Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Farm- two weeks later

We had a little bit of rain in the week and yesterday we had a few good showers of rain. It is cold and windy outside- but we do not complain- we need winter now. Yesterday the little bit of green that I could show you two weeks ago, was destroyed with this freshly planted land in the distance.

The little green patch that go diagonally to the right is the "wenakker". That is the piece that get planted last- it "fall" out with turning and are then planted in one go, at the end. The rain stopped them before they could get to it and they will hopefully be able to finish up there on Monday- before the heavy rains that was predicted, show up.

I did not have a very productive week quilting wise except for working a bit on this quilt started 5 years ago at National Festival-Durban in a class of Priscilla Bianci . We worked with Guatemalan fabrics. This was quite a process- It is a thick and loosely woven fabric. I combined it with cottons to prevent to much thickness and pressed it very well with a lot of starch to prevent unraveling and get it as flat as possible.
Dowel sticks for even tension on the sides.

It is loaded on my Bernina frame. I knew I would never be able to buy a big Gammill longarm and so as second best I purchased the Bernina Frame and the 830 Bernina (If I want to use the embroidery facilities). I love this set-up more and more each day. If I see the trouble Sharon Schamber take to get her work area small and taut- I believe that this just might be more ideal than a long arm. Sharon advise that the sides should be under even tension and not distorted with the side clamps. See her advise with her free video's.

The only drawback with the Bernina is visibility but if I sit on my draughtsman chair- I am comfortable and can see quite well. I concentrate to work a bit slower and more precise.

Although I have draw freehand some feathers, I did not follow the drawing- I basically do it to get the feel and the direction right.

We are getting ready for National Quilt Festival that will be from 1-7 July in Stellenbosch. We specially look forward to welcome Ineke Berlyn and Pam Holland as our overseas teachers.

I will check your blogs to see what you have been up to this week!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In your Service

I do it sometimes. Only with non fiction though-If I read a novel I can do nothing else till I have read the last page- and then I can only start doing something else after I digest the book for a bit longer. But non- fiction I can read 2-3 books at the same time.

The latest novel I read was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I was a bit ill last week- so it was a good excuse to stay in bed and read this book. I just loved it. Perhaps I could identify with the twins living in Africa- but that aside I still think it was brilliantly written and I can heartily recommend it.

My non fiction come recommended from another blog I read. I received my parcel yesterday. Do the Work and the War of Art by Steven Presfield tackle procrastination and everything we do when fear keep us from our projects.

For a long time my excuse for not doing the work was that I am in nobody's service. I told myself that in the past when I worked to hard on my projects it became stressful for me. With introspection I realised the stress was cause by to high expectations on my part for the hours I put in. So it was not the work that cause the stress- the work actually relieved stress and give purpose to my life. So I will be in service of my Creative Self in future.

Seth Godin ask the question "When was the last time you did something for the first time" in his book, Poke the Box. This set me thinking: As a creative person I guess one's answer to this should be "Just now" or "Yesterday". If you cannot say thi,s maybe you are stuck in a rut. Well if it is comfortable and you are happy- I guess it is fine. But if you have a nagging, longing feeling- then you should perhaps try something new.

Well the applique I have tackled is a MAJOR MAJOR stretch for me. Patience with myself and motivation to keep going is the things I need to practice to carry on with this project. Hey, I have new appreciation for you applique folks- it ain't easy- that's for sure.

To make sure that I get my dose of doing something for the first time in today, I have tackled my "Crow at the Cavern" quilt again. We had the wonderful opportunity to took a class with Nancy Crow in 2009 in the Drakensberg. I am not sure that I understood Nancy correctly combining all kinds of wild, bold colours. I think I got a bit carried away. I then tried to keep the colour combinations in a block "pleasing" and carry some of the colour I used in one block, over to the next blocks.

Last year I completed the blocks started in the class and planned the layout. I then started to sew the middle blocks together- using a crooked black sashing. This did not look good so I packed it away. I have decided to cut it apart and just sew the blocks to each other. I decided to quilt it "Quilt as you go" style- starting with this four center blocks.

I have forgotten how unforgiving solid fabrics is to crooked quilting lines. I have quilted on my industrial machine without BSR and really missed that constant perfect stitch the BSR gives. So what was so new? I sewed this wild blocks together- that was certainly brave! I have quilted free motion on solids- have done it before- but it is so long ago it can count as new.

When last have you done something for the first time?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

If I get it right

I don't always get it right to upload "script" But I am willing to try.
There is a blogging Quilt Festival till the 20 th of May at Amy's Creative side.
So lets all take part.

My entry to this Festival is my quilt From here to there.

I made this as a challenge to myself. At our South African Festivals the Art quilts get the most attraction and I has to admit it is usually far more exciting than the traditional and Innovative quilts. I challenge some traditional quilters to make a quilt for our Festival that will be truly exciting to see.

