Scrappy Stars!

Scrappy Stars, full view

I can finally write this post, as I caught Dave before he picked up his latest Donna Leon book (see the picture at the end for my stack).  I used to have this perfect photography studio, but then we had to replace our garage doors and I can’t staple a white sheet onto it any more.  So, I have Dave hold up the quilt for me in the back yard.

Here’s the requisite languid beauty shot: Quilt Draped Over Something.

The back.  You know that fabric you have that you love love love and it’s been sitting sitting sitting on your shelf for too long?

This was mine, so I put it to good use on the back of this very red quilt.

My quilter, Cathy of CJ Designs, did a meander over the star points and a star on a rolling wavy line in the borders. I had wanted to quilt this myself and imagined some glorious feat like Angela Walters accomplishes–all detail and punch and wonderfulness.  But in the end, I traded “Done” for “Glory,” as the pragmatic side of me realized that summer was o-v-e-r and if this quilt was to be enjoyed, I needed help on the quilting.

The label:  Scrappy Stars • No one sees what is before his feet: we all gaze at the stars.  –  Cicero

This is my number 100 of 100 quilts.  Now I’m starting on my second batch of one-hundred quilts.

I’ve arranged this stack of Donna Leon books I’ve finished in order of publication, with Death at La Fenice the very first one she published.  Notice how we get the paperbacks from used books stores (via Amazon and Abe Books online).  ( That second one is titled Death in a Strange Country.) There’s a lot of her books out there. So far, Acqua Alta is my most favorite, but I do like her subplots and characters. I’ve made a note to buy little almond cakes while we’re there, as they only appear around the first part of November — a piece of trivia gleaned from one of the novels.  At any rate, I look forward to reading more of these as soon as I can.

Back Among the Lollypop Forest: Blocks 5 and 9

I like this part of the Lollypop Tree blocks the best: laying out the color scheme in those great big petals.

The part I like the least, in the cutting and choosing category, is the little circles all around.  I chose Block Five to start back in again, because there only a few circles and they were all jumbo.

Block Ten, as labeled in the pattern, has a few more circles. (I call this my block nine.) But two down, seven to go.  I’ve got to stop now and get the binding on the gingham quilt (which STILL doesn’t have a proper name) in order to tuck away a few loose ends before the arrival of Barbara and grandchildren.  I went to JoAnn’s yesterday and bought two more boxes of applique pins.  Since my goal this summer is to get these blocks all cut and pinned, and it’s taking one box for two blocks, I may be running there again–or else I’ll resort to the wicked long pins which stab you a lot when you’ve got it under the machine–or maybe pin with the stabbers, then change out.  Playing it by ear.

And what book propelled me through these last couple of days?

On Canaan’s Side, by Sebastian Barry.

A lovely quote: “Bill is gone. What is the sound of an eighty-nine-year-old heart breaking? It might not be much more than silence, and certainly a small slight sound.”  Narrated by an elderly woman, it is her story, and the story of the people she loved.  I listened to this intently as not only is the story interesting and well-told, the language and imagery is inventive and descriptive.

I thought of my own mother, and the people she’s said good-bye to.  And her mother, and then her grandmother, who came over from England, leaving that land behind forever.  I guess all of our lives could be an interesting novel, if only the right author told our story.  And this story is told by exactly the right author.

I loved listening to it, as the narrator gave shade and color to the characters, perfectly intoning the Irish inflection, as well as the Greek shopkeeper in the later section.  It’s not a long novel to listen to–only 7+ hours–a relief after the last one I listened to, which was fifteen-plus hours (with irritating piano music off and on).

At the End of a Day

Sometimes at the end of a day, I like nothing to crawl in bed with a quilt book, and relax and think about different aspects of quilting.  One that I’m working through now is  Masters Art Quilts, Volume 2.  Here are some snapshots of what I have been interested by, followed by something grabbed from the web.  (And yes, that is still my red mess of a cutting table–sorry, I’ve been grading!)

I’m in love with quilts by Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade, with their combination of photo-realism with quilt symbols such as lines and the grid.  Here’s a picture I found on Google Images:

Another artist which I’d never heard of before, but who I find to be very interesting, is Jan Myers Newbury.  She dyes her own fabrics and uses the tonality of these to build her compositions, of which many elements are seen in some of the Modern Quilt Guild artists working today, with their dependence on blocks of color.

This one is titled Ode to Albers, and it led me to a search for that artist’s name.  Josef Albers liked to place colors against each other to watch how they behaved.  Again–do you recognize this motif of a block within a block? To me a good book makes you want to head to another book, to find out more.  To search.

