Early-May Accomplishments

Gidsters May Bee

I finished my Gridsters Bee block for Rachel.  She asked for buzzy bees, as she is a beekeeper in the Midwest.  Her tutorial is *here,*  as well as links to her pattern, but I didn’t cut apart the pieces.  I just straight paper-pieced the thing, then joined the head section to the body section.  We blew up the basis 6″ pattern to make 10″ finished bees.  I can’t wait to see what she does with them all.

Chuck Nohara May17_1This is beginning to feel like the never-ending quilt.

I’m making small (2-1/4″ finished) plus sign blocks to go in between all the Chuck Nohara blocks that Susan and I made together last year.  Our blocks are 6″ finished, so after I worked out the measurements, I drafted a pattern for the sashing.  Here is the PDF: Chuck Nohara SashingFinal

I started the plus blocks by cutting strip sets (2 low-volume and 1 bold), then seaming the two low-volume onto the bold on either side. Cut those across the strip set into 1-1/4″ wide strip pieces.  These pieces are both the a) top and bottom of your plus block, and b) the center of the “dot” block, shown in the intersection of the sashing, above

ChuckNohara_plus assemblyI then cut matching pieces of fabric into 1 -1/4″ x 2-3/4″ bits.  I sewed a matched set of two strip-set-blocks, one on top, and one of the bottom to make a “plus.”  Then I sewed 1 -1/4″ x 2-3/4″ pieces of low-volume on either side of a “dot” to create the mini block that is at the intersection.

Then the low-volume center piece, in between the two plus blocks, measures finished  at 2-1/4″ by 1-1/2″ (so cut 2-3/4″ by 1-3/4″).

ChuckNohara_plus blockThe “plus” and “dot” units finish at 2-1/4″ square, so trim them to 2-3/4″ square (size before sewing).

Sew two “plus” units on either side of the low-volume center piece.  Arrange them all around, then sew the row with the blocks and plus-units first:

ChuckNohara blocks row

Then I sewed the “dots” and plus-units together:

ChuckNohara blocks row2

And then I finished sewing them all together:

I’m now trying to figure out the borders.  After all the piecing I did for the sashing, I can guarantee you it won’t be like the borders Chuck Nohara showed in her book:

I’ve finally progressed to the place in my physiotherapy (I like the way the Australians say it, as we just call it “PT”) where I could try out my Sweet Sixteen quilting machine again.  After 3-1/2 months.  It took me a while to get the thread tensions balanced, but then was I able to get going on my quilt from the Traveling Threads Bee, made of Alison Glass fabrics (with a few others).

Bliss.  This block, from Toni of HoosierToni, is coming along nicely.  I’m limiting myself to 30 minutes/session so I don’t break my surgery (my one big fear in life).

Lastly, you are all invited to our Raincross Guild Meeting this coming Tuesday, May 16th (6 p.m.), where I’ll present a trunk show of my quilts–well, only 25 of them.  My husband helped me get them from our closets, walls and cupboards, so I can decide the order and what to say.  I just clicked over to the Guild’s website, and in true humbling fashion, I’m not even listed.  But Latifah Saafir is, on the day I’m supposed to teach a class for the Guild, too.  What will I be teaching?

My Home, Sweet, Home mini quilt.  I think they have a few openings, but I’m not sure.  I’ll be emailing the class members prep instructions, that if they complete them, they will finish their quilts in class.  That’s June 3rd, from 9 a.m. -2 p.m., with a 30-min lunch break (bring your lunch).

Last time I taught this class, I was able to snap a photo of three Home Sweet Home quilts. They look awesome!  Patterns are for sale in my Craftsy shop, just in case you aren’t able to attend that day.

Happy Quilting!

This ‘N That • November 2016

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Quilt #171

First up is finally completing my little house quilt, which I titled Celebration.  I thought it was a 4th of July house quilt, but now I think it may be sort of Christmasy (or not), so I went vague on the title.  It’s made from my Home Sweet Home Mini Quilt pattern, and works up quickly.  I need to make a Halloween mini houses quilt.  Soon.celebrate-small-house-quilt_label

And since I’m still jet lagging, this is the label, so I can call it done.  I love that fabric on the back.travel-2016

Sometimes I get discouraged about the pile of stuff around my sewing room, and realize one reason why I don’t get a lot completed (which is why I pushed forward to get that little house quilt done) is because this has been a year of traveling.  Other trips not on here are Kansas City, San Diego, Sweden (which was in conjunction with Copenhagen), and Switzerland.  It’s been fun, but now I’m ready to stay home for a while.
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I snapped this photo of my daughter and my mother together (my mother’s namesake) while we were in Utah, another one of our trips.chucknohara1290

