Friday, September 27, 2013

Ring Around the Lone Star - September's Lovely Finish

It seemed like a modest goal ... but still took some effort for me to complete it.  This 60-inch square quilt top now feels "done" and and ready to be quilted. Somehow the addition of those quirky feather-inspired leave shapes–that I know wouldn't have been everyone's choice–makes it more "me."

Ring Around the Lone Star

Along the way, this quilt now has a name, Ring Around the Lone Star.  It's my completed project for A Lovely Year of Finishes.  This project has helped me push myself even when I continue to have little or no inclination to quilt ...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Playing with Color and Stepping Outside Our Color Comfort Zone

I think we all have our go-to colors and color combinations whether it's for quilts, the clothing we wear or the way we paint and decorate our homes.

Fabric for a BlouseI was thinking about color and how I choose colors today, as I went on my own little color hunt in search of fabric for a blouse that would work with a chunky cotton cardigan that was an impulse buy a couple years ago.

I love the mint green with gray color combination, but I always end up wearing it over a white shirt or gray knit top because I have nothing else,  Today, on my way home from the farmer's market, I decided to see if I could find any fabric that was a color match for the mint green which could become a blouse.  As I was waiting in line at the cutting table, the ladies in front of me were so excited that it had sailboats–they had apparently just been looking for sailboat fabric for a quilt. I confessed to them that I bought it solely for the color.

For me, sometimes finding the right color is as easy as matching something that I like.

February Quilt Along BlockA few years ago, I was thinking that I wanted to try making a quilt from bright colors, so I decided to use brights for a set of Quilt-Along blocks that I would be making. Not knowing where to start, I chose a Laurel Burch print and decided to use it in each of my blocks.

As I blogged my progress with these blocks I received a lot of compliments on the colors/fabrics I used.  I did make a couple rules for my blocks, liking including both warm and cool fabrics and a black and white print in each, but, it was using using the color palette in the Laurel Burch fabric that gave me confidence that it would work.

The idea worked so well for me that when I was choosing colors for the big traditional feathered star blocks I've been making and sharing on the Daily Feather, again, I chose a fabric from my stash on which to base my choices.  Here's the fabric, Provence, from Michael Miller (and oldie that has been waiting in my stash for the right project) and the five blocks I've made so far.
Michael Miller Fabric, "Provence"
I think the role of the inspiration fabric is less obvious in the feathered star blocks than in my bright QAL blocks, but, I'm confident that the result will still be a good one.

As I look at the blocks on the wall, I've been thinking I need to make more blocks with purple.

Five Feathered Stars

Seeing the photos of the fabric and the blocks, side by side, I can see that while I have used the same colors, I need to also consider the overall proportions in order to achieve the feeling of Provence.

We used a similar approach, earlier this year in the Tea Towel challenge, where the colors to be used in the quilt were supposed to be determined by the colors in the tea towel.  My choice was a 1950's reproduction with a limited 4-color palette. It was a great exercise for me to limit myself ... and it was another project that, as I worked/blogged along, received a lot of comments and compliments about my color choices.

Cock-a-Doodle-Tea Towel

I think taking color inspiration from fabric, a photo or other work of art is a great way to climb out of our color comfort zone and try something new.

Speaking of new, yesterday, I was looking through the greeting cards in my desk and found some color palette inspiration for the stenciled feather on silk I made as part of my Daily Feather project.

Stenciled Flower and Color Inspiration from Picasso

The image is of a Picasso painting, Two Girls Reading, an oil on canvass that I'd seen at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. I bought the card to remember the painting and what was, to me, an unusual combination of colors.  When I saw it again yesterday, I immediately thought of the gold silk noil fabric on which I'd printed the black feather.  My original plan when I stenciled that feather was to make a pillow cover, but it continues to assert that it wants to become an wall quilt.  I have some ideas for design elements, but I've been stuck on finding the right colors to add ... until now.

Thank you, Pablo Picasso.

How do you step outside your color comfort zone?  This month, I've asked the Block Lotto community to Blog about Color.  I'm adding this post to the linky party happening over there.  Have you blogged about color?  Feel free to join us.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

My Continuing Chile Education

Padrone Chile PeppersIf you ask the vendors at the Farmer's market about the relative hot-ness of the chiles they sell, they will inevitably tell you that they're either "mild" or "medium hot" ... or they'll say something along the lines of, "you can never tell, they might be mild but sometimes you get a hot one."

I figured the only way to decide which ones were for me was to taste my way through the farmer's market during the season.

padrones and shishitos

These are Padrones.  They originated in Spain and are quite mild.  I like them prepared simply,  blistered in a hot pan with a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt–Bon Appetit's recipe is here.

The Japanese Shishito chiles are also quite mild and lovely.

There are a lot of varieties being roasted at the farmer's market and in parking lots all over Santa Fe.

Lots of Different Chiles

Guide to ChilesMost of the chiles at the farmer's market are identified in some way.  Sometimes a grower will confess, "I don't remember what kind of seeds we planted." Most come with some sort of signage.

Some of the names are regional, some have an appended, "improved."  The Alcalde Improved that have become a favorite of mine are derived from Espinola Improved. The name is, in part, regional and also reflects the growers selection process.

Peppers (not Chile)

These red beauties came home for their taste test this week. They're sweet peppers and not chiles at all ... but I couldn't resist them.

I plan to use them in a version of a recipe I found on Kate's blog, Black Pepper Tofu.

The peppers below aren't chiles either, but aren't the colors glorious?

Peppers at the Farmer's Market

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

September's Lovely Goal

Remember this almost finished effort from a couple months ago?

 Stalled ...

While I have been not quilting, sewing or otherwise creating, I think my subconscious has been thinking about a couple of these lovely works-in-progress ... and now I am ready to come back to this one and complete the design.  It's my goal for a lovely finish in September.  

If it happens quickly, I may even finish up last month's project ... as I have also worked out some border decisions in my head for this one during my creative funk. 

Flying Geese assembled

I guess even when I'm not actively sewing my brain doesn't stop solving the creative challenges in quilt design–Stay tuned to see what I've come up with to resolve these quilt designs ;-) 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Parked on my Design Wall

In the last few weeks, I seem to have lost my will to sew ... and the projects parked on my design wall reflect that.  But since there are a few new blocks (and a new block pattern), I've decided to share.

Design Wall - 2 September

More Stone FabricsFabric is cut to make more of the traditional feathered star blocks ... but I have made only minimal progress.  I joked with a friendly a while ago that I probably should re-label The Daily Feather blog as The Occasional Feather, unless I get back on track soon.

The pieced curve bird blocks are still waiting for the design idea in my head to be translated to paper.

The recently ordered charms to be used with the drunkard's path panel have arrived and  so the only thing holding me back from making progress is ... myself.

Boomer Block Pattern CoverThe tall variations of the traditional Oklahoma Boomer blocks are for the September Block Lotto.

I had a lot of fun dressing the Boomers in back-to-school clothes.

You can download the pattern from my Block Patterns page and find the guidelines we're using for the block lotto here:

September is Boom Goes-Back-to-School Month

Will I find my creative mojo in September?  As much as I don't feel like sewing, I am missing it ... so I'm hopeful.  What do you do when you just don't feel like quilting and want to restart the create urge?
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