May 6, 2017: Updates; Quilt shows and judging!

Greetings!  Warning! This post is word intensive, but I’ll start with a few pictures showing my progress this week.  I added to the silk star quilt:

It’s looking better bigger.  Also, a reader mentioned a preference for not adding circles in the centers of the stars as I’d mentioned last time I was considering.   I’ve also been questioning this – simpler may be better.   I want to see the quilt bigger first so will keep making stars for now.  I am also adding the interfacing to the backs of the blocks one by one which takes some time as I have to carefully remove the paper first.

In the design wall pic above you can also see that I have finished the middle of the Amish doll quilt:

I will add a narrow red border and a wider black border with red corners.  Its current size is 13 X13 inches.

And here is Stardust on my dining room table spread for the marking of another fan.  I am now just more than half way finished with the fans – 29 1/2 out of 56!

I added the hanging sleeve to the Japanese quilt and here it is laid out on one of our guest beds:

Working on the quilt has prompted thoughts of quilt shows and judging because it has been accepted into the Vermont show and will be judged.  The mostly heavier authentic Japanese fabrics made hand quilting harder and my stitches are bigger and more uneven than usual.  Because of my knee and arm injuries, I was physically unable to block and straighten the edges of this quilt so there are some waves when it hangs.  They aren’t too bad, but are sure to be noted by the judges.  I’m OK with that because I don’t make quilts for show and don’t expect awards.  Any awards are icing on the cake, so to speak.  I enjoy the process and enjoy sharing my work.

I wonder sometimes if the major quilt shows have become more like beauty pageants with one standard of beauty that is difficult for the majority of quilters to approach.  Right now heavily and intricately machine quilted quilts seem to have the spotlight.  These are beautiful, but many of us are not aiming to make those kinds of quilts.   I’ve been thinking of some new categories that might make shows more welcoming to the rest of us.

There could be an award for a technically imperfect quilt, but one that has a lot of “soul”.  It could be called the “Wabi Sabi Award.”

How about a “Comfort and Beauty Award” for the best hand quilted quilt in a traditional style that is meant to be used to snuggle under – could be bed or lap sized.  The quilt could have (but doesn’t have to have) “big stitch” for the quilting.  A lot of people are using “big stitch” quilting but don’t feel these are good enough to enter shows.  Even tied quilts could be considered.

I like the idea of a “World Textiles Use Award” for best use of ethnic fabrics and textiles from around the world.  The quilts could incorporate other textiles like lace, ethnic embroidery, etc. in addition to using ethnic fabrics.

How about an “Heirloom Quilt Award” which honors traditional hand quilting and excellent overall craftsmanship and design.  (Thankfully, some shows do give awards for best hand work, but seems to me there are far fewer categories in which hand work is honored.)

I’m sure there are others, but that’s what I’ve come up with so far.  I’d love to hear other ideas from readers!

On a more serious note, my pet peeve is a judging system that awards points for overall design to a maker who has used someone else’s design.  This just isn’t right.  Design points or credit can be given for choice of colors and fabrics and overall visual impact for those quilts, but not for the overall design itself.    The design category should be broken down into parts – overall impact, use of color, use of fabrics, etc. and give credit for those, but there should be some points in this category that are given for the overall design and only given to those who designed their quilt themselves.  I generally feel that Best of Show quilts should reward original design.

I’ve been going through a stack of old magazines – time to get rid of these and rip out only what I think I might use in the future.  And I am being RUTHLESS and saving very little.  It’s fun to see the featured quilters and projects of the past and contemplate how things have changed.   A lot of quilters who were well known have dropped out of sight – are they still alive and, if so, are they still quilting?  Do they lose interest as they age or do they become physically unable to do it?  I’d like to see some info on this topic.  Meanwhile,  I came across an article in which Mary Mashuta (a big name from the past!) wrote her thoughts about judging and I would like to end this post with a quote from her which sums up my feelings:

“Along the way, I have won some ribbons, though some of my personal favorites have never won awards…Visual impact is most important….When you win a prize, rejoice, but when you don’t win, don’t let that stop you from sharing your work…Even if you never win a prize, sharing your work is what is really important.  The judges may pass it by, but there will be viewers who notice it and enjoy what you’ve done.  It may offer color or design solutions to other quilters or just encourage them to keep trying with their own work.  And, best of all, you know what you’ve learned by creating the work and only you can be the judge of that.”

I might add that, unless making competition quilts is your thing,  it is important to make quilts for yourself, that you enjoy the process and that the design and colors you use are enjoyed by YOU!

