Did I really say that?

Did I really say there are no bad quilts?  Sigh.  Sometimes we speak too soon.  And, this isn’t really a bad quilt, I just had a much harder time trying to tame it than all the others.  In nine years of longarm quilting, I have never willfully put a tuck in someone’s quilt top.  This one is full of tucks.  There was so much excess fabric in places that I just could not steam and starch the ripples out, even if I had a Pacific Ocean full of starch!  As it was, I refilled the water chamber in my iron four times trying to wrestle with this quilt, and I made it as square and flat as I could.  Still, as I was working with it, I reminded myself that it was a) hand stitched, b) made in a time when there were no rotary cutters, c) made in a time when there were no square rulers (at least for quilters), and, d) probably made in a time where the maker didn’t have good lighting.  I know my mother was raised in a home with no electricity, so I’m assuming this was made in those days.

You can see this is not flat

Really

 

It has serious issues

Oy

 

Way too much fabric in the blocks – where do I put it?

too much

 

But it’s done

done

 

I’m sort of glad the finished pictures are a bit blurry.  I think I was so tired and wiped out by this quilt when I finished that I even out shook my camera’s advanced anti-shake technology!

tucks

 

I do hope my client likes it.  She is the same one with the pink-sashed old quilt.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle

This quilt was tied and loved for quite some time before it began to fall apart.  It’s stained, discolored, seams splitting, some fabric tears, but I started another rescue job on it.  First step was to start pressing

start pressing

 

Loosened from the back and ready to press

start press wrinkles

 

Smooth it out

starch steam squoosh

 

Starch, steam, press

more wonk

 

More rumples and wrinkles

eww

 

And more rumples

another antique

 

On the machine – using Darlene Epp’s Trillium pantograph

done 1

 

Done!  Not perfect, but a lot better than it was

done

 

one last pic.

And another one

I’m working on this one today.  Spent most of the day trying to fix spots in it yesterday.  The fabric is very fragile, so it can’t be manipulated as well as the butterflies, but I think it will undergo a substantial transformation.  I took lots of before pics,  so I’ll let you see the end result and compare.another antique

No bad quilts

How many of you piece quilts, and how many of you actually quilt them?  Not that it really matters, each is its own art form and, we all take pride in our accomplishments.  Back in the days (long, long ago) when I pieced quilts and either quilted them by hand or tried to push them through the small throat of my Bernina, I remember being just so happy when I’d finished a top.  I knew I’d done the best I could which, in the beginning, was often not all that great.  When I started to quilt the quilt, all I wanted was for it to be finished, so I could stand back, look at it, and say, yes!  I made that.

Often, in longarm discussion forums, you will see comments from quilters complaining about the quality of the piecing they have gotten from this or that customer.  Yes, at times I have been guilty of this too, but in most cases, I realize that my piecers have done their best and just want the quilt they worked so hard on, to be quilted and finished, so they can cuddle with it and love it or hang it on their wall.  Yes, I do some show quilts, but mostly, the quilts I do for customers are to be used.  So . . . what is the point in fussing and getting upset if the quilt isn’t perfectly flat and square?  Pretty much, there is no point.  Lately, I have gotten a bunch of old, and even antique quilts to do.  I have informed my clients that their quilt might have more value as just a top, as my quilting it would make it a present-day quilt, and it would no longer have much historical value.  Generally, they just want Great Aunt Sue’s quilt quilted so they can use it.  So, on I go.  Some of these quilts are stained, discolored, hand-pieced, wonky, lumpy, and definitely not square.  But you know, they can end up being quite lovely.  I think of the maker, sitting by the light of a candle or gas lamp, working on these quilts by hand, and I have to say I’m very impressed.  I really enjoy working on them.

I’ve mastered, pretty much, the art of starch and steam.  This is one of the quilts I finished recently.

Butterflies ripple

 

A bit ripply and yes, that’s starch flakes, but it does brush off.

Butterflies more ripple

 

Wonky blocks

Butterflies friendly borders

 

Overly friendly borders

Butterflied bottom

 

Especially the bottom.  BUT . . .

It can come out right:

Butterflies done

 

Butterflies done2

 

Butterflies detail

 

And, of course, the back.  I really like this quilt.

Butterflies back

Busy, busy!

Things are hopping here.  I just wish I had more energy to hop along with them, but I’m managing.  Santa’s workshop is in full swing here.  I’m making crafts for sale on Etsy and also at the Coburg Quilt Show and perhaps a few more venues this year.  I’m also quilting up a storm.  I’ve got a couple of doozies in the line up.  Old quilts found by relatives who are not really quilters, but they want to use the quilts made by Great Aunt Sue or Bessie, so I’m doing my best to make them lovely.  Most of these have no parts that are flat or square.  Call me silly, but I love each and every one of them.  I’m going to try to turn them into lovely blankies that will be cherished for years to come.

