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.
The middle of March seems a century ago—when we all started this lockdown business and the daily review of headlines featuring Covid-19. Like some/many I thought it was a time to get a lot of things done without the distraction of ‘going’ and I set some rather ambitious goals…like a clean dusted house—fat chance with two busy dogs in and out all day long.
House is still dusty in spots but I’ve accomplished a few things. Garden has produced an abundance of funky looking cucumbers, I’ve tried some ambitious meals, and then there was that huge stack of quilt tops including my mother’s stack of tops intended for her grand-children.
I finished up a box of her left-over blocks—and then discovered my grandmother’s left-overs—but I can look at these three stacks….
Here are a few of the quilts I will be sorting by type into those vinyl blanket storage cases–it is not all of them.
And here is the stack awaiting binding with more at home.
And here is the stack to be quilted—yes, just two of them…a 45 by 60 in the plastic box and another larger one under that red fabric destined to be its binding.
I thought about showing my stack of empty boxes—I’m clearing out partially completed projects– but then I’d have to do a bit or a lot of dusting again.
Although life seems to be in slow motion these days as we read the daily counts of positive tests and wonder when or if we can all get back to ‘normal’, I’ve been busy.
Last week, we took advantage of a somewhat clear day–meaning overcast with the occasional gratefully received raindrop or two to take a walk in the local state park. Village Creek is about fifth-teen miles away—and then there was honey to process and work—and ……
So back to the quilt.
It is now on the frame and about half quilted. I’ll finish it up today and then it will join the huge stack of quilts waiting for binding.
Here is the left side of the quilt all completed. You will see it better in the shot I took of it on the frame.
In keeping with the idea of using what I have—I do have enough money to buy new and there is the fun of opening a package delivered by our wonderful UPS driver Mike or our postcarrier—I’ve heard her name but have forgotten it—a wonderfully conscientious always smiling….but this fabric was some of my mother’s from her quilt shop days—it was definitely not something I would choose but with a nice strip of a few of the left-over strips and small bits, it makes for a nice back. I always make the label after I have finished the quilt top—then it is done.
This quilt is 80 by 90—a good size. I’ll try to get a full on photo after it is bound—but I am struggling to find a way to photo those quilts not destined to hang on walls—and therefore without sleeves for easy presentation and photography in my makeshift photo studio.
I like to put the backing on first, let it rest overnight under tension, drape the batting and the top to let them hang freely to relax some of the wrinkles, and then fold up the top and the batting over it to prevent fading—there is a large window facing south with a lot of sun streaming through–thus the lighting on all my photos of quilts in the frame.
I was very pleased with myself to have emptied out that box of disparate parts until I was cleaning/tidying–i.e. procrastinating by moving things from one place to another in my sewing room until I discovered a boot box filled with blocks—I think they may have been my grandmother’s—-so another quilt in the making—-but I’ll work on some other projects first.
One of my dear friends collected some fabrics from someone she knew and gave them to me with the plan/intent of creating quilts for Boys Haven. This facility houses troubled boys and each boy is given a quilt for their bed while they stay and then take it home with them when they leave. It is brokenheartedly sad to see them question the gift—as these quilts are all made by someone who does not know them, is not related to them and is not a cast-off or a plain blanket nor is it a loan.
They like patterned quilts and those featuring super heroes or other themes. I have made western themed, denim ones and this past week put together this one from those scraps and leftovers. It needs a border still to make it large enough and it will join the pile of quilts destined for Boys Haven. I put a label on the back with an encouraging wish for their future—a small thing but maybe it will make a difference in someone’s life.
During the past few months I have been diligently working on completing UFO’s (all those quilt tops awaiting quilting and binding). I was able to finish the quilting on all of them, still working on the binding–that takes a bit longer and many sessions of evening Netflix. And then I started in on the projects that needed just a little bit or maybe a fair amount of construction to complete. Now those are piling up with four in the pile and one I just put on the frame. I like to load the backing and leave it under tension over-night before quilting.
But starting something new is always enticing.
Alex Anderson from the QuiltShow has been doing live facetime presentations using a pattern called Sequoia Sampler. She demonstrated the construction of several blocks in the Sampler using a particular bundle of fabric from the QuiltShow Store.
Blessed/cursed/endowed with a large quantity of fabric and a strip of fabric I was supposed to use as the starting point for a Blooming Quilt for one of the quilting bees I am in—I pulled out the first quilt I made in this style and decided just not doing it. So I pulled some more fabric to coordinate with it.
I must say I have never worked on a pattern quite like this before. I made blocks after each of her sessions demonstrating the construction and placed them on the design wall. I selected fabric for each block depending upon where I thought the next block should go. It was a very different way to work and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The flowers and vase in the center were my design, some embroidery was added to the leaves and the vase and I used straight line quilting. Binding will have to wait until the current binding project is complete.
I don’t have the best setup for taking photos of pieces hanging off the Gammill–too much back light from the window overlooking the huge field behind my building but I think you can see the quilting–easy with channel locks and the border I designed using flying geese. The dark blue floral is the original fabric and I have a three inch square leftover.
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.