Saturday, November 29, 2014

For obvious reasons....

Plans were to help a friend with a drywall repair job, and then stretch my first applique' project for quilting, but a nasty knock-me-down-drag-my-butt-to-the-curb head cold has me mostly doing nothing but sneezing, keeping hydrated, and moaning because my throat is so sore.  Boo.  I hate being sick.

Oh, and moo.
I've named this experiment "Peacock" for obvious reasons.
To cheer myself up I laid out these squares using the lovely sunshine, thoughtfully provided by heaven and Mother Nature.  

For the time being I will be putting away the crazy quilted Christmas stockings and returning to VG with a vengeance.

Work will continue on the 'RWBQuad,' too, but only late in the evenings in front of the telly.

So why, with all these projects ongoing (and MANY more sitting sidelined), would I need to begin something new?  Oh, I hear you questioning me.  The answer is simple:

Monsieur Fowl simply needed to be let out of my brain.

Friday, November 21, 2014

In lieu of something soft and quilty

I had wanted my return to posting to be triumphant and colorful, but I am mired down with little sewing tasks and cleaning binges.  No real loss I think, but (truth be told) tidying up was not what I wanted to be doing.

It's necessary, this business of cleaning and straightening;
the chore of finding flat, stuff-free work surfaces;
getting your space back to 'square one', free of impediments and work stoppages.

Clean is always a good thing, but 'cleaning' kills the creative drive.  Cleaning-up stifles the rapid fire urges to make real those images that pop into the brain at a moment's notice.  It stymies creative juices when you have to put 'making' on halt in order to locate items for use and the space to create it in.

see-el-ee-ay-en.  C L E A N

Keeping a neat creative area is important.  Regular periodic effort put into neatening up every so often is a better way to maintain [my] space for when those pesky creative fairies strike without warning.  But it's still no fun.

A-l-t-h-o-u-g-h I must admit I have benefited greatly from less time spent searching for something I knew I had somewhere - some piece of material I knew I had cut from and placed aside for future use - because I had taken the time to put it neatly in a place of reverence for just such an occasion.  Yeah, [sgnort] that and I have been investing the time to clean up in between rows of my current long distance project.  This lesson I have learned over time.  After cutting well over 7,500 fussy cut pieces into 1" squares, and sewing together more than 5,800 of them into four-and-one-half rows of 1,130-pieces each, I feel well qualified to say that very regular bouts of cleaning are a necessary evil.  And it's probably more of a necessity when dealing with a limited amount of space.

My great grandmother was fond of saying "if you sweep the cobwebs out of your [rooms], you sweep them out of your mind."  I think she was most likely very close to the truth, though as a child that didn't hold the same meaning for me as it does now.  And, she most likely intended that homily to entice me in to helping her reach the corners of her rooms while standing on a chair - since we weren't allowed to stand on the furniture at any other time, and - since she was as small as a pixie and had a hard time making the broom stretch as far as I could.  I didn't mind, though, for I loved my great gran, and admired her earnestness and her take-no-prisoners attitude.  I would have ridden a Brahma bull on a cactus saddle for her.

So, while I reluctantly grant myself very little of the same sense of respect and admiration I would easily have afforded my gran, I still know enough to practice some of the same good cleaning habits.  Not as frequently, nor with as much diligence, but the work gets done (....after a fashion).  Thank you, Grandma Biddle, for a sterling example I still strive to achieve.

The next time you stop by for a read and a smile, you should also find some photos of current projects.  That's my wish, anyway.  Something colorful and soft and quilty.

What are you working on?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

That's what they say

I have been unemployed for far too long, and in my many hours at the computer looking for (and making application to) work I have also begun a facebook group for free motion quilters/quilting.  Today is the one year 'anniversary' of that page - or 'group'.

It began slowly.  V e r y  slowly.
In fact, SO slowly that no one noticed or requested to join until mid-January.  Two months!

For those first two months I had a hard time believing I was the only person interested in communicating with other FMQers (truth be told I conscripted my friend, Jean, at the start so there would at least be two of us milling about the site, but we speak all the time so there wasn't much happening on the fb page).  I would occasionally add an image or change the description just to make it look like there was activity, but it was really just me hanging about.

Then one day the first person actually joined, and it was like a party!  Soon thereafter the influx of people was astounding.  At one point I had to stop looking through the member request profiles and simply 'gang add' about 175 just to make it through a day without doing nothing else BUT review members and add people.  It was crazy!  From time to time it still becomes oddly busy, and the requests can jump erratically from two or three a day to thirty or more within minutes.  Still other times (and for the most part) it is a steady trickle of from five to ten folks a day - on average.

Many folks have left the group - a couple have even begun their own FMQ pages - simply because they didn't like the way I run the group postings.  But hey, as one of the members in FMQ on Domestics pointed out to is my group page after all.  The format for posting activity on "FMQ on Dom" is stated very clearly at the top of the page AND in the ever-present group description.  The way I have it figured, the aim of the group isn't to promote yourself, but to share images of your FMQ as created by manipulating your quilt UNDER the needle BY HAND, while the DOMESTIC machine remains stationery.  It's also a place where quiltmakers can ask questions, get answers, and become confident that they can do it...they can FMQ!  Or at least to find out they aren't alone in their quandaries.