I’ve also begun work on one of the two major art quilts I’ve had bumping about in my little grey cells for ages now.  I’ve done maybe four art quilts, most of them for international exchanges, not juried shows, and I think I get better at it with each one.  The two I now have in mind are rather grandiose, but I have a feeling they’ll be a bit more on the home-spun side when I finally shoe-horn them out of my head.  I have the drawings for the first done and am contemplating whether I want to piece it, appliqué it, paint it, or use some of each technique in it and then add some thread painting and embellishments to it?  I have a feeling it will be a mixed-media piece.  Just too many ideas swirling to nail it down to one.

Oz and I have been frequently to the dog park and out for walks, but I’m going low and slow on the walks as I think I have the beginnings of PTTD – post tibial tendonitis disorder – meaning my tendon on the inside of my ankle is stretched and my arch is falling.  It is, at times, excruciatingly painful, but I’m dealing with it.  Amazon should deliver a special splint for me on Tuesday which will make walking much easier, especially at a faster pace over distance.

Much to do and less time to do it in!  Just thought I’d check in.  I’ll try to be back more frequently.

What are you reading?

My friend Judy Laquidara has a weekly post on her blog asking us what we are reading.  I have many bookshelves filled with books, I have an Android Tablet (Samsung Galaxy II with Kindle app), and a smartphone (Droid Razr with Kindle app) so I can read lots of things.  However, my main method of “reading” is to listen to audiobooks on my iPod.  I’m always doing something (except when I’m sitting at the computer), so I can’t really hold a book or device in my hand for old-fashioned-type reading.

Currently, I’m listening to a re-read of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

hobbit

I get my audiobooks from Audible.  I’ve been a member there, off and on, for many years and have a rather extensive library.  What’s really nice about Audible, besides their huge selection of books, is that, if you become a member and decided to lay low for a bit, your library stays there.  You can go back and download your books even when your membership is inactive.  Then, when you have listened to everything you have, you can go back and restart your membership and get more credits and add more books.  They also send you emails telling you about new reads in your favorite genres and new or old award-winning books.  This really helps when you’ve exhausted the bibliography of your favorite authors.  Some books are great with one read.  Some I revisit over and over again.  Tolkien was my friend at a very rough juncture of my life, and I go back to visit his characters often, when I need a little escape from the everyday.

I love to listen to books while I quilt.  Generally, when I see someone’s quilt in a show, or see a quilt I’ve done for a family member on their bed or couch, I can remember the book I was listening to while quilting their quilt.  It’s always nice to have an adventure while working on a project.

What are you reading today?  Be sure to hop over to Judy’s blog and check out all she’s doing.  She amazes me with all she accomplishes each day.

Make mine green

Well, I’m looking for my mojo . . . trying to get some spunk back, so I’ve been upping the exercise and trying to eat well.  The exercise is nearly killing me, but I keep at it, and my diet is taking a dramatic turn.  As many of you know, I can’t eat refined carbs, so I’ve had a diet of mainly protein (meat, fish, eggs) and vegetables.  I still would get very sleepy after eating and, worst of all, I was beginning to gain weight.  Not a lot, about 5 pounds over the last couple of months, but having been majorly fat at one point in my life, I’m just not going back there.  I’ve recently changed most of my diet to vegetable-based, and have found a couple of combinations or non-meat proteins that work for me.  Very tricky when you get to the beans and rice department, as too much starch can make my blood sugar crash and can also cause horrible flatulence — neither a very desirable state!  I’m finding that a combination of black beans and black rice is working very well for me.  About 2/3 beans to 1/3 rice.  Black rice is also known as the Emperor’s Rice or Forbidden Rice, as back in ancient China, only the Emperor was allowed to eat it.  It is supposed to have very good health benefits.  Black beans are very close to being a perfect protein, having an amino acid score of 103, where 100 is ideal.  I’m learning (and remembering) a whole lot about how to combine foods for maximum health.  Also trying to follow the Joel Fuhrman mantra of GBOMBS – Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds.  Today’s lunch really fit the bill.  Red onions, baby portabella mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, and kale, with a small side of black beans and black rice.  So far, I’m not really feeling the energy, but I may live as a very tired person for a whole lot more years!  We’ll see how it goes.

2013-03-09_14-01-40_841

 

Back in my college days (ages ago) I was very much into Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet and I ate a mostly vegetarian diet, using her charts on how to combine foods.  At least perusing the charts and cooking like this takes me back to being about 19 years old, so if I keep it up, I may find the time machine yet.  I’m just hoping my energy will come back!