Sunday, December 30, 2012

the tee-shirts strike back.

just when you thought it was safe to open the closet... something jumps out at you. I found a wagamama* tee shirt at the Goodwill on the Southside - and I was going to trade the Ruby Slipper tee with wagamama, until I realized I had lost the whole quilt somewhere in my apartment. Alas. Somewhere in the madness of Christmas, I discovered the quilt again and what appears to be enough stabilized tee-shirts to accommodate another row for the quilt. Haven't figured out the particulars though. 

*wagamama is a Japanese/pan asian restaurant from Europe beginning to make inroads in America; there is a location in New York City, and there should be one now in Washington D.C. We ate at one in a London suburb our first night abroad. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

sarah's gypsy throw, deux

Not enough time over the holiday break to get anything accomplished, not nearly enough time. Ugh.

I was down in the Strip District buying a few last minute things before Christmas and I popped into Loom, having had a gander at their website. Lo and behold, this Phillip Jacobs material called "Summer Tree" was on sale for $4 a yard [!!!!] so I got half a yard of each in the teal and yellow colorways - and picked up half a hard of the orange and red poppy fabric as well.

Mom and I were going to hit up some of the fabric shops in Erie, Bradford and Cambridge Springs, but alas, they shut down for the entire week I was here, so I settled for spending my Christmas money at a big box store instead. LET IT BE KNOWN THAT I LOVE SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS, but I can't do it if they aren't open. The big box was excruciatingly disappointing in the way of batiks, which comes as no incredible surprise, but I was working with the time and materials I had, not really wanting to put this off for 15 weeks - it's is so close to being done!

Because of the extra yardage I bought at the big box, I ended up with a multitude extra squares. The instructions in the book indicate that the finished size of the throw should be 69" square, if the half triangle squares are cut to finish at 7" when sewn. My thought was that I could add an additional round of half blocks before the final border, just to finish off all the leftover blocks. This would take it out of the throw category and put it's diameter at 83" square, which is more fitting a double bed. If I widened the exterior border, I could make it 90" square, and it would qualify as a double.

If there aren't enough half squares to make it all the way around, I would just do one side, which wouldn't make it square, oh tragedy, and the left overs could be used in the backing.

None of this is not a bad thing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

grandpa's daisy

Got this from my Grandpa for Christmas… he made four different quilt blocks from scrap exotic wood, and I got to pick first this year. He started out making pictures of regional wild flowers; last year we brought home a Black-eyed Susan, a pink Lady Slipper and a White Trout Lily. They aren't marquetry, which is the process of cutting a recessed space for a thin layer of another wood to occupy; he lays the scrap on top of a base and glues them down.

Starting at the 1:30 position is a piece of Purple Heart, at 3 is Black Walnut, 4:30 is Red Heart, 7:30 is White Cedar, 9 is Eastern Red Cedar, 10:30 is Sumac. The center is a piece of maple from one of the wood projects I did as an undergraduate - probably my bedside table, which was unusually pink. The background is Red Oak; the frame is Black Birch.

Grandpa also made a Dresden Plate and a Log Cabin, and a five pointed star of his own design.  I picked this one to go with the daisy quilt I've been working on. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

it's finished!

put the final stitches in Ordinary Time at 6:20ish PM on Christmas Eve.

The recipients were well pleased.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

home stretch

Really bringing it down to the wire on the Ordinary Time. Quilted for an hour and a half at a friend's house last Thursday, quilted while watching four of the five 55 minute episodes of the 1980 Pride and Prejudice miniseries -  subjective research for a friend concerning my opinion on who the best Darcy was, Firth, Macfayden or Rintoul - and half of season six of Bones, and now part of season seven.

I'm so close to being done; it's this side of 1730 hours. A few more episodes of something, or a movie, and I think the quilting will be in the bag, I can sew the binding on.

