30 March, 2010

Workshop in Progress - March 31

Thank-you for all your kind words about the indigo project. I really am quite attached to this project and the anticipation of what it might be. I will definitely keep you posted on every step along the way.

This week in the Workshop we have some interesting posts.

Felicity has a very sweet hand-me-down flimsy. It is hand-pieced by a beloved family member and she is looking for opinions on how to do it justice with her own touch. Any advice for her?

It's been mentioned here before how I love the challenge of putting together quilt tops from seemingly disparate pieces.  Bees are fantastic for this. That's why I really like the challenge Kris from Summer at Grandma's House has for us this week.  She has a number of house and tree blocks from her own bee. What would you do if they were your blocks?

Elle is up to something new, again. Does she ever not try something new.  This week she is looking for advice on getting wonky.  Do you have any for her?

That's a wide variety of topics, but that is the best part of the workshop - being exposed to so many different ideas.

29 March, 2010

Fabric with Weight

Progress on a quilt! Trust me, this is momentous news lately. Hubby has been out of town a lot, I've had some writing deadlines, and Quilt Canada is now a month away.  Things are busy! But we had a low key weekend and I squeezed in some sewing, during naptime of course.

This is the start of what is currently being referred to as my Slaveship Quilt. I promise I will get a better name in time. These strips have come from this pile of indigo fabrics. Oh, I heart these indigo fabrics. These are designs that are well over a century old, but some of them are so bold and modern today. And that indigo is melting my heart.

It wasn't until I started cutting into them that I realized these were real Da Gama fabrics, imported from South Africa. Suddenly the fabric had more weight, and the project took on even more symbolism for me.

Yes folks, I would say that I am making my first art quilt. With every step, from inspiration to design to sewing I feel the importance of each decision. There is a reason to everything I'm doing. So not only do I intend to have something beautiful simply to look at, I hope it is something meaningful and symbolic too.

(My nature is to suddenly retreat into something self-deprecating right now, but this project doesn't deserve that.)

This is a multi-step design and who knows whether I'll finish it this week or next year, but I hope you will enjoy the process as much as I will.

26 March, 2010

Friday Favourites - Quilts of First Quarter 2010

I heard back from a lot of you in January that the round-up of my favourite quilts was something you wanted to see more of. I've decided to do this every 3 months for you. Even then it is hard to narrow it down!

Selvages are something that I now cut off and set aside - to giveaway. I have absolutely no motivation to make a selvage quilt myself. Even after seeing this one, I still don't want to make one. But I can look and admire the quality and beauty of this quilt.  Great job Jacquie!

There are some lovely, lovely quilts on Jess' site. Simple and graphic.  You see similar quilts around, but there is something about the way she places just that one extra bit of fabric or a carefully chosen binding that elevates her quilt above many modern others.

If you've been reading me for a while you know that I'm generally not a fan of quilts made entirely from one fabric line alone. But I adore what Andrea did from her inspiration - a drawing and design by her son.  How cool is that? And a nice break from her year of solids.

White binding. White binding on a multicoloured striped quilt.  Need I say more?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who puts quilts in her office.  At least it doesn't seem odd when you work in a crafty kind of place like Lark Books.

Off Kilter by Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts
Okay, so a slight bias here. But I had to share one more finish from my quilt along. I know many of us miss Amanda Jean's blogging, but you can keep up to date with all her work on Flickr. Thank goodness!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

24 March, 2010

Workshop in Progress - March 24

First off, let me address last week's post on the Workshop. Even if there is only one post out there with someone asking for advice, a second opinion, or even showing off a challenging piece, I will share it with you.  My goal is to encourage more of us bloggers to share things throughout the creative process, to open ourselves to the opinions and insight of others that we might get if we were taking a workshop together.

So, I will continue to do this until I'm no longer interested. Or the posts really, really dry up.

I completely understand the chaos and demands on our schedules through work and family, beyond our creative pursuits. Blogging on demand, as the Workshop may make you feel is a necessity is never fun. I'm not immune to it myself.

