Sunday, July 11, 2010

Colour, colour and more colour

Birgit and I went to the premiere of Color Improvisations in Stuttgart today - an international invitational exhibtion of 50 quilts by 26 quilt artists, curated by Nancy Crow. All the artists have studied with Nancy at some point, and were invited to improvise on the theme of color.

All of the quilts were large, around 70"/150 cm upwards, and most were just stunning. Not all them rocked my boat, but some of them just blew me away. I need to go back and look at them again in peace - there were a good 200+ people at the opening today (including Nancy Crow herself, and 22 of the artists, most of whom are from North America, but a handful are from Europe), so it was difficult to stand and just gaze in awe. I did get the exhibition catalogue, and had it signed by those artists there, but it is not the same as seeing the quilts hanging in front of you.

The exhibition also really deepened my desire/urge to try out hand-dying - I think there was one quilt of the 50 that was not made with solid colour fabric, and it seemed most of the artists used their own hand-dyed fabrics (one did say, when I said I was thinking about trying, that it is addictive :-))

I did take some pictures, until somebody told me that it was not permitted (which I had been expecting, but I hadn't seen the sign, and there were a lot of people taking pictures, so I figured it was ok). I don't know if full pictures of the quilts will be published on the website now that the exhibition is open. There are links to a few of the artist websites on the main exhibtion site, so you can get some idea of some of their work there.

So much inspiration...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Miserable Failure...

OK, I confess, I am a miserable failure.

UFO finishes to date : One.

I finished the 3D flying geese wall hanging for the group's exhibition, which ended two weeks ago, but that was it. If I hadn't already had a couple of things finished for the shop, I wouldn't have had anything to show at all.  I don't have a picture of the wall hanging yet, I'll try to get one up soon (but don't hold your breaths - y'all can see what a frequent blogger I am :-))

Poor hubby got presented with a box of flannel squares for his birthday, with the promise that they will eventually turn into a quilt.

Life just got kind of out of hand the first half of this year. I ended up travelling to the UK three times at pretty short notice for family reasons, the second time I got stuck for an additional five days thanks to Eyjafjallaj√∂kull, and I had a lot of work for the exhibition committee, and goodness only knows what else, so that I was just kind of overwhelmed.

Anyhoo, the exhibition is over, and was a success, and life is gradually settling back into something vaguely representing normal, so I might just manage to get back into the swing of sewing, and maybe even blogging.

During my first trip to the UK, I did at least get to the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition at the V&A, which was excellent. I bought the exhibition book, and also Jane Brocket's book The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making - such a beautiful book, I almost bought it more for its visual gorgeousness than for the quilts. I love her blog - she has an amazing eye for colour, and the photographs she posts are just stunning.

It seems though at the moment that I'm reading a lot more about quilting than I am actively doing it - the list of quilting blogs I subscribe to gets longer and longer, as one blog leads me to another. It's hard to say which is my favourite - they all bring so much, and I've learned so much just in these few months of blog-reading.

One of the many blogs I follow is that of C&T Publishing. They are currently offering a giveaway of a pack of RIT dyes, Linda Johansen's book Fabric Dyer's Dictionary and a pack of hand-dyed fat quarters by Linda Johansen. I haven't worked with hand-dyed fabrics much yet - I have one WIP using some gorgeous hand-dyed cotton sateen from Heide Stoll-Weber, and one NSY which is the miniature pineapple/flying geese quilt kit. In August Birgit and I are going to The Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, and managed to get the last two tickets for Laura Wasilowski's workshop Folk Art Fusing. I first heard of Laura via her interview on Annie Smith's podcast - she sounds just so much fun, and I am sooooo looking forward to the workshop. I think after that I really am going to have to have a go at dyeing some fabrics of my own. I have a linen damast tablecloth and napkins that just don't get used any more (one of our pet rabbits somehow managed to get at the tablecloth and ate holes into it - don't ask me how!) that are crying out to be cut up and dyed and turned into something quilty. Even if I don't win the giveaway, once we get back from Birmingham, I'm going to look into getting some dyes and having a go. Like I don't have enough projects on the go already... :-)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Today has turned out to be a bonus sewing day, hooray!

I had written it off completely, as I had a meeting this morning with the exhibition committee, and this afternoon we were supposed to have a visit from the Makower rep, and our telecom provider finally promised to send an engineer over sometime in the afternoon to fix the problems we've been having with our DSL connection since Christmas (I'm sure it was a coincidence that we'd sent the letter cancelling our contract the day before...) Anyway, Birgit called this morning to say that the rep had had to postpone her visit, and that the provider had sent a text message to say that the problem had been resolved without a visit. So I got the afternoon to sew!

