It feels like a slow year for creativity

I’m still busy creating, but it just feels a little slower this year. That is ok, as long as my hands aren’t idle.

I have been very slowly knitting a pair of socks.I bought the yarn during the LA Yarn crawl. That was back in early April.

I’m beginning to feel twinges in my elbow, so I’ve slowed down, I don’t knit every night. I have signed up to test bag patterns by Sew Sweetness. I can’t share the final product until the pattern goes public. But I will be using this clasp. A first for me, luckily other testers are sharing good advice.

Then there are the quilts in the wild. It makes perfect sense that working with tiles is similar to working with basic squares and triangles. These decorate an outdoor shopping mall. I wonder how many people pay attention to them.  I will probably used them as quilt designs at some point.

Look what I found for donkey saddle bag. A Camel! How perfect is this?? I know, he doesn’t have any hump, so how do I know he is a camel and not a donkey? Look at the feet, a donkey has hooves, similar to a horse. A camel has big flat feet with large seperated toes, makes it easier to walk along the hot shifting sand.

Love both the camel and his saddle bag, and yes, people are welcome to sit on this.

Leah

Quilting as craft, not art.

I know, everyone feels that being an artist is so much better than a simple crafter. That may have been true in the past, but these days, when everyone is an artist – no one is.

I’ve been thinking a lot about quilting. As a craft form it was all about copying and adapting patterns. From Ecclesiastes comes the famous phrase, there is nothing new under the sun. It’s true, which is one of my problems with modern art- if it isn’t ‘new’ it isn’t art.I saw an image of a quilt, I liked it and I set out to both copy and create some new blocks as I go along. Creating new blocks simply means using a very similar pattern and just changing the color placement.  Problem is, I’m not sure I have enough of the khaki background, so I bought some pale yellow and am remaking the blocks. What intrigued me is the chain of blocks that created an interesting sashing. My first attempt with the dark triangles just made everything too busy.Wait! I have that khaki fabric that will be perfect, a very subtle contrast. I’m using all kinds of rulers here, my collection is growing.Now I’m happy. I’m following existing patterns, I’m adapting as I go. It’s not art, it is a beautiful craft and someone will love staying warm under this.My son in law has made this baby blanket. The block is called the January Block. It was designed by Liz Harvatine a few years ago as a block of the month for The LAMQG. This one really caught on and many people have made it. I love how graphic and bold this is. In comparison, look at mine from a few years ago.This just proves my point. Take a pattern, let two people make it and see what happens. Two very very different quilts.  And this is why I love quilting.

Leah

Start-itis

I can’t settle on one quilting project, which is unusual for me.  As you know, I’ve really been enjoying applique and want to start a larger project.Look at this owl! Yes it is embroidery, from the book Crewel Creatures. I bought the book specifically for this pattern, I will applique it, although you never know, there may be some embroidery involved as well.I must have gotten this kit in some giveaway. Perfect! Let me work on this with my appliquick tools.There is a reason why we have so many different marking pencils. The white ceramic pencil is perfect on the black. My  Daylight lightbox is also a God send. I bought mine a few years ago, the price has really dropped! Go grab one.I can see why someone gave away this kit, it’s a lot of fiddly little pieces. I’m fine with that, but most people aren’t.For the stems I am using the smallest of these applique rulers, 1/8″, it really works!I’m also working on a pieced quilt. Having fun using my rulers to get accuracy.  These blocks are 9″, I’m working off a quilt pattern, but I’m reverse engineering. Which is what quilters have always done, see patterns they like and figure it out. This won’t be a wall hanging, well, actually, maybe it will. I’m thinking of making a full-size lap quilt and I”m not sure I have enough of the background fabric, so these blocks are practice and may end up in a smaller project.Remember my trip to Michael Levines? I gave a private tour downtown on Saturday, it started at noon, so I dashed into the store before my tour. So the lightest fabric in my pile is the only one I payed full price for. All the others are from the remnant table. This is the first time I’ve seen solids on their remnant site.  They also had each costumer pull out a card at the register, I got an additional 15% off. My whole haul was $80….I labeled my Double Wedding Ring quilt.And shared it at Valley Modern Quilt guild.

 

Leah

Blue and white, done!

