Monday, October 29, 2012

If wishes were fishes

I wish - I truly wish - I had begun the black and primary spider web string quilt on a much smaller scale.

I really do.  Ah, well. [sigh] 

Lesson #12

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Had these together Friday afternoon...

...and after going through so much gathering and trimming (and the lot), I'm now realizing just how much more scrap this is going to take to complete!

Is there any sense in making strips, er...I mean, 'scraps' just to keep working on this, or; should I do exactly as I planned from the start and only make the larger pieced configurations from scraps when I have them (the actual scraps, I mean)?

Spent a good part of the day ironing scrap strips from the bag, cutting pieces to length, laying out matching color blocks, and assembling the 'pointed' ends (of the three-part triangles) so that I have a good deal of the grunt work done when I decide to sit and assemble more whole blocks some time in the future.

It just seems somehow sort of incongruous to intentionally begin an unfinished project...don't you think?

But, as I sit and stare at this photo - or the real thing in front of me - I am struck by how child-like it appears.  Maybe it would be more appropriate to say 'it puts me in mind of a child's perspective.'  It looks very much like an Eric Carle illustration, especially when viewed at a distance.  Bold colors; uneven but lovely, large 'brush strokes' of color - as if it had been applied from the palette before completely being mixed and blended.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

I think...therefore, I quilt!

I was finishing up construction on the blocks of a current project when I was struck by how much I am saving (in regards to scraps, "waste," pieces too big to just throw away).  There is a bulging sack sitting nearby as a reminder of my Scottish thrift, and yikes if it isn't getting pretty darned scary.

I am not Eleanor Burns - I can't just willy-nilly toss aside scraps which could be sewn together at a later date.  I don't have deep enough pockets that the thought of casting away perfectly good 1.5" to 3" pieces (or strips) doesn't just haunt me to death!

Oh, and yes....I do have a box of 'coordinated' scraps (also), but the bag was becoming way too full, and in danger of toppling and spilling the contents every time I moved it out of the way, then out of the way, then out of the way - again

Flop sees the bag and simply paws her way in whenever she gets the chance for a pre-blanket nap.  Cute but hairy.

Back when I had a much smaller stash - when I saved EVERYthing and sewed it into a useful block before putting that block away for "some day later" - the scrap bag was a good idea.  Now it's just another pile (essentially) and I have been working my tail off this year to pair down my piles and clean out my corners.  And it's been pretty satisfying, too.

Now, however, my stash is much too large, and I have been doing my best to part with material that others can use so it just isn't sitting here taking up space any more!  I've been donating yardage to neonatal blanket makers; giving it to friends in quilt guilds with charm square requirements; and I even tried to give it away here on the blog - with no takers!

Go figure.

I rarely do anything without some sort of planning.
So, in an earnest attempt to clean out the scrap bag, I decided to put together a quick and easy quilt (size as yet unknown), using my trusty primaries and the idea of a Spider String Quilt. 

I will keep you updated, but since this project isn't to fill a hot need for anything or anyone, it will be an ongoing sort of project.  Any time I am bored, though, or vacillating on some aspect of another quilt in progress, I will have something I can work on to pass the time away and not waste it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Intentions & reality & quilt shops

Yeah, so, after all of the back-n-forthing over the Jacob's Ladder entry, I ultimately decided to drop that contest from my calendar in favor of other competitions scheduled farther 'out there' in the future. That decision would allow me enough time to plan, begin, and completely execute a quilt to enter - without needless rushing, agitation, pressure, and driving myself completely mad in the process!

Saves my kids' sanity (and the cats), too. ;)

Visited four more quilt shops in the immediate (depending upon your definition) area about two weeks ago. The locales literally drew a circumference around my town, but only two of them are worth the drive.

*Maybe "surrounding area" would be more appropriate.* 

Anyhow - Jean came down to visit after a day of x-ray schoolin', and we decided to shop hop the area, since there were enough in the (somewhat) immediate vicinity to hit before closing time.  We took off first, heading north to Ortonville, for a visit to Mabelena, and it was a delightful surprise for each of us. 

The store is a fairly large space (an old, converted PO) packed with a nice assortment of calico's and modern prints, and some repros from the '30s/'40s and Civil War era.  Not a lot of the latter, but if you're into that sort of colorization...there you go.  The layout and utilization of the space could be better, but overall, it was bright and inviting.  Lots more patterns and kits where there should be material, but overall, not a bad little shop in the middle of the sticks - and close enough to home for me if I ever get a 'jones' for something out of the realm of JAF (which is often). 

