Monday, January 15, 2018

Charity quilts

The whole culture of charity quilts is huge within quilt making.  Reading some of the various "link up"  sites would seem to indicate that there are those who appear to dedicate most of their work toward charity, and that's a wonderful thing--for both the maker and the person ultimately receiving the gift.

I make quilts for charity, mainly smaller ones aimed at children's  charities.  I have several simple scrappy patterns that I use.  I love the almost mindless process of putting together the pieces, choosing the colours, and planning the machine quilting.  The effort helps me reduce my "stash" of older fabrics, which pleases my family.  Many of the older fabrics are dark in value, so most of my charity quilts are intended for little boys. I sometimes think I could cheerfully putter along making these, until the "stash" runs out.

But--my deepest pleasure comes from my art.  The challenge of solving technical problems, and the joy of endless FMQ'g and constantly creating new designs for it.  The serendipity of LWI dyeing, and Shibori.  

This week I realized, not for the first time, that, for me, the process of producing traditionally based charity quilts, can sabotage the deeper challenge of producing true art quilts.  For some reason I find it too easy to slip into the much less difficult more traditional process.  Maybe, I'm basically a very lazy person.  ( Not a new thought.  lol)

So, is there any way I can do both?  Not in any inter-mingled way.  I think I'm going to have the schedule a 4 week period, about 1X yearly for a marathon of charity work, and strictly discipline myself the rest of the time.

Here is the traditional charity quilt top I finished yesterday.  It will be quilted within the next month, but not before I design the 3 small art quilts that are on my "to do" list.

I hope the link this with The Needle and Thread Network

Monday, January 8, 2018

Word for the year

This time of year there is always much discussion, on my internet groups, about picking a word to guide my studio work over the next year.  This isn't easy for me, and, in 2017, it took a couple of months to come up with the word "opportunity".  I have an unfortunate history of not accepting opportunity when it's offered to me, so decided to accept every opportunity offered for the last half of 2017.  This left me so busy, that there were times that I didn't know whether I was coming or going. But I'm overjoyed at some of the opportunities that came my way.  This year, I know that I just can't accept everything that's offered, but how does one pick and choose?  How do you assess the value of an opportunity, when it's presented?  So-o-o, I've decided to "slow down",  to accept no more than two opportunities at a time, and then no more until those two are dealt with.  We'll see how that works, and I reserve the right to change my word at any time.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Looking for a support group

Several years ago, when my health took a downturn, I took a look at all of the special interest groups I paid dues to, and culled the list.  I spent time to evaluate all of the groups in terms of how much effort I put into them, and what perceived benefit there was.  One or two were iffy, some I left and never looked back.  I kept only two, and one of those because I was a life member, with no cost involved.

I firmly believe that you get what you put into an organization.  So when I get involved, I usually volunteer quickly, as I've found it a great way to get to know people and get to know the organization.

This fall, in a better place health-wise, I re-joined one of the iffy groups and signed up for a very new group just getting organized.

Today was my first membership meeting with the "iffy" group.  I went prepared to volunteer.  One of the reasons I had decided to re-join was that I had been told that there was a whole new group of people who have become active since I left.  What a disappointment!  Same old, same old.  Same people and same issues.  But some of the programs that caused me to join in the first place, those many years ago are still active, and appear to offer a potential opportunity for me.  So, I will give them this year, a hold back from volunteering, until I get to see if there might be other  opportunities I've missed.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Poor neglected hexie quilt

Last fall I was busy hand piecing a quilt of black and beige hexies, and documenting my progress on this blog. Finally a bit of progress.  The piecing was finished, several weeks ago, and today I moved on to basting the quilt, preparatory to machine quilting it.

Fortunately, I own a basic, old fashioned quilting frame.  My father made it for me many years ago, and it isn't in great shape.  The last time it was actually used to hand quilt  was probably in the 1970's.  But over the years I've taken to basting larger pieces on it.  Normally this is done, outside in the garage, during the summer. I am a real fan of spray basting, and for that, one needs good ventilation.  Not too practical when the temperature, with windchill is -39C. 

So, before Christmas, knowing that this was coming up, and that there was a second quilt needing the same thing, we brought the frame into the house. Today we set it up, and I started pin basting, as my husband believes there is a respiratory hazard with spray basting in the house and I agree.