In honor of Israel’s 70th birthday, I finished my blue and white quilt.This is the quilt with all the white areas quilted.I switched to a blue thread and quilted the rings, in the checkerboard, you can see the details, otherwise I just stitched in the ditch to emphasize the segments. Then I carefully cut out the scallop. A friend gave me the formula to measure and cut bias tape from a square of fabric. It involves using the square root function on a calculator. My phone doesn’t have that function but I do have an old-fashioned calculator that does. Needless to say, I don’t remember how to do this with pencil and paper.I sewed on the bias tape, then I clipped into each corner, I learned this from watching videos on Youtube.Sitting outside in our glorious weather hand sewing the binding down.When I come to a stopping point, I use my lovely needle minder so it is easy to find where to pick up next.Finished and up for photography, I may have to do this again later in the day so I don’t get so much light and shadow.I flipped the quilt, this is better, but I may yet try for different light.I found this fabric deeply discounted at Quilt Emporium. Perfect match. Just a few closeup shots. Then some artistic shots. I still need to make a label, since this is a special quilt for me, I will probably hand embroider one and I think it will reference Israel’s 70th birthday. Then I might even take this out for some artistic shots in the wild.

Leah

On to quilting the Double Wedding Ring

Quilting is an adventure, I sort of decide on the fly how I’m going to quilt, but first,  let’s baste.Thank Goodness I have a lot of outdoor space. Spray basting with pool noodles. The method isn’t perfect, I tend to get some foldover and creases on the back. I don’t care, I’m not a machine.Next step is securing the quilt. I learned this method from a Craftsy class. Using my walking foot and monofilament I sew a grid. This way I know everything is secure and I can start quilting where ever I want. I can also jump around without concern.You can see the outline of the arcs, as a quilter, some of you will see how I will end up with some folded over fabric on the back. As I said before, Oh well, so I won’t be winning any ribbons.Then I switched to a regular quilting foot, and with the monofilament, I outlined all the applique.  I’m not a big fan of monofilament, but it does serve a purpose of really being invisible. Next, I switched to white Aurifil and quilted shadows around the birds. For the white segments, I chose a simple quarter inch border with pearls.

Then the trouble started.Next, with free-motion I quilted the centers. I did at least 15 of them and yet I wasn’t happy.  At one of my guild meetings, someone came up to me and said how much they liked my quilting. It relates to the quilt, it highlights the piecing. So many people send their quilts to a longarmer and have an overall pattern applied. I understand this, money is an issue. But that tends to flatten the quilt, not flatter it.

I’m sharing a close-up, where this all looks fine. But as I stepped away, I realized that I don’t like the center quilting. It did nothing for the quilt, it was very meh.So I tried another design, You probably can’t tell but I did some ruler work here.  I wanted something denser than what I had before. I have discovered, that as much as I like the Frixon pens, they don’t iron out as well as I’d like. So a minimal mark with a water-soluble pen works much better.Yup, I went back and pulled out all of that quilting. It was a lot of work, I can hear some of you saying, but why, it didn’t look all that bad!  I have worked very hard on this quilt, I want to love it, not just like it. In this case, time isn’t money. Time is my creativity and it is worth it to me to have an end product that I love.Even in the bright light, the effect of the new pattern is so much better.In low light, you can really see the quilting.  You can also see the imprint of the quilting I removed.  After removing it, I sprayed those blocks with water and that will help remove some of the imprints. Then, the new design gets quilted over it and you can’t tell. I will wash this quilt and a lot of imperfections will disappear.

Quilting for me is a journey, not a race. I’m not looking for perfection, but I do want to love the final product, for me, it’s worth my time to unpick, stitch by stitch and quilt again to get something I love.

Leah

Getting serious about appliqué

I’m starting to think about a full applique quilt, maybe something along the lines of a Baltimore Album quilt, but not using the old fashioned templates, something new, but I’m not sure exactly what yet.

So, first off I need to try out more tools.Karen Kay Buckley has come out with a simple tool called perfect seams.  These little plastic templates help make a perfect tubes, from 1/2″ to 1/8″.

It’s simple, cut the fabric on the bias, sew wrong sides together into a tube, using a zipper foot, as I sew, I keep moving these templates down and finally out.Trim the sewn edge, iron down and start appliqueing.I have here the 1/2″, 2/8″ and 1/8″. The narrower the tube, the easier it is to get tight curves. I sewing with silk thread, strong and almost invisible. I sew by hand, for me, applique is hand work.I twisted these freely as I sewed.  Knowing me, I probably won’t use the 1/2″ much.

