Tag Archives: fabric

More about the new normal….

I’m in the process of changing this website’s appearance; something hit me this morning, not sure what, but instead of hopping right into the shower, I started perusing new website themes.  I chalk it up to all the improv quilting, and other basic but fundamental changes in my life these days.

So if you come visiting the site, and find a vastly altered vista, I have issued a warning….

In the meantime, here’s a hint of the latest quilt-on-the-make.  I cut the orange squares a little too small, but will scatter them within the project.  It’s a floating squares sort of thing, although not as floaty as I would like. But for my first no-ruler attempt, I’m fairly pleased with the results.  And I’m still working on that little improv quilt; it simply needs the binding attached, but amid a new-found sewing scheme, I’ve not changed the presser foot back to the walking foot.  Or that yesterday I read four chapters of The Hawk, deciding to hasten Part Two’s conclusion by one chapter.  It would better serve the beginning of Part Three, which I might get around to poking at this morning.

Once I finish this post, change the site’s theme, take a shower, drink some coffee, although maybe not in that order.  The new normal seems busier than the old normal.  A lot more floaty and grandchild-filled too….

Keeping an eye on Grandmaster Z yesterday; he has a keen interest in quilting....

Keeping an eye on Grandmaster Z yesterday; he has a keen interest in quilting, or at least in bright colours.

Tropical Pop Quilt

I confess; the name for this quilt is pinched from the genre of music made by English singer Hollie Cook, of whom I had the very good fortune to see live on Thursday night in Oakland, at Leo’s.  Ms. Cook’s music could also be termed reggae pop, or reggae, but names aside, she RAWKED the intimate venue, in her lovely British manner, and I highly recommend her two albums, Hollie Cook and Twice.  And if you like dub, pick up Prince Fatty’s Hollie Cook In Dub.  All three records are fantastic, and we were lucky enough to actually purchase the vinyl of Ms. Cook’s music.  Maybe the next time we see her, and I’m sure there will be a next time, we’ll get the Prince Fatty LP.

But back to quilts; it’s for my sister, this blanket the mate for the Brother-In-Law quilt.  He’s doing very well, post-surgery, and she’s been too busy to ask about her quilt, so I’ll get to surprise her with this offering.  Not a sort of peace pie appeasement, merely a gift, and hopefully completed well before the holidays.  The bulk of the prints are Hawaiian shirts (she LOVES the Islands), with a few random squares of camo thrown in for good measure.  (Like her hubby, Sis likes to hunt.)  The solid fabric is Kona Ash, which I used for the Bestie Far Away quilt sashes; I adore this hue, it goes with anything!  Especially vibrant prints, which dominate both of these quilts.  But the Tropical Pop quilt seemed easier to sort, making every other square a solid.  Not so hard on the eyes, you know.

The binding will be scrappy; some of the prints mixed with solid Kona blues.  And the backing is a charcoal flannel sheet.  I’m curious to see how soft this quilt comes out, as the shirts were well weathered, but the Kona ash is not.  Still, the flannel sheet has been through the wash more than a few times, so odds are it will be a very snuggly quilt from the get-go.

Currently it's in the washer, but I had to make sure it was suitable for snuggling.  Indeed, it's perfect!

Currently it’s in the washer, but I had to make sure it was suitable for snuggling. Indeed, it’s perfect!

And after I spent last night under the Bestie Far Away blanket, flannel-backed quilts are definitely my faves.  I was testing the snuggle-factor, and that comforter passed with flying colours.  Wish my Giants were riding that high; tonight’s game will be definitive.  Either they’ll be tied two all with Kansas City, or on the brink of elimination.  An intriguing kettle of fish I’ll say, but then, so is the Tropical Pop quilt.  Can’t wait to get those rows under the presser foot!

Some of Life’s Mysteries

Batik fat quarter in sage.

Batik fat quarter in sage.

Over the last few days I have begun a project, which I have been waiting to start for months.  This quilt is for a young woman dear to my heart, these fabrics collected since late spring.  Now it’s early autumn, time for this blanket to come together.