That is, if I can find the binding... oh well...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I didn't tell you

Today is the day that my grandmother died. We haven't talked about her in 8 years. Here and there, yes, briefly. We handled everything according to my grandfather's wishes. And he wished there to be no acknowledgement of her passing. There was no wake, no memorial service with friends. Nothing to celebrate her life. It was what he wanted, to bear his grief quietly, and while I respect that these were his wishes, her passing left a hole that I did not know how to deal with. My family seemed to be as bereft and adrift as I; the cultural traditions that accompany death might have helped. Might.  I seem to mark each passing year with some small token of grief, as though saying goodbye in this marginal way is somehow less painful.

This year I spent a small part of yesterday saying goodbye to someone vibrantly among the land of the living, a parting which was painful in it's own way. I look at the blocks of the gypsy quilt, somehow I'm not sure why, they remind me of her.

I came home today, and I sat for a long time, without words, with the measure of these two hurts.

Know me then.
The children out of the shade have brought me a basket.
Very small, and woven of dry grass,
Smelling as sweet in December as the day I smelled it first.
Only one other ever was that to me;
Sweet birch, from a far river. 
You would not know, you did not smell the birch.
You would not know, you did not smell the grass.
You. You did not know me then.
Know me then. 
The children out of the shade have brought me a basket.
"Basket," Thomas Hornsby Ferril

Monday, December 17, 2012

it is finished...?

It's pushing 9 EST, I haven't heard anything from my paper partner. It was raining today, and with our house being on a north easterly side of a hill, it got dark, faster than usual, so I lit the not-so-Adventy colored candles on the wreath, plugged in the tree, lit my festive pine scented candles, and turned on every light in the apartment. Even the festive bush is having a hard time burning against the darkness tonight. I must say, I am more appreciative of the warm incandescence of the filament bulbs outside than the cool glow of the white LED bulbs that grace my indoor tree. But I was rather hoping I wouldn't have to bother replacing bulbs - question: if we are capable of producing LEDs in almost every color of the spectrum, why is it so hard to get a bulb that isn't a cool white?

but I digress.  this is the world's worst photo ever, so bear with me. I have a friend with a[n even bigger] fabric problem [than I have], and she invited me over to go shopping in her stash. So I did, before student teaching happened and my life became a giant question mark. I've been sitting on a borrowed Kaffe Fassett book from the library, featuring projects from the V&A Museum in London, England. Featured on the first page of the Utility Quilt set was a brilliant red and black affair based on a homey pink and brown quilt which caught my eye, made according to the book, by - or more likely for- one Sarah Wyatt in 1801 [though the V&A website does not corroborate this detail].

I had to make it. Now I have the fabric to do it.

So out of the king sized pillowcase stuffed full of fabric, I carefully sorted the shades of cherry, cayenne, magenta and purple would I thought would work best for this project, as well as large scale florals. That lovely swath of purple is going to be the inner border you can see in the picture on the left page.

This doesn't do it justice, but you can see the strip piecework 

I also started cutting out this project, and then found to my dismay that I didn't have nearly enough fabric for this (I suspected as much) so I sewed some of the blocks together and I trimmed some of the scraps to make squares, which made for interesting patches themselves. The rest of the squares are hanging out until I purchase the rest of the material, so it doesn't look as obvious that I'm adding new fabric mid project. I did throw caution to the wind and just make the middle though.

As irritating as it is to have to sit on it and wait for the funds to buy some more red and magenta tones and large scale floral... no, it's plain irritating. It's an incredibly simple project, though the color combination is by no means staid. If I felt like it, the top could be done before Friday, but it won't be. 

It's not something I would have thought to make; at least, not with these colors, which make me think I've broken jars of saffron, chilli powder, curry and paprika; it reminds me of a feast, of a broken open pomegranate, with it's glossy, garnet seeds. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

finals are cramping my style

ten days 'til Christmas. Clearly, you can discern my religious convictions and affiliations from that statement. You know what's not done? My Christmas present quilt isn't done, that's what. 3 squares out of 12 are done. I'm not going to quilt the corner blocks at this rate, which will make the question of where to affix a label easier.

