Tag Archives: quilts

Hexed

I tend to get a little obsessive/fanatical about certain colors, textures, and shapes.  For a few years, I loved the diamond.  Not hard-assed sparkly rocks that people die for literally and figuratively, but the shape in a flattened geometric form.  I had some awesome diamond-shaped eyeglasses back in the late 1990s that I wore to dust; I have some argyle clothing, jewelry with diamond shapes, some great vintage diamond-shaped buttons I’ve yet to use, and I’ve sewn and knitted many diamonds.

Little did I know I had a thing for hexagons too.

I knew I liked antique hex tile floors.  I had an original one in my first roach-infested apartment (it wasn’t the first of several infested, it was the first and happened to be infested).  And I fantasize often about having one again (a tiled floor, not an apartment full of cockroaches).

I photograph tiled floors when I see them, including this one in the late 1990s, which also served as evidence in case I was brutally murdered or came down with an incurable STD or sudden Bukowski-like alcoholism from the seediest hotel I’ve ever patronized in Niagra Falls (I mean seediest ever, not one of many in Niagra Falls).

niagra falls seedy hex

And check out this awesome antique floor in a non-hipster cafe in Brooklyn I saw last year:

Hex - phone

(And yes, I have a cheap-ass pre-paid phone and can’t figure out how to email the picture to myself, so yeah…)

When we first started fixing up our former house, I was completely and entirely ecstatic when I found this in the bathroom:

hex3

However, my joy was short lived when I found other things:

hex4

And the absence of the tile throughout and/or layers of cement and other impenetrables that prevented us from salvaging the original floor.

I wanted to put down a new authentic porcelain hex floor, but the high price sent me to the big box for the cheap alternative:

hex2

Still porcelain hexagons, but not quite the real thing – the real deal is more flat and matte with thinner grout lines.  I loved that bathroom though, and I yearn for that giant cast-iron tub again…

But I’m still always on the look-out for hex floors and sometimes find them in surprising places:

hex1

Like out in the woods in the middle of nowhere.

But the fiber word is awash in hexagons as well.

One of the classic quilt patterns – Grandmother’s Flower Garden is all about the hex.

I found this in an antique shop last year:

quilt square-hex

Look how small the hexagons are!  The tiny little hexes are just a little bit bigger than a hex floor tile.

quilt square-hex-det

I wonder if the maker was sick of it after one motif, this was a leftover from a finished quilt, it was made to be a chair pad or other small item, or yeah, maybe she (maybe he but not likely) died.  I love the inconsistent greens as well – I wonder if it was made from old-time scrubs or nurse’s uniforms, or if the fabric was home-dyed.

For those of you in the knitting world, you’re probably expecting me to say I’m hip-deep in hexipuffs for the Beekeeper’s Quilt and that’s what this is all about.  Nope, though I like it a lot, and considered it for a little while, I’m going to pass for now (even though I may have purchased a few mega-sale skeins of sock yarn with this in mind).

I occasionally find myself designing floors for bathrooms, kitchens, and foyers of homes we don’t have.  In fact, one of the houses we purchased over the last year had a half-bath (I hate the name “powder room”) small enough that I could justify the price of the real thing and to my own custom design.  But alas, I must settle on non-floor hexagons for now.

But look at this!

63050463502674595_HcReHRQr_c

(Picture yanked from internet – no idea of its original publication)

Ok, so a floor again, but even though whatever house we’ll eventually get will eventually need to be re-sold, I’m really tempted to do something along these lines.  I don’t know if it is paper or fabric, but it would be fairly economical and a more interesting alternative to the paper bag floor (which I also sort of like, but can’t get past that leather crazy quilt jacket look of it).

But back to what I can do now, which really isn’t something I can do since I must finish other things first, but what I’m fantasizing about doing is a traditional hexagon quilt.  After a summer’s worth of basting letters for an appliqued quilt, and though at the time they often annoyed the hell of of me, I had the brilliant epiphany that a quilt can actually be as portable of a project as sock knitting.  Though that is probably obvious to all already, I’d never thought of making quilts outside of hours-long blocks of time at home.  And though my earlier thoughts of sewing a quilt by hand were along the lines of you’ve got to be f*cking joking, I now want to piece that bitch up one by one by one in airports, while visiting other people’s houses, in waiting rooms, and sprawled on the sofa while binge watching some mildly awful but addictive television series.

