Saturday, September 29, 2012

Something's gotta give...

I know I've said it before, and there's a very good chance you're said it once or twice before, but something's gotta give on my stash; it's way out of hand.  Knowing that, you'd think that I would stop bringing in more fabric until I had used up some of what I have.  (Does any of this sound familiar to you?)

All right, so with a new quilt shop in town (after being without one--nearby, anywhere--for nearly 9 months, I haven't quite declared a moratorium on buying new fabric.  (I'll have you know that a friend and I went to a closing sale at shop 30 miles away, and I didn't buy even a scrap of fabric!)  However, having learned some Kaizen principles (small steps--very small steps) I sat down with one of my strips bins today to sort into light, medium, and dark strips for a scrap project I have in mind.  Now, a Kaizen-sized step would be get down the bin and find bags for the sorted strips.  I out-did myself and sorted the entire bin. 

I expect to be making some changes in the sorting, especially moving from the medium pile to either the light or dark, but it will do until I pull out a ruby beholder.  

The next step is cutting some muslin for the foundations, then do some stripping.  I have a picture in my mind's eye, which may or may not be how it manifests in reality.  We'll see.   I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Random block thoughts

It's not what you're probably thinking.   It isn't random thoughts about blocks, but thoughts about a random block.   As a part of a creativity exercise, with permission to just play and be silly, I decided to try something that I've been thinking about for some time--or a bit of a variation.  (I'll try the original idea some day; it just wasn't today.) 

  I pulled out the 6 books that are sitting on top of my quilting bookshelves, opened them up and pulled out a step from one of the blocks.  Truthfully it wasn't completely random because steps that are very specific to a particular block wouldn't work, but general technique steps.    I chose which one would be most appropriate for the first step, then randomly numbered the others.   And those became the instructions for building 4 blocks.

1) Make a string block (or, 4 blocks)
2) Stack them, and make 3 vertical-ish cuts; shuffle each section, and sew.  Square up
3) Cut diagonally, corner to corner, and make half-square triangles.
4) Using fold and flip method, add triangles to opposite corners
5) Sew 4 blocks together, with sashing between
6) Twist the blocks

So, I raided my bin (confession time: ONE of the bins) with strips and strings, waiting to be sorted some day (wink, wink)

and selected greens and browns to start piecing.

When I had pieced enough strips to make squares from the piecing, I squared them up to 11-1/2" (the largest that I could get out of all 4 blocks.)

After stacking them, I did the vertical-ish cuts and shuffled them so each block would have 4 different sections.

Here are completed blocks.  

I'd like to tell you that I then went on to the next step but I liked these so much that I quit!  It turns out that this is going to be a good technique for a quilt concept that has been rolling around in my head for several months now.    Maybe one day soon I'll go on with the other 4 steps.  Or maybe I'll start with plain squares, rather than strip pieced.  Or maybe I'll start with a 9-patch, or maybe....

So many ideas, so little time.....



Saturday, September 8, 2012


Today I found "my" quilt shop again.  The shop at which I worked for a dozen years, and where I did (naturally) most of my shopping closed at the end of last year.  There are several other quilt shops in the metro area but I have missed being able to run (basically) around the corner if I needed to pick something up; 40 minutes to the nearest other shop just isn't quite the same.

But a new shop opened this week, and only 5-10 minutes from my house.  It's a bright and cheerful place, with friendly staff and a variety of things to make my heart glad.  (And they have DMC floss--you'd be surprised how hard that is to find in these parts.)  It's lovely to have a shop to call "home" again--it's just a good feeling, as any quilter or knitter/crocheter knows.

So, while it's not good news for my pocketbook, it's good for my soul.  Support your Local Quilt Shop or Local Yarn Shop!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Colorful Crochet--Doing Color Changes

I'll be doing the Patchwork Squares afghan as part of the Crochet Society's Fall CAL (Crochet ALong) and because it has so many wonderful color changing opportunities I thought I'd like to check out some methods to do the color changes easily, and with as little weaving-in of ends as possible.  I hate weaving in ends.

There are really two issues at hand:  changing colors without knotting the ends of the color together, and hiding the tails for the 2 colors at each change of color.

I found a few vids on YouTube:

Crochet Tidy Away Ends and Color Changes, from Megan E. Mills

From All Free Crochet:  How to Change Color Without Knots, right-handed

How to Change Color Without Knots, left-handed

If you're more of a text person, or want something in writing that you can print out, here are a couple of choices.

Here's a short demo/explanation:

Crochet Cabana has a thorough explanation, along with photos; it shows how to do it at the beginning of a row, and also in the middle of a row.

(And if you are also doing the Folding Fans Scarf in the CAL, the "Crochet Doctor" in that issue of Crochet Today is about color changes and color work in crochet.)

It takes a little bit of practice to work crochet around tails, but it's not difficult and, for me, it's much less discouraging than having to weave in ends.

If you find it to be not your cup of tea, here's a video from Red Heart on weaving in ends. f  It is something that you can do while sitting in front of your favorite televisions show.  For some projects, maybe your favorite show's last season or two.

Enjoy the CAL, and don't forget to post photos of your yarn choices and progress on Ravelry!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cross-Pollenated Creativity

Today I had an "aha!" moment on a writing project, turning it into much more.  My chosen project as part of my Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach training is to write a book (or article, depending on how it all turns out) based on some of  my Dad's stories about his experiences growing up.  The first story/experience is about helping to wire the farmhouses around the town where he drew up, in 1938.  It's been evolving in my head, and had developed into an appreciative comparison of his growing-up years, without electricity, and my life, which was surrounded by electricity and conveniences therefrom.

So, the cross-pollenation happened today while I was watching a quilting video, and it hit me:  this is history, I'm a quilter (in addition to a writer, albeit amateur).....this is perfect for an appreciative quilt comparison, too.   I can research traditional quilt blocks that help to tell the stories of Dad's life, but also design modern, art quilts that express them, too:  representing his era, and mine.  Each informs the other.  And the book just changed and expanded, better than it would have been without that cross-pollenation.

And so, it seems to me, it is with arts.  They aren't ideated (is that a word?) or created in a vacuum, away from other arts and experiences.  Artists find inspiration in so many different places and objects and experiences, including other art forms.  Whether you consider yourself to be an artist in "just" one form, or you dabble in many, generations of artists in countless media and forms contribute to  the world's experiences, and inform everyone's artistic ventures.

When I am knitting or crocheting, the patterns and colors and textures become a part of my creative body of work and will no doubt appear, in some form, in quilting or in writing or spinning or even developing slides for presentations and classes I do for work.  When I see a painting in a gallery or on the web, my brain files away my impressions and memorable aspects.  I'll never copy that painting but a color combination, or a texture or general impression will become a part of me and my creative life.  Nature's art is a constant inspiration, and my gardening brings more to the art party.

The many wonderful friends I have made through dabbling in various arts also inform and enrich my creative life, in more ways than I could describe.   You all know what I mean.

No work of art (and whether we are making a quilt or knitting a scarf or writing a book, it IS art) is born out of nothing.    It is all of pieces of everything we see, learn, and experience.  What a glorious life we have, surrounded by inspiration, waiting to feed our creativity.