Jean called it "kitschy" with the wealth of non-quilting stuff hanging about and displayed on racks and across tables, I simply prefer a quilt shop to be a QUILT shop.  No dolls. No bags. No aprons or pinafores or pillowcase kits.  That stuff delves into crafting in my mind, and quilting is an ART FORM!

They also don't have a frequent-customer-type card or tracking system for discounts, but perhaps this will come over time.

From Ortonville we drove due west to Fenton, to the Quilters Garden (that's right, no apostrophe); a store I've visited on ocassion but never blogged about.

From the moment you walk through the door, their deep space is lined on one wall with a near-overwhelming selection of batiks.  Lately I have found a use for these beautiful fabrics as blenders and binding sources - and just plain works of art and color - so I have fun ogling and dreaming there! 

Not a tremendously overstocked store (for its size), but a nice selection of fabrics usually found online (without the added cost of shipping), and some stuff not seen elsewhere in the local quilt shop community.  Florals, chintzy types, tone-on-tones, mods and calicos, plus a delightful selection of clouds and blue sky materials all live here in Fenton, so take the drive and reward yourself.  Oh, and don't forget to look down around your knees.

"Why?", I hear you asking.

Well, because they have this really cool basket full of EOB and scrap pieces, loaded (stuffed, really) into bags that you can buy for $5 to $10 dollars (a few are less than $5)!  I have found a good number of stash-building baggies that were so worth my time to investigate and paw through (the basket, that is; the baggies are sealed).

Plus, Quilters Garden does have a rewards-type program...and you won't have to ask about it, either!

Our third stop was in Milford, the longest leg of our traipsing that afternoon. 

Once we found the poorly marked shop, we were somewhat disappointed with the effort.  Had it not been for the Thusday (ALL DAY) Farmer's Market in the downtown area, the trip south would have been a complete bust.

I love Milford, and was excited to think there was a quilt shop there (to give me yet another excuse to hop in my car and brave the tiny town congestion), but Google maps and directions have not been updated to the actual location of the shop as it now stands.  So, instead of referencing the addresses as we drove south along Milford Road, I relied on my knowledge of the downtown district (and the Google map reference) and parked us at a meter on the main street, eager to be close to the shop.  We walked two blocks in disbelief before finally asking a neighborhood barber about the elusive store.

Finally, we called the shop to ask "where are you!?" - but not before taking a stroll through the vendors at the Farmer's Market.  Thoroughly enjoyable!  Totally worth the hassle - even the nightmare traffic headache getting back out of town.

We eventually arrived at the quilt shop - Huron River Quilts - but found the shop did not live up to expectations.  At one time their website read they had the largest collection of Civil War era reproduction fabrics in the area...which we found just wasn't so (for that you need to head to Linda's, north of Davison).  Fortunately, we weren't in the market for repros, but we had hoped to find another worthy nearby fabric source. [sigh]  It wasn't meant to be.

If nothing else, Jean found a fun new town to put on her favorites list!

Our last destination found us driving back in the direction of home to a little out-of-the-way place you could literally miss if you blinked. 

A Little Quilt Shop is exactly that..."little." 

This tiny start-up shop has only been open since this summer, with not much to offer in the way of material.  There is a wall of do-dads and sewing aids if you're in a pickle one afternoon (and the nearby JAF can't accommodate your needs, for some strange reason), but the total material stock could fit into the back of my Scion!

The entryway and check-out counter take up more space than the selection of materials.  They have a purveyor of quilting touted to provide the finish stitching for your quilt projects - "reasonable and fast" - but the efforts on display were less than satisfying as evidenced by their technique and stitch repertoire.  Fortunately for me I can do my own quilting, and Jean is more of a quilt-as-you-go artist.

I wish this woman well in her shopkeeping future, but it's going to take a good deal of effort and material offerings to keep that little quilt shop afloat.

Apologies if the last two critiques offend anyone associated with those particular shops, but 'I calls it as I sees it,' folks, and for my (tight) money - and the cost of gas being what it is - my intent is to arm anyone interested in traveling to little out of the way shops with as much information as possible to help others make good choices.

Enjoy yourself!