"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms. A physical, an emotional, a mental and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."

Rumer Godden 1907 - 1998

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Creative Habit

I'm reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp with a group set up by Lynn Krawczyk, check out her blog for more information. Choreography and textiles may not seem like obvious partners, the common link is the need to be creative.

The first chapter is concerned with the place where creativity is triggered, Tharp calls it the "White Room" and the second is what rituals we go through to prompt our creativity.

My white room came as a surprise: "My white room is my drive home from work. My commute is about an hour each way, so this gives me the opportunity to have the internal dialogue that gets me into the right place to make a start on being creative when I get home."

My rituals did not: "My studio time is evenings after work and once dinner is out of the way. I'll start by switching on my sewing machine, even if I have no intention of using it. I sit at my table, either facing my current design board or my current work in progress and I'll review where I'm at. This will prompt me either to work in my sketchbook, or to work on the wip. If neither of those inspire me I have a stack of patchwork blocks that I'm cutting up and seaming as I need to re-make them. Chances are after a while the routine machining will spark something for me."

These two "revelations" helped me take something that wasn't working well this time last week:

To something I'm much happier about now:

The whole piece has started to look more integrated, and less like I'm trying to fashion something out of nothing. In the coming week I plan to do one of the exercises from the book and to face my fears about how I start to develop this piece further.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

WIP Wednesday- Le Challenge and The Creative Habit

Welcome to my WIP Wednesday.
I missed not taking part last week, posting about what I'm working on is a very helpful way of making and marking progress.

The theme this time round on Le Challenge is "wings". My piece is well underway, I'm making use of my embroidery machine to embellish some strip piecing as the background to my piece. I'll then start building up the rest of my design, I'm not revealing any more until reveal day on the Le Challenge blog on May 15th.

My other WIP this week is a read along, the book is one of my favourite books about creativity "The Creative Habit" by Twyla Tharp, check out the details of this at Fibra Artysta. The read-along started last Sunday so there's still time to join in and be at the same point as other folks taking part.

In the first chapter Tharp talks about a "white room" which is her dance studio. Its the place she needs to be to create new dances. Lynn posed a question about what our white room is. For me it's about getting my head in the right place to be creative, I need to have an uninterrupted internal dialogue that enables me to leave the everyday behind and get into a creative frame of mind. Monday to Friday, its the daily commute from work, interestingly the Friday commute home seems to set me up for the weekend.

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 22 April 2013

Spirals, Helixes and Circles

I enjoy the Sketchbook Challenge blog- the monthly theme and explorations of that theme by different artists are both challenging and inspiring. There's a beautifully produced book derived from the blog, including themes that are explored in an exciting and interesting way. I find working in themes and series can be very very fulfilling, and often a broad exploration can lead to smaller, more detailed explorations of a single image or an idea.

About 10 years ago I was doing a series of mentored courses and one summer between the end of one year and the start of the next I worked a whole sketchbook on the theme of grids and lattices. It was one of the most successful explorative sketchbooks I ever completed. In March 2008, I became interested in spirals, like ammonites and twists of wire. For some reason, this never took off as a theme as I couldn't quite explain what I was exploring.

I'm sure that I completed one year of my City and Guilds course in the late 1990's with the guest artist who blogged on Saturday: Jackie Bowcutt, her own blog is STITCHWORKS and it's definitely one of my favourite art and textile blogs. Her post about spirals took me back to the half completed sketchbook and the spiral images I was producing in my sketchbook about 6 years ago. Flicking through my sketchbook I have some pages that are explorations that are worth adding to and exploring further.

The image above is probably about 12" square, I have a much larger version drawn and painted on A1 paper. Part of Jackie's post is about taking drawings and exploding them, a textile piece approximately 40" by 30" worked in silk and paper derived from this drawing did just that:

The time feels right to pick up this sketchbook, my textile explorations and start exploring this theme again.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

When Block Meets Book: J(H)elly Quilt Part 1

I love it when fresh inspiration comes my way. I like the thought process and investigation that follows in it's wake, the digging about to refine what's been triggered in my own way. Sandi Cummings' book "Thinking Outside the Block" has provided me with inspiration that could provide a solution to my frustrations with my jelly roll blocks.

