29 September, 2009


Okay, like I need another project.  I have a project yet to reveal, a baby quilt started that will probably be late, my water quilt, and a million ideas racing around in my head.  And those are only the active ones, not the pile of UFOs hiding under the bed (literally). But I really, really like the Values quilts that Katie does over at Willy-Nilly.  And now she is hosting a quilt-along.

Shocking, I'm already behind.
The other day Hubby had The Monster our running errands so Smilosaurus and I played in my stash.  I decided that this Values quilt would only be scraps.  But in truth, my definition of scrap has changed over time.  Originally, anything smaller than 6 inches was a scrap.  And everything else got thrown back in the colour-coded bin as stash.  For this project, however, I was going to need bigger pieces.  So I refined my definition to anything I'd used before and might be less than a fat quarter.  A pretty generous definition if you ask me.

I must confess that this pile was not even close to everything that fit my refined definition.  I want to really like this quilt so I picked out only those fabrics that I still really like.  Or, at least the fabrics that I really liked that day.  I'm going to cut one of each and see where that gets me.

Let's see where this one goes...

24 September, 2009

Refreshed and Recharged

Hubby and I had a fantastic weekend away sans kids and dogs. I am ready to take on the world now! Of course, I can only do that after feeding the family, cleaning house, working on my second and third careers, and maybe just maybe getting some quilting in. And a little exercise.

The above image was taken on our trip, a Food and Wine Writer's Workshop in the Okanagan. Now you know why I need the exercise. For more details of the trip, follow me over to Backseat Gourmet. And while you're there, learn more about my TV experience this week.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I totally know what I'm doing with the water quilt now. I just need to find the time to get it done!

16 September, 2009

Grass - Revealed

Okay, enough already.  Here it is - the Grass Quilt.  It was time to put Water aside and showcase something actually completed.  There was no trauma in getting this one together.  I knew what I wanted to do from the first scrap of green that I pulled. My ode to Grass, in 68 inches square.

This quilt is also my personal backlash against white sashing.  Yes, I love it and I've used it plenty, but I was getting a little tired of seeing wonky log cabins sashed in white. So I switched it up and made the squares plain white.  Some of these are plain Kona cotton, and the rest are whatever white on whites I had laying around to make 12.5 inch squares. One of them, you can see, photographs quite yellow but it isn't that way in person. The greens are all from scraps and stash.

The quilting process I've already told you about.  It uses a lot of thread and I did have some needle sizing issues.  But I am thrilled with the way it turned out and the quilt has a wonderful drape despite being so heavily quilted.

This is the back.  I took some more scraps and essentially made a runner. The rest of it is some Katie Jump Rope that I found on sale.  That fabric is so soft that it makes a lovely backing. What I didn't think of was that the softness would more or less be lost with all the quilting.  Oh well, it still feels good.

The label will eventually go here, but I print mine and I need to wait until I have another finished quilt so I can print two labels on one sheet.

And now, let the vacation begin.

14 September, 2009

Thoroughly Confused

I thought I had it all figured out.  Then you guys had to go and weigh in.  Gee thanks a lot. Actually, I am really grateful for the opinions because it has helped, but it has also made things very confusing.  I am really torn now on this water quilt.

When I first did the layouts v4 was my favourite.  It immediately stood out as the best option, as the one that represented where I felt I should go with a water theme. And even as I reviewed the comments and contemplated other layouts it still stood out for me. Then I started playing with other layouts.

Because I love v4 so much I tried v6.  From the get go I saw that it was a big fat NO.  It didn't work for me at all. No harm done, nothing was sewn.  Then I remembered comments from Dillpickle about making it all "higgly piggly" with the breaks. That's where v7 came from.  I fell in love immediately.  I imagined making some more strips and even how I would construct the whole thing. I think I would use some of the softer blues to make these breaks, to bring out more blue overall in the quilt.  Hmmm.

Then I did v8.  Oh, v8. It was like I was some cheesy player in the bar who moved on from one potential conquest to the next with complete disregard to the girl he was just talking to. But this girl was hot.  The layout worked right away, and I knew it right away. Thanks to Marielle and Christine for making comments about going on the diagonal.  I don't know if I did what they suggested, but I think it worked out well.


You knew there was going to be a but, right? It doesn't say water to me anymore.  The design works on so many levels, except for the original inspiration. Is that a problem?  Well, not a problem, but for some reason is does concern me. AmandaJean told me to just sew it up already and stop fretting, but I can't help but obsess over it.

I don't know what to do!  Good thing I'm going on a little vacation in a few days.  I'll have some time to contemplate design and water. Or just drink, eat, read, write, and enjoy a getaway with my Hubby. 

11 September, 2009

Water Version 8

Some of you asked for diagonals, well, here they are. This is a departure from all the previous layouts. I find it both dynamic and calm at the same time.  Is it just me?

