Using Up Old Cuts

“Ah!” my husband sighs as he comes into the quilting lounge, “Back to your favorite colors!”

Am I so predictable? No! But I have had these hundreds of half square triangles for about seven years now and it’s time to get them together and get them out. I will admit I love working with the sea colors, greens through blues to purple, and I loved working on these two quilts, one of which will be a charity quilt and one I will just hang on to because often the right person just comes along.

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Neuleiningen Grapes

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(around 90″ x 90″)

So many times we were stationed near this castle; you can see it at the top of the hill in the right upper corner. It is called Neuleiningen Castle, and has a wonderful restaurant called the Burgschaenke. Just writing about it, I can still smell the smoke from the huge fireplace that you smell lingering as you walk in, even if there isn’t a fire burning. In all the years we’ve been going there, the menu hasn’t changed that much. It is rustic elegance. You can go there, have great wines, have a great meal, have a great dessert, you can spend hours there and at the end, you hate to leave, it is such a wonderful, fun, atmospheric restaurant.

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This is one of my earliest quilts. I had an idea about making a lot of different colored grapes with snowball-like blocks; I used corners I had cut off half-square triangles I was making for something else and just cobbled together rural looking fabrics to make the grapevine fields and plowed fields on the long slope leading up to the castle.

This area has some of the finest white wines, icy and dry, I have ever tasted. They live in my memory.

I finally finished the quilt, years and years after it was conceived. What held me up? I never could figure out what to do with the big borders I had put on it; I kept trying to do grape bunches but the chalk would wear off, it just never worked. Finally, I just figured “finished is better than great” (and it had been like 12 years since I started it) so I did straight rows, thinking it is a lot like furrows, so in touch with the feeling of the quilt. Whatever – it works. The quilt is finished. My husband loves it, and we really need a trip back to Neuleiningen and the Burgschaenke 🙂

Stars of Sossusvlei

I am not doing such a hot job of record-keeping here; I finish something and it is out the door before I enter it. Oh aarrgh.

I did another Sloppy Stars demo several months ago with African fabrics (I still have a lot in my stash, so you will probably see yet more . . . ) and had enough for two bed-sized quilts for one of our bee projects . . . I still have one more chance to photograph them before they disappear, but they are not with me.

Meanwhile, with the blocks I had left, I did a wall hanging quilt for us. I don’t do a lot of those, but this one contains some fabric I love and bought thirty-something years ago in Tunisia. I don’t even know if Tunisia even produces fabrics any more.

This is the hanging:

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Sossusvlei is an area in the Namibian desert, where the ambient light is non-existent and you can see the rings on Saturn, the red-ness of Mars, and a million stars you never even knew were there. The sight is awe-inspiring and breathtaking. We were at the CCAfrica Lodge, now called And Beyond; it was so much fun. One of my best memories was riding ATV’s to the top of a mountainous rust-red sand dune for sundowners. 🙂

Update: Our bee has a project every year to benefit a local charity. This year we made quilts for one of the Waterfront Mission recovery houses. These are two more of the Sossussvlei quilts made for them. Actually, these are the original quilts and the one I am keeping for us is made with left over blocks from these. One of these is made with “light” background and one with “dark” background, all things being relative 🙂

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This is my backing on the dark Sossussvlei Stars quilt”

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Kuwait Map Quilt

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There is a new Kuwait baby quickly approaching his birth date, and a baby for which a very special quilt needed to be made. His parents were instrumental in our having had such a good time in Kuwait. We were introduced by one of my Qatari friends who had spent time in Kuwait, and she was right – we were meant to be friends.

The first night we met, we started talking and never stopped. We explored restaurants together, strolled through the souks, and heard all kinds of stories of old Kuwait. Our time with them was – and is – priceless.

I like for a baby quilt to have legs – useful as a crawl pad, useful as a cover to sleep under, washable, washable, washable and in the end, able to be hung on the wall of an otherwish anonymous college dorm room. This one will do the trick, plus having lots and lots of patterns to keep a baby fascinated as he learns how to focus his eyes 🙂

I’d forgotten how much work a map quilt can be in the preparation stages. This relatively small quilt (60in x 60 inches until I washed it and it shrank about 2 inches in both directions; I’ve never had that happen before! It was noticeable!) has 900 pieces, and those 900 pieces had to include sea pieces, Kuwait pieces and Saudi and Iraq desert pieces (pale, pale, pale) Of course, there had to be a lot of variety.

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Seeking, planning and cutting took longer than assembly. The land portions are quilted in the ditch, a grid, and the Arabian Gulf segments have waves quilted in thin silver strands, so they glint like the sunlight on the Arabian Sea.

