FAL Progress: not much

This is one of those I-think-I’ll-beat-myself-up posts.

I’m participating in the Finish-A-Long this quarter, after having such a gang-busting last quarter.  Really, I was hot hot hot.

FAL Q2_2013These were my goals.

1. I glimpsed the Hunter’s Star quilt top when I was finishing up the vacuuming after my sister and her husband left (they stayed with us for a few days and we had great talks).  It’s still hanging there, waiting for a border or two and then a trip to the quilter.

2. Hey! I finished something–the Four-in-Art * Fire quilt, titled Doloket.

3. Hey!  Something else was completed.  Guess I might not have to hate myself so much.  Yes, I did finish the Italy quilt — a Schnibbles quilt — part of Another Year of Schnibbles on Sheri and Sinta’s blogs.  Title: Take Me Back to Italy.

4.  I can’t finish this one, as the sample is hanging in the shop — the shop owner likes it unfinished so she can show people what machine appliqué looks like from the back.

5.  Oh, right.  Next.

6. Finished this one, woohoo!  Title: Lollypop Treat.

7.  What was I thinking even listing this?  Next.

8. Sigh.

Spoolin Around1

So, I guess it’s not total loathing here in Riverside, just partial.  But the one good thing about this FAL is that keeps me honest, and usually focused.  But I had to add in another Schnibbles (above, as I know no post is good without photos), and I slipped in Christine’s Philadelphia because the idea was burning in my brain.  Okay, confessional over.  I guess I should get to work.

Christine’s Philadelphia

At the last post, we were in the bakery section of Bottega Louie and I had a big surprise for my sister Christine.

ChrPhilly all wrapped up

 It was  Christine’s Philadelphia, a quilt celebrating her life and her newly adopted city.  She moved to a Philadelphia row house this past year, after ten years in transition.  First, she raised all her children, then began a new section of her life as an artist, returning to school.  Settling in to this life was not for long, as her husband died of cancer in a quick and wild two years.  She went on a mission for our church to New York City, and resumed a friendship with Doug, who had also lost his wife.  They married after her mission and she moved from the West Coast, where she’d spent most of her adult life, to the East Coast (Delaware), then finally to a lovely home in Philadelphia, within walking distance of art museums.  She resumed her art, but one more mishap: while biking to her studio one evening, she was hit by a car, but has now mostly recovered from that accident.  She is taking on new challenges all the time.  So you can see why I wanted to make her a quilt.  I had lots to cram into one tiny creation of mine.

She was surprised.  And I think, delighted.

ChristineESE Row Quilt

I’d been planning it and working on it for a few weeks, and when she came out for her son’s graduation, I knew I could give it to her then and see her face, and then mail it back later (which I’m doing).

Christine's QuiltSketch labeled

This was the sketch I made in QuiltPro.  I knew that I wanted to alternate bold solids (for the roofs) with other patterns (for the houses).

Christine's Row Quilt labeled

This was the quilt, all sewn and smoothed up on the pin wall.  I think I was able to execute the vision I had fairly successfully.  I also wanted to emphasize the chevron effect, but didn’t want a steep 45-degree angle on the roofs, instead I went with something more sloping (drawing my own pattern to get this done). I often thought about making this just in solids, like the sketch, but I’m all about richness and texture in my quilts.

Pulling fabrics

This was the first pulling of fabrics.  I was worried about mixing the moderns (used mostly for the houses and the row above, as well as the sky) with the densely colored, floral Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

ChrPhilly on pinwall 1

I sent a photo of this around to some friends and asked them what they thought.  Cindy of LiveAColorfulLife said, “Oh, go for it.”  So I did.   (Like all my junk on the sides of my pinwall?  Sometimes I treat it like a giant cork board.)

ChrPhilly on pinwall 2

Swapping out roofs on the right side to see if I like the orange down on top of the yellows any better.  I don’t.

ChrPhilly on pinwall 3

But I tried the whole row and added in the doors and windows.  You’ll notice there’s a bold blue sky piece which disappeared in the final version.  I keep trying to refine my design as I go, snapping a digital picture, evaluating, moving things around, and repeating the process.

