Monday, October 6, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Have you heard about the Around the World Blog Hop? I am surprised and flattered to have been tagged by Ginette at the Quilting Princess to participate. I've been asked to answer the following four questions so here goes. Some responses are mostly pictures and others mostly text.

1. What am I working on?
The project spread out on the bed in the guest room right now is my Vintage Ornaments Quilt. I have just pieced the back and made the binding and I am now stymied on how to quilt it. The "sashings" are sort of staggered. It is 60" wide by 70" tall, right at the cusp of being too big for me to want to quilt myself on my domestic Pfaff. The quilting part is always my stall point on my projects. I am at a fork in the decision road right now on this one.

I also just completed knitting a tree sweater for a downtown community art project.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
In my blog posts, although I am not heavy into formal tutorials, I usually explain why I do things a certain way or the background behind my choices. I know one picture is worth a thousand words but I like to use words, too! My blog is a bit different from others in that you will also see knitting and crocheting and baby items and home decor projects from time to time as well as quilts.

In terms of my quilt style, I like tidy and orderly but yet whimsical – a seeming contradiction in terms. I consider polka dots my signature and try to sneak them into every quilt to some extent. Using stripes or pseudo-stripes in borders and bindings is also a trait of mine. I have not ventured into the modern arena with solid fabrics and quilting negative space. My completed quilts for 2014 are shown in the following photos in reverse chronological order by completion.

Nautical Baby Quilt (August 27, 2014)
Commercial pattern, my color selection, FMQing on my Pfaff domestic, the type of piecing I love to do.

Grinch Quilt (July 2, 2014)
Totally my design, started with preprinted Grinch panel, my piecing and my first attempt FMQing on rented longarm, my attempt to let go and be wonky.

Monkey Quilt (May 26, 2014)
Store assembled kit, my piecing and FMQing on my Pfaff domestic.

Jack O'Lantern Trio (March 31, 2014)
Modified commercial pattern, my color palette and FMQing on my Pfaff domestic.

The Ghastlies (March 17, 2014)
Totally my design and FMQing on my Pfaff domestic.

Paisley Pearl (February 8, 2014)
Commercial pattern for large print fabrics, my color palette and FMQing on my Pfaff domestic.

You can get a flavor of my style and other needlecraft projects by scrolling through the photos in my earlier year-in-review posts. These links cover my previous two years.

My most heavily visited post to date has been my
Spiral Table Runner (November 4, 2011)
Commercial pattern, my color palette, simplistic early attempt at machine quilting

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I love color and its energizes me to pick bright and cheerful ones or pull together unusual combinations of others! But quilting is also calming and I de-stress with it. Quilting is my yoga. But instead of chanting "ohm" I channel "fun". Getting up in the early morning and hand-stitching on a binding is a great start to my day as each neat stitch slips into place. Having multiple seams meet precisely in a pieced block is nirvana to me. I worked for over thirty years as a mechanical engineer and still love math and geometry and quilting carries forth that precision.

But I am retired just over a year now and want to use the creative right side of my brain more after using the logical left predominantly for so long. I find I like taking photos and writing about why I made certain choices in my projects. If I use some fabric or color because it just feels right to me, then once I think of a reason that it feels right, I am even more confident with my choice. Writing helps with this process. The blogging also keeps me close to my daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, and a couple friends since they read about what I am up to.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?
For quilts that are totally my design, I usually start with a feature fabric, such as in the previous examples of the Grinch panel or the Ghastlies fabric, and let the piecing format come from that. The Grinch needed to be wonky to be Seussian. The Ghastlies needed to be more of a strip quilt format to avoid chopping up the feature fabric too much.

For the quilts I make from published patterns, the creative part comes in my color palette and fabric selection. My quilts have prints or at most, prints that read like solids. This fabric selection part is my messiest part. I often leave my sewing room in shambles as I pull different fabric combinations from the shelves and drawers. I think this honeymoon part of the project is my favorite! No piece has been cut wrong, no seam has been misaligned, no quilting line has deviated crookedly from where planned. The project is all perfect potential at this point!

My fabric storage system works for me. Drawers with clear fronts are for fat quarters and less than one yard pieces. Closet shelves labeled by yardages (and not sorted by color) are for fabric lengths 1 yard and up. Random clear bins, open top boxes, and shallow baskets house odd shaped scraps.

To stretch myself outside my color comfort zone or technique comfort zone I watch for kits that are on sale or clearance. This helps me see what others would have done in an environment where the initial materials and instructions have already been provided.

When I reach an impasse I take my mind off a decision by making other smaller projects than can be completed usually in one sitting. These include burp cloths, cloth books, pillowcases. I make lots and lots of those!

For my quilting design I place a plastic sheet protectors over a portion of the quilt and trace possibilities with a dry erase marker. I try to let the fabric print or the piecing pattern dictate the quilting pattern. Usually I am somewhat constrained in my choices by my ability to execute a quilting line smoothly and tidily but I am working on getting better. I have only my domestic sewing machine but have rented time on a longarm at a quasi-local quilt shop.

Other Around the World Blog Hop Participants
That's enough about me. I have invited the following two quilters to join in this Around the World Blog Hop. I think you will enjoy getting to know them. Look for their posts on or after Monday, October 13th.

Robin with her blog Robin Loves Quilting at
Robin is my daughter who lives in Oklahoma. She has made pretty awesome quilts with Star Wars, Star Trek, Christmas, and Halloween themes. Her Wizard of Oz quilt and pillow series is truly amazing. Even with her nearly two year old daughter she finds time to blog and sew... and call her mother!

Tami with her blog Just One More Thing at
You can click on Tami's "Crafts" label in the side bar of her blog and see her quilting work and her fascinating exploration into Zentangles, but there is so much more, like puzzles and book and movie reviews. Her blog posts often have topics that resonate with me and she writes well, presenting thought-provoking points of view. Be sure to read why she titled her blog what she did; it is a kick and what drew me in to following her in the first place.

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