Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The trouble with prints...

I'm pretty into solids. I like working with them. I like thinking about how to make them interesting.

I'm generally not that into using printed fabrics. I like them, and I like seeing quilts made with prints, but I'm usually not inspired to create with them.

It's for a variety of reasons, and one of which is that I think it's more complicated to use printed fabrics. You don't just have to worry about matching a few colors to each other, it can turn into matching several colors in various intensities, as well as worrying about the interaction of the scale of the prints.

For me, it's like moving from 2-D to 3-D. It's a whole new level of stuff to worry about. I'm generally happy just to stick to the relative simplicity of solids!

The quilt I'm working on now was originally intended to be a solid color quilt.

I may still make the pattern out of solids, as I really like that look, but for now I am enjoying stretching myself by using prints.

It hasn't been smooth sailing though.

I find myself pretty dissatisfied with the block on the bottom. I really like both the prints that went into it, but they don't work together the way I want them to. The shapes are to similar in size, and the colors aren't different enough to really define the shapes in the block. The pattern is very clear in other combos, and it become almost unrecognizable in the bottom block.

I like the block on top though, quite a bit, even though I'm not a huge fan of the printed fabric on an individual level.

I think if I worked with prints more, it would get easier, or more natural to pick things that went well together. I'm not saying that I'll never work with prints again, but it will probably be awhile. I'm anxious to get back to solid fabric.

The block itself, came from a sketch I made, and then discarded for my sampler quilt, Hey Cherri.

This was the sketch.

It's the right-most sketch second from the bottom. Here it is in computer form.

A lot of the blocks for the sampler were explorations of repeating patterns, like taking 4-patch to a 16-patch, and others were explorations of what it was to combine various shapes. I'd had a snowball block, and a 4 patch snowball, and I wanted to see what else I could do with the snowball idea. Connecting two of them seemed like a good move.

(I also like the look of just half of the block, I think it looks like a skeleton key)

The connected snowball idea was to small for a 4 inch block, or rather it was to frustrating at the time. I tried it once, messed up my measurements and moved on. I didn't forget that block though, because I thought it had potential. Fooling around with it for awhile led to the quilt I'm working on now.

Disclaimer: While I did not reference any particular block that I had seen to create this block, it's a small world out there, and it is likely that someone, somewhere has made this too. I am in no way claiming that I invented this block, but gosh, wouldn't that be fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Winter is Coming

I powered through Game of Thrones, and read the first three books, and it gives me great pleasure to say "Winter is Coming" in a dramatic fashion whenever I can.

It does not give me pleasure, however, that summer is over. We barely got a summer at all here in Oregon, but regardless of how much summer we do have, I always feel an overwhelming sense of guilt when the season finally turns. I feel guilty that I didn't go outside enough, I didn't eat enough summer produce, and that I never did all get enough sun to make my hair highlight.

This year I decided to make tomato sauce to freeze to try and take advantage of the summer tomatoes, and assuage my feelings of guilt for not taking better advantage of some of the farmer's markets around town.

I'm generally not that picky about what I'm eating (in terms of where it comes from anyway). Farmer's market's always sound better when I don't have to go somewhere to get to them, and I've honestly never liked that many vegetables. I see a lot of blogs that post lovingly photographed boxes of CSA vegetables and I can think about is how much I'd rather eat McDonald's fries that a bunch of organic farm fresh rainbow chard.

(Honestly though, it's much better be the kind of person who eats nothing but organic zucchinis, then the kind of person who puts french fries on their burrito, but what can you do.)

I just really, really hate tomatoes from the supermarket. I think they taste watery and mealy. I recently read this article on CNN about how tomatoes are grown, and it made me never want to eat supermarket tomatoes again. There is a rebuttal from the tomato industry to that article, found here, if you're interested. Despite all this link posting, I'm really not trying to get into local vs. agribusiness. That's a topic for my soon to be created blog called Kristen's Opinions About Things That People Don't Care About on a Quilting Blog. I'm just trying get some super tasty tomatoes in my mouth during the winter.

So I went to the farmer's market at PSU (not realizing that it was also move-in weekend for the school) and bought 22 pounds of Roma tomatoes. I foolishly parked pretty far away and had terrible visions of the bottom of the box giving out while I walked the whole way back to my car, but I made it home with my haul and set about roasting the tomatoes.

I cut them all in half, and covered them with a little olive oil and salt.

Then I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour.

That makes it easy to slip the skins off and spoon the guts out (oh god, why did I do this while watching Criminal Minds, I sound like a serial killer) and pop the rest into the mixer.

And voila! Tomato sauce. I didn't season it much on purpose, so I can adapt it to whatever recipe I want later.

So, twenty two pounds of tomatoes, pictured here:

Turns into 18 ziplock bags full of summer.

It would have been nineteen bags, but I had some spaghetti with tomato sauce last night, and I can tell you right now that eighteen bags won't be enough.

