Friday, August 30, 2013

Rocks in My Head

Making some progress on the lake quilt, although for anyone but me, it may be hard to tell.

Quilting the rocks in the foreground turned into a major undertaking after I decided they needed more delineation. I don't even want to guess how much time was spent just sitting and staring at the quilt, trying to figure out where the rock formation lines (the free-motion, satin-stitched ones) should be. And the longer I stared, the more the formations shifted in my perception, making it almost impossible to settle on definite stitching lines. I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and jump into this darned lake! Even after stitching, some of the lines had to be ripped out and repositioned because they didn't look as natural as I'd imagined they would. The good news is, if you're going to rip stitches, satin stitch, even a free-motion one, is about as easy as it gets.

Here is a closeup of the area I finished this morning. (The poor turtles are still waiting to be quilted. Let's hope they can keep their paint on through all the handling. So far, so good.)

At times during these last two weeks, a break was much needed, so I finished the baby afghan I'd started in Wyoming.

But the baby (my great-niece, Chloe) is not going to get this, after all. Why? Because in my determination to make the afghan soft and cuddly, I kept my tension deliberately loose, and by the time the last row was hooked, my tension had become so loose that the end of the afghan was nearly a foot wider than my beginning chain--even though my beginning chain was made with a hook 2 sizes larger to ensure against that possibility. Now, I'm no novice at crochet, so I know better than to pull a stunt like this! Instead of trusting myself to keep an unnatural tension consistent throughout, I should simply have used a larger hook for the whole afghan and worked with my normal tension. Duh. Apparently I still had rocks in my head!

Wednesday was better because the UPS man brought me these beautiful batiks (isn't he nice?):

And because I found this little treasure at JoAnn Fabrics (speaking of yarn):

Yesterday was good, but not because of quilting. Took the day off and went to the Frazier History Museum here in Louisville with my good buddy Connie. We had a wonderful time, and we learned how to sword fight. NOT. But the demonstration was really cool.
Closing here with a photo I took today of Zoe--a different kind of tortoiseshell than what you see in the lake quilt above (actually, those aren't tortoises, but I needed a segue here). Zoe is our (mostly) Norwegian Forest cat. Napping away, she was oblivious to the fact that the prism in the window had cast this intensely colored light right across her tail. Awake, this would have perturbed her at the very least; asleep, it just made for a cool shot. 

Everyone have a great week. The kids are back in school now (mine are grown and out, so no change here), and I'm guessing a lot of quilters will be going full speed ahead now with projects that may have languished somewhat in the heat and busy-ness of summer vacation. Looking forward to seeing an increasing number of reader hookups at two of my favorite Friday blogs, Leah Day's FMQ Friday and Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Fridays. Check out their latest posts and their awesome reader hookups when you have a moment. Enjoy!



Friday, August 16, 2013

Back on Dry Land (mostly)

Finally back in the studio after 9 days in Wyoming and 2 subsequent weeks of catching up on laundry and housework (and playing hooky--oops!). Wyoming was/is beyond beautiful, and there is plenty of landscape quilt inspiration among the 850 (I'm not kidding) photos I took, including this one.

Rafting on the Snake River, Jackson, WY

As mentioned in a previous post, I don't usually travel, so this summer has been a godsend for me as a landscape quilter needing some original, non-local photos. And let's face it, Maine and Wyoming are none too shabby for starters. Here at home, though, the weather for the last few days has been unbelievably beautiful, 70 to 75 degree highs, which has made it almost impossible to stay indoors. So I ran off to the state fair yesterday, and the Big 4 Bridge walk (where you walk or bicycle across the Ohio River from the KY side to the IN side and back) the day before.

Consequently...ok, I'm not finished with the lake quilt, but have certainly made some progress.

The water, grass, and the dogwood branches and blooms are quilted. For the branches I used YLI's variegated poly thread in black, brown and a sort of rust shade--perfect for this woodgrain fabric.

Confession: the branches are not entirely fabric. Those little fine twiggy parts were drawn with a brown Sharpie marker and then thread-painted with the same YLI variegated. This was so easy I couldn't believe I'd never thought to do it that way before!

There have been a few hours of knot-burying on this project, by the way, so I shouldn't berate myself too much for not being closer to finishing the quilt. The dogwood blooms, for example: they are so spaced apart that I had to stop and start with each little group of flowers. I ended up burying about 30 knots just for them alone. (That's because I still don't trust the lockstitch on any sewing machine, although I use it for the initial tackdown of all raw-edge applique on the quilt-top itself.)

In the meantime, my glaringly blank design wall was beginning to bug, I'd been wanting to make use of these quirky palm trees I fused together several months ago during a 'playtime' session.

I've let this 'audition' sit for about 4 days now, and something tells me that some of these fabrics don't really want to be together. Maybe the water fabric needs to be different, or maybe it's the beach. Overall, this is just not grabbing me like I wanted it to. I'll play around with it some more, though.
Let's go see what some other folks are up to over at two of my favorite quilting blogs, Leah Day's FMQ Friday and Sarah Craig's Whoop Whoop Friday. Be sure to check out the reader hookups at the end of each of their blogs. Always inspiring, always fun!
Getting ready to help my son and his wife move in to their first house this weekend! Hope your weekend is filled with family and fun, too!