Monday, October 29, 2012

Quilt as desired

Are you someone who can be ready for a trip at the drop of a hat? Then return home and jump right back into your routine without much jet lag? I am envious because that's certainly not true for me. Out of state trips always knocks me out for a week.

This two-week trip was wonderful despite a couple of hiccups. I re-connected with a long time (not old) good friend near Detroit. Together we took a short trip to Toronto. Then I'm at the Crow Timber Barn for a workshop - Machine Quilting: Inspiration, Design, Critique with Sandra Ciolino. I'll save the hiccups for another time and get down to what you really want to know about - the workshop.

iso right thread color & weight for Golden Sol
Sandy, our fearless leader (she prefers facilitator), not only quilts beautifully, she's a great teacher! Communicative, structured, generous, caring, attentive, open, non-threatening, organized and more. The qualities you wished all your teachers had. She deserves lots of credit for setting up an environment for everyone to thrive. What a difference five days made!

We were a small group of seven with not a bad apple in the bunch! Couldn't ask for a better group of people!

Machine quilting wise, each of us started in a different place - from little to some experience. But that was okay. Sandy gave each individual plenty of attention and guidance from wherever we were. Nudged and nursed us along until we were quilting with confidence.

We were also diverse stylistically. I expected more Nancy Crow students since it was at the Barn. Instead three had never taken any workshop with her and two had taken only one workshop. So we had a diverse range of quilt tops to critique.

The critiques were a fabulous learning experience. These were not a show-and-tell what's-good-what's-not likes-dislikes kind of free-for-all. Sandy provided a timed 5-step structure adapted and revised from Art + Quilt: Design Principles and Creativity Exercises by Lyric Kinard. Of course everyone wanted to know how to quilt their tops - our reason for being there.

The critique structure really worked and we really got into the swing of it. Sandy even joked she'll packaged us up and take us on the road! I got some helpful feedback and am no longer stymied by my larger tops.

The very first exercise was another fabulous learning experience. It made us take the plunge. Jump off the cliff. But in a non-threatening way. It opened up options. Very freeing. We learned there are no rules for thread color, thread weight and stitch lines. Sure, fiddle with the thread tension until that works. Otherwise, quilt as desired! 

I've heard that many times but was clueless as to what that meant. Now I know. There is no one way, no perfect way. Explore, experiment, play. Trust your instincts as an artist and quilt as desired.

With inadequate choice of threads, I didn't get far on the circle with straight lines shown at the top. So I started on these two small black and white compositions in the workshop:
geometric stitches with white, variegated white, variegated gray and black
organic stitches with contrasting variegated thread
A lot of intensive quilting. Geometric stitches requires focus whereas organic stitches flow more. By late morning Friday, I could only doodle:
stitcher doodles 
more stitcher doodles
Many thanks to Nancy Crow for going forth with the workshop despite our small group. Without your faith, this enriching experience would not have happened. When she offers this workshop again, go for it! You won't find a better teacher than Sandy nor a better facility than the Barn.

Apropos, Perfect Happiness was the title of Robert Genn's Tuesday Twice-Weekly Letter, which led with this quote from Winston Churchill: "The way to be happy is to find something that requires the kind of perfection that's impossible to achieve and spend the rest of your life trying to achieve it." Read the rest of it here

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sequel to dyeing

How two days turned into two weeks - the final stretch of the dyeing saga. The dyeing part is easy compared to what happens after batching.

Wednesday, day six: final rinses. I slaved between the sink, the hot stove, and the washer and dryer. I filled, heated, stirred and empty the stock pot at least eight times.
taking the water temperature
stirring the pot
For simpler time keeping, I allowed half an hour for each final rinse. I really must get a small top loader. At least I got all 21 cloths into the dryer.

Thursday: other plans so no dyeing. But I contemplated the mottled cloths and the missing half of the first set. Then made plans for more dyeing.

Friday: dyed the missing five of the first set and overdyed the highly mottled four of the second set. Lesson learned: measuring smaller quantities of dye solution is very persnickety!

Saturday: washout and final rinse of Friday's dyeing. I was physically tired and moving more slowly. Lesson learned: dyeing is very physical! Be less ambitious. Dye less cloth with more time!

Sunday: To redo another nine, I had to make more dye solution and used up all the dye. No more dyeing! Yay!

Monday: washout and final rinse of Sunday's dyeing. Last rinse! Yay!

Tuesday: r&r! A hike in Tennessee Valley and an exploration of downtown Mill Valley.
a foggy day in Tennessee Valley 
Wednesday: boring stuff like ironing & record keeping.
new hand dyes fan deck
Thursday: laundry room cleanup.
gloves washed and drying
The end result: solids stash before and after.

detail of most affected hues
Due to the yellow and red I used, most ended up between magenta and green. I'll try for yellow to red neutrals in the next dyeing session.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Planned dyeing unplanned

The previous post describes the three days before the two-day dyeing session with Pat. This is a continuation of how dyeing went from two days to two weeks.

Neither of us are experienced dyers but Monday started out well with set up, making dye and soda ash solutions and mixing our first set of colors.

The first set of five should have been a set of ten but we forgot to split up the solutions to get two values. Oh well. Lesson learned. So we ended up with five rich deep colors.

We didn't forget to split the second set. But we soon realized the solution alone was inadequate to wet the cloth. After this second lesson, we were sailing until the folding table suddenly collapsed! No spilled dye though.  Whew! Containers were all capped. Just some spilled soda ash solution. We were dyeing outside on Pat's deck so no real harm done. Lesson no. 3: lock those table legs!

By the time we finished the second set, it was late afternoon. We left the cloths to batch and called it quits for the day.

Tuesday we were to finish up with the third set and proceed with wash out and christen Pat's new cute washer. Unfortunately, Pat caught a viral infection that knocked her off her feet. So I trudged on in my laundry room.

While the first two sets were soaking in cold water, I prepared the third set. After it started batching, I took a break and dropped by my neighbors with some lemons. I walked right into a medical emergency. I drove one to the emergency room where the paramedics took the other one.

You know there's no such thing as a short visit to the emergency room. Much later, I smoosh the batching cloths anyway before going to bed. The end of day five. What will be will be.
36 dyed yards after two weeks