I guess I know what I'm doing next weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quilt Withdrawal

So, I've finally gotten my act together in regards to quilting. I've been plugging away on the feedsack quilt I've been working on. I'm not sure I'm going to keep the block on the upper right, the proportions weren't quite right on that one. Overall, it's been an interesting process.

I feel like I'm going into Guild withdrawal though! I missed tonight's meeting, and the meeting before, and the all day sewing event. I suppose it was bound to happen sometime, but you'd better believe that I'm going to next month's meeting!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekend, finally

I had a request from Tabitha over at bendingpins to see some close ups of the quilting on my great-grandmother's Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. I finally had some time to do things other than work, so I was happy to have a chance to take a few more pictures.

I can't tell you how impressed I am with the hand work that went into this quilt, and how glad I am that I have a machine to do it for me!

It was nice to have a weekend this weekend. I realized that this is the first weekend since the beginning of August where I haven't had to either work, or clean out the house, or both. It was very nice just to have two days devoted to leisure. I slept in, played with friends, and quilted. What more can you ask for?

On Saturday, I went to the Portland Farmer's Market at PSU, which I'd never been to before. I saw people walking around with beautiful flower bouquets from this booth.

I think flowers are usually so impractical and sort of a waste of money, but these groupings were so lovely that it almost makes me change my mind.

I was also impressed with this display of tomatoes and eggplant, I could see some sort of quilt block using these colors and layout.

I went with friends, so it was great to have some company and motivation to even get to the market. I  probably wouldn't have gone if they hadn't convinced me.

I couldn't decide all day if Jeremiah was wearing the "Modesty is Hot" shirt ironically or not.
Today was spent making another quilt block with feed sack fabrics. I really like the brown print, and the proportions on this block are correct, finally.

I have 8 more to go, and hopefully the truly busy time at work is over, so I will still have time to sew!

Speaking of work, you may (or may not) recall a series of posts I made about Fritz "settling" at various places around the house. What I didn't realize at the time (and feel quite badly about now) is that he had fleas, and was acting out of character because of it.

Since I've finally gotten rid of the fleas, Fritz has once again started following me around the house. It's cute, and annoying. It's nice to feel wanted, but it's less so at 6 a.m. when he's crying outside of my bedroom door to come in.

It is nice to be working from home though, and have him sitting in my lap.

Sort of. Somehow, I live with it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I'd rather be Hurking...

Good news, the house is done! (For now anyway, all the boxes I packed up are a problem for my future self). I couldn't have done it without the help of my dad, grandma and friends Jennifer and Leslie.

Here is Jennifer looking at a pile of garbage. This was pile the 4th. Piles 1, 2 and 3 had already made their way to the dump. Sorry mother earth!

No sooner than the house was done, work hit, and hit hard.

Folks, I have been swamped. I mean, really swamped. I've been working crazy hours, which is good in that I get paid by the hour, but is bad in the sense that I'm spending most of my awake hours working.

I think of the Shel Silverstein poem about working quite a lot. Do you remember it? Goes like this:

I'd rather play tennis than go to the dentist.
I'd rather play soccer than go to the doctor.
I'd rather play Hurk than go to work.
Hurk? Hurk? What's Hurk?
I don't know, but it MUST be better than work.

I can't wait until I have time to hurk!

Luckily, Fritz has been keeping me company by settling down beside my desk.

He gets really confused when I start printing stuff out. The motion of the machine startles him a bit.

I have carved out some social time though, which I think is important when I'm working a lot.

I went to the fair, and could not stop laughing at these ridiculous rasta bananas.

I've also been trying to spend some time each day outside of the house (also important when working from home) and I saw a free pile of stuff on a street near and got a great dutch oven.

Perfect fit!
I also nabbed a nice looking sheet to use for the back of a future quilt.

And finally, on Saturday, I had three whole hours to quilt. It's really been awhile, and it was so soothing to fire up the machine and sew. The whole ritual was so nice, with the pure physical nature of cutting, sewing and ironing. I'm hoping to fit more of that in and soon.

I made this block, from a design I've been hanging onto for awhile.

The finished block is 22 x 22

The proportions are off a bit, I messed up sizing of the pieces, but the general idea is there.

You know how some quilters work with prints and then decided to do a solid quilt as sort of an experiment? I feel like I'm going the other way! I'm experimenting with prints. I have all feedsack style fabrics for this quilt, because I think the small patterns will lend themselves to this type of block.

I was really inspired by the two antique quilts that I inherited. They are both done with feedsacks, and I think those patterns have aged so well.

Now that I've sewn roughly two hexagons together, I appreciate this quilt a lot more!

These quilts are from my mother's side of the family, and when I asked my grandmother (who passed away in April) about them, she just said "Oh, I guess my mom or aunt made those", and that was it! She was not a sentimental lady in any capacity.

I really appreciate having them though. I'm glad that they are still around for me to love! I wonder if my great-grandmother could have ever anticipated that I'd see them 80 years later and be inspired by her work. It makes me wonder about the future of my quilts. These quilts make me very happy to be a quilter, and be connected to such history!