Another batik, this time in beige.

Another batik, this time in beige.

Some projects are like that, eagerly anticipated yet made to wait.  Others hit like a truck, but not always do I know why I feel flattened in the middle of the road.

And sometimes, there isn’t an answer, for as I pulled these fabrics from the closet, salivating over them, I learned some initially distressing news; the family for whom I had a pile of quilts was gone.  I don’t know to where, or how to reach them.  I spent part of a day ruminating over this information, wondering if I had sewn more quickly or not made quilts for the parents…  But at the end of the day, I accepted that perhaps this was a blessing I hadn’t considered all those days of cutting, piecing, and quilting.  Maybe all my thoughts for them were prayers of a sort, taking them to a better place of residence where a bevy of quilts wasn’t altogether necessary.

These were bought at Eddie's Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale; I think these two are some of my very favourite fabrics.

These were bought at Eddie’s Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale; I think these two are some of my very favourite fabrics.

A bevy of quilts; sounds better than a flock.  And of that bevy, all have been granted new homes, which lifts my heart.  The sister quilts were the hardest to place, but they will go to our church in December, landing under the giving tree for two girls who need a bright splash of warm colour.  No quilt goes unclaimed on my watch.

Add a splash of green from Beverly's in Campbell, and now we're cooking with gas.

Add a splash of green from Beverly’s in Campbell, and now we’re cooking with gas.

But back to this beloved project, which will be called a Bestie Far Away.  Not my bestie, but a bestie to someone close to my heart, which means a bestie to me, in a way.  These fabrics, many batiks, were part of the birthday pressie collection, plus a few I picked up along the way.  But as soon as I received them I knew for whom they were destined.  Yet, other quilts loitered in the queue ahead of this one, a fall quilt, autumnal in nature.  And now, the first day of October, it’s time.

Thank you lord, it’s finally time!

The completed stack; some those on top will also be incorporated into another project, hehehe....

The completed stack; some those on top will also be incorporated into another project, hehehe….

There was A LOT of fabric to cut, two hundred fifty-five squares worth, plus more for good measure.  And that doesn’t include the sashes, which will make this comforter seventeen by nineteen four-inch blocks, or sixty-eight by seventy-six inches.  That’s no small quilt, let me say, especially after my foray into baby blankets.  But fifteen by seventeen fits on my quilt wall (just), and that’s what matters.

If it fits on the quilt, bring on the piecing!

And now the hard part; which square goes where...

And now the hard part; which square goes where…

Lately I’ve been doing the actual quilting on my smaller table, where my sewing machine most often resides.  I’m thinking for this baby, sashes included, it’s going to be quilted on my big table, here in the grotto.  How shall it be quilted remains to be seen.  I’d *like* to try something different; I’ve stitched in the ditch myself nearly to tears.  But that’s a few weeks away, for today is a road trip for Dad’s next step in the battle against cancer, not a fight he can win, but more of a scrap to see who outlasts the other.  Either Dad will tire of the tussle, or cancer will concede to let nature take its course, which might sound erroneous, but sometimes life surprises us.

That family of quilts wasn’t for one particular clan after all.  Who knows where Dad’s journey on this path will take him?

About halfway; I was sending these to my eldest, getting her opinion.  She was pretty pleased.

About halfway; I was sending these to my eldest, getting her opinion. She was pretty pleased.

But this I do know; once pieced, then rows sewn, then sashed, then sandwiched, then quilted, this project will land in the arms of a lady so beautiful and amazing, it gives me profound pleasure even thinking about her and this quilt.  It hearkens back to when I was finishing Dad’s blanket, my very first quilt, and how happy I was to give him something necessary in his chemo adventure, also a gift from my own hands.  That is a large part of why I love quilting, writing too.  It comes from my hands, head, and heart.  In this rather modern world, it’s a precious blessing to pass along.

The finished quilt, which will now decorate (and keep watch over) the grotto in my absence.

The finished quilt, which will now decorate (and keep watch over) the grotto in my absence.