Here is an end view of the frame.  It's based on a type of ratchet system, where the bars are held in place with two penny nails, put through the bar and into a hole drilled in the end piece.

The backing is then pinned to pieces of denim that are stapled along the length of  the bars.  This is then tightly rolled onto one of the bars.  The batting and quilt top are gently laid on top of this with one end just inside the edge of the rolled backing. As one works, the basted edge is gradually rolled onto the bar.

In this picture, I would be sitting at the back (top of the picture), and start working in the middle of then quilt, and then to each side, as I pin.  As I work, the basted quilt is rolled onto the bar in front of me. I store my pins open, so as to reduce stress on fingers, and then close them, once into the quilt, with a grapefruit spoon--one of my very favourite quilting tools!

As you can see, in this quilt, I chose to pin every second vertical row of hexies.  I try to pin so that no unpinned area is larger than my very small closed fist--about every four inches.

The whole job, putting up the frame, and pinning a 45 by 65 inch quilt took about 2 1/2 hours.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday, and The Needle and Thread network.

Monday, December 11, 2017

How to evaluate a successful sale

The unexpected, last minute sale took place last weekend, over Friday and Saturday.  It was in a smaller rural town, and there were three more craft sales in town that weekend, which in our area is a "good thing". Multiple sales, close together, tend to attract rural people, as it means less driving.  Our sale was in a private home, that had been pretty well been emptied of furniture, leaving enough room for 6 booths.  Additionally, a large table had been set up to facilitate demonstrations, an advertised offering, that was hoped to attract customers.  Everyone had contributed to baked goods and apple cider, as well.

Well, Friday was a bust.  There were 5 customers.  But, this meant that 6 artisans were together for the whole day, with food and mild drink, all with their goods, both completed and in progress.  We all came to the table with different experiences within our crafting life, and different interests.What a marvelous opportunity for networking, idea exchange,  and general support.  Every lady there had nothing but positive comments about that part of the experience, and all agreed to try to do it again. 

Thankfully, Saturday was a busier day, with some good sales--unfortunately not for me, but I did come home with a small profit.
What I did sell was mixed media bookmarks.   This was a new product for me, and they had been made for a future scheduled event.  Looks like I have to make more.

So, overall, I came away with a feeling that this had been a good sale.  But that evaluation has little to do with profit, and much more to do with the entire social milieu.

Then today I received not only a cheque from a different venue, but an order for more items.  Looks like I'll be busy for the next while.  Good thing I'm ready for Christmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


The orange perle cotton I ordered in mid-October arrived today!  No more complaining about how long it was taking to get here.  

But this brings up a new problem.  I got so frustrated waiting, that I started a couple of new projects, and took on a couple more commitments. Oh, oh!  Well, this just means that I get to make another time-framed "to Do" list! Yay!

Lately I've been very frustrated by the small size of my main studio, and the clutter that makes it so difficult to work efficiently. 
Since I've also been doing a lot of culling in the basement studio, there are enough empty drawers in my rolling cabinets, that I was able to free one up.  That's what I've did, installing it in the closet of the bedroom I'm now using upstairs.  I don't know if I've actually made more space, but it sure looks like it, and I feel much better about the whole thing.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Be careful what you ask for

Over the past while I've been having a bit of a "pity party", bleating about waiting for supplies, and having nothing to do.  Well, within the last 24 hours, I've been invited to participate in a home based up-scale craft show, in two weeks (Eeek!), and a small gallery exhibit next fall.  Both of these events came out of the blue.  So, all of a sudden I'm excited an energized.  Spent today alternately working on the grey hexie bag I spoke of in my last post, and a large group of mixed media bookmarks.  The bookmarks involve a lot of "hurry up and wait", while glue dries.  My stock was down to 7, not enough to do anything with.  I use them as conversation starters at sales, and they don't bring in much profit, but they are a steady seller, for me.  This time of year I market them as stocking stuffers.  As you can see, they are one of a kind, and presented in clear cellophane bags, so I feel comfortable having them at a more upscale sale.  I have also tried to sell cheaper fabric ones, without success, and ended up including one in every bag I  used for sales, just to get rid of them.