Sunday, August 29, 2010

August Creativity Challenge

My project is not entirely done but I wanted to post what I have before the rest of the month slips by. If I can get my body to cooperate I will probably have it finished in the next day or so but just in case...

The creativity prompt for this month was

Artwork by A Creative Dreamer, the instigator of these challenges.

My first reaction was sheer panic. I didn't have a clue what to do with that topic! The more I thought about it, however, the broader the application appeared to be. I mean, you could do anything from the transitioning of the seasons through the year to the transition of children leaving the nest (or coming back) or the ever so challenging female transition of fertility to infertility. Transition means change, and life IS change. What at first appeared to me to be a rather limited topic turned out to be limitless. That's a challenge in and of itself.

Eventually it occurred to me that there is a transition that millions of us will face and for which we currently have no vaccines, no concrete defense against, or the shadow of a cure. I am speaking of Alzheimer's Disease.

I wanted so badly to come up with a Priority Quilt to donate to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative earlier in the year. It's been too long since I've made a quilt for that project but I just hadn't been inspired. This challenge provided that inspiration. Thank you June.

As much as I wanted to do this, I was afraid my ideas wouldn't come together until it was too late. Seriously, I don't think a day went by this month that I didn't think about this challenge in one way or another. I had all kinds of ideas for other projects that I finally discarded when the concept for this quilt turned up.

It was the transition Alzheimer's patients go through - from fully functioning adult to an entity completely dependent on others for any kind of existence - that I wanted to portray. I suppose you have to be a quilter to "read" this quilt top and get the message easily, but if you start at the upper left and read the rows the way you would the page of a book you'll see the transition. (I hope.)

This is only an 8" x 12" quilt. I've used 4" blocks to create three rows. In the first row of two blocks (below) things are fine, normal. I'm imagining a quilter who travels, plays the piano, does other crafts perhaps.

Then in the second row of blocks mental abilities start to break down, to fragment and disintegrate. The Hellbucket print makes me think of the times when a normally mild mannered person will become suddenly violent or irrational. The sheet music has become disembodied notes. Stories ramble on or get repeated (etc. etc. etc.). Love still shines through unexpectedly.

The final row of blocks is a Broken Dishes block in blacks and grays, then a Flying Geese unit and a variation of the Rail Fence for the flat line at the end of mortality.

I hope this is not too depressing. The problem is that it's altogether too true and we currently have no way to combat this disease. That's why it's so important that we come up with ways to fund research and demand that our government leaders address this health care crisis in the making. I'm doing what I can in making and donating little quilts to be auctioned off to raise money for research. I hope each of my readers will find some way to address this issue themselves. Either make a quilt or buy a quilt from the AAQI website (during the next auction or on the Quilts for Sale page). Donate money directly if you like. Write to your representatives in Congress. Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors. DO something. Please. I could be the next victim. Or it might be you. Or someone you love.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Unexpected Trips

I've been out and about more this week than I probably have in the last month! I had the opportunity to go out to DD's house a couple of times. On one trip I also had the opportunity to stop and take a couple of pictures. I couldn't get out of the car to look for the best angle for a picture but this one wasn't too bad.

It's pretty hard to get a bad shot when this is what you have to work with. ;- )

I got to play a little Peek-a-Boo on one trip.

Yesterday I got really bold and daring and ventured into JoAnn Fabrics, Michael's, and even Target. I was also in my favorite thrift shop briefly. The marvelous thing is that, in spite of the strong fumes I noticed in the big retail stores (through my mask with two filters), I don't appear to have been affected by them. Certainly not as seriously as in the past. Which begs the question, what was different this time? Have I healed enough to be able to go shopping again, at least once in a while? Was it just a fluke? What do I have to do to make this magic happen again???!

The most fun part of the trip was seeing all the new Halloween stuff. I don't want to see Christmas before November but I'll take Halloween any time of the year! Michael's had the most on their shelves (I barely looked at JoAnn's because I wasn't sure at that point how sick I would get). I resisted as long as possible but when I saw this ribbon I had to have it.

It was all of $1.99 so it wasn't a big deal but it opened the door for other goodies. I don't have pictures of my other purchases. There is a feather wreath in fall colors and a little black owl with an orange glitter breast. It's going to be fun to figure out where best to show him off. :- )

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Was One of Those Weeks

Parts of it were fun and good, but most of it was challenging. The highlight of the week was the little bit of time I got to spend with my granddaughters. Here's the littlest one checking out my car from the driver's seat:

That's actually a dog leash across her lap, not the seat belt. One twin is scooting/crawling now, the other can sit by herself. We do not have identical twins here! It's fascinating to see and hear about their developments. Both have evidence that teeth are on the way. They're six months old now.

It felt like precious little sewing was getting done in the beginning of the week. And actually, precious little sewing was being done! But I managed to put away the batik yardages I'd had out to make the panel for D~'s quilt. Then I tried to tidy away some fabrics that had been out even longer. Some got put away, some didn't. I cut patches from a few and then sat down and made these:

One thing led to another and before long I also had these four liberated log cabin blocks up to 8.5."

