Friday, February 28, 2014

bee prompt

Friends, I had an exhausting weekend.  The flu got us good.  But much worse, a pair of negative pregnancy tests combined with ongoing ambiguous pregnancy symptoms is seriously messing with me.  I'm fairly certain (in my head) that I am not pregnant, but my emotional self is roller-coasting, trying and failing to stay clear of the yucky places.  Sorry to complain, but if I'm a bit off this week, you'll know why.

Today I'm trying to keep myself distracted from all the annoying "what if... could it be?.. what next..." questions.  I'm telling myself a normal week is just what I want.  A normal week with no flu, days at home to enjoy my work and the return of joyful gratitude for the good life I already have.  So, in the interest of moving on with life, I'm back in this space today and hope you'll have me.

March is my month to lead the Love circle at do. Good Stitches in our collaborative quilt.  As I hinted in February, I'd like to take some risks this time around by leaving the prompt rather open ended...

I'm asking my bee mates to make a traditionally pieced block in the color scheme represented by this fabric pull:

scrappy happy inspiration pull

We all work from our own stash and scraps. I'd like a light, bright feel to the colors.  No purple.  Minimize orange.  Avoid grassy and limey greens.  Other than that, most anything goes!  There are lots of cool greens, cool pinks and aqua/teal blues, plus yellow (always yellow!).

Mariner's Compass block

My mariner's compass block is the first inspiration piece I made for our March quilt.  I think it'll be focal point in the quilt, but you never know.  Bee mates are invited to make traditional blocks in any size(s).  Non-square blocks or series of small blocks are particularly desired.  I'm thinking maybe a string of flying geese or some English paper pieced hexagon flowers.  I'd like to receive some 6" finished and 10" finished blocks, as well as some rectangular works.  Variety is the goal! 

building blocks for Love quilt

Today I finished these wee Penny Candies as my second inspiration piece.  I don't know how I'll use them - strung up in a row, floating in negative space in one group or scattered around the quilt like bits of jewelry.  I plan to join the blocks from our bee in an improvisational layout with lots of negative space. 

bee inspiration

Since my prompt is so vague this time, I've gathered some quilty inspiration too. 

ONE.  Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches.  This quilt has the airy, improv feeling I have in mind.  One special block or series of blocks from each bee mate is all I need!

TWO.  Carrie Strine.  The colors in this work are more my speed. Still light, but more saturated than my other examples.  The medallion has layers of lovely traditional piecing.

THREE.  Lindsey of LR Stitched.  I love the perky personality of this piece.  It might serve as inspiration for some of my bee mates' blocks.

Ok, Love circle.  Tag!  You're it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

a little Distraction

on my table

Lots on my table today.  Thanks for your well-wishes on that last almost. Mr. Flu has certainly struck, but so far I am fairing well; and, ironically, finding plenty of time to sew as each little one is choosing to hole up in a bedroom.  One is sleeping after a hard night at it and the is other reading away.  (Ms. Aria is trying to stay in a germ-free zone.  Smart.)

cutting scraps

Cutting these background pieces for the Gathering Flowers pattern has been making a tower of green scraps.  Nice green scraps.  Tantalizing green scraps.

making use

I've decided today is a good day for a little distraction, so I'm cutting those scraps into 3" squares.  It's ok if the corners are missing a smidgen.  That'll be tucked into seam allowances.

scrappy distraction

Then I pulled a passle of scraps in light, happy colors.

distraction

When Aria came out to indulge in some human interaction, she arranged them in the checkerboard pattern that I'd imagined.  What do you think?

I see green spring love!

p.s.  If your fabric diet needs some greens, check out The bundles at Intrepid Thread!  My greens include Kona Willow, Leprechaun, Clover and Kale, plus Botanics Metallic Foliage Fern, Botanics Stripe Fern and Pearl Bracelet Chard.  See, healthy stuff!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

almost

Almost!

gathering flowers

Almost enough flowers!  That's 13 of 20 done, which somehow feels close.

