Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ice & Fire: Done

It's a Finish, People!!

I finished Ice and Fire in a binge of handwork on Boxing Day.

Officially Quilt #40, it was started on Thanksgiving Weekend 2004. Like a few other of my quilts, the design and fabric selection happened independently of each other, then merged together. I don't remember which came first. The design was just this little notebook sketch:

It would turn out later that working with so many triangles would pose some challenges for me. I'd have to make special templates for them, and arrange for eight 45 degree points to more or less meet at the center of every block. But for now, all of that was in the future. I just liked my design.

It would also turn out that this is a venerable old pattern, with a traditional name (although I can never remember what it is), that people have been making for at least 150 years. This is par for the course. When you work with simple geometric shapes, like I like to do, you are not going to stumble on much that has never been thought of by the generations upon generations of quilters that have come before you. Such is life in the fiber arts.

Meanwhile, the day after Thanksgiving brought with it the traditional annual spending binge at the early morning JoAnnes sales. At the 2004 sale I bought two sets of cheap batik fabrics with the intention of using them for some unspecified future project. My mom rolled her eyes at both of them. Regarding the set of four that went on to be used in Ice and Fire, she has subsequently been forced to recant. (On the set of two that make up the still-unfinished Batik Boxes, she was pretty much right, as you'll see sometime next year.)

Eventually, I noticed that I had a set of four fabrics and a design that needed a set of four fabrics, and came to the obvious conclusion. I made most of the blocks in the 2005-06 season, moving at a steady but slow pace. Getting the eight-point meets as accurate as I wanted them took a lot of doing, and plenty of re-doing too. All of the blocks were complete by the beginning of the dismal 2006-07 season, but I didn't manage to do anything but get them assembled and pinned to a back that year.

Something else that happened in Fall 2006 that would indirectly benefit the piece, though, and that was the machine quilting class I took from Helene Knott. That taught me, among many other things, the painter's tape trick, which I used extensively with Ice and Fire. Just as importantly, it gave me the confidence to increase by as much as three or four times the density of my quilting on large pieces.

The actual quilting happened over the last four months, and in October the SoTC readers helped me pick the name. I finished the binding at a guild meeting on December 10, and got to show it off as "close enough" to done at that point. Finicky detail work and the addition of a hanging sleeve on the 26th officially took it over the finish line. It's the first time I've finished anything for half a year, and the first time I've finished anything besides a baby blanket in a year and a half, so "done" is a good feeling.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The December Lack-of-Progress Report

Hmm, I've left the post that talked about being sick up for three weeks. My quilt-blog discipline went to hell when the Q4P blogring bit the dust. But just in case anybody has been wondering: I'm fine. Healthy as a horse. A healthy horse.

December has been a tough quilting month. One reason has been the end of the college football season, which takes away my guaranteed weekly intensive quilting times. The other reason has been, of course, Christmas. I do love me some Christmas, but it certainly does take vast swathes of times with all of the planning and cooking and buying and making and wrapping and this and that and the other thing. Hard to keep the momentum going on the craft projects.

The upside is, I have several projects needing only some final handwork to get finished, and several days of holiday downtime with the family coming up in which to do handwork. You do the math! I'm hoping I can start bragging about some finished projects soon.
Here's the bin full of my Christmas homework.
It has Ice and Fire, Two Complex Shapes, and all four of the Four Seasons in it, along with everything I'll need to work on them. Which is a lot of homework -- I'm betting on winter weather forcing everyone to stay indoors and spend a lot of time gabbing -- but I'm also going to be bringing along Labyrinth. The quilting on Lab' is about 80% finished, and I must say I'm pretty happy with how it's coming along....

Happy Holidays to all you fabulous readers, and to everyone you know, and to everyone else too!