Thursday, January 31, 2019

Eight Years

Swoon, 2011

A year ago, as I was contemplating the fact that I'd been blogging at A Quilter's Table for seven years, I was in the midst of prepping for a class with the Seattle MQG; anticipating a Facebook Live chat with one of my mentors; skimming through a magazine that contained my first article; finishing up a guest post on a new-to-me topic; and finalizing plans for a couple of teaching gigs. In short, I got overwhelmed and let the anniversary pass and the post sat in draft form clear to today.

Fissures, 2013

Looking back, I see something similar happened at the end of year six, and that Five Years was the last time I documented the annual date with a post, and I think I know why. As much as my sewing style had been evolving over the course of those first five years, the last three have been compounded - by opportunity mostly - and none, absolutely none of those things mentioned above could I have said back in 2011. The bottom line is... things have changed.

Sizzling, 2015

For years I was sewing at the dining room table as I could find the time, and there was more slow-stitching considering I only hand-quilted back in the day. But when I hopped on the blogging train, things started moving a little faster. Truth told, hubby and I were still relatively new to the empty nest phenomenon, and not only did that allow more time, but I needed a focus that would help me deal with the changes. Blogging and sewing more to have stuff to share on said blog... well it was a bigger deal than I'd thought, and I certainly didn't anticipate where it would lead.

Yay or Nay, 2016

I still hear the comment, "What you do now is sure different from what you used to do." And I'm always happy to hear that. Because I'm glad I opened myself up to what could be, and somehow became less afraid of trying something new. Even now, I have a project on my design wall that I've been thinking about for a while, and now that I'm into it, I don't like it. And I've come to a place where that's ok. To be honest, I feel a stab of disappointment in myself when this happens though. Like, I've traveled far enough, I should be able to avoid situations such as this. But that's not how life goes. I move forward, willing to explore a bit, and just see where it takes me. Sometimes it's a marvelous place, and just as often, not.

All In, 2018

This isn't quite the post I thought I was sitting down to write, but in the end, that's ok too. In fact it's down-right reflective of the last eight years. What I was searching for back in 2011 was "a fuller presence." I wanted to join in the online quilting community in a larger way. And in stepping into that, a whole new creative world opened up. I sure didn't expect my 'style' to evolve, and I definitely didn't anticipate the myriad of opportunities that have come my way. I got way more than I had hoped for, and for that I'm grateful. I owe alot of that to you. And going forward? I'd say the possibilities are endless. Thanks for your part in it all.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Summer Road Trip

After sharing my Homage quilt finish just a couple of weeks ago, it's almost inconceivable that I have another long-term finish to show already, but it's true! About the time I started in on quilting Homage, I sent my Summer Sampler quilt top off to be long-arm quilted. Wasn't that clever of me?

The Summer Sampler Road Trip hosted by Lee/Freshly Pieced, Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts, and Katie/Swim Bike Quilt was announced back in April of last year, but the sewalong didn't actually start until mid-May, and then we sewed through September. [See links to all of my blocks at the end of this post.] You may remember that I was on the Design Team, and created the Milan block, inspired by the view from atop the Milan Cathedral during a trip to Milan, Italy.

For my blocks, I used a mix of prints from Carolyn Friedlander's collections, along with some Gleaned coordinating solids. For the filler blocks, I combined Kona Titanium, Pewter, Iron, Silver, and Shadow, following the original Summer Sampler plan for Hourglass blocks. Finally, come November, I had a finished quilt top!

Soooo. When it came time for quilting - remember I also had the Homage quilt to quilt - I decided to do myself a favor and get a little help. I delivered the 72" x 72" top, batt, and backing - a gray widescreen by Carolyn Friedlander - to Cindy Krafft of Cascadia Quilts.

The backing was an easy and obvious choice, since I had used so many of Carolyn's prints in my quilt blocks. Cindy was a member of Seattle MQG, and I had heard nice things about her quilting.

I really wanted the feature blocks of the quilt 'framed' and Cindy did that with some absolutely lovely straight-line quilting in the gray hourglass filler blocks. So as not to detract from the feature block designs, Cindy suggested stitch-in-the-ditch for them. The density contrast definitely is emphasized between the feature blocks and the filler blocks, which ended up resulting in a fairly supple quilt.

Two solid fabrics were used for the binding - primarily Kona Iron, with a length of Kona Shadow for a little contrast.

So my Summer Road Trip is complete! Sewing the blocks, being inspired by exotic places, was really alot of fun. And I'm super pleased with the finish. Can't ask for more than that!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

#iheartyou more

Faithfully, week by week, I've been sewing up my I Heart You blocks with the 
#iheartyousewalongI'm so glad that I chose to use Lindsey/Pen + Paper Designs' Patchwork Pattern Hack and used up some fun scraps.

Is it just me, or is 'random placement' hard to achieve? I totally thought I was being all scrappy, but just look at the six blocks below. What stands out to me are all those polka dots in the bottom row! How did that happen?!

Whatever, the blocks are done, and I'll be working on sewing the sashing and borders this next week. Now there are a couple of words I don't use often! But they suit this little quilt.

