Sunday, April 26, 2020

Are you organizing your fabrics or generating more UFOs?

"How are you holding up?" has become the common greeting these days instead of "How are you?" 

As makers—quilters, stitchers, sewers, etc.—I think we're lucky to have an outlet for coping with the mandates of the Coronavirus pandemic: being creative, using our hands to make something tangible, and feeling in control... if only over a piece of patchwork we have in our hands at the moment. 
Auditioning scraps to coordinate with a small floral vignette from a fabric panel.
Fabric from P&B Textiles.

I have retreated to my studio... attempting to organize fabrics, tidy the space, and hoping to make progress on several pieces. Through this (partly successful) exercise, I have found simple enjoyment through the reacquaintance of past fabric acquisitions and pairing them with selections from the never-ending scrap pile. Here is an example...

Discovering a fabric panel
These are 5" x 7" flower vignettes from a fabric panel from P&B Textiles that was in my stash. (If anyone can identify this fabric line, I would love to give credit to the fabric designer.) The colors of the wild flowers are cheerful, lively and reminiscent of nature's promise of renewal and new life.

Two floral vignettes from a fabric panel from P&B Textiles.

Auditioning fabrics
This is my fabric auditioning process. I've pulled strings and scraps that coordinate with the colors of the wild flowers in the vignette. I include light, medium and dark values in the fabric pull. Some of the fabrics may not be included in the final pieced block, but it is better to have more than needed so you have choices.

Auditioning scraps to coordinate with the center fabric motif.

What's so fabulous about the Log Cabin block?
The Log Cabin block is a versatile and forgiving block technique. It's easy to piece and lends itself to all kinds of design possibilities:
  • it adapts itself to any number of shapes, 
  • it can be scrappy or have a planned fabric sequence, 
  • the strips can have a consistent width or various widths,
  • it's great for improv piecing,
  • there are a multitude of variations for color, value, log and block placement.
I used the flower vignette as the center, or "hearth," of my Log Cabin block. In the classic light/dark fashion, fabric strips were sewn around this center—lights on two sides and darks on the other two.

Scrappy Log Cabin block with pink, yellow and white wild flowers.

From the 5" x 7" center, my blocks grew to approximately 13" x 15".

Scrappy Log Cabin blocks with yellow wild flowers near a pond.

I made four blocks. There were likely more vignettes on the panel, but I must have used them in another project.

Scrappy Log Cabin block featuring pink wild roses.

Scrappy Log Cabin block with blue Irises and a yellow bird.

Does this project have an end goal?
I don't have a specific plan for these blocks. They could be:
  • a wall hanging, table or bed runner, or a tote bag,
  • combined with other blocks for a larger quilt,
  • I think they are too large and the wrong orientation for placemats... maybe,
  • If additional "logs" were added to make them square, they could be made into pillows, 
  • It might be fun to use trapunto on the central motif, especially on the larger flowers and the bird,
  • It could be interesting to do thread painting or strategic stitching to enhance a focal point,
  • they could be fused to the cover of a sketchbook or journal,
  • used as a canvas for surface embellishment.
  • ?
  • ?

It doesn't matter what the future plan is for these blocks.

They are important for right now.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A "Crafting during Coronavirus" research project—and your chance to participate!

During this 2020 quarantine, anyone with a hobby has likely made [more] time for it—in an effort to preserve mental and emotional well-being. Others have renewed an interest or turned to learning a new craft during this stay-at-home period. During wartimes of the past, people—mostly women—knitted, sewed, and stitched for those on the front lines or for their family's well-being, but their voices, feelings and stories are largely undocumented.

Here's a chance to have our craft-making "war against the coronavirus" stories and experiences gathered and documented for posterity and also help with gathering data for important research.
Sample diary page for "Crafting during Coronavirus"
research project. Photo courtesy of Naomi Clarke.

About the "Crafting during Coronavirus" research project
Naomi Clarke, a PhD student in Social Work at University of Bristol, UK, is conducting a research project called, "Crafting during Coronavirus." I hope you will consider helping this PhD student in her research by participating.

