There may be one or two quilters who can claim no UFO’s. I certainly have my share—and I’m not divulging exactly how many that is—I will admit to working on shrinking that stack–they seem to glare at me with accusing eyes demanding to know when I will get to them.
Some of the quilt group I have belonged to have issued UFO completion challenges. We have traded UFO’s–I think that is fun—but I’m not volunteering to take on more. Some require a commitment at the beginning of each year writing down the names of the projects, some involve a random selection by drawing a number each month. Most require visible proof of completion–and that is always fun to see the line-up of the finished projects and the dates started.
Starting a new project is always exciting and fun—but then there are those accusing piles of bags and boxes—not to mention boxes of scraps demanding attention.
Most of us have found extra time on our hands–with no visiting or trips to museums, movies, restaurants, family gatherings, or even the grocery store or doctor’s office. I’ve worked on a couple of new projects but also worked on finishing up—including some of my mother’s unfinished pieces.
One thing I tried was quilting two pieces at one time. I am limited by the size of my frame; I can comfortably quilt a 72 inch wide piece…but using the wide backing fabric means i have about a hundred inches of length to work with—so that means several small pieces will fit.
I finished Mom’s little quilt top—it was a variation of a New York beauty and then worked on something I made featuring baskets and a variety of blocks combining it with some batik fabric I made with some tjaps from Thailand–and then a very old UFO of mine along with another new piece. They are quilted but not bound—good evening television projects.
If this last one makes you feel a bit dizzy–I rotated it in WordPress—usually I upload from my Smugmug account where I can manipulate the photos with greater ease–but to avoid neck strain on all of you I turned it. The plainish blue squares are from a length of fabric I batiked—and yes I like to use a lot of color in the quilting thread–it is a dark variegated blue/purple thread.
Maybe it has something to do with the way I was raised–rarely throwing away anything or maybe it is a fondness for these bits of fabric or just the soothing rhythm of my sewing machine as I stitch or the fairly mindless relaxation of combining these fragments together—but last year I was amazed and appalled to find I had an entire document box full of 6.5 inch sewn scrap squares.
I sew bits together, then trim them and re-combine until I have a square 6.5. I have lost and bought three of these rulers in the past few years. The pile of scraps never seems to diminish but they make good leader-ender pieces for all the other things I do.
While this may not seem too monumental, this year I put ‘doing something’ with these squares as my #7 on my UFO list—the number drawn in January for the American Patchwork UFO challenge. I’ve done this challenge three years in a row and while I didn’t always work on the UFO drawn for the month, it has been surprising how many of them have been completed—along with some others that never made it on a list.
There are still many more blocks to use in another project—and more crumb blocks are in process; but I was pleased with this final pieced top. Now all I have to do is think about a backing and get it quilted and bound.
As it is now February, a new number has been drawn—and I am happy to report it is now completed and ready for quilting…I have a backing ready for it and will get its label done this afternoon. Photos will be posted after it is complete.
Some time ago, I wrote about my experiment with batik and then the resulting fabric.
Here is what I did with the hemp//cotton blend.
The pale blue squares are that hemp/cotton blend. It sewed like an absolute dream—I really like the feel of it, the hand, and the subtle texture of the fabric. Then there’s the subtle batik imprints as well.
Some of you may be familiar with The Quilt Show hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims on the internet. Alex has been doing a series of Quilt-Alongs. This piece combines two of them, a sampler block and then a basket sampler. I used a scrap bag of hand-dyes by Ricky Tims as the solids and a layer cake of Tim Holtz grunge as the neutrals.
The next project Alex is presenting is a Christmas Quilt. She just finished one of wonky faces to be used as an Avatar—so many fun faces–I haven’t tried one—maybe this weekend. Along with the Handmade Book Club weekly facebook live postings, seeing their smiling faces makes some of the other things about current life less onerous.
It isn’t quilted yet but joins a very small stack of tops.
In other news; I injured my left shoulder while at work two weeks ago. That has put a significant hamper on a lot of activities I would normally be doing this time of year. It has improved—I can now brush my teeth sort of normally but it is still a challenge to comb my hair. Although I am not truly ambidextrous, that left arm is more than just a place holder. Hand works fine though, so life is not too bad.
Hasn’t our world become so different than what it was just months ago?
Zoom is the new meeting place; social gatherings are few and awkward; travel challenging.
As a member of the local quilt guild, I have tried to support them by taking workshops–even if it is something I truly am not interested in. I did want to try a workshop via Zoom. The guild had chosen Becky Goldsmith and her Bull’s Eye workshop. It involved paper piecing–a technique that is not my favorite but this time it involved the use of pre-printed vellum paper. While I did finish the one block and set it into a background, I am adding vellum paper piecing to my list of ‘do not want to do again’.
