Saturday, February 27, 2021

QuiltCon Together, at home by myself...

 Last weekend I spent a lot of hours on the computer. In a rather blues-ish period in the fall I had generously signed up for online classes with QuiltCon when the sign-up opened up for members of MQG, and now it was time to reap the harvest. Of course, my request for the entire QuiltCon days/weekend off had not been met quite to my desire, I still had to work on Friday. But I had Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday and Monday, and so I could spread out the classes that were on demand. Three lectures I had signed up for were 'live' (but pre-recorded nevertheless) and I did manage to catch those on time, and I had messed up a bit with remembering my schedule, so I attended the Q+A session for one class before I had actually done the class. I consider these mishaps a beginner's experiences because, after all, this was the first time I attended an online event like this. I have taught a couple of online classes myself, and I attended the online class by Phyllis Cullen and Cindy Richard on doing faces, but that is entirely different from a whole weekend packed with several classes. 

My laptop, my tea supply,
and my mess on my studio table in online mode..


To be honest, I was very disappointed with the lectures and classes I witnessed 'live'. Especially with the two lectures that were calles 'tours' of the International Quilt Museum. I just did not like her way of presenting (mostly herself instead of the quilts, I thought) and suffered through because I did want to see the quilts she had chosen. So I am not going to say more about those. One other lecture in my opinion by far did not supply what had been announced in the title, and with her I was also wondering, why on earth if you are prerecording this, do you have to have the situation that you are dealing with a scratchy throat, and have to keep commenting on this? Not going to mention that one in any more detail either.

The workshops I took, on the other hand, were very well presented, clearly structured, informative and fun.

Tara Faughnan on hand-sewing could not tell me anything new, but it was interesting to see how she explained how she arranges things, and this was only a short session. Matching the points in a six-pointed star is something I have done before, and I was not really careful enough when doing it alongside her explanation, so I had to take it out again afterwards.

The second attempt turned out better, and the few follow-ups I have done since then have been perfect (enough for mre) from the start.

The class on needle-turn appliqué I had signed up for because at that time I was writing an article on @nadiamamelouk and her self-developed style of needle-appliqué. I was considering trying it out and had wanted to compare, but when I tried Nadia's technique I soon found out that I absolutely love her results, but this is not for me. After 10 minutes into the workshop by Jen Kingswell I knew she wasn't going to change my mind about this, and although I would have enjoyed listening to her Australian English for a while I decided not to finish the entire workshop. 

The class by Sylvia Schaefer on "Designing with Negative Space" was the one where I attended the Q+A session first, before the class. Which is not really a smart way to do it, I completely agree with you on this one. Because it kicks you out of being a valuable participant in the questioning part. I wasn't happy with the Q+A session, and in a way I had the impression that I would have wanted more 'meat' in her answers, I would have liked her to make a better prepared impression. but then I wasn't well prepared myself, and I guess I can't really critcize her then. The workshop in itself was very good, though. Well structured, interesting examples for her list of various means of arriving at a 'negative space' for a modern quilt design, and I learned a lot from her.

But the highlight in classes, for me, were the two classes on EQ8 that I took with Cheryl Brickney, an introduction, and 'alternative grids'. An engineer by training, and abviously very versatile with this program, she had a completely structured way of presenting the program, walking us through the various worktables, repeating steps she had just taken...


I ended up with not very impressive in itself beginner's designs, but nevertheless I was impressed with how quickly I had understood what can be done (well, at least a little bit understood) where I had been pretty much at a loss when trying to find it out by myself.

Will I use this software to design quilts? I don't know, because it is absolutely not my way of working with a pre-drafted design, simply 'reproducing' a pattern like that in fabric when I have already seen it on the screen is not tempting for me. But I will certainly play around with the program a bit, see where it takes me, what options pop up, for example with the 'randomizing' function in terms of color choices.

Did I enjoy this experience of participating in an online event? Yes, and no. It was good to have at least a bit of quilting-related instruction, and it certainly is a big asset to be able to take several classes on a weekend without the additional cost of traveling, hotel, meals, etc. And if one is more careful about choosing the topic of the classes than I was in my blues-y mood when I did sign up, it might turn into a truly exciting learning experience. I appreciated the 'on demand' format, because I could stop the video, rewind, check back whether I had understood correctly, take a break for tea with my husband, and do the exercises without feeling rushed. But it is simply not the same as being in a crowd, together with other participants in a classroom, talking directly to the teacher and the others. But I do love the traveling part of quilt festivals, I am a traveler at heart and in soul and simply sitting in my studio with a computer is ... a different experience.

Yes, I am glad we have been able to develop the online mode of teaching during the pandemic, just imagine how terrible it would have been if we had not had this! No, I don't think everybody does a wonderful job with their online performances, and it should be taken into consideration that some ways of presenting might be ok live, but not in a recorded video. Yes, it was good to take the structured and well-prepared classes at own speed. But with the classes I taught myself it was the same feeling on the other side of the spectrum as I had on this occasion: it's simply much more fun to have the real experience.