The research has two objectives. One is to explore the role of craft during the Covid-19 pandemic. The other is to have an interactive site for recording and sharing experiences, purposeful activities and creative accomplishments of the crafters and makers.

When I contacted Naomi about her research project, she said, "... so many people are using crafting for well-being (whether consciously or not) during this difficult time." And added, "There's something incredibly powerful about having a tangible item to show for your time, effort, energy, focus... a positive output during a time that is so difficult for so many."

Naomi is interested in our stories! She is gathering and documenting crafting experiences, feelings, achievements, connections and tangible outcomes. She is a quiltmaker herself with an enthusiasm for EPP [English paper piecing]. Naomi will be capturing crafting stories using a diary format that she is providing to participants. There is a short online participation form and information about privacy and security on her website. Any demographic information is used for larger quantitative data analysis and themes. No individuals will be identified. She and her advisor are still working out how her findings and conclusions will be available for access by the public once the work is finished.

Naomi said that a conclusion date of the research has not been determined (as of April 16, the date of our conversation) since there is no clear end-date for the lockdown. She thinks the impact of craft could also extend beyond the quarantine period and into the future (in terms of businesses, guild meetings, well-being, work, etc.). She is interested in including this aspect and data in her thesis as well.
Scrappy heart block. One of my Quarantine 2020 projects.

Details and Links
For details and to access the participation forms, here are links that Naomi provided:

If you are able, please consider helping Naomi by contributing to her "Crafting during Coronavirus" research project. This will be valuable research information and the voices and stories of the makers, sewers, quilters, knitters, needlework artisans and crafters will be documented!

I remember when I did my Masters thesis and had to find willing participants for the experiment portion of my research. It's a time consuming process and I appreciated everyone that took the time to help me out. A project like this takes a village!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter egg coloring 2020

Easter 2020.
We did have our annual egg coloring session this year, although not as joyful as in years past because of the quarantine. We did not make and give Easter baskets like we usually do.
Colored eggs 2020. The baseball egg is the upper left corner.

The number of eggs was smaller this year... Larry hard boiled about 18.

Egg dying prep: dye colors in coffee mugs and the egg carton for drying.

The Big Box of 96 came out for the occasion.

Crayola crayons box of 96

I did some mindful drawing and tried to come up with new free-motion quilting motifs to decorate the eggs—log cabin blocks, feathers, pebbles and concentric circles and squares.

Quilting motifs on colored Easter eggs.

Hoping that brighter days come soon.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Quilters shelter-at-home Scavenger Hunt

My quilt guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, is running a 30-day "virtual" Scavenger Hunt while we are sheltering-at-home. It started this week and we've had an excellent response so far. Wanna play along with us? Here is the information and Scavenger Hunt list of daily tasks.
Choo Choo Quilters Scavenger Hunt.

We're using the guild's Facebook group page [Choo Choo Quilters] in concert with our Choo Choo Quilters blog as a reporting system for searching and finding items on the Scavenger Hunt list. You don't have to be a guild member to participate, so the more participation we get, the more interesting and entertaining it will be.

Today's task is to post and tag the name of the last quilt shop you visited (in person) before we were all self-quarantined. We hope that this will support the small business quilt shops and possibly introduce quilters to a new-to-them shop.

Many quilt shops and independent fabric shops have on-line shopping—through websites, social media, Facebook Live, etc.—and are filling and shipping orders. If you need something while you're temporarily locked in, reach out virtually... and make a purchase!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Just captions

Improv composition.

Azaleas at the lamp post.

Scrappy star block. Improv patchwork.

Yellow iris blooming.

Knit fabric over improv patchwork.

"White Perfection" iris.
We gave bulbs to the guests are our wedding reception in 2000.
These have bloomed and multiplied for 19 years.
Quilt top. 16 blocks from The Farmer's Wife sampler.

Leatherleaf Mahonia.

Improv study.

Thrift blooming in the neighbor's yard.

Improv study.

Improv patchwork. Using scraps.

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