On Winning, Wanting, and Giving

>> Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The good: I won Terrain scraps straight from the designer, Kate Spain.
The bad: This delightful news made me crave, long, yearn for my sewing machine, or any sewing machine. I spent the day dreaming of things I would sew, both with the scraps and with other fabric.

Kate Spain has become one of my favorite fabric designers. For a while, I kept gravitating to her work without realizing it (mostly prints from her Verna line) and then I started seeking it out. I have a bunch of Fandango that I'm waiting to use -- inspiration, please strike.

I also have a Central Park quilt in progress that sort of stalled out. At first, I planned for that quilt to be for my room, but in the middle of sewing, I realized I wasn't thrilled with it. Then I realized that I was disappointed in my choice of a light yellow solid as the primary solid when, as I pieced the squares, I really wanted more zip. Or really more green, Moda grass to be precise. Which is sort of funny because green has never been a color that grabbed me. But suddenly it did, perhaps in solidarity with the coming of spring. But I didn't have enough fabric to easily switch or enough patience to rip out the old and start anew. Which is why it sits, mostly but not entirely pieced, in a ziplock awaiting my return. At which point I'll finish it and figure out what I'm going to do with it. Maybe I'll give it to someone else, maybe I'll sell it, maybe I'll use it as a picnic quilt. I think the yellow would look good against real grass in ways that it won't look as good against the blue walls of my bedroom. Hmmm.

Speaking of what to do with that quilt, as I was writing this post in my head earlier today (am I the only one who does that? I have several posts mentally "written" that need to make it through my fingers and the keyboard to the blog), I was thinking about an offhand statement Deborah made today. In a post about her current quilt project, she mentioned that the quilt will be only the second one she'll give away. I see comments like this and variations thereof -- e.g., I have so many quilts at my house, I need to do something else with this one -- not too infrequently, and they give me pause. I've given away far more quilts than I've kept. So I read those statements and wonder, "Do they not have friends/family celebrating milestones/getting married/having kids/etc for which they need/want to give gifts?" A lot of these people clearly give other handmade items -- bags, clothes, jewelry, etc -- as presents, so this is not written to suggest they are hoarding their handmade goodness. Rather, it's the recognition that quilts (including challah covers, table runners, and "smaller" quilts) are simply my go-to for a gift. Hell, last night I started thinking about a quilt for something years away, a quilt that may never make it out of my brain, but a quilt nonetheless. What are your go-to gifts? Any standards that never get old for you?


Questions + Answers + Giveaway Day Winner

>> Friday, May 27, 2011

I'll start in opposite order of the post title, and lead with the Giveaway Day winner, Littlebit, who wrote:

It seems only appropriate to lead off with her question, "Why does a little bit of lint in a sewing machine cause so many problems?" I must confess that when I started sewing, I noticed lint but didn't realize how many problems it caused. It wasn't until I quilted this quilt, which was backed with red fleece, that I discovered the ills of lint. Namely, that a tiny red sweater lived under the machine's throatplate and liked to tease the bobbin. Indeed, I think the answer to this question is that lint is a tease, and particularly likes to scoff at machinery, bobbins, and humans. This web of dust produces tangles galore, traffic jams, broken needles, and general chaos. When I think more charitably about lint, I would suggest that it causes so many problems in order to ensure we humans are paying attention, thinking and doing with intention. But most of the time I lack that charity and just swear at the lint. I mean, it is a tease.

I think the most popular question was something to the effect of "What am I researching?" The short, formal answer is that I study religion and state. But that doesn't really tell you what I'm doing, does it? The longer, perhaps more interesting answer, is that I'm researching and writing a dissertation on American military chaplains from World War I through Vietnam. I examine how the chaplaincy has evolved in order to explore how the state manages religion and negotiates with, between, and among religious groups. I can talk about this for a very long time, but I think that's sufficient for now. I will add, however, that if you have friends or relatives who were military chaplains in this time period, I would love to talk to them. Or if you have letters or diaries or pictures or anything of the like, I would love to see those, so be in touch.

And to keep it light, Leanne asked "Would you rather buy fabric or shoes?" Fabric, no question about it.

Have a wonderful weekend, and more q&a to come!



>> Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I showed a few peeks of this quilt a couple weeks ago, and it's now done and has been delivered to its new home in Chicago. The sun was not the most cooperative when I took pictures, and I managed to unintentionally delete my favorite image while editing, but such is life. This quilt served as an experiment with equilateral triangles, linen, random selection, and chopping up large prints.

