Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rain, quilts and a family of guinea pigs

The most important news today [ and yesterday actually ] is RAIN. After a week of well over 30degC , we have rain ... 11 mm yesterday and I haven't checked the gauge for today but I'd hazard a guess that it's probably about 8mm, so not too far off an inch in the old system.

Yesterday was 30C despite the rain so the humidity was up round 85% but no one was complaining. We slept under QUILTS last night.

Now on to the creative stuff:

Quilting first.

I've been working on another Challenge quilt, this time for the Strathdale Quilters Show at Easter in Bendigo. The challenge was to use two quite disparate pieces of fabric in a piece no larger than 1 metre [ 40"] on any side. I just realised I don't have a close up photo of the challenge fabrics but you may be able to pick them out. One is red with small spots of pink, mauve and green, the other is sort of bullseye circles in rust, pink, yellow and white [ erk ]

Okay. so... thought process?

Now I have to say at the outset that one of the set fabrics I really really really don't like. At all. The other I might well have bought but never in a zillion years would I have paired it up with the other one. So okay, it IS supposed to be a challenge but just once I'd like to be given a fabric or theme that I actually LIKE.

I considered and discarded several options , any of which might have worked, but what clicked was the thought of the hated fabric as fish skin... carp or goldfish specifically.

I unearthed a couple of goldfish blocks I'd played around with years ago. Decided that they wouldn't suit but the block itself would, and then went searching the stash. I knew that I had three goldfish/carp fabrics... one on the same colour as my MX4GD hand dye and two on a vivid cobalt. Either would've worked but the cobalt was just a little toooooo intense for what I had in mind.

A further ferret through the japanese stash unearthed the geisha print which just happened to share the right cast of blue as the remaining carp print and the hand dyed stuff. We have liftoff.

I often get asked how I design my japanese quilts and I think that my answer is probably not all that helpful. It is not an intellectual process. I tend not to design on paper or in the computer. My choices are largely intuitive and evolve in response to the quirks inherent in the available fabric. If I had a slightly different cut of fabric, i might well resolve the problem in a different way.

I apologise for not taking photos up to this point. Basically the process involved pinning slabs of likely combinations up, standing back and then moving them around. The final addition before I took this photo was finding the piece for across the top. I'd actually forgotten I had this one.

I like having narrow side borders and wide top and bottom ones on japanese pieces to reinforce the relationship to japanese scrolls. but I was finding the pink flower in the top fabric intrusive so I've covered it with flowers cut from the geisha print. They are not necessarily meant to draw attention to themselves although there are small areas overlapping into the borders and I probably won't applique them in place until quite late in the process. Similarly those green leaves are covering a very pale part of the print that I found jarring.

The amorphous blob on the right hand side under the 2nd carp will be carp #3. You need to use your visualisation skills at this juncture. Trust me

and I think the placement of the two existing carp is probably going to be reversed ... or possibly the lighter one may end up at the top with the carp fabric next and then the 2 darker ones. Sometimes you just need to see the photos on the monitor.

The hardest part has been sticking to the "no larger than 40" restriction. This one really wants to be longer.

and for those who are interested in such things [ and in the interest of giving credit where it's due ] the carp block is from a pattern by June Colburn that I bought from her in 1996 in Paducah, KY. She even autographed the pattern pack for me.

Anyway, moving on: this mauve piece just happened in about 5 minutes while I was playing with the carp one . I've been making a sample for a class at Daylesford involving sashiko and vintage kimono silk... this isn't it ... BUT the pile of silk was sort of sitting on the edge of the table and the piece with the black border leapt onto the design wall. The triangles having been cut and then discarded from the sashiko piece were languishing unloved and unwanted on the top of the pile. I guess you could say I has an epiphany and roughly 2 minutes later THAT was up on the wall but rotated 90 degress from where it is now. Because I tilted the camera sideways I got to see it from a different angle. I like it better this way ... except I think I might like it even better if I turn it upside down so that the darker mauve is at the bottom. what do you think?

I was going to show you what I have been knitting as well but I think I'll save it for next post. Instead I'll leave you with my family of knitted guinea pigs. CUTE huh? The brown one I bought at Apollo Bay last year when I was there teaching. David loves it and carries it around for hours at a time.[ and this is the guy who's terrified of almost all animals ] The other two arrived in the mail just before Christmas from my lovely hostess in Apollo Bay, Judy H. Since then I have had to rescue the baby one from maurauding cats on a regular basis.


Sheepish Annie said...

I had to go back and read the post twice to get it through my head that those were knitted guinea pigs and not real ones. How cute!!

The quilt challenge pieces are going to be stunners. Love the transition from hated fabric to fish skin!

Caitlin said...

Those knitted guinea pigs are so cute!

I loved reading about the process for the challenge quilt. Isn't it funny how we don't really see stuff when we're looking at it? I find photos helpful but the best trick for me is looking at the piece in a mirror. Makes it look like something completely different.

Robbyn said...

Your quilt stuff is amazing! Thanks for posting and writing about it - your process is fascinating - and I think I understand about the color thing and going by intuition. I believe I do it similarly myself :)

Those guinea pigs are the cutest things ever!

Laura said...

I love the blue in that first photo. And OHMYGOD! Where can I get that pattern for the guinea pigs? Please tell me she sells it!

catsmum said...

If she sold the pattern I would be drowning in a sea of the little beggars :] but alas no :[
There IS a free guinea pig pattern here and I HAVE made it but it's much finer gauge than these guys and there's a problem with the stitch count in last couple of rows so you have to improvise.