Friday 28 November 2014

Something from nothing

The best kind of quilts for me, the ones that have their own personality, their own individuality, are most definitely scrap quilts.

There is a certain freedom when starting a scrap quilt. No need to measure for the right amount of fabrics, no need to ponder colour and fabric placement to any great degree.

A scrap quilt to me is a chance to take scraps and make something from nothing from them, all the while making it up as I go along.

This one was a looong time in the making.

It's paper-pieced and is the Spider's Web pattern which I changed by making the two measurements either side of the central tip unequal. I realise that may not make any sense to you, so if you look at my side bar you'll see it's mention number two under 'popular posts' if you need further details.

With the traditional equal marking of the two lines either side of the centre tip, you'll end with Spider's Webs all the same. The way I do it, you'll end up with two different shapes. Dependent on what measurements you go for, you can make quite interesting and original second designs.

It's a long and (at times) tedious process to paper piece a quilt of any significant size with this pattern. You need eight triangles to make a Spider's Web. On the plus side, you can use up the most teeny tiny scraps of fabric and (in my opinion) it doesn't seem to mater what you place by what - it all seems to work.

Absolutely every single piece of fabric in this quilt was a scrap, so to see the scraps reinvent themselves in this way feels quite spectacularly special.

When I'd pieced the top, I decided to send it to Krista who long-armed it for me. A couple of years ago she worked her magic on what remains one of my most favourite ever quilts. I gave her absolutely no direction, other than to stretch herself and think outside the box.

It came back a few weeks ago and I've just finished sewing the binding down.

Krista's quilting adds another layer of movement to the quilt that I don't think I'd have had the patience (nor skills) to achieve by myself on a domestic sewing machine.

There is something very accessible about scrap quilts.

You don't need a whole line of the latest 'must have' fabric to make a great quilt. You can use cotton from old clothes (I have in this quilt) - just about anything works. The uglier and random all have their place.

I love this quilt so much that I made a last minute decision to enter it into next year's QuiltCon.

That meant I had to come up with a title for the quilt.

I never name my quilts. It's just not me.

But name it I must so it's called 'No yardage was harmed in the making of this quilt.'

Hello, in my opinion of course, rather gorgeous husband

I've seen quite a bit of chatter on Instagram the last few days as quilters stress about meeting this week's QuiltCon entry deadline and wondering if they are just making something to fit within the constraints of the definition of what 'modern' quilting is.

I have no idea if this quilt will be accepted into QuiltCon as 'modern' enough, especially as one of the definitions is 'graphic areas of solid colour.' Clearly I disagree with that definition but maybe I am in the minority.

I shall continue to make quilts that are visually exciting to me, regardless of whether they are perceived as 'modern' or not.

Perhaps I should have called this quilt 'No solids were harmed in the making of this quilt'?

Sunday 23 November 2014

Soy Amado No. 52

If I'd remembered how quick it is to knock one of these up, I wouldn't have taken a four month break from making them.

And if I hadn't waited so long, I wouldn't now be faced with all my possible photo locations drowning in a depressingly dank sense of greyness.

The sky is grey.

The sea seems grey.

The land is grey.

And did I mention windy too?

As the winter starts to close in, I am reminded of random facts I have retained over the years. In particular, the one from a former work colleague who used to work for Ann Summers and who told me that the company sold more vibrators on my island that to anywhere else in the British Isles.

I'm not sure if that's a reflection on the adult male population here or that in the winter with such dismal weather there is very little to do.  If you had a choice between an AS purchase or pondering whether to drive clockwise or anti-clockwise round the island for a little bit of light relief on a slow Sunday afternoon, what would you do?

Click here if you'd like some more enlightening facts about life on a small island.
No. 19 in particular struck a chord with me - is a daily NEWSpaper for 62,000 people really possible?

Anyway, I digressed.

This is No. 52.

Friday 21 November 2014

A long time coming

It has taken me what seems like ages to finish quilting this quilt.

Granted I kind of went off the quilting boil for a while.

Like completely off.

The summer was so lovely my quilting mojo totally disappeared.

I stopped reading quilt blogs and magazines and replaced it with other types of reading.

I read books that made me cry. A lot.

And books that had me fanning myself. A lot.

Ok, an awful lot.

And generally I took a complete step back from quilting world.

As the weeks went by and the weather turned from summer, to autumn, to  I-can't-remember-the-last-day-it-didn't-rain, I started thinking about the room at the top of the house again and whether I fancied venturing in there. I told myself I'd get excited again when Anna Marie Horner released a new line - which she did. I would sell my right kidney for any AMH stuff (well, not strictly true, I only have one anyway so slight exaggeration), especially as I thought Pretty Potent was her best collection ever. And then Honor Roll came out and (sorry AMH) for the first time ever I didn't rush to buy it.

It was at that point, with not even my AMH enthusiasm barometer working, that I did wonder if my passion for all things quilty had permanently dried up.

I hadn't missed the incessant call to purchase this line of fabric or that latest gadget.
I hadn't missed book blog tours.
I hadn't missed being told what I must have or use
I hadn't missed the whole commercialism that seems to have taken over and shaped much of quilty blog world in the past few years

However, I've missed creating for the sake of being creative.
I've missed interacting with other like-minded individuals and so I have re-emerged into quilt world.

I have slowly, slowly been quilting the above quilt.

I used so many different threads, it almost became a crash course in which threads my machine liked and which it didn't.

I used just about every brand you can think of, including a thread from a collection from my husband's aunt who passed away ten years ago.

With an Aurifil 40wt in my bobbin, the thread which hands down quilted the most beautifully, was this one.

It's a Sulky 40wt. I'm not sure what line it's from but it produces a lovely shimmer to the quilting.

I've slightly darkened this image up so you can hopefully see the glean that comes off the thread.

All the other threads I used played fine, it was just for me, the Sulky 40wt was the stand-out star of the whole long process.

With so much stop starting as I changed threads, there were an awful lot of threads to bury once I finished quilting. I think I underestimated just how long it would take.

Then it was on to binding.

And finally it was done.

On the down side, the image doesn't really capture the wonderful texture the quilt has from being quilted so densely.

On the plus side, I don't think the image captures the rain pouring down as I took this picture.

I have no doubt my opinions will change but just for the moment, it's my most favourite quilt.

So what's next?

Well as you can imagine, with a blog as prestigious as this one, I am inundated with requests to collaborate on all sorts of things.  I was particularly thrilled to receive this email.

Not wishing to dilute the authenticity and integrity of my blog, after much soul-searching I've decided to decline this intriguing offer.

Sorry Paul.

Meanwhile, now I am emerging from my quilt funk, I have ideas a plenty for more quilts, as well as a pile of Soy Amado quilt blocks (hello Canada, I haven't forgotten you) that need sorting out.

I am back.

I think.

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