Sunday, September 21, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Two weeks ago, the beautifully inspiring Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing blog participated in the Around the World Blog Hop, and passed the baton to me for today. As I'm dealing with a raging head and chest cold and am practically collapsed over the Kleenex box, this might be a very short blog, at least for me. Here we go...

1. What am I working on?

A top-secret quilt top. Well, top-secret enough that I'll block my son and daughter-in-law from seeing this post when it's linked to its Facebook page, but not so top-secret it can't be shared here, at least in part. It's a (nearly) twin-sized bed quilt for their first baby and our first grandchild. (Wednesday night we're heading to a 'reveal' party, where I'll have the honor of cutting into either a pink or blue cake...we won't know until it's cut! After that, it's full speed ahead on quilting, sewing and knitting projects, since I'll finally know whether to avoid pink, lavender and frills in the things I'm making for the baby.)

Here is the lower half of the top-secret quilt top.

The upper half of the photo is cropped off because that's where the star of the show is--and he's not finished yet. Also, just in case my daughter-in-law happens to check in on the blog unexpectedly, she won't see that part and will still be at least a little surprised when she sees the finished quilt.

(For some closeups on my failed attempt at stitching feathers on the seaweed--hearts are more appropriate for the baby anyway, right?--see the previous blog entry, Feathers with Heart.)

2.  How does my work differ from others in this genre?

This requires some clarification--the quilt shown above is not my usual 'genre.' I'm mostly a landscape quilter. My landscapes are a combination of techniques from almost every landscape quilter who has written a book on the subject, so I can't say my work really differs at all. My last landscape quilt, however, differed somewhat from all the previous ones I'd made, as it was almost more of a story quilt than a landscape. Here's a photo of the quilt, titled The Visit:

Suspended on a sagging copper pipe propped on an open attic door
and a pegboard. (Fortunately, the AQS show came up
 with a better hanging system.)

It just returned from the AQS show in Chattanooga, where people were asking me, "What is the story behind this?" But I'd rather let viewers decide that for themselves. Makes it a lot more fun for me and, I hope, for them.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Because I have to. And I mean that. Anyone who routinely makes use of his/her creative talents (and everyone has at least one) to the extent that it is one of the main parts of his/her life, does it because he/she has no is what keeps that person sane and balanced. If my husband realized what a freaking nut case he'd have on his hands if I didn't immerse myself in creative outlets, he would cease to begrudge even a minute of the time spent upstairs in my solitary space. Don't get me wrong, he's usually fairly understanding; it's just that sometimes, on the rare occasion he doesn't have a project in the works himself, he can be a bit testy about the time I spend on mine. And do you know why? Because, he's one of those potential nut cases, too...he just doesn't realize it! :)  I truly believe we were all given our respective gifts to help us stay grounded and enjoy life to the fullest (and bring in the bacon--everyone should be doing what they love for a living, or at least for part of the paycheck). It's a real shame to let our Creator-given talents go to waste.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I used to write somewhat dark, edgy historical romance novels; now I construct colorful, not-so-edgy, fabric landscapes. But the inspiration isn't all that different. The novels both began with dreams, and most of my landscapes started with scenes in my head. Only three of the quilts -- The Visit, The View from Merlin's Cave and Rock of Ages -- were based on photos. The process entails many or all of these: designing, drawing, tracing, cutting, gluing, fusing, painting, embroidering, and of course quilting and binding. Also steam blocking. Normally, there would be three or four quilting projects in various stages at once--something I recommend, as it keeps boredom at bay and allows you to switch gears when you need to break away from a project. Currently, though, all my other WIPs are knitted items for the baby. Landscapes can wait!

Now that I've coughed all over my monitor and keyboard and have run out of tissues, it's time to stop writing and grab some alcohol wipes. (And maybe some alcohol--the medicinal kind. It's not for nothing I live near the heart of bourbon country. Note, I'm writing this on late Sunday afternoon for posting on Monday morning. Bourbon for breakfast? Even sixty years in Kentucky haven't come to that. lol)

It's also time to pass the above questions on to another blogger. Susan at The Bored Zombie has one of the most fun, inspiring blogs around. She is a member of The Bad Ass Quilters Society. In Chattanooga they exhibited several quilts, a body of amazing work including Susan's gorgeous Windows to the Orient. Look for her on the Around the World Blog Hop next Monday. Thanks again, Susan. And thank you Muv, for including me in the fun!

'Til next time,

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Feathers with Heart

In my four years of quilting in free motion (feed dogs down), I had never stitched the much-touted 'feathers.' So I was feeling pretty good about having finally taken the plunge yesterday...until I looked a little closer.

These are not feathers...are they? They're more like hearts, right? At least where the halves match on either side of the center vein. Wherever they don't match, I'm not sure what you'd call them. Anyway, they seem to work pretty well for the water plants in the underwater scene quilt. But that means I still haven't stitched 'feathers' in a quilt! Ah, well, someday...

Empty square reserved for quilt dedication
Also added were sea creatures on the ocean bottom. The sand dollar, starfish, and octopus came from photos I found and cropped, then printed on printer fabric, sprayed with Scotch-guard, and embellished with Isacord embroidery thread using a hoop.

Enough margin was cut around each creature to satin-stitch the printer fabric (fused with Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite) onto the quilt top with a dark-green thread that blends into the background fabric.

Also been doodling with other plant designs for free-motion stitching in the borders, and came up with this. (It wouldn't surprise me to find out that this was in one of my quilting magazines and my brain just retrieved it from the ol' memory bank.) Notice what we've got going here...again!

Sure looks like hearts to me. And now that I think of it, there may be a good reason for that.  :)

Speaking of which...

There's a new drawer in the studio.

This drawer is far from full, but we just got the news a few weeks ago, and now we're waiting to find out if our first grandbaby is a boy or a girl. (Until then, I'm firmly disciplining myself to keep all pink, lavender and frills out of anything to which I take a needle of any kind.)

Meanwhile, VVHH (very versatile handy husband), who made the quilt studio and tons of other amazing things in this house, has been making use of the hundreds of wine corks in our basement. Until recently he'd been making beautiful cork bulletin boards with them. Now the corks are taking on a life of their own--wildlife, that is. Meaning, specifically, reindeer and Christmas trees!

(excuse the acrylic sewing table)

The cicada-shell cowboy riding the center reindeer was not my idea.

I'm finishing up here with some other non-quilting photos taken this morning, just because it's a beautiful morning and is approaching my favorite time of year...fall!

Garden harvest and part of tonight's pasta sauce (Run, tomatoes, run!!)

Speaking of wildlife...

Hornets' nest next door. So far they've been no trouble.

Kitty and Mama Cat, who adopted us as their people in 2010, and have their own lawn chairs out back for sitting with us while we drink coffee in the morning. Our indoor cats think they're the devil.

Rock brought from the same place that is pictured in the background quilt (Rock of Ages) on this blog page. The hole was worn naturally by water eons ago.

Hooking up here with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday. Go there and see what an awesome gift Sarah received this week! Also linking to Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing's Free Motion Mavericks. Check out her beautiful work, as well as the inspiring reader links at the bottom of each of these blogs.

Have a wonderful weekend~~