By the way, the PT on my knee is going well and I am gradually getting back to where I want to be though it’s still going to be a while.

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

 

April 28, 2017: On a roll with the silk quilt!

Greetings!  In addition to hand quilting Stardust, I am “on a roll” with the silk quilt.  When my injury occurred, I had 4 blocks done and now I have 16 done!  I put some more light to my design wall so you can see how the silks shimmer in the light (click to enlarge!):

Now is when the fun begins!  I love making a quilt without knowing how it is going to look before I start and making decisions as I go along as I “let the quilt speak to me.”  To me it is a lot more fun than having everything all planned out in advance.  At this point with the silk quilt, I need to make a major decision about how big I want it to be.  It is probably not going to be a bed quilt as it would likely be impractical because it’s silk.  How big a wall quilt should it be?  Right now I have 16 blocks arranged in a 4 X 4 set.  Each block is 8 inches square so this is 32 X 32 inches.  I think it is too small and will make it at least 6 blocks X 6 blocks so, for now, I know I need to make another 20 blocks.  After that I’ll see how it looks and assess whether to make it bigger, square, rectangle, etc.  I am also planning embellishments and am looking at putting circles in the centers of the stars.  What size?  Here is a picture with the stars in the upper left with smaller circles and the ones in the upper right with larger ones (pinned on).  Which looks better?

I’m leaning toward the smaller ones because I think I will add some embroidery in the centers as well, but I don’t need to decide just yet – plenty of time to think about it.  I think I will be embroidering something – tiny stars? – between the stars as well.  Also will eventually need to decide whether to add a border – probably will because I love borders! – and what that will be.  For me all these decisions are part of the “play” and “creativity” of making quilts, which I love.

Reading recommendations:

In the past month I have finished 3 books.  One is “Daniel Deronda”, a 700 page “classic” by George Eliot, which I enjoyed very much although it is certain to not be everyone’s cup of tea.  I loved the wonderful use of language and the traditional story.  It also made me think a lot about the changed role of women – the book was published in 1876.  If you like 19th century classic literature, you would probably enjoy this book.  The other 2 books are:

Lara is about the relationship between the great Russian poet and novelist Boris Pasternak and his mistress, Olga, who was his muse and model for the character Lara in the novel Dr. Zhivago. This was a good look at the repression that occurred in Soviet society during the years of Stalin and into the 1960’s and its influence on writers and artists.  Very interesting!  “Homegoing” is excellent!  It’s about the lives of and descendants of 2 half sisters born in the 1700’s in what is now Ghana on the western coast of Africa.  One of the sisters is captured and sent on a slave ship to America and the other stays.  There are wonderful stories of descendents on both sides all the way into the 20th century.  So well written; so much to think about – slavery and the slave trade, the inter tribal warfare in that part of Africa, life for blacks after the Civil War and up to the civil rights movement; life in Africa, etc.; good historical fiction – highly recommended!

I’m still enjoying spring.  Azalea in bloom:

these tiny maple leaves are 1 inch!

As I prep my quilt for the Vermont Quilt Festival, I have been thinking about the topic of quilt shows and “judging” again.  I know I ranted a bit (gently!) the last 2 years after each Vermont show because I missed a blue ribbon each year by one point!   Next post I’ll share some of my recent thoughts (not ranting and maybe a little humorous!!) so stay tuned!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

April 22, 2017: A finish!; Back to the machine and my silk quilt; projects’ progress

Greetings!  The first thing I did as soon as I could use my sewing machine again was put the binding on “Spirit of Japan #3:  Kuruma”.  This quilt is finished (except for a hanging sleeve and label).  It has been accepted into the Vermont Quilt Festival where it will show for the first time in June.  Yay!  Since I don’t have the hanging sleeve on yet, here she is on the kitchen floor (click on any pics for enlargements):

I’m happy with how this came out!  This is a situation in which I finished “Spirt of Japan#4: Many Moons” before I finished #3.  That apparently used to happen with symphonies – famous composers would get bogged down with a symphony and go on to the next one and finish it before coming back to the earlier one.  In case you are new to my blog, here is #4 which I finished last year, now hanging in my entryway:

You can go to my web site (gladiquilts.net) to see #1 and #2 in the series.  I’m waiting for inspiration to strike before starting #5!!