Then I decided to embellish with more Appliquick shapes. Don’t look at these for color schemes, I’m using us scraps I have on hand.

I could just keep going, but I think I’ll stop here. I had a $10 gift certificate from Candy’s Quiltworks. So I bought some more boy fabric and made another pillowcase.  This is for foster kids, they always need pillowcases to give the kids and girls themes are more plentiful than boys. So whenever possible, I’m making pillowcases for boys.

Leah

Busy week

First of all, I want to share the quilts of Valor that Ruth, Irene and I made.We worked off the same pattern Storm at Sea. You can see how color placement changes everything. This is one of those things I love so much about quilting. Our fabric choices and placement make all the difference.My quilt.Irene’s’ quilt, she is hiding behind the quilt, that is Ruth peaking out.Ruth’s quilt. She worked with a design program (not EQ) and came up with this stunning version.  So now, we are mailing them off and since there is always a waiting list for quilts for veterans, I’m sure they will find good homes very soon.It’s springtime, which means spring break. So the cousins went to Griffith Park to ride the ponies.Then there was the train ride, no pictures.Shira does love being a big cousin.

Passover started this week, I was very busy cooking. Thursday night we went out to have our last meal with bread for the week.Beer is liquid bread.Any healthy eating habits go out the window on Passover. This is a must, Maztah with peanut butter and Israeli chocolate spread. When my kids were little, they took sandwhiches with this spread to school. These days it’s a once a year treat.Eyal had a good time as well, he tried the matzah, what he really liked was the chopped liver.

Leah

New project, a classic

I find myself wanting to make some classic quilt patterns. The Double Wedding ring is one such pattern. A lot of small pieces and curves. So a few years ago I bought these templates.Darlene Zimmerman created these templates. Two issue, One has to cut the pieces out by hand, some with a rotary cutter, but those small segments that make up the melons would are a hassle no matter what.

So I put the project aside, a few months ago I started collected blue and white fabrics to add to my stash. This was the color combination I chose.Then I went ahead and ordered the dies for the Accuquilt Go. I bought this exactly this purpose, to so why not get these dies and make my life easier. Another great thing about the dies, those little notches that mark the centers of the pieces, a real life saver.

With the EZ dies I’d have seven segments on the melon shapes. This makes sense since the pattern was created in the late 1920’s and was very popular in the 1930’s when Fead Sack fabrics with their tiny prints were popular.

The Accuquilt die only has five segments.I’m using modern and reproduction fabrics, the larger segments allows for more of the prints to be visible.Having a design wall upstairs means more exercise for me.  First attempt, don’t like the prints in the center, bring out the seam ripper.Much better! It may be hard to see here, but I am using white on white prints which hopefully will add depth and texture. There is nothing modern about this except for some of the prints.I’m trying to add some interest, can you see the ring that is made only out of the lighter fabrics? Probably not.Now it’s easier to see, but once the quilt is finished, it won’t be that apparent. I’m leaving this one as is. I will probably add a few more light rings but will make the inner segments light as well. I’m having fun playing around.

All in all, this is a very classic blue and white DWR quilt, classic and traditional are good.

