Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A second update on the Cotton Robin post or Why I did what I did next

http://uselessranch.blogspot.com/2014/07/an-overdue-cotton-robin-post-or-why-i.htmlWhen I left off last week, I had sent the center block with the first border I added on to its next stage.  & then I had a good long time to stare at my own spare center & the border I had added to it.  Unlike last time, I had no idea what I wanted to do next.

Soooo...this time I decided to let it lie until the next Cotton Robin block (a different center plus someone else's first border) got here which did not happen until late March (more or less the deadline, so that was hardly a problem).   But I had sent my first round off very early; I knew the beginning of March would be madness.  Even though I had no idea what would arrive & even if I knew which of the starting centers I was getting, I could not guess what the last person might have done, I still kept going back to look at all the possible centers I might get-which was all of them minus my own & the one I had just shipped off. 

Then, shortly after that I happened to be looking at the blog of another Cotton Robin member & there big as life was my focus fabric in a completely different kind of project.  & I couldn't help it, my brain started rolling in a completely different direction.  Between this & the length of time between rounds, my Cotton Robin fever had a chance to subside (a good thing). 

Then it arrived.  I followed the same drill as the first time:  I took a picture & put it where I would see it several times a day (the fridge).  I would love to be able to clip the actual quilt-in-progress to the fridge, but I really did not want to get it dirty.  & I had a small but steady fear the magnet clip would fail & slowly creep down the fridge & a dog would tear it into pieces.  So.  Picture. 

At this point, I had been feeling guilty for a while that the border I made for the previous center was "not sophisticated enough".  I could always see the border I made my own block was "more", but the first center I was given was more complex than my own center had been.  & if I had made the same border I still think it would have detracted rather than enhanced that center.  I also turned that block around super-quick, mostly because March 3rd was the Monday of Spring Break & I knew that week & the week after would be hell (the deadline to get it where it was going was March 20th; if I didn't get it done early I was almost certain to be late), but this was contributing to my guilt.  If I had been able to keep it longer, would I have done "more"...?  Probably not. 

The block arrived with a note from the previous rounder.  She had gone a bit bigger than planned & hoped I could work with it.  I thought what she had done was way-worth the extra space & started thinking small for my own round.  The detail in the center was also small scale, so small seemed the order of the day.  Applique is really not my thing, never mind small applique & I thought the triangle round could not be matched so I thought about small & square.  Square & small.  I cruised a few quilt shops looking for batiks & hand dyes & eventually settled on a blue, a green & a brown that I thought worked with what was already in use.

The more I looked at the picture, the more I realized there was a wave type pattern throughout the whole block:  waves in the fabric dye, waves in the center curls & a wave across the peaks of the triangles of the border & I really wanted to continue that.  First though, I needed to make a narrow border to top off what came before.  I could not find anything like the very pale blue that is the background of the first border, so I went with brown instead.  I was fortunate that my predecessor had stay-stitched just under 1/4" from the edge, making it very easy to catch her perfect points. I added a 1.5" strip knowing that I would be trimming it down to whatever worked best with whatever I did next.

Because the center is on a small scale & again because a note was included the first border was a bit wider than intended (& worth every extra bit of space), I wanted to keep things small but interesting.  To that end, I mapped out a wave pattern using the batik fabrics I acquired.  In an effort not to distract from the complex center & elegant first border, I decided to go with a modified checkerboard.  The strips started at 1.5" so the whole thing was less than 6" all around.  I did add a very wide (2") border around the whole thing, but that was because I like to "quilt off" into extra border that I can cut away.

For my own I did go for a busier checkerboard & I didn't worry about being too large-I'm the one who will live with it & if it's OKay with me it's OKay. 

That I made another simple border was not lost on me.  But at least this time I made more or less the same one for my own center.  Somewhere in here the notification went up that two people were dropping out, deadlines were being extended & so forth, but I was already in gear & mailed this center with the second round border by the original deadline. Just as well, as I was mailing overseas & it took a bit longer en route than I would have liked.  Still it arrived where it was going well before the final center now with two borders arrived here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It continues

My hazy July is looking to last right through today.  I guess the good news is August is mostly on track.  So far.  Which is more than I could say for July on the last day of June.

The July block swaps -both sign-up only- were their own mini-disaster.  That's not fair, actually.  Well Preserved went mostly fine.  One person injured herself & was a day or so late but she let me know ahead of time & she has never been late before.  It was Home for the Holidays that got in my grill.  That can all wait for another post.  Today I am trying to remember good things that happened in July: 
  • I killed my calendula (not good) but managed to collect seeds before she got flooded & the seedlings are doing well.  So far.
  • Last week, I could not face going where I was supposed to be & dawdled in the used bookstore I have not visited in well over a year & there, in the clearance cart on the sidewalk was a good-as-new copy of I Capture the Castle.  I almost wept.  & yes, I bought it. 
  • We have our new roof.  This was not actually a July-thing but this business of not worrying about leaks & having way more light (replaced skylight, installed sun tunnel) has enhanced my days.
  • My drawing class wrapped & I left feeling like I just might take another in the Fall.  In the hour before I needed to leave for class I would ask myself why I signed up for one more thing, but once I got there I was glad I made the effort.  Another funny thing- no matter how exhausted I was (& trust me I was exhausted) once I started drawing I wasn't.  After class the tired feeling came back but by then I was headed home & to bed so who cares.  Maybe different parts of my brain get used up at different rates.
  • I started kettlebelling.  It seems like an odd choice, I know.  Weights have never been my deal, also I have plenty of muscle (hauling 50lb bags of feed around will give you invisible muscles & milking a cow will make you the scourge of men who like to dominate with a hand shake), but I was watching a documentary (that Mariel Hemingway made about her family that I am still on the fence about) & she was flinging this thing around in the yard & I thought I could give that a try.  I love it.  Love It.  LOVE IT.  A***** told me about how boxing/kick-boxing/whatever it was (I am sorry, I love you but I don't remember what it is you DO) was too anger-dissipating for her to quit, despite being the only girl in class & not in a good way, despite the instructor getting frustrated with her, despite everything; getting mad as hell & lashing out just felt good.  Let me recommend kettlebell.  Flinging 7lbs around while screaming "how hard can it be to park in just one space" & other things of that ilk has kept me from killing people.  It probably helps that some part of most days it is nice enough to be outside & we have enough property that I can get well away from windows...& walls.  Because when I lose control of that thing it can take out a fence board (ask me how I know).
I am sure there were other good things in July.  & if these sound like low-grade good things trust me they were a big deal. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An overdue Cotton Robin post or Why I did what I did when I did it

