27 May 2011


The DoublePlusGood Quilt is featured on Modern Day Quilts today.  Pop on over to see not only a new photo of this quilt but an interview that covers a wide variety of topics, including some provocation about the meaning of modern.

I had a good time up north.  Fresh air and fly fishing!

I like fly fishing mostly because I like putting on waders and strolling down the river.  The Au Sable River is about 6" higher than normal, which meant there were a few times when the a lot of me was underwater and the current was doing its darndest to tip me over.  But, I managed to stay on my feet, stay dry, and even catch a fish.

Since returning, i have been plugging away on Miss Stinky's Quilt...so close to being done piecing!
Each block needs another round.  And I'm thinking I need to unbalance it in the final layout.  We shall see...

23 May 2011

Piece in Peace

Thanks for all the DoublePlusGood love!  It is a nice quilt and I'm very pleased with it.  Anyone looking to make something similar should read the Liberated Cross Block tutorial LollyQuiltz posted.  Most of my blocks were cut using the method she describes, I love the look of them.

My house is a wreck at the moment as I prepare to put almost everything in storage and hit the road.  I've rid myself of half my furniture and dissembled more.  Things are piled up everywhere waiting to be boxed or taken to the thrift store or plain ol' thrown out.  As such,  the only livable space in the house is the living room, which has my mattress on the floor (sold the bed frame, am using the bedroom to stash packed boxes) and the sewing table next to it.  I've been keeping the living room tidy and vaccuumed...a single room with no moving chaos...so that after I've packed up my assigned spot in the rest of the house for the day, I can retreat in peace and piece.

Having cut all the fabric into 3" wide (blue) or 2.5" wide (orange) strips--and random lengths--I was at first joining them as I went.  For example, making a patchwork strip of dark oranges 20" long to attach to a 20" side of a block.  I quickly grew frustrated with this method and so I sewed up all the pieces into hugely long snakes and have been much happier since.
Slowly but steadily my nine blocks are growing. 

I've got 5 blocks that are about 25" square. These four spread out on the bed should get that far soon and then I've got to figure out how thick that last round of fabric will need to be and what hue/value for each. Which means figuring out placement of the blocks.  Oh my.  I'm pretty sure that the final squaring up-- 33" square exactly--is going to be a feat of engineering.

But for now, I'm heading north to go fly fishing, or as I like to call it, river hiking.

18 May 2011


The DoublePlusGood Quilt is done.

My plan to have it quilted in a honeycomb/hexagons worked out quite well.  The long arm quilter I took it to, Bernie, was happy to order and work with the pantograph I had found on the internet. 

Once it was quilted, however, we realized that the width marked 3.5" above (my marking and my confusion) should have been 7"   This meant that there were great big areas of the quilt that weren't quilted--the inside of a 7" hexagon.  Oi.   Bernie and I laid the quilt out on her floor and tried to decide what to do.

Pick it out and start over?  I almost never pick anything out.  I think in the entire course of making this quilt I only unpicked one seam and it was because I had stitched in a block upside down (and it had words on it).

Add something inside the hexagons? Too distracting, I thought.

Add another all-over pattern?  Maybe, but what?

Ultimately, we decided to add in straight vertical lines all over the quilt.  They are ruler straight and between .5 and 1.5 inches from each other.

The final outcome is pretty awesome.  Depending on the angle at which you view the quilt, the quilting either disappears, or you see the hexagons, or you mostly see zig-zags, or you mostly see the vertical lines.    The thread used is a Sulky Blendable and it mostly disappears, which is what I like in quilting.  I'm 90% about the piecing and so I want quilting that doesn't distract from, but supports the effect of the piecing.

Anyway, when I got the quilt back I then had to make some decisions about the binding.
I often have an idea about the color of binding I will use from the get-go, but I did not in the case of this quilt.  I auditioned quite a few colors and ultimately settled on using some Kona Curry.

This is a decision I'm still not 100% confident in.  But, I'm thinking it will grow on me.
Part of why I chose the Curry is because it looks really nice with the backing.  Some of the other colors I auditioned (lime green, off-white) did not.

The backing is a nice quilter's flannel that I got for a steal a few years ago.  It has been hanging in my closet waiting for a quilt to back.

By the way, check out the awesome corners on this thing!

I recently noticed that my corners, never having been perfect, were getting WORSE.  While I don't demand perfection of myself, I do expect improvement, so I read over the instructions for binding in Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects just before sewing on the binding and ended up with a much better result than my recent attempts.  This is straight-grain binding, cut at 2.5" and with a single-fold.  If you've never read over Elizabeth Hartman (Oh Fransson!)'s directions for making continuous binding (find it here) I highly recommend it!

I finished stitching on the binding at a sew-in with some ladies from the  Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild.  It's been raining since then, but I finally snuck the quilt out during a break in the gloom to snap a few pictures of it on the monkey bars:

By the way, as I was taking these pictures, a 20-something guy with a backwards baseball cap and tattoos all up his arm, driving a pick-up truck with over-sized wheels, leaned out his window to tell me he loved my quilt.  Pretty cool.

