Saturday, January 31, 2009

Now if I could just find the book

While going through things yesterday I found this partially completed wallhanging from the Gayle Bong book "Thirtysomething". I know the template that I need to trim the pieces is tucked into the book but I can't find the book. I think today will be an organization day. I will group my books by publisher in alphabetic order. Ha! That may take all day. I have decided to go ahead and sew the border that I had planned onto the black and white pinwheel quilt and then consider some embellishment for the quilt, maybe color, maybe not.

Today we are going to have above freezing temperatures for the first day in 18 days. We are having the 10th coldest winter on record in the Chicago area. It will seem strange to not dress in so many layers when warmer weather comes back.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The importance of value

First I have another finish. This one is only 53 x 67.5" so it quilted up pretty fast and I did the binding by machine again. This is what I worked on yesterday while contemplating the finish for the black and white pinwheel quilt. No decisions made yet. I had enough of this yellow print to use for a backing, and did the binding in the same fabric as the inner border.
I want to thank all of the commenters yesterday. I heard from lots of new people, some whom I can't reach with an email, so thank you for breaking your silence and commenting. I want to explain the difference between the two quilts the way I would explain it to a group of people choosing fabrics for a quilt.
The first quilt relies on light, medium, and dark values to make the pattern visible so it is using contrast as its key. Working with black and white is a little tricky because the closer you get to an even mix of black and white in a print, the more it looks like grey and it mushes so that the clear black and whites have center stage. This quilt also has the same fabric for the light background all through the quilt, something I rarely do. I felt it might be needed for the contrast to work but in looking at it, I find it a little boring. (I was working with a pattern from Maple Island called Keep Out)
The second quilt uses blend as its key. The closer the blend the more soothing it is to the eye. Earlier in my quilting career I would notice that when couples walked up to the quilts on display that the woman was interested and the man looked bored. The first time I had colorwash/watercolor type quilts on display the men were drawn in and asked lots of questions and the wives tried to pull them away. This circular pattern quilt is a colorwash technique which relies totally on value. You need many, many steps of value to get an even blend where in contrast you usually only need the light, medium and dark values. Black and white is especially hard to do really smooth.
Now and then I will run into someone who says they don't like colorwash quilts, but I find the majority of people are really drawn to them. Not everyone has an easy time choosing the fabrics for a smooth blend of values. That was one of my favorite jobs at the quilt shop, helping them with it.
The Strips and Curves pattern relies on a smooth blend to really work well. The more fabrics you have in the run, the smoother the blend will be. If you want to see the rest of the Strips and Curves quilts I have made, go to the right side of my blog and find them under LABELS.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blue crazy finished, black and white still a question

I finished the binding on this one last night. I wasn't sure about this one before I added the border but now I like it. The center part was done over 10 years ago, the purple border added 2 years ago, the pieced border added Aug. '08 and now the quilting and binding in 2009. In the photo below you can see the fabric I used on the back. It is a batik I picked up on sale many years ago. I had a limited amount of it and that determined how wide the pieced border would be.
There was quite a discussion in the comments for my post yesterday. Most people think I should add color to the quilt I showed. Below is another black and white also started in 2007. One of these 2 quilts, the one shown yesterday, and this one, is going to be just black and white with no color added. I love black and white photography and I think the one below relates more to that because it has a full range of value from white to black. Maybe this is the one that shouldn't have color added, and the one yesterday should.

Any opinions on that?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fresh snow

I wasn't fast enough to catch all of the birds fighting over the bird feeder with the fresh snow on the ground. I haven't shoveled yet but it looks like 2" or less. The cardinal is a regular visitor now, waiting for the birds at the feeder to drop seeds down to him.

Black and white, no color added

I have several pieces of batting, larger than baby size, smaller than twin size that I need to use. I looked through the partially completed projects and found this one. When I went back through my pictures to see when I started it, I found out it was in Oct. 2007. It seems like just yesterday. The reason I hadn't finished it is because I was trying to decide whether to add color in the border. I have decided this one is going to be just black and white so I can finish it now.Yesterday I had a new visitor to my backyard. I usually see one of these a few times every winter. You'll have to click on the picture to see him.
After I took this next picture, he went up to a spot on the tree where there was a snow glob and he would peck it and then tip his head back, over and over. I guess that was his water supply for the day.
I'm still working on the binding. I have about 45" to go so hopefully I will have a picture of a completed quilt tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

That ever so slow binding

I'm still working on the binding on the one I quilted Sunday. Here is a full picture after I got the border on last Aug. I'm using a batik for the binding and it is very tight woven fabric, so it will take awhile to get it hand sewn on the back. It is the same fabric as the first border.

