Thursday, October 30, 2014

Millenium Resurrected

The color of the month for October for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was brown/black, I think; but that's not part of the plan for my quilt, so I got caught up on my pinks and greens. I don't know what the color is for November yet, of course, but I think I'll probably get caught up on the blues and purples next.

There are only seven different colors in my quilt, so I suppose I'm about done with the Challenge anyway. If I can get all the blocks done by the end of the year and get them sewn together into a top, I guess I'll come up with a new plan for a Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt and start over in January.

While I was finishing up these two sets of blocks this week, I remembered my Millenium quilt. Anyone remember back in the year 2000, when it was popular to make millennium quilts--a quilt with 2000 pieces--to commemorate the beginning of the next hundred years? I thought (foolishly, perhaps) that it was a good idea to jump on that bandwagon, so I spent weeks looking for a one-patch design or a block design that might lend itself to a millennium quilt. I finally settled on a one-patch triangle and figured out that if I created half square triangle units, I could make a quilt with 1998 pieces by setting the units 27 across and 37 rows down.

I also wanted to make it as a charm quilt, so I traded triangles with a friend of mine that lived in downtown Reykavik, Iceland (we were living there at the time). Between the two of us, we couldn't even come close to cutting 1998 different triangles out of our own fabrics, so I bought a box of 2000 different 4" squares from Keepsake Quilting, who was also celebrating the new millenium. Duplicates were weeded out of the box, and other fabrics were eliminated because I couldn't categorize them as one specific color. Seems to me those were mostly novelties and florals.

Anyway, I worked pretty diligently at it for quite a while but eventually moved on to other projects. In 2002 I dug it back out and got the pinks, reds, purples, and blues all sewn together. This was not quite half the pieces. Then it went back into the closet.

I resurrected it this week and am now working on aquas, teals, and greens. Originally I thought I'd need about 5 groups of eight rows in order to hit that 1998 mark, but I wasn't sure if I could come up with enough yellows and oranges for a group of eight, or enough browns, grays, and blacks for the last group of eight rows. But I have 27 rows now, and if I add another row of pinks and another row of purples, that'll make it 29, so I think I'll make it.

I'll applique the last two triangles on top of the border, and I'll add another triangle in the border for every year past the year 2000. I even have millennium fabric for the back.

Tacoma Lakes Quilt Show

Our quilt show was held over the weekend, and it seemed to be a great success. It was months long in the planning and then over before I knew it. I was the Registrar for quilt entry, so I was pretty busy the last couple weeks before the show, taking in quilts, making sure they were ready for hanging, helping to lay out the show, and logging in all the entry numbers.

We set up the show Friday night; and other than decorations, we set up the entire show--118 quilts--in less than three hours. Every committee was well organized, and everyone knew exactly what they needed to do. Sunday evening, I think the whole thing came down in about 45 minutes. We used a gymnasium at a local elementary school. The lighting was fabulous, and we had plenty of room to move around.

Our special exhibit was a display of America the Beautiful quilts, a year-long project from McCall's Quilting magazine a few years back. The group that made these challenged themselves to use only fabrics and scraps they had on hand. They were all so different and turned out so beautifully.

Viewers Choice was awarded to SallyC for this spectacular bargello. Sally is one of our newer members. I didn't find out until this weekend that she is also a new quilter. This quilt was only her second quilt. Pretty impressive, huh?

Sherry's Prairie Sampler was one of my very favorites. I loved everything about this quilt.

Margo's Ohio Collection was another of my favorites. I have the book and would very much like to make it one of these days.

Suanne's quilt was so fun, and I really like this one too. She collected pinup girls for 10 years in order to have enough different fabrics. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the back, because there were larger squares of the pinup girls on the back too. The quilt is called "For the Man Who Loves Women" and was a gift for her brother-in-law.

I got my little crocus finished in time for the show too and put it in the minis section. I blogged about this quilt a long time ago, got the top finished and never got it quilted. Story of my life.

I can never decide how to quilt these little quilts because I don't hand quilt; and stitch in the ditch is, in my opinion, a pain. Nonetheless, I did a little topstitching with a 100-weight thread, which I liked, and ditch quilted the rest of it.

When I outlined the leaves, I carried the tan thread out into the borders but didn't like the way the tan thread looked on the border fabric. So I took a dark purple Sharpie and colored the thread. It worked great, and that's not the first time I've done that. Sharpies are good for a lot of little touchups like that. I used Sharpies to color the threads that frayed around the arcs in the clock quilt too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Clock Quilt

The project I have spent so many months working on was finally finished on September 24. It was to be a gift for my husband's birthday in October, and I also wanted to enter it in our local quilt show at the end of October as well; so everything else fell by the wayside so I could make those deadlines. Emails frequently went unanswered, blogging was nearly nonexistent, housework didn't get done, and social events were sometimes missed. Hubby has seen the quilt now, so I can finally blog about it.

