The hand quilting of Mary Ellen’s sunflowers continues.
That sentence could pretty much be the blog post in its entirety, but I have this love affair with the English language so I’ll carry on for a bit.
Since the February retreat, I’ve accomplished very little on the quilting front. It seems the quilt just doesn’t want to be quilted at home. It needs my retreat buds as much as I do. For an introvert, that’s a little weird, but there you go.
There are nineteen blocks, plus an abundance of sashing and nine patches. I have finished the quilting on exactly one block. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s a picture of my start.
This isn’t a process I can rush because my stitches wind up looking like a drunken sailor made them. Not pretty. Watching TV while quilting is out because I get distracted. In a moment of weakness I thought I’d watch some Outlander and manage to keep on task. *Graham McTavish, slobber, stitch, slobber.* What a truly stupid idea. 🙄
Pandora and some earbuds seem to be my best bet. Classical for smooth stitches; ZZ Top for when I want to look back and wonder where I went wrong. In the words of my grandmother: they’ll never notice it on a galloping horse. Alrighty then.
Anyway, some progress has been made.
From the first outlines of the petals, flower center, and three concentric rings…
To the beginnings of a crosshatch design…
To a completely crosshatched block.
Tomorrow I’m having a quilt-in with my Mama and a friend so maybe I’ll get more done. My needles are loaded and ready to go and I’ve even made the first stitch.
Hand quilting has given me an all new appreciation for the wonders my hands can perform. And the foreknowledge that I’m going to be monstrously arthritic in my golden years. Good times ahead.
I’m even staying up past my bedtime to get in a few extra stitches.
My biggest problem so far has been getting and keeping a grip on a needle that feels like it’s the diameter of a human hair. How’re you supposed to hold on to something that small? My hands get all sweaty and I’m wiping them on my shirt or pants just to get some grip. Then the pendulum swings and they’re dry as the Sahara with zero traction.
What’s a quilter to do?
Finger cots! That’s right; the answer to my prayers.
Do you know what happens when you ask for finger cots? You get offered everything but. I do not want a thimble, be it plastic, metal or leather. I don’t want those stick on polka dot thingies. My fingers don’t need pasties, thank you very much. I know what I want, but it seems the vast majority of folks have no clue what I’m talking about as I tended to get a lot of head cocking…think cocker spaniel.
But mention the words ‘miniature condoms’ and people are all over it. Like they didn’t already know what I was alluding to.
And that got me thinking…where did finger cots originate? Then it hit me.
They’re Smurf rubbers.
How else do you explain one head honcho with seemingly hundreds of lookalikes milling about who all refer to the leader as ‘Papa’.
Have you ever even seen Mama Smurf? Nuh-uh. She’d had her fill of the amorous Papa Smurf and his unwillingness to keep his necessary covered and beat feet for parts unknown. Although, I suppose all that amore could explain why they all seemed so damned happy and fa-la-la-la-la-la-ing all the time.
Know where I finally found them? The cots, not the Smurfs.
I’m now two full weeks into this whole hand quilting thing and, sarcasm aside (No, really. Seriously, stop laughing.), am pretty happy with my progress and overall appearance of my work.
Of course, when I look at a picture of the entire thing and see just how big it is and how much quilting my hands will be doing, I get slightly nauseous. Have I mentioned patience isn’t my forte?
But I’m having a good time and, really, isn’t that the point? I even have company and, heaven knows, having a dog in your lap just makes the whole process sooo much easier.
My entire focus is on getting this thing quilted and moving on. My focus ISN’T on how I get the quilting done. Meaning: I don’t ‘rock the needle’. Purists tsk and occasionally give me a pained smile. I get the same look when I say something off color and slightly obnoxious. It’s quite fun. 😏. Sorry, but thimbles aren’t my friends and I was focusing more on needle and thimble and not jamming anything under my fingernails than actual quilting which was very frustrating. Please don’t tell me I’ll get the hang of it. My father thought the same thing about teaching me to drive a stick shift. No, thanks.
I try to work a bit every night. Hockey playoffs mean I have to pay extra attention to keep my stitches even and still manage to scream and gesticulate at the TV. I’m nothing if not a multitasker. In my last post, I asked other quilters what they listen to while working away on their projects. Let me just say that a steamy romance on audio is not the way to go. There’s just something slightly hinky about hearing someone simulate sounds and say certain words aloud if’n you get mah drift. Hello, is it hot in here?!
Here’s a close up of a block. The slight gathering of the fabric really makes the petals pop although my perfectionist tendencies have my gut clenching that the block isn’t smooth and flat.
As a side note and to my surprise, look what got a shout out on Quilter’s World Facebook page. Squeal!
In the end, I am having a rocking good time. See what I did there? Ahem.
There comes a point in any quilting project, machine or hand, where I realize I need something to help push me through.
Music or meth?
Music it is!
Yesterday, I thought the entire process would come to a screeching halt without benefit of music. I love classical, but classical wasn’t gonna cut it this time. If I’m machine sewing, I like 80s rock, but hand quilting needs a somethin-somethin all its own. So, I searched Pandora and came up with a station that seemed promising and cranked up the volume. Behold my hand quilter’s playlist and the accompanying thought that goes with it.
Greasy, grimy hands approaching your precious project clearly calls for MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This.
Getting into the rhythm and feeling the love of the process requires American Authors Best Day of my Life .
Having a WTH have I started moment needs Nico and Vinz’s Am I Wrong.
Stove up and creaking like an old rocking chair? Please forgive me, but how ’bout Shake It Off by Taylor Swift? Hey, at least it’s not Bieber!
Thread not playing nice and knotting up like a cheap garden hose? CeeLo Green has a song for that…F@ck You!
Still questioning your sanity about starting any of this calls for Freak by Chic.
Arms feeling like dead weight? Try Otis Redding’s These Arms of Mine.
Finished? It’s Celebrate by Kool and the Gang.
Certainly, the list isn’t exhaustive, but every one of these spoke volumes yesterday.