Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What If?

The last time I visited my long arm quilter, Janet-Lee, I dropped off my Slashed Squares quilts. Janet wondered aloud what would happen if I slashed some squares at an angle.

"Well, you'd have to figure out how to cut them apart consistently from one block to another..." I said, "and then you'd have to make sure that inner square went back together properly..." I started thinking.

I paused, thinking hard.

"Yeah! It would be fun if I made SURE the inner square didn't go back together the right way, and that the result would be an interesting kind of a zig zag..."

I really have to do a lot of experimenting with this idea, but I think it can be really fun. The first cut, in the top picture, results in four pieces that are the same, and I don't want that.

I'll be doing some thinking and playing.

I'm taking a few days off. I need some time away from the studio. I want to enjoy the warm weather and not just by looking out the window.

Monday, July 16, 2018

In Pieces and On The Couch

This is the quilt in five big chunks.

 Here it is after I have sewn the big chunks together and completed the top. It's going to  be a really pretty quilt.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

By the way, I got irked at the guy at the big box store because he did NOT listen to what I asked. I told him I wanted a work light to illuminate a wall six feet wide by eight feet tall from a distance of about between 10 and 12 feet. Then I showed him a picture of my design wall.

"Is this inside or outside? Is this a dining room?"

"It's inside, and it isn't a dining room. Why does it matter what kind of room it is? It's a work room. It's a studio. I don't need to install it permanently and I only need to use it when I take photographs."

He held up his hands, "I'm not trying to offend you."

"Well you're doing a pretty crappy job. I described exactly what I needed and you didn't listen to me."

He sighed. "OK, let's look at lights..."

When I had the little box in my hand, I looked at him. "Men do this all the time. They minimize what women do. And most women just take it. I make quilts, and I make money at it. My tools are important. I know a lot of quilters who don't have good tools or good lighting who work on a rickety ironing board and bend over a dining room table that's too low. Yet the men have every power tool known to man, table saws and riding lawn mowers. When I come to a hardware store to buy tools, the men try to sell me cheap crap. It's really aggravating."

"If that light doesn't work, bring it back," he told me.

Well, it works, so I won't have to bring it back. In fact, I went back later and bought a second one for my travel kit. The guy wasn't there, or I would have told him just how great the little light really is.          

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Let There Be Light!

The other day Julie wrote to me, "Do yourself and all of us a favor and go get those portable lights so your design wall doesn't have that dark spot... you will be SO glad when fall comes and the summer light fades into wintery dullness."

Well, it took me a week, but I finally visited one of the big box hardware stores and after having a slightly testy conversation with an older sales guy ("Is this inside or out? Is this a dining room?" This after I said I wanted a work light to illuminate a wall six feet wide by about eight feet tall from a distance of between 10 and 12 feet), he suggested this small light. "The other ones will work, but they will also generate an awful lot of heat."

It was only $20, and he said it ought to work just fine. "If it doesn't just bring it back."

So this is the "Before" photo, in normal daylight on a slightly overcast day.

And this is "After" with the new light.


Once again, this is BEFORE.

And this is AFTER.

Sometimes the solution is a lot easier than you think.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Getting Bigger

The Blue Quilt is growing, and it's looking good.

 The view when I turn around from my sewing machine.

(btw.. The fabric on the curtain on the door to the left is tomato pincushions.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Upper Right

Here is the upper right hand corner of the BLUE quilt.  Yes, I am standing on an ottoman to get far enough away to get the whole thing in one frame.

I pinned those two big corners back up on the design wall, and am continuing to sew the components together.

Yeah I know it's about as exciting as watching paint dry, but hey, it's what's going on in my studio right now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Upper Left

I'm pretty happy with the layout of the Blue quilt (Blue Thunder?)

So I started sewing the components together. I sew the four patch diamonds next to the medium diamonds, and then those get combined into larger diamonds that are the size of the giant diamonds. Then they get sewed together.  It is my preference to trim the quilt just outside the vertical row of four patch diamonds, so I have to add extra medium blocks on the edge.

I'm traveling shortly, and I want to get this sewn together into a flimsy before I go, so I'll be working on this for the next few days. This should surprise nobody.

Blue Fantasy? Blue Planet?

Blue Paradise?

Actually, I think the title for this quilt has been staring us in the face for way too long. It doesn't need anything else.  It's just BLUE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Blue, Re-blue'd

(You can click, then double click on the photos and they will enlarge, showing you a lot more than if you just look at them normally. You will probably see the changes I have made in greater detail.)
It's a funny way to design a quilt, but once I am happy with the placement of the giant diamonds, I remove the four patch diamonds and rearrange the medium diamonds. I like to place the medium diamonds so the colors relate to the larger diamonds, and I try to distribute darker prints so they aren't bunched together. 

