Hand Quilt Along: An Old-Fashioned Quilter

quilting-2581992_1920“You think you’ve got it bad?? When I was your age, we walked 5 miles to school. In blinding snow. And it was uphill . . . both ways!”

We’ve all heard this sort of harkening back to the olden days and how much easier the younger generation’s life is. And we’ve been annoyed by it.

Well, this is Hand Quilt Along Sunday and Kathy Reeves had this notion that maybe the hand quilters were busy doing other holiday-type things, with little time for quilting these past three weeks. She suggested we write, instead, about how we got our start in the world of quilt making.

For a lapsed hand quilter, such as I, this was a welcome invitation! 

And what I have to say to the newer, younger generation of quilters is:

You think you’ve got it bad?? When I started quilting there were no rotary cutters! There were no specialty quilt shops, no celebrity quilters with YouTube channels. No fancy, odd-shaped rulers and dandy cutting mats and twee kits for every conceivable quilty creation.

We had scissors. Cardboard templates. Fabric from JC Penneys. 

I made my first quilt wen I was about 17. I have no idea why I made it, really.

I come from a crafty family but no one quilted. I don’t remember ever seeing a quilt. Fine hand-crafted clothing, crocheted afghans, embroidered pillowcases abounded but no quilts . . . 

But, when I was 17 or 18 years old, I had a book and there was a black and white photo of a double Irish chain quilt. And I was smitten.

I went to Woolworth’s, the local 5 and 10 cent store, and bought fabric in three colors, off-white, pink, and a deep red that matched the ruby glassware my grandmother loved.

The book didn’t provide a pattern but I figured things out and used my mother’s old sewing machine and made that quilt, big enough for my double bed. I used a light blanket as batting and tied the corners instead of quilting it. 

And I loved that quilt to pieces. It is long gone but fondly remembered. I wish I had a photo to share!

I didn’t make another quilt for nearly 20 years and rotary cutters still hadn’t been invented, or at least they hadn’t made it to my small town. But I had a good book to guide me, the classic Quilts, Quilts, Quilts, by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, and I bought somewhat better fabric. I learned to hand quilt and made two or three quilts, and then took another multi-year hiatus from quilting.

Then I retired and have had time to get back to quilting but, my, how that world has changed! New techniques, new tools, new, and expensive, machinery. New ways of teaching and learning, and tons of sources of information. In my quilt guild of about 180, only two or three of us quilt by hand, everyone knows the names of the fabric designers, and most of the quilts are made from instructions by famous quilters, or from kits.     

I felt, and still do, really, that quilting had left me behind. I feel as out of touch with modern quilting as my grandmothers would feel if they were alive and set down in our modern computer-driven, social media world. 

I could, of course, move into the modern. I could get the long-arm quilting machine and the fancy rulers and a big stash of expensive designer fabric.

I started my quilting life modestly and I think that’s where I’ll end it. I am drawn to what quilting used to be more than what it is now.

I will stick to the traditional patterns and come up with my own colors and ways of putting blocks together, using graph paper and colored pencils. I’ll sew with my reliable Singer Featherweight. I’ll come up with an idea and go find fabric rather than accumulating a huge stash. I’ll quilt by hand and finish, maybe, a couple more quilts in this lifetime. 

I’ll admire, stand in awe of, quilts by modern quilters . . . but to my own self be true.

But don’t try to take my rotary cutter away from me! You’d have to pry it from my cold, dead hands . . . 


This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieSusan,  NanetteSassy , EdithSharonKarrin, and Gretchen

Advertisements

Scrap Happy, Interrupted

It was to be the perfect scrap happy project. Scraps of leftover handwoven fabric, scraps of leftover commercial fabric, scraps of sweet-smelling filler what had been languishing a long time.

And, yet, it has not come to pass.

It seems that whenever I weave multiple kitchen towels, from lovely cotton and linen, I inevitably end up with a piece of pretty fabric that is too short to be a towel.

IMG_3632

I’ve tried passing them off as bread basket liners or small table mats but discerning folks seem to know that they are simply too-short towels.

What to do with pretty scraps? I mean, it’s woven by hand and I can’t just throw it away!

Well . . . how about combining them with scraps of white cotton fabric, leftover from some long-finished quilt project, and adding some balsam or lavender or even cedar shavings, all of which I have on hand (I know—that’s odd, isn’t it?) and making sweet sachets?

I love this idea. Easy to make, cute to behold, perfect for a little gift.

Off I went to make a prototype. I had fusible web already cut in 5-inch squares from another project. I stabilized and cut my handwoven fabric, I cut my backing, I sewed them together, I clipped the corners, and turned it all right side out.

I cut the top off a plastic soda bottle to make a little funnel.

