Jul 262016

After playing around sticking all my colorful scraps together for hours, I decided that I could do that anytime, as I worked on other projects, and pushed them back into their crumpled pile so I could start a new quilt. A long weekend calls for appropriately sized projects for the time allowed, after all.

The last quilt, Summer Pinwheels, did not top my favorite list. In that post, I detailed the places I felt the whole thing went wrong and the parts that were right. That quilt was built from the fabric, up. This time, I started off by playing with block shapes.

Quilt in progress.
HSTs (Half Square Triangles) were something interesting I played with last year and wanted to dabble in again. Some solid black Kona cotton and a novelty print that I found on my ironing board (aqua and light red Paris) were the start. Where did this fabric come from? I don’t know. I don’t recall buying it, I don’t think it was given to me since it looks new. Maybe I buy fabric in my sleep. Anyhow, it began there and I grabbed some vaguely aqua and hot pink fabric along the way. I don’t have much in those colors, but it worked out. You can see my neat string of flag piecing here.

Quilt in progress.
After all that small work, I wanted something bigger. Cross blocks were something I hadn’t tried yet and they turned out pretty fun. Those blocks clearly needed to be the center, so I stuck them all together with some black sashing. They’re not exactly kiss Xs, but they’re not straight on plus crosses either, and this is what helped inspire the name. That and the pink and hearts.

Quilt in progress.
The HSTs fell right into place along the outside, since I’d made so many of them (a couple hundred). After playing with the alignment for a while, I decided on this color point facing shifted lineup to create that black zigzag inside them. Neat.

A plain black outside border will finish this one off. It is fairly simple which I think makes the design work, so I won’t do more to it. If work doesn’t blow up and I can get some good workshop time in this week, I should be done with it this weekend. After this one, I might take a week or two off from quilts. Maybe do some printing, perhaps some small sewing projects.

Jul 212016

After the last few projects, I have more scraps than ever. I use up my leftover bits often, but so many of these were tiny pieces that wouldn’t hold their own in a project. I decided to start attaching all those little bitty pieces together, or to a larger scrap if they were awkwardly small.

Tiny scraps into group blocks.
This can become something, I think.

New projects want to come into existence, old projects want to be finished, but sometimes you have to do mindless color matching and stitching to wipe away work irritations and become a good human again. At least, I do.

Jul 192016

Yesterday as I was departing work, driving along at a reasonable few miles above the 30 MPH speed limit, an SUV was in a hurry, riding my rear as if that would make me go faster. After a light change, the SUV floored it, cutting off a truck in the next lane so that they could pass me under the light, get up to about 50 MPH, cut in front of me and slam on the brakes – because we were both stopped at the NEXT red light. I tried to ignore the crazed behavior, casually flipping them off and attempting to put it from my mind.

As we sat at the light, I realized this SUV driver was from my workplace. I had a strange moment of dissonance – almost always the crazed assholes on the road are strangers. This is someone I have worked with. My brain immediately supplied the reminder that this person is an asshole in their workplace, too. Every single encounter I’ve witnessed proved they were an nonredeemable asshole. Every reliable person who has related interactions with this person confirms the assholery. If you asked me to predict their driving behavior based on their work behavior, I would’ve surmised they were likely to drive like an asshole.

What interests me was that moment of dissonance. The idea that I would be surprised that a person I knew would be an asshole on the road. It surprises me, and frankly disturbs me, that even though I know this person was a piece of shit, that I wouldn’t be ready for the recognition of their reckless driving when it was right in my face. That it would surprise me.

On one hand, I think I should be more prepared for people to be assholes, it is far too commonplace. On the other hand, I am glad that I still have enough heart left to not assume that every person in an asshole.

For everyone out there who put some effort into not being an asshole today, thank you.

Jul 182016

AKA: Pastels are for weaklings

That ice dyed fabric looked vibrant in its photo, taken while it was still wet.Ice dyed fabric, drying on the line.
But, after it dried, it was much lighter. Too light, really. The reds were a hot pink and it was mostly pastel all over. I don’t like pastels much and find the best way for me to use them is with a lot of black and dark gray, or other strong, bold colors. Thus this quilt was born.

