Monday, December 29, 2008

A Little Coaxing

That's usually what I need to get myself to try something new, even if the something new was my idea. About a month ago I bought a light box kit. Basically this entailed a portable light box, a pair of lights and a tripod. The plan was to start using this set-up to take product pictures for my store. I brought the box into my studio with the intention to start using it right away. And that's pretty much as far as it went. Until today. I'm going to be taking some of the pictures for my book and it dawned on me that maybe I should learn how to use the light box. All I can say is, "What took me so long?"

This thing is amazing. The colors are so true and I didn't even set up in an especially dark room.

I've been making some new items for a shop update next week and I'm so glad that I finally decided that the time had come to try out the light box.

Monday, December 15, 2008

They're Off!

Today was a big day for me and the pony express. I mailed not one, but two significant packages. One box contained all the projects for my book. They're off to California to be photographed. The other had the Twinkle quilt. I'm glad I mailed these items on the same day because for me they're connected.
When I was first commissioned to make Twinkle, a big part of me wondered what the hell I was doing. I'd made a few big quilts before, but not in this pattern. Could I really dye all those circles? Did I have the discipline to stay with such a huge project? And I asked the same questions when I first took on this book project. Now, the book project is not quite done and I'm way too superstitious to say otherwise, but I have met my deadlines so far and I'm feeling pretty good about the process.
As for Twinkle...well here it is... all done.

Both these projects have taught me that it's important to pursue every opportunity because you never know what it might lead to or how it might push you out of your comfort zone.

Several of you have asked me if I'll be sad to see this quilt go, but I'm really not. I can honestly say that this has been so much more about the process than the product.
That's true for the book project as well. I've discovered new interests and abilities and even a few new limitations. But, that too, is the point of pushing your personal boundaries. It just makes you feel like you're really living and growing, no matter your age. Which, in my case, is not that old.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Binding is the New Yoga

I hope that's not an especially polarizing statement. I mention this because I don't think I've ever met a quilter who expressed a positive opinion of binding a quilt. As recently as a couple of days ago, a friend grimaced as she mentioned that, though she was very pleased with her latest quilt, she still had to bind it and what a drudgery that was. I'm not going to even pretend that I understand this perspective on binding. I've got sympathy, but no real empathy.
I really like binding quilts. And, who knows, maybe I really like doing a lot of things that most folks would find tedious. Because I prefer to think of myself as a relatively normal person, I don't delve too deeply into this issue. But, I stand by what I said, I like binding quilts.

Actually I find it pretty darn relaxing. There's something about gathering a quilt on your lap and slowly, patiently hand stitching the binding. I sometimes think of it as reconnecting with the quilt. Think about it. Everything else about making a quilt has been done, at least in my case, by machine. This is the one job associated with this process that doesn't require electricity.

It also never fails to make me feel connected to the way quilts have been made for generations. I think that's pretty powerful and really quite comforting. And maybe that's why I always feel calm when I'm binding a quilt. I'm slowing down to work at a pace that for better or worse belonged to a bygone era. I'm reconnecting by taking the stitches one at a time the way they used to.

It's a vacation from my usual pace and that's why I like binding quilts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Adventures in Long Arm Quilting

When we first moved into our current house, I scoffed at the fact that it had an automatic garage door opener. My contention was that I'd lived my entire life without this superfluous bit of technology and I didn't think I needed it now. I was wrong. A fact that became incredibly apparent to me the first time it poured down rain and I didn't have to get drenched in the process of opening the garage.
Well, I'm here to eat a bit of humble pie as regards long arm quilting machines. I can't tell you how many times I went to Quilt Festival and laughed at the vendors selling these machines. "Why on earth would you need this machine?" I argued. I can quilt anything on my trusty sewing machine. Sure it might take me a little longer and maybe it will be a little more cumbersome, but the net effect is the same, right? Wrong.
Over the past 3 days, I have machine quilted 2 very large quilts on a rented long arm machine and I can proudly proclaim that I'm a different person. It's like that scene in the Ten Commandments where Charleton Heston/Moses descends the mountain after his encounter with the burning bush and his face has completely changed. I am a new woman. A new long arm machine loving woman.

Although both quilts took me about 5 hours a piece to quilt, that is a fraction of the time they would have taken on a standard sewing machine.

Add to that the fact that there is no basting involved. No moving furniture so that I can attempt to smoothly layout the backing and batting and then spend the next three hours scooting around on my bottom basting the quilt.

And the piece de resistance, no puckering in back. As long as you carefully wind the backing on to the machine, you will have a perfectly smooth back.
This is, without a doubt, the greatest thing since sliced bread and way cooler than the garage door opener.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Last Seam

First things first. I have to thank all of you who wrote such nice, heart warming comments to me about the Quilting Arts article. It's been wonderful to see my work in print, but it's beyond great to be able to share it with others and to feel their enthusiasm and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Yep! It's been sewn(visual evidence provided below).

And here it is all laid out on my bed.

Well maybe not all laid out because this is king size and our bed is a common double, but you get the picture. I had a minor panic attack earlier in the day when I seemed to have mislaid a couple of blocks, but, after some well chosen curse words (the kind I tell my kids not to use), I found the missing pieces and finished the sewing.

I purchased the backing fabric a week or so ago and the other day bought the batting. I ended up buying batting that was sized as "generous queen", but I'm having second thoughts and may run to the store to purchase a certified king size batting.

Sunday I'm quilting this on a rented long arm. Monday, I'll finish the binding. And then it will just be a matter of mailing it to it's new home. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.