That Creative Spark Still Burns

It seems quilting isn’t really done with me, or perhaps I’ve just figured out that I’m not done with quilting. Maybe it just takes more time than you’d believe to get past total burnout. Remember that ambivalence? Well, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last three and more years trying to answer the question “What do I want to do now?” I’m lucky that I have the luxury to even consider that, I know.

I’ve thought about (and tried) a lot of different things that I could pursue instead of quilting and textile art: drawing, mixed media art, programming, web design, web and mobile app creation, photography, and so on. It all goes back to how much resources I’d need to devote to be able to accomplish what I’d want to at the level I’d want to be at, and it’s just too much time, effort, and in some cases money, to invest in something that doesn’t speak to me as clearly and as loudly as quilting and textile art always has.

To state it another way, and this is a bit more brutal: I think I’m just too lazy to invest the time and energy it would take to be as good at any of that other stuff as I am at quilting. Yep, I can just admit that I’m lazy. Quilting is still a comfort zone as well. Or it is again…or something. Continue reading

Paisley Pavane Visits Quilt Odyssey in Pennsylvania

Paisley Pavane traveled to Pennsylvania for the Quilt Odyssey show a couple of weeks ago. I almost forgot entirely that it was there, partly because of the moving confusion still hanging around on some things, and partly because I didn’t actually pack up the quilt and send it there myself; the nice folks at the NQA show sent it on to Quilt Odyssey after the show in Columbus.

Since I’d kind of put it out of my mind for a bit, I was surprised to hear that the quilt was awarded the Husqvarna-Viking Award for Best Machine Quilting! Wow! How cool! Now I’m feeling that fever, that inner prompting to work on a show quilt. I have one partly done, as you may remember, but it’s The Misery Quilt. I may not be feeling quite enough of the fever to tackle THAT right now, and I have some other things on my plate that need to take precedence anyway. Eh, I think I’ll just enjoy the little boost, and hope that Paisley Pavane makes it into the AQS Show in Des Moines, especially since I’ll be there to see it in the show! :D

The power of hasty decisions

Have you ever considered how much power a small, seemingly insignificant decision can have? Even when you’ve thought and planned and imagined what the outcome would be, sometimes the smallest little pebble can make the deepest waves. There are times you can move backward and reassess, and then make changes and move on in a different direction. But sometimes, for either good or ill, you’re stuck with it, as well as all of the other decisions you’re then forced to make because of the first one.

Don’t get me wrong, some small decisions turn out well or even better than planned, and have positive effects on other things, and we call those “good” and perhaps even “serendipitous.” It’s the ones that have, dare I say it, possible negative effects, that I’m concerned with today, and we call those decisions “hasty” or “rash.” Funny ol’ world, isn’t it?

Friday evening I was bound a determined to progress on this quilt, and I was at a point where I didn’t know where to go next. I know how I want to quilt certain part of the quilt, but some parts are still a bit fuzzy, and have to wait until others are quilted to see how it looks. I’d finished the quilting in the medallions, adding a little clamshell edge just around the inside edge of the ovals, which added the perfect finishing detail to the radiating lines. (Okay, so that was a hasty good decision. :) )

Clamshell edging on medallions

I decided to start adding the little tiny pearls quilting at the very edge of the green border, since that was a plan from the beginning. Problem was, I didn’t know exactly what color thread to use. Choosing one and diving in, I quilted about 25 of these little, teensy, tiny circles, and then decided they were the wrong color thread, and had to spend at least an hour taking out microscopic stitches in silk thread. NOT fun. Gee, if I’d tried the circles first on the sample, I’d have known that the color wasn’t right, but did I do that? Nah. A hasty decision with negative results. Continue reading

Quilting Warm Fuzzy Feelings #5

Mmmm....Quilting!

When you have an idea pop into your head, you can try it out immediately, and the result is even better than you’d hoped it would be.