Going forward, I will continue to post on Wednesday any posts I see from the last week, not just those that come out on Wednesday. It's okay if you posted on Friday and have maybe even moved on in some precious hours in the weekend, I still want us to share and collaborate. Even if the opinion is moot, it is good food for the next time around. If I miss your post, or you really want to make sure I see it, send me a quick email. It will get up. 

Take the time to explore, to share, to discover new artists, techniques, and questions.  Enjoy the Workshop today! This week seems to have a theme on names. 

Many of us find naming the finished quilt a very tough thing. Felicity is struggling with the name for a very calm but striking green quilt. I keep feeling moss from it, how about you?

Cindy at Live a Colorful Life is embarking on a new adventure - an online store devoted to selvage goodness! But she's debating names.  I know my favourite, what's yours?

We'll see you next week in the Workshop!

PS I couldn't leave you without a picture, so here are my brand new moccasins, courtesy of Darlingtonia on Etsy.

22 March, 2010

I Joined a Bee

If you know me or have seen the hidden boxes in my basement you know that it is hard for me to keep commitment to bees and round robins. I don't know why, but I get so stuck on these projects and I'm the one who either hands in the project ridiculously late or not at all.  Yes, I've been known to be THAT quilter.

Alas, no more! I promise, I swear, and I cross my heart because this year I joined a bee.  I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with these ladies. And my logic also tells me that if I am being told what to do I should be able to manage it.  

One month down and I was only a tiny bit late. But I'm totally blaming my knees.

This is the first block for Valerie. It was also the first time for me to work with these Heather Ross fabrics.  They're sweet, but I won't be losing any sleep over them.  And after seeing the blocks headed her way, I am quite excited to see them all together.

That is probably my favourite part of this process. I just wish I could be there with every one of my partners to help them assemble the tops.  I love taking blocks and putting them together, moving this one over here and that one there, until it all just feels right. I've got to wait until January for my turn.  That gives me plenty of time to change my mind about what I want done.

19 March, 2010

An Overdue Thanks

Back in August I won a copy of Bend the Rules with Fabric from the author and designer herself, Amy Karol. It was quite a treat really.  I continually pull it out and plan some ideas in my head.  I even went so far as to buy some fabric paint for a specific home decor project, but Hubby vetoed the addition of stamps on the curtains. But Hubby's been away a lot lately.

No, I didn't go ahead and stamp the curtains, but I did make what is known as a Daddy Doll in this house.  You see, the Monster fully recognizes that Daddy is away and come bedtime she gets upset. Personally, I think it is more her knack for melodrama than actually being upset, but who am I to argue with a crying three year old? Then I remembered a specific project from the book.

With a little help from a good friend at work and her Photoshop skills (I have none) and a drawing of Daddy that The Monster herself made I turned this:

into this:

To be honest, it isn't the best example of what the concept is. We had a major printing error where the head, inexplicably, printed itself about 3 inches from the body.  But the printable fabric is expensive so I had to figure out a way to make it work.  How very Tim Gunn of me. So I cut out the shape, without making Hubby look a little too male, and hand appliqued it on. Hubby picked the fabrics, it was his doll after all. And I rescued the filling from an old, unused pillow. It isn't quite the same effect as the original concept, but the end result is the same - less crying at bedtime when Daddy was away.

17 March, 2010

No Workshop This Week

Nothing, nada, no one has anything to report.

I'm a little bit sad about that, I really enjoy visiting all the blogs and working on design challenges. Is it just a matter of time or is the Workshop not working for people? Let me know.

How do you like The Workshop in Progress?

15 March, 2010

True Inspiration

Inspiration for an artist of any sort doesn't just refer to seeing something or hearing something and then turning it into a project.  Inspiration can come in the form of people and ideals. I had that experience the other night and it gave me so much energy, so much affirmation for the approach I have to quilting. On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a trunk show by Bill Kerr from Fun Quilts.

Fun Quilts is the quilt baby of Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, a husband and wife combo of designers, artists, quilters, teachers, and authors. I discovered them about 5 years ago. There'd been a bit of a lull in my quilting, mostly because I felt a little alone and lost in what I was trying to do. I knew that I wasn't that interesting in traditional piecing, but I hadn't found anyone who was quilting like I was, with simple and bold designs. And I didn't want to see another Yellow Brick Road quilt!