Her directions were clear, she had pre-done videos to be shown at intervals during the workshop, and it was definitely convenient to not have to wait for my turn at the iron and to not wait in line for the bathroom and have the room temperature set to my liking and my choice of background music and to wear my night-gown instead of kind of dress up clothes. But my internet is spotty; I could not participate in any discussion and dealing with questions via text just not very satisfactory.
Will I give this method another try?
Probably not—unless the meeting/workshop is recorded and I can access it in bits and pieces as my internet cooperates.
This year has definitely been an odd year with challenges none of us expected, planned for, or wanted. But here we are.
Most of you if not all know one of my many hobbies is quilting. I have been watching Alex Anderson of The Quilt Show work through some quilting suggestions. She is always so upbeat and personable—and it is much like having a good friend come and sew with me.
Her last two quilts were based on a set of blocks from a book (great book and I am happy I have it—and if I ran upstairs I could list its name for you) and then another quilt of baskets from the same book. I am not particularly fond of basket patterns but decided I would combine the two into one piece.
I used a scrap bag of Ricky Tims’ hand-dyes, a layer cake of Tim Holtz grunge from Missouri Star and my own hemp/cotton batik dyed fabrics as the alternate squares.
The final top measures 57 by 69—a nice couch sized throw—and it goes into the lineup for quilting–just four ahead of it.
I don’t really have a good place to take photos of my design wall at home–and there is usually too much wind to pin it to the clothesline out at the shop for a photo—-but this gives you the general idea of it. Those blue squares might be a great place for some fancy quilting—but there is some time to think about what will work in them.
Yesterday I drove home in some rather nasty weather through the construction mess that seems to be never-ending on I-10. Traffic wasn’t too terrible but I seem to be the only one that understands the concept of a speed limit. But I made it home safely amidst the drizzle.
I had spend the previous day and half in LaPorte Texas at a fun quilting retreat center. The house is decorated with quilts and doll clothes and antiques—some of which I remember using as functional items as a child and as a newly wed.
As usual, I brought too many projects but I did work on this one.
One of the things I have done over the past few years is make what I call ‘crumb’ blocks. These are bits of fabric left from other projects too large to toss but not large enough to ‘make something’. I use them as my leader-enders for other projects and it doesn’t take long to get a huge stack by my sewing machine—and then to the ironing board to press, and then to cutting mat to trim and then for an evening of putting the pieces together to form blocks. Some people do 4 inch blocks, I do 6 inch blocks.
I had a huge box full of these. Given October is breast cancer awareness month–I’m sure there are many other things we are supposed to be celebrating this month or day for—but I decided to use some pink and white from my mother’s quilting stash. First I pulled out all the blocks that had some pink in them and then made flying geese, cut some more strips and squares and here is the center of the piece I nearly finished. It will finish about 70 by 90—a good size. I’m contemplating piecing the back from the rest of the stack of crumb blocks.
As soon as I get a back together, I can get this quilted—as I don’t have a backlog for the long-arm—and I am sure that machine has missed me.
Setting together pieces left from another larger project always appeals to my sense of frugality and provides an intellectual and artistic challenge.
This little lapquilt–a good size for a three year old was made from some rectangles left from a primary color quilt challenge, and the backing pieced from some of my favorite fabrics–too small to use as a single entity but too lovely in their entirety to cut into tiny pieces. I also used a quilting pattern of zoo animals.
Here it is hanging from the front porch of the shop—my long-arm resides here along with the bees, my garden, and the Meyer’s Lemon tree.
I am always a sucker for Quilt-Alongs or Mystery Quilts and have participated in several. Over the past several years, I have done Bonnie Hunter’s annual holiday mystery quilt and this year I have followed along with Alex Anderson making a Sequoia Sampler, a Kaffe Fassett mystery, and now a basket quilt. I also signed up for the National Quilt Museum’s star quilt (but it started with paper-piecing–so that was a no-go) and now the Moda Pink quilt for Breast Cancer. And I think I am just avoiding getting back into doing artwork.
The past few years have been difficult with health issues sapping much of my time and energy. It is difficult to be creative when short on sleep; and sleep comes slowly to joints swollen and daily activity is limited by how much standing and walking my back will tolerate. Sitting is okay—but working creatively requires multiple trips up and down–collecting materials, re-arranging them, working on them, and then repeating the entire process.
But I digress.