I finished up my final four Chuck Nohara blocks.  I really like this one, and plan to use this design again.chucknohara1208 chucknohara823 chucknohara612 spelling-bee-block-nov-2016

I finished up Cindy’s blocks for our Spelling Bee group.  Our group worked together for a year, swapping blocks with each other as we made words based on the alphabet on my Quilt Abecedary Blog.  She asked for dark fabrics on low-volume backgrounds for her words.spelling-bee-block-nov-2016_detail

Since her blog name is Live A Colorful Life, I couldn’t resist this black fabric with little bits of colorful triangles floating around in them.mcm-bee-block-nov-2016

I also finished Nancy’s blocks for her request on Mid-Century Modern Bee for November.  It was a slash and fill approach to making trees, one on light blue and one on green.  I hope she likes them.  She’ll trim them up to her preferred slant, so they are bigger than she requested (she wants them at 6 1/2″ by 12 1/2″ finished).  After four years of working together, our fearless leader decided it’s time to go, so I have only one more block to complete.

I see a lot of bees collapsing and going away, as people seem to have moved on to doing QALs or 100 Block Assemblies.  I am still part of one bee (Gridsters) which, as a mark of faith in the bee concept, begins next year anew.  I enjoy getting to know the women I trade blocks with over time, and will continue to follow them even though the bee is ending.

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Finally, a note about yesterday’s election: In 2004-2005, I lived in Washington DC for a year, while my husband took his sabbatical at the State Department.  I was able to attend the Inauguration Ceremonies of President George Bush’s second term.  I did not vote for the man, but attended this display of our nation’s ability to keep our system of democracy rolling forward.inaugurationgreentckt

That cold January day was an emotional day, full of patriotism and pride in our country.  When I was in DC a couple of weeks ago, they had already started building the massive platform which will hold the band, the dignitaries, the guests, and the future leaders of our country.  I applaud our country’s ability to focus on what’s important, and hope that I can some time soon feel more enthusiastic about our recently elected officials, in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

I still believe in our democracy, and am glad to have participated in expressing this belief by casting my ballot Tuesday morning.

Flag waving

tiny nine patches

Final note: usually when I can’t decide how to typify my posting, I call it a This ‘N That post, and just throw stuff up.  The downside?  The title is so vague, if I scroll through later, I can’t tell what I’m talking about.  (I also have the same problem when I visit my friends’ blogs, looking for something.)  Thankfully, the search box on this blog is run by my software, so you can find just about anything by typing it in the box.

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Chuck Nohara Redux

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(Redux: brought back, from the Latin word meaning returning, — or — from reducere to lead back.  First Known Use: 1860. So now you know.)

Well…I posted this photo recently, musing about how many more of these little suckers I was going to make.  Since they come from 2″ line drawings in Chuck Nohara’s book, any size is possible, but Susan and I went with 6″ finished.  Which is fun.  And small.  And I still have to make all the sashing and all that, so it has come to the time to think about sizing.

I tend to like square quilts.  And with four more, this quilt would be square.  I know I have 4 per month, three more months, but RETURNING to my senses, I realized I was pretty much done.  As one of the more fun quilt projects I’ve done, by teaming up with Susan gave me great motivation to get things done (because I knew she would).  If you jump in, try hooking up with the Instagram group and letting the motivation of those women pull you along.  But still, it’s time for me to be done.

So here are my four final blocks:

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I chose from the rest of what we’d identified as the last blocks of the year, pulling forward ones that I thought would blend with what I already have.  This also gives me a chance to take off my least favorite block and move it to the back (I’m not telling which one it is). Susan and I have also agreed to make each other a signature block, but keep it a surprise, so I have that one too.  Whatever is leftover after all this will go on the back.

Christina Xu, in her article “Your Project Deserves a Good Death,” notes that:

Most of the people I know are compulsive starters. We constantly create new projects, companies, organizations, and events; sometimes, we even get roped into adopting other people’s projects and entities…Almost all of them will not be the last thing we start.

She goes on to say that we don’t often know how to finish up, or end, all these projects we’ve started (we quilters call them UFOs).

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She notes there are five categories of projects-that-won’t-quit, with “The Indefinite Life Support” being the first.  That’s when we keep a project going way past the time it should be allowed to lapse.  Think of all those 100 block projects you’ve been seeing all summer.  Some actually do go all the way, but I say, if you get to #47 and you’ve learned what you had to learn, and you are ready to move on. . . then don’t feel guilty for not having A Complete Set.