Be sure and check out the #iheartyousewalong hashtag. As much as I love mine, there are so so many great fabric combos. I really think Meghan/Then Came June and Lindsey/Pen + Paper Designs have a winner with this sweet pattern!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Be Counted

I'd been looking forward to Sunday night all week. Often a time when I can focus best, I was ready to start in on this month's Bee Sewcial block. Stephanie/spontaneousthreads had given us the prompt "Be Counted", where we would select a number significant to us, and represent it in tally marks. Most of the marks were to be in dark grays, very dark inky navy, or black (look close, and you'll see mine are a random mix), with one lone mark being red.

The number I selected to represent was 40 - the anniversary hubby and I will be celebrating this fall. I kept trying to think of other (smaller!) numbers of significance, but kept coming back to the big 4-0. I made eight unique sets of four improvisational marks, measuring from 1/16" to 3/8" in width. Then I 'crossed' them using the Inset Pieced Strips tutorial by former bee-mate Hillary/entropyalwayswins.

The 'double' cross was a late-in-the-process idea, but I like the interest it adds to the piece. And the single red tally represents, to me, the 'now'....the 40th year not yet complete. And as Stephanie guessed, the up and down placement represent the rhythm of life itself. Stephanie put it better than I could have, "A journey with an uncertain destination and lots of ups and downs and joy along the way." Exactly.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Begonia :: It's a Mystery!

Another year, another new project right? And my latest is the new block-of-the-month announced at our recent Seattle MQG guild meeting. I was excited to see what Stefanie/ had planned for us. Boy was I surprised when she said "mystery quilt!" It's called Begonia, and will be built in a medallion quilt fashion.

Step one was to select a palette and 
fabrics and create a swatch panel. I couldn't believe how difficult it was to make a fabric bundle. I was trying to pull at least mostly from stash, and I was able to do that with just ordering more of my background, Kona Everglade.

The first month, we're also making some diamond-in-a-square blocks, and doing alot of fabric cutting for the months to come. If you're interested in joining us, everything will be posted on our guild blog. The introductory post is up, providing fabric requirements, the monthly schedule, and January instructions. I'm not usually much for surprises, but this will be my first mystery quilt and I'm totally up for it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Finish-A-Long :: Q1 List

Oh my. Last quarter I cut it really close! My one and only finish happened just hours before the deadline! I'm going to try really hard not to let that happen this quarter!

So there are just two projects going on my Q1 list. First, there's my Summer Sampler, which was also on my Q4 list. It just arrived back from being long-arm quilted, so a binding is all it needs. Really shouldn't take that long, right?

Next up is the I Heart You quilt I'm making for my tiny grandgirl. Since I'm participating in a sewalong, with any luck I'll have the top done by the end of the month.

So let's see if I can whip these up in record time!

Linking up with the 2019 Finish-A-Long.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Homage Quilt

It was June 1 of last year when I last had a turn to declare the prompt for the Bee Sewcial improv bee. Over our time together, we had been inspired by such a wide variety of prompts, but never by a person. And it came to me that a quilt inspired by Gwen Marston's liberated patchwork would be a glorious thing indeed.

(photo of Gwen by Kathy French courtesy of John French)

I met Gwen just one time, having the pleasure of hearing her lecture late in her career. Let's just say she made a big impact, and seeing her quilts that night, as well as those in many of her books that I've collected since, has influenced my improvisational work a great deal. 

The night I heard her speak, Gwen said, "Just have a good time and try stuff," and that's exactly what I asked my #beesewcial mates to do for this quilt. Inspired by Gwen's techniques and style, I asked for one block each, a 'sketch' as Gwen would call it, in white and redS. And oh, they did not disappoint. Below, where I've listed the makers, I've linked back to their block, so you can see more clearly the actual block definitions and the creator's own words about them.

Top row: Silvia, Kari, Felicity
Middle row: Anne, Marci, M-R
Bottom row: Karen, Leanne, Stephanie

For me at least, this kind of quilt, with its blocks of various shapes and sizes, takes a while to arrange in a layout I'm pleased with. And odd as it may seem at first glance, below was my final layout. Yes, there was plenty of space to fill in, and to do that I both made sections from scratch as well as used little bits and trimmings my mates had sent along and added to them. When they call this kind of quilt top creation 'puzzling,' they aren't joking.

Then along about October, I finally had a finished quilt top measuring 56"x60" and I was smitten.

As much as I wanted the quilting on this one to be 'perfect,' I also really wanted to tackle it myself. So the next several weeks I quilted away, hoping to have it done to enter into QuiltCon. But I had decided to quilt very improvisationally - figuring out each section as I went - and considering I was using my walking foot, there was much turning and struggling, and let's just say it wasn't a fast process. So I convinced myself to be good with that, took December off to do other sewing, then got back to it this month. Reunited, I was momentarily overwhelmed to get started again, but I focused on thinking about Gwen, focusing on her quilts and those reds(!), enjoying the shapes my beemates had created for me, and just kind of soaked it all in. Several times it crossed my mind that Gwen hand-quilted so many of her quilts, which takes time, so in my own way, I was taking that time to savor the process too.

