Friendship Cross-X Block Swap, March

April Cross-X Quilt Blocks stacked

Krista and I decided we were impatient about getting these done, so we sped into hyper-quilt-drive and did a double batch for this month’s swap.  Above is one set, all stacked together. . .

April Cross-X Quilt Blocks4

. . . and the double set all together.  As one commenter on Instagram said, it’s interesting how the switch in fabrics can make the block look so different.

Mar Cross-X Quilt Blocks stacked

This is the other set, with a few Mirror Ball Dots worked into the mix (I still have LOTS of those scraps left).

Mar Cross-X Quilt Blocks4

And the foursome, all in a row.  Looks like I was on a blue kick here, doesn’t it?  I didn’t get everyone out of their bags for an overall progress shot, so that will have to wait until the next round.  Come and see us on our Flickr Group where Krista has put up a picture up all of our blocks together.

Quilting the Lollypop Tree Quilt, I

Still working on the lollies, or my Lollypop Tree Quilt.

Lollypop Tree Quilt Block_2

Quilting Lollypop Tree Quilt_1

I took the quilt to my quilter and she basted it together for me, which has actually worked pretty well.  Usually I crawl around on the floor on my hands and knees and pin the quilt sandwich to within an inch of its life, but went this direction this time.  It’s been nice not to have to navigate those safety pins, but I still don’t want to sew over the basting thread, so I’m pulling it out as I get there.

Lollypop Tree Quilt Block_3

Finished up this one last night.  I’m trying to do a different filler in the background of each block.  It may not last, but this one is leaves.  The background filler on the first one is a rounded double loop in all directions.  When I look at these photos, it reminds me that there are still some details to go over (like the brown stems need to be quilted down at the trunk), but I’ll do the brown thread quilting all at one.

Lollypop Tree Quilt Block_4

And then I started on this, and got almost done, but had quilted myself into a corner with extra fluffiness.  After I quilted a tuck into the quilt, I stopped and unpicked for a while, and will take it up again today in better lighting, and when I’m not so tired.  This background is an oval double teardrop.

Lollypop Tree Quilting detail_1

Diane Gaudynski advises free-motion quilters that a little marker now and then is a quilter’s good friend.  Like in that run of white thread on the blue batik.  The thread I’m using is So-Fine white #401, and in the bobbin, I’m using the Bottom Line in a soft yellow.  I’ve lowered the tension on the top to nearly half of normal (2.2 or 2.0) and I have really good balance in the thread.  This thread from Superior Thread is quite fine, as the name states, and it just sews up beautifully. I switched to a size 14 topstitch needle which allows lots of thread movement, so no shredding.  (I had been using a size 12, but the 14 is working better.)

Lollypop Tree Quilting detail_2

Lollypop Tree Quilting detail_3I like the way the appliquéd pieces pop up.  This *post* by Sandra Leichner is invaluable for explaining the process.  I have a permanent link to it from the home page of my blog, as well as to Diane Gaudynski’s website.

I figure I still have about 5 days left of quilting time in my February/March goals, which clearly states: “Quilt Lollypop Trees.”  I’ve been able to cross of all but one of my projects, so am still trying for a completion here.

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced blog.

 

FMQ Lollypop Tree & A Beauty Shot

FMQ Lollypop Tree

I started free-motion quilting my Lollypop Tree quilt.  It has sat for nearly a year while I did Life and thought about how to start.  I had quilted my Christmas Treat, but the spaces there were more wide open with fewer appliqués, so this one was a bit of a challenge, managing the quilt bulk and keeping the density of the stitches evenly spaced.  I still have a few more details to take care of, like stitching around the trunk of the tree and across the leaves where they join the trunk, but after two-and-a-half hours, one block is done.  Look at the tab above if you want to see the entire quilt.

Helpful sights: a Pinterest board with lots of filler ideas, Leah Day’s commentary on filler backgrounds, and multiple videos (not linked).

And I promised you a beauty shot.  Here’s my Sol Lewitt’s Patchwork Primer quilt top, in my outdoor “photo studio.”

Sol Lewitt's Patchwork Primer

I also put this as my home screen on my phone.  It makes me smile.  Hope you are smiling, too, as you enjoy your weekend.

Working on My Stuff

Magazine

My first issue of Uppercase magazine arrived.  It’s on my nightstand and I can hardly wait.

Center Colors

I also took a trip to Purl Soho-West Coast (in Orange County, California) where I picked up some more solid fabrics for the inner petals on that soon-to-be-renamed Rainbow Petals quilt.  I appliquéd on three of the petals the other night while my husband and I watched the latest Star Trek movie, and added another petal during the our local quilt guild meeting.

Now that Downton Abbey’s over, I need to make time to sew.  Maybe I should rewatch parts of it, so I can get this finished?

Sol Lewitt’s Patchwork Primer

In class this semester, one of the types of poems that we studied were “form” poems, or poems that have a prescribed meter, rhyme scheme, and even construction, such as a ballad, a sonnet, or a villanelle.  Many poets like to write poems in this constrained forms, especially if they are difficult subjects, as the nice, tight boundaries help keep the poet from going off the rails, sloppy and wandering.  Likewise, every once in a while, it’s good to put one’s brain to a task with similar constraints, just to see if it can be done.

sol-lewitt

This quilt started with this drawing from Sol Lewitt: “Fifteen Etchings: Straight lines in four directions and all their possible combinations.”  Lewitt is famous for his wall drawings, where he would draw up a certificate with a set of instructions or descriptions, and others would execute them.  This drawing would serve as my shape boundaries.

SLPatchworkPrimer start

And my fabric boundaries?  I had purchased a stack of Mirror Ball Dot fabrics two years ago to go with the few I already had, I decided to use these as my parameters for this quilt. Those shapes, these fabrics, and I started cutting last Saturday, after grading seventeen essays in a 24-hour period (yes, the brain was fried). I started laying them out, beginning from the upper right.

SLPatchworkPrimer beginning

I cut, added.  Rearranged.  Went to bed.  Cut, added, rearranged, asked my husband what he thought.  Cut, added, rearranged, took a photo, then pondered.  It was harder than writing a villanelle.

SLPatchworkPrimer Near End_1

Until I got to here.  Then it was like this:

Photo Montage SLPP

All. . . Day. . .Long.  I was purposely leaving that last square on the lower right white, for that’s where Lewitt had the writing, the description.

SLPatchworkPrimer-3

When I got to this place, I rested and began to doubt myself, completing ignoring the advice he wrote to Eva Hesse, a fellow artist, which included some of the following (with some edits):

Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, hair-splitting, nit-picking, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!

He continues:

Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool.

Then finishes with:

Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistent approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!

So I called my sister in Philadelphia and sent her some images, and we talked about changing the design, adding another block and what kind of block would it be?  She suggested some time with Photoshop, a tool to help me move beyond my stuck place.  In an obituary in the New York Times (Lewitt died some years ago), the writer noted that “He [Lewitt] took an idea as far as he thought it could go, then tried to find a way to proceed, so that he was never satisfied with a particular result but saw each work as a proposition opening onto a fresh question.”

So the fresh question brought me here, where I think it will stay.

SLPatchworkPrimer Quilt

And yes, that block lurking on the right is an alternative block, which I am leaning away from.  Borders (plain white) will be added last.

A primer  (prim-mer), according to the dictionary, can be as a child’s first book of reading, helping that child to decode and unlock the words on the page.  I doubt Sol Lewitt had any inkling of patchwork, steeped as he was in the fine art world, but when I saw his etchings, I recognized them as sort of a primer for what we quilters do: divide and subdivide and go at it again and again, always looking for that fresh question.