I finally saw a cardinal out at the feeding ground. I haven't seen a very big variety of birds this year. The juncos are plentiful, a few nuthatches and woodpeckers, sparrows and chickadees now and then. I haven't even seen many starlings this year. The bunny comes every night and cleans up under the 3 feeders too.
We aren't going to have a January thaw but they promised us a February one. I hope they are right.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Can't count, or is it tunnel vision?

Yesterday I said this amaryllis had 5 flowers and buds. I guess I was looking at it from the wrong angle. Yesterday I noticed it has 5 blooms and a bud. It is also VERY top heavy and has taken a dive once already but didn't hurt the flowers I have put the pot down into a deeper container and hope it will stay standing now. This little squirrel was up on the end of this broken branch eating a chunk of snow yesterday. I couldn't get the angle right to see the snow in his paws.
I finished quilting a quilt last night and got it trimmed but I'm going to put the binding on before I show it. It is a top that I finished last summer but that was started over 10 years ago.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Flowers for Sunday

I have one amaryllis blooming right now. It has 2 more buds to open, 5 flowers on one stalk. I have another plant with 2 flower stalks, one which should be blooming in about a week. I brought in all of my bulbs from previous years and have started watering them. So far I only have leaves, but this one only had leaves for the first week or more so maybe there is hope.It is very cold again this morning. It was 0 when I went to bed and is all they way up to 5 degrees at 8:45 a.m. My newspaper is laying on my driveway and I'm not looking forward to walking out in this cold. I would think I am a wimp, except I know I am just tired of this frigid weather.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Picnic anyone?

This is the scene where my parents live. I wish I had taken the pictures while the snow was really fluffy. It has been settling for a week now, still undisturbed except for a few bird footprints. Look what came out of this eruption of scraps. It still needs binding.
I had an idea I wanted to try for the strips between vertical rows, so what better way to try it than on a small piece. If you think it looks narrower at the bottom, it is.Here is a closeup of the quilting. I did ditch quilting first and then came back and added the 3 rows of purple stitching. That strip of soft beige/yellow was too wide and plain and needed something to balance it with the rest of the piece. It was 1 degree when I got up this morning. I think it sounds like a good day to quilt a quilt.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Still life erupted

Remember the still life photo from a couple days ago? It erupted.

I was playing again last night and that makes a mess out of the collection of strips.
I'm off to the car dealer's today for an oil change so I'll get some reading time in. No sun this morning, and the last day of temperature in the 30's. We'll be close to 0 tonight if the predictions are right.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Club meeting

Today is the embroidery club meeting at the sewing machine store where I work occasionally. I took the embroidered squares and a tray of the other fabrics to show them last time and said I would have it done by next meeting (2 months). The club was supposed to be last Thurs. but because the weather predictions were so bad last week they rescheduled to this week. Our high temperature last week was -9 and today is supposed to be in the 30's, a 40 degree change. I have a shadow on the bottom of the quilt so I need to get a better picture.

Here is a blogging hint. The comments on a blog can be set up as full page or pop up box. When you have it set as full page, I have to leave the blog page to leave my comment and I can't go back and see all of the things I wanted to comment on. If you set it as pop up box, the viewer can still see the blog entry while commenting, which I find very helpful. I wish more sites had it set as pop up box.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fun at work

The owner of the store had a project for me to work on while I was there. It is an ABC quilt with embroidered squares in the center of patchwork blocks. I only got 2 blocks embroidered with all of the phone calls and customers coming in. I loaded the floral strip kit pictures to WandafulQuilts this morning if anyone is interested in purchasing one.

I'm headed out to the backyard to fill the bird feeders this morning. The squirrel proof one doesn't let the squirrels get any food, but when they jump off of it the spring comes loose and the birds can't get any food. Yesterday they did it again so I have to go out there and hope the spring is still hanging onto it somewhere. This is the only time I really dislike the squirrels.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cutting floral fabrics

Before my art quilters group came yesterday one of my jobs was to cut floral fabric into 2.5" wide strips, requested by one of the ladies. While I was cutting I cut some extra kits which I will list on my Wandaful Quilts site on Wednesday. I have to work at the store today so I won't have time to do it. I have 2 different kits, each with 41 fabrics so it is like a jelly roll of fabric that a lot of people have been buying. The top kit starts with very light fabrics with white backgrounds and has the brighter prints in it. The one below starts with light fabrics with cream color backgrounds.
I'm off to get my hair cut this morning, then home and shower and then go to work. One more day with the temperature in the 20's. The heat wave starts Wednesday, three days in the 30's.