Also, since liberated to use my machine, the silk quilt has surfaced and I’m making progress.  I paper piece smaller “units”:

4 units are sewn together to make a “block””

I am making 4 blocks at a time, but not sewing them together yet as I want to embellish them before I sew the pieces together – much easier to embellish is smaller units.  Here’s what I have so far:

And here is my design wall right now:

I have 7 of the  9 units of “Sunshine and Shadow” hand sewn via EPP technique and you can really see better how it’s going to look now, though I do plan to add borders:

I sewed the borders onto “Inner City” and it’s now ready for layering and hand quilting though doubt I’ll do that before the summer:

In the hoop (with 22 of the 56 Baptist fans via hand quilting completed):

I am enjoying spring – crocuses are up and I love looking at the lacy patterns tree branches make against the sky as the buds and leaves start to come out:

Love this quote that I saw somewhere on line recently, “Having a thing is not as satisfying as making a thing.”

I’ve always been a “maker.”  When I was a child I loved making paper dolls and clothes for them – I filled shoe boxes!!  Then I discovered sewing and making clothes at about age 12 and all through adolescence sewed clothes, knit, and did embroidery.  After a long hiatus during which I went to med school, worked and raised a family and didn’t sew, I got back to needlework when I turned 40 with cross stitching and then 4 years later tried and fell in love with quilting.   Now, 24 years after that, I can’t imagine life without “making” and I hope that I can continue to be creative and inventive in making quilts and can continue to discover new techniques and designs that inspire me for a long time to come!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

 

 

April 11, 2017: Good news!; “Sunshine and Shadows”; “Stardust” taking on texture

Greetings!  Good news from my orthopedic visit today!  My bones are healing well and my recovery is on target.  I don’t have to wear the leg brace around the house most of the time, however, I still need it for stability when I am “out and about” (especially for stairs) for one more month.  The brace was adjusted so that I can now bend my leg when I am walking or sitting – what a difference that makes!  It’s much more comfortable and I don’t look like Frankenstein when I’m walking!  I can now drive!  I can swim!  I can start using the sewing machine!  I start rehab on my leg the day after tomorrow and I have completed rehab on my elbow.  It’s all good and I’m very excited to start to get my “normal” life back over the next several weeks.  I do have to be careful not to overdo it.  The orthopedist warned me that the next month is the most dangerous time for re-injury while my leg is still not strong.   So I will continue to be cautious.

Meanwhile, I have been hand quilting Stardust, trying to get ahead of schedule because it is a large, heavy quilt and I won’t want it on my lap when it’s hot over the summer.  I have 16 of the 56 fans completed.  I love how the quilt is “taking on texture” with the hand quilting (click on the pictures for closeups):

I completed sewing together all the hexagons for my “Inner City” doll quilt and appliquéd it to a background fabric, which I then cut away from behind the center (this picture is before the appliqué was done and it’s just pinned to the background):

I removed the papers from the outer hexagons of all the rows before doing the appliqué and then removed the rest of the papers after cutting away the background fabric.  I am going to add a border.  The following picture shows strips of the fabric I’m going to use pinned up on 2 borders:

I hope to have the “Inner City” top done soon and will add it, along with this year’s first doll quilt, to the pile of hand quilting to be done!

And here is my progress on the third doll quilt for this year:

The center squares are all sewn together in 3 pieces (and you can see some squares below that are not done yet.  In my last post I called this a “Trip Around the World” but wasn’t sure if that was right.  I did some research and this pattern is more properly called “Sunshine and Shadows.”  They are very similar, but, according to one of my books on Amish quilts, this pattern when made of solids is called “Sunshine and Shadows” and when made using printed fabrics, it is “Trip Around the World.”  Obviously the “theme” of my doll quilts this year is English Paper Piecing as all three of them use this technique.  It’s been good to do while I’ve been so limited in ability to move around.  I’m really looking forward to getting back to using the sewing machine!  That means I can put the binding on my Spirit of Japan quilt and get back to the silk stars – yay!

And so very happy to be able to start driving again!  Al has been fantastic about taking me wherever I need to go, but I missed the independence that driving affords and felt the limits that not being able to drive imposes more than anything else with my injuries.

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

April 3, 2017: A lot of hand stitching!; Orchids in Thailand

Greetings!  8 days from now I have my orthopedic follow up visit and will find out if I can stop wearing the brace on my right leg.   The brace not only prevents me from driving, but also prevents me from using my sewing machine except on a very limited basis for a few minutes at a time.  So for 2 months I have focused on hand stitching and am really enjoying it.  I hadn’t meant to spend this part of the year on my yearly “Trio of Doll Quilts” but after fussy cutting and hand stitching several hexagons for doll quilt #1, I have continued for the entire trio.  I recently put the border on the first one, mitering the corners.  Here it is (click on pics for enlargements/closeups):

Then I started experimenting with making half hexagons for an “inner city” pattern I’ve always admired for the second doll quilt and here is what I have sewn together so far:

I’m finding the stitching of these hexagons to be very easy and relaxing!  So, since my last post, I decided to continue using EPP for this year’s third doll quilt.  It will be an Amish style “trip around the world” pattern.  I am using EPP to put the one inch squares together.  I know some will consider this crazy, i.e. using this method instead of just a simple running stitch to put squares together, but I am liking it and liking the result so far.  Here is the center:

This is 5 inches square – the center, before borders, will be 13 inches square.  Of course, I will hand quilt all 3 doll quilts when the tops are complete.

