Try, try again . . .

Center Star smallThis little star has been kicking my ass.  There are 16 pieces, each with a finished size of 2″ x 2″.  When stitched together (at last!) it is 6.5″ square before being inserted into the quilt top.

Part of this construction is fairly easy.  It is comprised of 12 half-square triangles and 4 squares.  Even with something as small as 2″ squares, half-square triangles are fairly easy, but a little bit of slip even by 1/16″ can throw off the alignment over all.

I’ve used this technique (half-square triangles) in larger dimensions with good results.  Especially if you use a small-scale print, it’s an effective tool for creating the illusion of more complicated piecing.

But on this little star I’ve ripped back and readjusted three times in several places.  It’s still not perfect — I think that is an accomplishment only for gods (and people more patient than I am) — but it is very, very close.  It is good enough that I will use it as the center block of the bridal quilt I am working on.  It is the hardest part of the whole quilt top, and now it is done.

I can move on. 🙂

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And another thing . . .

Ampersands

The ampersand started as the humble “et,” the Latin word for “and.”  It seems slightly silly to me that a person would rather write just 2 letters rather than 3 to make the conjunction of ideas, but the “e” and the “t” flow so easily from the pen that they become one letter.  In the above graphic, which shows the ampersand in 30 different type styles, we see its evolution from the elision of two letters to something almost musical, like a reversed treble clef.

This is one of the reasons I love typography.  When I’m developing a logo or title for a company, I consider everything, including the ampersand.  Type defines the character of the product or business, inviting us to feel something about it (e.g., safe and professional, casual and happy, excited and edgy).  Clean lines, a bit of a flourish, perhaps a serif — typography is a type of graphical expression that affects us whether or not we’re aware of it.

Sidetracked Again

I swear at times that I must have some form of creative ADD.  Or else it’s that there is some sort of compounded output of ideas that occurs when I’m in the middle of creating things.  I’m nearly finished with a cardigan that I want to submit to Knitty; I just started figuring out a quilt for Bree (the wedding isn’t until October, so it appears I’ve got time), and then today I got the idea to design a cabled pullover for another friend, Jos.

The cabled pullover is something of a gift.  I will submit it to Knitty when I’m done with it, and God knows the idea for this particular cable has been brewing for some time, but it really comes because I wanted to do something nice for Jos.  He’s a gifted photographer and he recently did some photos of me and my DH and our dogs that fill my heart with joy whenever I look at them.  So I wanted to give him something, something from me and my hands and my particular talents that would give him joy.  And then I remembered this one design that’s been swimming around in my head.

And then I sat down to work on the cable design this evening.

And then I had an idea of how to improve the design so that it was as robust as the image that inspired it.

And I can’t post a damned thing about it!  Alas!  I’d love to show it to you, but these things have to remain hushed up until the Knitty editors accept or reject it.

Trust me:  It will be beautiful.  It all came together tonight.  I’m going to knit a swatch now and start doing some numbers.

Until the time comes that I can post photos of the pullover, enjoy this wonderful photo of our dog Chance.  He’s a black Lab and he’s hard to photograph because his coat is glossy black.  But Jos did it.

Snippets_0002_Chance

Planning

This is how I’m working the layout of blocks for the wedding quilt. I use Adobe Illustrator. There are 9 fabrics, so I chose colors that are closest to the fabrics, then I labeled each and work out the blocks. After that it was a matter of laying out the color sequence (in this case a gradient).

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. I’ve also worked out how many strip-blocks there will be (see the nine groups of four at the bottom) and I know how many blocks I’ll get from each of these.

What’s not included in this (yet) are some 16-square blocks I’ll make from the leftovers that will spice up the inner circle. Addition of those blocks will affect how the remaining blocks are used to create the keyboard border. And then I’ll work out how to use what’s left after all of that for either pillow shams or throw pillows.

