Friday, August 30, 2013

Where in the world.... I Quilt for Fun?

Good question.  And an even better question when I look at the last two weeks, is what have I been doing? At first, I thought -- nothing.  Then I decided it was more than nothing but two weeks of retirement is a lot of "free time" -- even with a part-time volunteer job.

1.  I have finally quilted this behemoth.  Hurray -- and the binding is sewn on -- just not sewn down.  So good to see Sadie Gammill again.
2.  I have been to Chicago to see dear friends.  Don't you love how quilting acquaintances morph over time into lifelong friends?  I'll be heading back at the end of the month to celebrate the naturalization of one of those chickies -- but will have a trip to Toronto to get in before that.

3.  I have started to learn to needle felt.  Thus far -- I have managed to make this cute "itsy bitsy" pincushion that has a center of incredible alpaca -- donated by my friend at Talotam Hollow.
4. I have quilted this darling quilt on Ethel Handiquilter.  It's a small twin and I have at least started sewing down the binding on it.  Love "ama's" generosity!
 5. I have started (and am halfway done with) a reading plan to read the New Testament in 30 days.

6. I have quilted one donation quilt for the hospital and made two other donation baby quilts that need quilting.

7. Somehow, I have managed to make a complete and total mess of my quilting room -- I mean a mess! I decided to adopt two rather large bags of scraps that were being auctioned at our local guild in order to raise money for Salvation Army Angel tree.  I am not sure why I think I have to save all the scraps in the world.  Some of these will go to Goodwill -- but you have to go through all of them and salvage what you can!

8. I've managed to watch a little of the US Open -- not nearly enough to suit me.  I'm hoping next week will bring more time to enjoy the last major of the season.  The downside is that this requires listening to John McEnroe and Brad Gilbert commentate (pontificate).  Sometimes I am sure my ears are going to bleed if they keep talking!

9. Last - and certainly not least, I spent one HOT HOT HOT day in the garage in order to make some tough decisions, organize a bunch of stuff, move a few things in the house that need further attention -- all because it was time to get Mr Iquiltforfun's car in the garage -- it has been almost two years since we moved and it seemed like time!  We did it!

I hope you have all kinds of fun things planned for this long US holiday and next week -- can't wait to see where the winds of creativity blow.  How about you?


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Work to Glory Ratio

I hope you will take a minute to read this.  I stumbled across this blog a few weeks ago and the concept of "Work to Glory" made perfect sense to me.  This is from "Tech Knitter's" blog and she gives credit to a friend named Carol for coming up with the knitting theory portion of her comments.  The link to the original blog is here and it is worth your time.  This applies equally to quilting as far as I'm concerned.

Theory 1: The "work-to-glory ratio"

This bit of knitting theory comes from my friend Carol (Rududu on Ravelry, where she is a Bobby Award Winner and a member of the Hall of Fame).

 A quick-to-knit item which turns out beautifully is the ideal subject for hand knitting, it has a good work-to-glory ratio. Conversely, a hard-to-knit item which does not ultimately inspire has a bad work-to-glory ratio. Naturally, there are also items which are hard to work but result in a great deal of glory. Knitters must decide for themselves where the balance between work and glory ought best to lie to give the maximum possible results, the biggest "bang" for your knitting labor.

The scarf which inspired today's post has the best work-to glory ratio of any project I have ever worked. The gorgeous yarn of which it is knit transforms the simple lace into a simply gorgeous fabric. Even if you're not as excited about this project as I am, it's an unmistakable illustration of the concept. This all-garter stitch lace can be made by any beginner, but the use of a beautifully-spun, long-repeat, well-dyed yarn substantially ups the glory quotient with no additional work on my part whatever.

This makes perfect sense to me!  As a quilter, haven't you found a project that "made your heart sing" and you absolutely loved working on it.  The colors. The pattern. The fabric. The process. Whatever.  In effect, there was definitely a "glory quotient" and it was worth it.  As I've gone back through some quilt pictures, these quilts definitely had a high "work to glory ratio."  There was something about them that I loved and I was sad (or at least wistful) when they were over.  Sort of like coming to the end of that book you couldn't put down but you read it so fast, it's over.

On the other hand, these quilts made me really unhappy to work on for some reason.  I got tired of the tediousness.  Or I didn't like the pattern -- even if I loved the fabric.  I didn't like the process.  I put them away.  I got them out and worked on them until I thought I was going to stick a fork in my eye -- and then I put them away.  I down sized one of them.  I gave one top away before it was quilted (and was thrilled it went to someone who loved it).  I donated one and I will finally get the binding on another and donate it as well.  Their "work to glory ratio" was very very low.  If not at the start of the project -- no one starts out to make a project they do not love -- but by the time I was somewhere in the middle.  

 Theory 2: Product Plus Process

When non-knitters look at hand-knit goods, most tend to focus on the result, on the product. "Why spend 42 hours making a pair of socks? Wal-Mart sells 'em for a buck a pair" is their attitude, their tolerably obvious attitude. Confirmed sock knitters, however, find that mass-made socks cannot be compared to hand-made--the custom fit, the warmth, the exact colors of a hand made sock cannot be duplicated. This excellence is sometimes the very heart of a successful knitting project--the seamless toe, the beautiful work, the perfect fit, the non-binding sock on the achy foot. Knitting as product (and, as a very superior product which 

you simply couldn't buy anywhere!)