Of course, to do this I will end up with a whole bunch of offcuts, so I think I would make more as I'm hoping to make this a larger quilt. Not a big deal, just something for me to consider.  It also means there is potential for longer runs in the design.

Here is it flipped 90 degrees. (And without the use of flash photography.)

Don't forget to take a look at the other participants in the Workshop in Progress.  Some of them are already posted projects.  Elle is looking for opinions on salvaging an old project with a favourite fabric.  And Kate is hoping for some additional thoughts as she designs a baby quilt.

And me?  Well, it's been a long week with Hubby out of town and breaking in the new nanny. Tonight I am settling in with my newly arrived copy of Bend The Rules With Fabric, courtesy of Amy Karol at Angry Chicken. I won a contest a few weeks back and I can already feel the need for some uninterrupted creativity time!

09 September, 2009

Water Version 7

Okay, I really need a design wall! It wasn't until I sorted through this last batch of photos that I realized how hard it is to get a decent photo off my bed. I can't get it flat and the light sucks. If I don't use the flash the whole thing looks yellow and when I do use it the blues really stand out. My apologies.

I'm too tired to go through the previous comments on the first go around, but something someone said struck me and gave me this idea. Just little breaks in the flow of the horizontal strips. I could play with the colours more, make some softer than these.

What do you think?

07 September, 2009

Water Version 6

Continuing on with my Water quilt, I present v6.  When I did the initial layouts v4 was my favourite.  This is a bit of a change on that one.  I added the long strips of blue to separate the calm and the crazy sections.  And I made the center portion a little more hectic.

This layout initially struck me because it reminded me of my days as a competitive swimmer. 12 years in a pool will have an influence on you! Now, I'm only kind of meh about it.  Your thoughts?

(Apologies for the crappy photos this week.  The weather went from a late summer heat wave to decidedly fall and overcast yesterday.  Between that and Hubby mowing the lawn I was forced to use our king sized bed as a design wall.)

Thanks for the response to the Workshop in Progress! I'm hoping that the end of the long weekend here in North America will bring some more participants.  The first group is up there on the right.  Please take the time to post if you are participating and to visit and leave comments for the rest of you.  Your honest opinion delivered kindly is valued!

03 September, 2009

Workshop Launch

Asking for your opinions on the Water quilt layouts turned out to be a bit of an experiment. When the idea came into my head to share the design process with you I merely hoped to share with you my own thoughts and design development. To be honest, after playing with the layouts I was pretty sure what I wanted to do, or at least the direction I wanted to go (v4 was my favourite at that time). But by the middle of the week I was getting quite excited to read your opinions and insights. Fresh eyes on my work made me see things very differently.  Thank-you for that. I had new ideas to test out and I took a step back to evaluate my goals with the project as a whole.

Some people commented that I either had a thick skin or that I was brave.  Interestingly, I didn’t see it either way.  I saw it as an opportunity to get some input on a design struggle. Quilting can be such an insular activity these days – despite blogging and on-line quilt bees. Sharing my designs was a way to share a bit of me and hopefully solicit the opinions of other creative folks.  You know, two heads are better than one.

With such a positive experience I want to encourage you to open up your creative process to the rest of the blog world.  I'm launching Workshop in Progress today.

Workshop is Progress is merely you committing to being open to other people's opinions. Maybe you are stuck on a fabric choice or layout?  Maybe you ran out of the perfect border fabric and need ideas to help you finish the quilt?  Maybe you are stuck for ideas on quilting patterns?  There are an amazing number of talented quilters, artists, crafters, and designers out there who could help you out. All you have to do is ask. Welcome to the on-line version of a workshop.

Open up your process – pick one project, or all of them.  And instead of providing snippets or glimpes of the work, show it all.  The fabric choices, the pattern intent, the construction process, the mistakes, the struggles, the finished top, the backing choice, quilting, binding decisions, and finishing.

Once you've gathered the courage to open up, all you have to do is grab the button below by right clicking on the image, saving it somewhere on your computer where you can find it, and add a widget (if you are on Blogger or whatever it is on Typepad or Wordpress) where you can post the image and link back to this post. Then send me an email so I can add your blog to a running list here. 

This will only work if you also visit the other blogs and share your opinion there.  It takes a lot for many of us to open ourselves to potential criticism or simply to open up, so have the courtesy to share your opinion as well as ask for others.

A couple of basic rules for this, more matters of respect than guidelines.

1. Let me know by email (mamaark (at) gmail (dot) com) that you are participating so I can add you to the list here.

2. Be honest with your choices and your own thoughts about what you are sharing.  For example, if you are in love with some fabrics and will not entertain the idea of them not in the project then say that.

3. Be kind with your opinions, but be honest. You should say that something doesn't work for you in a design, but don't just say you hate it and run. Explain your opinion and be nice about it.

4. Be open to what people tell you.  It is amazing how it can change the way you see your work. 

5.  But don't feel like you need to change what you've done/are doing because of what someone else says if you really like it. This isn't high-pressure quilting.

6. Have fun, explore, create.