From time to time I resurrect or rewind some of my oldies but goodies. With spring just around the corner I thought it would be fun to revisit a post I first shared on May 17, 2013. This post is one of several filed under the category I call Gardening.
May 17, 2013
I was very remiss at cleaning out my gardens last fall; there’s plenty of debris just waiting for my attention. While working in my studio recently, I detected movement outside my window, in my peripheral vision. Being curious about the origin, I stopped what I was doing to investigate. Carefully I moved toward the window. As I got closer I could see a big fat robin. The robin was tugging at the leftovers of last year’s Black Eyed Susans.
I stood as still as I could; not wanting to scare the robin away. The bird paused for a moment then tugged once again at the decayed stems. His efforts eventually were successful. As he flew away I could see the new-found items nestled within his beak. The male robin returned numerous times to gather more items. Seeing this robin actively gathering stems and leaves reminded me that YES indeed spring is here! Yippee!
Take A Look
I took advantage of a rainy day recently to pause and take a few photos in my gardens. This is the fruit of my labors. Enjoy!
While this post certainly has nothing to do with quilting it does bring you a small taste of the environment that surrounds me. My home, garden and landscape bring me great joy. I hope you found today’s tour to be a pleasant one.
I looked forward to returning to my studio today. My mood was extra perky because the clouds were gone and the sun was brightly shining. I just love it when the light filters through my studio window. The glow of the bright rays and their warmth always makes me smile.
My goal for today was to create new building blocks to fill in some of the holes in my design. I also had plans to manipulate the arrangement of my blocks. The process of moving them around obviously won’t stop until I start to stitch them together. The farther I get into my project the harder it is to see big changes.
I have a large volume of scraps stockpiled in baskets and tubs just waiting to be added to an art piece. Sometimes I think I pay more attention to them than I do my neatly stacked and folded fabrics.
Perhaps it’s because the contents in my cubby holes serve two purposes,
I love to surround myself with bright colors. My home glows with pizazz from my many art pieces and the carefully chosen collectibles. In my studio, my neatly pressed fabrics help to add the punch of color I crave.
A decrease in my inventory would mean a reduction in the colors on display. Of course I could always remedy that with additional trips to the fabric store. But, on the other hand, that would mean I have to spend more money and spending more money is something I hope to curtail. The scraps of fabric, while quite colorful all on their own, don’t provide as much of an artistic impact. Besides cutting into a scrap is much less traumatic that a whole piece of cloth.
I used those strips to create the center section for the block in the top left corner. I’m amazed at how interesting it turned out. The other five blocks were also made with scraps from my baskets.
Mystery QAL Day 9, Design Wall in Color
Mystery QAL Day 9, Design Wall in Mono Tones
Pictured above are my color and mono tone photos from yesterday. The photos show areas of concentrated dark values. To make my piece more appealing I needed to insert blocks with lighter tones to break up those areas.
Some of the blocks I create are random sizes while others were made with a definite size in mind. All of the units I made today were meant to fill specific areas so their sizes were predetermined. Their color values were pre-planned as well.
These new blocks were made to help breakup yesterdays problem areas. I inserted them into my art piece then took another set of photos.
Mystery QAL Day 10 Design Wall in Color
Mystery QAL Day 10 Design Wall in Mono Tones
Here’s how my piece looked after they were incorporated. The addition of the lighter colors helped to break up the overly dark areas.
A Different Plain
Without my saying so, I’m sure you have noticed that my photos were displayed horizontally rather than vertically. I did this because I like to be able to see them on a different plane. This gives me the opportunity to visualize things differently and perhaps notice other problem areas.
My design wall is way too big to turn the other way. It is much easier to rotate a photo than it is to move my board. Besides, if I did try to turn the board I have a hunch many of my units would fall off; creating yet another problem. Then I definitely would see things in a whole new way.