Almost done writing the last piece for Color Intensive (the Ikat Quilt pattern!).

Almost have the flu....

(She's liking some almosts quite a bit more than others.) 

Keeping my hopes up!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homeschool Chronicles {What Has + Hasn't Worked}

Homeschool  ChroniclesLook at that, it's almost March already.  Wow, we only have a few more months of school!  Summer vacation means more playing, more sewing and more kid-bickering (it's true, but let's focus on the positives).  Yaaaaay! 

Actually, I'm really anticipating our next school year this fall. We've formed a teaching co-op with two other homeschool families to start then.  We'll be meeting once per week and each teaching a subject we're passionate about.  I'm teaching writing!

Ok friends, I haven't written a Homeschool Chronicles since early December.  Want to know why?  I've felt shy about how much I change what we're doing.   I know most folks believe in the scientific accuracy of schooling by state standards.  And here I am schooling "ad hoc" and flaunting it.  Even though I'm using my tiny voice right now, I actually believe flexibility is a great strength of homeschooling.  So, today I've put on my big girl panties and resolved to air my dirty laundry bullet point style.  In the last few years, this is what's worked and.... what hasn't.

What Hasn't Worked
yes, best start with that

  • Exploratory Handwriting.  When Aria started copying letters (and soon books) at a very young age, I adhered to a "better late than early" philosophy and allowed her to discover handwriting organically.  Turns out, incorrect patterns of letter formation and improper pencil grip are really hard to stamp outI've found it's best to teach the correct way to form the letters, making strokes from the top down, from the very first.  Insist on a proper pencil grip or buy grippers to enforce one.
  • Dictation.  Central to the Bravewriter language arts programs is practicing regular dictation.  Sure it's beneficial, but Aria detests it.  I decided it wasn't worth so much stress, when there are other ways to teach writing. 
  • Spelling Tests.  Passing spelling tests does not a good speller make.  All that stress!  I've seen my children pass the test but magically lose that information a few days later.
  • Project Hour.   I outlined in my Bucket System post that each child was to have one hour of project time following morning school bucket work.  2 months in, I discerned that Liam's project time was not very fruitful.  Since he doesn't yet read fluently and he's not really a self-motivator, he benefits more from parent-directed teaching.  Aria is seriously motivated and independent, so she wasn't restraining her project time to that hour anyways.  In fact, she preferred to do her projects during wind-down time in her bedroom at night (and at random times throughout the day). 
  • Assigned Fiction Reading for Language Arts.  I have always loved to read, and yet I often chaffed under assigned fiction in school.  Fiction is all about enjoyment!  Although I was drawn to the way Bravewriter programs integrate great books into language arts, requiring certain books and using them for assignments takes a lot of fun out of reading.  I'm still working in historical fiction as part of our history program, but for language arts she can read whatever she darn well pleases.  Aria reads fiction often during reading bucket and on her own time.  Bravewriter just didn't fit for us this year.  Maybe in older years we'll return to assigned fiction for language arts.
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What Has Worked
here's what I know