First, I am writing this in February but queuing it up for July, when hopefully all the Cotton Robin quilts will have made their way home (& they have-if you want to jump ahead you can see the big reveal here).

Last December I joined the Cotton Robin.  & then I spent no time at all thinking about what I was going to make for my center because of a whole lot of reasons including but not limited to a cow's homecoming.  So the deadline kind of snuck up on me & I made something that was not exactly "me" but was not exactly "not me". 

I wanted to make a bird trap.  I REALLY wanted to make a bird trap.  But I figured that was not in the spirit of anonymity.  So I made a variation on one of the Mosaic blocks in Brackman & shipped it off with a quarter yard of the floral print & sort of forgot about it.  I thought.

Did I mention I made two?  I should have said:  I made two blocks as identical as I could.  I even used the same fabric scrap pieces in the same places in each block.

So off went one of my center blocks & I kept one & even though I tried very hard not to, I started thinking about the first round of my own center.  I tried not to because I did not want my own 1st round to unduly influence what I did with what I got.  Finally the center I was assigned arrived (I say "finally" but I am pretty sure I got mine first).  I took a scan & a few pictures & made sure I looked at it frequently for almost a week (I did this by putting the picture up on the fridge).

As it happened, this center was accompanied by several strips that while not exactly the same as the fabrics used in the block, they were close enough (same pattern, different colorway type things).  There was also a clearly marked (as you can see) top.  Harder to see is that outer border; it has script that the quilter went to some trouble to maintain in a consistent orientation.  In other words, there is a clear top edge, even if it isn't marked.

Things percolated for a while.  I was actually dragging my feet because I had a very firm idea what I was going to do with my own center block.  In the end, I did my own first border just to get it out of my system & then I added the first border for the center I had been sent.

Before we go on, here is my own center block with the first border:



I have been obsessing, maybe too much on flying geese of late, but I also liked the idea of half square triangles of the same fabric as the border they bump against.  The result: flying geese with half the background in the floral border already there & half the background the white on white dot.  Voilà!

& once I got past that idea, I was able to give the center I received my full attention.  I did actually briefly toy with the same sort of border, but this center was just enough bigger that it would have made the flying geese that much bigger & the overall quilt that much more bigger-bigger.  As it is, my own center is now almost certain to make a quilt larger than the recommended size.  I felt OKay doing this to myself, it was me making a decision for me after all, but I did not want to make that decision for anyone else.  Also, unlike my center which was mostly equal parts, this center had a stand-out central feature & my big-old-mess approach to layout would not highlight that which the quilter who made it chose to highlight.  Somewhere in here I realized the center square had a double frame (a mat & frame, if you will) border & I thought it would be nice to repeat that, so my borders were going to have to be narrow.  Flying geese were out; they never should have been in.

In the end, I used a green dot from my own stash that was very similar to the green dot provided (which I also used) & made a half-square triangle border with that green on one side & softer colors on the other (many of those were also culled form the strips provided). 

Because the center was in such soft colors but still so graphic, I pointed the border in instead of out, hoping that would give it more of a frame & not take over.  & then I repeated the same inner border/outer border look that was part of the original center block, ending with a light, lightly patterned border that squares everything up but can also be trimmed down if it needs to be. 


Before I packaged it up, I put back that bit of blue tape back that marks the center top. 



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A wet month

Among the many things I have not been blogging is how much rain we are getting, in part because this seems like bragging.  I realize that many of our local crops require a very rigid sun/water/ temperature routine (on the other hands the catch-as-catch-can farmers market sellers have stalls overflowing) so all this rain is not a good thing in that way.  After the fires the first year we had this house & every couple years after that pretty much up until the year before last I have vowed not to complain about the rain.

But.

But the pressure in my head has been killing me.  My allergies are on wild monkey at the wheel overdrive & my ear are popping like that monkey is sitting on my brain flicking a clog/pop switch at random. 

Speaking of monkeys, we have had so much rain that we seems to be looking at an early banana crop.  We had some verrrrrry cold days last winter & I did not have my hopes up for bananas at all, but those distinctive purple petals showed up on the walkway last week so I looked up.  Sure enough, two purple blooms are emerging.  I have been reliably told that the variety we have is "lady fingers" which have a very distinctive (wonderful!) flavor & do not ship well at all so they are a strictly local pleasure.  & by local I mean my own house & maybe a few friends & neighbors.

In a not entirely unrelated note:  we have been doing a lot of gardening this year & I plan to di up some of the young banana plants that are encroaching on other parts of the yard.  If anyone (locals only again, sorry) is interested let me know.