Nothing virtual about a quilt, I’ll say.  It’s about as tactile as one’s soul gets, and even better when it rests in another’s grasp.  Another mystery, best left unsolved.

And just in case they try to escape, those tucked in the far right corner have been documented.  Sorry kids, but you're not going anywhere but under my sewing machine...

And just in case they try to escape, those tucked in the far right corner have been documented. Sorry kids, but you’re not going anywhere but under my sewing machine…

Alternating Snow and Shades

Just moments ago I removed this quilt from my dryer.  Well, relative moments ago; I’ve since photographed it, and am now writing this post about it.  But as I write this post, the quilt in question sits on my sofa, recently finished.

Backed with Disney princess fabric, an adorable print that I know will be appreciated.

Backed with Disney princess fabric, an adorable print that I know will be appreciated.

To me, finished for a quilt is laundered.  Then a blanket is DONE.

But how much occurs before DONE is achieved; fabrics are purchased, cut, then sometimes they loiter, as other projects emerge.  This quilt was cut ages ago, Kona snow and a bunch of vibrant prints, then whiled away much of the latter part of summer in a Baggie, tucked out of sight.  I didn’t want the owner, my youngest daughter’s best friend and mum-to-be of Master Z, to find it when she came for her baby shower at our house.  The family of quilts kept this one stilled, but last week I put it together, alongside the baby quilts.  Finished hand-sewing the binding (light blue Kona that matches the blue on the back) a couple of days ago, then washed it this morning.  Stuck it in the dryer, ran some errands, then returned home to a completed quilt.

Son and mum quilts side by side.

Son and mum quilts side by side.

Oh, if only it were that easy.  Toss some squares of fabric into the washing machine, and voila!  But it’s far more work than that, steps that lend themselves to whatever fits in my life at that time.  For example; this morning I cut fabrics for one of my next projects, with another stack waiting in the wings.  After I get back from Dad’s appointment at the doc, I’ll go to town on those quilts, as hopefully I’ll have all (or most) of the fabrics cut.  Cutting fabrics is an essential part of the process, but it doesn’t involve the sewing machine.  It’s like the plotting stage of writing a novel.

Fabrics for the future...

Fabrics for the future…

And speaking of books…  I’m also hoping to get back into The Hawk when I return.  I want to write a post about how much I ache to continue that tale, but quilts get in the way.  But writing The Hawk is sort of like making a quilt; contemplating various ideas before I actually start typing.  I’ve been thinking about that story as I cut fabrics, wash quilts, heck, even while sewing those comforters.

But I truly don’t need more time in the day.  Twenty-four hours is plenty, believe me.  All things in their own (darn) good time, that’s my motto.

Feast Or Famine (Or Fabric)

Sometimes writing has very little to do with quilting.  Like right now, in the middle (or hopefully perhaps the end of the middle third) of The Hawk, there’s so much to note to the reader, and some of it I know.  Some I don’t, which doesn’t bother me, it comes with the authorial territory.  But where a quilter or sewing enthusiast enjoys bringing more fabrics into the fold, a writer’s preference is to keep it simple.  Don’t beat a dead horse.  Redundancy is a drag; um, did I already say that?  Well, if not, then yes, repetition breeds boredom. Right now I’m trying to maintain a steady course with the noveling, but it’s hard, having been away from this story for months, also in that this is a LONG story.  Does the reader need an occasional gentle nudge, maybe.  I’ll know later on, but for now, the squiggles are piling, and that’s what’s important.

Because when the words aren’t there, well, that’s no fun at all.

That’s sort of like trying to sew without fabric.  Now, I live in a small house, so there’s no way I can establish some monstrous stash.  However, when a quilt comes a’calling, I go a’buying some cottons.  I did that today, after the writing was finished, for a quilt back, and a baby quilt.  Buying fabrics for baby quilts is still new, but boy, I’ll tell you, I sure like it.

Nostalgic whimsy; I love this print, which will be a quilt back for a special little girl...

Nostalgic whimsy; I love this print, which will be a quilt back for a special little girl.

