Saturday, October 29, 2016

Going up?

One of the crazy things about our backyard is there is no easy way to get to the top. It's a fairly steep hill, with a four foot high retaining wall. It's wonderfully private. There's a nice flat spot near the top that will make a lovely spot for reading or coffee, but only if you have billy goat in your ancestry.

Last summer we still owned the house in Saginaw, so our budget for improvements was pretty limited. This summer we had a little more to play with, so the first thing we did was cut a staircase into the wall. Of course, I'm using the royal "we" here. I think up these crazy things and Kent is a willing participant.
Aren't they wonderful? It was decided that the new railroad ties needed to be stained to match the existing ones and Kent set out to accomplish that one morning while I was out. He said he knew pretty much at the first brush that the color was wrong. But the color had looked right in the store, so maybe he needed to do more just to be sure. After a while, even though he was convinced that the color was wrong, he had already done so much that he decided he might as well finish. Luckily he ran out of stain.

I had to laugh. We've all done it, haven't we? We push on, even though our gut is telling us we're on the wrong path. The rationale can be so silly: we bought a whole gallon of the paint, the store for replacement is closed, it will quilt out. Pretty soon we're so far in that going back seems impossible. So instead of trusting ourselves enough to quit at a false start, we plow on until there's no way to redeem the project. Not only is the project spoiled, but we had a miserable time doing it!

We don't know what to do next, it's a good quality stain, even sand blasting hardly made a dent. I'm hoping that a little weathering will do the trick. Because I'm an incorrigible optimist I'm hoping that an answer will present itself next spring when the snow thaws. Keen eyes will notice the stone stairs going in at the top of the hill. There are a few more steps to go, but by next summer we'll be able to easily get around in this crazy, vertical garden.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fall in Love

This is my latest quilting project, I'm calling it Fall in Love. It will be a small wall hanging, about 18" square, I think, The background hasn't been decided yet, so that may change.

Choosing fabrics and color theory seems to be something that either terrifies or mystifies many quilters.  I know I can over think myself right into paralysis. Any time I try to study color I'm stumped by the terminology. I'm a scientist, not an artist. Color theory seems like alchemy to me.
But then there's tenacity I've mentioned. My response to the question "can I?" has always been "how badly do you want it?" So, I've been working out a system to make color (fabric) choices easier. Using just five values (Light, Light Medium, Medium, Dark Medium and Dark), I've marked up my templates in preparation for fabric selection.
The entire piece is considered when making the value choices. The decisions about where the shadows and highlight fall are all made before I start cutting the individual shapes apart. This means that I can work on one leaf at a time, working out the fabric choices for each segment of a leaf without worrying about any other piece in the quilt. This is so much more manageable, don't you think?
Having sexy batiks like this is my stash means that I really only needed two different fabrics to make this green leaf. The templates were already marked for their values, (light, medium, dark), so I just needed to find those values on the fabric.
Notice how the left side of the applique is lighter, brighter, while the right side becomes darker? It's a simple matter of using value to guide my fabric choices. Value does all the work while color gets all the credit. Next I'll share some tips on machine stitching the piece and adding even more dimension.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Well, hello!

They say that good friends can be apart for ages and just pick up where they left off when they finally get together again. I've found it to be true. So, my good friends, it's lovely to see you again!

I've been quiet these past months for several reasons. It's been a time of reflection, of where I've been, where I am and where I want to go. I'm still struggling with the idea of retirement. I desperately miss teaching. But I've also come to enjoy the luxury of doing what ever I please instead of chasing the next deadline.

It's been a time of exploration. Green Bay has so much to offer. I've become a serial joiner. I'm like the proverbial bad penny, showing up at any fiber related group that will have me. What a joy it's been to commune with spinners, weavers, knitters, embroiderers and lots of quilters. I've been playing with some of the artsy-fartsy stuff I've been collecting over the years, saved for the day when I had more time.

It's been a time of frustration. While I refuse to allow this blog to be political, I am passionate about the direction our country is going. I hate the name calling, the haughtiness, and general disrespect people have for folks of the opposing point of view. How will we ever be E Pluribus Unum if we can't even speak civilly to one another?

I'm frustrated with the constant "look at me, look at me!!!" that the quilting industry has embraced. The marketing part of my job has never been comfortable for me. I've always wanted my work to be my voice, not my ability to garner a zillion likes on Facebook.

I've been reminded lately, of how very contrary I am. I almost named my business "The Contrary Quilter". The more I am told that I must, I should, I can't, the more I respond with I won't, you can't make me, and just watch me prove you wrong. On the one hand, tenacity has brought me the success I've enjoyed. But stubbornness is its evil twin and can get me into all sorts of trouble.

It's been a time of growth. I've been making things. Over the summer I've dyed things, pounded flowers into fabric, strung up a few beads, colored on paper and fabric, just to name a few. It's crazy exhilarating to spend an afternoon exploring a new technique and then be able to carelessly toss the results away, making it all about the process. But most importantly, I've made some friends.

In my next post (which I am writing in this same sitting, not in another three month), I'll show you my progress on the autumn quilt shown above. It's part of the direction I'm exploring for my next big thing.

Thanks for waiting for me, I've missed you.