Sunday, April 29, 2007
I was going to post a long-winded description of the design concerns I've been having with the Serendipity. But as I was trying to write it up in a coherent way, I could just imagine peoples' eyes glazing over.
So I'll spare you all that.
But you know how it is--you start putting things together and after looking at it all for so long, things start bothering you. I had a good hunk all sewn together and then ripped it apart. Then I came to the conclusion that it was probably OK the way it was. The issue is color placement.
I don't want to turn into one of these hyper-focused individuals. Lord knows I deal with enough of them at the library every day. (We have one gentleman who asked for help setting up a database of EVERYTHING HE KNOWS...)
The Serendipity goes together in a cool way, so that despite appearances there are no inset seams. It's sewn into three straight strips. I have most of the center strip assembled. My goal is to have the top together by my quilt retreat which is coming up in two weeks. (TWO WEEKS!! YAY!!)
Then I'll have to get borders planned. One design problem that I will have to confront involves the outer edge. Consistency would dictate incorporating pink triangles in a border to complete the Baby Serendipity blocks' framing. This would involve measuring with some amount of precision.
And how much of a pain would that be to plan and execute??
In other annoying news, Amazon has informed me that it cannot supply me with a copy of Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston. There had been some rumors floating around that the book was once again available. Apparently not true. Amazon can point me toward used copies........starting at $70. Guess I'll have to keep my eyes open in used book shops. This is a book I missed the first time around and had hoped to be able to score a copy.
Meanwhile, I'm getting little accomplished but puppy walking. Lucy does very well in her little jail all day (with a noontime outing) but in the evenings, we're having to take her out about every half hour. Thank goodness that spring has finally arrived here--makes all the walking enjoyable. And I'm wearing my pedometer!
Monday, April 23, 2007
And these. I'm definitely loving the Pyrex these days.
Two pairs of glass candlesticks
A 1970s book on tatting, a bag of scout badges, and a pile of old photos, including one taken in the Dakota Territory.
I also scored a new Judy Bolton to add to my collection.
I always thought Judy Bolton was far superior to Nancy Drew. More real. And the books are set in Potter County, Pennsylvania, near where I grew up. The best ones to find are those light green editions on the left. Except of course for the primo prize one with the original dustcover (Thanks Jane!)
Sunday's plans included a bath for Lucy.
Westies are like sponges--they hold a great deal of water. So a bath is a drenching experience for all. Fortunately Will was here to assist.
The Serendipity grows slowly. Three more big blocks remain to be put together.
It really gives a visual jolt to my sewing studio.
Very, very fun to play with.
But I'm extremely bummed that I'll miss this week's Seams get-together because I know there will be Serendipity S&T. Rats!
Inspiration: this fabulousness, made in one month. ONE MONTH!
Thursday, April 19, 2007
The big blocks and the baby ones are sewn; some of the surrounding triangles are being auditioned. Um... That yellow is zoomy enough isn't it? Actually, it's even zoomier than the camera conveys. Well, I had to pick a color and go with it. Might as well be a bright one. I'm pretty pleased with the look of the black and white check thrown into the mix. It recedes a bit and lets the kaleidoscopes do their thing.
I have some of the layered repeats left. I may need to discard some of the already made kaleidoscopes, cut more strips, and make new ones. Some of the kaleidoscopes, especially the small ones, have too much color and pattern. The most effective ones have a lot of negative space in them.
Here's another block-to-be, laid out and ready to be sewn. As you can see, some of the cartoony elements are showing but I've decided that's OK. With these colors and fabrics, I don't think there's any danger of this being mistaken for a children's quilt. Well, maybe sort of a Tim Burton children's quilt...
And after much vigilance and numerous trips outside with Lucy, we made it through one whole day with no puddles on the floor. OK. I know my mind is going mushy but this is feeling like a Major Accomplishment.
Here's Lucy and I on our noontime romp--I rush home and feed her and then we run all over the yard for about half an hour. The neighbors must be enjoying the show.
I just finished Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother.
Really enjoyed it. Haddon's first novel was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which has been highly recommended to me but which I haven't gotten around to reading yet. A Spot of Bother is the tale of a middle aged gentleman politely going insane while his life lies in tatters--his wife is having an affair, his daughter is about to embark on marriage #2 with an unsuitable man, and his son is struggling with his sexual orientation. A full plate. And our poor hero really doesn't handle it all terribly well.
Haddon does mental disarray very well.
The weekend is here! I'm going to be hitting an antique mall with a friend. Lately I've been thinking a lot about vintage Pyrex. I actually own some vintage Pyrex which was new when I received it as a wedding gift--but I've got the funkier colors on my mind...
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Two Serendipity blocks assembled. I'm still second-guessing my decision to go with a block as big as this. The center triangles were cut 6.25 inches. That's darn big for me.
My thinking was that a print as rangy as the one in the focus fabric--24 inch repeat--needed a bit of room to spread itself out. I hope that proves to be clear thinking.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
It's like having a new human baby in the house--everything revolves around the baby. That's how our lives have been in this last week. Feeding schedules, "outside" schedules. And lots and lots of paper towels and spray cleaner. I was optimistically thinking we'd make it through today without a puddle, but no such luck.