The changes may look minor, but (for example) all the cream and light green prints (like these, above) are gone. From a distance they read as "green" and not "blue" and didn't fit.

(By the way, I had decided that I was NOT going to go out and buy one more damn piece of fabric for this quilt. I was going to solve the problem with what I had on hand.)

 After I've got the medium diamonds placed, I place four patch diamonds next to the giant diamonds so their colors connect to each other. See the yellow-orange and orange four patch diamonds next to the yellow-orange tail of the bird in the lower-right of this photo? And then on the other side, see how the lime green four-patch connects to the limey-green leaves in the same diamond? And above that, the yellow orange again, and then higher up, the red connects to the red of the fish on the right and the red flowers in the big blue floral diamond?  That's how I start. I place one at a time, and then work out where everything else goes.

By the time I do that, though, I've got a big stack of the four-patch diamonds. There are 16 different colors here. (Yellow, yellow-orange, red orange, red, lime green, olive green, grass green, red violet, violet, a dusky pink, and six shades of blue.) I didn't use all of them. The yellow and olive green didn't work at all, but I didn't know that FOR SURE until I tried them.

(Remember my favorite quote: "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are different." Translation: You have to try it out in real life. It doesn't always work the way you think.)

I didn't arrange the four patch diamonds like a rainbow, either. Blue is next to red, orange is next to blue, green is next to purple... and so on.

I'm almost 99% sure this is IT. Of course that means it will stay on the design wall just like this for a day or so while I study it and make minor changes.  Of course, when you get the big things right, and then you pay attention to all the tiny little things that don't appear to be important, well, then you end up with a good design.

I already see something I don't like. That dark medium diamond in the bottom row. Too dark. Gotta go...

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Block Bag Brigade

So last week I filled a bag with the leftover Gizzy blocks.

Then I made arrangements to pass the bag to my friend Mary.

She met me at work last week. Here you can see me passing the bag to her. "Omigosh," Mary said to me, "this bag is HEAVY."

The next day, Mary passed the bag along to Sarah, Mary's "wonderfully creative friend, an expert at putting pieces of fabric from many sources into quilts for abused or ill children and for adults recovering from surgery or other health problems. She was thrilled to accept your gift."

I'm glad all those blocks are going to be turned into something good. If you have fabric you can't stand looking at, or an abandoned project that is taking up space in your house, there is always someone who will be glad to take it off your hands and make magic with it. You just have to find them.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Blue Diamonds

Since I added the big diamonds, I thought you might like to see them in detail

I bought this one at the Vermont Quilt Festival a couple of weeks ago after I figured out the quilt should be blue-ish.

I bought this one when I bought the gold and brown giant prints.

This is left over from the backing for the mini Slashed Squares quilt.

i fell in love with this print back in 2012 and bought it in blue, green, grey-beige (it is the background of the mini four patch diamonds), brown/golds and a multi colored version. The only colorway I did NOT buy was the pink version.

I've had this blue fabric at least ten years.

 It may not look like I've done much, but I made a lot of four patch diamonds and have moved a lot of the medium diamonds around.

I also went to see the movie, The Incredibles 2. What A Blast!

And I paid the bills. (Trip to visit my grandbaby coming up...)

And I watched the tennis at Wimbledon (another day of upsets.)

Saturday, July 7, 2018

True Blue

I had a long email conversation with my pal Julie yesterday, which I will tell you all about in another post, but the impetus of it was that I had decided the diamond quilt I had been working on wasn't BLUE enough. I got home from work last night and went directly into the studio to fix that.

After that I decided to tone down the medium diamonds.

Overall I didn't like it.

I put some of the busier medium diamonds back up on the design wall and I like it better, but I am not done. I still have to make a few more four patch diamonds, and then I'll redistribute those. Hell, I'll probably take everything but the big diamonds down and re do it all.

You can click the photo, then double click it to enlarge it and see all the loveliness of the fabrics.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Moody Blue

It was so much fun to read your BLUE comments yesterday. There were so many good ideas. I had forgotten the song Blue Skies.. love that.

I can make more blue four-patch diamonds, but they read as too dark when lined up next to each other. I want those little diamonds to shimmer, and if they look like a row of diamonds of the same value (lightness/darkness) then they won't sparkle. I believe these small diamonds lead the viewer into these Diamond quilts, if they are too dark, they look like a hard edge; a dividing line, and that's not what I want. I WANT them to surge up and down from light to dark and from one color to another.