Often, however, hand-knitted objects add another dimension, a process dimension. See your kid standing near the door in hand-made socks, ready to pull on shoes and head out? Those socks are loving that child--the kid is wearing a hug on each foot, and the knitter and the kid both know it. This is process and product combined: knitted object as connection between people.

Further, the knitter also remembers where the sock was knit--sitting on the sofa at home, perhaps, or on a splendid vacation, or maybe at the sick-bed of a beloved relative. Each stitch captures the tick of the clock while the curtains stirred the breeze, the vista of mountains unscrolling through the train window, the love and concern for the person in the bed. Process and product combine again: the knitted object as connection to personal history.

All hand-knits carry the invisible story of their own knitting--not just where they were knit, but also how--the color and texture of the needles which slid through the yarn, what the stitch markers looked like, how the yarn first looked on the shelf, how the project looked when first cast on and when half-finished, how the skeins of yarn then looked half-collapsed in the knitting basket. The older I get, the more foreground are these ephemeral joys.

I just love looking at some select blogs because those quilters have it figured out.  They are working on quilts that make them happy -- and they finish them.  I think that's what we do when we are entranced by a project -- or we know we will be when it's finished.  The glory may not be in every step of the process, but it will be in the finished product, the memories, maybe the pride, and definitely the joy of seeing someone we love cuddled under it or knowing it's going to a good home where it will be cherished.  Would a blanket from some super-store be cheaper and faster?  Certainly.  Would it be better?  Absolutely not -- there is no love in that blanket.  There is love in a quilt -- amidst every single fiber!

These are just excerpts from Tech Knitter's original post -- I encourage you to go there (even as a non-knitter) and see the comparisons to any fiber art and the similarities in the creative process.

I hope you are working on something that has a sky-high Work to Glory ratio!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I don't know about you -- but it takes a bit of time for me to "re-enter" the habit or routine or pattern of spending time in my sewing room after a week away.  There are chores to be done.  Thoughts to be thought.  Bills to be paid.  Laundry to be done.  Work to catch up on.  Groceries to be bought.  Life just needs to happen before patterns can re-emerge and quilting restarts.  That includes blogs to be written apparently!

The good news is that there was "reentry" on Sunday after we got home on Wednesday.  I made time after church to play with fabrics, start new projects, revisit current works-in-progress and get on with it! I'm happy to say that I pulled some fabrics for a little project, made a top for a hospital quilt, and spent some time with these beauties.
These are the Caryl Bryer Fallert Gradations Collection from Benartex.  They were one of my splurges at Houston last year and have been teasing me ever since.  They are reproductions of her hand dyed fabrics and clearly aren't as subtle and rich as those -- nor as expensive.  And they will make a great quilt.
I'm not sure how many pieces there were in the collection but as you can see from this unedited picture, I had to lay them out one day months ago and just admire them before I started cutting anything.  I didn't have a pattern but I knew I wanted to maximize them.
Mom22smartchix and I each bought them and decided on the same pattern earlier this year which meant cutting them into 2.5" strips.  Here is the waste.  Every little smidgen of it.  I'd say we maximized our fabric, wouldn't you?
I have decided I want a summer quilt for our bed.  The last one we had we gave to our son and daughter-in-law because they liked it.  Of course I want them to have it and it's great fun to see they are sleeping under it.  But, somehow the bear paw out of homespuns is just a bit dark.  Soon the Christmas quilt will come out (too soon!) but for now, I think these may just be the ticket for a summer quilt next year.  It will be bright and make me happy -- if I have enough fabric for queen size.
It takes five strips to make three 10.5" blocks.  I have 33 made, lots of strips left, and will just sew until they are all used up and decide what to do from there.  Either buy more and make a great border or decide it's a full size quilt and move on.  It's a "win win" no matter which way it goes.  They are fun to work with since each block is slightly (or greatly) different from the other two.  I started out thinking I would just use the jewel tones -- I have since decided I'm going to use them all.  Including the browns which make me a little "itchy" but should be beautiful against a blue or lavender block.
But somehow, these are not quick blocks.  I can't quite figure out why they take as long as they do.  Creating two short strip sets, cutting the block, cutting the strip, recutting the block and inserting the strip.   They don't look like they should take that long, do they?  Mom22smartchix elected to cut all the elements separately (she has trouble following directions and the crowd).  Hers will have much more color variation and may be faster -- who knows (although cutting couldn't have been faster). It will be fun to see them side by side, someday.
In the meantime, I have been lucky enough to use AMA's Handi-quilter and was able to finish this in time to take it to the cottage for cool mornings and evenings.  All homespuns from 4" strips and homespun backing.  And now I WANT ONE TOO!  And yesterday, I'm happy to say that I quilted a child's quilt top AMA had given me and one of my hospital quilts.  So -- I'm definitely getting back in the groove!
I hope you're getting your creative groove on, as well!