Much of the kitchen is cordoned off with a play yard for Lucy. (So much for decor.) It gives her some room to move around but restricts her territory because she's some time away from being ready for the run of the house.
Despite the attendant chaos, she is settling in very well. We've had lots of hugs. She seems to be able to amuse herself with her toys and doesn't do a lot of coaxing and whining. And we've been running her around outside lots and lots so that she's ready to settle down at bedtime and we've had no nighttime crying. Thank goodness.
And did I mention that our snow is nearly gone and it FEELS like spring?
I've been able to get in a bit of fiber time. I've made my Serendipity decisions, for better or for worse, and have gotten On With It. I finalized my choice of which quilt I was actually making, and I cut lots of triangles.
Today began the production sewing part of it all--chain piecing those triangles.
It feels so good to be sewing. I need to commit to doing just a bit every night, rather than just vegging, slack-jawed, on the couch.
And I've been knitting too. Ten repeats down on the Kimono Shawl--fifteen to go. This seems incredible to me--I'm more than 1/3 finished with it in just a bit more than one month. The first Kimono Shawl took me six months to make.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
We laughed about the 28 inches of snow we experienced in Upper Michigan last weekend. The universe laughed back and dumped on us--we got 7 inches of our own Wednesday--a beastly, stormy day. But a bit of good came out of it all--the library closed early and I got to come home and play with Lucy and with my Serendipity project.
Lucy is doing great. Lots of extreme silliness around here this week. Baby talk. Squeaky toys. Not normal adult behavior. But very fun.
Hope to hit the design wall with all this over the weekend. Need to get some decisions made.
Tazzie has tagged me as a Thinking Blog. How nice of her! That's a compliment I greatly appreciate, as thinking is something I like in a person or a blogger. It is, as they say, a Good Thing. In turn, here are five blogs that make me think.
Wish Jar Keri Smith lives the artful life and sees creative potential in everything from gum wrappers to paint sample chips. What does not inspire her is advertising and its all-pervasive tentacles. Her blog always gives the creative juices a kick start.
(And you can quote me--that surely is the most atrocious mixed metaphor of the week...)
Superhero Journal Andrea is a professional photographer, jewelry maker, and proud new mom. She runs with a fascinating group of San Francisco folk.
Fibermania Melody Johnson is outspoken enough to be fun and interesting any day of the week. I'm always inspired by the colorful quilts and paintings that seem to pour out of her.
Sonji Says Sonji Hunt is a member of the Milwaukee Art Quilters and the only blogger mentioned here that I know personally. Her creative approach adds layers of meaning to everything she does and her personality shines through every blog entry. She's just as much fun in person.
The Knitting Curmudgeon Marilyn has seen it all in the knitting world and has an opinion about everything. Ouch! The snarky comments from her readers are an important part of the whole package. I'm not brave enough to do any more than lurk.
Monday, April 09, 2007
After eleven months of thinking, talking, visiting breeders, and looking at some very bad Westies, we struck gold. Lucy is a beautiful puppy and we couldn't be more pleased. She comes to us from OakTree Kennels (if you click on this link, watch out for the music...) of Sarona, Wisconsin. Bonnie Lewis, the owner of OakTree, is most knowledgeable and caring and has wonderful dogs. Working with her has been a great experience throughout the entire process.
Lucy tolerated the five hour drive home very well. As in, napped most of the way home. That was just fine.
And as for home, chaos is reigning and probably will for some time. And thank God the weather is sunny here, if chilly. With no snow at all.
We had driven up to Ironwood, Michigan on Saturday to visit the inlaws. We had heard rumors of heavy snow up there in the Upper Peninsula and as we made our way north, it was obvious that the rumors were depressingly true.
This was the main street of Ironwood on Saturday afternoon, the day before Easter. Certainly puts you in the spring spirit, doesn't it? They were dealing with 28 inches of snow that had fallen the day before. Ironwood is located in a heavy snow belt just inland from Lake Superior and deals with huge snow all winter. To prolong it all into mid-April is just too cruel, but people in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are accustomed to it.
We checked off a lot of accomplishments on this short trip. Besides seeing the relatives and picking up Lucy, I was able to do some fabric shopping--spending my Viewer's Choice gift certificate from last fall at The Fabric Patch in Ironwood. I think I have found the rest of my Serendipity fabrics although I haven't had the first chance to play with them at all.
On the way to the Kennel yesterday, we were able to get together for lunch with my buddy Nancy F., who lives in a very remote area of northern Wisconsin and gets starved for quilty company. We talked--what else-- quilts and quilting. Poor Mr. Kathie must have felt a bit left out, but that's the life of the slack-jawed husband of a quilter.
As for me, it's probably time to head outside for another goofy puppy walk. Brace yourself for more pictures here. We all are very much Lucy-fied and I'll be hard-pressed to resist the impulse to post cute puppy photos.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Today was the long-awaited Serendipity Class. We spent a sunny but cold day at Diane's lakeside home in Lake Mills, with Judy H., who had agreed to mentor. She has taught these quilts in groups large and small and has a thorough understanding of the process as well as the pitfalls.
