Thursday, May 26, 2011

Giveaway winner!

The winner of the giveaway... via

Blogger Darcy said...
I don't quilt, but I lurve the fabric. And because you told me to.
May 25, 2011 2:37 PM

Hooray Darcy! Fabric coming your way on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Giveaway day

Wow, been having so much fun reading your comments and reading other blogs (and subscribing to so many... my poor reader is full!).  A few things I've realized: the hot pink on my blog was painful.  Have toned it down a bit.  And, unless you're super-cool, I won't put you in my blog reader if you don't let your full post be published there.  Just a snippet?  I'll unsubscribe.  (Grograinfabulous is super-cool.)  But so many great people out there, and so many great ideas!  Good luck, all :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Giveaway! and can this quilt be saved?

 So I'm making this quilt for my sister.  It's supposed to look like this excellent quilt... but I realized I don't have a good color sense.  (My mother's been telling me that for years, and the husband has even very delicately started in... hers is "are you going to go outside wearing that with that?" and his is a diffident "do you normally wear those two things together?")  Looking at it now, I see I should have made the stars out of the colored flower bits that make the stretched hexagons.  There are stars there, just you can barely make them out.

(This is the backing, with a red binding.)
So, does anyone have any hints for how to quilt it (at home - I don't do the "send it to someone else and have their computer quilt it" thing, although I do understand it's faster) so that the stars are emphasized rather than the oblong shapes?  Colors, techniques, anything?  Would using a thick/fluffy polyester batting (rather than thin bamboo/cotton) and putting most of the quilting in the non-star areas help?

(Redoing it is not an option - I don't have any more fabric!)

But now on to what you want... the giveaway!

Whether or not you're willing/able to give me "can this quilt be saved" advice, I have up for offer 2 yards of silk chiffon from Universal Fabrics here in Houston.  I bought it because it's fabulous, but I've got no idea of what to do with it, so I'm leaving it up to you. 

Here's a shot on a chair back so you get the scale:

And a close-up of the hilarious pattern, also showing how sheer it is (it's folded up behind itself at the bottom of the photo):

(I saw a greetings card once with various structured undergarments on it; the inside said, "thanks for your support!")

To win, just post a comment of any kind.  Quilting advice welcome, but not necessary.  A way to contact you (i.e. no "no-reply" profiles) is necessary, of course.

(Random) Drawing on May 26th.

Shipping note: I had some issues last time with the giveaway - I live next door to a post office, but it's open only when I'm at work, so I have to wait for a day off work when the post office is open (i.e. no holidays) to ship internationally (the machine will ship domestically any time).  I had a day free just after the giveaway, but a family emergency kept me from the post office on that one day, and it was over a month until I had a non-holiday weekday off work again.  So, this time, US/Canada only, unless you're willing to wait a while for shipping.  (If you're willing to wait, you can submit from anywhere!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giveaway day

(Just a nice picture)

I'll be participating in the Giveaway Day again this year:

So come back next week!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cross-stitch Ganesha/Puliyar - and lessons learned

The husband's parents moved to Texas from India in the 1960s-1970s.  They are Hindu, and in fact were instrumental in founding the main Hindu temple in Pearland (south of Houston).  When we were living in El Paso, I had a lot more spare time, and so I decided to make something for them.  

Through the magic of the internet, I found a clip-art Ganesha (known to his family - South Indians - as Puliyar) and converted it to a cross-stitch pattern through some free-trial program.  It was a lovely pattern, very clear, with specific DMC/Anchor threads listed, and so I set to work.

Lessons I learned:

1) it's self-torture to work on black cloth, as you can't see the holes.

2) if a pattern calls for 42 inches of floss, and you're using 2 strands together, you really only need 14 inches of six-strand floss.  Yes, I bought enough floss for three projects.

3) there's a reason pattern designers get paid for their work, and it's not just putting clip art through pattern-creating programs.  My pattern had 21 colors, and one showed up for just 2 stitches, and a few others would have one stitch every four inches or so.  It's all gradations of blue/green/gray, so a human rather than a computer creating it would have made it much more stitching-friendly.  (I did take over the 2-stitch color with another color.)