  • Choice.  So key!  Allowing Liam to choose books for reading practice made all the difference.  When I gave Aria the choice of when/how much of her math book to do (with the understanding that she was to complete it by next school year) her passion for math flared up BIG TIME.  My Bucket system (students choosing what work to do within a particular theme, such as writing) has created so much peace and positive learning in our home.  Give them several good options to choose from.  Then, let them choose!
  • Variety.   Honestly, the kids and I don't get bored with school.  We keep things moving along, with studies to suit our interests.  Sometimes we've worked in blocks on monthly rotations, focusing for a time on history/math and next month on language arts/science.  Right now with Liam, I am alternating his main lesson time between language arts and math on a weekly basis.  This reduces his language arts stress (though he is doing great, he still gets fatigued).  Besides shifting our focus, we also use multiple resources to cover most subjects.  Usually, the point is not to "get this done" by the end of the year, but rather to keep going at a healthy, engaged pace.
  • Favorite Curriculum.  Any curriculum recommendation reflects the education philosophies of the teacher and the temperment/strengths of the child.  Keep that in mind!
    • Apologia Sciences.  These books go deep on a narrow topic and include fun experiments.  Aria discovered her passion for science through the Astronomy book in 2nd grade.  She's now eagerly working through the series.  The student journals encourage note-taking and illustrating, plus review through answering questions.  Note:  This is a faith-based series.
    • Enki 1st Grade Math.  I love how this curriculum introduces pivotal math concepts and all four math processes through story, while also providing worksheets and games for traditional math practice.  Both of my children do well with math, to which I partially credit this excellent foundation in story learning.
    • Singapore Math.  This rigorous program asks a lot more of kids than other math programs I've seen on the market.  It goes beyond simple word programs to complex ones that require kids to make new connections.  Mental math is also prioritized.  Aria can generally learn this math from the textbook without my help, so it is convenient yet rigorous.
    • Sequential Spelling.  We've been happy with this non-phonics spelling program.  Here, spelling is taught through pattern/word association and lessons include some long, interesting words.  No tests, just practice!
    • Explode the Code.  Any phonics work we do is through these playfully illustrated workbooks.  Kids can do them independently.  I like a mix of phonics and context (whole word) reading, so this is a nice element for us.
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  • Read/Discuss History.   We enjoy history!  We've worked through various books over the years, including historical fiction and non-fiction designed for FUN reading, not textbooks.  I think the key has been to read interesting books aloud and discuss as we go.  The kids learn lots of vocabulary this way too!  The value of history lies not so much in dates and names as in ideas, patterns and connections.  No tests required because they've just told me what they know.  What's not to like?
  • Field Trips.  But you knew that.

Well, that feels better.  Like I've said before, our homeschool is a work-in-progress.  So is life, right?  When I think about how my kids are doing overall, I am always grateful we've walked this path.  I know it's not for everyone, but I like to spread the word that it can be a good option should the need or desire arise. 

If you're considering homeschool, I wonder if you'd be interested in a redo of Homeschool Handmade?  It's a two-week online course designed to acquaint you with your options, while helping you discern the unique path that's all your own.  Homeschool Handmade is for anyone just thinking about homeschooling, wanting to understand it better and visualize how it works.  It's even more ideal if you've decided to homeschool and are kind of starting or Not Starting Yet or turning around in circles, not quite sure if you're starting... or not.  And let me know what timing would be good!  April?  May?

xo,

Rachel

Monday, February 24, 2014

what makes it Vintage?

What makes a vintage quilt look vintage?

Last week while writing a lesson on fabric genre for Color Intensive, I described vintage-style fabrics as having small scale prints, often designed to look realistic with a fair number of details.  Does that sound right?  Then I received a book from Stash Books by Kathy Doughty called Adding Layers.

Adding Layers by Kathy Doughty


The colorful cover caught my attention.  That and the idea of "layering".  I know I like layers of interest in my quilts.

Vintage Spin


Inside, most of the quilt designs don't actually grab me, but this Vintage Spin definitely has my attention.  It's funny because the colors and design are not really "me", but I'm totally intrigued by this quilt.

Vintage Spin from Adding Layers


I was trying to figure out what was speaking to me when  I read, "Make a pile of your "old"-looking fabrics. The fabrics are just part of the look - the trick to making quilts that look old is to try not to match!  There are subtle links in all the pairs used in each block, but they don't necessarily look like they came from the same fabric line" (pg 22).

Aha!  I think that's it. This quilt does feel vintage to me (even before I read the quilt's title).  The fabrics don't match, but they do. That seems to reflect how a quilter might actually behave when working with a very limited selection of scraps.   She might make connections as best as possible in places, but the overall quilt would not have a color scheme.  It would not be fabric-designed, just construction-designed.  And, yes, many vintage quilts use value to define a design. 