The two in the middle, I think, are done, plus one on the side. I have a project in mind for the excess Kaffe Fassett Ikat Streak cherry red fabric that's on the back. Of course, all I want to do is work on it - this and the new red project, but there are several constraints keeping me from both. Grumblemumble.....

As the bulk of my work has been turned in, I am suffering from a major case of procrastination and writer's block. So I'm writing, and hoping that somehow, this will get things unblocked. Forgive me if you feel the need to whip out a thesaurus; I do have to write for a graduate class... there's a word I'm looking for... it's not vernacular or dichotomy... discourse! The paper is about language. Thus I am assembling the adult, academic vocabulary for this discourse. Ahem.

We put lights up outside the house a few days ago. No robotic reindeer, no chase or icicle lights hung from the dormers. Simple white lights, carefully entwined around the lamp posts, and the trunk of a bush of unknown species growing on the edge of my patio. It is now amusing to watch the birds and squirrels attempt to interpret the addition of the these things to the bush where the feeder is located. While I have best wishes for the birds, I was rather hoping the squirrel would electrocute itself when it began gnawing on that one bulb a few seconds ago... the bush is lovely in the dark, if a bit overly luminescent. There is neither a timer or a light sensor on the plug or the lights, and even with the blinds down, covering the window in my room, the glow from the this bush pervades the darkness of the apartment.

My two foot faux tree is upright, lit and decorated. The advent wreath, devoid of purple and pink candles this year for lack of time (I think God will forgive me), replaced by white and a red candles, is also up.

Later. Much, much later...

I did mostly unblock my writer's block; however, it's taken ten hours to do so, coupled with a three hour run down to the public library to cram in some last minute research, and the remembrance that I still have half the project to wrap up tomorrow, along with a three and an half hour mathematics final, and a separate three page mathematics assignment, both due by 11pm tomorrow. I have recollections of feeling this way at the end of summer term, the most notable differences being that I am not dehydrated and suffering from a week long migraine.

Discretion may be the better part of valour at this hour; I'll work on the mathematics tomorrow morning when I am fresh rather than try to ponder theory after having wrung out my brain.

stars in the window - a tutorial

I love this project, thought it does take a bit of patience to string the beads and wrap the wire around. Its great for using up all those little bits of beads laying about that seem to keep replicating overnight despite your best efforts. They're nice additions to gifts with the traditional tag. I've made hearts and moons as well, but stars are by far easier to freehand and wire wrap the ends.

Helpful, but not necessary, is a jig for forming the star. I used the side of an old drawer to drive some nails into to wrap the wire around, 3/8" plywood or thicker would likely do the trick if you've got a bit laying around. As long as it's thick enough that the nails are driven in about halfway; you do not want the nails pulling out as you are wrapping your wire around them. The piece of wood that I used measured 15" by 10" or so, and was heavy enough that I was able to manipulate the wire around the nails without the whole thing flopping around. If you are worried about such things,  a C clamp or a Quick-grik clamp or something similar would help keep the jig anchored while you wrapped the wire with both hands, if you found it necessary.


for the jig (optional)*
piece of plywood or a board at least 3/8" thick, at least 10" square-ish.
qty [10] 1 1/2" finishing nail or smililar.

for the stars
16 gague galvanized steel wire, or another firm, non-rusting hobby wire. (I used OOK brand)
beading wire, ~ 20 gague, finer (a smaller number, like 18, or 16) to accomodate some seed beads.
assortment of beads and buttons in a variety of colors and sizes
needlenose pliers
wire cutters (a combo of the pliers/cutter is helpful, but not necessary)
a ruler

instructions - this star ended up being about 4", not counting the loop at the top [pictured above and below]
Start by creating a star form using either the jig*[using a jig? really, see this section] or make one free form. Have about 6" total of wire reserved for the end of the star, 4" of wire for the hook, and about 2" on the opposite end for the wrap. A curly-cue is a nice place to start for the hook of the star; if you really want to get fancy, you can branch out to things like G clefs later, after you've perfected your wire wrap technique. Bend the points of the star, until the other end of the wire is back at the beginning, and wrap the end around the middle of the stem below the hook. It's okay if the star's top isn't quite as pointy as the rest of it. Wrap the end once or twice around, and then trim the excess wire off with the wire cutters as close to the stem as you can.