4) a large project on black cloth with 21 colors unintelligently designed will take longer than the 4 months until Christmas I promised myself.  In fact, it will take around 2 years (conveniently, until the mother-in-law's 60th birthday party... which, to be a more effective surprise party, was thrown at a time of year nowhere near her birthday).

But they loved it, and the husband's dear grandmother takes such pride in showing it off to her friends, and they've installed it in a prominent position in their home, so I feel it was all worth it.

(sorry for the bad photo, it's reflective and this was taken during a party - that's me in pink in the reflection.)

Not worth it enough to do it again, though, even if I do have enough thread to make three.

In progress: Wildflower quilt

(ha! excuse the foot!)

My very Texan sister has been living in Virginia for the past few years.  Not bad, as it's sort of next-best to Texas.  But she's moving to Boston.  Now I love Boston - lived there for four years - but I know she's going to freeze and miss Texas.

When I was in Brenham lately I stopped by Stitch Haven and picked up some Moda Wildflowers IV charm packs and a few related fabrics, to bring my sister a bit of country warmth up in the frigid north.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pencil Roving

Huzzah, Blogger's back up!

I've been spinning some pencil roving:
It spins like a dream. No drafting necessary, just hops right on.  From Sassy Spinster in Lancaster, TX.  You also get to see Edna, my spinning wheel, purchased from eBay a year or so ago - came in a huge box.  Very fun!
Then washed and hanging (like the setup? two hangers, a shower, and groceries!):
And the finished product!  (With a new Margery Allingham from Murder by the Book.)
One skein of pencil roving yields 45 yards.  Anyone have a pattern for 45 yards of somewhat bulky?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hospice quilts and the great quilt debate

I had occasion to spend time in Houston Hospice lately.  I may write more on that again.  It's a lovely place, and the walls are all hung with the most beautiful handmade quilts.  This one was my favorite:

I took pictures in case I want to copy this quilt pattern, or at least the blocks.  It's all hand-pieced and hand-quilted.  The work on this one was very good; the piecing and quilting on several of the others was, I was excited to see, worse than my relatively novice skills.  Then again, their piecing was done by hand as well, not just the quilting.  But even rough and uneven hand quilting is good enough to put on display, it seems!

I also got a picture of the name of the quilt; when they knew it, the signs also listed the person who made it.

I was thinking about this again with the great quilt debate (I'm a bit late to the game, as I run about a month behind in my Google Reader).  My one gripe with "quilters" is that so many are actually "piecers," and do no quilting at all - they have someone else do the quilting for them.  That's fine, but if you don't quilt, you're not a quilter - seems pretty straightforward.  You may be exceptionally skilled at patchwork, and I'll admire your productions greatly, but if quilting books would give credit separately to the piecer and the quilter in the photo credits, it's not all the work of the piecer!  (Not getting silly here - I know you likely didn't grow and pluck and spin and weave and dye the cotton.  That's simple.  But if you'd say - as my sloppy self has had to - "I made you this birthday cake, and my mother frosted it," then it's dishonest to take all the credit when someone else did half the work!)  I'm a sucker for kits of any kind (cooking, painting, luggage (well it's sets there), etc.), and the quilt I made for my grandparents, a few posts down, I'll happily acknowledge is from a kit.  If I make you a cake from a mix, I understand that that's different from making it from scratch (and probably better, in my case), and also different from store bought.  I don't think something counts as "handmade" when you just programmed a computer (even your own) to quilt it either, although I am absolutely fine with machine quilting, so I suppose it's a gradient there.

My other point - as I've been a bit bemused to find people saying they want to join the debate while they are proud not to have read the original post (a bit like the Amazon "reviews" that start "I'm not going to read this book, and here's what I think of it):

The original "dumbing down of quilting" post - pretty clearly in the post itself and then very explicitly in the follow-ups for the people who missed the point - didn't say people shouldn't make simple quilts.  (It did seem to say that the writer is tired of seeing everyone make absolutely the same quilt, but that the writer understands the impulse, etc.)  It did say that it's dishonest to try to effectively trick novice quilters into paying money for traditional patterns long available for free, and it did say that it's wrong to scare off novice quilters by labeling basic concepts like half square triangles as "advanced," to basically tell novice quilters that it's useless for them to aspire to make anything more complicated than a very simple sew-two-charm-packs-together-and-hope-your-corners-line-up (and if not then call it wonky and act like you meant to do that) quilt.  (And to combine the both: sell a pattern for sewing two charm packs together into a baby quilt!)