09 May 2011

order up!

After going too many years without a proper vacation, I am going on a whopper of a road trip this summer.  In my sweet new (used) ride.

I wanted to let you all know now because i can't keep my etsy shop open while on the road, so if you want plexi for your dyeing adventures, please place your order by May 25th.  The shop will reopen around August 15th.

As always, shipping to the US is free.  I ship internationally, just send me a message with the list of items you'd like and i will send you a quote.

Plexi arrives with dyeing and discharging instructions.
I am happy to make custom orders.

Link to etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/r0ssie
To learn more about this technique, click on the itajime shibori label just below this sentence.

04 May 2011

Two Hues, Many Values, Not Much Time

I'm full steam ahead on this quilt for my cousin Stinky.

I usually trust my eye when it comes to judging values, but I keep finding myself using my camera (and especially the camera's black-and-white function) to check on my fabric sorting and the construction of the blocks.

These are some pictures I learned from as I was sorting fabric.

And parts of some blocks:

There are 100 ways to make log cabins, I'm not sure why I chose this particular method of making patchworked strips of each value, but so far I find the result really interesting.  As in, I'm not sure how much I love it, but I do keep looking and looking. 

What's going to happen when these blocks reach 33" square?  I can't wait to see if this is going to work the way I want this to work.

02 May 2011

A Cup of Tea

Friday night, I had a wretched time falling asleep.  Then, I woke up at 3am, exhausted but alert.

I've never been one to have trouble sleeping, but I understood why it was happening. On Friday, grading had ended and stress, an important part of my body's ecosystem, had gone missing. Summer has its own work and pressures, but is so dramatically different from the school year, it is a shock to flip from one to the other.

There I lay, wide awake, empty, exhausted, and with a vicious craving for a cup of tea.  I dragged myself out of bed and set some water to boil.  Sure, tea has caffeine, but I could tell I wasn't going to sleep anyway, so I figured it couldn't make anything worse.

Making tea "properly" is one of the first things my brothers and I learned to do.  Long before we knew how to fill the dishwasher, do our own laundry, or any of the myriad other household chores that would become our responsibilities, we were taught how to make a cup of tea to our mum's specifications.

Producing a perfect cup of tea is something we can all do by rote, 15+ years since moving out of our parents' home.  Of course, "perfect" here is calibrated to my mom's taste, but I have friends who have learned just to ask for tea in my mom's style when I offer to bring them a beverage.  It's that good. 

On Friday night, sipping that cup of "mom style" tea, curled up in bed with a book, I felt my body slowly adjust to summer.  And somehow, taking in that caffeine, I drifted off to sleep, placing the empty mug on the bedside table as I snuggled under my quilt.

For your own magic cup of mom tea, follow this recipe.

1.  You need a big mug.  One that holds about 1.5 cups of liquid.

2. You need Silk soy milk.  Either the plain one, or the organic vanilla (the organic vanilla is not too sweet, the normal vanilla one is).  Soy milk is made in a variety of ways and many brands will curdle if put into tea, which is why I'm being specific about the brand.  Neither my mom nor I drink cow's milk---she's lactose intolerant, I just think it is gross.  You could of course make this with cow's milk, but the flavor will be different and it might not be magical.

3. Tea. This is what I buy at grocery store.  My mom brings back tea bags from England each summer (PG Tips, I think, the recipe is different in Britain; it is like how Guinness tastes one way in Ireland, another in America, and another in Asia.)  Anyway, tea bags matter, these are good and inexpensive.

4.  Water.  You have to boil your water in a kettle or on the stove.  Not in the microwave.  It needs to be brought to a full boil, so if making it on the stove, don't take it off the heat at the first sign of steam, but rather wait for it to get to a rolling boil.  Most electric kettles with auto-shut off will do this accurately.

5. Put a teabag in the bottom of your mug.  Pour 1.5 cups of boiling water directly on top of the tea bag.  If the tea bag has air in it, push out the air with a spoon, then, cover the top of the mug and let the tea brew.
My mom likes a 3 minute brew. I like 4 minutes.  A timer is used.

6. Take off the lid and remove the tea bag from the water. If you leave the bag in, the tea will get bitter.

7. Add 1/2 cup of Silk. Enjoy.

I started writing this yesterday, Sunday, but had to stop as I ran out of time. I thought it would take 30 minutes to write this down. It took more. Also, it started to seem alarmingly precise. I mean, wow am I exact when I make a cup of tea. I knew I was picky, but this seemed excessive to me, yesterday, as the lines added up.

Anyway, I stopped because Lurky came over to work on her quilt and so I was hand-stitching binding on the Double Plus Good Quilt and she was piecing on my machine. And we were chatting about this and that and playing music.  Then two things happened: Lurky asked for a mug of mom tea (unprompted!) And we turned the music off and played an episode of Doctor Who in which the Doctor's life is saved by a cup of tea (and then he saves planet Earth). I took these as signs that I should blog about tea, after all.

: )