I pieced a print triangle to a linen triangle, pressed them, and tossed them into a grocery bag. I then sewed rows together by plucking out a parallelogram from the bag and attaching it to the row. When the rows were complete, I tossed them in the bag and plucked a couple out at a time to sew together. I wanted to make it truly random, such that repeats were okay and created visual interest. The mirror placement arose from this randomness as I hadn't realized that I wasn't sewing all the rows together in the exact same way. This layout let me use all the rows without ripping or chopping off ends to make them match. Design by mistake works for me.

I used prints from Laura Gunn's Poppy collection. I needed to make a gender neutral quilt and decided that the deep orange and range of blues would serve that purpose. And I don't consider flowers and leaves "girly"; it was a male roommate of mine who, years ago, showed me the brilliance of buying flowers just because, to brighten up space, and because the local flower lady was super nice. In the end, this went to Orly Erin, but I would be just as comfortable giving it to a boy. When I started cutting into the fabric, I wasn't sure how they would work out, since most of them are large prints that probably work best as backings. But I think it's really cool to see them in pieces as well. For example, the blue and orange triangle at the bottom of the picture is the center of a flower, but you'd never know it in its current state. In that sense, large prints can be quite multidimensional.

I did use a large piece of the painted vines for the back. As much as I think the vine pieces are cool, I really love the large section of it. The quilting is tough to see (that darn sun!) but I quilted straight lines 1/4" offset of the triangle diagonals, leaving the horizontal space unquilted and thereby creating a diamond pattern (a little easier to see in the close-up above).

Choosing a binding was a little difficult. Originally I thought I'd use a solid navy, but the solid seemed too stark against the watercolor-like prints. I played with a few prints from my stash but ultimately decided to use the Dogwood Stripe in Denim. I considered using the Spice version, which is also in the quilt front, but I wanted more blue. Because blue is awesome.


The Best of Intentions...SMS Giveaway Day May 2011

>> Sunday, May 22, 2011

I had really great intentions. I knew Giveaway Day was in about 2 weeks, and I was going to bring something with me to send off to a lucky winner. As I prepared to move, I added "make something for Giveaway Day" to my to-do list. As I packed up my belongings and transported them back to my parents' house, I mentally reminded myself to prep something for Giveaway Day. As I unpacked my stuff and repacked the 2 bags I was taking, I thought "grab a few fat quarters to bring along." As I stared out the window on the bus, I figured I could swing by a fabric store and buy something to offer. And as Friday rolled along, I hemmed and hawed about adding my name to the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day list. For despite my intentions, I didn't make anything or prep anything or bring anything or buy anything. So what to do?

As I debated whether to sign up, I decided that if I was going to enter giveaways, I had to offer something too. And my willpower is not that strong. There was no way I could see the SMS list in my google reader and not click over and not click the links and not enter giveaways. I'm not that good. Thus I need to offer something, and I offer something of a promise that gives you choices but also requires some patience. I would like to make you an infinity scarf, and will offer you the chance to select either the madras combo above or below, both of which make fantastic summer-weight scarves. Or if you're not thrilled about these options, we can talk other fabric choices as well.

As my regular readers know, I'm currently away doing research, and until early-mid July, remain separated from my sewing machine. Thus I won't be able to make it for a while, but I promise I will make it and send it to you by the end of July. So if you'd like a surprise summer package (or perhaps you need a gift for a friend with a July birthday!) that will likely include more than a scarf, this is the giveaway for you.

To enter:
1. Comment on this post and ask me a question. It can be any question, silly or serious, about any topic -- from quilting to why is the sky blue. Fire away...

2. Make sure I can contact you, either through your blogger account (a no-reply blogger cannot win because I can't reach you) or by leaving your email address in the comment.

The fine print:
1. This is open to everyone, wherever you live.
2. The giveaway will remain open until the evening of May 25, or possible the morning of May 26.
3. One entry per person.
4. The winner will be selected randomly, though a truly standout question could also earn a prize.
5. The winner must have followed the rules outlined above.

Finally, per an earlier request, I'll use this scarf creation as an opportunity to post a quick tutorial about how I make these scarves, so check back later in the summer for that. Until then, enjoy giveaway day, and have a great week!