Never before have I had two such fascinating hobbies, which at times are so similar, and at others diametrically opposed.  Writing taught me much in the ways of patience, which is so necessary for quilting, like when standing at the ironing board, pressing seams.  And quilting has given me a new appreciation for fashioning vibrant landscapes with only prose.  Writing demands my morning brain, when the words are still within my grasp.  Sewing requires a different sort of butt nailed to a chair (unless I’m pressing seams), the kind that travels well into the evening after all the good words have been used.  Last night I sewed past eight p.m., watching the Giants take a series from the Cubs, finally getting the mum-quilt-top put together.  It’s now hanging on my quilt wall, and will be placed into the actual quilting queue perhaps as early as Sunday.  Yesterday I did no writing, for the husband is back, the retreat over.  While he acclimated himself to home, I quilted the little sister comforter, stitching in the ditch, then attaching the front of the binding.  Tomorrow I’m spending the day with my eldest, a sewing gig for us ladies.  I’ll chat with my daughter while hand-sewing the binding for that quilt, as well as the toddler blanket, as Buttercup whines for our attention.  I know that part of the routine well.

Waiting patiently for the binding to be attached to the back.

Waiting patiently for the binding to be attached to the back.

I’m a lucky woman, able to balance these rewarding pastimes amid the usual trappings of life.  But then, it’s been one helluva summer, and autumn is looking to continue in that vein.  Thank goodness American football is around the corner, and as for the Giants…

Okay, they’re still in contention for a playoff spot, if the Dodgers’ three top pitchers happen to get abducted by aliens.  Barring that, watching San Francisco play has become more of admiring rookies filling in spots all over the infield.  Meanwhile, I consider plots for The Hawk, mulling over fabrics for future quilts.  And as I wrote today, from Eric’s POV, how important is the essence of hope.  Not for my baseball team, ahem, but for all that sits on the horizon.  Babies to be born, books to be finished, quilts to be compiled; I don’t know the outcome of any of those realities, but that’s all right.  It’s like writing The Hawk; I don’t know all that’s coming, but I know the end.

And in the end, that’s the main thing.

The tale of a quilt-top…

Hanging horizontally on the line; the light was just right for me to get this shot, which at the time the Giants were winning, 2-1.

Hanging horizontally on the line; the light was just right for me to get this shot, which at the time the Giants were winning, 2-1.

Tonight I finished the Brother-In-Law quilt top.  I feel like I’ve been working on this project all summer, and in a way I have; the fabric has been around for ages, and the cutting took considerable time.  Shirts aren’t anything like yards of store-bought fabric when it comes to the rotary cutter and cutting mat, but those fabrics were free, and were cottons (and poly/cottons) my BIL liked.  And it was as if I was stepping back in the past every time I transformed a shirt into a pile of squares; this was how quilts used to be made all the time.

The last squares I sewed; as if the back tells another story, or maybe it's the quilt's life in a parallel universe.

The last rows I sewed; as if the back tells another story, or maybe it’s the quilt’s life in a parallel universe.

Most of the fabric was previously clothing.  I added the camo, plus two blue fat quarters and the remnant from some muslin.  I needed some solids to balance out the plethora of prints, mainly plaids.  Plus the shirts themselves were a variety of linens, some flannel of varying thicknesses, some all cotton, some a blend.  One blend didn’t like a hot iron, and after I was done, I threw the leftover squares in the bin.  But the rest were fairly well-behaved, and now they are attached as a whole.

And hopefully by the end of the week they’ll be quilted into a lovely comforter.

But I wanted to reflect a little on the process, which indeed has taken most of summer, in between road trips and sports.  Then suddenly the quilt-top is complete, that sewing endeavor finished.  Never again will I sew these squares into that pattern.

This was not my neatest sewing, but it was a challenge dealing with so many different kinds of fabrics, sort of like managing all the crazy events that make up one's daily life.

This was not my neatest sewing, but it was a challenge dealing with so many different fabrics, sort of like managing all the crazy events that make up one’s daily life.