Musing things over reminded me of this quilt, a long-loved pin that inspired my first Penny Patch quilt.  Small scale fabrics, repetitive construction, no color scheme (though feels somewhat soft, overall).  This quilt has always felt vintage to me.

What do you think?  What makes a quilt feel vintage?

Dream Catcher


p.s.  There is one quilt in the book that absolutely captures me - colors, design and all.  Isn't this gorgeous?  "Dream Catcher" indeed!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher.  My review is my honest opinion, as my relationship with my readers is far more important than receiving free books!  The book link is an affiliate link to Amazon.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

all the flowers

Inspiration can come at the wildest times.  Be ready to catch it!

This December our family went to see the Nutcracker ballet.   During the Waltz of the Flowers scene my heart fairly floated away watching all the colors swirl about.  The flower dancers had vivid emerald green bodices paired with skirts in a contrasting hue.  Amongst an emerald and bright pink set, the flowers waltzed:  pale blue, magenta, butter yellow, turquoise, soft pink, vivid blue.  I drank it in and in and in.  One giddy glance at my mom and she knew what I was thinking.  A quilt!

4567sm

Arriving home late that night, I tucked the littles into bed and scurried to my fabrics, anxious to capture those colors before they faded!  Since photography is not allowed in the theater and the ballet has been unable to pass along a photograph of their own, this little set of fabrics was absolutely key to saving the thought.

Background fabrics for Gathering Flowers

Next step - gather up fabrics.  I didn't have near enough emerald green in my stash, and many flower colors (like soft, true blue and bold blue) were seriously lacking.  Focusing on the greens, I found 4 Kona cottons and some prints to suit.  From top, the Konas are Willow, Leprechaun, Clover and Kale.  I purposely chose a mix of warmer and cooler emeralds to keep things interesting.  The prints are Pearl Bracelets Chard, Botanics Metallic Fern and Botanics Stripe Fern on left; and True Colors Sealing Wax plus an unknown polka dot on right.

my Kona solids for Gathering Flowers quilt

These solids represent the flower colors in my quilt.  From left they are Konas Cyan, Cerise, Ocean, Lake, Buttercup, Pomegranate, Pansy, Med. Pink, and Red.  Each solid becomes petal tips in the Gathering Flowers quilt pattern by Anna Maria Horner, which I'm using for my Waltz of the Flowers quilt.  It will be a twin-sized bed quilt for my niece!

Flower Waltz fabrics

Because I needed to source fabrics anyways, I worked with some fabric stores to create custom bundles. The bundles at Intrepid Thread are ready now and some from Mad About Patchwork in Canada will be available soon.

a bundle at Intrepid Thread

Each bundle has several emerald prints and a print fabric for every flower color.  You can buy them with or without solids to match here at Intrepid Thread.

gathering flowers blocks

Now months later, I'm finally stocked with all the right fabrics and bits of time to make my Waltz of the Flowers quilt.  The Gathering Flowers pattern is a bunch of template cutting and lots of curved piecing, but it's been coming together easier than I thought it might.

awaiting...

In fact, if I leave a flower arranged temptingly by my sewing machine, it tends to get sewn up in bits and snatches within 24 hours. I really don't have time to get cozy with my machine these days.  I've been doing lots of writing instead.

makeshift design wall

Over the weekend I was thumbing through a quilting book that said I ought to put up a design wall whatever way I can.  Just make do!  Don't wait for the perfect set up.  I needed to hear that.  Now I've duct taped batting around (2) 4' x 8' foam insulation sheets. They're lightweight and easy to move.  I'm planning to sort of juggle them around the house for space and better lighting.  Today I have one leaning against a bookshelf in my sewing space.  It's so fun to enjoy and share what I have in progress this way.

And now... I do believe a flower is calling.  There are some minutes left before dinner prep begins!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ode to Botanics

It took awhile to get my mits on this collection.   But, mmmm, it does not disappoint!  I definitely warmed up to designer Carolyn Friedlander over Architextures, but with Botanics she lands squarely in my "thank-you for creating awesome fabrics" zone.  If I have such a zone?  Which I probably do.

