Day 1 – Why don’t you try this?
“…take a shape, any shape, and see where it leads you“, said Kaja in this post for Ad Hoc Improv Quilters, over on Sew Slowly. Kaja was doing squares, and I had been toying with the idea of trying the Floating Squares score from the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, which has been my story-time favorite ever since it arrived in May. Kaja and Ann Brooks at Fret Not Yourself have started an Ad Hoc Improv Quilters monthly link-up and I was intrigued.
Ad Hoc Improv Quilters
But squares just weren’t ringing my bells. So, having challenged myself with this AHIQ thing, I decided to use a different shape. In the wakeful wee hours one night, I began to think about triangles. Triangles are wonderful. They are the simplest polyhedron; if they had one less side they would just be a line. They define, and can only exist, in a plane, which is why three legs is the ideal number for a stool, or for anything you want to balance on. You can use triangles to solve interesting problems such as how steep is that hill or how far away is that star.
Recently I had been doing some traditional piecing with HSTs, and was enjoying how they lined up so elegantly.
But that is hardly improv, so what else could I do with triangles?
Traditional quilting typically uses symmetrical shapes that fit together neatly, like right triangles, and isoceles triangles. But, you can get a lot of variation in the shape of a triangle, by stretching it out, leaning it backwards or forwards, making it tall and thin or short and fat. Now my mind was teeming with triangles of all shapes and colors. They formed a mob and were marching towards me, through negative space…I had to give in to their demands. So, triangles it is.
I went shopping in my stash. First, I decided on some “negative space” fabric. It’s mandatory, right? I had a cut of Kona Ash left from another project. I chose that, it is a nice, silvery, soft gray. I picked a favorite batik piece and then found a few more including a piece of gray batik, that I thought might be an interesting transition to the solid gray.
I put away my ruler and cut a bunch of strips about 8 inches wide. From one of the multicolor strips, I cut some random triangles.
I decided to combine them with some other triangles to create some roughly rectangular units. This involved cutting other triangles from the other fabrics. If your starting triangle is a right triangle, you only need one other one to make a rectangle which is approximately equal to a HST. However, if it is not, you have to add triangles to two sides to create a more-or-less regular rectangle. Which gives you something like a Flying Goose. Okay…
This process also leaves you with some angled end cuts and…more triangles! So I went ahead and rectangular-ized all my first set of random triangles and got these. Basically some irregular HSTs and some items that resemble flying geese. But I like them.
Oh yes, and during that part, I introduced one additional fabric.
Then I veered off on a sidetrack I later regretted, involving some some Sujata Shah style stack-slice-shuffle and came up with eight more slightly irregular HSTs. This is a great technique for creating a lot of HSTs quickly, but the result was too uniform to suit my present purpose. I tried re-stacking, slicing and shuffling them with some other fabrics, but was still not happy with the result, for this quilt. (They got recycled later on.) This became my stopping point for Day 1. And what
else is wrong with the picture so far? Remember that nice gray negative space I decided on first of all? I had forgotten it entirely. As usual, I was seduced by the riot of color. Stay tuned for Day 2, to see what happens next!
Day 2 – Still trying; getting in the groove.
I began today having decided that it was okay to keep doing what I liked and not to stress out about what wasn’t working. I began by addressing the pile of triangular scraps I had left over from yesterday. I used these, and added to the pieces I had felt were most successful yesterday. These were a series of mostly “flying goose” type blocks and some approximate HSTs. I ended up with a larger collection of the blocks that I really liked. I still had some composite triangles left over, when I thought again of my “negative space” fabric. I decided to ease into the negative space thing gently, kind of like sticking one toe into the water to test it. I began with the gray batik as a ‘transitional’ fabric between riotous color and pattern to the quiet, smooth, gray of the Kona Ash. So I made a few four-sided pieces using the multi-triangles and the patterned batik. And a few more HSTs, and a few more flying geese. It was during this process that I had to come to terms with the fact that some of the points on my triangles were going to be compromised, when the pieces were put together: I channeled Sherri Lynn Wood and said “Yes, and…so what?!” I spent the rest of the afternoon putting groups of the blocks together into larger sections. I decided to just piece them in ways that appealed to me. This was the first one I put together.
Then, some of my original “geese” stepped forward and demanded to be placed in a row, thus forming the bottom row of my quilt (for now). This row was so nice, I added another on top of it, and finally a third, on top of that, where some of the transition fabric has been introduced. This brought to mind a place I saw in Montana on a vacation called the Crazy Mountains after a woman who reportedly an away and lost her mind there. Or maybe lost her mind and ran away there. Does it matter? They were off in the distance, to the west of us. Sunset on the crazy mountains!The remaining geese wanted to flock together, so I made three sets of these, and played with placement.
The other days!
I really got on a roll then and stopped taking pictures. The quilt started building itself from the bottom up. As I got toward the top I introduced the solid gray and dropped out the colors entirely. I had to create more triangles, and worked with smaller and smaller scraps. I did a lot of fitting together, and a LOT of steam pressing as I went along. Due to choices I made about which portions of some rows to keep in, I ended up having to trim off both of the vertical edges, though by some miracle, the bottom and top edges were fairly even and horizontal. Here is the final top, all pieced.