And that’s a little daunting, when I consider it as such.  Maybe it’s this project being so tied into the last weeks of my dad’s chemo, other life changes rearing their head in the interim.  Certainly some quilts have had their share of secondary meanings; the Mijos Quilt is still the Bonhoeffer Quilt in my head, and I won’t soon forget the four-day quilt-extravaganza that was the Whale Quilt.  But this blanket, or the top of this blanket, carries a deeper sense of accomplishment, or maybe it’s just freshly swimming around in my head.

But not only my brain; my soul has been seared by this collection of fabrics, shirts and fat quarters and a half-yard of camo, plus another half-yard of a lighter coloured camo for the binding.  That fabric was also a poly/cotton blend, so this quilt contains a wide gamut of fabrics.  I made that binding a few weeks ago, before I even started sewing together the rows.  I had a day between drives north, and needed something to occupy my hands.  My mind has been a blur for the last several weeks; thank goodness for quilting!

The vertical view, by which time the Giants were losing 4-2.

The vertical view, by which time the Giants were losing 4-2.

However, a manuscript has been returned from one of the best pairs of editing eyes I know, and now that Dad’s done with chemo, literary activities are beginning to stir.  Currently it’s a gentle tap tap on my shoulder.  By this time next week, it could very well be a head-banging gong worthy of some of my most beloved rockers.  Yet, this coming week will be about quilt sandwiches, with some housecleaning on the side.  Probably little about baseball.  The last three days with the Dodgers have left the Giants scratching their heads.

Fortunately I have more fabric to cut.  The Giants can lose all they want.  I’ve got more quilts on the roster than sense, like I used to have more plots than brains.  But maybe plots are making a comeback.  Soon enough, I’ll know…

No more chemo…

That was the title of my mom’s most recent email to my siblings and me.  After nine rounds of Taxotere, Dad has said no mas…

I don’t think it was a difficult decision, although Dad wasn’t quite sure when we last talked about this, over a week ago.  Yet, I could see this coming at the party; he was as weary as I’ve ever seen him, gripping his cane, along with the arm of whoever was near.  But his smile still shone, his words upbeat, albeit spoken in a voice thin and tired.  That was what ended the chemo; Dad is tired of being so dog-gone tired.  His PSA only dropped .2 last month, down to 6.2, which is wonderful compared to his numbers at the beginning of this year, in the low 80s.  Now we wait, which is all anyone can do, to see how the PSA responds, and how Dad heals.  Chemo was to aid in this battle, but what a brutal tool it has been.

Still, none of us bemoan these past months; life is a cycle of ebbs and flows, and my father isn’t the only one with health issues.  The Brother-In-Law Quilt is (finally) coming together, and while it’s still plenty hot in California, I want it to be finished before that BIL has his own medical procedures.  Not that my BIL is going to need a quilt to stave off the chills, but I hope this blanket will warm his heart, as surgery looms.  This quilt is sort of saying, “Yes, serious treatments sit on the horizon, but soon enough they will be over, and cooler days will have come, and you can stay toasty under this rather busy comforter.”

Ten rows done, with # eleven pinned and waiting to be attached...

Ten rows done, with # eleven pinned and waiting to be attached…

And be thinking of hunting trips for 2015 too.

Camo binding waits patiently...

Camo binding waits patiently.

However, not all quilts are camo-themed; I’m back to florals and bright prints, for a family who needs some quilty love.  The fabrics below will form some mum-daughter quilts to go along with the toddler patchwork which has already been removed from the quilt wall, to make room for another expression of affection.  It’s like instead of a get well or miss you card, I throw together a quilt.  Dad started the mission, and on it goes.

The fabric on the right was what I used for curtains, and I was so pleased to find more of it!

The fabric on the right was what I used for curtains, and I was so pleased to find more of it!

Maybe my youngest daughter was right, when coining my quest, that everyone needs a quilt.  In between revisions, baseball, and the annual housecleaning extravaganza (yesterday it was the interior of my fridge and hallway baseboards, today is the living room dusting and baseboards), quilts are pieced together with the utmost of love and care.

And tomorrow will take care of itself, PSA-wise and whatever else comes along.