Also, links and tutorials and the like can be shared, but by using the "Files" page as a total resource site for everything promoting other places/links away from our group page.  By posting all such resources in one place it becomes easy for anyone at any time to simply head to the files and find the correct page for thread, or batting, or tutorials, etc, instead of asking the same old FAQs for the umpteenth time.  It's a perfect repository, and easier than scanning the timeline endlessly looking for that one answer buried in thirty comments under one conversational thread.

Ah, well.

They say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation.  Well groovy, then I'm flattered (at least two times over)...but I won't be bullied. You do things your way, and I'll do them mine.

As a PS to this entry -
I will be back to work and quilting - and posting images of very cool projects - after mid-month.  For the time being, I am prepping for a show next weekend, and for visiting family (for an early Thanksgiving dinner).  Stop by again for some real quilting fun in the near future.  Until then....thanks for looking in.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A confession

Driven by quilt guilt, I feel compelled to confess an egregious act against a quilt top.

Yes, it's true, I have mistreated a quilt top I made.  Not by action, but by inaction.  (Is that a word?)

Over these last several months (totaling a year, give-or-take), I put aside a lovely little quilt top I made many years ago.  This lovely little quilt top is the darkest navy blue, with sixteen baskets of 'fruit' contained within the center area - in groupings of four, set on point in each corner.  There are cornerstones of a medium green - all various small prints - scattered throughout the background; and a quarter-inch 'piping' border of the same medium green surrounding the field of baskets.  It's all bordered once more by a 6 to 8"-wide navy band.

It is lovely in its simplicity, and I am proud of the piecing as all of the points match beautifully.  I made it early on during my early quilting zeal, and I can't remember what project I took on immediately after that made me push this little quilt off to the side, but the fact remains that I did.  I shunned it.

I did shrug this basket quilt off to storage from one place to the next.  From one decade to the next, in fact.  At this I am horrified.  Oh! And the history of my little navy blue basket quilt goes from bad to worse  [gulp]

This is not easy for me to confess - and I have ruminated over and over it for some time now (and it hasn't gotten any easier to face).

In my fecklessness I have allowed it to sit on a stack of papers and books nearby.  Over time it gathered dust and cat hair galore.  I even caught one of my less social felines growling at it, perhaps mistaking it for another cat in the kingdom.  Until recently, I would see the quilt laying there, but never really gave it much of a thought beyond, "I should really shake it out and quilt it up quickly," thinking that's all it would require.

However, my cats have revealed to me just how vile my HUGE blunder and wanton act of quilt cruelty has been.

Flop, who adores every piece of material I work with (because it has the possibility of becoming 'hers' when left unattended), showed me how little I understood about just how far afield my abuse had gone.  She wandered over to the stack the navy quilt top was perched upon and began to nuzzle it.  I stopped my activity to watch.  She is, after all, an adorable collection of frothy fur and ineffectual cotton ball feet.  She's sweet in her appearance and teddy bear-esque in build and mannerisms.  She began to paw at the quilt top, making me think she wanted to climb on it, or in it, to sit nearby and purr as I worked.

Then, her nuzzling and pawing became urgent, and I became as curious as she was eager.  Flop reared up on her hind quarters and pulled with both front feet, tugging the quilt top onto the floor.  Everything began sliding - it became an avalanche of books, manuals, and misfiled papers, topped by one somewhat-folded navy-blue-with-green dollop.  I don't know if she was frightened more by the noise or the torrent of items chasing her across the floor, but she fled momentarily, and then charged back to the quilt top before the dust settled.

My eyes were drawn to an odd brownish substance that appeared from folds of the material....and so were Flop's.  But she immediately began to chew as my curiosity became horror.  Mice had been stealing the kibble from the cats' food dish and squirreling it away in the quilt top for safe keeping. and my ineffective treatment of a sweet quilt top allowed for that to happen!

There, now I've said it.  It's out there and I am not proud, but I am willing to take the lumps if they also come with suggestions on how to wash out two small areas of mouse 'stain' so that I can go ahead and sandwich and quilt it before any more time passes.

I have taken it outside to inspect it closely and shake out a modicum of dust.
I've taped it and removed the bulk of cat fur, but the two small visible mouse stains are a concern for me.  I am aware I could simply hand wash out the areas and let them dry, BUT....we all know there is residual oil in the material from the cat food sitting for goodness knows how long.  A - n - d there's most likely some additional transfer of the mouse "stain" to other areas of the quilt top as they moved about  - and as the material had been folded on itself.  So, what I'm saying is, the need to get it all clean before quilting it is necessary.

I am ready to put it in the wash (although I am cringing at the thought of damage to the seams), and have it folded - seams facing inside - and placed in a smallish lingerie laundry bag.  The wash will be cold water and the cycle will be 'delicate' - so low, low, low agitation.  Will this work, do you think?  Sink soaking/washing and bath tub soaking/washing are not currently options.

Oh, and I checked. "inaction" is a word.  Huh.