I disagree a bit with some of the points.  (I wholeheartedly agree that sewing sites, even those trying to be accessible to novice sewers, shouldn't use words like "advanced" and "challenging" to scare people off of quilts like the one pictured above, which really is entirely squares and half-square triangles and totally manageable for me, even if I'm sloppy about seams and my points will be off a bit.) 

On sales of simple and traditional quilt patterns: some people don't have an easy set-up where they can use the computer next to the sewing machine, and would rather have something on paper; some people aren't reliable with numbers and find it worth a few dollars to have someone do the math for them.  (There's a deceptive copyright issue there, in that pattern sellers often claim they own copyright not just over the words of the pattern but also over the finished product, but they don't - instructions aren't copyrightable (except as literature), and useful goods (functional bags, clothes, quilts) aren't copyrightable.  That's why it's absolutely fine and legal to have knock-offs of clothing designs from the Oscars.  Just don't copy the logo, pretend to be that designer, or copy a literal fabric design (2-D fabric is copyrightable; what you do with it is not).  So claimed copyrights aren't a reason to be wary of buying simple quilt patterns.  They claim it either out of ignorance - they think it's copyrightable - or (in the case of the big pattern companies like Simplicity) with full knowledge, but just in the hopes you don't know better.  OK, taking off copyright law hat now.) 

If you are worried not that people would actually prefer to pay when they know they can do it themselves, but that people who don't know there's free patterns are being suckered: When it's somewhere you can put a review, there's absolutely nothing at all keeping you from posting a review saying, "nice design, also available for free at...."  Just sayin', is all.  But people will still do it, even when they're next to each other - people buy patterns off Ravelry when there's an identical pattern for free.  Sometimes (I've done it) it's simply to support someone whose pattern presentation you like.  I don't know about everyone's motivation; who knows, it might be for tax purposes, if they want to buy a pattern to write off as necessary expenses for their sewing business. 

And it doesn't bother me that people make the same simple quilts - the original poster disliked it mainly because it seemed to her like they did them because they had been made to feel they couldn't do anything more involved.  I think they may just like them, as many of the commenters have pointed out.  I love the quilt I posted above, and it's not overly challenging (must watch seams!), but it would be something that would take me ages to do.  I have one quilt that's still in my head that's bed sized, for me, and that will take me ages to do.  I get short notice that someone's having a baby, and I can't take a year to make the quilt.  Or it's someone, like the perfect sister-in-law, who's very modern and wouldn't like the fancier type.  (I've made an "awesome baby quilt" from Jamie Mueller from Moda Bake Shop for her - photos in the next post, if I get my act together.  See? same quilt everyone else has made, but it fits what's needed.  And even there I measured one square wrong and it won't line up with the rest.)  Or it's someone who's asked that I include certain fabrics, which need to be in very large pieces, so a large-piece quilt is what's desired (same for fabric designers, who want to show off their new lines, and tiny pieces won't do it!).  Or it's a passing acquaintance, and I have no idea what they like, and no need to spend hours on something for them, so I give them a self-binding flannel receiving blanket, technically a quilt (as it's quilted), and those are always a hit.  So there's a time and place for all kinds. For me, even paying attention enough to realize when I've sewn a five-foot seam with no bobbin thread is a challenge, so it's all a challenge to me, for what it's worth!

But really there's no cause either to say, as many have, "oh, she's evil, she's saying it's bad to make simple quilts, and everything must be a very involved and intricate pattern with pieced curves and all that," when that's not at all what was said, or to say, as others have, "oh, traditional quilters need to get over themselves and realize they're done, nobody wants that, and that my way is actually the only right way, because the future lies in showing off fabric and not bothering about technique, and only a stick-in-the-mud would look down on wonky style or big squares."  The whole point is: don't be deceptive, don't seek to profit off of others' lack of knowledge, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Strawberry Cake

I made this cake at Easter, from this Martha Stewart recipe.  (Made the change suggested by the commenters and just made two dang cakes, rather than slice one cake in half!)  What a success - not only does it look just like her picture, it tastes fabulous!