Stitching at the 2014 Go Congress

From Saturday, August 9th through Sunday August 17th I was in attendance at the annual U.S. Go Congress.  This year it was held in New York City at the Hotel Pennsylvania.  I had plenty of opportunity to stitch while I was enjoying the activities of the congress.

For those who do not know, go is an Asian board game that originated in China about 4,000 years ago. It is the oldest board game still played in its original form. Most years I get together with about 500 like minded individuals to play tournament games, attend lectures, and socialize.

I decided to document my stitching by photographing my progress each day on a go board. Here is what I put together during the week.









The photograph above represents the basting of 110 hexagons in one day. Each pile contains ten hexagons.

The hexagons for the batik flowers were basted in advance, but I had to baste all of the hexagons for the solid flowers. I have no idea how many hours are represented here. But I definitely had an opportunity to participate fully in the activities at the congress.

I am pleased to report that I had my best congress ever in terms of playing results. I managed to take 2nd place in the 9 kyu playing band. I had taken 3rd place three times already, but never 2nd place before.

Ivory Basics for Low Volume Work

I ordered a jelly roll of Ivory Basics from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. It was there special of the day one day, and I thought that it would be a nice way to start making low volume hexagons without having to buy a great number of different fabrics as yardage. This week I cut the strips into squares and am taking some of them to the U.S. Go Congress this coming week along with basted hexagons for my flower garden quilt.


Weekly Progress: Flower Garden Quilt

Last week I blogged about beginning a new flower garden quilt and settling on a specific design for a flower.  I completed 21 flowers last week. This week I completed 13 more flowers for a total of 34 of these flower units.

In addition to the completed flowers, I have sixteen more units basted, paired up, and ready to assemble.

This will make a total of 50 flower units.  No matter how you look at it, 50 units is not enough for a quilt.  So I had to start thinking of how I was going to supplement those units to flesh out the design.

My first impulse was to reproduce the color and value of the unit, but in solids.  So I ordered some additional Kona solids.  I knew that I would need more of my maroon. However, I bought that maroon fabric from the Pennington Quilt Works, and I have no idea who made it.  It’s definitely not a Kona solid.  I looked at my Kona sample card and found the closest thing I could find, which was Kona Crimson.  Given that this new fabric will form the center of solid flowers, it won’t ever be right next to the maroon that is forming the center of the patterned flowers. There was no other color that even came close to the Crimson, so I ordered it with confidence.  I ordered a brown fabric, Kona Mocha to fill in for the brown batik. Since I already had a bit of it on hand from a previous project I was able to see that it would work well.

I learned from my recent experience in ordering Kona solids that it is hard to judge how a color is going to work from the small sample on the card. Filling in for the yellow-orange batik was not going to be so simple. There were a number of colors that might have worked, and I wanted the best one, so I ordered a range of four colors directly next to each other on the color chart. From left to right they are Ochre, Butterscotch, Yarrow, and Caramel.

The Fat Quarter Color chips for these colors are shown below.

Fat Quarter Color Chips copy

When I got these fabrics in my hands I was able to quickly see that Caramel was the clear winner. If I had allowed myself to only order one fabric I would have probably gone with butterscotch based on what I saw on the color chart. What I liked about the Caramel fabric though, is that it gave a better sense of the overall feeling of value and color of the batik fabric that it was meant to replace.  It even matched the intensity, which I hadn’t realized was going to be important, but it turned out that it was very important to match the intensity. The caramel color was darned near perfect in every way.

I proceeded to piece together a flower using the solids of my choice, and I was happy with it. (Ignore the fabric to which the flower is attached. When I took my photos for this post I didn’t have an isolated solid flower to photograph.)

Of course, the fact that I really liked the solid flower I had just made didn’t prevent me from trying out some other options.

I auditioned these flowers up against my patterned flowers, but there was no contest. The first solid flower was the clear winner as I suspected it would be even before making the other two flowers.

It was my plan to finish piecing the patterned flowers and to make a large number of the solid flowers before starting to piece any units together.  The temptation to assemble, however, proved to be too great to resist. I started by joining four patterned flowers together with one solid flower using hunter green to hold it all together.

Then I tried joining four solid flowers with one patterned flower, once again with hunter green. I want the hunter green and maroon hexagons to predictably march across the finished quilt.

The idea I had in mind was that I might end up treating these constructions as large units that would be joined in some way. The photograph below shows the spacing that the units would take. You can probably see where two additional hunter green hexagons would go, and where another flower would fall into place.

I tried my hand at creating flowers that might work to tie the design together.

