Revisiting old matters!

Every time I turn around in my studio, I find something else to distract me and to play with. Picking my way through a pile of scraps, I saw a piece that made me remember a class that I designed for the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild. It was quite a few years ago, shortly after my book came out, and I wanted to create something unique for my guild class.

After I designed it and came up with a set of directions, I made it several times in different fabrics to illustrate  that each person’s project would be totally unique.

Crime Wave 3

Crime Wave 2

I had saved a bundle of the original class materials—who knows why? Some of the parts were made to illustrate the way to make a new section, and there is a bit of each of the original fabrics left.

I have started sorting through it and trying to decide if I should make another piece with the same color scheme and materials, or try to create something very different.

I walked away from it at this point for a while. When I looked at the pictures to begin this blog, I came up with a starting point!

I love the way the black and white piano key curved pieces look as a small striped section, so I’m going to start with that.

My style has changed a bit since 2011 also, so I don’t think I will be using as much of the colored fabrics as I did in the past. Starting with black and white should lead me in a different direction…maybe! I’m ready to start on a new vision from an old project.


Too much and too little

This was supposed to be a week of plenty of time in the studio, getting lots of things done. And I did get some things done…no, actually, I got ONE thing done! My retreat project is finished, and that includes sleeve and label!

Wow! This WAS blocked straight and square and flat, but I sure didn’t smooth it out correctly for this photo!

I’m very pleased with how it turned out and I am firm in my resolve that there will not be a series repeating this design…well, unless I vary my technique and capture the essence of the design rather than the exact drafted picture. I have been known to do that.

I had to shop for border fabric for the crosscut piece. Mission accomplished on that and the quilting is started.

And look at this great package of items for our latest CS challenge! (Another “not start” for the week, BTW.)

It’s a ‘Dirty Dozen’ challenge to honor 12 years of our Creative Seasons art group. Probably my favorite combination of colors.

Have not made any progress in a decision on what to do with the blocks of hand dyes I made at retreat, but perhaps that will be next week’s project. However, since I love these challenge items so much, I think this will have the top spot on the priority list.

Also found out that there is not enough interest in improv right now to run a second series of classes at Textiles Fabrics in Milan. I’m not surprised, since this is a low-percentage specific interest. And the bonus is that it frees me up for one of AJ’s spring hockey games…always a silver lining!

It’s really hard, sometimes, to get out of the ‘production’ mode of living. There is not one single reason for me to produce anything, except for my own pleasure. There are really no deadlines or demands that are not self-imposed and if I want to be lazy, I can. I’m glad, though, that I have an inner drive to ‘make’.  It gives me great happiness in every moment in which my heart and mind and hands are engaged in the process of creating. That makes life so much sweeter than indulging in terminal laziness!!!

Projects and progress

My weekend projects are starting to come together! The first thing I just HAD to get at was cutting into that cross block quilt. It’s such fun to cut anywhere and re-arrange the pieces. This is what I ended up with and I love it!

It started out with a 4 x 4 grid of 12″ blocks and I re-arranged it into a 4 x 6 grid of 8″ blocks. I had a tiny bit of fabric left, and if I had arranged the blocks in a 5 x 5 grid, I’d have used these scraps, too!

I think it needs a bit of a border and I tried every piece of fabric that was already IN the quilt and none of them looked right. I started looking through the stash and finally decided that a rosy burgundy looked nice…………and the only piece of the perfect color that I had was about an 8″ square. What a pity–now I have to go buy more fabric!

And while I was looking, I wanted to find a good background for my hand dyed blocks. I liked charcoal and my navy ‘grunge’ fabric the best, but of course I don’t have enough of either of those! More shopping…sigh….but it’s a job that has to be done…

The only project that I actually had a plan for is now quilted and ready for an edge finish…but I can’t decide on binding or facing. I think facing, but I hate to make it.

Started out with the “wood” part. I love using variegated thread. It gives a lot of depth to simple lines of quilting. Remember, the whole thing was abstracted from a garden pavilion, so I wanted to add some of that feeling with the stitching.

I then added a little rock wall and some grass.

Sky and flowers…

And suddenly it was done!

Only that final decision to be made and the actual finish work to be done. It’s only Tuesday and I feel like this is a gooood week already!

CS Retreat Fun

Retreat weekends are so much fun! It’s a shame that we can’t do them more often, but then it wouldn’t be so special, would it?