Aside from color value, I also like to analyze the direction of my blocks. Ideally I would have a good mix of both horizontal as well as portrait. My eyes don’t always catch this with a portrait photo. Many times I’m so focused on color and their values that I forget to look at block orientation. The horizontal photo makes me look at things differently and helps me to focus on portrait vs. landscape.
Judging by the photos above I think I have a pretty good mix. There are perhaps a few more that register as landscape but I think I can live with that for now. Especially since I’m not quite finished with my design. This gives me something to keep in the back of my mind, however.
So far today I have made six new blocks, reorganized the block arrangement and analyzed my landscape vs. portrait orientation. Left to consider is my color values. Next I will compare yesterday’s photo with today’s.
Mystery QAL Day 9, Design Wall in Mono Tones
Mystery QAL Day 10, Design Wall in Mono Tones
Looking at the two photos I can see that many of the blocks have been moved to new locations. Moving them around and adding in the six new units has drastically improved the appearance. The ratio of lights, mediums and darks has started to even out as well. With a more even blend my eyes move about more freely and that’s exactly what I want to achieve. Woohoo! I think I am on to something. FINALLY! 🙂
This is an awesome place to call it a day! Before I do that let me share two more photos.
Mystery QAL Day 9, Design Wall in Color
Mystery QAL Day 10, Design Wall End of Day
This side-by-side comparison provides a look at the end-of-day photos from yesterday and today. I definitely like today’s much better! It looks so much more organized and restful.
You have been such a trooper for allowing me to bend your ear. Thank You! I look forward to our next get-together. I am so excited because we are getting so close to the end.
Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit lax at reading and commenting on your blog posts. Unfortunately I’ve been ill. My lack of energy kept me from doing anything but relaxing on my couch. Thankfully I have turned the corner and am finally on the mend. This uptick in energy has helped me to catchup on my reading and my interactions with your posts.
Shortly before hitting the wall I was working on finishing up three on-going art pieces as well as a brand new one. All that was left to do on the on-going art pieces was the hand stitching. The new art piece had reached the quilting stage.
The plan was to quilt my project using my Pfaff Performance 5.0 because the piece was too small for my longarm machine. Sadly the machine had begun to have issues; issues that I couldn’t ignore. Even though I had been doing regular maintenance the machine just wouldn’t cooperate.
After ripping-out my quilting twice I finally threw in the towel and admitted the repair shop was my only alternative. Sad as it was to be without my workhorse I knew I could always rely my old sewing machine, or could I?
Knowing that I needed to put it back into use I went to my storage closet to remove my Pfaff 1475CD. This trusty machine has been with me since the early 1990’s. I’ve successfully used it to create many, many items.
The machine had been sitting idle for more than a year which meant it would probably need a bit of cleaning. I removed the cover and layers of dust that had gathered. Next I checked for any lint accumulation that may have been forgotten, replaced the needle, wound a bobbin, threaded the machine and grabbed my art piece. As I released the lever that suspended the presser foot in mid-air I assumed the shaft would slide down and engage the presser foot with my fabric. After releasing the lever I waited, and I waited, and I waited but that little critter refused to go down on its own. Who would have thought that my second machine wouldn’t work either?
Time to Dismantle
Since the warranty on my Pfaff 1475CD had expired eons ago I figured I might as well attempt to troubleshoot the problem. I did research on the internet to find a solution. Through my searching I discovered that this is a common problem with this machine. Using the knowledge I acquired I proceeded to disassemble the machine.
The Inside of My Pfaff 1475
I followed all of the suggestions, even enlisting the assistance of my hubby to try to revive my machine. After days of oiling, cleaning, poking and prodding we came to the conclusion that the issue was beyond our abilities. I bet you can guess what happened next…that’s right! Not only did my Pfaff Performance 5.0 take a ride to the repair shop but so did this one.
To the Rescue
I was so distraught. The thought of being without my machines for three weeks along with the fatigue of my illness was more than I could bear. Tears came rolling down my face as I struggled with my emotional dilemma. I shared my issue with my family via iMessage. In no time my oldest daughter was offering me the opportunity to use one of hers. I did accept her offer and made arrangements to bring one of her sewing machines home. Having her machine available means the next three weeks, sans my own machines, will be less painful.