Since tomorrow is group meeting, and I still haven't submitted any prizes for the tombola, I needed to sew something for that. Last week we had a group sewing evening to make these table mats:

Annie had been given a whole bunch of the yellow striped fabric, we just had to provide our own fabric for the tulip, piping and backing. It's a really easy little pattern, and now that I've nearly finished one, prettier than I originally thought. Now I just need an idea what to do with the rest of the yellow stripe - maybe a pair of pot holders?

The fabric in the box at the back of the picture is DH's birthday present, which will hopefully be looking more like a rag quilt by Sunday (only a week late!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

UFOs and NSYs

I've been listening to Annie Smith's Quilting Stash podcast over the past few weeks, and recently listened to a programme she did back in February 2008 about UFOs, referencing Nadine Ruggles' Driven to Quilt podcast on the same subject.

Both programmes were really interesting, and got me thinking about my stacks of UFOs, and what Annie mentioned in her podcast from another blog she read, NSYs = Not Started Yets. Got plenty of those, too - both projects for which I have acquired fabric, but not started, and also projects I have planned, or just ideas, but not any further than that.

In fact, for someone who now co-owns a quilt-store, I have pathetically few finished projects to show for myself - only 6 completely finished quilts, OK, 7 if I count Mum's mystery quilt I finished for AC, and a few cushions and bags. In 5 years. Plus now a couple of joint efforts with Birgit. UFOs in double figures, though. Plus all the UFOs I inherited from Mum.

So, here, publicly, my list of UFOs to-date, with the commitment to finish at least one a month, starting next month. Not this month, because what little there is left of this month is dedicated to an NSY which has exactly three more days to transform from a stack of flannel and a wool batting to a rag quilt for my DH, who just happens to have a birthday on Sunday (and the quilt is not going to be finished by then, because I discovered in cutting that I'd miscalculated and don't have enough background fabric, so had to order more...) There are also a couple of NSYs and UFOs with a deadline for the end of May, which is the date of the next exhibition by the Lichteneck Quilters, the quilting group Birgit and I belong to. And this is just personal projects, not anything for the shop. That's a whole other kettle of fish...

Inherited from Mum

6 Piece o' Cake "Thru Grandmother's Window" Applique Blocks - to be turned into wallhangings or cushions for me, my brother, aunt and uncle. It was the rash promise to finish these that got me started patchworking. And 6 years later, they're still waiting... partly, if I'm honest, because I'm scared of ruining them - they're so beautiful and well made.

The quilt which became known as "that bloody star quilt" - irregular five-pointed stars in rectangular blocks, all the blocks are made, a large chunk is all pieced together, but at some point things got muddled, and Mum could never figure out how to get all the blocks together, no matter how hard she and Mandy tried.

Another star quilt, this one with hexagonal stars, this just needs the outside border attaching, and quilting. I'd like to finish this for the exhibition in May.

Foundation pieced Santas, one Santa complete, can't remember off-hand how many there were supposed to be. This may just end up being a new small door-hanging with just the one Santa.

My own UFOs, oldest first

Cathedral Star block from a course in April 2005. This one keeps hanging up on the hand sewing.

North Carolina Lily - one of my first projects, it needs the quilting removed (bad thread choice, I used a multicoloured polyester thread meant for machine quilting, not hand, and the quilting is boring, and also certain tabby-and-white cats ripped half of the batting out...), re-basting and re-quilting, this time on the longarm.

Trip to New England by Kathleen Starr Designs - needs quilting and binding, I'd like to get this in the exhibition in May.

Stars over Bali Skies, by Charlotte Humphrey - purchased as a BOM from a German quilt store in 2007, slightly less than a quarter done, I stopped part way in order to have all the fabrics for the 2" background patches to be more flexible in arranging. This is one I really need a design wall for. Laying it out on the floor is difficult - nosy dogs and cats want to help :-)

Advent, Advent BOM by Sulky - also started in 2007, all the patterns saved, and the blocks from the first three months completed

Quiltfriends Ohio Star swap - no idea yet what I'm going to do with these blocks. I might sew them together for a practice quilt for the longarm.

A wall hanging in brown batiks, from a design by Jessamy Thompson. About 1/4 quilted, I can't shift this to the longarm.

Another small wallhanging in rainbow batiks, needs the top right corner block adding, borders and quilting.