As I mentioned in my last post, I really had no projects-in-waiting to take along with me. I pulled a bunch of fabrics with a few vague ideas and went off for a weekend of relaxation. I did not care if I accomplished exactly nothing at all!

I actually did want to try and make a piece from the design I created in a class with Heather Jones.

Abstracted from this picture

With no attempt at realism

I’m quite pleased with it and so glad that I am a quilter. Stitching adds another layer of texture and design and there is always the possibility of additional embellishment for even more layers of yummy! I had first thought that I would create multiples in a four seasons format, but it was more difficult to put together than I thought! This is the only season of this design that we are gonna see!

And I’ve had a picture in my head of rectangles of hand dyed fabric set in a complementary grid. I added a curve to the rectangles for a bit more pizazz and I’m pretty sure I made enough for at least a full sized quilt. Didn’t have enough of anything I thought might work for a background, but I laid out a few blocks on white and on black to see in which direction I might want to go.

I’m not thrilled with either one, so I’ll search from the full stash as I get back to the studio. Maybe charcoal or dark blue.

I had been watching the project going up on the design wall across the room from me, and it was really cool. In talking to Sonja, I found out that it was a technique in which you make a quilt top with criss-cross blocks and then cut it up into smaller blocks and re-sew it. I looked at some internet examples and I was on board all the way!

I didn’t think I had the right fabrics with me to make an effective design, but I love the technique so much, I absolutely could not wait to try it!!! I pulled what I thought would work and went at it.

I finished step one and got the quilt top part finished.

I really, really wanted to start cutting into it for the next step, but I truly did not have the proper equipment with me to ensure success. It shall be the first project I work on when I am back in my studio and I am so excited to see how it works out!

Stay tuned!

Third landscape

This landscape seemed to be doomed a few days ago. I started it and did not like it at all. It was too abstract and too cliche at the same time. I set it aside and worked on the seascape that I loved!

I picked it up today and decided that it was useable and even figured out how I want to finish it. And changed my mind a bit. I quilted it as a first layer, and plan on adding embellishments.

Of course, I’m not sure exactly what embellishments will be added………..that’s the fun of what I do!




Adventure is the word that resonated with me today. Every single time that I enter my studio, I feel as though I am embarking on a new adventure. Whenever I say ‘what if…’ and sparks of ideas fly into my imagination, the next escapade begins. And there is always a piece of fabric, or a color, or a bead that inspires action. I cannot imagine that I will ever run out of inspiration, though I am old enough that I CAN envision running out of time or physical ability!

This experiment is wrapping up. All the concepts are roughed in and it is at the point of filling in the blanks with the technical, mechanical details. Always fun, as well as being important to strive for excellence, but the mind is free to start exploring territory for the next undertaking.

Quite a few more sun ray lines to do, with some metallic thread added for a bit of sparkle! And more quilting to do with the leaves and grasses, but essentially done.

My mind has wandered on…and that’s a fitting phrase for what it wandered onto. Alzheimer’s is an affliction that is near to my heart, since my father had it. Every now and then I try to express my feelings about this utterly devasting disease with a piece of art. Not the cheeriest of subjects, of course, but art is emotional–ALL the emotions.

This is started and my mind now gets to ask ‘what if…’ for the next steps.

I believe it is headed for the foggier brain side of the disease rather than the loss of function of the physical side.

The daily adventure that is now my life continues!

Little time, little progress

My time was constricted in several ways this week. My repaired sewing machine had to return to the shop…it wasn’t quite right with the decorative stitches. That added a trip to Ann Arbor, but also cancelled out the guild workshop for Sunday on using those decorative stitches. But we had bonus time with our grandson on school conference days, lunch and movie with his friend. As well as hockey practice and games to add to the time crunch…………and not one moment of regret or hesitation. Love every minute we can spend with this guy! Studio time will always come second to him!

Along the way, we were treated to this marvelous rainbow.

So–what got done? Almost finished this, but I wanted to add one more round of decorative stitching around the edge.

….with the machine that went back to the shop. Sigh…

Made progress on my seashore project. I quilted the sky with simple swirls, using variegated thread. Really like it.

I started on the ground area and used some lovely silk thread. It really stands out, even on the similarly colored background.

And I’m planning on adding some sun rays. Those can’t really be totally free motion stitched without some direction. Otherwise the angles get all wonky and weird looking. I used a circle and my old reliable, painter’s tape, and I think this will work.

That’s waiting for me when I get back into the studio. But right now those hockey games are waiting!