some great ideas for what you can do with UFO blocks you're tired of, class samples etc. You really can put them together into an amazing quilt. I know you can do it too. There's more inspiration over at Finn's Riding the Orphan Train. Need help getting them together? Just ask. Take a photo with all your bits and bobs and I bet you can get all sorts of recommendations for what to do next. You can do it too.

On a completely different subject, but refering to Big Love, can I just say that I named that quilt before the show about polygamists came out on HBO. I do enjoy the show though, I'm in the middle of the second season right now. It's a fascinating look at people who have very strong values that conflict with society's and the actions they take, like lieing, that rather go against that whole values thing. The acting is simply amazing.

Another show I'm loving is The Riches, about a family of Travellers (Irish gypsies essentially) that settles down into someone else's lives in order to steal the American Dream. I love Eddie Izzard anyway and he and Minnie Driver are excellent in this. Again, another family show with a lifestyle that you probably disapprove of, ala The Sopranos and Big Love, that just does a great job of portraying relationships.

I've been fascinated by the Travellers ever since going to dinner at a restaurant in Georgia and wondering if a little girl beauty pageant was being held in the area. All the girls were heavily made up and bejeweled. Even the babies had pierced ears. That's how the women dress every time they go out. The men were all casually dressed, doesn't that just figure.