What with one thing and another, such as trips to the coast and studio reorganization and a sprained ankle, it's been quite a while since I've been able to show you any of what my dear husband fondly refers to as "product." Thank heavens for the occasional art show and/or quilt show to kick my quilting engine into gear! The last time this happened I had to pour on the speed to get a quilt quilted and finished so that I could enter it into a call for entries for inclusion in a book that SAQA is compiling about abstract quilts. Neither of my quilts was accepted (I knew it was a long shot) but one of them came close, and I was just happy that the other quilt is finished: that was almost reward enough for the effort of getting it done.
This weekend is another such occasion: not only is a local quilt guild having its biannual show but the art gallery in Grand Forks is hosting its annual open call, non-juried art show in a few weeks and the works of art have to be at the gallery this weekend. The dh and I try to put a couple of pieces into this show every year, both to support the gallery and to get our work out into the world. Fortunately, and very helpfully, my dear friend Louise picked up my eleven quilts for the local show this morning and will ferry them to the Rock Creek fairgrounds for me. Thanks Louise! On Friday, I'll load up a quilt and two paintings and take them to the gallery in GF. Friday night is a trunk show in Rock Creek, and I'll be back again on Sunday to tour the show with my Greenwood Public Library quilting pals. Phew! It's going to be busy.
But to backtrack. All but one of my eleven quilts were complete, but last weekend I finally had to bite the bullet and square up, apply facings, and make and attach a sleeve to the last remaining UFO. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but this last quilt has been lying on the back of the couch for the past several months, waiting and waiting for me to get busy and get it done. This weekend I did it. And so now I have it to show you: ta da!
This one isn't very big, just 40 inches wides by 31 tall, but I'm thrilled with it. If you think you might have seen come of the components before, you're right: this one was a composite of all the leftover pieces of strip-pieces fabric from other quilts that were burning a hole in a bin in the studio. Just on a whim, I flung them up onto the design wall and before I knew it, I was in full-on design mode: I loved the way these disparate collections and proportions of colour worked with one another. I sewed white extensions on both sides of each strip, because I knew that the effect I was after was of all these striped bars floating on a sea of white.
I was, of course, deeply in the middle of another quilt or two at the time, which were also claiming space on the design wall, so it's a bit amazing that I was able to decide anything about this composition. Somehow I found it easy to edit out everything else on the design wall as I worked on this new idea. This was an occasion when I used my camera a lot to keep track of variations on the layout and to assess how everything was working together by seeing it through the camera lens or on the LCD screen rather than just with my eyes. It's a bit of magic how using the camera this way can make problems pop into focus (so to speak--sorry). Can you see, for example, the changes I've made between the version above and the one below? These mockups may seem virtually indistinguishable to you, but I assure that I spent a lot of time working on balance and harmony and rhythm.
When the quilt top was finished, my dh felt that it was more effective hung vertically rather than horizontally. What do you think?
I thought that the quilting of this piece would be a doddle: it's not very big, after all, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. But it was at this stage, sometime last summer, that I again encountered huge problems with my sewing machine while free-motion quilting. The walking foot part (the straight lines on the coloured strips) was easy, and I was really pleased with the effect. I'd never done straight-line quilting with a walking foot before and I was a little apprehensive about whether using it would really make the difference between failure and success, as all my reading had suggested. But it did! Yay, walking foot!
But oh my, when I got to the free motion part, I thought my head would blow up. I chose my favourite free-motion motif, a spiral, and merrily set to work. Only to find myself plagued, time and time again, with thread fraying, thread breaks, and skipped stitches. I'd sew for all of 10 seconds and have yet another break, or attempt a spiral only to find that half the curve was missing because of all the skipped stitches. I abandoned the quilt for months. As you may recall, it was my clever husband who solved the problem for me. He and I agreed that skipped stitches are caused by the needle not engaging with the bobbin thread. And we also agreed that it was possible that the needle wasn't reaching far enough down into the bobbin case to grab the thread. Easy solution? Slide the needle an eighth of an inch out of its mount on the needle shaft and retighten. Bingo. I haven't had a problem since. And this was after two expensive trips to other cities to have the machine serviced, neither of which improved the situation a jot. I love this kind of a fixit: free, home-grown, and elegantly simple.
So here again is my new quilt, Chroma Code, on its catwalk for your viewing pleasure.
It got a bit breezy while I was taking these snaps yesterday afternoon.
Why Chroma Code, you ask? As is often the case, I asked dh for some help with the naming of this quilt. He said it reminded him of a bar code, but in colour, and then immediately came up with what I think is a pretty darn clever name. Not only does it refer to the colour punch of this particular "bar code," but it's a neat inversion of the brand name Kodachrome.
As well as finishing this quilt, I had also to make and sew on labels for nine of the eleven for this show. It strikes me as utter folly to let a quilt out of the studio without some identifying mark on it to create some chance of its making its way back to me if it gets lost. Since I knew that Louise was coming first thing to pick up the quilts, I was still sewing on labels after 10 last night. Anyone else would have had finished this step weeks ago. But they're DONE!
I have not, however, finished the second quilt that I wanted to enter into the local art show. The top has been finished for most of a year and since then it's been sitting in the "to be quilted" pile. The frustrations I've experienced with my sewing machine have meant that I have avoided quilting and, as you may remember, even sent out two quilts to a long-arm quilter because I couldn't face dealing with them myself. But this weekend I finally basted this top to its batting and backing and even began the quilting. And you know? it's going fine. I'll take it a bit at a time and eventually it'll be done. Not this weekend, given how much else is going on, but perhaps the weekend after.
Here, though, is the one that IS finished and will be in the gallery show. This one is called Balcony Windows, because more than one person who saw it suggested that it looked liked both windows and balconies.
Do you perhaps see any familiar pieced strips? That appear perhaps in Chroma Code? I really love this quilt, especially the pop of the black and white against the colour, the intensely rich blues, and the off-kilter, organic lines. I hope it shows well.
And finally, here's the magical moment of my day. I wasn't feeling well toward the end of my work day today, so went outside into the April breeze and sunshine to get some fresh air and a bit of solitude. We have some juniper trees outside the school, and one of them was spreading an inviting expanse of dappled sun and shade on a patch of grass. I gave way to the invitation, laid down on the grass, and gave myself over to the marvellous scent of juniper, the warm sunshine on my legs, and this vista over my head.
I hope you can take time from your own busy life to enjoy the gifts of spring.