Judy brought one of her own quilts to inspire and Diane's cat Sadie immediately plopped herself down on it. Should this be a surprise to anyone?
Judy got us all oriented with the book, and reassured and held hands as we reached the point of no return--the actual cutting of the fabric.
Everyone brought a focus fabric and a few possibilities for coordinates.
We cut our yardage into repeats, stacked the repeats, matched reference points in each layer, and then cut strips, and finally triangles or diamonds from the strips (depending on the block style we had chosen for our individual quilts). Here's where the serendipity comes in: you don't know exactly what you'll get. It was really fun to mock up the resulting stars or kaleidoscopes.
And often, as in Diane's green star below, there is more than one option for orienting the pieces. Lots of opportunity for indecisiveness, which is usually my specialty.
Below, Sue W. auditions fabrics. She appears to be heading off in a good direction, no?
Some of the more industrious among us actually completed blocks. This one below is Renee's.
My completed pieces, below, are just components of blocks, as I haven't yet figured out my companion fabrics. I wanted these partial blocks to lead me where I need to go colorwise.
And the jury is still out on all that. I have lots of fabric auditioning to do.
We sewed until nearly 6 p.m., and then adjourned to the Blue Moon Cafe in Lake Mills for a glass of wine and dinner.
Very successful day! I got a good start on a new quilt and it may very well be just the first of my Serendipities. Once you play with the concept a bit, the possibilities are endless.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
It's April 4, it's 30 degrees F, the wind is howling, and the snow is blowing. I think some loony shoes are just what the doctor ordered, don't you?
Tomorrow is a vacation day for me. Some friends and I are meeting in Lake Mills, WI for a sewing day and we'll be working on Serendipity quilts, with Judy Hasheider aiding and abetting. I bought the focus fabric, book, and fancy ruler a few weeks ago and I'm ready to go. This looks to be hard core, heavy duty fussy cutting.
A full report will follow.
Monday, April 02, 2007
It was 1988. I was so new to quilting that I didn't realize there were rules to break, let alone that I was breaking any them. My total quilt output up to that time had been four polyester-y baby quilts, all tied.
I always had really liked the look of flat-felled seams. I liked the way they looked on oxford cloth shirts that had been laundered and shrunken up a bit--how the area around the stitching would puff up a bit. So that's how I quilted much of this quilt--with stitching on both sides of each seam, going through all those layers of fabric, and then another line of quilting 3/8" or so away on each side.
This was the sewing project that finally convinced me about the usefulness of thimbles. And is it any wonder??
Was this quilt any less loved because the pattern shouldn't have been sashed? Not for one minute. And the quilting? It looks like an over-enthusiastic first-timer's work but it got finished in plenty of time time for that Christmas. And I still like the look of the quilting even though I would NEVER do this again.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Note the Bette Midler poster. I think the album with that cover art may be around here somewhere...
I've seen a few of these color-coordinated book shelves on Flickr. A fun look, but not to my educated-by-nuns librarian taste.
I was getting a deja vu feeling, and it sent me scurrying to my own bookcase and to the library to take another look at a group of books that were very high on my radar thirty years ago.
Back in the 70s, Jeffrey Wise did a series of very similar little books with a similar young, unpretentious, and stylish vibe, and they were huge favorites of mine back in the day. The written part might as well have been in Japanese--the writing was forgettable and poorly researched (Among other gaffes,Wise made reference to early 19th century quilts as Crazy Quilts).
But it was the pictures I loved--home dec eye candy. They were also glimpses into lives, showing families re-imagining spaces and furnishings--much like the Jeu de Paume books are now.
I spent some time going through these Jeffrey Wise books--Made with Oak, Good Lives, Country Living, Great Kitchens, and Great Bathrooms.
There are design elements that have held up well, and as you'd expect, there are others that seem plenty tired or just sadly misguided. One bathroom had gone the Bicentennial route, with a shower that looked like a spaceship. Someone should definitely have stopped those people.
The biggest and most pervasive change between then and now seems to be in the use of lighter finishes and an allover lighter hand with wood today. Many of the 70s rooms were chock full of dark wood--cabinetry, wall paneling, ceilings. That looks almost oppressive to today's eyes. Then there are the 70s kitchen appliances in colors that are more often seen today at the curb on heavy trash pickup day!
Most of the homes have lots of stuff--the hanging baskets overhead, the hanging plants. A few of the 70s rooms are pointing toward country kitsch, but not as many as you'd expect. These were people with some taste.
Here are some blasts from the past:
Would you believe we have one of these? I married the son of an antique dealer!
Lots of wood; lots of hanging plants.
I still love the look of the oak dresser, complete with lacy dresser scarf, in this kitchen.
What I have kept from "back in the day": my love for antiques, handcrafts, and china; my Arabia Anemone china (loved just as much today as when it was purchased in the spring of 1973 even though my mother referred to it as "those restaurant dishes of yours").
What have you kept?
Later edit: I'm told some readers are having difficulties with the pictures in this post. I've redone the entire post twice. I think the problem is Blogger's. So sorry...