In the past I have used Excel spreadsheets (nice grid format) as well for planning colors and working out designs. It’s a more accessible option for people who don’t have Illustrator or who don’t know how to use it if they have it.

Six Shades of Cream

6 shades of cream

There are nine sets of fabric strips (2″ wide) here; six in a variety of cream/white combinations and three in shades of tan (the darkest one is disappearing from the bottom of the frame). These are the fabrics for the wedding quilt.  I am still working out the layout, but I can still sew the strip sets while I decide the fate of the blocks.

Each fabric was a 1-yard cut, so this will likely be a queen/king size.  Planned purchases of fabrics make constructing a quilt top a lot faster than sorting through odd-sized scraps, as I was doing with the red/brown/black/gold/green swatches from my scrap heaps bags.

Reds Greens Blacks

These bits, sorted by length, will eventually make it into a smallish quilt, probably something comfy to throw on the sofa, but it will take a long time to get it from the cutting table to practical use.  There are bits in here from the quilt for my sister Marcy, a carpenter star quilt I finished recently, a king-size quilt worked for Marcy’s son and his wife, and two or three wall-hangings I made for other people over the past 10 years.

Odd lengths means I will have to plan well to use up the scraps.  This is a challenge I enjoy because I love the colors and I love seeing how one plays next to the other.  These are boldly colored scraps so they will need some care in how they pair up.  It’s the kind of thing I enjoy sorting out on a rainy day.

The wedding quilt, however, with its shades of cream and tan is a very different kind of puzzle, one where I have to wait until nearly the end to get the full effect.  In stressful times I enjoy the delicacy of the neutrals, the subtle differences of hue produced by the size of the white ink on the cream background.  There is so much variety in those six shades of cream, and I can see that variety as plainly as I see the variations of red in all of the scraps above.

Color is a wonderful, blessed thing.

Pillow Shams in situ

Pillow Shams in situ

These are the pillow shams on my sister’s bed.  The quilt on her bed is a simple rail fence scrap quilt (shown on a full-size bed) I’d made sometime last year with a group of fabrics that had included a rose floral print in two styles (one larger than the other) and coordinating green, gold and cream tone-on-tone prints.  I added the bright red to it and the white.  I couldn’t find matching fabrics for the pillow shams, so I chose an all-over rose print that had the same range of colors.  As I was also in the process of reducing clutter, I gave my sister the crocheted-top pillow (it had been a shower gift from our oldest sister, Jean, back in 1992) as well as a number of knit t-shirts from Kohl’s that had shrunk considerably in the wash.  (Cabin Creek brand.  I never put them into the dryer, either.  I washed them on gentle and hung them up afterward.  They still shrunk.  This is one reason I don’t shop at Kohl’s any more.)

What you cannot see of the rail fence quilt photo above is that the bright red bits make a border all around the center blocks, and then all of the strips are used to create a “keyboard” type of outer border(shown here on my king-size bed):

RF - Marcy

 

I like the rail fence quilt block.  It’s  something that can be laid out in a plan or completely in scraps.  I like to use it as a stash-buster with my fabrics, but don’t let the simplicity of the design fool you:  true scrap quilts are a lot of work.

If you could see my craft room now (no, I won’t post a photo — it’s frightening!) you’d see how I’ve gone through leftover scraps as well as my fabric stash and sorted out various bits of prints in reds, greens, golds and black.  The are in a variety of widths and lengths.  I will cut down the true scraps first, then supplement with what’s in my stash.  Next I will have to decide what to do with some of the scraps that are too small to make a full “rail.”  I have small squares of fabric, 2″ x 2″, leftover from other projects.  Do I use them to start Log Cabin blocks, or do I use them to make stars?  Do I set them aside for something else, or do I discard them completely?

Design is mainly a series of decisions sparked by a fragment of inspiration.  It appears to be all scrappy chance, but it is not.  It takes some planning, but it also takes a lot of “grunt work.”  Even the color of the binding is a careful choice.