There are many many blocks made from fabric finds from the Kuwait souks, also a few with Kuwait memories. In Arabic, there are “sun” words and “moon words” so I found a sun and a moon. A family nearby us had a private zoo where, from time to time, a large cat would escape and put my village in a panic until it was recovered . . . so there is a large cat. In the end, this was one of the most fun and rewarding quilts I have made.

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Jewel Box with Transitions

This is why I love quilting . . . for me, it is the challenge. I’ve always wanted to do a jewel box quilt, and I thought I was going to be making a scrap quilt. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that I wanted it to be a transition jewel box, with purple in one corner, red in another, yellow in another and green in the final corner. The borders will have transitions from corner to corner, and then the center will have cross-transitions.

It’s not so easy when you make rules. 😉 I had to dig through my stash to find just the right shades, it took me longer to find and cut than it takes to sew up the blocks. This is not going to be quick and easy, aarrgh. On the other hand, I am having a lot of fun with the progress.

This is the only row I have completed; I also completed the yellow block for the bottom right corner, but have not yet done the red-yellow transition:

It will be a while before I can get back to this, as I am traveling. It doesn’t keep me from thinking about where I will go next!

UPDATE

I was out of town for a week and lost a little time, but not momentum. 🙂 As soon as I got back, I started working on the Red to Yellow transition:

And the Yellow to Green transition:

Only six blocks left, all transitions! I have a busy week this week, don’t know if I will get it finished before Friday, but that is my goal. It’s not a hard quilt. It’s the color selection and cutting that takes the most time. I have to admit, there is something in me that loves this process; it’s not like just sewing the pieces together, you really have to think about it.

Final Update:

I love this quilt top. For one thing, it isn’t boring. I love watching the colors as they move across the quilt and change as they are influenced by other colors. It reminds me of my own life, all the different places I lived and how each place has had an impact on me, influenced how I perceived reality, grew in my spiritual life . . . It’s My Jewel Box Life.

I think I will quilt it by hand.

Barbie Gets An Edge

It’s not really starting a new quilt if you are using up fabrics and pieces you’ve already cut, is it? It’s like using stuff up, not going out and buying something new?

I went to my box of scraps and thought it would be fun to do a quick pink quilt, you always need a girlie quilt when a new baby girl comes along and I had a lot of pink 2 1/2 inch squares to use up. I thought it would be fun to put some 1 inch borders around each one, just to liven things up a little bit.

It isn’t a quick quilt. The four patches were a piece of cake, but putting the borders on is WORK. And I know I am making it harder on myself, but it matters where the colors go, like different colors have to be touching, and they have to sort of drift into one another . . . don’t they? It’s taking a lot longer to put together this top than I intended. At the same time, I find myself enjoying the process, and isn’t that the point, too? I am not doing this like a factory, it’s supposed to be FUN, not work!

Here is where I started:
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This is where I am:
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I still have six more rows to go:
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Here’s where I am having fun – you know how Barbie is all sweet and that sweet pink, mostly like Pepto-Bismo Pink, some innocent and light pinks, sometimes hot pink, but very very pink, right? But I am thinking about Barbie grows up, Barbie faces real life with all it’s thrills and disappointments, the good times and the betrayals, and Barbie shifts into some raging reds, some violent violets and some outrageous oranges – all full of pink, but verging on out-there. I’m having a lot of fun with it. It makes me grin. It’s not a baby quilt. It’s not even a little girl quilt. A girl has to grow into this quilt!

Iceburg Experiment

My friend Paramjeet showed a new piece at our Quilt Guild meeting on Monday. She is working on half square triangles for a quilt, and with the trimmings she had left over from trimming down the half squares so they would be perfect, she made a small wall hanging of little irises in a field. It was beautiful. I looked at it and thought “I could never do that.”

Except that today, as I was finishing the quilting on the Lenten Cross, my mind kept turning to all my scraps from my own half square triangles, from the mystery quilt I am working on, and how they are all right here, right in the waste basket and hmmm. . . . I dug them out.

Paramjeet used flannel . . . so I go digging for flannel, only two, one orange with orang-er stripes, no that won’t do, and one purple . . . well it will have to do. I cut a square about 14 inches to play with.

I did just what she said she had done, well, maybe not exactly because I had a pile of scraps and I couldn’t remember how she made them all lie still while she stitched, I think she said they just stuck to the flannel but mine are not so well behaved, so I have to innovate a little . . .

And just as I am thinking what a total failure I am having, I make myself keep going, make myself finish, clip away the excess tulle, pin it on the wall, walk away, turn around and see if it looks anything like an iceburg on an icy sea . . . and . . . it does! Magic! Thank you, Paramjeet! 🙂

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Update: Well, my little bubble has burst. A friend said she really likes my “praying hands” even though the attachment was labled “iceburg.” Sigh. Back to the drawing board.