Splendid Sampler — Half Way Home

Splendid SamplerAre there any Splendid Sampler participants still out there?

I know there are.  We were in the neighborhood of 20,000 strong when we started last February.  I know many of you are up to date and still participating…and many, many more of you, like me, are hanging on…barely.

We knew when we started that this would be a long and unpredictable journey. A yearlong commitment to any project is risky, and in this one, we really had no idea what blocks would be thrown our way.

My special thanks to all the designers who have donated their time and effort to these wonderful blocks.  While I have deep respect for all of you, I may not sew out a few of your blocks.  Please don’t be offended.  Sometimes the stress of learning a new technique, combined with time constraints, just has me putting off a few blocks.  Also, in fairness, If I had the same taste as all 75 or 80 designers, I wouldn’t have much of my own. So, every now and then, a block just isn’t my thing.  That’s OK.  I still appreciate the work, and I probably would take the time to do them under different circumstances.

But, hey, it’s my quilt, and at the end of the day, I reserve the right to be a little choosy.  That said, I have ventured into many an area I never thought I’d enjoy–like hand embroidery.  Believe me, I still fall back on machine embroidery when I fall behind…or when I don’t really want to do any applique.  Then I just digitize the whole block.

Splendid Sampler

But a few of them I’ve done by hand, and while time-consuming, they have that unmistakable “slow stitched” look.

Splendid SamplerNo matter how you look at it, I am still proud that at the end of this year or the beginning of the next, I will have an amazing, interesting, unique and lovely quilt all pieced and ready to be assembled.  It will be both a tribute to fellow quilters and a learning process on my part. In this picture, I left the blocks in their cellophane sleeves so they don’t begin to fray from too much handling.

Splendid SamplerNow back to the business of filling in some of the blocks I missed along the way.

Splendid SamplerIf you are inclined to join, feel free to hop on board.  You can find the block patterns and all you need to know right here. 

The Splendid Sampler Facebook page is also a great place for inspiration and community–see everyone else’s projects!

New blocks come out every Sunday and Thursday, and bonus blocks are plentiful.  The patterns will be available for free for a year and then they will all be assembled in a book. (You know we’ll all want the book!)

Keep going Splendid Sampler lovers…we’ve rounded the corner!

 

Splendid Sampler Update

splendidsamplermapI love a good visual.

So I thought I would open with a map of all the participants in this project.  Pretty impressive, right?  Here’s a link.

According to Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, the coordinators and people who apparently never sleep, we are now somewhere between 20,000 – 30,000.  Could that be right?  Many are not following on Facebook, but are making the blocks at their own pace.  (Just an aside, I ran into Pat Sloan at the local Panera while in Paducah.  She is absolutely as tireless and upbeat in real life as she seems online…and she looks just like her pics!)

A few observations…Japan and South Korea are in the house, but no one from China…a reflection of their internet access? So odd, because a disproportionate number of modern day sewing machines distributed here and around the world are built in China.

And no one from Greenland. Or Kazhakstan. (I know there are quilters there.) No one from Mongolia or from the middle of Africa. Much of the middle east is silent.

A surprising number from South America.  I did not know we had so many quilters in that area.  Australia and New Zealand, no surprises there.

Still not on board?  If you are mildly curious, here’s a link to all the block patterns so far They come up every Sunday and Thursday. If nothing else, it’s a great way to become familiar with new designers and block patterns.

We are somewhere around 22 blocks at this point.

splendid sampler 23Those are 6 1/2 inch blocks.  As you can see, they are getting harder and harder for me to fit into one frame.

Lessons I’m learning about myself:

  • I like to piece.  Easy, repetitive, simple piecing is unbelievably relaxing for me.
  • Paper piecing needs to be done in the morning or afternoon, but not after a big meal or if I’m tired or stressed in any way.  I need all my focus on getting everything in the right place.
  • I didn’t realize how much patience I have lost for anything done by hand.  Hand embroidery seems like it takes a lifetime.  All I can think of is that I could have digitized this and had it done days ago. And yet, I love the way it looks and I love the threads.

hand embroideryThis little design took me weeks.  Of course, I’m not working on it every minute, just a bit of time here and there.  Yet I am loving the texture of this thread.

wonderfilI found this thread at the Wonderfil booth in Paducah.  I’m sure many of you have heard of it before. It’s called Razzle. (Yes, they have a metallic looking thread that is called Dazzle).

Razzle has the weight of about size 8 perle cotton, but it’s a rayon.  So for those of you who are cotton purists, you’ll just have to look away.  Me, I fell in love with the sheen and the weight of it.  It was a pleasure to use for hand embroidery.

closeup This project is only about one fifth of the way done.  Eighty or so more blocks to go.

Will my stamina hold up?  Will I have the patience to learn more new techniques?  Will I lose interest in the color scheme half way through?  Will I actually create a setting for these blocks after the project is complete and finish the quilt instead of leaving the blocks neatly in their cellophane pockets in the binder?

I don’t know. I really don’t. A lot of life can happen in the next 8 months.  We’ll both have to wait to find out.

Stay tuned.splendid_button_4

How Would You Fix This?

Rummaging through my closets this week I came across an embroidery project I worked on back in high school…yes high school.  I think it was for an art class.  It’s actually pretty big, 18 x 24 I would guess, with a large wood frame.

high schoolHave to love the signature.

carolAt any rate, back in the day that I stretched and framed this thing, I obviously had no stabilizer behind it.

You can see that after moving, I don’t know, 5 or 6 times since high school, somewhere along the line I managed to poke a small hole through the muslin.

the holeThe weave on this fabric is amazingly loose.  I thought about just adding another tree.  However, now that it’s stretched on a frame, it’s very difficult to embroider–but probably not impossible.

I hate to just give up on it, as the details are interesting.

close up2stitchesI’m open to suggestions.

I think the best I can do is to finish the edges of the tear with Fray-Check, and then somehow add another tree on top of the hole.

It may not be perfect, but, hey, after 40 years (or 50 or 60), how many of us are?

Rediscovering Our Hands

Everything old is new again.  Almost.  I’ll never be ready to turn in my sewing machine (like, when they pry it from my cold dead hands), but this trend toward more work being done by hand is therapeutic, charming and totally exciting.

I recently ran across Jane Austen’s book “Emma” from Penguin Publishers, and they have released it with hand stitching illustrations on the front and back covers.  It’s actually a photo of the stitching, but the work is so lively and fresh, it’s alone worth the purchase.  The commissioned embroidery is done by Jillian Tamaki.

Front cover.

Front cover.

Front cover detail

Front cover detail

Back cover

Inside back cover.

Inside back cover.

 

One of the big trend setters and players in the new hand embroidery movement is folk artist Sue Spargo.  Her work is colorful and, well, just interesting to look at.  I think we’re reaching a point where we actually want to appreciate details again.

Sue Spargo bird

Sue Spargo bird

I think the re-emergence of wool applique and some of the new hand-dyed colors in wool is another inspiration.  Wooly Lady keeps it fresh with their designs.

Wooly Lady

Wooly Lady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just for fun I dug out the first and last hand embroidery I ever did.  I think it took me months and was from a very simple pattern.  I had it stuffed in a drawer, and I think the best part is the bag.  Venture stores has been out of business entirely since 1998.  The one where this bag came from was one that had originally been a TurnStyle store.  Oh, c’mon all you midwestern oldies but goodies, you know what I’m talking about!  Retail at it’s finest…hand embroidery from Venture.  I’m such a time machine.

Hand embroidery from Venture