Bonnie Hunter’s last quilt involved making a lot of parts—too many parts…this allowed selecting some for the completed large quilt but meant left=over parts.
I put all of these left-overs into this small lap quilt. It is now bound and ready for someone to enjoy covering up with it during the winter months ahead while reading a book or watching a movie.
Finding a good way to take photos of quilts and other fiber artwork is challenging. I have set up a small photo studio in my shop for formal photos of pieces hopefully destined for shows and exhibitions. Some are far too large and I’ve set up an alternative on the side of the shed with a black drape and poles—a big project to hang the quilt and then photo as it seems a bit of wind always starts the minute I climb up on a ladder to take the formal photo.
And then there are the pieces I do more for fun and maybe as a gift. I’d like a record of them but doesn’t need to be fancy; doesn’t need to document stitching–just an overall photo.
I’ve looked at photos of quilts draped over fences and porch railings. I didn’t have those but I did have two hooks on the front porch originally used to hang flower pots; I got some clothesline, strung it up, got out the plastic clothespins from surface design days and tried this method out.
I probably should re-organize the items on the porch to be a bit more photogenic and maybe take the time to climb into the bed of my truck for a straight shot—but in general, these photos are good enough for what I want.
The first one is one I made from a pattern under the tutelage of Alex Anderson of the Quilt Show. It is the first time I have made something quite like this–it was surprisingly fun.
And this one is one I started while I was at home with my oldest son. It is all hand-pieced and needle-turned applique. I blanket-stitched around each bird; did straight line quilting, turning it sideways for more straight-line quilting. It took me quite some time to finish it but I”m pleased.
It has been awhile since I last posted here—and it hasn’t been for lack of time. Maybe it is because time hangs heavy these days and the idea I should be doing ‘something important’ is so overwhelming I spend countless hours trolling the internet hoping for inspiration. Instead I find anger which is just fear dressed in another color—anger at being asked to wear a mask to protect others, and anger by those who think mask wearing is an infringement on their ‘rights’. And then there are those who post funny/ wry commentary and some who post just ‘regular’ stuff like picnics with families, garden produce and so forth.
I have no excuse for not doing ‘stuff’; I am filled with an immense feeling of abandonment— my family is far away and busy with other family members. While husband is attentive and caring and the dogs are definitely loving—and mischievous at times, I have little motivation to DO something, anything. Each day is the same as the day before with the only challenge is ‘what to make for supper’ and ‘who is cooking’.
About ten years ago I nearly died from systemic disseminated histoplasmosis—a fungal infection that had a mortality rate of about 95% at the time—and I’m sure it would have been a higher rate if a massive does of steroids initially had been included. Each day while I was in the step-down unit was much the same as the previous with the only point of interest, the evening meal—such as it was. I am made of tough stuff—my sparring partners in karate…mostly young men…would stand back and say–you look soft but underneath you are as tough as nails…and I think that is probably true.
I recovered from that illness although I am left with reminders, reminders I need to be very careful regarding corona virus. I had to alter my work, my hobbies, and my life for the new way of life I now have.
I put one foot in front of another; tried hard although it is so tempting to not look back with regret of past abilities but to concentrate on moving forward.
I like to include photos with my posts–not everyone likes to read essays. During this time, I managed to finish the project my mother left for me—quilting all the tops for her grand-children. They have all now been delivered. In addition, I have been cleaning out her quilting supplies and put together this little lap quilt from triangles my dad cut out for her and the pieced flowers. I sent this to my sister=in=law who is undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer–the cancer my mother dealt with for 13 years—its’ mortality rate was 95% in 2 years===so I am indeed made of tough stuff.
Blogging is a natural progression for someone who enjoys the written word and beautiful imagery. My photographs are hosted at sylviaweir.smugmug.com. I am slowly transitioning all my photographs to this site and will hopefully edit them to a manageable number. In the meantime, I have organized my blog photos by year and so you may wish to merely sample the blog photos
Feel free to contact me for any questions. My website here has not been fully populated but as I work on my smugmug site, I will update these pages.
My work begins with a word, a thought, an idea, or a bit of a poem. I search through my library of images mostly on Smugmug or sometimes I go out and photograph new images. A pieced quilt pattern is sometimes chosen, sometimes I use a piece of fabric I have altered in the past. The imagery is added on using hand applique and then thread is used to add details.
Each piece is meant to draw the viewer inward providing them with ample opportunities to add their own story to the piece. If the piece evokes the emotion or thought I wished conveyed, then I consider the piece successful.
Sometimes I play 'what if' with fabric and paint and imagery. These might be considered equivalent to scale work in music--something I always enjoyed.