Thursday, February 18, 2021


The sweater that was my first finish of the year early in January was knit from hand-spun yarn which I had completed during the first phase of lockdown last year. 


Ever since August I had been working on another batch of a sweater quantity of hand-spun yarn which I wanted to give to a friend for her birthday. One of the three strands I plyed together had been one of the first things I carded on my carder


Occasionally I would take my wheel outside and sit
on the terrace in the sunshine, weather conditions
permitting. This photo was taken early November at a
point when I was probably desperate for some sun...

It meant juggling with several bobbins because the three strands were not exactly the same diameter (not intended to!), and so when I plyed them the bobbins would empty differently. At some point I became afraid it would not be enough, I would have to card more, so I re-ordered a bit of turquoise sari silk which had gone into my own concoction and which I had completely used up. And meant to be without it after the conclusion of this project. That is not the case now - I have spun all this yarn, but I still have 100g turquoise sari silk which I now need to find a new project for... Because I ended up not needing it. Unless she claims the total is not enough, then I can card some more.

Then, finally, rinsing it in warm water to settle the ply.

And drip drying it in the heater room, and taken outside for photo in the snow. (The yellow and beige strands were leftovers on bobbins from other projects and do not belong in this batch.)

It is a wonderful combination of different blue shades and one ply of very dark Gray alpaca.


Due to the fact that this picture was taken with artificial light
the colour just doesn't look right...


At some point just before finishing taking off the plyed yarn from a bobbin there was a break and I came away with a rather short piece of yarn. I decided not to tie a knot but instead used it for a very small swatch because I wanted to see how this yarn looked knitted up before I sent it away.


I am sending the swatch with the birthday card, but of course she will have to make her own swatch before she begins a project. It will be interesting what this yarn will turn into.

That project  meant a lot of hours - spinning three different strands, and then plying them, and it had to be truly enough for her, as she is very TALL! But it was fun. And so this really was my second finish of the year, before the Freewheeling Single Girl Top.

Meanwhile I have started another spinning project - actually, two. One is a variant  of this project. Instead of two blue strands and a black one, I am making one blue strand, one as a mixture of merino, yak and yellow and grey silk, 


and the black one. I think it is amazing how different the sample looks, one can see that 33% difference is already a lot of difference! The strand made from yak, merino and silks feels gorgeous, although it is a slightly challenging combination to spin, with the long silk and merino fibres and the short yak.

The other project started when one member of our spinning group called for a 'fibre exchange' as a substitute for our annual musical chair spinning. I participated, but I stuck to the rules we had the past years, throwing dice for length of spinning time and direction of 'travel' , by myself. The initiator blended the 8 different fibres/colors together. I had not understood that this time rules were laxer. So I ended up with a bobbin full of a very diversely colored thread.

In the past two years I have plyed the results in two-ply yarns and turned them into moebius shawls. This year I am planning a three-ply, and the second thread will be a maroon silk which I bought recently I don't know why (definitely not my color... but I have started on this silk fascination, and it was on sale). For the third thread I am thinking about a mixture of purples and off-reds. Should be a very interesting combination, but that is ways off before it will be finished.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fourth extension... and fourth completion (minus binding)

When the year began I was all psyched up that I would not let the lockdown wear (or psychologically lock) me down, I had planned to post regularly, and not whine about lockdown, corona, whatever. Just concentrate on living an as-good-as-possible life under the current conditions. But three weeks of home-schooling for the nursing course and the developments with the EU-vaccine disaster shut me up. I just couldn't write and not write about these issues, I was so upset. It can't be changed, though, and all my worries about my sons' generation, the economy especially for smaller shops and restaurants which are still closed, although they persist, they don't belong here. So...

Yesterday I finished a quilt top, completion #4 of the year. I had started it about a year ago after I had received Denyse Schmidt's templates for the "Free Wheeling Single Girl" pattern I had seen on Instagram. Of course, the 2019 sew-along was over by the time I became aware of the pattern, and I am not good at sew-alongs anyway. So I got started, liked the ease of how well the pieces came together, determined to use up old workshop samples that never got anywhere - and had another UFO, which stalled when the virus hit. I had tried out different arrangements of the block at first, none of which really satisfied me, though.

Other projects intervened, but when I came across the box after Christmas I made up my mind to get this one finished relatively quickly. I stuck with the original arrangement of the blocks, although I think the off-set arrangement as in the last picture above might be very attractive as well, in another color arrangement.

It was the final top to be quilted on my longarm while it is still in my house, as it is going to move to another place soon.

Now it only needs the binding.

Meanwhile lockdown has been extended yet again, until March 7th. Hairdressers are allowed to open on March 1st. I know many people think hairdressers are very important, but for me some other things would have been more urgent. It is frustrating ... but today the sun is shining and I will go for a long walk in the snow.