The last two quilts I made (Don’t Let Your Mind Wander and the Green and Black Patchwork quilts) were done in an improvisational style. Meaning, I didn’t have a plan for what they’d look like, how I’d get to the end product, or even what size they would be. The Green and Black was only started with the idea of using black, green with a lime highlight, and squares. My end quilt was a direct result of those limits, but I still love the finished product. This quilt, which I’ve named Summer Pinwheels, was started with the guide of having three color schemes and using strips. This worked out well because there were three main colors in that dyed fabric, pink, blue, and some green. I chose some old (I think I bought them almost 10 years ago) crazy colored crowded prints that are best described as juvenile, and some solids, along with my second favorite neutral of Charcoal. I haphazardly cut strips of all widths, stitching them together alternately, then slicing, realigning, slicing, inserting and generally making it up each minute. When I got some large pieces done, I trimmed them to the same sizes and stuck them all together. This is what happened.

Summer Pinwheels Quilt, front.
Summer Pinwheels. The colors make me think of summer. The pink screams Kool-Aid and popsicles, while the blue is the same as my favorite (now completely worn out) sundresses that only remain in a few squares of scrap fabric. Everything is too bright for me to be comfortable, the same way I don’t like summer. The pinwheels come in from the purple corner slashes I added to the blocks. They echo the purple, metallic color Mylar of pinwheels on plastic sticks. All very aestival, to me.

Summer Pinwheels Quilt, binding detail.
The binding is a scrappy one, again because I like the look and because I had plenty of scraps left and wanted to use them up (I am tired of seeing these colors). I stitched it by machine, which I am not too happy with. It is okay, but I think I will stay away from it and do them by hand when I can. Hand stitching looks better to me. Although, this violet spark of color in the dark gray pleases me. Perhaps my next quilt will be darker. I’d like darker.

Summer Pinwheels Quilt, back.
The back is a simple arrangement of the remaining strips. For some reason I like how orphaned they look floating here. They don’t have a pattern or arrangement, they’re hanging out.

Summer Pinwheels Quilt, side view.
This is the most true color representation, albeit dim. It was cloudy this morning and threw all the pictures off. The quilting is good. It took a while to do it right, but right is better. Done is not ALWAYS better than perfect. Plus, I don’t think this quilt would ever be perfect, by my opinion. It is good, for what it is, as it is.

Do I like it? Not really. I don’t hate it, I don’t think I even dislike it, I just don’t LIKE it. I wouldn’t choose it over any of the other quilts I’ve made. Maybe that Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt – those two are equal for me, equally at the bottom of the list. This was not a waste; it is always good to use uncomfortable colors or restrictions and make something your style out of it.

So, this is another quilt on the stack. Seeing my stack of quilts grow pleases me. I am a quilt dragon.

Maker Talk: Advanced mode
Why don’t I LIKE this quilt? One is the colors. That pastel and busy combo doesn’t appeal to me. It isn’t bad, but I don’t enjoy these colors together. Part of it is the contrast. The fabrics I added to go with the ice dyed ones don’t have enough contrast, or too much. They should either be essentially the same, or have more contrast for a dramatic stripe. Stripes were the second problem, specifically the lack thereof. I made the first stripe fabric, then recut & stitched it into squares. I should have left it a stripe. The squares looked confusing when I further cut them into quarters. The solid dark gray was a good choice – good amount of contrast and counterpoint to the swirly and busy color blocks. Also, cutting the ice dyed fabric into little pieces took away any interest the fabric had from the dying process. The scrappy binding is good, the layout is good. I like the balance; the symmetry is comforting, right, echt. The quilting is perfect, even if I didn’t get good close up shots of it. The pictures are not great – I should just retake them completely. That cloudy sky threw the colors off irreparably and that doesn’t help my assessment.

end Maker Talk.

I have updated the severely neglected page of Quilts I’ve Made. I look forward to any comments, general or insightful, on this or any other of my works.

Jul 112016

You may have noticed that my projects’ progress bars have been stagnant for a while, over there on the side. A number of them merely need photographs, or a few finishes before photography. I don’t know what to say, besides I don’t want to. After a couple of weeks of NOT finishing the things, I gave up and decided it was okay to just do what I felt like. What I felt like was working some more on improvisational quilting. The green and black patchwork was the second, and I’ve only last night finished the flimsy (top cloth) for a third. Can’t exactly put my finger on what is going on with the muse in my head, but I’m following this somewhat divergent path for a while.
Path in Vedauwoo.
At some point, I will have to finish up those ongoing projects, if only so I can check them off the list and move them (somewhere?!?!) to a Completed Project area and out of my way. But not today.