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Leah

Finishing quilts

I finished one quilt before my trip and one after.First of all, I LOVE wool batting! The quilt moved smoothly, I did a lot of ruler work and didn’t have problems. I don’t remember why I took this picture with the seam ripper. I think it’s just to show scale because I didn’t rip things out.In the close-ups, you can see a combination of ruler work and free motion quilting. My favorite, using both.On the solid back is where you really see the two styles of quilting.  I also had the pleasure of switching out thread color. I have mentioned that these are not my favorite colors, and yet, I am thrilled with the result. I think this quilt is stunning, I just need to figure out who will get it. Yes, this going to the gift pile. I can’t keep every quilt I make. I can already see the comments: pick me! pick me!  We shall see.I shared this quilt at one of my guilds. Someone came up to me with an interesting comment. A lot of people love to make tops and then they ‘quilt by check’ – give it to a longarmer to quilt. The cheapest option is an all over design. This woman said that she really appreciates how I matched the quilting to the design and therefore it really pops. I couldn’t agree more. All over quilting flattens a quilt, more on that later.I like my style of designing a quilt, it sort of happens on the fly. I knew I wanted to use my Lemoyne Star ruler so I started making blocks with different stars. Then I chose a center, which ended up being paper pieced. Sometimes a quilt is a wall hanging, usually is it meant to be used. Therefore I don’t like them square, even if it is a medallion quilt, so I build in more borders horizontally in order to make a longer quilt.I could have shared many close-ups, but I needed bore you.Once again, a pieced back.How cool is this with the light shining through?!My next finish is the charity quilt, I finished this after my trip. I’m going to blame jet lag on some of my problems. But not all, I used a 80/20 cotton batting, it’s not as smooth as the wool. I had my usual problem with the ruler, going from right to left no problem, back in the other direction – a lot of breakages. I probably should have switched out the needle, it was the same one I used on the purple quilt. So at some point, I just kept moving the quilt back to the right.The overall result is a great looking quilt. In this case, I have an all over pattern, you know the kind of thing that flattens out a quilt? The result here is perfect, it helps tie all these blocks together, nothing really stands out, which is a good thing. There is a purpose for everything, also, I’m not telling people what they should do, just pointing out things that I like.The quilt is 42″ wide, so I was able to use one piece of fabric that I had picked up at the sew day.  It brightens everything up even more.Artsy shot.Another finish! Remember I made one of the center blocks for this quilt? From this angle, I’m not sure which, but it is all finished and is available as the raffle quilt for Valley Quiltmakers Guild. This was quilted by a professional longarmer, one who took the time to make the quilting stand out. Btw, I have raffle tickets for this if anyone is interested.

Leah

Quilt con 2018

Back in my backyard so it was easy to go! I only signed up for a few lectures, I spent most of my time walking around, seeing quilts, reconnecting with people and giving my business to vendors. Got to keep the vendors happy and in business!Being a modern quilt show, there were a lot of different styles. Simply because there is no real definition of modern, it’s all about the committee and judges choices.This was no surprise to me that my favorites were old art quilts from the 1980s-90s. This one is an original by Michael James. I bought both of his books early on, the photos were black and white. So to get up close and see the accuracy, the use of whatever cotton fabric he could get his hands on – was exhilarating. A true master.I wasn’t looking at the names of every maker. These are more of the old quilts, often a visual show is about what you see, not about who made what.I spent a few hours with my son in law Yoch, needless to say, Ma Ru was his favorite. It is very well done and fun! Modern and wonderful. Three years ago, everyone was doing straight line quilting with the walking foot. This year many people sent their quilts out to professional longarm quilters. That is fine, except I do remember when two years ago people complained that Luke Haynes created a show with 50 logcabin quilts and hired other people to make the quilts. But then clearly those people were either jealous or have no idea how the art world works. After a while, I realized that what interests me is the close up of some of the work.   A lot of it was really amazing. Great craftsmanship out there.People from Craftsy were there filming.Just because I really like this.Jen made this coat herself! There is no wearable category  in modern quilting, there should be.Sometimes the ‘mistake’ photos tell so much more of the story.

One thing I have to say here. I HATE all the angry, mean political quilts that were on display. I am so sick and tired of politics invading everything, and by politics I mean lefty angry hateful politics. There wasn’t a single patriotic quilt (well, there was one in the Bernina booth). Nary a quilt about Make America Great Again. I get it, modern quilters are in their tiny little bubble, they don’t think anyone could possibly Republican, or a gun owner or heaven forbid – even vote for Donald Trump and be grateful he is president.

I didn’t want my blog to be about politics, and in general it isn’t. But being slammed from every side (yes also in the lectures) with one-sided hate, I’ve had enough. For years I’ve sat silently with women who are ‘kind’, ‘open-minded’, ‘accepting’ as they have said the vilest things about people they don’t agree with politically. I haven’t argued, I and many others like me, just sit there and take it.  After this show, I felt that once, just once I need to publically state that not all of us buy into the left-wing narrative of how things should be. Yes, I heard people with a product to sell saying that don’t care – if these messages offend people – let them be offended. You better believe they are on my private boycott list.

I don’t think we all need to agree, I think different beliefs and opinions are a good thing. But when civility is gone and at least 5 quilts have the F word on them or other derogatory messages about white people, the Potus, or the awful state America is in. (go live in Iran or Saudi Arabia if you hate it here so much).  I know, woke people feel they have the right to take over everything and spew their garbage, I’m old enough that I want my quilting world to be about quilting, keep your politics out of my creative world, because I never inflict mine on the quilt world.

Leah