To Do List and En Provence Mystery Quilt

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In one month, I finished off two things.  And added one: Quiltville Bonnie Hunter’s En Provence Mystery Quilt.  In my defense, I also finished making all the words for the Alphabet Quilt, and just picked up the Halloween Quilt from the quilter’s, which now needs binding.  Wait, I may have added one more thing: setting the brain working on what to do with the Christmas Tree Blocks, and if I’ll make any more.en-provence_1

Part one of the En Provence Mystery Quilt asked us to make 221 of these four-patch groups.  I was able to make 207, and will find the time to make the others in the future.en-provence_2

Part Two asked us to use the Tri-Recs tool and make 100 of these units.  I started in on scrappy (above) but soon switched to one-fabric, running out before I finished.  Never fear.  More fabric is en route to finish them off.en-provence_2a

I’m pretty sure that’s about as caught up as I’m going to be from here on out, but it’s a good start.

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Click •here• to see what’s up on her website.

Warning: she has a TON of blinky advertisements, but very graciously has created a PDF of each step that we can download.  And never fear, you will able to purchase her pattern after the Quiltville Mystery is over with in her online shop.

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Christmas Tree Block Swap

GoodHeartQuiltersBanner2016This picture-filled post shows when a bunch of the local Good Heart Quilters (my little quilting group) got together to trade Christmas Tree blocks (pattern found on *this* post).  Usually we don’t meet in December, but then Leisa had this idea about these Christmas Tree blocks.  Those who were interested in the swap came together in a Flash Mob Quilt Night; we had a great time, although family trips and sickness prevented some from coming.
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We’re nothing if not helpful.  Some of us had our trees already made, so we all pitched in a sewed, ironed and trimmed the others’ blocks so we all went away with our set.xmastreeswap_3 xmastreeswap_4 xmastreeswap_5

We dealt out all the blocks.  I asked everyone to count their blocks (below), for after an evening of letting loose with children-and-husband-and-life stories, lots of laughing, too many delicious cookies, I couldn’t be depended on to get the numbers right.xmastreeswap_6 xmastreeswap_7

Trying it vertical.  Hmmmm.xmastreeswap_8

This is one of mine, made afterwards, with a bit of my husband’s blue-and-white plaid shirt.xmastreeswap_9

Fun fussy-cutting.xmastreeswap_10

Now I either need to make 4 more blocks, or rethink everything and add a ton more.  We could use another Christmas TV-watching quilt, because of:

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The Crown, streaming off of Netflix, fictionalizing Queen Elizabeth as a young woman.

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Poldark, on PBS (we watched the first season via CDs from Netflix).

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And apparently Endeavor, a crowd-pleaser in our house, will return for a fourth season.

Oh, and then there’s that big event called Christmas, which needs some time…Happy Quilting!

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Not Waving, but Drowning

notwavingdrowning_front2Not Waving, But Drowning
Quilt #173
39″ high by 43″ wide

This quilt began its life in a quilt block I designed, which I call Semaphore.   My friend Cindy saw that and made a version for a fabric manufacturer, who then put it on a world tour (see a photo at the end).  I saw it again at Quilt Market in May 2016, and decided I wanted one myself, only larger.

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I purchased several charm packs of solids, and arrayed them all out by color family and from dark to light, using several color groupings.  There were many duplicate squares, but after I felt I had a good amount, I went to work.  More information about the layout and design ideas as well as how to quilt this can be found in the pattern, for sale on Craftsy.

I titled the block Semaphore, but always in the back of my mind while I was working on this quilt was the poem titled “Not Waving, but Drowning,” by Stevie Smith, about a man who gets in trouble while out in the waves.  He drowns because people think he was waving, but in reality, he was signaling for help.

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I think the half-square triangles look like a series of nautical flags, waving in the wind.  I decided to quilt it also in a wavy pattern, but didn’t want a tightly controlled wave.

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I wanted those waves loose and lanky, wild and woolly, just like those ones that come up and splat you in the face when you are wave-jumping in summer.

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I love the colors in this quilt, and the up and down fluid movement of the quilting. It calls me to remember that our lives, like the ocean, can lift us high, can hit us in the face, can overwhelm (as in Stevie Smith’s poem), yet also can bring a lovely memory of a summer’s day. In a nutshell, it reminds me that life is full of ups and downs, a blend of dark and light.  It’s also a reminder that, in spite of what we post on Instagram and Facebook, we all aren’t having tons of fun and radiantly happy all day long.  But we also don’t want to be drowning when we are in reality signaling for help.  So, take care of your loved ones and friends, and please please…take care of yourself.

And keep quilting.

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Cindy’s quilt at Quilt Market, using the Semaphore block.