And speaking of hand quilting, I have completed 11 1/2 of 56 1/2 Baptist fans on “Stardust.”

I have never really kept track of how much time it takes me to make a quilt, but just for fun I decided to time how long it takes me to hand quilt one of these fans.  I mark each fan separately as I go and load about 14 needles of thread for each fan.  Including the time for that, it takes just over 3 hours per fan.   That means  I’ll spend approximately 160 hours just for the fans, not counting the borders.  And, of course, that doesn’t include piecing all the stars and appliquéing the borders and sewing all the pieces together!  All of that would add hundreds more hours to the total!  Any quilt like this one, especially when hand quilted, is truly a labor of love.  The appraised value will probably never reflect the value of all those hours spent!!

I do love the hand stitching and do a lot of thinking during that time, or I listen to music and relax.  I plan projects and make designs in my head.  I think about life in general and how best to live it.  I pay attention to my “inside life.”  Here is a quote from Jeanette Winterson that I saw on Judy Martin’s blog recently that I really like:

“Life has an inside as well as an outside.  Consumer culture directs all resources and attention to life on the outside.  What happens to the inner life?  Art is never a luxury because it stimulates and responds to the inner life.  We are badly out of balance.  I don’t think of art/creativity as a substitute for anything else.  I see it as a powerful expression of our humanity – and on the side of humanity under threat.  If we say art is a luxury, we might as well say that being human is a luxury.”

I’ll end this post today with several pictures of orchids I took when we visited an orchid farm in Thailand.  These are gorgeous!!!  Please click on the pics to enlarge them so you can really enjoy the beauty of the flowers:

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi

March 26, 2017: “Inner City” and “Stardust” progress; Thailand pictures – Sukhothai

Greetings!  My week in quilting was spent hand quilting fans for Stardust and completing the basic blocks for my little “Inner City” experiment.  For Stardust, I now know that each row of Baptist fans will have 7 1/2 of them and since the quilt is square, I’ll need 7 1/2 horizontal rows of fans to cover the center of the quilt.  (7.5 x 7.5 = 56 1/4 fans total)  Now I can figure out a pace at which I need to make these – plus time for the border – in order to finish for the Cocheco show in October and can easily determine if I am on time, ahead of schedule, or behind.  This is very helpful when one is trying to meet a deadline!!!  I have 7 fans completed – almost done with the first row and that took 2 weeks.  I should easily finish at this pace, but one never knows what barriers life might throw out there!!!  Best to try to get ahead, if possible!

I regularly read the blog “Judy’s Journal” by art quilter Judy Martin.  Recently she shared several quotes from artists featured in Martha Seligman’s new book “Art Quilts International: Abstract and Geometric.”  I particularly liked this one on hand quilting by Daphne Taylor:  “All my quilts are hand quilted.  Hand quilting is essential to me because it gives the fabric surface the mark of the hand, a human presence that cannot easily be achieved by machine.  The process slows one down and teaches one much about being in the moment with each thread and stitch… Hand quilting is its own meditation, which I value.”

Judy also quotes Kathy Loomis who says she feels that since there are fewer and fewer quilt artists working with elaborate piecing she almost feels a moral obligation to keep doing it.  That’s how I feel about hand quilting!!

I completed the EPP pieces for the center of my “Inner City” little, or “doll” quilt.  I stitched together 3 hexagons for each piece and then arranged them as in the picture:

Next step is to sew all the sections together.  I haven’t been able to find any tutorials or info on line about what order in which to do this so will just do what seems logical and see how it goes. I will likely appliqué this to strips of fabric on each of the 4 sides and add a border after that.  I can see where it would be fun to try this pattern is a variety of fabrics and not just stick to 3 – hope I can try that in the not too distant future if I don’t have too many headaches sewing this all together!

Another textile artist I discovered recently through Pinterest is Rachel Wright from England.  She calls herself an “embroidered textile artist” and creates extraordinary landscape and wildlife pieces with combinations of hand and machine embroidery.  Her use of color is wonderful and the skies in her work are unique and amazing.  I particularly love her succinct statement of the purpose of her work which mirrors my own feeling about mine:  “My aim is simply to delight the eye.”  I don’t have her web address handy, but google her name and check out her work!