IMG_3636

And I went to dig out my bags of balsam, lavender, and cedar shavings that had been languishing.

Languishing far too long, as it turns out.

They all, every one, have lost their scent. Nothing sweet, or spicy, or woodsy left at all.

And what is a sachet without a scent? Just a bag of organic matter . . .

The scentless stuff won’t go to complete waste—it will add depth to my compost pile, I’m sure.

I know where to get more balsam, and lavender, and cedar shavings. Scraps of fabric, both commercial and handwoven, seem to multiply while I sleep.

This scrap happy project has not come to pass. But it will.

IMG_3637

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. She welcomes new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let Kate or Gun know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so they can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen and Connie

Happy Weaving and Spinning Week!

I’ve recently learned from Chris, at Acton Creative, that this week is Weaving and Spinning Week!

How did I not know that?! Heaven knows, after the news of the last couple of weeks, I need something to celebrate . . .

And it seems the perfect excuse to show you what I’ve been working on since the last update.

A long time ago (May, in fact), I showed you this project of two scarves in pink and white while they were still on the loom. It’s a good example of how the weft color changes the overall look.

Let me explain a little—in weaving, the warp is made up of the long threads that are attached to the loom and are vertical when I sit facing the loom. The weft threads are the ones that come out of the shuttle as I weave and are horizontal.

In this project, one scarf is done in just two colors—rosewood and white—for both warp and weft.

IMG_2842

The other has those same two colors in the warp but the weft is lighter pink.

IMG_2816

Pretty cool, huh?

I’ve sort of been in placemat mode, too. It turns out that buyers like placemats and I like making them. I get the satisfaction of achieving a “finish” pretty quickly since each individual mat is fairly small and quick to weave up, even though the entire project may be on the loom for a while.

I did this pattern in off-white—it uses two weights of thread in both warp and weft, which creates the nice texture.

IMG_2792

I liked the results so much that I went ahead and did it again. The second time, I used two shades of blue. The effect is tweedy and interesting.

I keep thinking of other color combinations I could try. Maybe dark brown with the lighter-weight thread in a bright yellow-green? Or bright orange?

And, of course, I’ve made more towels. I wove the striped ones I’ve already shown you and six of these.

IMG_3121

And this boring-looking bunch of threads will turn into towels, too. I hope they’ll be more interesting soon!

IMG_3350

Some of my projects have been repeats of ones you’ve seen before. I know weavers who never, ever make the same pattern twice because they want to move on to something new. SO much to weave, so little time!

As much as I like new, I do have some favorites and I really like doing them over. (I’m the same way with books—I love re-reading my favorites, as visiting old friends, and will cycle them through my reading every few years.)

So, my weaving re-dos are more of these placemats (buyers like placemats!) I hemmed them this time, instead of leaving fringe. I like the look of the fringe better but it means the mats can’t go into the washer and they are white, after all.

IMG_1719

And I making more of these Christmas towels. This shot is a good demonstration, again, of how the weft color can change everything. You can see the unwoven warp on top, then, going around the front, a towel where I’m using white as weft. Underneath the loom, you can see what that same warp looks like when I used red as the weft.

IMG_2519

Here’s another view of the red weft and the obligatory photo of the weaver’s apprentice.

IMG_2486

And that’s it for this update, with many ideas percolating in my mind! Thanks for celebrating this special week with me!

The Perfect Fusion: HQAL and ScrapHappy

The stars are aligned, with a perfect confluence of energy.

In a serendipitous meshing of ley lines, the designated dates for ScrapHappy and for the Hand Quilt Along have come together on this very day.

My scrappy weaving is finished for now and my big hand-quilting project is on hold, awaiting cooler weather. The fusion of ScrappyHappy and HQAL provides just the right time to write again about my fusion quilt.

The fusion quilt, for newcomers (or readers who don’t remember every detail of a post from months ago!), is a quilt combining sewing and crochet. Small squares are made of pretty fabric chosen by the maker, a blanket stitch border is added, and crochet is hooked into that border, to make a lovely edging. Eventually, many, many of these squares are crocheted together, to make a throw.

I’ve seen gorgeous fusion quilts made of all new fabric. But that wouldn’t be scrappy and that wouldn’t be me.

My fusion squares are the special bits of vintage linens–the embroidered flower, the tatted hem, the lacey furbelow.

I can’t bring myself to cut into vintage linens that are in good condition but that hasn’t limited me in any way. I have dozens (hundreds?) of damaged linens. They’re too stained or holey to use or to sell but they have sections of perfection.

Those 5-inch sections are the heart of my project. The last time I wrote about this, I had completed 24 squares and now my total is 54.

