Monday, February 19, 2018

Joy at last!

Bright and beautiful day up here! Crisp and sunny, but truly, very cold! These winter pictures are from quite close by, but higher up than what we are. Our trees don’t look like this as we are further down. Look at those poor snow-covered trees, it is hard to picture that the trees are there under all that snow and ice.
I have kept crocheting the second side of the cushion cover I showed you last time. I love this join as you go -method and the back side looks as if there is a braid where the pieces are joined.
I like the outcome of that, so much that I am even thinking of making a blanket with this method. As you can see, I have planned the colors this time and I am growing more and more fond of the look. This kind of crochet is stress free; there is enough change not to become boring. I am making the fourth side (one and a half cushion covers done), still enjoy the process, and am not looking forward to being done.

But the quilting…
I tried to continue this quilt a week project, started another little picture, but no… there was no joy, nor had I any idea what to do next. Since this is how the creative process is sometimes, I am recording these thoughts here. I got stuck. Truly, stubbornly stuck, with no way to get out of the stickiness. I had to stop racking my brain and just let it rest. 
When I let go, I remembered that last year I started 2017 BOM by Sarah Fielke. It is called “Down the Rabbit Hole” and got as far as almost half way done. (The link takes you to her book Down the Rabbit Hole that she published after the BOM 2017 was finished.) Since I did not know what else to do, I decided to continue it and I have loved every single stitch. The bright colors feel just right and appliqueing sun flowers with the bright sun above in the blue sky, feels right.

My quilting life has finally reached a quiet, calm spot and I have no plans to leave this sweet place soon. I did join 2018 BOM  called Simple Folk too but have not yet decided on the color scheme. My first thought was to make a Christmas quilt (traditional green and red and off-white), somehow the layout and the creatures seem wintry to me, but I have doubts, because part of me wants to make this quilt with browns and blues.
I would have loved to design and make my own quilt, but as it has not happened so far, I will continue this Rabbit Hole Quilt. I am grateful that there are great designers out there, who put out lovely designs, that are not only beautiful and entertaining, but also very informative and they teach a lot.

Thank you, Sea, for the question about the tassels in mittens.

I guess one of the reasons, why the mittens up here have strings, or braids, on them, is for the decoration, particularly when there are tassels attached to the braids. When there are only strings, they are easy to tie to each other and hang to dry, also when you tie them to each other, it is harder to lose them. In the old times when working outside, men and women wore heavy leather mittens for heavy duty tasks, but when they needed to do something, that required more control of hand movements, they took the heavy leather ones off and used woolen mittens instead. As you can see from the winter pictures, one could not use only thin woolen mittens in this climate, so the woolen ones were used just for little periods of time and when not in use, they were tied together and stuck under the belt. This is one explanation that I have read, there might be other ones too.

Both of my projects have brought lots of joy. I hope I can get the sun flower border done this week and can start the next border, which is piecing for a change. I wonder where my sock mojo has hopped, because I have not seen her for a bit. Maybe she is sound asleep in the sock drawer, as it is quite full… not that I am saying that there is such a thing as too many woolen socks. I am not too worried, she has come and gone many times before. She will make her appearance, sooner or later.

Wool with you,

PS. Ruusu's eyes continue to improve, little by little. Thank you for your well-wishes. xxx

Monday, February 12, 2018

Still cleaning

Another week has gone by; there is more day light, the sun’s visits are more frequent, the cold spell is gone, Ruusu’s eyes are not much better than last week, but better than two weeks ago. I have spent lots of my energy cleaning and I feel happy and relieved every time I have dusted and wiped areas that are difficult to reach and require serious approach. 

But, there is always but, isn’t there? My crafting life seems to suffer. I find it very difficult to settle into anything enjoyable.

Last night, when I put the last stitch on this little quilt, I thought about intuition. Knitting and crocheting, or the yarn related crafts, like embroidery are in some way easier for me. It is as if those crafts are almost intuitive when quilting and sewing always demand more planning and more thought, I don’t know how to proceed and always end up having to think, overthink. When I hold yarn, I (sometimes) right away feel what it should be, but when I hold fabric in my hands, I am never sure. I am not certain if this is due to the lack of experience or if my brain is wired that way. Even though fabric work seems to be a battle ground, I still want very much to do it.

This intuition-thought forces me to rethink my little quilts. I wish I could cast away all the images of different works I have done, put blinders on my eyes, and concentrate on hearing what is it that I want to do or need to do. Also, it could be that I am in a spot, where I must to try this and that, be all over, before I find what I am searching for. This project hunt is extremely difficult. I want to try everything, yet, I don’t seem to be able to seriously stop and focus onto anything and thus what I make, I am not happy with. I guess, I just have to walk on all these paths and trust that I will find the right one at some point, and not end up totally lost.

During last week I tried various projects…

This is free-form piecing and then embroidering on top, there is something I like, but something feels odd and off… could not go on. I like the trees, not so much of the fox. I think the problem is the way I drew him. I should simplify the design. I am sure I will revisit this technique one day. I like how the stitches feel like I have drawn on the fabric and I love the free-form back ground. No need to match the seams, just add on fabrics and enjoy the process and the color play. Now that I look at the piece, I feel that the trees and the fox don’t match.
Then I thought that I would make a doll quilt… but the single block came out too big and this would make a good baby quilt, but not a doll quilt… again one day.

Since I did not know what to make, I decided to sew a little foundation paper pieced block (Sunray from Craftsy Class Start Foundation Paper Piecing by Elizabeth Dackson, see the first picture) and refresh quilting techniques, piecing, quilting and binding. The little quilt is ok, but it does not really fit my plan to make a diary quilt every week. Or maybe it does in a way… But this is all I could finish this week, so I will leave it behind and look ahead.

I did start another left-over/not loved sock yarn cushion cover; and completed the first side. This does not look like much, but I am hopeful, it will be fine in the end. To be completely honest, I have been tired in the evenings, so crocheting this simple fabric has been easy to pick up and thus it has eaten up almost all my crafting time and energy.

Diane, thank you for the question on embroidery on quilts.
When I have completed the top, I baste only the batting to the top and then I will embroider. This way, if the back side does not end up tidy and nice (it never does), it gets covered by the backing in the end. I use usually cotton batting, because it is stable and little bit stiff and it is easier to embroider on if the piece is thicker than just plain cotton fabric. I am sure there are other ways to do this too.

I wish I had something wonderful to share, but this creative dry spell does not give much to write on. This will pass, I trust. It always has. (Fingers crossed.)

Wool with you,