First glimpse on wall

I am not a fan of when people say “Oh, I am working on this but I can’t show you.”  Then just don’t show me.  I hate keeping quilt secrets, but I had to keep it secret from my sister as it was a surprise, so I tried this sideways artsy shot on Instagram one day, hoping it would disguise the basic design.  I didn’t want to put it anywhere on my blog since she’s a faithful reader.

stitching on windows

I formed the windows and doors over a piece of stiff paper (like what is in a calendar) so they would be all the same size, then topstitched them down.

lined up for piecing

I sewed the narrow roof/house sections row by row; here’s one row lined up for stitching.

ChrPhilly piecing 2

Then I would add the house, then the sky. The “row” on the right is all done.  I’ll do another post on sewing those Y-seams, but later.

ChrPhilly pressing

I like this shot.  It reminded me of the AMH feather block I’d done for my Mid-Century Modern Bee.

ChrPhilly piecing 1

I pressed the seams open — a rarity for me.

ChrPhilly top

I took it outside to photograph the top, and just by draping it over the fence, I could see how valuable that deep plum-colored roof was to the whole composition.  This partly influenced what color I chose for the binding.

Christines Philadelphia Quilt Front

Christine’s Philadelphia, front

Christines Philadelphia Quilt Back

I rigged up a clothesline on my back fence to take photos, as my husband wasn’t home and I wanted to get it ready to go with us to the graduation.  I used a Jane Sassaman for the backing (above), and my quilter was lickety-split on the quilting (thanks, Cathy!).

ChrPhilly detail 1

ChrPhilly detail 2

Christines Philadelphia Quilt Label

I didn’t want the quilt label to stand out too much on that background, so printed it on yellow.

Giving Christine the quilt

Here we are again, in an uncropped photo.  You can see all the bakery goodies in the background.

ChrPhilly on sofa 1

When you sew on a quilt that is destined for someone, you spend a lot of time thinking about that person, in essence sending good vibes out into the universe for them, I think.  I remembered the time she had mononucleosis when she was going to Stanford, and moved home (my dad was a professor there so we lived in the area). I was in high school at the time, and we shared a room while she convalesced.  She hates it when I say this, but she has served as a great example for me and my other sisters, as all four of us are close together in age.  All of my sisters are amazing.  I am beyond lucky to be able to say this, and I know it.  I made a quilt with Cynthia, made one for Susan, and now, with this one, they all have one of my quilts.

And with each quilt, I send them my love.

****

This is Quilt #115 of 200 quilts, and I’m publishing this post on my mother’s 85th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!!

(Don’t worry.  A long time ago, I made her a quilt too.)

Hot Mitts, take two

Just a little something I put together. . .

Kim Hot Mitts

. . .for my daughter-in-law Kim, who, when I posted them on Instagram said she liked them and “hint, hint.”  I was happy she wanted some!  They were for her birthday.

HotMitts

I used Malka Dubrowsky’s fabric again, as it hides cake-mix-on-thumbs really well.

Quilting hot mitts back

I liked how the quilting looked from the back, on the heat-repellant fabric.  Click *here* for a pattern and how-to’s.

Sam Graduation

My husband and I drove in and attended my nephew’s graduation from University of Southern California, known for its well-endowed education in an academic sense.  In other words, lotsa money at this place.  Congratulations on finishing law school!

USC reception

They had a little reception afterwards and it was like a garden wedding–and delicious.

St. Honore Bottega Louie

But we took off and met the rest of the family at Bottega Louie, where this cool-looking St. Honore caught my eye in the dessert case.  Instead of trying to figure out how to get it home in one piece, I bought macarons in five different colors, and shared them all weekend with my husband.

But I have bigger news about this family gathering in the next post.  (No, I am not pregnant.)  Stay tuned.

Spoolin’ Around

SpoolinAroundTop

This is my latest Schnibbles quilt: Spoolin’ Around.  Sherri, Sinta and I assume, Carrie, pick the Schnibbles pattern we are going to use, but then we all go to town putting it together in our own inimatable way.

GentleArtSchnibbles

I changed up the borders a little, because I wanted mine to all line up a little more, creating a different corner look. Read *here* about my fabrics, including using some sheets from the Porthault design vault.

Spoolin Around1

Spoolin’ Around, au natural

Spoolin Aroundback

I feel like I’m also creating a Tea Towel series, but really I’m not trying to.  It’s just that this towel from Padua, Italy was blue and white and the top just called out for this to be used here.  St. Anthony is a Big Deal in that town, as you can tell by his likeness, his basilica, his . . . We went to Padua to see the  Scrovegni Chapel.  Getting this tea towel was a side benefit.

