Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Steps to the Altar

I have started piecing "Steps to the Altar" blocks for Kaela and Joe's wedding quilt.

I found the pattern in the old Ruby McKim classic, One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns (published in 1931, reprinted in 1962).

Through some trial and error I figured out a workable method for rotary cutting and piecing a block which will finish at 9", and which will retain the nice diagonal seam separating "steps" from "altar."

(My method here also utilizes the "sew and flip" way to make half square triangles, which does produce some waste, but I'm OK with that).


"Steps" fabric:  2" squares - cut 9
"Altar" fabric: 3 1/2" squares - cut 2

Background fabric:
2" squares - cut 9
6 1/2" x 3 1/2" rectangles - cut 2
3 1/2" square - cut 1
3 1/2" x 2" rectangles - cut 3

I will photograph the piecing method step by step and post it soon in case anyone out there wants to try this charming basket-like block without reinventing the wheel!  Here's a glimpse:

So nice on a rainy day to see a new quilt taking shape:

And..... the puppy is getting bigger by the minute!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Sashiko Sampler border auditions

The sashiko sampler all tacked up on the wall... ready to audition borders... 

The pieced blocks were taken from Susan Briscoe's Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match, as were all but four of the sashiko designs.  I loved making this quilt.  I used several pieces of vintage katazome indigo in it.  And "mixing and matching" designs was indeed a lot of fun. 

So - borders.    Probably not this stripe....

Probably not this gorgeous brilliant blue indigo...

I do like how using the same dark indigo used throughout will make the blocks "float":

With that decided.... all that's left is to measure, cut, measure and cut... and sew on these borders... but I can think of 100 ways to productively procrastinate;)... 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

kitchen, wedding, play, puppy, quilting?? oh my!

The other day a young friend dropped by and we ended up in my old "stash" to share scraps... which inspired me today to organize them again roughly by color (with solids, indigos, tenugui, 30's repros, and curtain fabric each stored separately).  I hadn't done this since way before we moved to Japan.

Sort of comforting, to revisit old fabric friends from the 90's. How will I eventually combine these with the wonderful treasures I brought back from Japan? Mmmmm... possibilities.  Scrappy possibilities.  

The past four months have been really hectic, I mean REALLY.

Starting in March, our kitchen renovation began in earnest...  (the last renovation had been in the 40's or 50's)


DURING (our contractor exposed the original 1740's beams as well as the wide plank flooring; my brother custom made the cabinetry and island - #bestbrotherever)


AND.... in May, just as the kitchen was pretty much finished, we had Kaela's wedding, in Salt Lake City.  It was fairly low key and a wonderful event... (but can we just have a chat about the stress of finding a mother-of-the-bride dress!)

 Here's one with Joe and Kaela, and Kaela's grandmothers: 

I can't wait for the professional photos to roll in!

AND... all the while... during the kitchen and the wedding prep and beyond... David was in rehearsals for Much Ado About Love, a romantic comedy he wrote (using scenes and verse from Shakespeare) and directed... a very big deal!  It was a smashing success and he is hoping that small college theater departments and other community theaters might be interested in producing it. 

The play went up in June for two weekends, and THEN... we held a dessert open house for Kaela and Joe:

Several great friends really rallied and helped me with the food.  I could not have done it without them!

AND... meanwhile somehow I thought it might be a good idea to get a new puppy (hello?!).   Five weeks later I mostly still think it was a good idea!

Meet Daisy, with one happy big brother Tommy, who picked her out and named her:

All of these life events - home improvement, wedding, a play, new puppy - are a happy kind of stressful, but for many weeks we were also handling a serious health crisis within our family (after all, life is both sunshine and shadow - despite what most of sunny blogland, not to mention Facebook, reflects) .... so it all added up to four incredibly challenging months.... during which I did precious little sewing... 

But... when the dust started to settle (literally).... I did finish up the last few blocks for my sashiko sampler: 

And finally last weekend as "normalcy" - and dare I say it - calm - started to settle over the household, I stitched the rows together (such a joy to be truly back into a project): 

That is it for now!  If you have stuck with this post all the way through, I humbly thank you;).  

My goal is to make quilting more of a daily joyful habit... and to update this blog more regularly again.  When we state our goals publicly, they are more likely to be achieved... correct?  ;). 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Shibori Workshop with Carol Anne Grotrian

Last Saturday I attended a day-long shibori indigo dyeing workshop taught by indigo master Carol Anne Grotrian at the New England Quilt Museum.  Wow, what a productive and inspiring day, exhausting in that great way when you are learning and absorbing so much with ten or so fellow students and one organized, excellent teacher.  The whole experience was such a treat!

Indigo stew!

Carol Anne's sampler - wow, what inspiration! - You can see a better photo of the sampler on Carol Anne's website here.

Carol Anne taught us the artful and efficient method of creating shibori using "arashi" - pole wrapping:

Into the vats go the poles with the fabric wound and scrunched:

Another method using folded fabric and clamps of various sizes:

Resting in between dips in the indigo vats:

And back for more folding, clamping, wishing and hoping:

This would end up creating that fan-like pattern in the first photo:

To finish off, we unfolded our pieces and boiled them in a soapy bath for about 15 minutes.

Then, voila:

Fellow participants' pieces - just so beautiful - lots of ooos and aaahhhs:

So interesting how the indigo is green in the water, and for a few moments while the fabric is still wet.  It all turns to blue soon enough:

What a great learning experience!

Once my pieces dried at home, I pinned them up (with now indigo hued clothespins!) to survey my results:

This reminds me of a city street in the nighttime after a rain:

Pole wrapping created these:

How cool is this?  I can see cutting out folk arty animal shapes from this:

I love this fan - wish I'd dipped it once more for a deeper indigo:

I have definitely fallen under indigo's spell - and am thinking of the ways I might use fabric with looser weave to create my own indigo dyed pieces for sashiko.  I see an indigo vat in my future...

Linking up here with the Slow Blogger's Linky at Knotted Cotton.  It's a manageable rewarding linky!