Another category is “The Marathon,” when you carry on a project to the very end, but it burns you out or causes harm.  I had two of those this year: the Halloween quilt-a-long, and the Oh Christmas Tree quilt-a-long.  I loved doing both of them and have two lovely quilt tops to show for my efforts, but when I got to the part in Oh Christmas Tree where the pattern was wrong, it threw a big wrench into my Enthusiasm Works and I really had to run my own marathon to get that project finished (we corrected it).  Doing one quilt-a-long is huge, but two was like running two marathons at once.

She closes her article by noting the good reasons for declaring an end to some things:

Accepting the possibility of the end means periodically taking a critical look at your work and recognizing when its time has passed. Letting go of a project or an organization returns all of the resources it’s tying up — funding, attention, time, the emotional labor contributed by you and others — to the ecosystem. Whether by you or others, those resources will be recombined into new, surprising forms….The end of something, when unrushed and deliberate, is a time for celebration as well as closure.

And so I celebrate the end of the Chuck Nohara project. I still have several blocks to make, and then there is all that sashing, but it feels like a good time to wrap up this portion and move on.

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Chuck Nohara Blocks, and This N’ That

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It’s Chuck Nohara update time, as I just finished my last block for September.  This is how one of them started: a wonky mess.  I realized that while I had decided to paper piece this one, not each piece was identical to its brother/sister piece.  If you decide to do #CN1723 (which is how we identify them on Instagram), number the pieces from 1-8, so you get neighbors together, rather than mixing them up.  Yes, I unpicked it all and started again.

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Here are September’s blocks: #cn1723, #cn1105, #cn570, and #cn1454 (links are to IG).
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I cheated on the EPP on this one, as I first pieced together the four-patch, then treated it as one unit in the construction.chucknohara0916_4

Here they all are.  Now that we are getting closer to the end, I need to think about the shape I want to make.  I tend towards square quilts, so if that’s what I want to do, I only need four more.  Or eighteen.  (Maybe I won’t make it square.)kcity_1

You know already that I went to Kansas City, but I thought their restored Union Station was stunning, which includes the ornate ceiling and scrubbed-up chandeliers.
kcity_2 kcity_3

The folks in Kansas City are rabid enthusiastic about their sports teams, as I’m sure you can see the Chiefs logo in one of the giant windows.
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While I was there I had a chance to sew on a new label for Starry Compass Rose, and it was good to see an old friend again.  Not only was my quilt an old friend, so were the people who work at Paintbrush Studios–it was Anne’s birthday and we all went to lunch to celebrate.  Yes, we sang to her in the restaurant–she is a lovely person and I was happy my trip coincided with her birthday.pbstudios_2 pbstudios_3

They do food big here; it was delicious (I took home the leftovers).  I think there’s a special feeling about the Midwest.  You kind of feel like the center of the universe there, with all the trains and planes and people having to go through there, or pass over there on the way to somewhere else.  I lived in the Midwest for a couple of years, and still have very fond memories (just not of the snow in the winter).shine_0916_back

Lastly, I finished Shine: The Circles Quilt, and have been photographing it in preparation to enter Road to California.  I’ll give a big reveal here in a couple of weeks after I finish some more photographs, but for now–it’s done by the deadline.

road-entry-for-2017Now comes the nerve-wracking waiting part.

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(I swiped this illustration from Susan’s blog: we are doing this Chuck stuff together.)

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I do not know about, nor choose, the content, nor do I receive any money from these ads.
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Uppercase Fabrics, Kevin Umana, and Creativity Breakout

KevinUmanaSnap

This post is the story of two creatives, well, maybe three.  One is an artist living and working in Los Angeles.  That’s Kevin Umaña, up there.Vangool

Another is Janine Vangool, a graphic artist and editor-in-chief of Uppercase Magazine in Canada, who recently released a line of fabric through Windham Fabrics (photo of Janine from *here*).

And then there’s me, but you know what I look like.

UmanaUppercaseQuilts1

And it’s also the tale of two quilts and a quilt block (which is at the end, by the giveaway from Uppercase and Janine, so keep reading).KevinUmanaIGfeed1

Some time ago, my nephew linked me over to Kevin’s Instagram feed, as he knew I am slightly passionate about quilts and designs, and I’m especially in love the the “grid.”  Apparently Kevin loves it too, as well as color and shape and repeated lines. (All these images are posted with his permission.)
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I had sort of been in a creative slump, slightly burned out, not really knowing what to do next besides bee blocks and the Same Old. Idly scrolling through Kevin’s feed one afternoon, I found a few designs that interested me; he and I began to correspond, and then collaborate.