I haven’t decided whether or not to use my current stash and scraps or come up with something a little more uniform and floor-like, but I’ve sure as hell had fun playing with the possibilities – at least in my head, of course, since I really can’t be spending any real time on it.  (And I haven’ t yet printed off a bunch of blank hex sheets I found on this site).

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the hexing possibilities with crochet in the form of hexy granny afghans – see this Flickr group for pics – but alas, I don’t crochet.  I don’t like the looks of it sometimes, but that’s usually the maker’s fault for choosing crap acrylic yarn, or poor colors, or having no general aesthetic sense.

But I’d like to learn one of these days…

Oh yeah, and my inner jukebox plays this every time I think of the word hex:

The 1990s infected me with a whole wiggling writhing wad of ear worms…

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How not to finish a quilt in 10 easy steps

1.  Ignore the fact that your diet is consisting of more and more mutant produce and get to work.

not1

2.  Plan a queen-sized quilt when you don’t have a queen-sized area in which to work.  Alternately, plan a queen-sized quilt when you bought a house with a big studio, but the sale wasn’t final.  Alternately, continue with said queen-sized quilt when you could have easily scaled back.

not2

3.  [Sidestep] While struggling with the space issue, contemplate the boxes and boxes of books hidden beneath Indian bedspreads (that once adorned dorm walls), pictures without walls, and the weak light from the single window in your sh*tty apartment living room.

4.  Focus your attention back to the quilt top.  Realize that though you usually have a fairly high tolerance for wonkiness, one square looks too sloppy, so carefully rip it out to fix it without thinking about the possibility of how your “fix” might not make it better, only worse.  Feel sad that it could have just been a little extra wonky instead of a lot extra wonky now since there’s no way you’re going back in there to fix/mess it up even more.

not3

5.  When ironing the top (hopefully for the last time) discover that one of the fabrics can actually shrink and warp once it’s already been ironed many many times.  No time for flailing about and shrieking WTFs, just rip the bitches, replace them, and re-iron the whole thing c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y.

not4

6.  [Sidestep]  In anticipation of quilting, play with a few samples of top+batting+backing.  Discover that your machine is entirely rejecting this action and refuses to obey proper tension.  Feel immediately panicked, then feel immediately in denial and move on.

7.  Discover that it will be impossible to lay and smooth out the layers flat.  Even if you hop from chair to sofa, you will never be able to perform the long jump necessary from end to end and will fall several times trying.

not5

8.  Consider crying.

9.  Investigate paying someone else to do this part.

10.  Consider scrapping the whole thing.

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Mid-August progress…

We spent last weekend in the Adirondacks.

It was the last of the summer hiking trips for us.

ADK-pond hike

Our cottage was decorated in “Wal-Mart for cabin.”

ADK-bear

I actually miss the tacky painted saw blades, crude whittlings, and sh*t made out of driftwood and antlers of mountain/country crafts of yesteryear (or just a few years ago really).

Now it is plastic sh*t from China (often copied from domestic crafters).

ADK-racoon

But I managed to finally finish basting all of those damn letters.

Letters-done

The pile looks smaller than it really is.

I will never be so wordy on a quilt again.

Our CSA has been offering loads of lovely flowers.

It is a nice thing to have fresh flowers, but not in place of food – they really need to step it up in the veg department.  And as vinyl village apartment dwellers, we can’t compost, so I don’t like to have too many fresh flowers.

Quilt-shirt fabric

The letters are ready to mingle with the as yet unmade quilt blocks.

In Review

I’m also getting wordy with a fair isle scarf.

I don’t love stranded knitting.

I don’t hate it though.

PRS-lettuce on machine

My Tour de Fleece spinning goals fell short.

PRS-lettuce skein

But I finished plying my Pigeonroof Studios “lettuce” and have one braid left to finish spinning for a particular project.

I spun this one a little too thin and it came out lighter and softer in color, so it might have to become a different project.

Or the original project will be scrapped altogether.

That will have to wait.

I also started a major embroidery piece.

It will take some time.

It is pink.

I don’t love pink.

