adding some toppings to the vanilla.

So, I have quilted all of the individual blocks.
I think it was the most fun I have ever had in doing machine quilting. Well, at least not nearly as stressful as maneuvering a big quilt under my Juki.  Most of the blocks have similar, repetitive designs but on the occasional block, I just had to stitch something a bit different. 

So now comes the big decision.  To add or not to add. 
The bits 'o color strips.

I had all but decided to only use the goldish bits and already dubbed her as Butter Brickle,  I just had the feeling red was going to be too abrasive.  Not that I think red itself is abrasive, because there is nothing better than red in a quilt. And I am thinking that the blues and greens were adding too much contrast.  I just had mono on my mind.  Or perhaps because it was warm and sunny outside, I didn't need any added color.   But today was cooler and not so bright, I thought to try again.   I needed some reds and greens and blues.  I think I will let her hang a while longer and see what happens during the next few days. 

Do you ever think that the way you make a final decision on something creative 
just might be based on your mood at the time?  Or the weather? 

And now I am so in the mood for color.  So I took 3-4 steps in my studio 
and turned to my other design wall.

Another design idea for peacock colors.  Using this as my inspiration.

it has been a vanilla week



sample of a quilted block    

Finding that linen, linen/cotton blend and linen/rayon blend fabrics tend to be a bit slippery, I am happy that I decided to begin this project in the quilt as you go manner.  Also finding also no matter that I cut several the blocks the same size, once they are pressed and quilted, they are no longer the same size.  So the remaining blocks, or about half of them are just random sizes. That makes for more challenges, as in how to connect all the blocks nicely.  Hopefully I will be able to vary the joining strips to accommodate the size differences, using some of my bits o' color strips.  And hopefully makes for a more interesting design. 

As I was quilting the blocks, with absolutely no preplanned idea of what I would be doing from minute to minute, it dawned on me, that it had the feel of American Indian piecework designs.  Or so it feels to me.  Which led me back to my original inspiration, which I had  forgotten all about.  It was a Pendleton blanket that my daughter had posted on her website,  
as a nice Christmas gift for someone special.  
If you check out that blanket you will see 
colored stripes on an off white background.  

And now I am ready for chocolate, strawberry, peach, lemon, lime, pineapple. . . .


Hope you have a weekend full of sunshine and color.

being neutral continues to be a challenge

Thursday's progress
Friday's progress
Sunday's progress

 I won't be boring by posting the umpteen other arrangements. 
Maybe just use one color in the strips,

or perhaps stay totally neutral, like my original commitment,


or make many more multi-color strips to play with.  
Or rearrange all of the blocks, yet again.
Or better yet, slash all these blocks and then rearrange.
Oh yeah, at this point the measurements are approximately 50" x 60"
and I am shooting for a finished size of around 66" x 78" or lap size.

a foto-less friday

Even after all the encouragement from everyone on my neutral state of mind, I just kept spinning my wheels today.  I made a couple more blocks, then began another peacock block,  then couldn't even muster up the courage to quilt some more on my log cabin posy quilt.  So I decided it was time to clean up my studio.  That always helps clear the cobwebs.  Then I also decided it was time to rearrange my studio.  Sorry, no studio pictures of the before.  I started dragging things around before I thought to take a quick snapshot.  I am still not completely happy with the new arrangement, but as my Mother was quick to point out, I have too much stuff in this room.  I bit my tongue and did not mention to her that I had been planning to move my studio to our spacious basement apartment where she now resides.  Ah, well, it is all for the best.. Anyone want to buy a gently used sewing machine?  Or actually three?  Or a nice little featherweight, which has only been out of it's travel case  a very few times in the last, er, perhaps, uh, 30 years?  Indeed, I do have too much stuff.  

And I am so happy to have Mother close by.  She will be celebrating her 91st birthday next Tuesday.  Can you just imagine?  She is 91 years young, still driving her own car, doing her own thing, but yet complaining that she just can't understand why she isn't able to do as much as she used to be able to do.   We should all be so lucky.  We will celebrate her birthday with her favorite meal.  Meatloaf, macaroni & cheese, green beans, sweet corn, fried okra, mashed potatoes, cornbread, ~ all done southern style of course.   Many of  the items which were frozen and canned from the summer garden.   Oh, and apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream and cheddar cheese for dessert.  This is a sample of the meals that I ate almost every day of my life for 18 + years.  All from our dairy  farm and vegetable gardens. 

On to other  things.  Baby Evie arrived today, a bit early, but healthy and beautiful.  So I really should get back to work on her peacock quilt. Her momma will be much to busy to collaborate on any quilts for a few months.  At any rate, she was happy to see what I had started and gave me the go ahead on having my way with it. 