 Botanics by Friedlander

Since this delicious fat quarter set arrived on my doorstep last month, courtesy of Robert Kaufman, the fabrics have been disassembled, pressed, cut and dragged back and forth through my house.  Especially as I work on Color Catolog for Color Intensive workshop, Botanics fabrics are showing up everywhere. They're just that useful!  All of these fabrics are one-color prints, with textures that add interest but allow them to remain so easy to mix with other fabrics.

a Color Story {sea}  
algae. storm clouds. deep water.

Sea palette 

Here's one of my Color Catolog mosaics, which appeared in Color Intensive this week (you can still join us - class blog stays open through March 31st).  I spy 3 Botanics in the mix.  Lots of my fabric mosaics for Color Intensive feature 2-3!

Crosshatch fabrics

Botanics includes a huge helping of Carolyn's popular crosshatch print.  Lots of great colors, including unusual shades (like simple green and pale blue (not aqua!)) and neutral basics (I tend to use the pale gray quite a lot).

Botanics Leaves and Graph Paper

I was eager to see these two designs - the tiny leaves and graph paper floral.  They're better than ever in person!  Turns out the tiny leaves are my favorite.  So sweet and simple.

Ode to Botanics

But I've saved the best for last.  These are my favorite Botanics by far.  They're called "metallic succulents" in some shops or just "foliage" in others.  What they are is plain AWESOME.  The prints really do have subtle metallic accents and an all-over foliage design that's neither feminine nor masculine.

I love the intensity of her colors!  The yellow is a lovely caramel.  The orange is super intense!  The teal is absolute luxury, and the emerald green is gorgeous (using it a ton in my Gathering Flowers quilt).  Plus, the white-background metallic foliage... swoon.  This is, for me, the perfect low volume print.  I'm already having trouble "letting it go" by using it.

fabulous Metallic Succulent Foliage

Officially. done. gushing.  But, honestly, I like this stuff so much that I"m pretty sure you will too.  In fact, I asked Robert Kaufman if they would like to sponsor a giveaway of 1 yard cuts of all 5 fabulous metallic foliage prints.   Turns out the good folks at Robert Kaufman are going to start sponsoring this blog (whoot!), and they were game for a giveaway.

Would you like to win?  Enter now through Friday at noon (eastern time) by adding your comment, 1 per person.  International entries welcome.   Good luck!

p.s.  You can find Botanics at lots of my sponsoring fabric stores:  Fresh Modern Fabric, Marmalade, Pink Chalk Fabric, Intrepid Thread, Sew Modern, Fabricworm, Lark Cottons, Fat Quarter Shop, Cuts of Cotton and in Canada at Mad About Patchwork.

Botanics is available in Fat Quarter bundles, roll ups and charms.  Plus you can buy coordinating Kona roll-ups and bundles.  Choices, choices!


********Comments Closed**********

Our winner is comment #292 - Beth, who said, "Oh man, I need this!"  Coming right up, Beth.

Monday, February 17, 2014

seed block

Did you have a good weekend?  I hope so!  We lucked out with warmer temps and sunshine.  As much fun as the snow has been, it's just fine to see it go!

It seems like many have been snowbound, putting a hiccup or two in the postal system.  Last week I was waiting on four fabric shipments, each needed for one project or another in process (I had to stop gathering flowers for want of new Kona solids).  Feeling stir-crazy and sew-crazy, I decided to jump right in to working on my March bee quilt concept.  Early, for sure, but best to jump on those ideas when they land!

scrappy happy inspiration pull

I pulled this mess of fabrics to symbolize the scrappy color scheme I'm imagining.  No purple.  Minimize orange.  Avoid grassy and limey greens.  Other than that, most anything goes!  There are lots of cool greens, cool pinks and aqua/teal blues, plus yellow (always yellow!).

