Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ladies and Artichoke?

During the design class I took at the Quilting Expo in November, I had occasion to observe another person's source of inspiration, or one of them. The teacher had a file of pictures she had clipped from magazines that she thought might make a good design, either for the subject of a quilt or the design of quilting lines. Since then, I have started my own picture file, for those occasions when I find myself in need of some inspiration.

A new quilting challenge had me going back to this file to find inspiration for a quilt of fruit, veggies, or flowers. I pulled a few pictures of flowers, one or two of some fruit, and this one of an artichoke. I started to play with the picture of the artichoke, tracing its lines and daydreaming about fabric. In so doing, I found myself entranced. At the beginning of this process, I doubted I would find a fruit or vegetable to inspire a quilt. Maybe, maybe, I could find some flowers that wouldn't be trite. But now, here I was, falling in love with the artichoke.

Over the last couple weeks, I've scanned it in, converted it to black and white, and made a template of it. All along the way, the artichoke kept getting prettier and prettier. Let's hope the same can be said of the quilt.

It's a Tough Job...

...but somebody's gotta do it!

Today I went through the agonizing process of going to a quilting store and choosing fabric for some upcoming projects. (Check the store out at This brutal process involves passing through rows of quilting fabric, looking for fabrics to catch my eye, auditioning them against one another to see if they fit. I have to pull the fabric off the shelf, touch it, look at the pretty colors...

It's agony, but I am willing to suffer for my art.

What projects looming on the horizon inspired such a visit? Well, there's the artichoke quilt that I'm doing for a competition (more on that later), and also the quilt for a dear friend's baby shower. She's due at the end of April with a baby girl, and the shower is at the end of March. So, not a ton of time to finish said quilt, but enough. Enough.

In the end, I decided on some fabrics for the baby quilt to complement the decor of the baby's room now, but have enough variety in the color scheme to accomodate any change in decor. Hopefully this quilt will be something the kid has for a long time.

These fabrics seems whimsical, but not childish. Exactly what I was looking for. I've scanned them in and started playing with them in my EQ software. So far, I'm loving just about every configuration of them. More play...more hard decisions.

'Tis the life of a quilt addict.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Projects Abound

Since finishing the Illuminated Grove quilt, I found myself a little out of sorts with the quilting projects. There were no particular projects looming on the horizon. Sure, I had vague notions of finishing another quilt I started in classes in November, or the original quilt I started for the competition. But, there was no real impetus.

Have I mentioned that I work better under a deadline?

So it was that I found myself, at the beginning of this month, dumping out all my scraps to do . . . SOMETHING . . . with. But what?

First, I found that these scraps would need sorting. Some of them were long and thin, and would be ideal for weaving. Some of them were large enough to be pieced into another quilt someday. Perhaps a crazy quilt? And some, oh some were tiny and gorgeous. They couldn't be salvaged as pieces of anything; there wasn't enough room for even a basic seam allowance. These scraps I decided would be great for some fabric collage.

The problem with this process was that, by the time I made it through the sorting, I was exhausted. My lofty ambitions of finding something to do with all of my scraps were dashed. But, over the course of the next week, I assembled some collage sandwiches. Here's the process:

1. Pull out some water-soluble stabilizer. Place a layer a little bigger than the collage you want to make on the table.

2. Place scrappy bits of fabric on top of stabilizer. These bits can include small pieces of fabric, yarn, thread, etc. I like to collect the tangled mess of unraveled fabric that gets cut off quilt fabric when it comes out of the dryer. I suppose you could throw in the dryer lint, too, if that made you happy. Personally, I don't like the look of it. Anyway, arrange these happy scraps in a way that pleases you. I like to add some Angelina fibers to the top for a shiny look, if it seems appropriate.

3. Unless it's the look you're going for, make sure that you don't see any table showing through the middle of your collage to avoid holes in the collage.

4. Cover with another layer of stabilizer and pin the heck out of the sandwich. (You can see some of the pictures of collage sandwiches I have yet to complete.)

5. Go to your sewing machine and free-motion stitch the heck out of the sandwich. You want to keep the stitching very close together and all over; these stitches are what's going to end up holding the collage together.

6. Once you've finished stitching, go to your sink and rinse out the stabilizer. Lay flat to dry.

These are some of the collages I did finish. In the meantime, projects have arisen. More on that later!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kitchen Antics
Starring Charles and Roxy

In case you haven't met my puppy, that's her there, all curled up on her bed. She looks all cute and adorable and calm when she's asleep. This is not a story about her being cute and adorable and sedate. This is a story about how she's psychic.

She has the amazing ability to intuit when you are getting ready to take her out for a walk. Somehow, she knows the difference between when you are putting on pants and shoes to go somewhere, and when you are putting on pants and shoes to take her outside. When the occasion arises that you're taking her outside, she gets all worked up and prancey. This behavior can annoy Charles, as he's trying to move around the condo, putting on the aforementioned shoes or getting a poop bag or putting his coat on. To be fair, the general pranciness of the dog can get in the way of maneuvering around what I shall refer to as the cozy space of our condo. (Read: small.)

A few nights ago, Charles found himself facing a particularly prancey Roxy. She was prancing around in circles around him in the kitchen, as he was making his way to the back door of the condo. So, as is customary in our little family, he talked back to the dog.

"God, you're annoying, Dog! How would you like it if I did the same thing to you?"

And then, (I am not kidding), Charles began to prance in circles around Roxy. Roxy looked up at him with adoration. Well, Roxy always looks at Charles with adoration. But, mixed in with the adoration and love was a sense of bewilderment and happiness. She was thrilled to be getting attention back from him! She DID like it when he did the same thing to her that she did to him.

