Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's New Quilting Year Eve!!

The time has come. The days are noticeably shorter, and there's a crisp, wistful hint of autumn in the air. I've spent much of the evening converting my studio space back to quilting formation. The sound gear is back under its covers, stacks of notebook have been filed away, the sewing table is unfolded to its full size. We're ready to roll. For tomorrow is the first day of quilting season.

Long-time readers know that traditionally, the quilting year begins with the first University of Oregon football game. And indeed, I am first and foremost a Duck. But I'm actually ready to fly the flag of any college team from my fair state (you can read here if you have an inexplicable desire to know about my college football loyalties, or if you just have oodles of time on your hands), and while the Ducks aren't playing until Saturday, the Oregon State Beavers take the field at 7 PDT tomorrow. And I'll be right there with them. Quilting.

A Couple Shows

As if to celebrate the new year, although actually just by coincidence, I'm sending my warhorse Log Cabin back on tour. It will be in my home town, Bandon, Oregon, at the quilt show of the annual, heh, "Cranberry Festival," September 6 to 9, or something like that. After that, it should be at the "2007 Festival of Quilts" in Gold Beach, Oregon, September 16 and 17. And after that, I think I'll retire it from shows -- I've shown it pretty much to death.

Fabric is Still Drawn to Me

After I wrote the last post, about how I keep bumping into free fabric, I went out for a run and had to cut it short when I ran into a big box of fabric that somebody had put out for free on the sidewalk. I include photoevidence for an unneccessarily sceptical quilt blogger who I won't mention specifically, but whose name sounds like "Guilty the Hipster."

The green and the stripey flannel were actually bedsheets when I found them, but a few minutes with a good pair of scissors made them into several yards each of extra-width fabric. The purple is two yards of good quality quilting fabric. The tan was a very good matched set of sheets which, for better or worse, will continue to serve in a sheet capacity for the time being.


I'm in a ring of quilt blogs! Cool! The little navigation panel for it is up there on the left somewhere, if you want to poke around.

Happy New Quilt Year, Everyone!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fabric is Drawn to Me

I had a lovely vacation and family reunion. I won't go into details, as not much happened that had anything to do with quilts or quilting. Yet, as happens, I came home with many yards of fabric that I hadn't had when I left.

Usually, this would mean that the carefree spirit of life on vacation had loosened my pursestrings, and that I'd made the mistake of wandering into a fabric store with no particular project in mind. People who quilt do this with startling predictability, and this is why you will frequently see a) inexplicably thriving quilt shops in most towns that are tourist destinations, and b) many, many quilters, myself included, with the arguably decadent "problem" of figuring out how best to store their mountains of fabric.

But that wasn't the case this time. Instead, I kept running into boxes of free fabric. There was one in the doorway of a church near my parents' place. There was one at a yard sale that I just happened to walk by. And my mom had some scraps on offer, as well. So, even though I was being fairly picky, I still ended up with all of this for the very good price of free.

Then, my sister got a bee in her bonnet to do some tie-dyeing. Now I had never tie-dyed before, despite having attended the University of Oregon, so I did jam down to the local fabric store to get some yardage to experiment with. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do with the results, but they are pretty satisfying to the (strong) hippie side of my aesthetic.

I used a white-on-white fabric for that one, which turned out really well. You can see it better in this detail.

Here's a whole spectrum I did on various white-on-whites.

And finally, here's an experiment with blue and yellow dye on a strong black-on-white fabric. I'm not crazy about this specific result -- although it does have a certain Go Ducks! je ne sais quoi to it -- but I think dyeing onto black-on-white has serious potential.

Oh, just to follow up on last week: my color-planning cards were a hit. Niece #1 did not even seem to think I was crazy, and I feel like I have a good sense of her quilt-color aesthetic now. Once she was done, everybody else wanted to be tested too. Hopefully, they understood that taking the test doesn't mean a quilt will automatically be forthcoming. If they didn't, they're going to have a long wait....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Toward a Diagnostic Instrument for Pre-Design Chromatic Evaluation

Which is to say, I think I've come up with a way of talking with people about the color schemes they would like in a quilt that's being made for them.

Statement of Problem: Why bother? Well, I've found that people (including me) have a hard time talking about color. Everyone has their favorite colors, of course, but "green" is not really enough to design a quilt around. People who are color savvy will sometimes list their favorite color combinations, and a rare individual will also throw in an idea of color quality, with words like "pastel" or "jewel tones" or "smoky."