Flicflac cushions for a friend, like most of the UFOs, they *just* need quilting... :-)

Frostie's bed - in a fit of temporary insanity, I decided that the dog should have a patchwork cover for his bed at the quilt store. The outside is supposed to be made of 8 blocks, four are finished, plus his name embroidered on the front. If I continue the temporary insanity then the top edge will be Flying Geese, paper pieced because of the oval shape. The inside will be plain black, freehand quilted with a loop-and-bone pattern, if I manage it.

4 irregular log cabin table mats for our group exhibit for the Lichteneck exhibition. Blocks for three are made, this has to be finished by May.

Miniature Storm at Sea, paper-pieced, the finished quilt is 16" x 16". I'm making it with beautiful hand-dyed cotton satteen. The pattern is from an age-old copy of the magazine "Miniature Quilts". Another one I'd like to put in the exhibition, but I'm not sure I'll make it in time.

3D Flying Geese wall hanging. This has to go in the exhibition, as the fabric is from a rectangle-exchange we did within the group. I made it last weekend, it needs to be quilted and finished.

NSYs (only projects for which fabric has been bought specifically or with a deadline this year)

Rag quilt for DH
Rag quilt for me

Les Teinturires de Sophie et Maria - Kit bought at the European Patchwork Festival in Ste-Marie-aux-Mines 3 years ago. The Wild Geese blocks are 2 1/2" finished size, and there are 36 of them... I was seduced by the hand-dyed fabrics...

At least 10 tombola prizes for the Lichteneck exhibition. I have two pieces started, and they all have to be completed by March 17.

Then there's the enormous stack of Makower Fancy Cats fabrics (the first series) waiting to be turned into several somethings...

And the dog-bone fabrics I got especially to make bum-bags for carrying around dog treats and necessary accessories when walking the dog.

And all that fabric I bought just because it was so pretty...

And now I'm going to publish this before this post also turns into a UFO - I've been writing it since Sunday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Time to kick-start the blog again!

Like I really need another committment, I just insanely signed up for the Pinwheel Sampler Quilt-Along at Rachel Griffith's blog p.s. i quilt. I discovered Rachel's blog (along with many other fantastic quilting blogs!) via one of her tutorials at the Mode Bakeshop, and I'm hooked. Rachel writes excellent tutorials, and designs fun, bright quilts. So when she announced the quilt-along last week, I was immediately tempted to join in - I love pinwheels, and this would be a great quilt to use up some of my 100+ batik fat quarters. I don't have time, I have a million UFOs already (okay, maybe not a million, but definitely double figures) and wasn't going to start anything new this year except stuff for the shop, but... this quilt just looks like so much fun, and I love the idea of a quilt-along. And really... how much time can it take to sew one block a week? :-)

And deciding to join in the quilt-along made me also decide that it is long past time to dust off the blog again, and try and get into a more regular blogging habit.


What's been going on in my quilting-and-otherwise life since I last posted? A Lot. An Awful Lot.

Not long after my last post, in October 2007, I decided to quit the office job, and give up working entirely for a while (big thank you here to my Lovely Hubby for making this possible for me). The company I worked for got assimilated by its biggest competitor, and I concluded, once again, that I do not like working for big companies. And that really, being a secretary was not what I saw myself doing for the rest of my working life. It was something I kind of drifted into when I moved to Germany, and had stuck with for lack of any other opportunity. So I gave notice, and at the end of December 2007 I hung up my secretarial/office manager hat for good. I spent 3 months being a good little German housewife, reading, sleeping, and just generally enjoying life again.

Then in March 2008, Kio arrived and turned our life upside-down. I'd always wanted a dog, but just didn't think it was fair to the dog to have one while I was working full-time. I won't go into the long story of how we came to the decision to get an Australian Shepherd, or found his breeder. Kio was such a wonderful dog, and it broke our hearts when he died aged just 13 months after a tragic accident in March 2009. We still both have a big Kio-shaped scar on our hearts, but the hole he left has been filled by his cousin, Frostie.

Anyway... while I was claiming unemployment benefit and trying to avoid having to take another office job, my quilting friend Birgit opened a quilt store. She started the business as a purely internet based shop around the end of 2005, and decided in early 2008 that it was time to move the business into a real bricks-and-mortar store. Since I had nothing better to do ;-) I spent a lot of time helping her to redecorate the premises she'd rented, and getting the store set up and open. After that I helped out when she needed me, and in October she asked me if I would be interested in joining her as a partner in the business. Guess what my answer was? ;-)

So here I am, co-owner of a small but expanding quilt store and I love it :-). It's a lot of work, but I love working with the fabrics, the customer contact, and working with Birgit. We think alike about most things, and complement each other in so many ways, and it's working out perfectly so far. We moved into new, larger premises last year in March, and acquired a second-hand longarm quilt machine from Gammill. She's my baby, and named Jenny, after my Mum, whose fault it is I've turned into a quilter. This is me and her, at our Open Day in July:

and Birgit, me and Frostie (the best thing about being my own boss is I can take my dog to work with me!!)