Perhaps Charles sensed that he wasn't really proving anything to our dog. Perhaps he got tired of running around in circles. Either way, or as I suspect, with a mixture of both, Charles pulled out of his prance-circle and leaned up against the refrigerator. His eyes got all wide and he threw his arms out to the side in a gesture that clearly signified that he was battling a serious case of dizziness. "Woah!" he said.

The man, in an effort to prove a point to the dog, made himself so dizzy he could barely stand.

There was some panting (both his and the dog's). And there was some serious laughter (mine).

The End

Friday, January 16, 2009

Catching Up: Christmas Tongue and Drawings Done

So, about catching up on my blog...

Here are some items I've been meaning to address.

Charles and the Green Tongue

Sorry ladies, this handsome commodity is taken. And I'm the lucky lady that gets to call him mine! This, my friends, is what you get when you put my husband in the same house with six or more dozen holly cookies.

For those few who may not know what these are, they're kind of like Rice Krispy Treats. Only they're made with Frosted Flakes instead of Rice Krispies. And they're dyed green. And they're dropped on a cookie sheet to create a small ball-like shape. And Red Hots are placed in the middle to look like the holly berries.

Regardless of how they're made, the end result of eating at least one entire batch in one night is a condition I like to call greenicus tongicus. Or verdilingus for our sophisticated friends. Sadly, it's an affliction that is brought on by oneself, and your only recourse is to wait it out.

Pretty Dead Tree

No, that's not a tree that's pretty dead. It IS dead. I just thought it was pretty, too. Maybe someday this will show up in one of my quilts.

This tree lives outside the house (not the one in the picture) where my brother and his family live. We stayed with them on our trip back home for Christmas. It was surprisingly calm, considering the 1-year-old and 3-year-old running around the house at Christmastime. It was a wonderful stay. Our puppy Roxy had so much fun romping around in their ginormous backyard. To be off a leash, and able to run so far at one time really does her good. Ah, how I'm sure she longs for the times when we had a backyard of our very own. Somehow, the courtyard of our condo building now doesn't quite compare.

Drawings Done

The last several weeks of my drawing class were focused on drawing the nude figure, which was a great learning experience. However, it wasn't so great for putting my drawings on the refrigerator or showing off on the Internets. However, there are two that I feel safe sharing. This first one was the result of a flaky model who didn't show for our class session. Instead, our teacher was the model, with clothes on! This was an interesting experience, all the same, because our teacher was pregnant at the time, so it was a change of pace in terms of the figure we were drawing. It brought a whole new dynamic to foreshortening.

Finally, this next drawing is definitely the most modest of the nude figure drawings I did, due to the pose the model chose. So, it's more appropriate for posting. I also love the lines in the figure. I have to say, I think that this is my favorite figure drawing so far. How appropriate that it was done on the last day of class!

Illuminated Grove, Finished

These are the finished pictures of the Illuminated Grove quilt. They're pretty similar to those I posted before, only now they have the benefit of the quilting lines. This is the big payoff, I think. It's one of the best parts of the whole process. It's as though the work that you put into piecing the top together all pays off at this stage. Lowering those feed dogs and watching the lines appear under your needle is what keeps me going through the end of a project.

I really had fun with the thread in this project. I bought a ton of it to use, which kind of defeated the purpose of using scraps up in this quilt. As did the other yards of fabric I bought to complement my scraps in this quilt. Ha! But, the threads will come in handy on other projects, I'm sure. And what fun it was to use them to pop with all the different and luscious colors of this quilt.

At the bottom of this post is a picture of the whole quilt. Those legs at the bottom are not the quilt's primary mode of transportation; they belong to my niece. She was doing the honors of holding the quilt up to be photographed.

...And She Lay There, Like a Slug

...Night after night, transfixed by the shimmering, blinking light from the television.

I've been spending way too much time in front of the television. Thing is, I can feel my will to do anything being sucked out through my eyeballs, as I stare at this strange machine that somehow has power over me. There is a list of things I should be doing, rather than rotting on my couch in front of this beast. Here's part of it:

- Getting some exercise. Fresh air in these blindingly cold temps is sort of out of the question, but exercise isn't, thanks to those cardio videos I bought recently for just that purpose.
- Compiling the files for the first draft of my novel so I can get it printed. Once it's printed, I can start reading through it and making notes for revision.
- Making my way through my scraps pile of fabric. I pulled it all out and laid it on my crafting table to see what could be made of them. I've started some fabric collage pieces, and have some intentions for weaving long strips together. Now I have it in my mind that I need to deal with these goals before moving on to other quilts.
- Reorganizing my fabric storage system. This seems to be something that always needs attention. But now, as I have embarked on a few projects and a few classes with the intent of using my stash, I have dozens and dozens of fabrics that need to be put away, but haven't been due to this need for a better system of organization.
- Writing to friends who don't live nearby.
- Writing in my journal.
- Reading one of the three books I have started.

These things and more have been thwarted by my love affair with the television. Though, maybe it's more fatal attraction than love affair.

So it is that I have decided to end the cycle. I intend to break free! This weekend, I have vowed to go the entire 2.5 days (to account for Friday night) television free. Except for maybe the afor-mentioned workout video. That's right. I'm taking a stand. It's time. To fight. For my right. To BRAIN CELLS. So, take that pantheon of technology and programming designed to suck me in. Take that nexus of mediocrity and sloth. I don't need you.

You'll see.