Back in 2006, the online website Planet Patchwork, who sponsors the info-EQ listserv, sponsored a contest for Electric Quilt users to submit their best original designs. $1250 in cash and prizes was to be awarded for designs entered in three categories, plus a Best in Show award.
This amazing quilt, called "Time Out", designed by Lynne Chambliss, was awarded Best in Show, along with a prize purse of $500. You can see the winners here. Subsequently Planet Patchwork published a CD of all the designs entered into the contest, and I purchased a copy of the CD and found Lynne's design.

I remember thinking at the time that, while it was fantastic that anybody could draw that, no one would ever actually make it. How could you? But I was drawn to the design, particularly because my husband, and his father, and his grandfather all tinkered with pendulum clocks throughout their lives. In recent years hubby has made a hobby of buying and restoring old pendulum clocks. We presently have 13 in the house and more were given away to family members.

In 2010 I came across my CD again and decided to see if I could put this together. I figured if I could make what I thought was the hardest block, I might be able to actually make the whole quilt. I started with the bevel gear in the upper left corner and made it successfully. I made a couple more blocks, then other things intervened, and I set it aside until this year and finally finished it. This is my finished quilt.

Lynne's original design was comprised of 20 blocks that finished to 8" square. I didn't think I could piece those tiny gears in rows 3 and 5 at that size, so I made my blocks 12". Even at 12", those tiny gears finished to 3". My quilt finishes to 52" x 64".

There was very little actual piecing in the quilt, other than sometimes piecing the backgrounds and sewing the blocks together. The bevel gear in the upper left corner, the worm gear in row 4, and all of the arcs with the little pieces in them were all foundation pieced. All of the curved arcs were then sequenced, fused into place, and machine buttonhole stitched. Then the blocks were sewn into rows, the rows were joined, center circles and numbers were fused and stitched. Then, of course, the borders were added.

From the design on the EQ software, I was able to print out line drawings of each block and the foundation patterns I needed for the paper piecing. The other tool that turned out to be enormously useful was transparent foundation paper from Nancy's Notions. Being able to see through the paper was crucial to line up all those curved arcs. I can't imagine how I might have been able to make the blocks without that see-through paper. The next best thing about Nancy's paper is that it's crisp enough to feed through the printer, and 100 sheets is about $13, which I think is quite reasonable. I probably used most of a package for the quilt.

I think the quilt probably would have benefited from custom quilting; but after purchasing a long arm several years back, my husband takes pride in the fact that I am able to complete an entire quilt from start to finish by myself. I knew that would be an issue for him; and indeed, that was the first thing he wanted to know--who quilted it.
I didn't want a complicated design that might detract from the blocks, and I don't do custom work myself; so I used a pantograph called Inkblot, which is  nothing more than a meander. Besides, I could only work on the quilt when he was at work, so I had to get it loaded on the frame and quilted in one day, before he got home.

I first started trying to locate designer Lynne Chambliss back in 2012. Every now and then I would see another of her designs on the EQ website, so I knew she was still around. One day I left a message for her as a comment under one of her designs but never heard anything. Finally, this year in desperation, I contacted the Electric Quilt company to ask for their help, and they forwarded my email to Lynne. I've shared photos with her as well. Interestingly, Lynne said she'd never made the quilt herself but has made a different quilt based on the Time Out design.

I even managed to find clock themed fabric for the back of the quilt.

In thinking about a name for the quilt, I came up with all kinds of name referencing the concept of time. Nothing seemed to suit, and then it struck me that the quilt I made for my husband really had nothing to do with time. It was about his love for the mechanics of the pendulum clock, so I named it simply Clockworks.

He LOVES it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October Finish

The landscape in Maine is full of autumn color, the days are cool and crisp, and we had a frost this morning. There will be lots of cleanup to do in the yard over the next month--raking leaves, cutting down the hostas, and mulching the beds. I do love this time of year.

We traveled to Lubec last weekend for a little mini vacay. I had hoped to see more color in the trees; but Lubec is downeast on the coast of the Bay of Fundy, and I suppose the ocean temps kept it more moderate. Lubec and the surrounding area is known for wild Maine blueberries, and the fields turn this gorgeous red color in the fall.

The Bali Stars quilt is finally finished. I'd been dragging my feet hand sewing the binding because I was focused on another big project, but I knocked off the last bit of it this afternoon. This was the cover quilt on Kim Brackett's Scrap Basket Surprises book, and I liked it soon as I saw it. Scrappy and batik--right up my alley. My quilt chapter is holding a quilt show at the end of this month, and this is one of the quilts I'm putting in the show.

I quilted it with a pantograph called Glamorous. I don't do feathers freehand (yet), and who doesn't love feathers?

Knitting has been my sanity lately, and I've finished a couple of sweaters and another pair of socks in the last few months. The purple one is Notre Dame de Grace and will be for the winter, made with Berroco Remix, one of my very favorite yarns. You can find the pattern on Ravelry. If you're not a member, you should be; it's an invaluable resource for knitters, and it's free to join.

The tweedy looking one is a summer sweater made with a yarn from Debbie Bliss. Never got a chance to wear it because it was the end of summer and the weather turned too fast.

And the socks were made out of Crazy Zauberball. First time I used that yarn, and I gave those to a friend who needed them.