Monday, January 19, 2009

quick post

Just a quick post for those who know if I don't blog they should check up on me, I am here, my art quilters are here and we are ready for fun. Here is the beginning of Cobblestones 3.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Still life in studio

I did a lot of cutting yesterday, and cleaning for my art quilters group that will come tomorrow. I didn't do any sewing but I was in and out of the studio. I looked at this pile on my sewing cabinet and thought it had great composition. It was all tossed there haphazardly but some how it was pleasing to look at. Remember I like visual stimulation. Out of sight, out of mind, I need it where I can see it. Here is one more photo of Jack Frost's work. Remember the "jet trails" yesterday? Well he filled them in to be lacy spikes.
Two more cold days and then we are promised we will get above freezing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Three down, 27 to go

I am determined to finish all 30 of the quilts that are in progress, some that are tops, some awaiting borders, some blocks waiting to be sewn together, and all needing to be quilted and bound. This is the third one totally done since Jan. 1. This one was finished one week shy of being a year old. You can see I used the same fabric for backing here that I used as skinny borders in the beach ball fabric quilt. They look so good with binding on them. I did this one by hand, the other two this year I did by machine so they done a lot quicker. It took me 4 hours to do the hand sewing on this one.
I did fairly simple quilting. I even forgot to make the little loop at the center of the block borders a couple times. The quilt police don't come to my house.
I thought the Jack Frost paintings were interesting today with the "jet trails" going off in several directions.
Would you believe these intricate paintings are only 2"-3" tall?
You have to click to enlarge the one below to really appreciate the detail. Again it is only about 3" tall. It is like a lush fern garden.
We made it up above zero for a very short time yesterday afternoon. The weathermen were joking that it is pretty sad when we are looking forward to a day in the 20's.

Friday, January 16, 2009

working on binding again

I started the hand stitching on the binding on this quilt last night. Here is a picture of the top when I finished sewing it together Jan. 22 last year. I wanted to bind it with one of the fossil fern prints and brown was the only one I had enough of. Even though I still have quite a stack of the prints, most are a quarter yard or less after making this quilt. This fabric is more loosely woven than batiks so I got over half of the binding done in one evening.

The snow pile along the driveway is now extending the full length of the driveway. What you can't see because of the shadow along the sidewalk is that the snow is more than a foot deep along there.
On the radio this morning at 7:15 a.m. they said it was -26 degrees but both of the local Internet sites only had -21 degrees. Almost every school in the area is closed. We have a chance to get up to freezing by Tues. next week and a chance to get back above 0 today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Keeping warm

It was -18 degrees this morning, even colder before I got up if I can believe the weatherman. It is good sewing weather. I did have to go out to get groceries for my parents yesterday and with the sun shining and very little wind it was bearable. The streets were all coated with clean white snow (no ice melter yet) and it reminded me of my childhood with snow covered gravel roads.

I started working on this quilt with embroidered center squares. The coral and yellow fabrics are leftover from this quilt. I was going to do strips between these 15" nine patches but now I think I will just put them edge to edge which just makes a giant checkerboard.

I just had to include one more snow picture. This is my spirea bush which is usually quite airy looking. Now it is a solid snowball with a few delicate branches peeking out.

I think I will clean off a couple table tops and then sew some more today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snow pictures

I just came in from shoveling. I put a yardstick in the snow on the driveway and it is 7.5" deep just since midnight last night. It is still snowing but not as hard as earlier this morning.

Here is the snow from the last 2 days piled on the branch my brother cut off for me.
The view from my kitchen sink window.
Here are the big tree branches in my back yard. I showed them a few days ago and you could still see the biggest part. Not any more.
This snow is light and fluffy like Ivory flakes soap. This is a sedum flower head.
This is the sedum flowers in my front yard. They are looking more like mushrooms with every snowfall.Jack Frost is back at his favorite window.
I usually can't get a picture of it snowing but the flakes/puffs were so big this morning they showed up. These are coneflower seed heads, a little over an inch across with their fluffy hairdo.
Here is a group of coneflower seed heads.

The squirrel proof bird feeder has a snow dome too.
I hope you enjoyed a little of my clean white world this morning. It will get messed up soon enough.