I still have not done any work toward attaching the squares one to another; I still feel as I did last time, that “I like seeing the stacks and shuffling through the squares, like a deck of cards, an encyclopedia of needlework techniques done by a sisterhood of stitchers and lace-makers and crocheters.”

Their scraps are my happy!


You, too, can participate in one or both of these blog happenings!

The Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieSusan,  NanetteSassy , Edith, and Sharon

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley and Dawn

 

From Waste to Wonderful: ScrapHappy

IMG_1862

From April to June.

From string to fabric.

From threads to towels.

From waste to wonderful (if I say it myself!)

I wrote in April about my weaving project that began with miles of leftover thread from previous projects. In fact, I used up almost two miles (or 3 kilometers, if you prefer) of thread that otherwise would’ve been considered waste!

From that, I got 4 thirsty kitchen towels, each slightly different. (You can click on the photos, to see the differences clearly.)

I also wove a small band from my leftovers, to make hanging tabs for each towel.

IMG_2337

And, because I wanted to leave pretty striped fringe on one piece, and fringe doesn’t really suit kitchen towels, I made a table runner, as well! Hemstitching secures the fringe.

I liked everything about this project and am unabashedly thrilled with the product. Once again, scraps make me happy.

Do they make you happy, too?

You might want to contact Kate and get in on the fun of sharing your creations!


From Kate: ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn,  Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, JanKaren, Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon and Hayley

Hand Quilt Along: Nothing To See Here . . . 

policeman

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Not one new stitch.

IMG_2282

You’ll find progress by other quilters, listed below!


This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyLoriMargaretKerryEmmaTracyDebConnieSusan,  NanetteSassy , Edith, Sharon and Bella.

One Day, Weaving

There was a time, when I first retired, when the hours that stretched before me every day seemed endless. I was a little anxious about that—what would I do to fill my time? 

I started selling vintage linens on Etsy.

I started making candy.

I found unfinished quilts to work on and undertook new ones.

I began blogging.

I took up weaving.

My days were full and utterly my own.

Times have changed and I have some different responsibilities now. I embrace those responsibilities but they mean that I haven’t unlimited time for all those other things I did, and enjoyed. I gave some up and all get less of my full attention.

So, yesterday was super special—all I did was weave.

I didn’t do any of those other things and I didn’t work outdoors, either, because we had a day of welcome rain.

I worked on a warp that will become two scarves, pink and off-white. Not my colors at all but I had this yarn and wanted to use it. I have to change colors every 16 passes of the shuttle so the process is slowish. But the pattern is interesting, as I watch it develop.

IMG_1940 2

Then, when I’d had enough of that, I moved to the loom with the scrappy striped towels, and I finished the weaving of these! It’s actually going to end up being 4 towels and one longer runner and I’ll tell you more when they are completely finished. For a project that began as a way to empty some bobbins, I love the way these are turning out!

IMG_1934

And then I turned to my band loom. I need handing tabs for those striped towels and I love dragging the little loom outside when the sun shines. This time, though, I made a gazillion little mistakes and had to fuss and re-do and mess round some more, just to get this narrow, ultra-simple strip. 

IMG_1950

After that slog with the band loom, as an antidote, I played for awhile with a new loom. Actually, it represents the first weaving I ever did, as a child.

Did you have a potholder loom?

IMG_1966

A month ago or so, my blog pal, Debbie, who is a quilter and weaver, wrote about one of these looms and I knew immediately I needed one.

This is not your grandchild’s potholder loom! Unlike the ones you can buy now for children, which are plastic, small, and use nylon loops, this loom is sturdy metal, 12 inches across, and uses all-cotton loops.

IMG_1970

The end products are potholders or hot pads that are large (about 8 inches), thick and beefy, and can actually be used to handle hot dishes out of the oven without melting.

This silly loom has given me hours of fun lately. I sit on my deck with my big bag of loops. I dump the loops on the bench and root around to find colors I like. The cats come and root around, too. 

IMG_1956

My only complaint with this loom and its use is that the loops are expensive and come in bags that have a modest amount of a lot of colors, in one the three different colorways. One can choose either brights, pastels, or “designer” colors, which is what I chose. I ran out of the colors I liked early and have been challenged to find color combos that work with colors I like less or, in the case of this medium brown on the right, loath.*

IMG_1954

Today, it’s back to the other things that need to be done. The sun is shining, the weeds are growing, my mother’s summer place needs to be cleaned out and readied for sale. Our house needs to be spiffed up for company, errands must be run, chores must be checked off the list.

But, I had my day of weaving, and I know I’ll have more. And I’ll appreciate that time all the more, I suppose, because it is no longer unlimited. I hope you get a day, soon, to fully devote to something you love to do!


* The company, Harrisville Designs, does offer smaller bags of single colors but then the cost of the loops gets even more expensive.