Stitch-IlloAbout the same time, Uppercase Magazine‘s Janine Vangool announced that they were producing an Encyclopedia (images from Uppercase’s website), and the one that interested me was her Stitch-Illo, one of three that was launching the Encyclopedia series.  Since I’d missed submitting to her Compendium (which is always on my nightstand), I went right to her website and started choosing pictures to submit, planning on getting the submission in early. Everything was going along swimmingly until I hit this question: “What makes your work unique?”

Unique?

No matter what I wrote, it sounded trite and useless and idiotic and banal and cliched, and believe I re-wrote the answer to that question about 50 times. I felt dead in the water.  (I’m sure Kevin wondered what happened to me.)  It was like coming up to a mirror and instead of seeing a reflection of my image, it was like seeing past me into an empty sewing room, forty million quilts stacked to the ceiling, but they were all somebody else’s vision or creation or idea.  Nothing unique anywhere.

That question rattled around in my head while on a trip with my husband, and where it rained nearly every day, giving me lots of time to think.  I slowly reviewed all the quilts I had pictures for while sitting in my hotel room, wondering; do we all make the same quilt, over and over?  Not our own same quilt, but the One of the Moment, currently seen on everyone’s Instagram feed, or splashed all over the quilty magazines?  Where was my unique?  If someone saw one of my quilts, would they say, “Oh, yes–that’s Elizabeth’s!”  And if I really had a unique, what was it?  What did it look like?  How could I tell it from someone else’s?

And in my more cynical moments, I’d say, “Well who cares, if it’s unique?  Doesn’t matter enough that I’m a maker, that I express myself with cloth and sewing and cutting and stitching?” Really helpful, right?

IllusionofColorsQuilt

Back home, I began looking at Kevin’s designs again.  In college we were encouraged to do “imitations” of writers, using their form in order to get the meter and the words under our creative nails, as a way of training up a writer. It was a form of limiting, giving us structure, but not letting us off the rails, so to speak.  So I decided to allow Kevin’s form to give me structure. And I chose to limit my fabrics to a (delightful) bundle of Janine’s Uppercase fabrics, which I’d purchased at Market.

The first experiment (above) with Kevin’s work was almost an exact copy.

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Umana Cross Quilt 2

But the second quilt took off on its own.

Crossroads Center Block

The center cross morphed.
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Somewhere in here, the experiment sparked an original idea.  And when I quilted, I kept seeing more.Crossroads_3 Crossroads_2 Crossroads_1

Crossroads, after Umaña • Quilt #165

Until finally, I’m here.

I won’t tell you what I wrote for Uppercase, because in a way, it’s really irrelevant to the idea of this particular story.  What resonates is that challenge laid down in those words of the application, one that I think about to this day.  I’m incredibly grateful to Kevin for allowing me to collaborate with him, and to borrow a little from his light when I needed it.

I’m also grateful to creatives who make fabrics for me to use, such as the excellent line shown in this post.  All fabrics, with the exception of the solid white, are from Janine Vangool’s Uppercase Fabrics line.  Yes, even the wee metallic letters in the sunglasses below, an echo of Kevin’s at the top of the post.

UppercaseFabricSunglasses

 (Chuck Nohara block #345. Pattern for the Crossroads quilt coming soon to Craftsy.)

And finally, the cheesy way to close out a conundrum: let somebody else do the talking for you.

I narrow-mindedly outlawed the word ‘unique.’ Practically every press release contains it. Practically nothing ever is. (Fred Hechinger)

Every person born in this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique and every man or woman’s foremost task is the actualization of his or her unique, unprecedented and never recurring possibilities. (Martin Buber)

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. (Margaret Mead)

Nobody can be exactly like me. Even I have trouble doing it. (Tallulah Bankhead)

Giveaway Banner

Uppercase Giveaway

When I saw Janine at Quilt Market, her booth was handing out free Uppercase Magazines.  Since I’ve been a subscriber for several years, I mentioned to Janine that with the free magazine I could instead do a Giveaway on my blog, and she handed me another magazine, her fabric catalogue and the charm pack of her fabrics to sweeten the pot.  To enter, please leave a comment.  Blog followers get double their chances (shameless promotion), but it’s not necessary to follow to win. 

NOTE: Giveaway now closed.  Thanks to all who entered.

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And finally…

Giveaway Step 6_OCT

…congratulations to the winner of the Dresden Carnival book, Beth T, who wrote about making a squared Dresden plate block for her niece’s quilt.  I’ve sent you an email and I’ll get that off to you this week.  Thank you to all who entered.  You have lovely Dresden Plate Memories!