Since I’m on the subject of ailing sewing machines I thought I might as well give an update on my Tin Lizzie.
For a while I have been sharing the troubles I have been experiencing with my longarm quilt machine. My machine has been randomly deciding not to turn on. I reached out to the company for assistance but received very little if any response. Thankfully the issue I was having was intermittent.
One day, out-of-the-blue, I received a random phone call from my Tin Lizzie repairman. I was absolutely aghast to hear from him because my previous cries for help had gone unanswered. As our conversation progressed it was obvious he was oblivious to my issues. His reason for calling was totally unrelated. Thankfully he promptly made an appointment to stop by to trouble-shoot my machine.
After diagnosing the performance of my Tin Lizzie he was able to determine that there were parts in the motor which needed replacing. Thank goodness there was actually something wrong and it wasn’t just my crazy thinking. He immediately placed a call to order the parts. As soon as they arrive he will stop back to install them. I plan on enticing him to checkout a few more things while he is here, just because. My warranty expires in a few short months so it’s now or never.
Who would have ever thought that all three of my machines would have issues at the same time!!!
Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder! I really needed the support.
My plan this morning was to photograph the 16 quilts I recently finished. To get the process started I carried my photography supplies downstairs to my studio and started pulling out props to help with staging. After documenting the smaller ones and trying to reset for my larger pieces I got frustrated. The table I wanted to use was filled with segments of an in-progress art piece. Everywhere else I looked there were stacks of supplies waiting for my attention.
We make frequent trips to our little cabin in the woods (lcitw) during the months of May through October. Many of those trips are for seven days or more. The visits north, with all of the related commitments, eat up a large portion of our available time. During those months I have this mantra running through my head, “Not until after October 15th.” The 15th of October is the last day our lcitw is open. With colder weather just around the corner we use that date as our deadline to close-up and winterize the cabin.
Tasks, other than those that are essential, typically must wait until our lcitw is closed. Adhering to the mantra can at times be challenging. As long as I keep reminding myself that superfulous projects will receive their needed attention after October 15th I can overlook those elephants in the room.
For the women of my family the propensity to rearrange furniture is common. About three years ago we moved into a smaller home. This smaller home leaves very little opportunity for reconfiguration. Even though we custom designed my studio to fit my long arm quilting machine it takes up the majority of my space. The constraints it puts on the rest of my work area greatly limits the ability to move things around.
Today the challenge of overlooking my studio’s on-going condition became overwhelming. It was disappointing that my mantra failed me but I just had to remedy the situation. Without a resolution I wasn’t going to be able to proceed with my photography. Thus, I bit the bullet and tackled the problem.
There Has To Be A Better Way
In my studio, as I’m sure most of you do, I have a sewing area, a cutting or design area, a storage area and a pressing or ironing station. Efficiently fitting all of these spaces into a studio can be challenging. With careful planning this hurdle can usually be overcome. So far all that my careful planning has accomplished is frustration. I’ve tried configuring my furniture into several different arrangements but have yet to find one that doesn’t leave me feeling cramped.
The first step in achieving a peaceful studio was to rearrage my work spaces. Here are a few photos of my studio before completing the task.
While rearranging my work area I neglected to consider a place for my ironing board; thus it has been assigned a floating area. Thankfully my ironing board is very mobile so as long as there is power available it can function just about anywhere.
My long arm quilt machine with its rollers and available table top make a great place to temporarily stage some of my supplies. Obviously it’s not to practical because the items must be relocated when the machine is in use. But, since I can’t long arm quilt and create new art pieces or quilts at the same time it has to serve two purposes. I guess that is the compromise I had to make when I decided to purchase the machine.
Once my frenzy to re-establish order was complete I returned to my original plan of photographing my 16 quilts. I am happy to report that I was successful in conquering that task and was even able to spend time doing a little sewing. The photos of the 16 quilts will be shared in the days ahead.