So I did what most of us do these days, I turned to the internet.  My very first Google search was with the term "modern quilts." I'm not sure I googled anything else, to be honest, because so much came up. It was eye opening for me. 

At the top of the search results was the book The Modern Quilt Workshop and a pile of blogs showcasing work from the book. Wow, it was eye opening. No, I didn't rush out to the buy the book. (I'm not a pattern person and this book is mostly patterns.) But I started exploring all the blogs and got so excited.  Generally I'm not one be a joiner, preferring my own track, but this felt like a community of like-minded creative folks. 

It was just the inspiration I needed, just the kick in the pants to get me creating again. I started sketching and sewing with energy again. I even started the blog after not too long. And now, I can honestly say that the one internet search led to a a whole new creative me.

Seeing Bill Kerr speak, one of the authors of The Modern Quilt Workshop, is only getting me more jazzed about creating. His presentation included a brief discussion of design and the reflection of quilt design as a sign of the times. And this, really, is the crux of the Fun Quilts approach. There is no one visual style to their work, rather they like to think they create quilts that are a reflection of the times we live in.

Sigh. So perfect.

Then he went through a number of their quilts, discussing the inspiration or motivation behind the piece. For example, this one was inspired by a can of mixed nuts and boxes of cereal. And I thought I was the only one who was inspired by food! And the one above was inspired by the departure maps in the back of the airline magazines.

It has actually been a while since I was on their site and in preparation for the trunk show I found myself browsing through their quilt gallery. It actually shocked me to see the influence of them in not only my quilts, but in many others I've seen. Either we think exactly the same, or their quilts were hidden in my subconscious when I was sketching!

Sometimes it is so enlightening to meet the people who inspire you. Thankfully with quilt celebrities you almost always get the chance to actually chat with them as well. I always admired the work of Fun Quilts and now I admire the people behind it. I identify with their approach and personalities (even if they managed days of skiing without incident while visiting our area). And I am totally focused on where I want to take my quilting and my creative life. That, for me, is the result of true inspiration.

12 March, 2010

My Favourite Gadget

Do you know what this is? Hands down, it is my favourite tool for quilting. I'm not a gadget, multiple rulers, fancy papers kind of girl. But the day I discovered this was revolutionary.

To be fair, I think it was my sister or Hubby who actually discovered it for me. I remember getting it for Christmas one year. how I survived without it is beyond me. If you are a pin baster then you NEED this.  It's the best $20 you'll ever spend on quilting. The handy Kwik Klip saves your fingers and a heck of a lot of time when you are pin basting a quilt. It essentially lifts the bar of the pin to close it. Instead of you pinching it yourself. Finger saving, I tell ya!

I've seen these at every local quilt shop, but I've also found them on-line.

(If you do decide to search for them on line, be careful of your search terms.  If you only use Kwik Klip the internet seems to think you are looking for a specific gun accessory!)

10 March, 2010

Workshop in Progress - March 10

Isn't this lovely? It was a surprise gift from a surprising person. More on that story another time.

But what I want to do is handstitch it to some grey linen. I've never done that before so I'm looking for advice. How much tacking down do you need to do? Do you match the thread to the yarn? What sort of prep work needs to be done? Is it better done in a hoop? Anything you can share would be appreciated.

Elsewhere in the workshop today, Elle, as always, is at it with another exciting project. Having known her since before her daughter's wedding and the birth of her grandchildren, I know the challenge she has in getting a quilt done for her. But yay, it's time for binding. With so many colours in the quilt, what do you think she should go for?

Beth over at Love Laugh Quilt has the prettiest pink and brown quilt on deck. The only challenge is that she's set in on point, so she needs some help with picking the right fabric for her setting triangles. What do you think?

Do you avoid certain colours? What happens when you are faced with a challenge to use something that maybe isn't your taste? Andrea at Millions of Thoughts Trapped in My Head is struggling with an exciting use for forest green. My gut tells her to match it with peach, but that may be because my childhood bedroom was that combo. How very 80s of me!