And I have to make sure they don't totally disappear. Right now there's a light yellow mini diamond in there that really isn't working. I have a slightly darker, warmer yellow (more like a yellow-orange) fabric standing by, but making those little four patch diamonds takes time, and hey, there are only so many hours in one day.

There's also a middle value medium sized blue diamond fabric that I am liking less and less. There are six of them in this quilt, and they just aren't doing anything for me. My problem is I have to replace them with something. I want something blue-ish, without a strong print and that will play nicely with the fabrics that surround it.

Here's an interesting observation. This is the very first diamond quilt I ever made. There is a bigger range in values of the giant diamonds. Some are very light and some are darker. But check out the medium sized diamonds. They are mostly "blenders" with no noticeable pattern to disrupt the design. And check out the background of the mini four patch diamonds. If you look closely, the backgrounds of these DON'T disappear as I have been trying to get the newer diamond quilts to do.  So this quilt "reads" as more soothing because pattern in this quilt is found ONLY in the large diamonds.

Now look back at the top quilt, whose working title is now Blue Rhapsody.  Should probably Blue Improvisational Jazz Band instead, shouldn't it? All those fabrics, all those prints, equals something MUCH HARDER to juggle. (Does not mean impossible, just trickier.)

There's a lesson here, and what it means to me is that I have to THINK about WHAT I WANT. Do I want a busier design, or a calmer one? There are no wrong answers. The top quilt is quite handsome, even in the poor light.

It's the difference between traditional long-simmered spaghetti sauce and pasta puttanesca. One has a long simmered flavor that's mellow, and the other one is fresher and spicier.  Both are good, the difference is simply whatever YOU are in the mood for.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Blue What?

Blue Danube, Blue Rodeo, Blue Diamond, Blue Book. I know this quilt needs a title, but Blue Diamonds is a brand of nuts so that's out. I have to think of something. Actually all I have to do is pick something.


I liked the layout of the giant diamonds, so I started filling in with the medium sized diamonds.

But then I wondered if it was too light, so I added some purple and darker green medium sized diamonds.

Blue Monday, Blue Deco, Blue Rose.

As soon as I got across the room, I realized the purple ones were too dark. So those went.

Blue Moon, Blue Boy, Blue Velvet.

When I went back across the room, I didn't like the green ones either. So those went out too.

Blue Eyes, Blue Christmas, Blue Dahlia. 

Now I have to make some four patch diamonds. MOST of them will be blue and green, but I may need others, so I have cut strips of yellow, orange and pink. (Because if I have too many of the same color diamonds in a row, it just looks too dark.)

Blue Valentine, Blue Jasmine, Blue Lagoon.

I have gotten this far, but I have more four patch diamonds to make, so this is it for now. And yes, this is what happens when you do nothing all day but sit in your air-conditioned studio, "watch" tennis (Wimbledon) and sew.

This quilt is going to be really pretty.

Blue Laughter, Blue Smiles, Blue Joy (sounds like the name of a laundry detergent), Blue Dreams.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Bye Bye Blocks

I got home from work yesterday and packed up all the Gizzy blocks.

They will be going to a quilt guild where they will be part of donation quilts. Woo hoo!

So the diamonds are back on the wall. I will think about what color quilt I want on my bed and go from there.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Not Feeling The Love

I threw some of the Gizzy blocks up on the design wall and was not particularly inspired.

I tried arranging them so there was a color flow, but it just wasn't doing anything for me.

As you can see I have plenty of blocks...

but they just don't seem to be coming together in a way that excites me.
 The fabrics are too dark and the colors just aren't bright enough.

I suppose I'll tinker with this for another day, but I'm just not seeing any good possibilities. I suppose I could cut them apart and make slabs, but still, there are far too many darks, too many browns, and not enough bright happy colors to end up being something I WANT to work on or something I WANT to own.

So these blocks might just go back into a box and head out to the nearest quilt group that makes donation quilts. Somebody else might see magic where I just see blah.

WHY, do you ask, am I "giving up" so easily?  Because I can see the end, and it just isn't worth it. Yes, I COULD make something that would be OK, but I'd be miserable doing it, and that's not a good use of my time. These blocks do not feed me in any positive way. They drain me. So they have to go.

Sometimes you have to make an Executive Decision, and it looks like I've just made one.  I'll find something else to do that lifts my spirits. It's not like I don't have enough fabric...