Jul 082016

Cat nap party on the blanket pile.
Napping cats.

Slick is performing blanket maintenance (electric blankets) before the summer storage of blankets and created a large pile on the loveseat. The cats loved it, as you can see. Doesn’t a nap party sound great? I don’t get invited to those. Probably because they don’t exist.

Also, yes, we have a lot of blankets. We have dedicated sofa blankets, too. They are fuzzy and the cats’ favorites. In the winter, having a fuzzy blanket over you on the sofa, with a warm cat curled up in said blanket at your side is simply marvelous.

Jul 062016

These are chestnut cookies with fig jam filling and almond cookies with lingon berry filling, all with a glaze to up the sweetness and looks.

What inspired me to make such odd combinations? Well, a couple months ago I signed up for a “Try the World” subscription. They send monthly a box of curated, gourmet foodstuffs collected from a country. So far we’ve had Thailand, Sweden, and France; this month will be Brazil. In each box they have a variety of stuff, but hit each category of eating, so you get a drink and snack (like coffee and cookies, tea and biscuits and jam) and stuff that will go into main and side dish (like curry paste and soup kit, or steak sauce and potato spices). Then there is also snack stuff like chips, crisps, candies, etc. Somehow, we always ended up with the jams leftover. This left me with a tube of chestnut paste, and a jam jar each of fig, and lingon berry. My brain came up with thumbprint cookies. Usually those are a firm cookie with a dollop of jam nestled in the middle, looking like a tiny, delicious, stained-glass treat. Mine were going to be more a combination of nut butter cookie and jam center.

The recipe was completely fabricated as I went. There is only one egg and a bare smidge of baking soda in the entire double batch of cookies, to help it keep form more like a shortbread. However, I then circumvented that caution by only letting the dough set for about seven minutes before tossing it in the oven. Dumb. Those cookies spread out a lot. The second batch, which had the more reasonable wait time of 30 minutes, held their shape better.

[rant on]
No matter how well I plan things out, it does no good if I don’t follow my own damn plan! I keep doing this to myself. These cookies, the birthday bags, the quilt, the carving order, the first darted skirt I ever made. One day I will learn to listen to me!
[rant off]

The flatter ones had crispy edges, which I don’t like, but they all turned out tasty and a little unusual. Slick is happy, my coworkers are happy (despite some diet-ruining complaints) and best of all, I am happy that they turned out well AND that I used up those stray items.

Jul 052016

The grounds at The Arches are a bunny heaven.
This one did not want me to get any closer. It was only hanging out, visiting, looking cute by the flowers.

This is our new baby bunny, grazing in the clover. Yes, we have clover in our yard. I’m trying to help it take over the grass. I hate grass, I love clover. The bunny seems to be fine with this.

And another adult bunny, shade-lounging in what we’ve begun referring to as the bunny corner. This one has markings on its fur, so I think it is a new rabbit in our yard. I startled it last night as it seemed to be digging a den into our dirt pile. Each year the rabbits think the dirt pile might be a good idea, but then they abandon that idea once we mow down the weeds.

The cats are happy to have bunnies to look at in the yard. Sometimes they give tiny meows while they watch the hoppers, which I find adorable.

Jun 302016

For my non-fabric-loving readers, let me explain. Ice dying fabric means to use ice as the method of applying powdered dye to fabric. You can also do snow dying for a more subtle effect.

A few days ago I juiced some cherries to make more schnapps (yummy!) and thought I’d use the leftover cherry flesh pulp and pits to try to dye some fabric. It turns out I had a lot less pulp than I thought and the mush didn’t have a lot of coloring power left in it. The resulting fabric turned out a terribly pale bluish-gray (parts where I added baking soda) and a hint of pinks (where the original cherry touched) and was generally not what I was in the mood for. Faced with a stretch of wet, boring fabric, I decided to try ice dying.

