28 August 2011

Cloud 9

Cloud 9 Fabrics sent me 8 quarter-quarters (9x11") from Julia Rothman's Miscellany collection to design a block for Victoria and Pat's BASICS challenge. 12 quilters are designing Miscellany blocks for a charity quilt for the BASICS quilt gather.

The fabric arrived yesterday and I have just a few days to design and piece my block. Julia  is going to pick her favorite block. I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.

I'm also working on a bed-size quilt for the quilt gather, but it won't be anywhere near done this week.

25 August 2011

Desperate Housewife's Block: Lazy Susan

Jane at Want It, Need It Quilt! asked me to contribute a block for her Desperate Housewife Sampler Quilt-along. After wrestling briefly with the "housewife" thing, I took out my curlers and started working on a design. I'm calling it the Lazy Susan. The block finishes at 8" square.

If you've been following Jane's quilt along, I know Jane's Phillips Screwdriver block only whetted your appetite for pieced curves. So lets get started!

20 August 2011


I wrapped up the loopy square quilting on the checker's quilt yesterday. It had been several weeks since I last worked on this one, and I had a bit of a block getting started again. I knew it would require several hours of heads down concentration and effort. But once I got started it went well. It wasn't less work than I expected, but keeping going was easier than getting started.

Today I'm finishing the binding and catching up on True Blood. I'm always amazed how dramatically a quilt changes when the binding goes on. So satisfying.

17 August 2011

There and back again

Malcolm and I just spent 12 days in New York with Hamish. I'm terrible at taking pictures when travelling, but I did manage to get some nice shots at the Dia: Beacon museum in the Hudson Valley. Funny it's the one place where all photography of any kind is expressly prohibited. Oh well. The museum is in an old factory building in rural New York, a two-hour train ride from Manhattan, repurposed several years ago as a showcase for large-scale modern art. And it's really wonderful.

I took Malcolm to Dia: Beacon eight years ago, when he was 18 monts old. This time, I challenged Malcolm to guess which was his favorite installation on his first visit. Turns out, I think it was his favorite thing this time, too. It's giant room with four of Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses -- massive bent steel plates, each with a surprise interior environment. One with an offset interior entrance, one spiral, etc.

When he was a baby, he immediately and joyously began running circles around and inside the ellipses. He did exactly the same thing on our recent visit. I truly felt out of time for an instant.

Here are my two guys inside one of the Serra elipses. The light in the room is amazing.

We returned to our friend Amanda's cottage in Beacon for a glass of wine and some Bananagrams.

Sydney and Totoro had a hangout sesh. Then we hopped on the train back to Manhattan.

Another great highlight of the trip was the Quilter's Take Manhattan event organized by the Alliance for American Quilts. I sadly missed the well-received Friday night modern-quilting roundtable at Vicoria Finday Wolfe's studio, but I had a great time at the other events. There were three talks Saturday afternoon: first Marianne Fons spoke on "Why We Quilt," then daughter Mary Fons riffed on reaching a new generation of quilters, and finally Mark Lipinski  interviewed designer Jay McCarroll for AAQ's flagship Save our Stories archive of interviews with quilters. I don't think Jay would call himself a quilter, though he designs fabric for quilters and the patchwork aesthetic is one of his design signatures.

The evening cocktail party at City Quilter was also fun. It was great to meet so many interesting people, including Jay, Victoria, Luke Haynes, Mark, and Meg Cox. I have to say I was a bit  quilter-starstruck. And Victoria has some photographic proof that I was actually there.

I also managed to get some sewing done on the trip. In the spirit of Lynne's Hexalong at Lily's Quilts, I pieced this 16" hexagonal medallion. It was my first go at hand-sewn paper-pieced curves, and I think it went well. I had to unpick and resew more than one seam (a lot more), but I love the results. In any future project I would definitely try to avoid so many sharp, sharp points. One easy way to do this would be to erase the inner and outer hexagonal borders and combine a few pieces.

The next step is to piece the circular medallion into a solid background, then perhaps finish as a cushion, but I didn't have the fabric or tools to make that happen while travelling.

On the flight home I made a dent in my ongoing red and blue hexie project, though I'm in mostly red territory at the moment.

Finally, an update on my tomato project. I wasn't sure if my tomatoes would survive my absence, because I had forgotten to arrange watering while we were travelling. I left some slow-drip plastic bags filled with water in the pots in a desperate attempt to keep them alive, but I was not confident.

Thankfully the plants are still alive. Not especially happy or pretty, but covered with fruit, and the leaves revived almost as soon as I gave them a little water. September is usually the hottest and sunniest month here in the Bay Area so I'm hoping for a bumper crop.

04 August 2011


I've joined Lynne's summer Hexalong over at Lily's Quilts. I'm working on a paper-pieced medallion with lots of curved seams. The central hexagon is finished, and now I'll build off the edges. At this point the edges are 4".

Lynne has posted a bunch of tutorials, and there's lots of hexie action in the Lily's Quilts flickr pool. Check it out!


01 August 2011

Habitat J quilt

At the June meeting of the East Bay Modern Quilt guild we received fabric for a new quilt challenge. Free Spirit generously gave us each several fat quarters from the Earth colorway of Jay McCarroll's Habitat fabric line. The only rule was that we could add our own solid fabrics, but non-Habitat prints were verboten.

On his blog the other day Jay encouraged craven flattery (not his term), so I took that and ran with it. The result is my J quilt.

I was struck by two things in the fabric line. First, there is a crazy mix of colors. I latched onto the contrast between the pastels and more saturated colors, evident especially in the floral dot. Secondly I was surprised by how the most angular print in the collection seemed the most organic, reminding me most vividly of living plants, palm fronds and leaf veins. 

I chose my solid colors from the floral dot print. The pastel background colors became the stripes of the J. I cut solids matching the saturated dots into fractured blocks with the Habitat prints.

The quilt is pieced in three sections: the two improvised block sections and the precise stripes. Measuring, cutting and pinning those curves was nerve wracking, but it all came out right.

I quilted with a few straight lines in royal and white on the J, then a loopy triangle meander for the rest of the quilt. I like the loopy triangles with the fractured patchwork, and especially that angular print.

I pieced the back from various solid scraps, and the tiny bit of extra fractured patchwork from the top. If you squint you can see another J. The binding is more scrappy solids. The quilt is 60" x 74" unwashed.

The Habitat J quilt was featured on Modern Day Quilts. Thanks Heather!

Update 2: This baby finally got a name: "In One Way"