Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patricks day snow

 There is  snow everywhere, on St. Patrick's day it's kind of unusual for us to see snow in Washington, D.C. The neighbors on Twitter say we got eight inches in Brookland this morning. I have not been out to measure with a ruler but in the back it sure looks eight inches deep on our table and chairs. Yesterday I spent a warm Sunday working on my quilts and reading about the Irish Great Famine of 1845-52 and how the English landlords took tons of food and profits out of Ireland, as capitalists do, they just looked to their own bottom line, ignoring the misery. Millions died of starvation and a few million more left and immigrated all around the world. Many came to Boston and New York where they had food available and work to earn a living for their families. Feels like everyone has some Irish roots or at least on St. Patrick's day they enjoy trying to feel Irish. Wikipedia has a great page describing the whole horrible history in detail.
Being an orange sort of guy, I always wondered about the colors of this holiday. It seems that Orange is the color of the protestants in Ireland the English allies and that comes from the Dutch King William of Orange who ruled the English with his English wife Mary from 1788-1794. The same King William Williamsburg Va. is named for and the college called William & Mary honors. Mixed up world of history and colors so my orange isn't my political statement, it's simply my color preference. I think green is a nice color too and I have several green quilts in my folio and a great grandmother who traced her roots to Ireland most likely from the famine years.

The past few days I am struggling with my current project of log cabin blocks. I thought I was going to do a very modern open design but the call of the repeat is winning out. I might have to do a couple different versions in the end but I sure feel the need to go all orange purple on this one today. 

In the 2nd picture it looks OK but on my wall those white and gray bits kind of feel out of place. Maybe it's just that I like the way the color dances when it's all bright and strong versus the softer areas. I love the subtle white and gray shifts but they are such high contrast to the orange purple it makes me want to separate them. You can see in these pictures I was heading toward an orange purple mix originally then shifted to mixed blocks of orange and gray then white on white... I didn't start out with a clear idea of where I would end up. I just go with the flow of each day's inspirations.

 Perhaps my problem is being too slavish to the log cabin block and not adding bigger areas of simple whites like I started doing in the earlier version when I didn't have so many orange blocks. I did reach a point where the plain bits of white and off white fabric felt too difficult to assemble in a way that did not distract from the log cabin construction so I sent them aside. I will have to take it all apart  and see what happens if I mix it up again. So hang in there and wait to see where I go next? I am not sure and nothing is settled until it is done.
Meanwhile spring is trying to arrive so those lovely crocus in our gardens are just below a big blanket of protective snow. Inside we had a nice surprise this weekend. Keith's orchid has been blooming and his walking iris bloomed yesterday! We also forced some quince collected from Phyllis' garden in the wilds of Manassas. Walking iris is a tropical and grows like the spider plant so many of us had in the 1970s when it was discovered to be good for our indoor air to grow house plants. This iris gets shoots that develop flowers and they turn into new plants right on the leaf meaning we get babies every spring. The flower is open one day and smells so sweet it's like a gardenia. All it needs is some light and a little water now and then.

Happy St. Patrick's Snow day to all my Irish friends. Please let me know if I got any of this history wrong or if you have ideas about where my quilt could go. An
other quilt project brewing is a pin wheel quilt top that might be kind of a rainbow affair.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March towards Spring

This weather is beginning to give us real signs of Spring! Yesterday with the warm temperatures and sunshine we headed out for a long walk and discovered our early miniature crocus were bursting out of the brown grass and dead leaves! Narcissus are poking up their bud filled heads and leaves and a few trees are beginning to show signs of earliest blooms. After so much cold weather and a lot more snow days than Washington DC is used to having we are all ready to move on to the next season full of promise.

In the intervening cold days and even on some of the warm days I have managed to get back to sewing and piecing. I was inspired by a color combination in a fat quarter that I played with using purple, hot pinks, oranges, and magenta it's one of Kaffe Faussett's designer's named Phillip Jacobs in 2012 it was a feather design. DC Modern Quilt Guild threw a lecture and pop up quilt fabric shop at Anacostia Arts Center this past Saturday and I was hunting for more of these fabrics and found non but I did get an idea to spread out my bright blocks with neutrals from the two speakers on quilting design and color Katie Blakesley and Laura Gunn.

