Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Comforting Distractions

Try as I might to complete the quilt I have been toiling away on for so long in the weekends, it just refuses to reach an end.  (Still thinking of calling it The Infinity Quilt if and when the happy day does arrive that it is finished!)  I suspect a lot of other quilters are probably in the same boat as I am - whichever is their latest project, is also their greatest, and their favourite!

The new red toned quilt which I only started to use up leftovers is threatening to take over my life.  It was originally going to consist of random hexies just put together into rows to create some curtain tie backs; then there were so many hexagons that I figured I might as well make some cushions as well, and good grief so many suitable fabrics came to hand that it seemed sensible to make a rosy toned theme to fit in with all the other similar shades in the bedroom at Shoestring Cottage.  (Mr Shoestring is very indulgent in this matter and seems not to mind that his sleeping accommodations resemble a rose bedecked bower, what an accommodating creature he can be.)

After stringing together rows and rows of these random pinkies I saw somewhere a quilt which tugged at my heartstrings - hexagons of course, but set together in a different way with alternating rows of different blocks.  I can't remember whether it was in a book or a magazine and I only have a slightly blurry photo on my phone to guide my progress and give me some idea how to set them all together.  (I was possibly shaking slightly with excitement when I took the picture.)  Here are a few of my blocks laid out on the floor to give you a rough approximation of the end result.

This particular quilt ticks all the boxes for me and it took me a while to figure out why it is so enjoyable to make.  Now I think I have solved the mystery.

1.  It involves hand piecing - perfect
2.  It uses hexagons - for some reason I can't go far past them
3.  It includes a wide variety of patterns and is reasonably accommodating about different shades
4.  Instead of just one kind of block there are different blocks, so if you get tired of one you can have a rest and make some of the other sort for a while.

Of course no project ever comes together without a hitch and this one has been no exception.  I never stop to estimate how many of each block will be needed, I just get started and keep on going.  Too tedious otherwise and hampers the excitement and enjoyment.  Consequently I fear I made too many of these blocks

in comparison to this one

so now I am having to try to balance the numbers out.  But what a great project it has been so far.  I have stitched away in the car, on the bus (much to the alarm of one fellow passenger - I suspect he didn't trust my skills with the needle and feared for his eyeball, oh ye of little faith) and at every spare moment as long as it wasn't positively dangerous.  Now I am thinking that the original (somewhat boring) rows of random pinks I created could go round the edges, or perhaps I could use some toning fabric for borders.  The possibilities are endless and many a happy daydream has been had turning the possibilities over in the mind's eye.  I could end up with pot holders and bunting made from leftover hexagons at this rate.

I have a friend (Ma'am) who has recently discovered the joys of hand piecing and I feel almost envious of her to have recently come to this wonderful activity - she is only sad that it took her so long to find her way down the hexagon path and into earthly paradise, she thinks of the years before stitching and wishes she had entered the portal into piecing earlier, but at least she got there in the end so her life wasn't wasted.  Her first quilt she has named La Marquee because (much like me), she started out with no particular plan and it has taken shape all by itself but seems to be breaking free of any boundaries she tries to impose in order to "square it off", hence a rather random and wandering shape which will need to be brought under control at some stage.  Either that or she will indeed have a gorgeous hand stitched pavilion to sit under if things really do get out of hand.

In between frenzied bouts of stitching though, it is so enjoyable to get lost in dreaming about some other project and a book or magazine can be a wonderful distraction (and time waster it has to be admitted).  My current favourite is this embroidery book, The Maison Sajou Sewing Book (and I heartily recommend it to you.

It has a wide variety of tempting projects including this running rabbit - don't you feel the motion and it is composed of straight stitches!

Then there are these wonderful vegetable table napkins, once again using very simple stitches.  I think a natural coloured linen with drawn thread work around the edges would make this project even more special - and woe betide any poor unsuspecting guest who stained them!  You could easily add extra veges to suit your own taste after finishing a couple, the stitching looks remarkably straightforward.  

But anything by the wonderful Cecile Franconie (see her wonderful blog with knitting, crocheting and embroidery) is great for whiling away a week or two

 And in the magazine department I can't go past Quiltmania, always something new fresh and inspirational.  I think the stationer gets tired of me pacing about and poring through the selection, waiting for the blessed day when the new edition arrives.

So if for any reason you can't be stitching, you can be reading/dreaming/planning stitching and that is almost as good as the real thing.