Despite all the misery, this quilt does have it’s enjoyable moments, like this one which is definitely a Quilting WFF. This is what’s supposed to happen when you quilt:

Border medallion quilting

This is one of the machine embroidered medallions in the outside border of The Misery Quilt. I’ve been a bit worried about these medallions since the beginning; the flower is really dense machine embroidery and the medallions are fused to the olive green background fabric and then the edges are sewn with a very small satin stitch in #100 silk thread, and when you put that many variables together, sometimes the finished product isn’t going to lay flat. I’ve been afraid all along that it might end up looking slightly bowl-like and ruffly around the edges in the end.

As an added bonus to the host of unknowns, I really hadn’t figured out how I was going to quilt the gold-ish background fabric behind the flowers either. All I could think of was echo quilting, which is very heavy, close together stitching, and not only might that heighten the chances for a bowl-like, bubbly outcome, echo quiting isn’t my strong point and there are lots of little squidgy points and dips around the edges of the flower, so I wasn’t sure echo quilting in that area was going to go well.

This morning I had an epiphany about the background quilting, and thought that these radial lines might be cool, since the area could probably use some straight quilting lines anyway. I took a wild “hey that looks about right” guess and figured that dividing up the outside edge of the oval into 3/8″ bits would look good, and it divided up evenly, believe it or not. It worked perfectly, from the marking to the last stitch, and it’s perfectly flat without a bubble or ruffle in sight. I couldn’t stop smiling while I was quilting it, because I could just tell it was going to look soooo cool!

*sigh* This is how quilting should be all the time…mmmmmm. Feeds the creative spirit, it does. :)

The Misery Quilt progresses

I’ve been positively voluble lately. Maybe it’s because I finally feel recovered from the holidays or something. Today though, I give you fewer words and the promised pictures of The Misery Quilt in all it’s in progress, pain filled glory:

Inner border quilting, side center

I’ve hit a milestone: all the quilting lines that I marked with blue washout marker in October before I basted the quilt have now been quilted. Well, except for this little bit here that I missed, and didn’t notice until after I squirted the area with water:

background quilting around Sawtooth border

I hate it when that happens! That’s an easy fix at least. Now that all the marked lines have been quilted, I can mist the whole thing with water to dissipate the blue marker a little at least, since the quilt is isn’t anywhere close to finished, and I don’t want the marker to sit there on the fabrics any longer than strictly necessary. Continue reading

Hand signals

As I sit at the machine quilting The Misery Quilt, I remember with great fondness the days years ago before my hands began sending me these hard to ignore signals that say “stop, you’re hurting me!” While I was quilting the endless stippling on Stars in My Hand, I had to cut down my daily time at the machine to about 30 minutes because that amount of time was about all I could do without pain. I said to myself and others that when the quilt was done, I’d take a break and maybe go in a different direction with my quilting, some direction that didn’t involve tiny stippling on king size quilts.

I did take a break, but the direction didn’t change much. I made Grasping Reality, which had some stippling but it was a larger size pattern, and a smaller quilt overall. I don’t remember having too many hand signals with that quilt. Since then, I’ve finished a few of the projects on the Creativity List, none of which had tiny stippling, though some were quite large. Other than that, I’ve worked on this Misery Quilt since early 2007, so I’ve definitely taken a step back in the productivity department. Unfortunately, despite taking it slow (not always intentionally, as my posts about The Misery Quilt can attest to), it seems that I’m back in the same position I was in before, with a large quilt that needs lots of detailed stitching.

Since I hadn’t planned lots of stippling on this quilt, maybe not any, I thought I would be okay. Now I’ve discovered that while tiny stippling can make my hands hurt pretty fast, other small, detailed patterns can be just as painful, especially if I’m working near the center of a large quilt, where just holding on to the quilt and keeping it in position on the machine bed takes Herculean strength sometimes. And just for the record, when I started this quilt, I didn’t know how bad my hands would turn out to be, nor how big it would end up; I made the center star in the fall of 2004 I think, and it sat until late 2006 or early 2007 when I started thinking about finishing it up again. The design just grew, and Bob’s your uncle, now here we are and the quilt and I are fighting to see who’ll break first. Continue reading