Mariner's Compass block

And lookey what I made!  It's a mariner's compass block, specifically this one from Quilting on the Square, with some modifications.  I enlarged it (now finishes 14") and added a seam to the smaller spokes.

machine paper piecing

There was a time when mariner's compass blocks seemed horribly fiddly to me.  It's satisfying to reflect on how my sewing has grown.  I cut and pieced this block last night and quite enjoyed myself!  I would change one fabric choice, though.  I'm not sure that the main, top compass section stands out enough.  Maybe if I had swapped that pink stripe fabric for a saturated red print it would have done better?

I'm going to make a few more inspiration pieces for my bee mates and share the whole quilt concept closer to March.  For now, my Konas have arrived and I'm eager to start cutting!  Will be back later this week with some fabricy goodness to share.

Friday, February 14, 2014

designing Collaborative Quilts

Thanks for your feedback on yesterday's improv blocks!  There's a good, healthy variety on which ones we like better.  That's what makes the world go round!  And I do hope you guys try your hand at them sometime.  Scraps are so forgiving, aren't they?  Just sew them together and see what happens!

Today I'm thinking about bee quilts since my turn to lead the Love circle quilt is coming in March.  In the past 3 1/2 years (!!) that I've been a part of Love circle, we've made oodles of quilts for Wrap Them in Love, and I'm proud of them all.  As I think over the ways that they're each unique, I also spot some patterns.  I can roughly boil it down to 3 different approaches for leading bee quilts (all illustrated with Love Circle quilts).  Today I'm wondering... what kind of bee quilt am I in the mood to make?

::Repeating Block Grid::

The most simple and obvious collaborative quilt is composed of a specific quilt block sewn up in a standard grid layout.  The leader will often choose a very specific block, such as the Sawtooth Star or Log Cabin, to finish at a particular size (probably 12").    Each bee member can make one or more blocks, as necessary to bring the quilt to an ideal size.

Goose Creek for do. Good Stitches
Goose Creek by Deborah

One variation of this approach is to ask for a block theme, such as stars, allowing members to choose a favorite star block construction.  For variety, quilters sometimes sash the blocks or set them on point.

Love in Wonky Stars with do. Good Stitches
Love in Wonky Stars by me

Another variation is the strip quilt, where all members make a particular patchwork strip in a certain width.  Like blocks, the strips will be sewn together in predictable rows.

bits and blocks front
Bits and Blocks by Ara Jane

Repeating blocks make beautiful, classic quilts or even unexpected ones, depending on the chosen block.  This design style is easy on the leader (straightforward assembly) and comfortable for members (they know exactly what to sew).

::Interpretive Blocks:

Another style of collaborative quilting relies heavily on each member's artistic contribution.  Here the lead quilter will request blocks in a theme that is very open-ended, such as "houses and trees."  If members can use all kinds of piecing styles (applique, paper piecing, wonky improv, etc.) and the theme is broad, bee mates will create really unique interpretations.

Happy Houses Quilt Top
Happy Houses by Natalie

The leader may ask blocks to finish a particular size or leave the size open-ended as well.  If the size is undefined, she'll have to fill in between blocks with negative space or creative piecing of her own.   I think that blocks relying heavily on improv usually feel interpetive.

Gray Side Detail
by Oh, Fransson!

This type of bee quilt tends to energize!  Each feels that her artistic vision is valued.  On the other hand if you're uninspired by the theme, interpretive blocks can be paralizing.  What to sew?  I think it works well for uninspired members to copy the style of another bee mate (so long as she feels that would be welcome).  This releases that sense of pressure and actually creates some helpful unity in an otherwise diverse work.

FO: Wintry Shoo-fly
Wintry Shoo-fly by Jacey

Intreptive block quilts are fascinating quilts.  They can be spectacularly successful!  But it's true that once in a while a leader will receive blocks that she really struggles to bring together.  It's a style that's exciting and challenging for all involved.

