Friday, March 18, 2016

Time for Blocking

Two things are on the agenda for this week and next.

First: Finishing another winter scene. This (incomplete) photo was taken at an angle, because it shows the quilting better than does my straight-on shot. The sky is simply stippled. I'm trying to decide whether the quilt needs a border before binding. There is enough backing and batting for a narrow one.

It was fun and fairly quick to quilt, with invisible thread on top and only one color in the bobbin. I had always been afraid that invisible thread would be too hard on the machine's tension disks, but during a phone call last week to my dealer (Moore's Sewing and Learning Center), I was assured that some of the newer, softer invisible threads are quite safe. They said Glynnis (their award-winning in-house embroiderer/quilter) uses Superior Threads Mono-poly all the time in the same model machine I use. Knowing Glynnis and her exquisite work, and having some of that very thread in my stash, I let go my fear and got to work.

And, wow. I had forgotten how much faster a landscape quilt goes when you're not stopping to change thread and bobbins every few minutes! The bobbin thread, by the way, was Superior's Bottom Line. The only other thread used on top was for a few lines of satin stitching, and that was Floriani embroidery thread. It was the perfect shade, a very pale blue, and it stitched out beautifully and has the perfect sheen against the blue-white snow fabric.

Second on the agenda: The aster quilt. It was finally laid out on the floor yesterday for blocking.
Blue jay to be added later.
It is larger than most of my quilts. Remembering all too well the neck, shoulder and arm issues that occurred after hovering a heavy steam iron for an hour-and-a-half over my last large quilt, I decided no way was I repeating that experience.

So, for the first time ever, after rolling the quilt out like a pie crust to smooth it (using a pool noodle--no kidding) and T-pinning it square, I simply covered it with some old white towels....

...and sprayed them with one of those pump-type garden sprayers. Not until they were wet, though; just good and damp. When the quilt is completely dry, I hope it will be as nicely blocked as it would have been by steaming. We'll find out.

After that, the winter scene was steam-blocked with the iron (no problem for that quilt, as I was standing, and the quilt is fairly small) on my 'blocking box' on top of the cutting table.

This hand-painted blue jay will be fused onto the aster quilt after squaring, trimming and binding. He's been hanging out on the design wall all this time.

That's it for now...

...except to say that my only grandchild is one year old today, Friday, March 18! Here she is, doing her own version of blocking (no sound). Happy birthday, sweet Lucy!!

Everyone have a great weekend--spring is here!! Well, at least in this half of the world.  :)


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spuds & Whimsy

Before starting this project during 'flu break'...

...I had started something that was supposed to be entirely whimsical.

Whimsical...mostly because of the snowflake background. Let's face it, it is just short of 'cartoony' for a landscape quilt. (Great for a Christmas quilt, though, which is probably the purpose of this fabric.)

Anyway, because of that, I felt no compunction about putting potatoes around the duck pond. Yep, those are spuds, from one of those 'food' fabrics that proliferated in the quilt world a few years back. I was actually going to call the quilt Spud Springs.

That all changed when VVHH (Very Versatile Handy Husband) took one look at it and said something about a man-made pond in the middle of the woods. The thing is, I had been okay with that concept (people do construct things in the woods sometimes--tree houses, gnome dwellings, spiritual grottoes), but after he pointed this out, I realized I was deliberately being a smart-ass.

Which is fine. I am a bit (or a lot) of a smart-ass, by nature. But just because your sky fabric is 'cartoony,' it doesn't mean the rest of the quilt has to be a joke.

So, the pond got changed to something more free-form and natural. (One of the trees was changed, too.)

All rocks but the long one are still spuds...just cut down to more rock-like shapes.

And in honor of our recently moved neighbors (please come back, Jennifer and James!), one of whom snapped a photo of a reclusive buck in the empty lot across the street from me (and next to them), this guy was added to the quilt.

The binding for this quilt is something I'd never tried before.

Do you see the brown 'piping' inside the red binding? Check out this wonderfully instructive video  to get that piping/flange look for your binding. It is SO easy with Margo Clabo's method (click here). Her tips also work wonderfully with regular binding!

Here's the finished quilt. The lighting is poor, but you get the idea.

VVHH is not entirely happy with this, by the way. He says he has trouble reconciling the whimsical snowflake sky with the more realistic deer and duck pond, as well as the horizon line and the lack of trees in the distance.

About an hour after he told me that, I remembered the first time he ever invited me to his painting studio at the art school where I met him in 1971. The painting he was working on at the time actually bothered me, because it made me feel claustrophobic, and I told him so. I recall him telling me he thought that was interesting.

What goes around, comes around. :D

Here's VVHH from our art school days, tripod in hand, on the way to photography class.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Power, Vibration and Morphing

She's alive!!! Finally on the downside of flu and a sinus infection, I'm thinking the best way to power through that kind of thing (besides medication) and join the living world again is to do what you love at every opportunity--even if it's only 10 or 15 minutes before you have to get prone with the tissue box again. That 'happy' vibration will do more than any over-the-counter or prescription medicine could begin to do. Happiness boosts your immune system, just as unhappiness depresses it.

What makes me happy is designing and making landscape quilts. No surprise there.

The aster quilt is presently rolled up and waiting to be bound and steam-blocked (it will take up about a quarter of the studio floor space, and I'm not in a position to let that happen yet).

Meanwhile, something new is steadily morphing on the design board.

Another winter scene

Will these horses work for this? I don't know, but we'll see.

Moon and bushes added. Plumb bob hung to determine exact position of horses.

Beginnings of a big tree. Bushes highlighted with white paint for snow.

One unusual thing occurred this week. Being too contagious to be around people, I photographed it from a studio window. Ever seen a live power line on the ground? I had never, so this was interesting (and a little frightening) to watch.

This unique fireworks display and the accompanying loud, ominous vibration and humming sound (think Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory) went on until the power company finally turned off the juice--which took them a lot longer than you might think, but I guess they had to figure out just where to turn it off. Meanwhile, the fire chief and more and more young firefighters showed up, ostensibly to determine no people or structures were endangered, but maybe also because most of them had never seen a live power line on the ground, either. They stood around a while and then left.

Our house was getting mighty chilly by the time power came back on at 2:00 a.m. Anyway, a large pine tree had fallen on the line, and is now waiting for hours of annoying chain-saw and chipper work to commence. Looking forward to that. Uh-huh.

That's it for now. Avoid live power lines and sneezing/coughing people, and have a great weekend.