It may not be obvious, but the flower above has alternating petals of Butterscotch and Yarrow with a Caramel center.  Mmmmm… Sounds like candy.

Above we have alternating petals of Ochre and Butterscotch with a Crimson center.

And last, we have a yellow-orange batik center with Crimson petals.

My gut feeling at this time, after having done all that work, is that I will probably line up the units to create rows of patterned and solid flowers.

The beauty of working with hexagons, however, is that I can put off that decision until later. Any time spent auditioning flowers is time well spent because I can throw the rejects into a bowl and transform them into an interesting scrappy quilt at some point in the future.

I’ll be spending my time this week basting solid hexagons for assembly. I’m planning a trip soon and want to have plenty to occupy my hands on the train, in the hotel lobby, and sitting through presentations.

I am linking back to Life Under Quilts as usual. If you visit over there you will see what Jessica has worked on this week, and you can also click the links at the bottom to see the work of the others who link back.

Kona Solids Arrive and New Flower Garden Quilt Begun

The Kona solids I ordered last week for a project in the design stage have arrived.  Here they are:

I thought i had ordered half a yard of each of these, but I apparently ordered a yard and a half of the fabric to the far right.  I’m kind of glad that I made the mistake because I really like it.

From left to right these fabrics (with their code numbers) are: Charcoal 1071, Medium Grey 1223, Ash 1007, Oyster 1268, Mustard 1240, Straw 186, Moss 1238,and Sweet Pea 201.

It’s hard to judge how these colors will look as yardage just looking at the Kona sample cards.  You more or less just have to order them knowing that you will eventually use them even if they aren’t quite right for the project you are working on at the moment. The medium gray, for instance, turned out to have quite a blue cast to it, and the charcoal is probably too dark to be used in the project I am planning.  I’ll find something to do with it though.

I went to the trouble of taking photographs of my patterned fabrics on top of each of the solids, but I will only show the Sweet Pea here:

The sad truth is that this photograph simply does not do justice to the extent to which the Sweet Pea fabric harmonizes with these three prints, especially the scallop fabric on the left.

Soon I will cut a couple strips of each of these fabrics and baste up some hexagons and start pushing them around to see what I can come up with.  I’ve reserved strips of the scallop fabric to feature prominently on the back of the piece.  The Sweet Pea fabric will be included on the back as well.

Now on to the new flower garden quilt…

Earlier this week I blogged about some flower units I created on a car ride to and from a visit with my mother. Even though I have been working with hexagons for awhile I have never made any flowers. The details of my thought processes as I created those units can be found here. At the end of that blog post I started to think about how I might utilize this fabric, which I had previously proclaimed to be ugly.

What a victory it would be to design a quilt around a fabric which I found to be challenging. I decided to pair it with another batik and create a flower with a maroon center.

I’ve made 21 of them already, all of them completed this week.

I’ve cut what I have remaining of the yardage for the two batik fabrics to see how far it will stretch.  The limiting factor is the brown batik because I have less of it than the other batik.  I’ve got enough to make thirty more flowers.  I’ll get them finished before I give any more thought to how this piece is going to go together. I will say that I am leaning heavily toward using hunter green in the combination, but that should come as no surprise.

I am linking back to Life Under Quilts as usual. If you visit over there you will see what Jessica has worked on this week, and you can also click the links at the bottom to see the work of the others who link back. Those of you who have come here through the Monday Morning Star Count linkup might enjoy these other post I put up since last week:

$4.00 a Yard Fabric Sale Seduced Me into a Big Purchase

and incase you didn’t follow the link earlier in the post, you might also like:

Started Some Flower Garden Units 


$4.00 a Yard Fabric Sale Seduced Me into a Big Purchase

The Pennington Quilt Works is currently having a big end of season sale making way for new fabrics. I decided to go over yesterday and see what I could find on the sale tables outside the store. First up, I headed to the bins of scraps. You could get a bag of scraps for $5.00. You just had to be able to zip it shut. Here’s my bag with a little room to spare, actually, because I ran out of things I wanted to stuff into it. There are a lot of bright and pastel prints in the bag, which are a real departure for me given my somber maroon and green pallet. I’m planning to turn the contents of this bag into a new bowl of more brightly colored basted hexagons. Next up was a look at the bins of fat quarters, which were on sale for $1.00 each. I was quite discriminating in my choice of fabrics there. I had actually pulled out a selection of low volume prints and white and cream solids, but threw them back because I like my Kona solids, and I recently purchased a low volume jelly roll from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Here are the fat quarters I picked up.  I’ve already pressed two of them. It was initially my intention to find fat quarters that would harmonize with my maroon and green pallet, but I didn’t have much luck there. The second from the left qualifies, but the others don’t. I think I have to take a look at the more expensive bolt yardage in the store to meet that need. That will wait, however, until I go back to use my birthday discount later in the week. Next up was a look at the $4.00 a yard pieces.  I didn’t realize that these lengths of yardage were going to be so long.  You had to purchase the whole piece too.  That’s a real commitment to a new bargain basement piece of yardage.  My attention was immediately drawn to a green fabric with a fish tail motif.  I picked it up and carted it around with me while I looked around at the yellow tag bolts at 20% off inside the store.  I found myself to be overwhelmed by the offerings, however, and left the store to return to the bargain table.  Then one of the salespeople pointed out to me that the fish tails fabric that I held in my arms was part of a collection.  Oh no. That meant I had to seriously look at the other remaining fabrics in the collection.  I decided on the blue fish tail print, but I wasn’t sure about the wide stripe.  Then I saw the narrower stripe and decided to get all four. Only after taking the above photograph at home did I discover that the narrow stripe is not even part of the collection, but that’s okay, because it really goes well with the wide stripe and I may plan something for those two fabrics together with some coordinating Kona Solids. The collection is called Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket for Moda. The wide stripe is pattern #37027.The blue fish are pattern #37026, and the green fish are pattern #37026 as well. I’m not sure sure how the green and the blue fish can have the same pattern number, but I guess you need to specify color in addition to pattern number when ordering those fabrics. It turns out that the narrower stripe is Giselle by Phyllis J. Anderson for Henry Glass & Co., Inc. pattern #9338. The four large pieces combined comes to nearly 25 yards of fabric, and I got out of the store with a charge to my credit card for less than $120.00, so I think I did fairly well, especially since I am already starting to envisage some of the ways I can use the large pieces of yardage.

Started Some Flower Garden Units

Today my husband and I needed to take my mother to the hospital to get a procedure done.  She lives an hour and a half away. My husband is the one who drives when we go out to visit, so I saw an opportunity for some English Paper Piecing in the car, and also while waiting at the hospital.

Even though I am currently in the planning stages for a project, I am not actually stitching anything at the moment, so I decided to do some spontaneous work with my big bowl of basted hexagons.

I grabbed a large handful of hexagons from the bowl, and put them in a plastic bag to take along with me. As we were driving to see mom I started to piece together some small flowers for a possible Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

I decided to use a violet batik for the center of the flower and include a couple solid hexagons along the outside.  Here’s the first flower I made:

After looking carefully at this first flower I decided that it might be good to have the two solids directly across from each other, so my next flower looked like this:

I went on to make another two flowers with the violet batik center for a total of four flowers:

I wasn’t sure how these flowers were going to look after they were assembled and was starting to think that maybe I should make my flowers with maroon centers and put nothing but patterned fabrics along the outside. I proceeded to make a flower with a maroon center to see how I liked it:

I liked the result, and went on to make three more such flowers for a total of four:

Then I started to think about how I might combine these flowers.  The ones with the violet batik centers might end up densely packed with hexagons of hunter green to tie them together.

The flowers with the maroon centers are crying out for a solid border to join them.  This could be hunter green as shown below, or perhaps a variety of low volume fabrics.

After playing around with these flowers a bit I found myself focusing on the orange, green, and brown batik which I had at one time called an ugly fabric.

Well, all by itself, as a large expanse of pattern, it is kind of ugly.  I used it on the back of the binding sample that I am currently putting through a three month torture test. I happen to have about a yard of it left and had no idea what I might eventually do with it.

I am seriously considering starring this fabric in a quilt along with oranges, greens, and browns. I do like my Kona solids.



Weekly Progress Report: Selecting Kona Solids

This week I started to look for Kona solids to work with the prints I am currently using to make basted hexagons. I posted about those prints in my last weekly progress report.  Here they are again.

Christa commented on last week’s post, and said that she loves the scallop fabric. It’s nice to have someone else look at it with fresh eyes.  That prompted me to take another look at it myself.  I realized a few things about this fabric.  I love the tiny dots of maroon, which are better appreciated up close.  I also like the directional nature of the print.  I’ll be taking the direction of the scallops into account when I baste hexagons using this fabric.  I am currently planning to feature this fabric in strip form on the back of the quilt that I will design from these fabrics and the kona solids I choose to go with them.