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Stick a fork in it…

I pre-wrote this post to publish while I was away on yet another brief jaunt to sum up a few things I recently finished.  Yet the thoughts in my last whining rambling post have continued to fester and raise many more conflicting/contrasting brain furies.  I still don’t have anything even remotely answered or concluded, but in a way I do have a decision.  I am going to move forward on creating pieces for a portfolio and if they are done by the autumn (crazy insane deadline now) I will apply to school.   If I don’t get in or I do get in but without funding, then I at least have a body of work to throw around out there (outside of the craft scene).  And I don’t want to blog about it much apart from keeping track of new techniques I might learn or continued thoughts on craft vs. art, artist vs. art museum, academic artist vs. independent artist, lone-wolf artist vs. social media butterfly.

So on to finished sh*t that has nothing to do with the above.

Several members of my family are encountering hernia surgery these days so I made a Happy Hernia mini-quilt.*

Happy Hernia

And I have become very paranoid conscious about the way I lift things and contort myself these days…

I finished my Pigeonroof Studios BFL “Mimsy” May/June SAL roving as a felted/fulled single.  I spun it with a heavy hand and dunked and steamed and iced and thwacked and whacked and unspun it and made it my fibery bitch.  And for a much-abused yarn, it became surprisingly sturdy and bloomed beautifully.  It’s a bit shy of 450 yards of a fingering-ish weight.  I love fuzzy yarn but I rarely actually knit with it – just ask the balls of neglected mohair in my stash.  But I did start something with it right away which I’ll show next time.

Mimsy spun

Since I was infected with group think during this spin-along, I joined team PRS in the Tour de Fleece (you spin during the Tour de France).**  I don’t have any crazy goals for it apart from spinning my recent purchases (of which I have to confess that there was another, and then another).***

Finally, my brother and sister-in-law are the hiking sort too, so I sent a set of butt warmers their way.

Buttwarmer

With the oilcloth, I think these are a little more practical than my original ones (which have gotten a bit shredded) but can also brightly and gaudily serve as a distress flag to wave about.  I’m concerned that they’ll be a bit slippery until they’re scuffed up a bit and unfortunately this sweater was thinner so it provides less ass comfort.  Also my stashed oilcloth has some creases I can’t seem to get out – can’t iron the stuff, so what to do…?

Everything else is still half-baked.  And I also recently realized that I needed to get much busier in order to become more productive, so I’ve taken on a load of new projects (and may also get to up my part-time work hours soon) but I’ve got also got a newly festering anxiety that I may have bitten off a little too much…something might have to give.

*Sh*tty picture intentional since I’m paranoid about image theft and f*ckery these days, and get used to seeing that annoying tag on everything too.

**I like bicycles, and I ride mine (awesome story behind it too) several times a week, but I don’t think I’ll be watching the Tour much… as Italophiles, we do often have calcio (soccer) on the tube though…

***I talk about this way too much!  I don’t know the person/people behind the company in real life nor do I get kickbacks – just love the stuff, and the last acquisition was someone’s bargain de-stash so my spending is ending for the time being.

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Quilts in my past, part IV [and an update to part I]

Henry’s baby quilt (toes not included).

Hank's babyquilt1

No, this is not another picture of Yasmina’s quilt, but many of the fabrics are the same, though with hers, the “blocks” were smaller.  This one came a few years before that one, and was my first “crib quilt.”  I remember getting the roll of pre-cut cotton batting and upon opening it, had a WTF moment when I saw how big it was… I was thinking cribs were small and babies were small, and the whole thing would be small and quick, but it was about four times the size I thought it would be.  And aren’t babies not supposed to sleep with blankets anyway?  But regardless, it was still smaller than a twin, so I got some more fabric and soldiered on.  Much of this is from my original stash of reproduction feedsack, and my personal favorites are the blue border with the geese and the yellow pinwheely things.

And an update of Henry’s twin-size quilt with current pictures after a few years of use.

Hank's twin2

Hank's twin1

See, I thought that binding sucked – it was too wide and folded over… ah well, as I mentioned before I hate that part of the quiltmaking process.  Actually, I sorta like hand-sewing the back part on when done in a different way [insert proper term here] but this was an act of speed and I sewed both sides through like a sandwich [insert another appropriate term here].  If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a self-taught quilter, and I am a bad teacher who hasn’t assigned much book learnin’ except for looking at pictures.  Lots and lots of pretty pictures of quilts from way back when…  I hesitate to delve deeper into the actual mechanics of the thing because I tend to either loose interest or become completely obsessed when faced with loads of new knowledge.  Knitting took over my life after I forcibly removed myself from only the garter stitch, and hence a monster was born.  I want to keep quilting a bit more in check I suppose, but I do need some more skills in the binding department – mitered corners perhaps?  But I also do have limitations on what my vintage sewing machines can do – none of that long-arm freestylin,’ freewheeling, happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care quilting for me, though I’d like to….