Ice dying fabric.
Step One: Most pictures on the internet show people arranging this setup over a tub to collect the dye. Most people don’t have a crappy back yard they don’t care about ruining with dye, I imagine. Me, I have that. So, I put my cooling racks right on the dirt, raised with a couple rocks. You have to put some mesh of some type under the fabric so it doesn’t just sit in a muddled puddle of dye – and in my case, dirt. This is the still wet fabric, scrunched gently onto racks.

Ice dying fabric.
Step Two: Ice. I emptied our ice drawer onto the fabric and tried to arrange it somewhat evenly while the cubes tried desperately to stick to my damp fingers.

Ice dying fabric.
Step Three: Dye! Concerned with too much muddling of colors, I stuck with basics, a Cerulean Blue, Chinese Red and Golden Yellow, sparingly. I was a little concerned I put too much on, but this is all experimental anyhow. The sun set, and I left the fabric to be melted onto overnight.

Ice dying fabric.
The next morning, all the ice had melted and the dye had been distributed onto the fabric. It is still wet in this photo. I gave it a few washings, trying to get all the dye out – you know how red anything can be.

Ice dying fabric.
The finished product. The vibrant colors mean I used the right amount of powder for my desires. There is a lot more red than I thought, based on the scrunched layout. The parts I like best are the most mottled, with the most wrinkled fabric, as in the yellow and green in the upper left area in this shot. When I do this again in the future, I’ll know to be less gentle and more squishing-focused on the fabric. I was afraid the dye would have trouble getting onto the fabric evenly through all the ice, but that seems to be no concern at all. I had only a tiny spot of white on the whole cloth. Next time, more squish, same ice, same dye amount. Although, I will use less range of color, perhaps closer to analogous. Additionally, the dark spots were chunks of powder gathered intrigue me, so I may add a random sprinkle of black as the final powder of the lineup.

Now what to do with it?! No solid idea. It could be a small quilt on its own; a simple whole cloth with stippling. Maybe I will add paint and stitching in a deliberate fashion to make an image form from this color cloud. I don’t see what it might be, yet, but I’ll let it rest for a bit and see if it speaks to me.

What do you think? Does it speak to you? What does it say?

Jun 272016

As soon as I had finished the last quilt, I wanted to make another new one. I should have been working on the three partial quilt starts already going, but I wanted to make this one instead, so I did. This much patchwork means many seams, which takes some time. Some time in this case equals about 72 hours from start to finish, although that does include cat love fits, meal breaks and an unrelated acrylic painting. This time is also about 107 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes.

Green and Black Patchwork quilt.
The front. It measures about 42″ square. These slightly smaller quilts are easier to handle, plus they can be versatile. No need to find a bed to put it on, this could fit on the back or arm of a sofa, over a lap (or a pair of laps), a single’s (or two snuggled) picnic, on a wall, or I guess, the center of a bed. I am trying to make things that can appeal to a wider audience, usage-wise anyway. I’m always going to make the things in the style I want to make. No traditional patterns with ditsy flowers for me.

The squares in the very center are .5″ (half an inch) small. So tiny! The seams on the back of them are exactly as big as the front face. Funny.

Green and Black Patchwork quilt.
Fussy cutting some of the larger block centers was fun. The binding is also patchwork, done in the same fabrics. I like the effect it brings.

Green and Black Patchwork quilt.
This T-rex has been waiting on my shelf for the right project to come its way.

Green and Black Patchwork quilt.
The back homes some extra blocks I made when I got a bit overactive. I do that a lot, make a few more than needed. On the one hand, I like to have some options when I go to arrange the layout later; on the other, the only thing left to do with them would be to make a matching pillow. Or, maybe a zip pouch. Or .. okay, yeah, I can think of a number of things it seems. This is fine, all fine.

There we go, another quilt done. I am fond of this one, too. I like having this growing stack of quilts on my shelf. Like a quilt producing and hoarding dragon, I am sated.

For the moment.

Jun 242016

This week has been a hectic one and I have no photos to share. The days have been packed and the evenings are dedicated to finishing an intensive project. Next week will be more share-worthy, I think.

Jun 202016

Now that spring is officially over, the new bunnies are out and about. You saw our standard yard bunny recently, and this is a brand new one.
Baby bunny.
I have no scale reference for you to see, but it is a tiny, baby bunny.

Bunny and crow.
And these two were in one of the parks near my house. There are four parks by my house. Cheyenne is replete with parks, even if they’re little ones big enough for a picnic.

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