::Design Seeds::

I've notice a whole other category of bee quilts where the bee blocks are like seeds.  In the hands of the lead quilter, blocks blossom into an unexpected and complex design.  The lead quilter might ask for specific or interpretive blocks.  The point is that what results is not something her bee mates could have anticipated.  The assembly is a very creative process!

FO: Geodes
Geodes by Jaceycraft

For example, the lead quilter might place simple, traditional blocks in a really unusual layout with lots of negative space.  Maybe she partly disassembles or even cuts blocks, using them like raw material for a more complex design.  Other times the lead quilter takes smallish blocks, which don't cover much space, and adds a bunch of her own design details.

Love in Polaroids with do. Good Stitches
Love in Polaroids by me

I love it when a bee mate surprises me with a finished work oozing with her unique design style.  I personally don't mind at all if my blocks are like seeds, which others may need to alter to fit a vision.  I hope that others feel the same?  Members probably feel less inspired when they can't see where the leader is going, but hopefully the surprise finish makes up for that!  This style demands much more of the lead quilter, obviously.  I think many times it "happens" more than is planned ahead.

So, what kind of bee quilt am I in the mood to make?  I think I want to do a "design seeds" kind of work that calls for open-ended blocks from my bee mates.  My last few bee quilts were repeating block styles, so I'm ready to shake things up.  I've been feeling very improv lately!  I guess my first step will be to create an inspirational block of my own.

Mmmm... could be a lovely weekend.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

ice storms and improv

In honor of Valentine's Day and my current obsession with warm, girly colors...

Improv for do. Good Stitches

improv blocks for Love circle of do. Good Stitches!  This February, Natalie's asked for monochromatic improv blocks, with dark value centers, finishing at any size.  Her strongest criteria?  Small pieces.  Mmmmm....  My witty bitty scraps thank you!

Improv for do. Good Stitches

I made this biggie block last night.  When I finished I wasn't sure I liked how much white I had used around the outside.  It has great contrast and feels SO Valentine, but looking back at Natalie's examples, I thought less contrast would be nicer.

Fresh and early today I started new purple and pink blocks.  Would you like to come along?

Improv for do. Good Stitches

First, I sorted my scraps into several piles, light to dark values.

Improv for do. Good Stitches

These blocks are made improv log cabin style.  To get things started I sewed together dark value pieces, pressed them, trimmed them and studied to see how they might fit together to make a center.

Improv for do. Good Stitches

Once centers are formed, I square the edges and grab some more scraps.  I almost always sew scraps and then trim them up, squaring the edges to match the straight seam lines.  Sew first, cut later, live on the edge (wink). 

Improv for do. Good Stitches

Pretty soon the composition starts looking nicely complicated.

Improv for do. Good Stitches

Ooooh, and I make a mini mountain of pretty trimmings!

Pause!

And then when I'm coming in for the last round of low value pieces.... Pause!  Because you can't sew without power.  Darn.  And you can't iron.  And you can't blog.  And you can't even check emails.  (But you can do yoga on audio with the last bit of laptop battery power).

Snowed in!

Yes, there is a little (lot) of this going on out there, and I know it's not just South Carolina.  Snow and cold abound, they do!

Snowed in!

Snowed in!

The morning after an ice storm, the trees are sparkling pure gorgeousness!

Snowed in!

But the beauty does have a cost.  Last night I counted the sound of 10 branches falling as I tried desperately to go to sleep while ideas for my next class went gallivanting through my brain.  Fortunately, this is the biggest branch we found down in the morning.

Did I mention that I'm snowed in with my husband, but no kids?  Yes, the kids are at grandma's.  And I know, it's ok to hate me some.  Happy Valentine's Day though!

almost Valentines Day!

Just a bit ago the power came back on.  I wizzed through these blocks and over here to share them with you.  What do you think?  Do you like the lower contrast pink/purple versions or the higher contrast red?

Turns out, I like the red.  Haha!  Figures.

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