Thanks to my sister-in-law for sending the pics and Charlie for modeling!

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UFOs progess report

My current publicly acknowledged unfinished objects* are closer to being finished.  Let’s not talk about the sweater quilt just now, it is my favorite, but sadly banned back to the sack until I feel it’s ok to spend a little money on the backing – I’ve determined it should be a grey cotton jersey sheet, but damned if I can’t find one cheap.

I am tired of the rug.  I cut up the t-shirts so slip-shod and sheddy that I constantly sneezed as I braided, and my nose filled with buckets [shrew-sized] of lint – I also realized there are good tightly woven shirts that are best for projects such as this, and lousy loose ones – this is made up of mostly lousy.  So I finished with the old balls that I had already cut up, and cut up one additional shirt more since I wanted a little more green in it.  Then I remembered how much it sucks to sew these things up, and I can only do about 20 minutes at a time before my fingers are a bloody mess, my hands cramp up, or I’d rather be doing something else.  The right needle and thread would make my life easier, but I don’t know quite what those would be, and I don’t want to buy anything, so sewing while wearing kitchen gloves and multiple thimbles is sort of doing the trick at the moment.  I’m sure a heavy-duty sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch would work wonders…

(And I think I already mentioned I don’t really like the look of the “country style” home with braided rugs and too much barn red and faded blues…  But then we just bought a house which fell through, and then another which also fell through and both could have used a washable rug in one area or another, so I will continue in the hopes that a third house might not actually fall through and it might still be needed, especially for our dog that isn’t ours yet, and might not exist yet either).

rug ball

rug detail

And the shirt quilt is trucking along at a slow but steady pace.  If I put my mind to it, I could finish the top pretty quickly, but I don’t seem to have any control over my mind at the moment (I mentioned we keep buying houses that fail, right?).  I also know I will soon face the dilemma of not having a suitable backing material and possibly not enough for binding, but I have the cotton batting so my future purchase should be limited to just the fabric.  It seems that should be easy enough, right?  I’d be happy with a solid color or slight pattern – certainly there should be some basic cotton stuff on sale out there somewhere…

science fair quilt

Looks like a poster session at a rag-picker’s conference, eh?  I get to play-act being a professional again, only at my own conference there are no numbers or words (not that I don’t like words, and I have a healthy respect for numbers) or snooze-inducing power-points and sweaty nervous speakers.  Or maybe I am back at a science fair – I won a couple of those once… yeah, that’s right, boost my self-esteem with memories of victories past.  These “blocks” aren’t in any permanent order, or even in a decent layout at the moment – I just sew a bunch and then arrange them at the end.

*Yee hah!  If you only knew the real count of my unfinished sh*t…**

**I need to know about filters and whatnot – anybody know?  I’d hate to think I’d be censored for a “bad” word (godforbid the children!), though I wonder if breast still comes up as something to be censored… hmm… booby titty cans rack jugs dirty pillows.

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Quilts in my past – part III

The reversible chintz quilt.

In the late 1980s my mother re-decorated our living room in a chaos of chintz – florals, stripes, and solids in wedgewood blues, peaches, and sage.  It was over the top, but the room suddenly became bright and inviting and a good place to read the paper in the morning, especially in the winter since it was perpetual springtime in there.  Fast forward to my first apartment outside of college and I needed a quilt.  I can’t remember how I acquired the fabric – if she was tossing it and I “rescued” it, or I mentioned making a quilt and she mentioned she had a lot of leftover fabric.  But I pieced up a top in large random blocks, realized I still had leftovers, and made a pieced backing.  I then sandwiched it with cotton batting and ran some “straight” lines through the thing and was done.  I wasn’t a fan of chintz but it brightened the room and went well with a tarnished antique brass bed I had.  Then in a few years, I no longer had the bed and the relationship that went with it, and discovered the joy and necessity of sleeping under down, so I gave the quilt to my mom who still uses it.  I never photographed it properly – just a few Polaroids to make transfers in the name of “art” back in the day.

DSCF7133 - Copy

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