For thread, I used three Aurifil 50wts - #2021[Natural White], #2250[Red], and #1103[Burgundy], using the white in the larger white areas, and randomly switching between the reds in the red areas. With all the various reds used in the piecing, it was nice to have a couple of different red threads too. Occasionally one of the threads was used on the opposite color - whenever the block design or size deemed it logical - and as you can see, the white threads show clearly on the Kona Rich Red wideback. There are grids, curvy and straight-lines, matchstick quilting, square spirals, Xs, triangles and spikes. For better or worse, I'm declaring it perfectly imperfect. That said, I had trouble capturing the quilting well in my photoshoot photos, but I'll try again. (See here for some in-progress shots.)

For now, wrapped up in a faced binding, this little quilting journey comes to a close. Inspiration upon inspiration shared with my Bee Sewcial friends, I couldn't have enjoyed it more. Times of challenge for sure, but more than that, I was captivated by the whole process. Inspired by the work and playful spirit of Gwen Marston, I feel we've connected in a way larger than that one brief meeting.

Gwen has said that her 'sketches' were a way to risk an adventure, and I'm thankful my bee-mates were willing to go on this adventure with me. Thank you Leanne, Marci, Karen, M-R, Silvia, Stephanie, Felicity, Kari, and Anne for all the ways you inspire and for sharing my vision for this quilt. And of course.... thank you Gwen.

See more at #beesewcialhomagequilt and #inspiredbybeesewcial.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2018 Finish-A-Long: Q4 Finish!!!

I was this close to reporting that I had zero finishes in Q4 of the Finish-A-Long. But over the weekend, after letting my latest Bee Sewcial quilt sit all through December, I got in the groove and finished up the quilting. A couple of evenings hand-stitching on a faced binding, and I can thankfully, enthusiastically declare I Have A Finish just in the nick of time!

No lie that I let this one intimidate me, and by choosing to quilt it improvisationally with my walking foot, took a very circuitous route. Unfortunately, I need a break in the weather to get some decent photos, so I'm hoping this one showing the binding is proof enough for now that it's done. This one's been hard won, and I can't wait to share more soon.

This finish was on my 2018 FAL Q4 list. Linking up with the other 2018 Finish-A-Long Q4 Finishes!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Curated Quilts Now and Then

You'll figure out soon enough that part of this post should have been up a while ago - like months and months ago. Not sure why it got delayed but there's reason enough to include it now.

So the House issue of Curated Quilts is hitting mailboxes now, and I was pretty stoked to see my little Hus quilt in its pages. It's kinda funny, since when I finished this mini for the CQ mini challenge, I really wasn't feeling it was too successful. So it was a happy surprise when it was chosen for publication. But there it is! And it 'fits' in just fine, now that I see the collection together.

It's been fun being included in an issue now and again, and what I failed to share a while back was my visit to the Curated Quilts booth at QuiltCon in Pasadena.

Photo by Danielle/@thecreativeimperative; used by permission

I was pretty excited then to have a photo taken with me holding issues I'd had quilts in....

especially my first published article, Take a Spin With Improv in Issue 02. I'd actually taken two of my sample improv log cabin pincushions, one each for Amy Ellis and Christine Ricks, the women behind the journal!

It was fun meeting them, and getting a photo along with my friend Louise/@imfeelincrafty. Louise's mini is actually hanging right behind us! It's right above the journal in the photo above - with the yellowish binding. See?

So sorry for going aldéjà vu on you in this post, but in a roundabout way, it all 'fits' with my mini being shown in the current issue. Or maybe it's just me!

If you haven't seen a copy of Curated Quilts yet, do! The journal is beautifully created, and always packed with inspiring work from makers in our community.

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Well that was fun! When Curated Quilts announced January 2 as the deadline for their next Mini Quilt challenge, I knew it would be tight. I mean with my frenetic holiday sewing and the actual holiday activities and all, I got a really late start. But that's the great thing about mini quilts.... just a few hours does the trick.

The theme was Curves, and the color palette white, spring green, moss green, burgundy, fuchsia and teal. It had been a while since playing with improv wavy curves, and they were calling me, so that's the direction I headed.

When it came time for quilting, I was in a real quandary about what color of thread to use and finally opted for Aurifil Monofilament, which I'd used with success earlier in the year. At first, I was regretting my decision, not really liking the look. But the farther and denser I quilted, the more I liked it, and crazy enough, it kind of sparkles in the light. My only real frustration was that almost every time I used my automatic thread cutter and lifted the presser foot, the filament unthreaded from the needle! With my old eyes, this isn't at all helpful! I finally got into the routine of grabbing the top thread immediately after cutting, before lifting the pressure foot, and that little trick saved the day.

It's not an exaggeration to say that this little bit of sewing over the weekend was seriously refreshing, and a great way to close out the year. A faced binding seemed a good finish for it, and in the end, my entry, confluence, measures just over 12" square.

Remembering that my smallest quilt of the year will be hanging at QuiltCon, I just want to remind you that everything we make doesn't have to be huge. In fact, making small - impulsive yet focused - can be really, really good.