Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides

Which, roughly translated, means "now you see it, now you don't." That is the motto for Unseen University of Discworld fame. It is also the title I have settled on for this quilt in honor of Sir Terry Pratchett. "Now you see it, now you don't" seems an appropriate epithet for Alzheimer's disease.

I have tried to load the pictures so that you can click on them to see a larger image. Below is a detail shot of the charms I used to recreate the main elements of Ankh-Morpork's shield, indicating that the buildings you see represent the city of Ankh-Morpork. You may also be able to see the seed beads I've used to secure the top layer of fabrics to the batting.

I do all my embellishing through these two layers. The batting (Warm & Natural) provides stability. My backings are added last. They are secured by the application of the binding and an occasional tacking stitch through to the front.

Here we have the University itself. You may not be able to see the irridescent seed beads I used to secure the sheer fabric. I had a hard time seeing where I'd put them as I was adding them!

And finally a wizard. This one is a little more elegant than I picture the wizards of Discworld but it was the best I could come up with. I picked up on the star elements in the background of the wizard print and used star sequins to secure the background around the wizard and the University. All in all I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out. :- )

Currently my plan is not to send this to the AAQI, but rather to send it to the first ever North American Discworld Convention being held in Phoenix over Labor Day weekend this year. They are holding a charity auction during the event to raise monies for the Alzheimer's Research Trust and for Terry Pratchett's favorite charity, the Orangutan Foundation. I do, however, have another Priority Quilt in the works for the AAQI...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pink Artists Raffle Donation

First of all, let me offer my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. Not only did I not do any handwork over the weekend, I had a few bad days in other ways. Hopefully that's over with now and I'll have a nice long streak of good days.

So let me show you what I made for the Pink Artists raffle:

It's a needlebook. That pink behind the face and crown isn't quite true in this picture (wonder how that happened?) but the colors in the next photo are reasonably accurate. The picture above is of the front, the one below is the back. Can you tell how much fun I had embellishing this?

The pages are wool felt, and the inside of both the front and back covers are pockets where you can stash extra thread or a pair of folding scissors or whatever you may need in a stitching emergency. With a bit of finnagling even a credit card will fit in the pockets! (The pink is an upper flap and the black print is the pocket part.)

Here's an inside shot of the first one I made, that I use myself. I don't use those folding scissors much anymore since I'm home nearly all the time now, but back in the day I used to carry this with me to work so I could sit and stitch during the slow moments.

I've always like the Slip-N-Snip folding scissors. They're stouter and sharper than the cheaper versions.

Last year the Pink Artists raised over $3,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. This will be my small contribution to the effort to meet or exceed that amount this year. As soon as I know the details of how you can enter to win this needlebook or any of the other handmade art that is coming in I'll be sure to let you know!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Laying the Foundation

I said in my last post that I'd been doing some handwork. I'll show you that later. What I'm going to show you first is a piece that will require some handwork - which I hope to do this weekend.

I'm guessing that few of my readers are familiar with the author Terry Pratchett and his series of books set on the fictional Discworld. Suffice to say that I am a big fan. According to Sir Terry the stories started out as parodies. What they have become is subtle and spot-on satire. He's British, so there's the dry humor they're known for too. Whenever I need a laugh I pull out a Terry Pratchett book and dive in.

I was just heartbroken to learn that this brilliant man had been diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's Disease. I knew I would make at least one Priority Quilt in his honor, and pulled out a few novelty prints with that in mind. Then I got stuck.

Wizards figure prominently in several of the Discworld books. They learn their "skills" at Unseen University, located in the largest city on Discworld, Ankh-Morpork. The images I had on my novelty prints included two different wizards and representations of what was meant to be Hogwarts (of Harry Potter fame). I fussy cut a section of Hogwarts to create Unseen University and then another section to represent Ankh-Morpork. It was the wizard who was giving me fits (of course - that's what they do best!). The one I really wanted to use was just too big. So I had to go with a smaller version.

My next problem was how to convey that the University can be visible or invisible according to the dictates of the Archchancellor of the University and the circumstances of the moment. I have a small collection of sheer fabrics in my stash and found one that looked like it would do the trick. Simply laying it over the University didn't seem to be enough. So I pulled out my Janome needlefelting machine and had a go. Voila!

You can see in the picture below that the sheer is caught in one seam and part of another. I will tack it in place with some sparkly beads. I pinked the edges that will remain exposed. Hopefully, since this is a wall hanging, that will be enough. This quilt will likely be quilted entirely with beads. That seems to be what I do.

The other thing I do is make stuff to donate to raise money for causes I believe in. To that end I am working on a special item for the upcoming Pink Artists raffle. Isn't it lovely?