What about the rest of you? If I missed your post, let me know.

08 March, 2010

Low Volume Circles

I cannot stress how much I LOVE this quilt top.

First, it came together quickly. Long strips with appliqued circles. Some prep work, but it was all manageable.

Second, it was a lovely project to work on until I felt good enough to be at the machine again. The only machine work on the top was sewing the strips together. And the back is coming together quite easily too. There isn't a lot of up and down for ironing.

Third, it is big (twin size). That means it isn't a small project that I haven't a clue what to do with in the end. My only wish is that I had a precious room and twin bed to decorate around this quilt.

Finally, it is such a contrast to all the bright work I do. The concept of working with low volume fabrics is very refreshing. Kind of like a sorbet course in a big meal. And all that white? So not me, but so, so perfect.

05 March, 2010

Find the Yellow

I was wearing my spring coat this week, a pastel yellow trench.  Paired with my new yellow, cream, and taupe striped scarf I felt very sunny indeed. When my physiotherapist noticed it we started a conversation about the optimism inherent in the colour yellow. Despite a somewhat frustrating physio session we kept talking about optimism.  On my way out she encouraged me to "Find the Yellow" in my day.

1  Cleaning up after a painting session.
2  Quilting detail
3  Apron trim
4  Stack of quilts (for the article "The Family Quilt" in the Winter 2010 What's Up magazine)
5  Pie crust
6  Yo (from the files, at the Bowden Sun Maze last August)

What about you?  Have you Found the Yellow today?

02 March, 2010

Workshop in Progress - March 3

There are a few of us back to sewing this week.  Some of us even got to go on a few retreats. Lucky gals!

Elle has moved on to a completely different project, some simple placements. This lady can go all over the place - traditional, modern, and art. Isn't is great.

A few weeks back Katie shared some scrap ideas with us. Check out her finished quilt at the Salt Marsh Path.

I love what Lesly over at Pickle Dish is posting this week. She's taking a traditional block and exploring ways to change it up. From a distance they look the same, but look closely. How would you add your twist?

This post didn't make the weekly round-up, so you may have missed it. But I still want to include the discussion and the final quilt top. Nanann's Woogies turned out a really interesting string quilt, but I loved looking at all her design options.

On my end I am the workshop in progress this week. We've come to the rather painful acceptance that my knee recovery is something that is months, not weeks away. Hard enough to face, but with two little ones, a full-time job, freelance work, and a still slightly broken husband it is pretty hard. I am trying to stay positive, along the lines of my efforts at choosing to be happy. Along with bending my knees it is quite the challenge.

My typical stress relievers and ways to keep anxiety at bay are quilting, keeping the house tidy, and exercising. Well, I've finally figured out some projects to keep me busy with quilting, although it certainly isn't at the same production level that I'm used to. As for tidying, let's just say there isn't much spring cleaning happening at our house! And when you spend most of the time parked in one chair looking at all the clutter the problem is expounded. And aside from my physio exercises, any sort of a work out is still out.  I think I miss that the most.

So, for the Workshop this week I'm asking for your best stress relievers?  Does anyone meditate out there? How do you choose positivity in your life?

I'm also taking on a personal challenge of some self portraits. As the key photographer in my house there are never any pictures of me. But I find that seeing myself in a photo helps me see myself a bit better.  Kind of like testing out quilt layouts through a photo. I could pick out a handful of things I don't like about this picture, but it's honest. Right down to the ice cream I'm devouring.

01 March, 2010

Inspired By...

Why does it feel wrong that I'm inspired by stories of slavery? These are horrific stories of the cruelty of man. But they are also amazing stories of human spirit, triumph, and even kindness. And that's what gets me.

So, after reading The Book of Negroes/Someone Knows My Name I had a design in my head. I wanted to acknowledge the aspect of the story where the main character works on an indigo plantation and discusses the awful clothing made out of osnaburg. But then there are the snippets of sunshine as her station improves and she has access to some money and bright cloth.

Oh, the ideas I have for this!

Fabrics ordered from Reproduction Fabrics and Big Horn Quilts.