At about the same time as I started working with Birgit, I got offered a contract as freelance proofreader for a series of patchwork magazines published by a German publisher (thank you, Annie!). That involves about two weeks of part-time work every six weeks or so, all done here at home, proofreading the magazine and the instructions for all the quilts, etc. It's intensive but interesting work, and it pays for the dog food :-) The shop pays its own way pretty much so far, but at the moment all available income is being reinvested in stock, so we're not either of us actually pulling any kind of salary from it. But we are confident that we'll be able to in the not-too-incredibly-dim-and-distant future!

So there you go, somehow or other I've turned into something vaguely like a professional quilter - not something I imagined when I handed in my notice just over two years ago, or when I started the patchwork classes just over five years ago!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cleaning out the cobwebs...

Gosh! 18 months since I posted anything. I never was much good at keeping a diary.

I haven't been entirely unproductive in these 18 months, even if I haven't written anything here. I didn't get a great deal done in most of 2006, but some time last year I finally managed to convince my boss that the company would survive if I only worked 32 hours a week instead of 40 (heavy hints that otherwise the company would have to survive without me entirely probably helped ;-)) and since January of this year I've had Wednesday and Friday afternoons to sew.

In my usual way, I promptly started work on far more projects than I could handle...

1) I signed up for a block swap at the German quilters' forum I belong to. Never again. I put a lot of time and effort into producing 30 blocks that I was really pleased with, and if they weren't 100% perfect, I'm not boasting too much to say that they were at least 90% perfect. I was so incredibly disappointed with what I got in exchange. Of the 30 I got back, I like the fabrics of about 5, the rest are just horrendous. And some of them are so badly made - corners nowhere near matching, etc., etc. At the moment, they're sitting in a ziploc bag in my "Works in Progress" collection, but I have no idea what I'm going to do with them.

2) I signed up for a Block of the Month (BOM) quilt project from a German quilt store. You get the patterns and fabrics sent each month for 10 months. I'm about a third of the way through, as other projects got in the way... It's a big quilt of all different types of stars, all in batik fabrics. I loooove batiks. I'm really enjoying working on it, when I do.

3) Our quilt group had its exhibition in May this year, and I swore that I would finish my sampler, which I started in April 2005. In January of this year, I had made only 6 of 12 blocks, and had only quilted 4. I finished the quilt the day of the exhibition hanging, on May 26:

4) I started on a free BOM for a small Advent wallhanging, from Sulky International. I think I've got January and February done so far. I think this might end up hanging on the wall next Advent...

5) Two female colleagues announced they were pregnant, so of course they each have to get a baby quilt. One of them gets two quilts in fact, since she's had twin boys. I've just finished the first quilt for the colleague whose baby girl arrived at the end of July. I'll start the second quilt later this week, I still have to get fabric for the third. This is the quilt for little Zoe:

I managed to start and finish a few small things, mostly bags, a mini quilt for my un-godson:

and a table runner for a good friend's 40th birthday:

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Baggy Weekend

I had a "baggy" weekend. I've had the past two weeks off work, partly with the aim of getting some work done on my sampler quilt. I did, just about :-) Finally put an outside edge on the Log Cabin block, made a Honey Bee block, which just needs the bees adding, and made a Rolling Stone block. That was this month's class - Baby Blocks, Rolling Stone and Carpenter's Wheel. I started the block in class on Wednesday evening, and finished it on Thursday.

Friday saw the start of the baggy weekend. I spent most of the day making myself a bag for my 18" x 24" cutting board, to make it easier to carry to classes. With pockets for all my rulers. I made it out of plain calico, and embellished it using some of the fancy stitches that my Bernina can do (first time I've tried those out - ooh, fun!)

This weekend was the winter UFO weekend. There were nine of us, including Annie (my teacher), all working on different projects. I finally finished the Sunny Windows tote I started in April. I love the colours, and the contrast with the black. Then I made the X-Bag - I bought the pattern and fabrics in Massachusetts in July.

So now I have a snazzy new handbag and a big bag for toting stuff around in. :-)

The other thing I made this weekend was a cute little pincushion box that Annie showed us at the Cathedral Stars / Sunny Windows class in April. I've made it for my beading colleague.