This quilt consist of 25 blocks arranged in 5 rows of 5 blocks each. I choose the colour placement in the blocks in such away that the block loose it "stand alone identity" and become part of the whole.

I did not receive any prizes for my quilt neither did I get really positive feedback. But like a true mother- my children and my quilts are my pride and joy. And even if no one else would think they (My children or my quilts) are special- to me they are and I am so proud of them.

So I have submitted my quilt to the show and you can view all the other quilts entered on Amy's site or at the flickr group.

(Now to get all these links right!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Instant Satisfaction

Do you want instant satisfaction? Make a block and in a hour you can claim that. I think this is why I like making blocks so much!
Tears for Texas

I actually like the whole process of making a block. I enjoy deciding where I will put the emphasis and select a good colour and fabric combination. I like to iron and pre-starch my fabric and yes I love figuring out how many pieces to cut in every size. When cutting I am already planning the order to sew the pieces in and armed with this knowledge I do the first round of sewing. Here I concentrate on keeping my seam allowances just right. I also chain piece so that there is no unnecessary threads to trim.
Little Blue Basket

For me the pressing stage is very important. I first press the pieces on the ironing board before I flip the top patch up and with the side of the iron press it down. Only then do I give it a shot of steam to make it lie flat and not get distorted by the steam.
Ford Sumter
The final round of sewing is make or brake. If you take to deep a seam allowance or pinning push the points that need to meet away from each other instead of keeping them right in place- some unsewing will be necessary. But after some quality control checks and fixing these problems it only need the final pressing before the "Ahah" moment!

I have completed another 3 of the Civil War blocks and is well on my way to catch up to the 20 that Barbara Brackman has already made available.

While making a quilt also provide this satisfaction, it can take days or weeks before that final "Hurah, It's done" feeling is achieved. A quilt where every block count and is a stepping stone towards the end goal is for me far more rewarding than a quilt where I need to repeat the same block a number of times for the striking end product. Therefore I had not made a quilt like that.

On second thought- I has made many quilts with Half Square triangles and there one sew and sew and sew many triangles before you get the satisfaction one block provide! When working on a project like that- it is good to schedule "Making a block for satisfaction" in between.

Do making a block give you satisfaction?


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Guild meetings=Inspiration

After a week where I worked very hard on my projects, this weekend was very relaxing. We had a Good Hope Quilters Guild meeting and as always, I went away inspired. Members of P's And Q's and Table Mountain was responsible to hang their quilts around the hall.

This beautiful Baltimore quilt was made by Glen Dougal from Fish Hoek. Some of the berries is about 1/4 inch. For me who is tackling my first applique project- it was a real inspiration. I plan to turn into a master applique person- as soon as I have worked through Luixin Newman's Perfect Hand Applique book and CD. I will make a Baltimore- watch this space!

Also hanging on the walls were these two quilts of Bridget Louw. The hexagon quilt was completely worked by hand. Her colour combinations in this quilt as well as her basket quilt were very striking. Thanks girls for this inspiration!

I have received these delightful mugs- from an unknown person. They were given to my friend at a previous meeting  that I did not attend, to give to me. She forgot who gave it and only saw the mugs on Saturday morning again. I am delighted- so thank you to who ever gave them to me. It is actually to cute to use- but seeing that I do not keep ornaments (My house is very dusty) I will rather use it and be reminded of a wonderful gift from a true friend!

We had no rain the past two weeks. I did not post a picture from my front porch last week- but here it is today, two weeks later- Do you see the green spots on the barren land of two weeks ago?

What have inspire you the past week?


Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Guest blogger

Dear Blog Readers

I have written a guest post at Quilting Gallery today. There I described my "journey" from Quilter to quilter/digitized embroiderer. For me the two still go hand in hand. Quilting is my life and machine embroidery is just another way to make my quilts special and unique.

For me this is always important- to make quilts that is ME. What would it help me to duplicate a quilt already made? If I see a beautiful quilt I admire it and it can inspire me and I might want to try this pattern- but I will never duplicate some one's else fabric or colors. When my daughter saw my sixpoint star/babyblock quilt, her comment was that my quilts do not look like that anymore. But she can tell it is a quilt I made because it do have "my look".

A few photo's that I could not show on the guest blog due to the fact that I could sent only 6 photos. Here is a bigger piece of the sampler quilt with machine embroidery.

And here is some more of the applique blocks I digitized from Aie Rossman's patterns.

I read two blog posts today that made me think. The first is a wonderful thoughtful post written by Quilt Artist Elizabeth Barton. This post can help you get in your sewing room/studio and be more productive.

The other post saddened me. Unfortunately I did not bookmark it properly and cannot find it now. This quilter was writing about how guilty she feel when she spent time on her sewing projects. She cannot do that without feeling she should rather give attention to her child or husband. Or she felt she should be busy with household tasks.