My j(h)elly roll blocks have been a challenge since I started them, first it was the uneven strips and lack of variety in the jelly roll. Since then I worked out I've used both my machines to piece it, so my 1/4" seams might not be the same. The result was a pile of strangely shaped blocks, which looked worse the more I pieced together.

This week I spotted that a swastika motif appearing when I joined 4 of the 6" blocks together. I know it's lucky in some cultures, I want to avoid it. The lack of precise piecing meant that there's no way I could disguise this motif, even with some heavy FMQ.

Taking the directions for "pieced irregular checkerboards" from the book, I cut squares from the fabric that was originally intended to make the borders. These were layered with the j(h)elly blocks, cut into a variety of widths, the strips were rearranged and then pieced to create two new blocks.

The new blocks were again layered, cut, strips cut, re-arranged and pieced to give two much smaller, altogether more attractive blocks. The transformation is amazing, my rather lack-lustre original blocks are now bright and beautiful.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Le Challenge- Geometrics

Last day for posting to Le Challenge for April, the theme was geometrics.

My offering, still a wip as it needs to be quilted is a silk star medallion- the challenge is the word silk! Trying to stop this very gorgeous shot dupion from fraying everytime I touched it and from wandering all over the place as I stitched it was very challenging.

The next challenge for me and this piece will be some FMQ quilting.

Linking to Le Challenge

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Finished Blocks

Finished blocks for Sugar Block BOM:

Finished Block 3 for the Virtual Quilting Bee:

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

WIP Wednesday

Leona  over at My Quilting Adventure recommended a great book during a blog hop post a week or so ago. It sounded like it might be just what I need to give me a different approach to creating my own blocks.

Remember this pile of blocks? I posted about the difficulties I was having due to the irregular size of the cut strips. My plan was to do as a couple of readers suggested and to stitch the blocks together without worrying about variable sizes and then trim them to straighten the edges without worrying about size or shape.

The arrival of this book: "Thinking Outside the Block" an hour or so ago has given me the desire to do a bit more than was suggested. This book is lovely, packed with ideas, illustrations and inspirations that make me want to take these blocks further. I can't wait to finish work, drag a few fabrics out of my stash, open the book and give these blocks a makeover.

Welcome to my WIP Wednesday! Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

WIP Wednesday- Sew and Chat Night

I have a list of small sized WIPs this week, none will result in a finish, each will move the project to the next stage and closer to completion. I'm taking these to the quilt group I belong to this evening for Sew and Chat Night.

Needle-turn applique flower on the reverse of my Honeycomb Pillow

A small Baltimore Album block

Dealing with some stay-stitching that shows on the front of my practice block from the Lucky Stars BOM and prepping it for some free machine quilting. I used stay stitching to stabilise the silk pieces and obviously wobbled a bit too much along one side

Cutting the next blocks for Sugar Block BOM from my chosen fabric palette

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Mill Wheel Quilt

I'm committing to finishing this quilt during April- there I said it, it's out in the open for all to hear.

There's about a hour's piecing left to be done, then I need to think about whether this needs a border and sort out the batting and backing.

Linking to A Lovely Year of Finishes for the first time, I need some accountability so this doesn't wait for several years before it gets finished.

Monday, 1 April 2013

J(H)elly Roll

This started out as a quick and simple project to make a small quilt in 2008. It moved house twice and I tried to solve the uneven block sizes several times.

I bought the j(h)elly roll thinking it would save me cutting time, looking back what I believe I bought was a shop version of a jelly roll put together to sell off ends of bolts. The strips were different widths, the fabric different qualities and so much repetition between strips the finished design will look bland. Add to that my return visit to this shop a couple of weeks ago to buy iron on interfacing resulted in the purchase of a crumpled mess and my conviction about the j(h)elly roll deepened. I won't be buying there again!

The plan is to transform this pile of ill matched pieces into blocks that have straight edges with right angled corners, then sew borders around these in lemon, green and blue so I can square them off at about 15". I'm going to stop worrying about the angles of the patches, the sizes of the strips and borders and the mismatched joins. Given time and patience, this could become a perfectly acceptable back to a quilt.

Linking to Let's Get Acquainted! at from Pixels to Patchwork