Thursday, July 22, 2004

Braids, Barn Windows, and Buster the Cat

I've sort of reached the point where the chronology of quilts starts overlapping a bit, so things are no longer going in strict order.  Sometimes the important event is the completion of a quilt, sometimes the beginning is most significant.  I'll focus on the story behind each one, which may jump to the past, and have an occasional bit of time travel into the future!

I mentioned in another entry that I experienced a quilting hiatus between the completion of my nephew's wedding present and my first Henry Farm workshop.  Well, while I was actually sewing any quilts, I certainly was THINKING about sewing some quilts.  Around Christmas of that year (2001), I mentioned to my sister-in-law that I was having problems getting inspired to work on something new, and that perhaps what I needed was an identified purpose for a quilt.  Would they maybe like a wall hanging size quilt to hang in the house?  Jeannette had a better idea.  They have been working for years on fixing up a barn on a piece of property in Pennsylvania with the goal of making it into a retirement home.  Jeannette thought it might be nice to have a couple of quilts that could be turned into window coverings to cover some of the barn windows when they were away, and rolled up out of the way when they were at the barn.  Sounded like a good idea, and I already had an idea for the quilt I would like to do.

I've mentioned before that I had found eBay to be an excellent source to build up fabric staches.  It also proved an excellent way to build up a Quilting library.  I had purchased a wide variety of quilting books during this time for different types of quilts I thought I might like to make.  I should mention, if you are working on building up a quilting library, it is a good idea to keep of list of the books that you already own.  My friends have added quite a few books to their own libraries because of duplicate purchases on my part!

On book in particular caught my attention:  Braids and Chevrons Updated, by Camille Remme.  I just loved the look of these quilts.  They stepped outside of the normal rows of blocks format used by many quilt designs, and I wanted to give it a shot.  And guess what, I was going to use the entire rainbow, and set it in a black background

 
    As the old proverb says "Like readily consorts with like."
                   Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

Now began a fun task.  The wedding quilt used a rainbow of colors, but only 2 fabrics in each major color grouping.  The whale quilt also used something approaching a color wheel, but only as an accent, and only a single fabric for each color.  For the braid quilt, I had something more ambitious in mind.  I turned to my fabric stack, and started sorting.  I first sorted the fabrics into 6 stacks, one for each of the primary and secondary colors.  I then sorted out the "tweener" colors that really fell between two of the colors.  In theory, this would have given me 12 stacks of colors, but I had so many colors in the "green-to-blue" and the "orange-to-yellow" transition range that I created two groupings of those colors, giving me a total 14 stacks. 

A strip was cut from each of the fabrics, and then chopped into 6" inch strips.  The braids were sewn by working my way around the color wheel, selecting 4 strips from each color grouping as I went.  Each new braid was started by shifting the stack used for the first strips by two groups.  When successive braids were placed next to each other, it created a diagonal progression of color. 

 
    A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.
             Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 - 1986)

I was making two quilts for this project.  One was mostly square, while the other was wide and short.  Four braids with sashings was wide enough to cover the first window, so I sewed those braids first.  I needed seven braids for the wide quilt, and by the time I got to the second quilt, I had gotten quite comfortable with the process of sewing the braids.  Too comfortable, as it turned out.  When I placed the second braid next to the first, I discovered I had somehow reversed direction around the stacks of strips, causing the colors to run the wrong way.  Shazbot! 

I was a bit puzzled at first, not really understanding what I had done wrong.  However, when I flipped the braid around to line the colors up, I discovered I liked the look caused by the chevrons pointing in alternating directions.  A happy accident, indeed!

To quilt these two quilts, I had a new toy to play with.  I had just purchased a new HandiQuilter frame, and was anxious to try it out.  I have a couple of observations to make about frames such as this:  A)  the results depend on the overall skill and dexterity of the operator, and B)  these are not really good at doing straight lines!  In this case, I'd describe the results as "servicable" rather than "artistic".  It proved quite difficult (at least for me!) to do stitch-in-the-ditch quilting on the HandiQuilter frame.  Also, I found it very difficult to move the machine and operate the foot pedal while standing or sitting on a barstool.  My back ached for weeks after this.  I found a pair of Handi-Handles to be a very good investment for this frame.  It gave me better control over the movement of the machine, and also better speed control.  It also saved me a lot of back pain!

Ok, so where does Buster the Cat come in?  I gave these quilts to Terry and Jeannette at Christmas of 2002.  Jeannette had them laid out on the living room couch, by a window to people could admire them.  Buster decided that the nice sunny spot on one of the quilts looked like a nice inviting spot to take a nap.  I happened to have my camera with me, and snapped one of the best photographs I've ever taken.  This has been the desktop background on all of my computers for years now.

6 Comments:

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At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Holon said...

Hi Rick ,

I stumbled onto your blog and I just wanted to say that I love your work!Just stunning! I have been a quilter for almost 6 years now and I love it! My dream is to one day own a longarm.

Holon

 
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At 10:58 PM, Anonymous xanax said...

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At 4:01 PM, Blogger Jason Skilton said...

jusy stumbled onto your blog the googling buster the cat.....you buster is the spitting image of my buster in the UK....Freaky!!!! Specially as I wanted to call him Dexter!!!!

Cheer

J

 

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