Ha! This is the backside you silly. I'll show you the finished product very soon, I promise. In the meantime, let me offer you one of my peonies to make up for pulling your leg...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flower Show

The "heat wave" continues. I believe we have officially broken the record for the number of consecutive days without rain during May and June. In other words, the weather here is more like the rest of the country usually is at this time of the year!

I have been doing some more hand stitching but am not ready to show my work just yet. To fill in the gap I thought I'd share a few of the flowers in our yard. First off is this miniature rose we inherited from the previous owner:

Pretty, colorful little blossoms that don't last all that long. There are three other rose bushes - I've shown the blooms on the one outside my studio window in the past - but when I took this tour they weren't looking all that great.

I've seen pictures of day lilies in full bloom on other blogs. So far ours have set buds but have not opened up.

We have two different types. This variety appears to be a little ahead of its' cousins.

Here is my poor little white peony. I thought I'd lost this plant altogether and then one day as I got out of the car I noticed it was up and sporting a single bud. This is its' third year (I think) and this is the biggest it has ever been. I've heard that peonies don't like to be moved, but I may dig this one up and put it in the side yard near my pink peony...

...because the pink peony is the same age but is covered in gorgeous fat blossoms:

This is only one section of the whole bush! I cut one bloom to have in my studio but I don't dare to bring in more than one because flowers tend to have the same effect on my husband as man-made chemicals do on me. Some are worse than others of course. Generally, the more fragrant the flower the worse it is for him. {sigh}

And speaking of chemical effects, I discovered to my immense pleasure that our most local bead shop is, in fact, still open for business (I'd heard a rumor that they had closed up shop without warning). I went over today to do my part to keep them in business but naturally I ended up paying for it with more than mere money. Ah well, this too shall pass.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Mourning for Mexico's Daughters"

Here's the final version of my quilt for Monica's a-DRESS-ing the Situation (see button on sidebar) challenge:

I used 3 strands of cotton embroidery floss to make the pink crosses in the background, thus quilting the top two layers together. Wooden crosses painted pink are being used in Mexico to commemorate the victims of this particular insanity against innocent young women.

I chose to feature this angel from the "Tree of Life" print by Andover Fabrics on the back. I like the idea of the names of the victims being recorded in the Book of Life. I've used other angels from this print in my AAQI Priority Quilts. That's where I learned about the Fast Finish Triangles too. I've been using them on my little quilts ever since.

As you can see, I haven't yet done the lettering to label this quilt. I'll use a Pigma pen for that purpose. I try to sign all of my work, whether it's quilts or dolls or whatever. An artist wouldn't let a painting out of the studio without a signature; why should I?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tryin' to Stay Cool

I haven't put the borders on my friendship quilt yet. My original goal was to get the blocks off the sheet and into one cohesive piece and I achieved that. Now I want to take a break from big quilts - and from having the iron on too much! We are just not prepared to deal with the heat around here ;- )

I have done a bit of piecing though. You may have noticed the button in my sidebar for "a-DRESS-ing the Situation." This is a challenge of sorts that was the bright idea of Monica over at girl gone thread wild. The purpose of the challenge is to shine more light on the unresolved murders of young women in northern Mexico. You can read more about the situation here (among other places). I have a tendency to be very literal in my interpretation of things so it's no surprise that I pieced the shape of a traditional Mexican dress.

That was a few days ago. Yesterday I had quite the conversation with my Inner Perfectionist in my journal. As a result I was able to do some embroidery on the dress with both cotton floss and beads.

I'm rather pleased with the way it has turned out. You're not seeing the final product yet. Once I get the binding in place I'll show you how I quilted it. This is the same size as the Priority Quilts I've made for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, 9" x 12".

You should be able to click on the pictures to get a close look. The biggest flowers are some ribbon yo-yos I purchased from the Flights of Fancy Boutique. I've ordered them twice now; I really like them!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Now What?

Now that I've got the friendship blocks together (finally!) I'm not sure what I want to do about the border(s). In the back of my mind I've always pictured a simple whole-cloth frame of one fabric. In fact, I've purchased three different pieces of yardage for that purpose over the course of the last couple of years. I've already eliminated one as a possibility. The black & white print that was in my last shipment from eQuilter (in this post) is a little busier than I'd like. There was another black & white print I debated about buying when I placed that order. It was a larger scale floral print, sort of Jacobean in flavor. Now I wish I had that one instead. My other option at the moment is this pink stripe.

I like the stripe because it ties together all the different pinks in the blocks. Maybe I'll figure out a way to use both of them. I may have to invest in a nearly-solid black for an inner border. I'm pretty sure I don't want the border treatment to get too involved. Mostly because I'm basically lazy, but also because the top itself already has a lot going on in it.

