Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm calling this little trio of baby quilts "Me, Myself and Irene." Hurricane Irene was making its merry way up the Eastern Seaboard this weekend while I was working at getting these quilted and bound, so in my mind they will always be Hurricane Quilts. The good news is that, while there was damage, this was not a major disaster, so I haven't seen a nation-wide call to action as there was after the spring tornados. I'll just hold these in waiting until they are needed and delight in the fact that I have something ready to offer.

I did have to make one alteration in the basic Super Nine Patch "recipe" because I failed to take note of where the fold was when I made my cuts and ended up with --- let's just say they weren't the sizes called for in the pattern. I still ended up with quilts that are easily big enough to cover a car seat or a newborn, and that's good enough. For the quilting I just did a diagonal grid in a red rayon thread and it looked quite good. I had tried some fancier options and just wasn't happy with the result; sometimes simpler is better.

Today was busy with work, and tomorrow looks to be as well. I'm going to knit a couple of rows and call it quits. Maybe I can squeeze in some time with yo-yo's tomorrow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's been lovely to spend time in the studio today without being under a deadline to get a particular project finished. I've been working at clearing off the card table, which was set up to temporarily hold the pieces of the DWR and then became the catchall for everything that needed to be swept off the machine table. On top of the pile was a Super 9 Patch crib quilt that I had started working on back in July and had botched and needed the able application of a seam ripper. I finished that one this morning, stitching down the last of the binding while the PBS sewing programs were on. Then I got the second quilt in the set of 3 layered and started its quilting. I'm not doing anything fancy with these, just a simple diagonal grid. This is the second one, and it's 3/4 quilted, so tomorrow I should get the binding sewn on and get the hand stitching at least started.

Then I started working on the lessons for the Quilt University class I signed up for hoping that it would exercise my hands and brain in different ways. The class is called Bodacious Blossoms and it's taught by Leslie Lacika; the objective is to learn different ways of making dimensional flowers. Along the way we are to create a sampler of different techniques and a mini quilt with flowers in a vase.

These two pictures are my first efforts at making a bell-shaped flower with a gathered neck. The one on the left is made from a more or less square piece of fabric and has the top edge pinked and left open. The one on the right is made from a more rectangular piece and has the top stitched down. I decided they also needed leaves, so played with different ways of accomplishing them as well. Both are fussy-cut from printed fabric, but the one on the left is appliqued with the edges needle-turned, while the one on the right is fused.

My hope is that by the time the class is done I will have a bigger arsenal of tools and techniques to use to finish the Spring wall-hanging. I really do want to get that one off my list before the end of the year; it's been there far too long. In the mean time, I'm just having fun thinking in terms of finishing simple crib quilts and making tiny sampler squares.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It is finally finished. 2 years and 2 months after it's conception, the Double Wedding Ring for James and Crystal's wedding is finished. Mary Jane and I took the last stitches in it the day before I left to come home, gave it a loving bath, then folded it and presented it to the couple at dinner that night. It is now out of my life, except for a box full of leftover fabric that can now go back into stash, some lovely photographs and the memories of its making. Since I get to keep the memories, I think I got the best part of the deal in many ways.

I couldn't have pulled it off without the help of my friends. So many hands went into the production of this quilt. Mary Jane helped with the quilting, the piecing and the fabric selection. I am grateful beyond words for the times she responded to my calls of "Quilt emergency! Road trip!" with "I'll be there in 20 minutes. Do you want me to drive?" She spent a day learning the technique of paper piecing and set up the pieces for me to sew. And she has a few miles of thread in the quilting as well.

Amy has a few miles of quilting thread in it as well. Two years in a row she gave up a week of her summer to let me and the quilt come and camp in her dining room. She fed me body and soul and kept telling me that I really could do it when I felt like I didn't have another stitch in me. And when I suggested at the end of this year's trek to Iowa that next year I should help her work on one of her quilts, she said she was ready to tackle the next DWR. Her quilting stitches are exquisite, and her friendship is more and more precious to me as time goes by.

And in the final push to the finish, Rena added her wit and charm to the process. She, too, created a quilters' B&B and let Mary Jane and I take over her dining room table and her world for a few days. She took the unfinished quilt all over town to show it off to everyone she knew, unbelievably pleased to even see it, let alone have a part in its quilting.

And I can't leave out Shelly and Hunter. Shelly came to visit one afternoon while MJ and I were quilting. While she politely but firmly declined our offer of a needle and thimble, she was willing to pull basting threads. Because of her there were a lot less left to pull after the final stitch was taken. And Hunter, at age 2 1/2 was also allowed to pull a few carefully prepared basting threads. When he's an old man he can tell his grandchildren that he helped make his Mom and Dad's wedding quilt.

And finally, there is Randy. Randy took these lovely pictures and offered his own brand of support and encouragement to Mary Jane and I in the final push to the finish.

In the end, I love the quilt. Yes, it has it's flaws, and I take full ownership of them. But somehow the finished quilt glows with its own inner light. I would never exhibit it in a show, but I am prouder of this quilt than of some that have won blue ribbons. Maybe it's because I did it for love and not for my own gratification. Maybe it's because I know that it's recipients love it, and have been anxiously but patiently waiting to welcome it into their home; I still don't quite believe that Crystal painted their bedroom to match months before they had the quilt. Maybe it's because I can't think of anything I would have done differently, other than finding and fixing some of the flaws before I took it to the longarmer for basting. Okay, maybe a few things, but nothing that makes me love the quilt any less.

Yes, there is another DWR in the works, this one for Devan and Theresa's wedding, which was last summer. They may get it for Christmas 2012 or summer of 2013. I'm not going to do a lot with it between now and January. There are some smaller projects I want to finish first, and I need to give the studio a thorough cleaning. And I need to be able to look at it with fresh eyes and appreciate it for the thing of beauty I see it becoming. Right now I have a good set of quilter's callouses going, so I'm going to keep at the hand-quilting; there are a number of projects lined up waiting for me to put my stitches in them. And that's not even mentioning the fabrics and patterns I bought this summer on my travels. And the Quilt University class I signed up for that starts this weekend. And the serger I need to learn how to use. And Christmas is coming. Okay, now I need a nap.