Katie Blakesley on stage with her slides discussing quilt design.

Katie Blakesley with one of her quilts from her new book  Vintage Quilt Revival

artist and fabric designer Laura Gunn talking about color 

Laura Gunn's great grandmother's crochet Afghan and the quilt it inspired. 

Laura Gunn talking about painting and color 

So to bring you up to date here is what I have been playing with this week in the Orange and magenta log cabin project. 

building orange purple blocks 5.5 x5.5"

Adding space to the blocks 

mixed up white and orange purple blocks 

white on white log cabins
Time for a walk on a cloudy almost Spring day. Comments welcome on my new project. My biggest concern is how to let go of the compulsion to be so regimental in block building.

Friday, March 7, 2014

February fun

 February has been a very exciting month for me busy with all sorts of quilting and art gallery events and March continues to be full of events to anticipate with excitement and joy. The snows have been many and the cold extreme. Each time the weather gets bad it then clears up and goes back to our average weather and brings back hope that spring is really on the way.

I had the honor of putting my crazy quilt on display and explaining it at the National Museum of Women in the Arts with my pals from Wash. DC Modern Quilt Guild.
We spent a few hours talking and working our hand made quilt projects. I think we were all amazed at the antique English paper pieced blocks and quilt top that Jessie got from her friend up in Pennsylvania. It was fun to have one antique quilt to touch and examine up close in a museum full of quilts off limits to the hand. On a Friday afternoon I met my new guild friend Cassandra and led a tour and discussion of the quilts in our "Stitched" exhibition at the Anacostia Arts Center for a group of about 15 women from the local shelter. They were very excited to try some piecing and quilting in their creativity workshop after our talk. I also got a tour of their great new building and home down the street.

Cassandra snapped this shot of me explaining my Shoo fly Orange Slice quilt. I hardly knew how to make a Half Square Triangle block when I made that quilt and I was explaining how I managed to get it to work.
Next came an artist talk with my new friends in the Man on Man show at doris-mae also on the cusp of a big snow storm during a warm spell that changed over to icy cold that same night. Keith came along and helped set up chairs for the talk. John's beautiful embroidery figures seen here which led the talk towards pornography and how that inspires gay men. The women seemed very interested in how gays present figures that are more appealing to them than the men in straight pornography. We also talked about how hand work and women's work is part of our identity and how women like our grand mother's influenced us to appreciate the fine work as a proud creative expression.
My colorful autobiographical Yo yo quilt got lots of love ever since this show opened. It's full of pieces of fabric I collected over the forty odd years it took me to assemble all the little circles to make it big enough to cover my queen sized bed. I think it casts a magical spell on people who see it just like the one I saw in 1967 cast on me when visiting Mom and Dad's college friends Brad & Winnie Day in Connecticut. Too bad it takes so long to make them by hand. Maybe that is part of the magic in hand made quilts is the labor and love and care that goes into creating them imparts a certain mysterious magical aura for these works of art.
"add a border" totally tubular block is growing 

Hungarian blue pinwheels
I am encouraged by the responses to my quilting and after spending the first part of the year getting the two exhibitions mounted I have begun some new work. Elizabeth Poti sent me some fine hand made Hungarian fabric in a classic royal blue and white print that has me thinking pinwheels. I began working it up earlier this week. Then I went back to a block from the Add A Boarder group on that I kept to work up into a medallion using orange and purple and magenta with touches of gray and green... and I have a few scrappy log cabin blocks I am playing with in oranges and purples too! So the quilt block piecing bug is back and the cold weather is just more inspiration to keep building warmth with fabrics. I am looking forward to a weekend lecture and pop up quilt fabric shop at the Anacostia Arts Center next Saturday. More info about that here on DC Modern Quilt Guild's blog.