Here’s the technique I used to search for Kona solid colors. I held some squares of fabric in my hand and dragged them across the rows of the Kona sample card.  Then I would stop when I came to a fabric that spoke to me, and take a photograph of it along with the fabric squares.

The photograph below shows the technique in action:

No, orchid did not speak to me for this quilt. It’s just an example.

I took a screen capture of my Flickr album of fabric swatches that I photographed in my hunt for kona solids for this piece.  I won’t buy them all, but this is a starting point in my search. If you want to get a closer look at any of these solids, and be able to read the names, you can view them in the album.

swatches copy

I spent my creative energies this week on thinking about planning the new project. I didn’t get any actual basting or stitching accomplished.

The only stitching I have done this week is to continue to work on stitching together a successful web site.  I’ve been reading the 2nd edition of “WordPress: The Missing Manual“.  I bought it directly from O’Reily Media as a hardcopy/digital package that includes DRM free digital versions of the book.  I’m reading it on the Kindle App while I am waiting for the hard copy book to arrive.

I must say that I am really enjoying my experience with Bluehost so far.  The introductory webinar session was excellent.  The one-on-one Getting Started Session was great.  My guide for the session took into account that I was already an experienced WordPress user, and tailored the session to my individual needs.  When I verified my account recently on the phone, to be able to check out with a new domain I wanted to register for my grandson, I had a nice conversation on the phone with a guy who talked to me at length about what I hoped to accomplish with my site.  So far it has all been great with Bluehost.  They are always happy to answer my questions, they understand that newbies need some hand holding, and they have great resources available.

I am linking back to Life Under Quilts as usual. If you visit over there you will see what Jessica has worked on this week, and you can also click the links at the bottom to see the work of the others who link back.  Those of you who have come here through the Monday Morning Star Count linkup might enjoy my other posts since last week:

Now and Then: Cutting Fabric
I’m Onboard with the Slow Stitching Movement

I’m Onboard with the Slow Stitching Movement

As a long time quilter, and more recently a hand stitching piecer, I have found the trend in the quilting world toward “quick and easy” projects not only uninteresting, but actually quite offensive.  I savor the process of hand stitching, and I put a big emphasis upon reflection when I write about my work in process. I want to give all the details about what I am doing, where my inspiration came from, how it is related to my work which came before it, and how it might lead to what I may create in the future.

I’ve been writing about the creation of what I consider to be my first heirloom quilt. I refer to it as my Diamond Quilt for lack of a better name.  Looking back at my posts I can see that I have written twelve posts so far about this diamond quilt. The project is currently on the back burner pending an experiment in “binding torture” that I am conducting over a three month period. I’m going to finish this quilt in a timely fashion, but I refuse to rush. Everything about it is going to be well thought out and documented including a binding meant to stand the test of time.

To my great satisfaction I recently discovered that there are other people in the world of fiber arts who share my commitment to detail, craftsmanship, and reflection.  These people exist not only in the world of quilting, but in the worlds of knitting, and stitchery in general. There is actually a movement afoot called the Slow Stitching Movement with Mark Lipinski at the center of its promotion, as well as its creation. On the web page for the Slow Stitching Movement you will find categories for podcasts, a blog, a gallery, and soon a magazine will also be available.

Some day when I finish my heirloom quilt I will upload a picture of it to the gallery on the Slow Stitching Movement page.  At present there is only one item in the gallery, but I am sure that will change soon.

Mark Lipinski hosted a webinar about The Slow Stitching Movement not long ago. It was so popular that he held it again on July 10th. The webinar was available for purchase through Fons and Porter, and I am proud to say that I was in attendance on July 10th.  I was quite impressed with the presentation. It spoke to me, and I left a message telling Mark that I considered it to be the best $20.00 I had recently spent on my art.  I still believe that.

If the webinar is ever available again I certainly recommend that you register and participate.


Now and Then: Cutting Fabric

The Olfa Rotary Cutter has turned 35 years old. The use of rotary cutters and self healing mats has radically changed the way we cut fabric for quilting today.

For those of you too young to remember how we used to do things, I thought it might be fun to take you on a walk down memory lane, and tell you how we used to cut fabric.

I started to quilt forty years ago in 1974 at the tender age of 20.  In those days cutting pieces for patchwork was a tedious process.  The only book I had available to me at the time was The Perfect Patchwork Primer, which does not appear to have been updated recently, but you can still find some older copies on Amazon.

I read that book from cover to cover. This is where I learned how to make templates for cutting the pieces of fabric I needed for my patchwork blocks. There is a detailed section about “Making Templates” beginning on page 124 of the softcover edition of The Perfect Patchwork Primer published in 1973.

