Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chemistry and Quilting

Mr. Cavins' Perspective

My high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Cavins, was wonderful!  I LOVED chemistry!  He had lots of little quips to help us think about the "pieces" of chemistry -- electrons, atoms, molecules -- and as I worked on this quilt, I realized that his quips applied to quilts as well.  One of his favorites was:

"The scale of observation creates the phenomenon."

This means that things look different depending on how close or far away your perspective.  If you look at a table, do you see atoms?  molecules?  wood fibers?  a piece of furniture?  Well, this applies to a quilt as well.

My main project while I've been in Florida has been the log cabin Christmas quilt for my friend.  As I said in a previous post, sewing those tiny (1/2" finished) logs resulted in some rather wonky blocks. 

When I looked at my wonky blocks, I saw all the mistakes -- trapezoids where there should be squares, angles that were more or less than 90 degrees:

But when I stepped away and looked at the entire quilt top, it looked nice!  Everything seems to work together, and the odd shapes and lines feel kind of homey.  At the atomic scale (each unit) the pieces were OK, if not perfect.  At the molecular scale, the blocks looked pretty weird.  But somehow, when you stand back, the entire quilt top seems to work.  Maybe not as a quilt-show ribbon-winner, but as a gift of love.

Arghh!  Knots!

One big problem has appeared.  I decided to quilt the white areas rather densely with 1/2" cross-hatching.  That means LOTS of rows of stitching.  On other quilts I've just left the threads at the ends of the rows and then knotted and tucked them into the batting by hand later.  This time I wanted to save time and effort, so I took 2-3 stitches at 0 length at the beginning and end of each row of quilting.  Arghh!  I'd used thin batting, and the knots at each end just poked through the batting and onto the back of the quilt!

Believe me, these knots are huge!  And VISIBLE!

I am just appalled!  I posted my problem on a wonderful web site that I subscribe to, The Quilting Board.  I got several good ideas:  wash it (the knots often disappear), paint the knots with a permanent marker (well, maybe), applique over the knotted areas using vines and heart-shaped leaves (I like that idea!).

The good news is that I've only quilted the three white triangular areas at the top of the heart.  The rest (the center and the two big corners at the bottom), I'll do what I should have done all along -- leave the ends loose and then hand-knot and bury the ends when I'm done.

I'm not sure yet what I'll do about the knots.  Guess I'll go ahead and quilt the other areas and then re-assess.  Maybe the scale of observation will improve the phenomenon

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Christmas Valentine

...Or is it a Valentine Christmas?

In my last post I showed you some log cabin blocks that I'd been working on:

The last few days I worked on blocks that are half-red/half-white.  I was determined to make them better than the red ones (pretty good chance of that!).  I squared them up after each unit was added.  Boy, was that time-consuming!  The smallest units still came out wobbly, but as the blocks grew in size, the accuracy improved.  Not great, but definitely better.

I went back to trim the red ones and found out that they are almost all undersized.  There are only six of them, so I'm thinking about making them over again.  I don't have enough of the original fabrics with me, though.  Gotta think about it some more.

The quilt top is coming togther, though!

These blocks are 4" unfinished (more or less, LOL!).  There remain the 12 all-white blocks.  I'd love to get them finished over the next 3 days, so the top-minus-borders would be done on Valentine's Day.  Not bad for a Christmas present, yes?  I doubt it will happen though -- the pressing and squaring take way longer than the sewing.  And then there are the red blocks...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Southern Stitching!

Returning to Real Life

Today I worked on quilt blocks for the first time in over a month!  Can you say "Happy!"?  My husband just retired and wanted to get away from his old routine for a while, so we are spending a couple of months in Florida.  Sure, there's the beach, the pool, places to explore, lots of friends to visit.  But I insisted that I NEEDED to quilt, too!

I'd cut the strips for the log cabin heart quilt that I'm making for my dear friend, Annie.  So dear that when I gave her a picture of the pattern for Christmas, she was delighted.  How can you not love a friend like that?!  This afternoon, my second day in Florida, I stitched up the 6 red blocks.  Talk about wonky!  The strips are only 1" wide; the finished blocks are 4".  Two wobbly stitches and the whole seam is weird.  I decided that I would embrace the wonkiness and plow on.

These haven't been squared up yet, so they aren't quite as bad  -- uh, wonky -- as they look.  I plan to wait until I finish the rest of the blocks and then square everything to the smallest block.  The quilt is less than 30" square, so B3 (border, backing, binding) should go pretty quickly.  I can't wait to drive over to Miami and give it to her.  Merry Christmas!

Another Quilt Gift

Speaking of gifts, my daughter gave me the nicest quilt gift for Christmas!

The necklace has a locket with a piece of an antique wool quilt inside.  You can open it up and touch it.

Isn't it pretty?  I love it!