21 February 2011

Another ring

I finished the third ring of the wood-block starburst quilt yesterday after dropping Hamish at the airport. It was good to have something to focus on.

The circle now measures 78" in diameter. I'm working on another ring now, then I'll fill in some corners before cropping to 92" square. I had been thinking that the rings would be centered but now I'm leaning toward setting them off center a little bit. This is partly because I think it will give the piece a greater sense of movement, but largely because it will be difficult to line up the circles on the front and back (still not sure which is which) when I go to quilt it. The other side, you may remember, has a central 36" log cabin medallion.

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on my batting for warmth question. It seems that there is a lot of enthusiasm for wool, with some outlying recommendations for silk and yak. I look forward to trying silk on a project that doesn't require ease of laundering. For example, Hobbs recommends that their Tuscany Silk batting be hand washed in tepid water then laid flat to dry, and even then will likely shrink 5%. I have not found a wool/silk blend. As for yak hair, please feel free to send me some and I'll give it a try!

17 February 2011

Almost warm enough

Well, the bad news is that Hamish's job is taking him to New York for six months. The good news is he'll have a new apartment to fill up with quilts. I'm using some block-printed cottons he brought back from India last year, as well as a couple solids. The two sides of the quilt are currently fighting for dominance. One side will have a sort of improvised starburst pattern, with concentric rings of curving rays.
The central pinwheel is 18" across and the surrounding circles will be 15" wide. Each succeeding ring will have more of the off-white solid (kona snow), until the edges are almost all white. The light was terrible today but I wanted to get some photos up while I was still in the middle of it.
The other side is already complete, with a central 36" log cabin medallion (the strips are 4 1/2" wide), tan sashing and  a gray-blue background. The two sides are very different in style and technique, though both feature pieced circles. I  agree with Hamish that the quilting will be very important to creating interest on the more traditional side.

Hamish has requested a super warm quilt ("so warm that you'll think it's too hot"), so I've been trying to come up with my batting strategy. I've found positive testimonials about a two-layer batting using Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly blend and Quilters Dream Wool battings. But even that may not be enough and I'm considering using a layer of Hobbs Thermore batting along with one or both of the others.

I've had surprisingly bad advice on the topic of warmth from several local shops, with one person assuring me that cotton is the warmest batting, and another insisting that close quilting is the key to warmth (for the record, I don't subscribe to either opinion). But mostly I feel like the question isn't interesting to most quilters. Please let me know if you've had any luck quilting a warmer blanket.

08 February 2011

Inspiration: Yoko Saito

Yoko Saito is a Japanese quilter and teacher. I came across one of her books, Patchwork Lesson, several weeks ago at the bookstore in San Francisco's Japan Town and was immediately taken with the rich textiles and beautiful monochrome compositions in her taupe/brown palette.

The projects in the book are pieced and quilted by hand. Although the text is entirely in Japanese, her process is painstakingly captured in detailed and easy to follow photos.

I love her precise concentric circle quilting over simple geometric patterns.

The book also features a few eye opening improvisational projects.

03 February 2011

Finished table runner

I finished this table runner as a commission, to be given as a housewarming gift to a couple with a taste for contemporary art and furniture. Though I can't say I'm crazy about the gray on my lighter table, I think it will  be stunning on their long black dining table!

The asymmetrical design has one large inset circle of red patchwork in the exact center of the piece, with smaller inset circles on one side and just the simple gray patchwork on the other.

I'm so glad I simplified the quilting around the circles.

The scrappy back has a single column of red rectangles. A double row of red hand stitches runs horizontally and vertically.

I'm also making a dozen napkins to go with the runner.

Update: This runner was featured on Modern Day Quilts on 2/15/2011