In the course of assembling the friendship top I managed to sew up all the patches I'd cut previously into Bow Tie blocks. I've also made up a few more Shoo Fly and Churn Dash blocks and even some flying geese units. Building my very own Parts Department I guess. ;- )

This is a 10" block I made out of some patches I'd cut years ago and just recently unearthed.

There are a couple of small challenge pieces I'm working on too. The Priority Quilt for Terry Pratchett has not moved forward at all but I have pieced another top in honor of another friend of mine who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's (or some form of dementia). {sigh} I will no doubt be doing handwork again soon. That seems to be what I do on these small quilts. I had to venture out into JoAnn Fabrics this morning for supplies, and while I was there I picked up a copy of the premier issue of Art Quilting Studio. Toward the back there's an article showing the results of a challenge to make an 8" quilt/block based on something found in your purse. The next challenge is to use something in your refrigerator as inspiration. There's an intriguing idea! I don't know whether anything will come of it but I am seriously tempted to play along.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Happy Camper

I got the pictures in reverse order (again) so to keep it possible for you to click on them to look at bigger images I will start at the end of my story...

The temperatures have returned to something approaching normal for this time of year so I was able to sleep under my Flower Garden quilt last night - hurray! I also have an extra pair of hands around the house for a short time so we went out in the backyard to take pictures of the big quilts I've been making recently. Here's a full shot of the Flower Garden quilt:

In case you're new to my blog, the block is a 12" Shoo Fly (the white patches) and the blocks are all set right up against each other. This quilt ended up about 78" x 88".

Even better, my friendship blocks are all set together into a top. Woohoo!

I thought this was going to be a rectangular nearly-twin size quilt when I first laid out the blocks but it has turned out almost square. Without double checking the measurements I'd say it's roughly 68" x 70". It's going to have borders so I guess it could end up being legitimately bed size when I finally declare it done.

What I am intrigued by is the fact that I'm making so many large quilts these days. In the past it was a rare event for me to make a quilt that would fit even a twin bed. Lately that seems to be all I'm doing! I'm sure part of the reason for this is that I am home practically all day, every day. I also have dedicated work space. I have the time now to dig out those old projects and leave them out while I wrestle with them. I have more experience too. I am usually able to solve the problems that caused some of those projects to become UFO's in the first place. I have enough self-knowledge to recognize what I can realistically finish and what is beyond my abilities or interests. I have freed myself from the Quilt Police to the point that I can combine orphan blocks and bits to create serviceable quilts out of things other folks might discard or think unworthy. I have made the conscious decision to make quilts for my own pleasure and amusement, not to achieve technical perfection. In the end, I'm a pretty happy camper these days, in spite of the restrictions imposed by my chemical issues.
:- )

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's HOT!

Which is unusual for this area at this time of the year. Some places broke long-standing heat records today. Not sure whether we did or not. All I know is I've had the windows closed and covered, did most of my "heavy work" early this morning, and will be sleeping with the fan running all night again. I'm happy to put up with the discomfort because I know it won't last long. All too soon it will be wet and chilly once more ;- )

There has been minimal progress on the friendship quilt. It's too hot to have the iron on for any amount of time, and I don't sew without the iron on and ready to use. However, my Flower Garden quilt is back from the quilter. Yippee!!!

If you recall, these are the two blocks that didn't get along together:

This is the correction I made:

I chose this quilting pattern in part because I think it looks like a breeze blowing through the flowers. It's sort of a loose feather.

I wasn't planning to put a border on this quilt but in the end I wanted it just a bit wider to cover the bed more completely. That solved the problem of what to use for binding too. It will be the same fabric as the border :- ) I splurged on this quilt and just bought extra wide backing fabric instead of trying to create a back from remnants or something. All in all this is going to make a very nice birthday present for myself!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Progress Report

I have about two thirds of my friendship top together at this point. The top row you see here is not yet attached to the bottom section, but the bottom section is all one piece now. Whew!

I still have the two columns of blocks on the right side to deal with (they're not visible in this picture). I may take all the parts off the sheet now and try to make them fit on the design wall proper. I need to see those righthand columns hanging straight and flat to see how they're going to fit with the rest of the quilt top. Wish I felt more energetic today. I don't know if it's the prolonged heat (ha!) or some new trick my body has come up with, but I'm not feeling quite up to speed this morning.

Meanwhile, DD bought this yardage some time ago and left it with me to create a "big girl" quilt for DGD#2.

Reading in Freddy & Gwen Collaborate Again has given me some ideas for the project. Working with all this black and white has me hungering for more color too. This will very likely be what I tackle when I finally have the friendship top done. DGD's birthday is early in September; surely I can finish a twin size quilt for her by then!