I spent yesterday making more 6.5" liberated log cabins. I'll have to show them to you another time. I found myself slightly frustrated that I could not come up with a plan for these blocks. Which is silly; why do I have to have a plan for them? Why can't I just enjoy the process of making blocks? So this morning I made the decision to not make a decision about how these blocks are going to be used. I'm going to try to just enjoy the process and not think about the future.

In any case, right now sewing scraps seems to be all I'm up for, for whatever reason. The mere thought of trying to create a more orderly or meaningful quilt is overwhelming, even though there are a couple I'd really like to make (and one I promised to make - fortunately it has an open deadline). Guess I'm just in the resting phase of the creative cycle. I haven't even been able to bring myself to see what my blogging friends are doing these days. Know that I have not forgotten you - I just don't have the energy to visit at the moment. :- )

Monday, August 16, 2010

But Wait, There's More!

C~ went back to the Fair and look what she found:

This is my Christmas Round Robin quilt in the Group Quilt class. The central panel was made in rows by about half a dozen members of my local quilt guild several years ago. Eventually I made the sampler blocks that make up the borders, set it all together, and had Heather quilt it for me. Apparently we done good - that's a blue First Place ribbon covered up by the white Best in Class rosette!!!

I sure picked the right year to enter the Fair! Reading the judge's comments was interesting. She had a form on which she could make a check mark for 'fair,' 'good,' or 'excellent' for design, use of color, use of fabric, piecing technique, quilting technique, and finishing of corners and edges and the binding. The "binding is perfect" on this quilt and it "lays flat, corners are square." Meanwhile, on my Fungly she pointed out that it doesn't lay flat and the binding is only fair. Hmm. Maybe I'll go back and have a closer look at that. Her one positive comment on the Fungly was that she loved the backing. The backing is mostly one piece of fabric, bordered by something completely unrelated. She had to dig deep for that one! ;- )

Winning two rosettes and two blue ribbons is a wonderful experience. I've never done so well in any show I've entered. I want to thank everyone for your warm congratulations too. I've had a rough weekend health wise but I've read and been lifted by your comments.

Since I last showed the starts of a new batch of scrappy blocks I've managed to get 12 of them up to 6.5 inches but that's about all I've done.

We enjoyed our visit with family from out of state. Now that they're gone and the Fair is a thing of the past I have to figure out or decide what I'm going to apply myself to next. I admit to being a little bored with the crumb blocks (although they will be great as leaders and enders). I'm not quite ready to assemble another quilt out of orphan blocks. I've used up most of the bigger blocks I had in my stash and it takes more of the smaller blocks to build a quilt of any size obviously. So we'll see what bubbles to the surface over the next couple of days...

Friday, August 13, 2010

At the Fair

C~ went to the County Fair with her husband. They toured the quilt exhibits and took a few pictures. Here's my "Souvenirs" quilt:

Look what's pinned to the lower right corner.

That's a red ribbon - second place in the machine pieced category! Holy cow!

And then there's "Cosmic Goddesses."

Two ribbons!!! A blue for first place in the category and a Reserve Best in Class for the whole class!! I am stunned. And thrilled.

Guess I have to quit trash talking my work now. ;- )

Thursday, August 12, 2010


We have relatives coming for a short visit. To that end DH has requested we try to tidy the home place up a bit. Well, yeah. But honestly, this is my creed and I do my best to live by it:

Never mind the chemical intolerance issues; nothing makes me crankier than having to clean things that won't be clean fifteen minutes from when I finish. Or won't be noticeably improved by my efforts. I also get out of sorts when the stuff I'm trying to tidy away belongs to someone else (whose pseudo initials are DH). So to put off the inevitable as long as possible this is what I did this morning:

To avoid cleaning yesterday I made these:

And the day before that I made these:

Now I need to go sew some more to sweeten my mood before the relatives arrive... ;- )

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Going to the Fair

This past weekend I entered four quilts in the County Fair. Normally I wouldn't have entered at all. I don't like the competitive aspect of the Fair (or quilt shows). But I had three quilts that featured liberated piecing and still qualified to be entered (entries have to have been made within the last two years). I figured if I showed all three in the same fair the whole concept might be more acceptable to the viewing public.

The fourth quilt was my Christmas Round Robin which went into the Group category. It's a fun quilt and this is the last year it qualified to be exhibitied.

"Cosmic Goddesses" went into the small hand quilted, other (embellished) category.

My Fungly went into the medium tied quilts category. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the only entry in that category as tied quilts are still looked down upon as near as I can tell. Or it may not get hung at all as it has been used and laundered a good bit and may be showing too much wear.

And I entered my scrappy Trip Around the World that I'm calling "Souvenirs." I did wash it first so hopefully the wonky quilting lines won't be too noticeable.

I do not expect to see other than Participant ribbons on these quilts when I pick them up next week. I just couldn't resist the opportunity to show the public that there are quilts being made that don't conform to The Rules of Perfectionism and that those quilts can be fun and colorful and maybe just a bit more interesting than the "perfect" ones. (Was that a cat I just heard in the background?)

I was mildly distressed that my body reacted so badly when I went in to drop off the quilts. The building was spacious, and there weren't that many people there at the time, but within three minutes my hands were shaking and I was having a hard time putting my words together. It could be that the gal checking in my quilts was wearing something my nose didn't detect. Whatever. Maybe when it's time to collect them I can find someone else to go in for me. What a nuisance.

What I find more distressing is the malaise I now have to fight. I have no enthusiasm for anything. I did a little piecing yesterday - my 15 minutes - but it didn't really spark anything. Guess I'll have to try again today and see what happens...

Friday, August 6, 2010


My 18" wide, 72" long panel for my friend's quilt is now a fait accompli.

Mostly I'm happy with it. There are two blocks I would rearrange but I won't let myself do it. It is what it is. Below you can see the blocks that didn't make it into the panel. There's a batik orphan block quilt somewhere in my future. ;- )

I guess I should explain why I chose these particular block patterns. The hearts obviously stand for the love we have for our friend. The stars represent blessings that I know will come to her throughout her journey. The four little shoo fly blocks at the top and bottom are my talismans against any negativity that may try to creep into her space. Literally, "Shoo! Fly away!"

Besides the emotional support I received from my blogger friends that helped me get this done I also received an unexpected box of goodies from Quiltdivajulie. She is having issues with arthritis and doesn't think she'll be doing any more beading. Look what she gave me!!!

As you can see I had already begun to transfer the beads into little baggies when I thought to stop and take a picture. I got so much pleasure just from handling and sorting them! I haven't put the baggies into my stash drawers yet. I'm enjoying the visual of the pile of beady goodness. :- ) Now that this piecing project is done I may do a little beading before I tackle the next big project!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

June, This One's for You

After June kicked me in the pants I went to the sewing machine and sewed my star blocks together. (The hearts were already done.)

I had been waffling about what fabric to use between the stars as well as how to set them. June fixed that!

I still have to sew these three sections together, and then add the shoo fly blocks at either end, but I have to go run an errand now so that will have to wait.

There's nothing like a good friend to set you straight. ;- )

If you click on the picture you should be able to get a bigger image.

Design Decisions

I wanted to put some heart blocks in this panel for my friend's quilt. I prefer hearts that are slightly elongated. I cut strips 3.5" x 8.5" and created four hearts from them. Here's one:

My thinking was that I would put the points of the hearts all together in the center of an 18" block. Silly me. That didn't work at all. If I had kept my hearts smaller, say 6" overall, it might have been possible. I was afraid they would be too small at that size though. So I tried a different layout:

Meh. I didn't really like it. I had to leave it a while before a new layout came to me. The next day I did this:

Much better. More like what I originally had in mind. So now I get to frame up the hearts with a strip of the background fabric on each side and then set them together into one big block.

The next question is what to do about setting the stars. I have them arranged symmetrically on my design wall but that's not how I envisioned them. I want them to have a more scattered look. The problem is that I have so little room in which to work because the stars are sort of big and the panel will only be 18" wide. I'm not sure it's going to make much of a difference one way or the other.

My friend C~ brought up a good point. We've come to an age when a lot of us design our quilts on walls even though the quilt will be used on a bed. Hopefully we're keeping the bed in mind as we design and when the quilt is on the bed it will show to advantage. But I'm not sure how this quilt is going to be used. It may go on a bed. I would rather D~ take it with her to her chemo treatments and wrap up in it afterward or use it on the couch at home when she's feeling poorly. In which case how much of my design work is really going to be evident? She will know it was designed and constructed with love, of that I have no doubt. I'm just sitting here asking myself whether it's really worth all the stress I'm putting on myself wondering whether to set the stars symmetrically or asymmetrically.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

That Was Weird

I've been able to have the windows open overnight a lot lately. It's been great. But the other day I had actual allergy symptoms, like anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies - which I don't normally. The air was smoky that morning and for most of the day. We had to close the windows for the day. In spite of that I had a runny nose, itchy eyes, was sneezing, and had absolutely no energy. By evening the air seemed to have cleared and the next morning I felt much better, with almost no symptoms. Near as I can figure there must have been something in the smoke. I'm not accustomed to suffering from typical allergy symptoms. It was weird.

Since then I have finally been able to get back to the sewing machine. Managed to get some liberated stars made for my friend's quilt.

I've run into a problem though.

I made these blocks slightly bigger than the shoo fly blocks I showed recently. On purpose, but now I realize that these blocks are going to be a challenge to set into the narrow panel I have to work with.

I'm having to remind myself (almost moment by moment) that I'm just making "parts" for this quilt, a la Gwen & Freddy, and that when I have enough to play with I can worry about setting them.

One of the three of us making this quilt already has her panel done. I guess someone has to be first! ;- )