now for the fun part! [if you are doing this project with a bunch of small children or impatient people, have the stars made ahead of time. i don't say this from experience at all...]

one you have your star form secure, take your beading wire and cut a a generous 24"; this gives you enough to wrap a small amount securely as a starting point, have enough to string your beads on, and enough to wrap off at the end.  Take one end of the wire, wrap it around the top part of the star a few times to secure it in place, and start stringing beads. Or buttons. Wrap the wire around an arm of the star, and start stringing more beads, weave around other strands of beads, and keep going until you have about two inches of wire left near an arm of the star. Wrap the end off, tightly [you don't have to use all of it] and trim off any excess as closely to the edge of the star as you can. Viola! Done!

the jig

why 10 nails and not 5? you need a nail for each of the points that the wire has to bend at, so not only the acute points the of the star, the pointy- points, but the obtuse angles, the interior parts where the star comes in at.
Remember, when using the jig to form the star, the wire goes on the INSIDE of the nails that aren't the points and around the OUTSIDE of the points.
If you're not comfortable free hand drawing a star, find a picture of a star you like on line, print it out, and use it as a guide for where to drive your nails for the jig. The good news is that it's paper, so when you're done hammering, you can rip the paper off, no harm, no foul. As you can see, I use the side of an old drawer as the base for my star jig; if I wanted to, I could make a second, smaller star jig on this board, and get a two-fer out of the deal.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

oh, my stars!

Taking a quick break out of the finals madness to do something "fun", aside from watching a silly [Simon's] cat video on YouTube.
Go. Watch. Simon's. Cat. [End plug.]

Silently off task 90% of the time over here was paying a little more attention to the origami stars a class mate was producing out of tootsie roll wrappers than the class discussion, and wondering a] how they were made and b] what they were called. They weren't even shiny, and my mind was wandering to the plaited Starburst wrapper chain I had at home, begging to be turned into stars instead. Starburst Stars, because that's completely awesome, and had everything to do with class, because we were talking about tangible rewards in the form of candy. A total no-no now a days. And we're back on task...

Typing in "four pointed star" into a search engine wasn't getting me anywhere, but surprise, "ninja star" garnered some results. From papercrafty are the instructions on how to make a shruiken like the one pictured above, which is a modular type of origami, requiring more than one piece of paper - two, in this case, and the length of the paper has to be twice the width for this to work, so it helps to fold down one of the long sides of the Starburst wrapper and then fold it in half. Let's not talk about how many packets of consumed Starburst are represented here. Suffice to say that it's a lot for one adult to eat alone, and it's a fair representation of the three varieties that they currently make; Original, Tropical and Sweet Fiesta, all of which feature a slightly different wrapper color depending on the flavor of the candy

I have a totally tiny tree, 2 foot max, and this garland so festively draped over my keyboard was almost long enough to make it from top to bottom, but I'm not going to lie, while I've always really liked the star garlands from Ten Thousand Villages... I just never liked the colors. The end game for all the stars I make will be to purpose them into a star garland. I will be sure to post some pictures of the star garland when I've located some green perle cotton to string them up with.

Monday, December 3, 2012

the magic 13

there's quilt lore concerning a trousseau and 13 quilts; I'm not getting married any time soon, but I just read an article and two books that mentioned the 13 bridal quilts, and now my hands are prickling. The lore in question is that a bride brought 13 quilts with her to her marriage; they were supposed to showcase her skills as a seamstress; this is the lore at it's most basic, of course, as there were supposed to be some indications of the last one being a pièce de résistance of some kind or another, since it was, after all, the last one of 13, she'd better be some kind of wonderful at that point. 