Luckily for me I have been quilting before my marriage. My husband married me as a total package and this was part of me. The first few years I thought I could make a living from quilting. I wrote a book, "Machine Patchwork" in 1991 and I taught classes in piecing and later quilting.

The book did not really make money- neither did it bring me fame or make my classes more popular. When my children was between 3-14 they needed more attention and I have to give class less often. As it go, other teachers became more popular and were nearer to the demand of quilters to be taught. On the farm I was 100 km from Cape Town and I really struggled with issues about the validation of my work.

I wasn't a quilt artist and the time spending quilting did not bring in money. Bed quilts could not even be sold at the fabric cost and I started to feel that my quilting was worthless.

Society value a person often on the monetary value of one's work. Then one begin to value yourself on this terms. I felt that I should earn money to have a valuable life. I worked out side the house at the PPC cement factory. Although I enjoyed this I missed my quilting and I made time for that between all the other demands on my time.

I have realised that time spent creating is valuable for myself. Even if it did not bring in money, without quilting in my life- my life was without meaning. I am a better mother and wife if I have lots of quilting and enough time to spent on my projects than without it.

Do you feel that you have to validate your quilting- or is quilting for one self a valuable thing to do?

I would like to hear your views?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It was delivered

My competition quilt is completed and delivered. I feel sorry for our Quilt registra and her family. Her whole house is under quilts. Her husband and son is helping her to organize and categorized all the quilts. There is still many boxes that need to be opened and stacked in the correct pile.

Although I am involved in organizing the National Festival, my job is workshops- so I will mainly be very busy during our Festival. Quilters do not always realize how much time volunteers are devoting to the organization of quilt shows.  The cost to attend these shows would be much higher if quilters did not volunteered their precious quilting time  to do many of the jobs that one need to do to have a Quilt Festival.

I have seen that I must have many projects lined up when I am nearly finished with a quilt that I have devoted all my time to. Otherwise it is difficult to start something new and I can spent a few weeks to get going again.

Today was a very productive day for me. I have a Bernina Quilting frame. I have quilted the body of the six point star/babyblocks quilt and the top and bottom borders. Then I removed the quilt from the frame to baste my competition quilt in the frame. I have only quilted 2 quilts in this frame yet and is definitely not skilled enough to tackle a competition quilt in it. So I quilted it with the machine on the table.

I have hand pieced this quilt 20 years ago. When I realized that my hand pieced quilts will not be hand quilted, I gave myself permission to machine quilt it. This is the first of my old hand pieced tops that I have quilted. This quilt is one of the most expensive quilts I ever made. I purchased many charm square packets to get a big enough variety of fabrics for this quilt. From the scrap piece I got from every square, I made another quilt. (That quilt was cheap- the top fabric was already paid for by this quilt.) (When I made this quilt, charm squares was quite expensive, not like today where the pre-cut fabric cost almost the same as normal yardage.)

Today I put the sixpoint star back in the frame with the side borders at the top and bottom and completed the quilting on it. I have prepared the sleeve and the binding and will attach it tomorrow.

I also had time to make 2 Civil War blocks. I make them in the 8 inch and 4 inch size.

I also tried it in 6 cm (about 2 and 1/2 inch) but I think a miniature block need a more careful choice of fabric. So I have decided to concentrate only on the 4 inch and 8 inch size. I do make it in centimeters though- so for me it is 20 and 10 cm.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I did it myself!

I made this mess and I had to clean it up again. I realized that I am contributing to my own stress by starting new projects uncontrollably. I gave myself a talk and I will try to rehabilitate. It is good to have new projects but I should have more self discipline and not create chaos in my own life.

Thanks for competitions that create deadlines one cannot miss and need to work constructively towards that goal. Tomorrow my competition quilt will be finished and then I will allow myself to work on 4 projects simultaneously. I have organized my sewing room this week. I took all the stuff that I never use and move it to a bedroom cupboard.

I then reorganized my projects in the baskets (I through the cat out first) and put it in the cupboard, Now all the crates that was standing all over the sewing room also find a place where it could be neatly stacked and out of the way. I created better access to my design wall and will now be able to view the whole design wall.

We have Olive Festival in the Riebeek Valley. So I am off to the Old Age Home where we have an old fashioned basaar. Here you can get pancakes, basaar pudding, jams, freshly baked bread and some knitted articles. This is our big fundraiser for the year and we hope to have enough people today to bring in the much needed funds.

Inspiring class

I am back from an inspiring class. Today we learnt about a powerful tool in our Bernina embroidery program- Corel Draw. I could never figure out how any one could draw a patchwork block in Corel. After this lesson I know. I also know how to use a little bit of this amazing software's capabilities.

After a demoralising week with a lot of trouble at the dairy- this class was a life saver. I have realise this week how quickly one can be unsettled if you are under stress. My sewing and finally this class brought the balance back into my life. I am not quite sure that I am willing to handle the stress of the dairy but I can at least be a presence there again- and that is also important.

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