Spoolin Aroundbackdetail

Spoolin Arounddetail

I quilted this during the last week of class, while listening to Barbara Demick’s novel, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, and I quilted and quilted.  Not perfectly, but that’s also the beauty of making these small quilts–nothing’s so terribly precious about them.  They’re fun, not a chore.  And I aim to keep it that way, just enjoying the process.

Spoolin Arounddetail2

I struggled with the border choices: green soft plaid, or yellow spheres, or red/white dots?  Not sure I’m entirely happy about this, but I did want something that wasn’t so serious.

Spoolin Aroundsleeve

I split the sleeve on the back, because I didn’t want to cover up the words.

Spoolin Around Quilt Label

And I kept their label: Puro Cotone, because I liked it.  I used bits and pieces of the border that was cut off from the top of the towel around my label.  I have to say it’s a bit wild looking, but again–I was having fun, and that’s not a bad thing when you are  quilter.  And that’s my June 1st deadline Schnibble, finished a bit early!

This is #114 on my 200 Quilts list.

To Reply, or Not to Reply? Blogging Buzz

I guess the first thing to get out of the way is to ask one of the big questions:

Question1

No, that’s not it.

The big question is: why do you blog?

And if you are like most of the blogs I see in Blogland, the answer falls into these categories:

  • making a living at quilting
  • want to make a living at quilting
  • will never make a living, but still have hope
  • pleasure of sharing my quilts
  • love to write and would write about making tires, if necessary

And then the next question:

Another question

Wrong.

Here it is: What do you expect of the people who visit your blog?

Should they leave a comment? Visit only? Not steal your content (it happens)? Not copy your ideas without attribution (it happens)?  Which leads us to the really big question:

JosephCampbellBigQuestion(from *here*)

When I first started my blogging adventure, in September 2006, I didn’t even enable comments, coming as I was from the “pure” experience of a Creative Writing degree where it was always expected that you would write from within yourself.  Soon after that, the digital world exploded and during grad school a few years later, even though we were still yearning for that isolated writing experience, the reality of the market now loomed large, and we had classes on marketing, selling your novel, pitching stories, being aware of What’s Out There.

And that now is the world in which we quilt bloggers find ourselves, I think, which means that the pure excitement of sharing our quilts, our ideas and just chatting up the room seems to be slowly sinking into the swamp of Making Connections, Pitching My Stuff, Pick Me! Pick Me!, and so on.  I think I participate in all of everything, as do most of us.  But I was quite struck by the thoughts on Carrie Nelson’s blog, LaVieEnRosie, about how so much of blogging has become about advertising.  Carrie is one of my heroes in the way she blogs truthfully about her life, so I really perked up when she next said:

With blogs, I’m also betwixt and between about responding to comments.  I feel horribly – terribly! – guilty when I don’t answer each and every comment with an e-mail but since I can’t bring myself to send just a quick “thank you for commenting” – I think we all know I’m a bit chattier than that – do I answer just some?  And if I don’t get to it right away, is it awful to respond a week or ten days later?  That might be worse than not answering it at all.  So I stick my head in the sand and hope the e-mails answer themselves.

Sometimes I think that comments are just comments–not requiring a reply.  When I leave a comment like “Great quilt!” I don’t really expect a reply at all.  But other times I’ve been pleasantly surprised when a reply has come, and over time it has deepened to a correspondence of some sort.  However (and she peers over the top of glasses), I know several bloggers who feel so swamped by their own success, of the imperative to thank everyone who comes by, that they withdraw from blogland, retreating back to their studios to Make Stuff, which is — if you think about it — the main reason to have a blog.  And I also cringe a little when I happen on a blog where they cheerfully say “I want to grow my blog!” as we are expected to carry away a task from that honest goal, and as I slink away I feel guilty, because certainly one of the true pleasures of blogging is building a community of like-minded folks.

So, does this strange cultural custom of expected replies to comments enhance your appreciation for a blog?  Do you leave comments regardless of whether the blogger will answer you back? And if you blog yourself, do you feel compelled (and I chose that word purposefully) to answer back all your commenters?

Do Tell.