I'm not interested in making 11 more quilts for the sake of banging out quilts; I do have the small luxury of not being a woman under time duress; of course, I'm also not above making something completely uncomplicated that still looks  completely fabulous. 

Ah, I can hear you say, wait a second woman, you said 13, and you're talking about 11. The deal is I would likely count the hexie daisy quilt towards the final number, and I also have this monster here, which has actually been finished for some time now, and I don't have a final picture for, and fits a California King. I need to find somewhere big enough to get a picture... or to hang it... The Daisy isn't big enough for a full size bed, but whatever. 

That said, I can't undertake this project until I have a job. And I can pay for this junket. So I'm looking at starting this hopefully by next fall. 

So, I have an Ocean Waves, and a Hexie Daisy, that leaves 11 other slots to fill. 

  1. A string quilt. Or even if I fussy cut Ikat Streaks into squares to look like string blocks. Or both.  
  2. 'Round Robin - I realize part of the point is to have someone else do the borders but I don't know anyone whom I could coerce into this task... meh. Also, it's not something I've ever done, and this is an exercise in stretching one's abilities. And it would likely involve appliqué... Update: 12/7/12 What about a Round Robin Baltimore Album? Could there be such a thing? I could combine elements of both in one, right? Right?
  3. ... a Jane Austin medallion? I do want one anyway.
    The challenge here will be finding the period fabric, as all the repro stuff I have easy access to is civil war [40 years too late, using 1812 as a timestamp] or 1930's [120 years too late]
  4. ...Update: 12/7/12 A matchy-matchy quilt; rather one that isn't mostly scraps. Not that there is anything wrong with scraps, but that's my preferred method of quilting. Because I just can't pick one fabric; must have them all.  This will be a personal stretch, buying a massive amount of fabric all at once.
  5. ...Update: 12/7/12 Something with a decidedly more modern feel. I don't know what this means. Will have to investigate some more; likely my definition means abstract. 
  6. ...Update: 12/7/12  Something blue; Prussian, China, Kingfisher etc. Because blue would never be my first choice, and I already have a stash of assorted blue Asian prints that are in the same color family that I could live with. 
  7. ...Update: 12/7/12 A Hawaiian quilt. But I still hate appliqué. Will have to find a way to reconcile this. Hmm...
  8. ...Update: 12/7/12 an Irish chain. 
  9. ...Update: 12/7/12  a wool quilt, from blanket header from the Pendleton Wool Mill. Mmm, toasty. ... I'd better not be relocating south. 
  10. ...
  11. ...
well, that knocks it down  from 7. Or 6, depending on how you look at it, to 3 or 2. I think a Baltimore Album would be interesting to attempt, but I still hate appliqué. 

Happy Hanukkah, folks, and the beginning of Advent.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

pretty cunning, don'tcha think?

well, look at that! scheduled posting, what is the world coming to?

remember the little felted bag and clutch? and that darned ponytail hat that I felted?

that blessed sweater had some sleeves that sort of matched the hat, so I did some decorative stitch work and tacked them on, sort of in the spirit of a cunning little red, orange and yellow flap hat from a certain, INCREDIBLY AWESOME television series cancelled by a VERY STUPID NETWORK.

Jayne: “How’s it sit? Pretty cunning, don’tchya think?”
Kaylee: “I think it’s the sweetest hat ever.”
Wash: “A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.”
Jayne: “Damn straight.”
The Message, Firefly

I'm not afraid of anything. Okay, not true.

never mind that the flaps were not cunningly knit by my own two hands, but I did put some fine fancy stitchery on them, then tossed them into the wash for some further felting before attaching them to the hat. And yes, that's a gourd modelling the hat. The white spots are pins; I still need to pick out some new buttons since I've now lost the originals 
now do I want a pom-pom, and chin ties, or not?