Beatrice Lanter uses small pieces of colors, working both in harmonies and dissonances to shape her quilts.

Vergngt is the name of this piece, and it’s approximately 43 inches square.  That’s another thing that struck me about many of the quilts I read about in this book was their smaller size.  This isn’t even a lap quilt in size, yet you could get lost in the design.

So when my husband and I are out today on an errand for my grandson (long story) I see this billboard sign, all fractured and shredded by months of painted produce advertisements, ripped off around their staples.  Before I would have just slid past it and into the store, but now I stopped and studied, as it reminds me that inspiration can be anywhere.  Isn’t this a version of a modern mola quilt?  With the top layers cut to reveal the lower layers?  And here’s another shot of what we did today (but don’t tell the grandson–it’s a surprise).

Yes, these are giant dinosaurs.  And yes, PeeWee Herman visited these in his movie.  They’re about 35 minutes from my house.  How random is this, in a quilt blog?

So, I’ve already placed the first of the Masters quilt book in my Amazon cart, and will order that one in as well.  Sometimes my big wish is to really break away from what I’ve done all my life, from the traditional blocks and triangles and just cut, stitch, deconstruct, and find a new way to a quilt.  But do I have the energy?  The vision?  The courage?  I sometimes wonder if I stay on the same track not only because I love it (and I do), but also because I am used to it.

And changing to a new track takes more ardor and zeal that I think I currently have.  But what then, this quote from Leonardi Da Vinci:  “Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”  And my father’s favorite quote, which became the title of his memoirs, written a few years ago (he’s 86 now):  The place that seems most dangerous is exactly where safety lies.

Quilting Organically

Not quilting with organic fabric.  I was thinking more along the lines of a quilt that just sort of evolves from one stage to the next, getting stalled, then moving forward again.  But Quilting Evolutionarily (is that a word?) just sounded like it was heading somewhere different.  Often I feel the pressure to rush things–you know, to Get-It-Done so I can have something to show off to everyone in the blogosphere.  Because why would anyone want to read about my humdrum, inch-by-inch progress in my projects?  Only because that’s probably how things are going for many of us, especially at the holidays, when we are pulled too many directions.

So, after I put the blue borders on my wonky log cabin, it sat.  Then after finishing the grading, the finals, I actually had a night when I was waiting for my husband to come home from a trip back East, and I wanted to stay up and I had a good novel going, so I was ready to sew.

Forgive the blurry picture–it was at night.  I sewed white strips onto the blue borders.  I also had a stack of “middles” without the blue borders (I’d run out of fabric).  I added red strips to those, and then green.

And then I alternated them up on the pinwall. And there they’ve been for a few days now, while I try to figure out the next step.  They are all different sizes, so I’m trying to decide which ones to cut down, and to which ones I should add a deep blue strip or two in order to get them to become roughly the same size.

The novel I’m listening to is Moon Over Manifest and it’s written for a bit younger crowd; I’m still really enjoying it as it combines two periods of history in the story of the twelve-year-old protagonist.  I’m considering it for my English class next semester: since the main character is 12, I don’t have to worry about inappropriate romantic entanglements that I’d have to deal with in class discussions.  I’m teaching a developmental class (one below Freshman Comp) so this level might be appropriate to most of their reading skills.

So, not that anyone’s reading with a week left until Christmas, and Hanukkah just beginning, and the general rush rush of buying gifts and decorating and baking, but I am making progress on this quilt.  It’s interesting to sew without a plan.  I’m sewing just for the pleasure of it, just to discover what will unfold — the kind of sewing I need right now.

A Little Reading, A Little Traveling

I ordered several books off of Amazon, and have been enjoying them a little each night.  Here’s my latest two.  I’m still paying homage to them for my Come A-Round quilt, which was their design.

Tomorrow, I’m headed here with my only daughter, Barbara (I wrote about her here, which also shows the quilt I made her).  We have to get up an the unearthly hour of 3:30 in the morning, out the door by 4:00 a.m. in order to drive to our hub airport some distance away for our 7:00 a.m. flight to The Big Apple.  We’ve been making lists of things to see, to shop for (City Quilter? Purl Soho?), to look at (Ground Zero), to watch (a Broadway Show with Daniel Radcliffe) and we’ll get together with my son who is there that week for business.

Our Google Map is studded with push pins in four different colors: yellow for shops, green for sightseeing, blue for our transit/hotels, and pink for places to eat (macarons anyone?).  We’re excited to go and make some memories — enough memories to last a lifetime.