27 September 2011

Desert outing

Malcolm, Hamish & I were lucky enough to spend a few days in the Utah canyon lands last week. H was there on business, and the kid and I tagged along. We stayed at a small hotel close to the Glen Canyon Dam, and a stone's throw from the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Staircase National Monument.

The single story buildings were modern and spare, with tall, thick concrete walls enclosing guest rooms, defining paths and courtyards, and protecting from the desert sun. In a cooler climate the walls would have been oppressive, but here they were comforting and protective.

The architects did a wonderful job of framing views -- sometimes slivers between walls, and sometimes framed panoramas. For the record, I love a framed view. The aesthetic of a glass house is very appealing, but I don't really want to live inside it. Buildings need windows in solid walls just like magazines need editors. Too much view is simply overwhelming.

Here are some photos of our memorable outing.

Stencil quilt class

I had such a great time teaching my first quilting class the past two Sundays at New Pieces. All eight students made whole-cloth quilts using the stencil designs I brought into class. I wrote about my ginkgo leaf class sample a couple months ago.
I brought in five designs: the ginkgo leaf, a rose, a butterfly, a dragonfly, and a tarantula. I chose the tarantula for a spooky Halloween project. We spent the first two hour session talking about color and contrast, fabric selection, transferring designs to fabric, and then beginning to sew. (Susi blogged about the first session at Just Crafty Enough.) We all worked together to solve some unforeseen challenges transferring the designs to fabric. We all agreed that next time I should plan more time for this step.
Jane picked the most beautiful fabrics for her ginkgo quilt.
The second session we finished sewing the designs, cutting the stencil away, and basting the quilt sandwiches. Everyone was well on their way to completing the project. I can't wait to see the finished quilts.
Jaime used a dark background for her rose.
The photo is a little dark, but Nancy's dragonfly is going to be amazing! Can't wait to see Susi's and Jane's ginkgos, Jaime's and Angela's Roses, Nancy's dragonfly, Amanda's and Claudia's butterflies, and Lauren's rock 'n roll tarantula.

I've created a Flickr group for students and blog readers to post photos of work from class or Piece and press tutorials. I'd love to see your stuff there! http://www.flickr.com/groups/pieceandpress

And finially, I've scheduled a repeat class Sunday December 4 & 11 at New Pieces. I believe four of the eight slots are already taken, so sign up soon if you'd like to take the class!

11 September 2011

Pear blossoms

Thomas Knauer sent me a little bit of his upcoming fabric line for Andover, Pear Tree, to see what I would make with it.
I've been working with a bunch of medallion designs, and I thought all the curvy egg shapes in Pear Tree would really shine with some curved piecing.

This is also my first attempt at quilt as you go (QAYG), where you quilt your blocks and then join them later. Granted I haven't joined any blocks yet, but still I'm wondering why I haven't done this before. You have so much more control working with small pieces. For the echo quilting in the medallion, I turned the block round and round. It was such a breeze compared to the circle quilting on the Ripple quilt.
I'm making four medallions, each set it Kona Bone, with window pane sashing to match the prints. I'm leaning toward a dusty pink for the sashing, but I might go blue or green.
The second medallion is pieced (I actually did the pink one first), and ready for the QAYG treatment. There are some piecing photos after the fold.

09 September 2011


The Bumble Beans Basics Miscellany challenge blocks are due tomorrow, so I thought I'd go ahead and post my entry. Twelve challengers were given 8 letter sized cuts of Julia Rothman's Miscellany collection from Cloud 9 Fabrics to design and create a unique block.
After seeing Beth's posts about her card trick blocks, I've decided to call my design "coin trick." My design features 4 overlapping circles instead of squares.
Between my practice block (with fishbones) and my entry block (with candy trees), I used all 8 Miscellany prints.
I pieced the blocks on the machine in four sections. Each section had a circle and two of the border strips to make a complete edge. I pieced the sections in pairs, then combined the two halves to finish the block. All the seams are curved, but there are no y-seams. The photo above shows the final seam pinned and ready to sew.

I think these two blocks would work great together in a larger quilt. I wanted to use all the prints in the challenge block, but the circles would pop more if the  borders were a light solid or a small dot.

I played around with some mock-ups this morning.
Without sashing I like how the edge pieces come together in the block corners to form crosses.
With the addition of gray sashing the blocks appear to have more depth.
But I think this block really shines on point. The tension between the diagonal force of the sashing and the vertical repeat of the coins creates a sense of movement and energy.

08 September 2011

King me

The Checkers quilt is done, and I'm surprised how much I love it. If only I could figure out how to photograph large quilts (twin size, this time). Sure, ironing would go a long way.
But still, this photo is with 6'-4" me, standing on a curb, tippy-toes. And the binding is still dragging. My binding does not drag!
The background fabrics are Kona Snow and Kaufman Carolina Chambray in natural. The squares are Merimekko print solids.

I've posted about the quilting before. I could not be happier with how it turned out. Such rich texture and the hand-feel is fantastic.
Here's the checkerboard.
The back has a strip of pumpkin pie. The background is Kaufman chambray, the light orange is a Kaufman solid, and the dark a Merimekko print.
Oy, I should have ironed.
I'm so happy with the texture and color in the detail shots -- I was worried the iron would ruin it. I love these detail shots in evening light, but the whole-quilt shots are garbage. And I don't have a studio bed to take pictures on.

What is your photography strategy?

07 September 2011

Crisis averted

I finished up the ripple quilt the weekend before last. I had marked the circles for quilting using a compass and a soft graphite pencil. As I went along most of the marks came out (or smudged evenly), so I wasn't too worried about washing out the last bits after binding the quilt. But just to be sure I applied some diluted Tide detergent to the most obvious marks, then headed off to the laundromat to wash this and the two other quilts I finished in August (!) in a large front-load machine.

Well, I got distracted and ran an errand or two before the laundromat, letting the detergent sit on the fabric for a little over an hour. Didn't seem like a big deal. The blankets came out of the washer looking fine, with no trace of pencil. But when it came out of the dryer there were big discolored bloches -- like dingy age stains -- everywhere I had applied detergent. Ack! And a subsequent rewashing and air drying did nothing to get rid of the stains. Ack!

After a lot of interweb consulting and Twitter hand-holding, I've managed to make things right. I didn't try all the suggestions (I would have if I had to!), but the thing that worked was distilled white vinegar. I threw the blanket in the tub, doused the whole thing with a gallon of vinegar, and let it sit for an hour. Then I filled the tub with cold water, agitated a bit, and let it sit for another hour. Finally, I drained the tub, sent the quilt through another wash cycle, and voilà, the stains are gone.

Here's a photo of the damp quilt hanging to dry. The view is from the back. The khaki strip with the orange and white circle are on the back (the side facing us) and the front, visible through the backing and batting, is an arrangement of drunkard's path blocks pieced from a Kaufman Kona charm pack and various off-white solids. Hope to have more photos of the quilt in more presentable condition soon!