 

(NOTE: This post has been updated with different content after original publication.  It was originally about depression.  Thank you all for your comments; I have them saved and will reread them often.)

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Making Progress on Oh Christmas Tree Quilt

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Remember this?  And did you know there are (at this writing) about  35 days until Christmas?  So I decided I’d better get to it.  counter-pinning_1

Since rolling around on the floor pin basting a quilt is not really something I want to do, I do my pin basting on the counters now.  Some people use ping pong tables or dining room tables, but the principles are all the same:  Tape/clamp the backing to the counter, using the edges of the counter to help locate the center of the backing, and keeping it straight.counter-pinning_2

Lay out the batting, previously cut to size.  Tape down.counter-pinning_3 counter-pinning_4

Drape the quilt over the above, matching centers and getting it on straight to both axis–both North-South and Left-Right.  (Ask me how I know this.)  But I did find out that you can unpin pretty quickly when you find out you neglected to pay attention to the Left-Right axis.  Quilt is all pinned now.

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That felt is really thick on some parts, so I used it to help scoot my needle around the disc.  I decided not to quilt through the felt ornaments, but to instead outline them.  I know I may go back in at some point and put in some stitches so that it is not too poofy, but aware of the deadline, I just outlined today.  On the first day of quilting, I did all the way around the tree–all flowers, leaves, birds and the manger scene at the bottom.oct_quilting-background2

Then I had some time left before the next interruption activity, so I had decided to keep going on the background around the tree.  I had chosen a really really really low-key free-motion design for that space, given how much was going on in the rest of the quilt.  I quilted little stars (less than 1″ tall) and loopy lines in between them, using a matching thread: Masterpiece from Superior Threads.  Bisque is my go-to color for nearly everything and it worked well here, too.oct_quilting-background

At the end of the first day I felt like I made great progress: all around the tree stuff and then all the neutral background on the righthand side.

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Day Two.  I tackled the lefthand side of the tree, filling in the background with the loopy star path, as before.  I am trying to get better at “puddling” up the quilt all around me so I don’t end up tugging and pulling as I work.  Lots to learn.  I have a Sweet Sixteen Handi-Quilter quilting machine, and I’m amazed at how much more quickly I can stitch a vast amount of quilt, than I could when using my domestic machine.oct-day-2_2

After I completed the center background fill, I outlined the triangles, then stitched in the ditch down the backside of them in a long straight line, outlining them.
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Here I am at the end of my quilting session on Day Two.  I’m now stalled at how to quilt the wonky stars and am letting my brain think about it for a while.  I might yet make my deadline of Dec. 1 if I can work out the stars challenge.

I also realized that I shouldn’t do a star-studded-over-the-top quilting job, as it will change the look of the quilt.  Those wool appliqué pieces are rather flat and glob-like, if you want to know the truth, and if I quilt heavily, it will further emphasize that they are “floating” on top of the quilt.  I’m trying to keep everything flat, not puffy, so that the quilting feels integrated with the quilt.

As I reviewed the quilts I’ve made this year, it feels like it’s been the Year of the Tiny.  Some of it is due to group challenges, like Four-in-Art, some of it is due to swaps and collaborations, and a lot of it was due to my being gone a lot from home.  I can’t get the work done if I’m not here.  Writers have a phrase for it, something to the effect of the need to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair in order to get to the writing.  And unlike writing, with its portable paper and pen (computer?), when quilting, there is a lot of stuff you need, that can only be found in the sewing studio, room, or nook.

Joseph Campbell understood the idea of a place to create, when he noted that

“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. …This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But, if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen.”

Annie Dillard wrote about the time she had a space upstairs in an office with a window.  She reached over and closed the blinds, even on the Fourth of July so she could keep writing, undistracted by the view, the noise, by anything.  I had a quote of hers taped to my computer when I was in grad school:

“Every morning you climb several flights or stairs, enter your study, open the French doors, and slide your desk and chair out into the middle of the air.  The desk and chair float thirty feet from the ground, between the crowns of maple trees.  The furniture is in place; you go back for your thermos of coffee.  Then, wincing, you step out again through the French doors and sit down on the chair and look over the desktop.  You can see clear to the river from here in the winter.  You pour yourself a cup of coffee.

Birds fly under your chair.  In spring, when the leaves open in the maple’s crown, your view stops in the treetops just beyond the desk; yellow warblers hiss and whisper on the high twigs, and catch flies.  Get to work.  You work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”

We are the same in our places of creation, whether it be the dining room, the corner of a bedroom, or a big fancy studio.  We need our place to create, we need distraction-free blocks of time.  We need to keep cranking the flywheel, to turn those creative gears.

We need to work.

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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