Saturday, April 15, 2017

Farmer's Wife - Finished

 I started working on the Farmer's Wife Quilt in July of 2011. That makes this almost a six-year project. Of course, I didn't know it would be when I started. Back then, I was just having a blast piecing little 6" blocks. I set myself a goal: use scrappy fabrics, and try to have something vintage or thrifted or upcycled in every block. I had a lot of little scraps and remnants from sewing projects, and I had a lot of worn/outgrown clothing that could be repurposed, and I had bags and bags of scraps... some my own, some given to me, some purchased at thrift stores or estate sales or quilt stores. It's hard to believe that when I started quilting I had very little in the way of stash. This quilt was the beginning of my realization that I need to be more intentional about acquiring fabric.
Almost exactly five years ago I finished the top, and styled it in a very similar photo-shoot.
Three and a half years ago I started the process of machine-quilting it, with the Megaquilter. I didn't force myself to work on it after the first few rows, and it sat almost entirely neglected for a full three years. This reflects my deep-seated anxiety about machine quilting and inner perfectionism, or something. Also that I was busy and stressed during those three years. But this year, as a kind of New Year's resolution, I began again, and rediscovered how amazing the progress is that you make when you work steadily!
From the back of the fence, this is the very first bit that I quilted. The feathers, Oh the feathers! I think they are lovely... but each individual feather is so very imperfect. Look at the big picture, though. When you put them together and step back just a little bit, I am very happy with the feathers. I did have to take the side and bottom borders off and resew them by hand, before machine quilting the feathers on them. I would have had major puckers and waves otherwise. I'm glad I did that, and the quilt lies flat!
Just because I have the sycamore tree in back and it has the branch that is perfect for quilt pictures, I took another batch of shots there. You can see the plum tree in bloom behind the garage roof.
I love these two blocks that ended up next to each other: "Gentleman's Fancy" with pirate and map fabric, both scraps from boxer shorts sewing projects: and "WCTU" (Women's Christian Temperance Union), with scraps from my WCTU-member grandmother's apron and her scrap bag. I love how the individual blocks have so many different colors, but "that blue" ties them all together. I love how, without really trying to, I incorporated many of the scraps from the Mom memorial quilt project (where I made a quilt for each one of us siblings with her clothing and scrap-bag scraps), so I've infused the quilt with memories of her. And it pays homage to my midwestern upbringing and the many farming ancestors who also passed along their thrift, their skill with their hands, and their love of family.

All that's really left is to make a label and put it on my bed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Quilting update and Stash Report

So yes, I have not been blogging as frequently as in years gone by. But this year I have recovered a bit of the will to stitch, and I am modestly proud of progress made in both quilting and knitting.
The Farmer's Wife Quilt (of many years' duration) is now off the frame, and I chose to put Allietare on, of my backlog of tops needing quilting. Rather than the fussy feathers and custom-quilting each block I used for the Farmer's Wife, I am doing my standard, very do-able "squiggle-loop-star" quilting pattern, which goes quite fast.
In fact, if I hadn't broken off for spring break I would probably be finished by now. It's a good thing I'm not, because I'm still stitching the binding down on the Farmer's Wife. Tonight we watched two episodes of Man in the High Castle and it's close. 
 Another hour of tv watching will probably do it. I'm going to go ahead and count the yardage for the backing of Allietare, and the binding of Farmer's wife, in my ongoing tally of fabric used, to keep myself accountable for using things up rather than buying new. I'm guesstimating 8 yards total for backing one, and adding binding and hanging sleeve to the other.
 I haven't tallied any yarn yet this year, and it's time to start, since I bought some recently, and finished these three projects.

Stash Report:

Fabric tallied this week: 8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 16 yards
Fabric added year to date: 0 yards
Net fabric used: 16 yards

Yarn used year to date: 900 yards
Yarn purchased year to date: 1700 yards
I'm in the red with net 800 yards added, but I hope to finish an old UFO soon to change that.

Let's see if I can keep up with the creative energy I've rediscovered so far this year. It feels very good to be making crafts again and I have at least the desire to de-stash, organize and have fun in the process.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Break Photos

Spring Break, that wonderful American tradition, has been subtly changing in our family over the past few years. This year Daniel is officially independent and living on the other side of the country. Peter is a sophomore at WSU and his break already happened. This past week we saw Quarta off with a group from Cedar Tree, bound to Baja California, Mexico, to build a house for a needy family and paint some local schools. That left Steve, Tertia and me to have a trip up to Seattle, where we took in the Kubota Japanese Garden, and attended a concert of the Baltimore Consort based on the music of Shakespeare. Then we took a leisurely drive to WSU, stopping at Cashmere to tour the Liberty Orchards candy factory and at Dry Falls, where the river currently known as Columbia once poured over perhaps the largest waterfall in the Ice Age world. At WSU they have some grizzly bears who can't live in the wild in an enclosure. We stayed at an Air BnB within walking distance of the campus and we walked all over on Tuesday. Ice cream and cheese purchase at Ferdinand's and eating out at some nice restaurants made it a really fun trip to see parts of Washington (and Moscow Idaho) that I hadn't spent much time in before. We were back by Wednesday evening and Quarta will be home tonight, then it's back to the school grind on Monday for the girls. As for me, I continue to be relieved every time I think about not having to teach school daily. I miss the kids, but not the constant stress that left no margin around the edges of my life. In some of those margins, while riding the miles of highways around the state, I finished two knitting projects.