But since a quilt design needs to encompass not just color, color combinations, and color quality, but also color value and the relative proportions of all of the above across the quilt surface, it's pretty brutal to talk about without looking at quilt images. So, you end up flipping through a stack of quilt books and magazines, looking at a random selection of posibilities, slapping down sticky notes everywhere, and it's a huge mess. Well, no. It's not really that huge of a mess. I'm just trying to get you all excited about my innovation.

Innovation: I selected 38 images that represent a wide range of possible quilt color combinations, and mounted them on cardstock, like so:

Methodology: The subject is instructed to sort the cards into three piles based solely on colors. One pile is the color combinations that the subject really likes, the second is the color combinations that are "all right," and the third is the color combinations that the subject doesn't like. When the piles are complete, the interviewer and subject examine the stack together, looking for common themes in the subject's choices.

Results: I tried this out with Mrs. 5000, who is always ready for anything, at lunch today. It worked, in the sense that I learned things about her color taste that I hadn't realized before. She is not crazy about extensive white or very light areas on quilts, for instance, and has more of a thing for jewel tones than I expected.

Conclusions: Encouraged by this first trial, I will apply the procedure to Neice #1 this coming weekend, in preparation for beginning the design of her graduation quilt. Hopefully, it will help me come up with a quilt that will be all, like, aesthetically pleasing to her.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The 2007-2008 Pre-Season Report

I said a few months ago that I would just take my disappointingly pristine quilting "to do" list from last year (which, you may recall, sucked for quilting purposes) and make that my list of goals for 2007-2008. But as the official September 1 kickoff date looms closer, I've found myself worrying over a new "to do" list like a dog gnawing on an old bone. Want to know what I've come up with? Well, too bad, because I'm going to tell you anyway.

First Priority

  • Stained Glass Batik*, pictured, is one I've talked about on the blog before. It is pieced and layered, and I did a little bit of the quilting last year. It wants to be ready to show in the spring, which shouldn't be too much of a stretch.

  • Labyrinth is another piece that I hope to have ready for shows in the spring. It is very nearly pieced after four years of work, and should be relatively easy to quilt. I will speak of it no further at this time, as I think it is pretty cool and don't want to jinx it.

  • The first of my four nieces is graduating from high school next year, and I've decided that I'm going to do the graduation quilt gift thing. Fortunately, my oldest niece is partial to squares, and not a real maven for intricate floral applique or something.

Also Things I'm Pretty Geared Up For

  • Batik Squares (pictured) is really just an exercise piece. It's not very attractive, but I'd like to finish it and get it off the table.

  • Getting started on making a piece from the stack of blocks hand-pieced by my grandmother's stepmother in the early 1930s.

  • Making a highly scrappy "recycle" piece from the gobs of, uh, non-traditional fabrics (including blue fake fur?) that find their way to my storage closet.

Things I'd Like to Do If There is Time

  • Create a simple setting for a stack of star blocks from the 1930s, origin unknown, that landed in my lap earlier this year. In indigo and white, using cheap fabric, and made with frankly atrocious craftsmanship, they are a very motley set that I nevertheless find pretty charming.

  • Complete a Four Seasons set, of which there is (after like six years) one complete and one half-complete. I don't even know if I like the concept anymore, but damnit...

  • Combine some groovy medium-light neutral tone batiks my big sister gave me for Christmas into a background; and then applique a big, aggressive, cherry-red shape over the top of it. Something that looks like a Chinese word, or a letter from an imaginary language. Still thinking about this one.

  • Requilt, or overquilt, Two Complex Shapes (pictured). It's all saggy now, but might be showable if I could give it interesting surface textures.

Things I Would Like to Do, but Realize I Will Probably Not Have a Chance of Getting To Really

  • Repairing the little quilt my great-grandmother threw together when I was born. Never anything approaching a work of art, it is now arguably 20 years overdue for the trash. But hell, I'm kind of sentimental. Don't tell the guys.

  • An asymetrical, simple geometric piece of light fabrics on light-light fabrics, loosely based on some work of book artist Sarah Horowitz. Squint at the image to the right, and maybe you can imagine what I have in mind.

  • Another map of Oregon, this time based on population density instead of landforms. I know, I know. What can I tell you? I used to teach cartography.

* (The names I use here are kind of working titles. I might give 'em better names, once they're finished.)

Your Job, gentle State of the Craft reader, is to keep me on task. Remind me of this list if I seem to have forgotten it. Ask probing questions. Taunt if need be.

Thanks for reading!