I’m getting close to the end of sharing my Thailand pictures, but have a few more to go.  Today I will share pictures of Sukhothai Historical Park, the remains of the capital of the Sukhothai kingdom from the 13th and 14th centuries.  Amazing structures!!!  Click on pics to enlarge them for the details.  We were lucky to see some very young children chanting a blessing to one of the very large Buddhas – see me next to the hand to get a sense of the scale!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

March 20, 2017: Happy Spring! Project updates; family and friends time

Greetings!  Even though there is a fair amount of snow on the ground here, I am happy to welcome spring today!  Looking forward to nicer weather and improving health so that I can be outdoors when it does warm up.  I spend 2+ hours per day on elbow exercises/treatment and  there has been gradual improvement.  Time line for knee recovery is slower because it is a weight bearing joint so patience continues to be necessary for now.

After my last post, I thought more about the red background for my doll quilt and wasn’t sure.  I moved the hexies back onto the cheddar background and still wasn’t sure.  On a whim, I pulled several pink fabrics from my stash and was amazed to find that I loved the look of the salmon colored one:

I now have 8 of the 12 hexies  sewn to the background.  I love the color and am glad to have something different from my other doll quilts.  And here is the center set out on top of the fabric I have chosen for the border (click on pic to enlarge):

I’m very happy with how nicely the border fabric goes with the background fabric and enhances the overall look!

I’ve always wanted to try the “inner city” design for EPP with hexagons and figured since I am extremely limited in any machine quilting I can do right now, this would be fun to try.  After studying pictures of the design, I realized I need  hexagons divided in half into two colors, I need 3 fabrics in light, medium, and dark shades, and that I can make the hexagons using strips of each of the fabrics sewn together 2 at a time.  Here are the 3 strips – red and blue, red and tan, and tan and blue:

I mark the hexagons (freezer paper) in half and iron them so the marked line falls exactly on the seam.  I then use my Ardco template to mark the 1/4 seam around the outside and cut out the hexagons:

After ironing over the edges, they are arranged as below:

Voila!  I now need to decide if this is the color quilt I want to make – probably a doll quilt as I don’t think I’m ready to make a commitment to doing a large “inner city” quilt just yet.  Trying this design has been on my list of things to do for a long time so it feels good to get started!

I am working steadily on hand quilting Stardust, but there’s a limit to how much time I like to hand quilt every day so it’s going to take quite a while!  I am working on the 4th “fan.”  I am estimating that there will be around 50 – 55 quilted fans needed to cover the entire quilt, plus the border which will be quoted differently (either Echo or some type of straight lines)!  I’ve also started to outline the vines and leaves in the border so I will have only the background left after the fans are done.  Goal – finish by early October.  Hope this is realistic, but it’s a heavy quilt and summer is coming….

A reader asked how I am marking my fans.  Since I wanted a 10 inch fan, quilted every half inch, I cut ten individual templates in one inch increments from 1 to 10 inches in size out of quilters template plastic:

Then I use them to mark lines and I fill in the extra half inch lines in between afterward, mostly eyeballing the correct location for those.  The point of each fan starts at the end of the fan before and the template can pivot at the point to cover the part of the fan that extends beyond 90 degrees.

I hope my explanation makes sense!  These templates are reusable for future projects.  I know there are other ways to mark Baptist fans; one can “google” this and see videos for other methods.  There’s no right or wrong – whatever works for you!

I had a birthday last week and was lucky to have friends and family with whom to share it.  My daughter, grandkids, and their friend Abigail visited over the weekend to celebrate; the kids had a great time outside making a tunnel in the deep snow and making a snowman.  Wasn’t it just yesterday my own kids were doing this and not long before that that I was?!!!

Our good friends Craig and Liz brought their new granddaughter to introduce us to her!  Here’s Liz, reveling in her new role followed by Al enjoying holding the baby:

Al gave me a “singing drum”!  This is a beautiful musical instrument -percussion – that produces gorgeous oriental sounding notes and literally sounds lovely no matter what notes you hit:

This is great for experimenting with sounds, meditating, etc.  If you are interested in learning more about this, check out the “Vermont Singing Drum” web site.  Not only do I now have this instrument, in addition to my accordion, to play with, but Liz has lent me her alto recorder to play around with and see if I’m interested in learning to play.  Lots to do!!!

I will save the next batch of pictures from Thailand for the next post.  Happy spring to everyone!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi