Friday, October 28, 2011

Thoughts on Blogging

Well, I got one picture up. This is a tin I bought recently. I tried to load a picture of the Churn Dash quilt I sent to BASICS in New York and it dragged on forever. I also tried to load a picture of my latest ATC for the Bead Journal Project, with the same results. Makes me wonder if there's actually a problem within my Picasa program or between my camera and the software. Ick. I don't have the knowledge to fix that kind of thing.

I am not a tech person. Blogging is my replacement for the social interaction I used to get from my quilt guild. It's how I do Show and Tell these days. Believe me, I'd rather do it in person but I'm grateful that this platform is available. I just need someone else to fix the glitches!

Serious or in-depth troubleshooting is beyond my skills and patience. In order for me to participate in the online world things need to be simple and straightforward, the more obvious the better. That's why I chose Blogger. For the most part it's been a good match. I've been able to keep up with the changes or choose to update things about my blog. However, I do not appreciate having "new and improved" shoved down my throat by Blogger or any other manufacturer/provider. New and Improved! always meant the product had been altered for the worse in my experience.

I don't blog to make money for myself or anyone else. I don't even do it to promote myself or my artistic efforts in any way. In the beginning I visited a lot of blogs on a regular basis. Now I find myself spending the most time with a handful who have become like close personal friends. I'm an introvert; chat rooms and social networking sites aren't usually my cup of tea. And if I'm spending all my time on the computer I'm not sewing! It's been tricky for me to find a balance between the two. I like to see what others are doing and making, what's popular and all that, but I am also easily overwhelmed. My muse will run and hide if she gets the impression we aren't doing what we "ought" to be doing (ie: what everyone else seems to be doing).

The other side of that coin is the support and encouragement I receive from my blogging friends. Simple comments at least let me know someone else is out there, sharing in what I've posted. I feel much less alone in the world when someone leaves a comment on my blog. (And for someone as isolated as I am that means a lot.) When those comments are thoughtful and sincere it means that much more. It occurs to me that a thoughtful comment could be the equivalent of a hand written letter in days of old (eek!).

The time I spend reading or surfing other blogs fluctuates widely and without a discernible pattern (so far). I tend to spend the most time online when I'm stuck or between projects here in my own studio. That doesn't mean that I no longer enjoy or support those blogs I do visit and enjoy. When my own blog is quiet, not receiving comments, I try very hard to remind myself that my cyber friends and acquaintances are busy doing other things themselves. I try not to take it personally. It's not easy, and it doesn't always work, but I try. The sheer numbers of quilters and artists out there make it impossible to visit everyone and participate in everything, much as I might like to.

Oh, and this business of having - or collecting - followers? I choose not to participate in popularity contests. Nor do I like having information filling my dashboard or inbox willy-nilly. When I have the time and inclination to go see what other bloggers have done or said I will go visit them in person, so to speak. Does that make me a control freak? Oh well, so be it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Customer Service

It's been almost a week now and I still have not been able to resolve my picture posting issue. I've tried everything I can think of, including leaving messages on Blogger's Help Forum. That's one "service" I find absolutely useless. It's like throwing your concern into the ether and hoping someone will happen along to grab it up and address it. Is there not one employee assigned to monitor the new postings there? If not, there should be. I miss old fashioned customer service. A lot of online retailers will answer questions over the phone; I appreciate that a lot. I guess maybe because Blogger is a free product I shouldn't expect excellent customer support.

Since my last post with pictures I have finished the Churn Dash quilt that's headed to the BASICS Housing program in New York. It turned out really well. Too bad you can't see it. (Hmm. Guess I could upload pictures to Flickr. I've just fallen out of the habit of using Flickr since I've been blogging.)

I've also finished an ATC for October. It's really cool. Maybe you'll get to see it someday. Right now my nose is so out of joint I just need to get off the computer and stitch out my frustrations...

Friday, October 21, 2011

No Pictures

And what's a quilty post without pictures?

I don't know what the problem is. I've tried only loading one photo at a time and the process still is so slow the photo won't load. Is the internet that busy?

My pictures are not large files.

Very frustrating. Plus I see that, whether we like it or not, everyone on Blogger will be transferred to the new interface eventually. Guess us old folks just have to move forward with everyone else. There may be more of us in number but the young people rule cyberspace.

Makes one think twice about continuing to blog at all...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Dashing Quilt

After I delivered my Medallion quilt to Heather for quilting I remembered another Churn Dash project I had started back in the day. It must have been the mid to late 1990's. I was playing with plaids and homespuns, and I think this was one of the first times I tried a diagonal set.

It was put away because once I had the setting triangles in place I didn't know what else to do. It was also a strange size, slightly under 33" x 42." I really liked it but it was too big to be a wall hanging (given the wall space we had at the time) and it felt too grown up for a baby quilt. Now, with more experience under my belt, it seemed natural to just put a couple of borders on it to bring it up to a workable size. In this case that was 36" x 48."

I thought of this UFO because I had some blocks and pieces leftover from my Medallion quilt and I was pretty sure they were basically all the same color scheme. I also dug into my orphan blocks to see what else I might have that would work. I found a few blocks that I think must have been leftover from when I originally put the diagonal set together. The first thing I did was to frame them up so they would finish at 12 inches. Then the 10" and 12" blocks went on the design wall with the UFO.

Not bad!

Next I took my leftover flying geese units and used them to make more blocks. I was able to make a couple of Dutchman's Puzzle blocks and a couple that are variations on that block (the geese are pointing in a different direction). I used some of the geese to frame up 5" Churn Dash blocks I had on hand so that they became 10" blocks. And I cut a few new patches to fill in the blank spots. Then I had to resort to using the bed to lay out the blocks because it had all outgrown my design wall.

Oh yes, I made a star block with a Churn Dash center too. You'll see it in the picture below. That block didn't make it into the final version though because of its' dark background. I ended up making a lighter star block for that spot.

Fortunately I still had enough of the brown that I'd used in the diagonal set to sash the border blocks. Unfortunately, when I had the borders all sewn up they were one and a quarter inches longer than the center panel of the quilt. Arrgh! And I thought my math was so accurate!

Finding a solution for that little problem required some sleep. The next day I took out four sashing strips and replaced them with slightly wider strips.

That seemed to do the trick. All it needed then was 3" at either end to get the length I wanted. This quilt will finish at 60" x 80." I don't have a picture of the finished flimsy - sorry. I'd found the perfect backing fabric in my stash and was getting ready to baste the layers together when I thought about it and by that time it was too dark to get a decent picture. And now it's all rolled up, pinned and waiting for me to figure out how I'm going to quilt it. It won't be anything fancy, believe me. My goal is to get this done and on its' way to New York ASAP. I kind of have a hankering to do some more piecing before I start the quilting process though... ;- )

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

And Done!

It feel so good to be productive again. Even the itch of the hives has been damped down to a tolerable level. Whew!

If you take a quick look at the previous post you'll see that I had just put the flying geese border on my Pioneer Medallion flimsy. My plan was to then border the whole thing with another set of ten inch Churn Dash blocks, all in blue, and end by putting flying geese along the top and bottom edges to add length. Once I had the blue Churn Dash blocks on I put the flimsy on the bed to see how it looked.

The bedroom furniture we use belonged to my husband's grandparents. I believe it to be from the 1930's. When I put the flimsy on the bed I realized that I didn't really need the extra geese at either end of the quilt. Because there's a foot board and we are short people I don't need the extra length. (In the picture above the blue Dashes you see at the bottom are hanging over the footboard.)

Here's a shot of one side of the bed (the side where the window is, thus making it possible to get a decent picture!). The top fits the bed beautifully, just as it is. :- )

That's also a west window so it will be helpful to be able to turn the quilt a quarter turn every so often to avoid fading (in case you missed it, the quilt is a square). Yippee! All done! I've called my machine quilter and will be handing this off to her later in the week. She recently quilted the I Spy Disappearing 9 Patch I made too.

Just a simple meander but she donated her services and it's all the quilt needed.

The stars are the backing. I hadn't a clue what I would use for the binding. When I saw that Heather had used a green thread for the quilting I went to my green stash and found an old print that was perfect. There was just enough of it too!

Now all I have to do is get it turned in so one of the kids in our local Foster Care program can put it to good use!

The flying geese that I didn't use on my Medallion quilt are going into a quilt destined for the BASICS program in NYC via Victoria at Bumble Beans. Stay tuned!

Basics Promesa:

BASICS/Promesa, is a community based organization in the South Bronx, New York City, founded by Latino Leaders. Our goal is to assist disadvantaged families and individuals, as well as to enhance their ability to thrive in the community. The organization offers housing services, primary care, substance abuse, mental health and harm reduction services — everything an individual needs in order to recover and actively participate in the betterment of our community.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pioneer Medallion Progress

I'm happy to report that I'm finally feeling more like myself again. It seems like it has been a long time coming. I'm covered in hives but at least my brain is functioning.

While I've been gone this valance curtain arrived from the Victorian Trading Company. (Not spontaneously you understand. I ordered it. I'd never seen their catalog before but somehow I ended up on their mailing list. In this case I don't mind one bit!) It dressed up my naked design wall while I searched for the appropriate rod to use to hang it over my kitchen window.

I actually kind of miss it in my studio!

When I started feeling better I think the cobweb valance inspired me to choose these batiks for another friendship block for a local guild member.

Purple and green in these vibrant tones can speak of Halloween. In softer tones they can be very spring-like.

I've always found friendship blocks to be a good way to get back into my quiltmaking activities. I was grateful to have a couple to make. This is Rocky Mountain Puzzle, a block I've long admired but had never taken the time to try out.

It wasn't hard exactly, just a little on the fussy side if you know what I mean. There's a partial seam to deal with but it wasn't that bad.

At this point I still wasn't ready to do anything terribly creative or original but I wanted to do some more sewing. I pulled out my Pioneer Medallion project, which I don't think I've touched since last year some time. (Yes, you can see my last post about it here.) I made up the final Spinner block I needed for it and then started sewing the blocks and borders together.

If you look closely you can see the brown paper tags I used to keep things straight. You should also be able to double click on the photos to see them larger.

The last couple of days have been spent arranging the flying geese units and sewing them onto the medallion.

I only had one section of border come out too short because somehow I accidently left out a goose. Not too bad considering all the opportunities for screw-ups there were! The next - and final - step is to arrange my ten inch blue Churn Dash blocks around the perimeter. I have four more Spinners that will go in the corners. I don't want to jinx it but there's a very good chance that this quilt could be finished and on my bed before the end of this year!