*****It's Friday at 1.01 pm, and the giveaway is now closed.*****


Under the Sea

>> Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Torrential downpour interspersed with tempered rain and drizzle. Since Saturday. Projected to last another week and a half with a slight break over the weekend, maybe. I think life under the sea would be an improvement, at least in some seas. The ones with pretty coral and interesting fish. Weather notwithstanding, I had the privilege of actually giving a quilt to a friend in person. Quilts do a fine job of concealing pregnancy, but Cristin is having a girl in July (a fine month to be born, if I do say so myself), and this quilt is for the forthcoming child who may or may embrace water like her mother.

Cristin and I swam together in college, or rather she swam (quite speedily) and I bounced around on diving boards, only swimming from where I landed in the pool to the edge. It seemed appropriate to use fabric from Momo's Odyssea collection for this quilt, which started as a pile of half-square triangles and turned into this big and little diamond pattern.

I really love the dense straight-line quilting but I confess that the constant turning of the quilt became a bit tedious. The effect is wonderful, the process a little less so. But I also decided to use different colored thread on the back, alternating between blue, green, and pink. I had almost forgotten about this choice, but Cristin -- a recent convert to quilting -- noticed it and reminded me.

The back consists of the large remnant pieces I had after making the front (which used a charm pack plus some extra yardage). I had hoped that my new labels would arrive before I finished this quilt, but alas they showed up right after I finished the binding. It was a mad dash to complete quilts, and I just couldn't wait for the labels any longer. (I ordered my new labels from inked papers -- great shop, fabulous service, wonderful labels....I'll show them as soon as I get a chance to use one.)

I used these sunspots from Amy Butler's Love collection for the binding, as it picked up the red and pink seashells (peeking out on the right) and, in general, made the blues, greens, and browns come alive. It's machine-bound per usual -- and I haven't forgotten about a machine-binding tutorial. I decided it would be the perfect thing to write and post when I didn't have the chance to sew (as in now). I just need to, eh, write and post it....


BQF: Spring 2011

>> Friday, May 13, 2011

Amy's Creative Side

I think the blogger outage felled a lot of posting plans over the past 24 hours. I had hoped to get a Bloggers' Quilt Festival post up this morning, before I left for a weekend away, but was thwarted by technology. I'm back on my college campus for a swim/dive team reunion (I was a diver), and I'm snagging some internet time in the library before meeting up with former teammates for drinks and such.

My BQF choice may be familiar to regular blog readers and DQS10 participants, but I think it's the piece that best exemplifies my learning over the past 6 months. One of the things I love most about quilting is that I can always learn something new, and I've been pushing myself to tackle new techniques as well as tasks that intimidate me (circles!). In fact, I think it's safe to say that my 2011 mantra and goal has been "try new things." And DQS10 offered me the chance to make a pojagi panel for my partner.
I first encountered Pojagi through Victoria's lovely panels and followed her tutorial for making pojagi seams. This piece also represents my first use of shot cottons and cross weaves, which I fell for hard. I love the extra texture and interest the different warp and woof threads give, and I think these textiles really make the intentional simplicity of pojagi shine.

To me, this image conveys both softness and roughness. Pojagi was developed as a means of sewing work cloth -- cloth that would be used to wrap items, to carry things. As such, it should display a certain roughness, a testament akin to calloused hands or well-worn boots. But it also protects its contents from the elements or harm, and in that sense should exude softness as well. I like that even a hanging panel can speak to these qualities simultaneously, and I'm thinking of developing some challah covers using this method as I think it would convey the multiple purposes of of a challah cover, which covers and protects as well as beautifies and sacralizes.


Leaving the Hermitage

>> Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's been a productive 6 weeks at Chez Two Hippos, or rather at Two Hippos' subletted hermitage. I moved out of my very-convenient-to-the-archives lodging last night, and I'm now getting ready for sublet #3 of the year. Unfortunately this next temporary move precludes bringing my sewing machine and assorted materials and tools with me. Knowing this, I spent a lot of my non-archives time sewing over the past month and even have a few things to show for it. I've blogged what I could, and have a few more items in store as they make their way to their new owners. Per usual, my to-do list was longer than my got-done list -- alas there are some birthday presents that remain unfinished (and even unstarted) and a few other gifts that will await more work over the summer.

As long as I have my sewing machine, I make a good hermit. {I'm also quite good at having epiphanies about obvious-to-others elements of my life.} I'm really quite content to move from the work portion of my day to the sewing portion of my day with little in between. Living in the suburbs helped too, as I'm much more likely to go out and explore when I can walk or bike or bus somewhere, none of which is particularly easy in the suburbs. Urban living will return for the next 7ish weeks which will be nice for getting out and wandering more. Clearly, I'm striving for balance over the course of the year, rather than balance in the day or week, on the inside/outside, stay-at-home/explore-the-world, be-a-hermit/see-friends-and-talk-to-people ratio.