This book recommends using graph paper, but also goes into detail about how to use drawing instruments to draw a quilt block to scale. I used graph paper for my fist few sets of templates, but lucky for me I eventually completed a required course in mechanical drawing as part of my Art Education degree at Kutztown University.  As a result I became adept in the use of a drawing board, T-square, drafting triangles and even the use of an architect’s scale when it was needed.  I could get by without the use of graph paper if necessary, and there was some pleasure in knowing that I could do things the hard way.  All I needed was a plain piece of drawing paper, and my drafting tools, and I was good to go.

The recommended technique for creating templates, especially in complicated blocks, was to first draw out one’s entire block to scale. (Diagram from page127)

You then cut the pieces apart very carefully.  You adhered each unique shape to poster board leaving plenty of space between the pieces to allow for adding the desired seam allowance, which you then drew into place. (Diagram from page 128)

Then you cut out your templates. If you were using poster board you could do that with scissors, but if you had the skill to use a mat cutter that was even better. Templates were traced with pencil directly on your fabric.  You kept your pencil sharp for accuracy.  It was important to realize that simply tracing a poster board template would eventually degrade it’s accuracy. Therefore, you diligently made fresh templates for each project even though the shapes may have been exactly the same as shapes you had used in previous projects. You also may have made a fresh template in the middle of a project if you had to make a great number from a specific shape.

My First Act In Fiber Arts lasted about five years. The end of my First Act quilting days would have been the time when the Olfa Rotary Cutter first appeared.  I didn’t notice it then.  I did notice it a few years ago when I considered getting back into quilting and embarking on My Second Act In Fiber Arts. I have to admit that I was intimidated by the cutters and the mats, and that my intimidation contributed to a delay in getting back into fibers. I bought them, however, and eventually gave them a try.  There’s no turning back to hand drawn templates at this point.

Do you want to really appreciate how good we have it now? Find The Perfect Patchwork Primer in the library, or borrow it from your local guild dinosaur. I’m proud to be a quilting dinosaur myself, who appreciates NOW but remembers very vividly what things were like THEN.

Weekly Hexagon Progress Report

This week I was looking for some fabric that I could use to baste some hexagons with no particular plan for what I would eventually do with them. Some mindless stitching was what I needed. I discovered a bag with a quilt pattern in it along with a number of strips that I had cut to be used with the pattern. The pattern was a very easy, nonthreatening type of thing. I picked it up a few years ago to get me involved in quilting again, but hadn’t used it, except as inspiration to cut a great number of 2.5 inch strips. It was my first rotary cutter experience. The pattern and the strips sat around in a bag since then. The pattern has never been used, and probably never will be because I believe that I can come up with something better on my own at this point. This pattern has “quick and easy” written all over it. It was what I needed at the time, but it isn’t what I would choose for myself now.

I had actually cut about eight different fabrics to use with this pattern, but only three of the fabrics were still in the bag.  I had raided the bag previously to make hexagons for my room divider projects.

I set about cutting some 2.5 inch squares from all three of the fabrics that remained in the bag.

I’ve been busy basting hexagons with those squares, and have about 100 of them completed so far. I am focusing primarily on the batik fabric, and have started to generate some ideas.  I am planning to purchase some Kona solids to coordinate with the batik. I’ve got my eye on some grays and some yellows. I might use the other two print fabrics (primarily in strip form) to piece something interesting for the back of the piece along with the Kona solids. Maybe I’ll even use the pattern for the back.

In addition to basting hexagons I was busy this week moving my blog from to  That was the subject of yesterday’s post.

Soon I will be attempting to bring over my subscribers from, but if that doesn’t work  and you have subscribed in the past, you might want to resubscribe. Wait a couple weeks before you do that though.  My domain is still not 100% set up to work with Bluehost yet.

The process of taking from being hosted at to self hosting has been nerve racking simply because I am a control freak at heart and I put this into someone else’s hands because I was afraid to do it myself.  I am really feeling really good about Bluehost though. They offer free webinars, and I will be participating in a webinar today for new users.  Tomorrow I have my one on one quick start phone call session scheduled, and Wednesday I am participating in a webinar for getting started with WordPress. This company seems to offer a lot of support and resources.  Their online chat has been very helpful in answering questions, and it is great to know that they take phone calls just incase I feel that it would be better to talk.

I am linking back to Life Under Quilts as usual. If you visit over there you will see what Jessica has worked on this week and you can also click the links at the bottom to see the work of the others who link back.