Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April Journal Quilt

Several months ago when I was cleaning the junk in Bob's home office I found an envelope of pictures he took eight years ago while visiting our French friends in Grenoble. One was of an old apple tree (I think) in full bloom growing on the side of the hill silhouetted against an incredible blue spring sky. He composed the photograph perfectly. I saved this photo from the purge, and when I read about the journal quilts, thought it would be perfect for April. It's nothing special, just fused applique and my first attempt at rather heavy freemotion embroidery. The thread for the small branches is too dark, I think, and the twiggy effect doesn't fit with the abstracted "cloud" shape that I gave the blossoms. But it's not too bad for my first attempt at this sort of thing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

When That Aprille...

It's a top ten day here in Northern Indiana--temperatures in the upper 60's, not a breath of wind, and a sky so bright blue and cloudless that it practically sparkles. Tiny little buds are just becoming visible on our oaks and maples, and daffodils, flowering crabs, and Bradford pears are in full bloom. We finally had rain Sunday night, and the grass became brilliant green overnight. Even a yard-and-garden-work hater like me enjoyed pulling some weeds and spreading a little plant food. It's not a day for the basement!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I finished this charity quilt yesterday and am very pleased with the way it turned out. I always feel so virtuous when I use up some of my endless scraps, and the green border was also "found fabric", left over from a backing on another quilt. The binding went smoothly this time too, thanks to the kind person on Quilt Studio who gave the tip about putting pins parallel to the binding instead of across it. I also used my old generic walking foot and not the Viking one, which worked so much better for this. I have enough of the pastel strips left to make another smaller quilt and will get to that soon.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Here's a view of the little kingdom that gave my blog its name. My "studio" (when I was making things to sell, my family called it "the sweatshop", but "studio" is so much better spin) is, of course, in the basement. My son always says, "You need to get out of the basement, Mom", my other son just rolls his eyes, and my husband, Herr Doktor Professor, is basically oblivious to what I'm doing. But I'm happy here. The heart of the area is a former ping-pong table, raised on cement blocks. It's a great work table, because it's huge! I can cut, layer, and store all the materials for a work in progress on it. There's room for more storage underneath. Of course that means it's a mess. My machine, stash, and ironing board are near by, and the computer and a tv are at the other end of the room. I have room for two design walls, both now empty, because I'm not at that stage. There's also a window letting in a lot of natural light, even sunlight at some times of day. It's a great set-up for function, not much for looks. No matched storage units here!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Two more--

Two more quilts from Chicago that I particularly liked. After thinking about them, I've decided that what they have in common that appeals to me is simple elements used creatively. The first is Hopscotch in Zero Gravity, which was on cover of American Quilter I believe, so it's not new. It's so cheerful! I particularly like the simplicity of the scrappy strips put together in this effective, and really quite fascinating way. It probably doesn't show in the picture, but there is a shadow effect around the right hand edge of each of the squares, which adds depth, and the rick rack also is a special detail. The second is called Our Lady of the Lake, and again I don't know the maker. This quilt grows on me the more I think about it. First, I like the idea of using a familiar block as a background for the outline image, and then the color placement of the background tirangles creates a kind of glow. At first I thought there was a pattern on the black fabric forming the outline of the face, but it's really quilting done in variegated thread. The whole effect is beautiful, and somehow serene, so appropriate for the subject.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

International Quilt Festival

Here are a few of my favorite quilts from the International Quilt Festival in Chicago yesterday. I don't know the names of the quilters, having been very disorganized in taking the photos.

This one was best of show in the special exhibition, Welcome Spring.

This was my favorite. I love the New York Beauty block, and the thing that makes this special is that it is all dotted fabrics and around the border is embroidered the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "Pied Beauty", one of my favorites.
Glory be to God for dappled things--
For skies as couple-colour as a brinded cow
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

There are appliques of butterflies, trout, and other "spotted" creatures mentioned in the poem, as well as the "couple-colour" sky.

This is just plain beautiful. I like slightly abstract images from nature, and the colors are glorious. The log cabin block making the sky is very effective.

One of the parts of the show that I liked best was the quilts from the Husqvarna Viking challenge, and no photographs were allowed of those. These were very innovative and interesting contemporary quilts, some by well known quilters. No photographs were allowed of Men of Biblical Proportions either.

This show has the drawback of being extremely crowded. Some parts of the vendors section are almost impassible, and I lost patience with that quickly. I bought what I came to find: Misty Fuse, Paint Stiks, and Bo Nash, none of which I can get here, and then left the vendors. (Well, I did buy just a LITTLE bit of fabric--) That meant I went back and looked at the quilts again. It was interesting to discover that some of the people on our bus barely saw the quilts. No one saw the Viking challenge quilts. "I didn't have time to look at them all." We were there over 7 hours! So if you only buy patterns and kits, and don't even see the work of outstanding quiltmakers, what will your work be like? The answer to that is pretty obvious, I think.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I decided to put a facing instead of a binding on my Hoffman challenge quilt because I didn't think it needed that extra line made by the binding. I made the facing the way it is explained in Circle Play by Reynola Pakusich. Basically you cut strips of fabric the length of the sides minus the 4 inch squares for the corners, sew them together, curving the square to match the strips, sew the facing to the quilt with right sides together, turn, press, and sew down by hand. Here's the facing pinned on the right side, then stitched, turned, and pinned, and finally the finished product. (In reverse order --thanks Blogger) This wouldn't look right on every project of course, but I found it easier than fussing with mitered corners.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Just looked at my Equilter newsletter which arrives on Sunday morning. They're featuring a new collection of Asian inspired fabrics by Lonni Rossi. They're beautiful--huge abstract chryanthemums that look almost like paint splotches, in luscious reds and golds and earth tones with coordinating kanji print fabrics and other Asian designs. They also have her older fabrics. I love the vegetable line--like block prints or linoleum stamps of corn kernals, broccoli stems, mushrooms. My description is lame--go see them. I have trouble knowing what to do with them, but they're beautiful.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I found this on Lolly's blog.

Meme instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, Italicize the titles you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

I'll repeat her instructions and say you're tagged if this interests you.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Atonement - Ian McEwan

The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Dune - Frank Herbert

I've actually read part of the others too, but if someone were to ask what I've read recently, the list would be very short. I quilt instead. Amazing change for a life-long bookworm and former English teacher.