Tomorrow I will be meeting a small group of ladies who want to organize a Modern Quilt Guild in the Chattanooga, TN area.  This is so exciting, let me repeat, so exciting, for me to be able to meet others in my area who have similar interests.  

And last but not the least.  I received delivery of a wonderful gift.  Snow falling on Cedars.  From Sujata.  It is on my design wall.  Awaiting my  inspirations.  But radiating such emotion.  I feel from our communications that we have so much in common.  Receiving this piece from her connects us in even more ways.  It is a gift from her heart and I will treasure it.  Isn't it a wonderful world?  Just like Louis Armstrong sang:

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Songwriters: Thiele, Robert;Weiss, George David

I've committed to be neutral

I am off and running with the neutrals.  With bits '0 color.  

 Using the quilt as you go method, but doing it my way, I've been playing around.  Trying to prevent myself from over thinking the thing.  Y'all do know how difficult that can be.  The first block is pretty cool, so I went ahead and quilted it. Just to see how that process works, but the real reason is because I have no patience at all.  I couldn't wait to jump into the thing.  The second block is a bit better, so I quilted it too. Yippeee this is fun, so I play with number three block.  Number 3 is cool, but doesn't work for me  with number 1 and 2 when I put everything on the design wall.  Let's make block four and five and see how that goes.   In between each one I am placing them on the design wall and scratching my head, looking for a way for them to fit together.  Changing and rearranging.  And yes, over thinking them.  Here is where they stand at this point. 

Now I have fully realized that I must get on with just making the blocks, throw them up on the design wall (unquilted) and see where it takes me. No more worrying that I have too many lights, too many * darks*, not enough white.  The more blocks that I make, the more I learn and the more Gee's Bend-ish the seem to feel.  Well, Gee's Bend without color.  Ya think?  At this juncture I am open for any and all opinions. 

* the tones on my computer screen show more contrast between the fabrics than they actually appear in person.  The darkest strip is actually a light shade of oatmeal.

Just so you know

When I posted my previous blog, I wasn't sure if my friend, Sujata, was ready to be exposed!  And I had not yet received her block.  Let me tell you, I am constantly hovering around my mailbox the last few days, anxiously awaiting her package.   If case you aren't already aware of this prolific and extremely talented artist, take the time to check out her personal  blog, her  group blog, and her Flickr portfolio.  When I ran across her photos of her amazing quilts, I felt a whole new world had been opened to me. I am constantly amazed at her talent and the volume of works that she produces.  She has such a wonderful style and talent with color.  So when she asked if I would like to exchange blocks, I was nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.  What could I possibly create that Sujata would appreciate.  Very deep breaths, rolling of the shoulders, fingers drumming.  Obviously, I must agree to participate. How could I refuse! 

Can you just feel the snow falling on the Seattle cedars?
I can't tell you how happy I am now to have accepted her offer.  I think that it has helped me grow a bit more with my designing.  And to receive something so very special from such a generous and kind person to hang in my home means more to me than I can express.  We are both approaching each other's blocks with some trepidation.  But in the end I know they will both finish wonderfully.

Mean while, waiting for just the right inspiration to arise, so that I can add to Sujata's block and make it into a quilt, I am keeping busy with other items.  Here's a hint.

    For Tonya's word blog

just so you know my final decision
Since my daughter did agree as to how much she liked the subtle tones and simple designs, I am playing around with that idea.  Of course, I must add just a few hints of color. It is beginning as a combination influenced by Carol TaylorYoshiko Jinzenji, and  The Quilting Edge tutorial.  I am going to give that quilt as you go technique a whirl.  By the way, if you haven't already taken a peek at Marianne's quilts, you don't know what you are missing. Isn't this blogging thing just the best ever!  Why did I ever think that I wouldn't enjoy this.

My family tree

A while back, a new friend suggested that we do a block exchange.  I would make a block and send to her and she would make a block to send to me.  We would then each complete the other person's block as a finished quilt. As both our families are environmentally conscious, we decided to use trees as the theme for our block.

I have never done anything like this and to be honest, I was very intimidated.  She is such a skilled, talented designer and quilter.  I am not sure that I could make something that she would appreciate or even like!  Even though she said, "no stress, no time limit, just when ever the mood strikes".   Still I had an immediate brain freeze. 

It was almost Thanksgiving.  Family holiday dinners and celebrations are coming along quickly, but wait! I had a vision.  I was compelled  to make this block in the midst of all this helter skeltered activity.  It took almost no time at all to make my sketch, grab some scraps and do some quick free piecing.