Oh, and those blocks above? An unfinished and modified (slightly larger) version of Esch House Quilts' Triangle Maze blocks. It's hard to finish blocks when you run out of fabric. Someone neglected to add some numbers, thus requiring a hasty order of more navy fabric...


Spring Chicken

>> Monday, May 9, 2011

I was debating what to name this quilt, whether to call it something citrus-y since it's full of orange, lemon, and lime colors, or to opt for a name that reflected its purpose. I chose the latter, in part because as I pieced it together, I kept thinking of it as "spring chicken," and in part because that actually reflects its purpose.

A good family friend had the misfortune of severely hurting her ankle in one of those totally annoying ways: while walking. Although the original incident happened last July and surgery last summer was supposed to fix it all, she needed surgery again this spring. And when you hurt your ankle, the couch becomes your best friend for a while. Or not exactly best friend, but sort of necessary temporary life partner. So I made this quilt to accompany the couch (a lovely turquoisey blue, if I do say so myself) and chose colors and a name that I hope signify fresh starts and good things (mobility) ahead. And because this was going to stay with a former librarian who loves to read, the column of stacked books seemed quite appropriate. I made one long column because I wanted to see how it would look as a single offset column, and I like it. And when there are no young kids around, it's totally fine to have large swaths of white!

I wanted to make a floating log cabin design for the back. I don't really think this floats, as I didn't quite translate the vision in my head to fabric. But I like that it features the large Marimekko flowers in the middle and builds around it. I chose to leave in the selvages of several prints, including the Marimekko flowers, the Meadowsweet orange flowers, and the Lotus dots. All of the names seemed appropriate to the quilt's intent, and thus seemed fun to include -- whether or not the fabric lines are meaningful to anyone else who encounters the quilt.

I used Park Slope birds to bind the quilt, some of which even managed to appear without their heads on the other side of the quilt. In fact, I used this print to select the other fabrics in the quilt because the blue was the closest I had to (what I think is) the color of the couch, and the other colors shouted spring to me. I selected light and dark oranges, greens, and a couple blues (a shared favorite color) to work into the stack of books.

I didn't have any batting handy, so I used a large piece of white fleece. It worked well, though it is quite thick and I probably should have cut my binding strips a touch larger as a result. When I first started thinking about the quilting, I thought I might create a diagonal grid. But when I got it all basted together, I found myself less taken by a grid and more interested in meandering lines. Which is how I quilted it. It's now made it's way to its new home where I hear there might be some competition over who gets to use it more...


Fabric Gold

>> Saturday, May 7, 2011

A friend recently asked for donations for a craft auction for a friend of hers who has been going through rough times. I offered to make a scarf and whipped up this summer-weight infinity scarf, made out of 2 madras fabrics. For the first time, I managed to sew the scarf without the aid of my seam ripper. I'm feeling good about that. Have I mentioned I like scarves? Especially soft ones? I think I need to make one of these for myself. I'm also thinking about making one for Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day on May 23. What do you think? What are your favorite giveaways?

I'm off to enjoy some meandering around colonial Williamsburg and kayaking with friends. Enjoy your weekend!



>> Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I don't spend much time in science labs these days, if at all. Perhaps I've met a friend in her lab but even that was a while ago. Perhaps it's the distance from lab experiments that led me to violate the cardinal rule of experimentation: minimize the variables. Instead, when I decided to sew up some pyramid triangles for the first time, I also decided it was a brilliant moment to test out using linen in a quilt.

The piecing would have been tremendously easier without the linen contorting every which way. Playing with linen also would have been easier had I been using squares or rectangles, rather than triangles with 2 bias edges (the diagonal grain on fabric, which is much stretchier than the straight or cross grains). But unwittingly making things more complicated than necessary represents a true strength of mine, whether I'm writing or sewing. And in the end, I really like the drape of linen in a quilt, It feels perfect for a summer quilt. This particular one will join a stash of baby quilts I'm scurrying to finish before I embark on a couple of months sans sewing machine (unless someone in NYC would like to lend me one for a bit.) This one is almost done while 2 others are still in the piecing stages, so there may be a few crazy late nights of sewing in my near future.


  © Blogger template Autumn Leaves by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP