Sunday, January 22, 2012

Get it While You Can

I can't believe I forgot to include this in yesterday's post, but holy cow there is an incredible sale on the  book Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown. It's only twelve dollars for a bargain book. I paid a loooot more for my copy and it was worth every penny, so believe me when I say it's a SERIOUS bargain now. I actually bought a second copy, couldn't pass it up.

I think this means that it's time for another Liberated Amish Get-Together. It was sooo wonderful the first time to see the amazing quilts that folks made. Really impressive. Maybe starting in February? But this time we'll use the UnRuly Blog so I don't have to make up another one. Sound fun? Maybe I'll actually make one this time!

You don't have to buy the book to participate, but I recommend it wholeheartedly nonetheless. You can see a bunch of the quilts on this website for the Browns Amish Quilt collection.

I figure I'll be more flexible this time about the guidelines so that folks can interpret it how they want, so that they push themselves - you all know where your own boundaries are. Can be any size that you want. I think it would be fun to make an Amish quilt as interpreted by a Gee's Bender. (Gee's Bendie? hee hee hee). But the goal is to still see the inspiration in there. For instance if they were ever hung in an exhibition together you'd want it to make sense...

Picture of Lily from awhile back, cuz I needed something to go in this post. I do still love this UFO - need to work on it some more. When I'm reunited with all the bits and pieces that is.

Oh, and I also can't believe I neglected to mention that I am thoroughly engrossed in the second season of Downton Abbey. I do so love that show!!!

p.s. You can click on the link for the book on sale here:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stupid Brain

I have the attention span of a gnat these days, jumping jumping jumping from one thing to another, not getting much accomplished. aaaghhh.  To make matters worse, I'm not liking much of what I get done. For instance, in the last few months I tried putting a bunch of my bright-era orphans and experimental blocks together to see if I could get excited and work on something.

Nothing. No wheee, this is the direction to go. My stupid brain is sludgy and just won't play along. I'm slogging through mud.

I tried to narrow it down and do a "cathouse" quilt of cats and houses and maybe some joy blocks. [a "cathouse" is U.S./Canadian slang for bordello, brothel, house of ill repute...]

Fun but I just couldn't figure out how to work with them. Brain wouldn't cooperate.

Okay, how about the Crown of Thorn blocks I started ages ago? That should be easier since I just had to make blocks. I made a few more of them. Kinda funny, but quilting while taking muscle relaxants and pain pills? Let's just say it's a good thing that I like wonky and liberated and utility quilts. Some of these blocks came out crazier than I meant.

Looking at this now? I like it. At the time I pushed for sashing because I was worried about how they looked all mashed together.

This was an audition. I started sewing sashing onto them and then quit, not sure I liked the direction I was going. Unsure now too. Sashing or no sashing? And yes, I know I have a block split into two there. My sweetie, Mr. Symmetry, hates it but that's one of my favorite things about the quilt. Maybe what it needs is more blocks....

That's another thing my brain has been doing. Second-guessing. I start projects then rip them apart. For instance, last July I took a class, along with Nifty, with the Gee's Bend Quilters. I had a hard time in that class for all sorts of reasons (no instructions or quilt examples) and was unhappy with the blocks and bits I came home with. I added borders to one of the blocks, auditioned here with Pokey and Habibi's help:

But wasn't happy with that either. After a few days of living with it, I ripped it apart and started over, ending up with Something Nifty, shown in the last post. Which, thankfully, I love so it gets to stay as is. I'm even hand-quilting it now, despite the second worst basting job I've ever done...

Working with the same fabrics, I pushed myself to use big chunks and work big. (I do love little pieces - I'm much better at that approach.) Anyway, came up with this medallion quilt:

Not sure it's going to stay this way.  I like column quilts better, and eek, don't like that bottom border especially. But I don't trust myself at this point, so not taking the seam ripper to it. Not yet.

On the topic of quilting, check out the Gratitude Quilt that Nifty made with orphan blocks. I helped her by choosing blocks, but that's it - all the rest of the brilliance was hers. Why is it sooo much easier to put someone else's blocks into a cohesive group? Not that she needs much help. Did you see Nifty's Santa and the Orphans quilt?

Take a peek at this Skinny String quilt group project that Karen Griska is doing over on her Selvage blog. I am in love - I want to start cutting and sewing now. Besides the fact that I don't need to start on yet one more gnat brain quilt project, I don't have much of my fabric stash here.

Why is that? Because of the Move to America. Sweetie and I bought a house (after a lot of online looking and a house hunting trip) in Maryland.  Most of our belongings and my fabric stash are there now and Sweetie is taking care of all the arranging and unpacking while the cats and I live in the sunshine, out of the way, for a few months. Sometimes I think I'd rather be there too, but eek, they got snow today.

I have been watching some tv. Some tv? Who am I kidding. Lots of tv, as always. Can't believe that my favorite new/newish program is Revenge. My husband says it's just a soap opera but HA! it moves a zillion times faster than a daytime soap, which would probably take 5,000 episodes to equal what we've already gotten in a season.

I love that show more than Once Upon a Time, which I'm enjoying but not as much. Is it possible that the folks on Revenge are doing a better job of destroying lives than the wicked queen on the latter? Hmm, I think it is. I love the story of Snow White and Charming (both versions) and wish we'd focus on that a lot more. Stop introducing new characters already - the most recent ep with Hansel and Gretel? Boring....

I wanted to love Grimm but I'm only tolerating it, and that's just barely. So dull and the main characters are leaden (hate the actors). Except for Monroe, the Big Bad Wolf. Him I love and that's why I'm hanging in there. I keep hoping that they'll bump off whats-his-name and his girlfrend and his partner and all the police side of things. But would that help? Why am I watching this?

I watched Alcatraz, but didn't even make it through the second episode. Dull and I am sooo sick of shows that jump back and forth between timelines. It's okay on Once because at least that's an alternate fairytale reality. But hated the gimmick on the now departed PanAm and on this one. Stuff going on in prison? So don't care. And I refuse to watch serial killers at work so that's another point against Alcatraz.

Speaking of alternate timelines, I'm still hanging in with Fringe, although I dislike this season.

Loving Project Runway All Stars. I'm rooting for Mondo just because I love him, but so far? Don't care for his clothes. I might actually like Rami's clothes the best. The recent dress for Miss P? Fabulously fun and that polka dot fabric was wonderful.

Feeling sorry for the chefs on Top Chef: Texas. Should only have chosen chefs who work in Texas style of cooking. And twice they've had to stay up all night to barbeque? Agh, I'd be in a coma. The most recent ep Fit for an Evil Queen was sooooo fun with all the freaky ingredients. There's definitely an evil queen vibe going on in the culture these days.

Been watching stuff on Netflix Instant too. Did a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatching. Season Six (what can I say, I'm a fan of The Trio) was better than I remembered but Seven? bleck. Not sure I'm gonna finish it even though it does have a lot of Spike. I do love me some Spike. Just finished reading the comic books for Season Eight and oh how I wish we had more Buffy.

Finally got into Breaking Bad which I resisted for so long (a high school teacher turned meth maker? too dark!) because I kept hearing how fabulous it is. Oh yeah. Amazing, especially when you can just mainline several seasons at once. I've watched them all through season three, but not four.  Such an example of how great characters are enthralling, even when not much is going on. I wish the producers/writers of The Killing and The Walking Dead would take a few lessons.

Sigh. okay, that's enough bloggy blog blog for now. See ya!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

Hi, guys. Happy New Year!

I finished this quilt top on the first day of 2012. It's made with a lot of the recycled clothing fabric that Nifty gave me when I was out in Seattle last summer, so right now the tentative title is Something Nifty:

So much fun to use fabrics that someone else has chosen. Nifty had a lot of orangy coral salmon colors in softer tones that I never buy much, not to mention the nifty polka dots and retro flowers. She has an inconceivable distaste for purple, so that came out of my recycled clothing stash, as did the yellows and bright pink. One of the fabrics that really helps pull all this together is a dark brown woven stripe with gold and orange in it. Really beautiful and rich, but not showing up here well.

I made this quilt with my scissors and a steam iron (and yes, the sewing machine), just sewing things together and trying not to stress too much. I didn't even use pins, although I know my machine has a tendency to sew unevenly and pull a bit.

I started by adding some of my own recycled clothing fabric to go with Nifty's - far more fabric than I ended up using. Made sure that I had dark darks and light lights - because contrast now is my big concern.

I cut a row from the fabrics I most wanted to use, just guessing at the width (roughly the length of my index finger). Cut a few pieces and threw them up on my design wall, to check I was on the right track and liked the proportions. I tossed a few fabrics out entirely and realized I needed more of the dark red.

I did all that to gain confidence, not to work on that precise composition. Would have been too hard. Instead, I just sewed bits together, making combinations that I liked. Lots of times I'd make the join just because the widths were the same. I made several rows of different lengths and found one I really loved and just used that length. Then it was a matter of joining rows to that initial one, walking off any extra length.

etc. I auditioned a row, stepped back to see how it looked. Auditioned several at a time, then sewed.

It was only at the end, the second to last strip that I added, that I ripped apart a few strips to create one with the colors I wanted. Second strip from the left in the final pic. (by the way, the picture above has the truest colors.)

Really loved working on this quilt. It went together in just two days and woohoo, I felt good. It was the first time I was able to sew without getting a migraine in months and months. I mean that literally.  I've been getting what my neurologist described as cervical migraines. That is, problems in my cervical spine are causing them. And that area of my neck is stressed when I sew.  But I'm on some new meds and doing better.

Yeah, so medical issues have been a problem this year. I have been diagnosed with Spondylitis by my rheumatologist and so far the meds I'm on for that haven't helped.

But anyway, I spent January 1st happily sewing with my good friend Kathy, who said that how you spend the first day of the new year reflects on the year you're about to have. I sure hope so, because it will be a great one. Hope it will be for all of us!