The holidays passed and I had not mailed this off to my friend. One day as I was critiquing the block, still hanging on my design wall, a thought suddenly occurred to me.  I realized why I was so compelled to get this completed in the midst of frantic holiday preparations.  You might notice that there are four tree trunks in this block.  One block for each family member: father, mother, daughter, son.  The tree on the left is spaced slightly apart from the other three.  The branches from the three trees on the right seem to be stretching out toward the tree on the left.   My daughter lives across the country from the rest of our family and would not be home for the holidays this year.  She would be spending the holidays with her husband and his family.  Was this a subconscious effort on my part?  All the while I was making this block, I wanted to extend it to include many more trees to complete the picture. But we had set a size limit.  I would have to save this idea for another day.   In the mean time ~ this block has gone to my lovely friend to share a part of my heart and my family.  And I am looking forward to receiving her block.  A gift from her heart and her family. 

Do you ever have those moments, when you look back at something you have created and realized that there was a deeper, unconscious force that causes you to create ?  What colors to choose, how to relay to others what you are feeling?  

good books

After visiting Jacquie's blog  I  must  talk about it. She is working on this incredible minimalist quilt and had referenced one of my favorite artists.   I have been drooling, slobbering through Quilt Artistry ~ Designs from the East by Yoshiko Jinzenji for months and months.  If I ever decided that I would resale this book on eBay I would have to note that it was a bit crinkled and looks as if it had been dropped in a tub of water.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I received Yoshiko's latest book, Quilting Line + Color.   It is going to look the same way in no time at all.  Of course these are two books that I will never part with. They are so soothing to page through.   Even if you don't like the minimalist style, they are both worth checking out, in my humble opinion. 
I have had some wonderful linen and cotton fabrics laying on my cutting table waiting for the right moment. They have been there for about, er, ah, well, judging by the dust, 6 months.  As much as I would love to make a quilt for my bed in white Jinzenji style, like this,

it would never, ever do.  With two cats and a husband who, although they love all my quilts, they just don't seem to get the fact that I would like to try and keep them clean.   While the four or five colorful quilts that are currently piled on our bed

don't show cat hair, grease, coffee and food stains, an all white quilt would not survive.
I learned that lesson from a previously white matelasse.   Let me rephrase:
I would not survive the stress of constantly trying to keep it clean.
As you can see, I don't even bother making our bed anymore. 

So back to the fabrics that I am going to use ~~~ I think ~ ~~  My bedroom walls are greige.  They've been that way for er, oh, um, a couple of years, or more.  Waiting for just the perfect complimentary bed coverings.  Currently the bed quilts are in a constant state of change, as is the wall decor.  Why is it that I can always give a quick and easy opinion when a friend asks for decorating advise at her house, and I can never make a decision at my house?  Do you have that problem?  Sorry, I am rambling around again.

So here are my fabrics:

Linens with a few Kona cottons.  Various shades from charcoal to pale gray.

What I would really love to use would be this:
 All white/oatmeal/neutral linen. Perhaps add bits of deep grays here and there. Then lots of lovely stitching.


Maybe I could settle for something like this:

That just might hide all the cat hair and coffee stains.  Ya think?

Maybe the answer would be to make  the grays quilt for my bedroom. Wait a minute!
A light bulb moment. I can throw in some bits of hand dyed and shot cotton in terra cottas, turquoise, eggplant, fuchsia etc, etc, etc.

It may not have such a cool serene feel, but in the long run, I think I might like it even better.  Maybe I am not too much of a minimalist after all huh?   I am not too sure how long I can live without lots of color around me.
  I could always make the white/neutral quilt for my minimalist daughter's bedroom/guest bedroom.  It might stay a bit more clean if it is only used a few times a year.  Plus, I'll still have the books to drool over whenever I feel that urge. 
Thanks for helping me work through all that.  And if you have a chance,
be sure to check out Jinsenji's books. 

Thursday thoughts

Having offered to make a quilt for a baby due in a few short weeks, I asked Momma-to-be for her thoughts on colors, fabrics, theme and so forth.  I was excited to hear of her choices.  First of all she asked for dots, stripes, paisleys using the colors of kelly greens, turquoises, soft yellows and browns.  The next request not only excited me but challenged me.  Her family has peacocks and she has always loved those birds and their colorful plummage.  So she suggested that I might perhaps use a peacock symbol of some type on the quilt - nothing complicated, maybe something similar to the NBC peacock.  WHOOOOAAAA  Momma!   What am I gonna do?  I first thought of using my hand dyed solid fabrics.  Something abstract and free along the lines of Gwen Marston.  But maybe that is a bit too intense.  So back to dots, stripes, paisleys.   After many, many sketches, the best bet is go to the machine with my scrap bags.  Begin with the "eye" of the peacock feather and work my way through a block.  

Here is the result of my intuitive process, placed on a piece of fabric that I had batiked last summer, when it was so miserably hot and I was wishing for cold weather.  
(When will I ever learn ~ be careful what you wish for.)

I think the best way to continue this is to make a few more blocks and see where it takes me.  Lots of ideas swirling around.  I think I know where it will go, today.  We'll see what happens.