Busy But Quiet

Truth: the political campaign renders me downright inarticulate a lot of the time. Or perhaps more accurately, I articulate my frustration, disgust, and dismay quite well. But it doesn’t seem to leave me a lot of words for other things.

I’ve been busy with quilty things but not posting much. Right now I have Connected on the frame. It’s about halfway through being quilted, but we hit another tension glitch the other day. Two hours of unstitching was the trade-off for about ten minutes of quilting with bad tension. It’s a shame but it’s not fatal. As my friend Lisa says, no one died and no one went to jail, so it’s all okay. Progress was halted but will resume soon, perhaps tomorrow. I think Jim and I are both eager to finish this project and send it to the new owner.

Besides that, I’ve been working on a project that excites me, but it’s hard so sometimes slow. (Imagine saying “it’s hard” with theΒ whiny, complainy voice of a 13-year-old. That’s the kind of hard it is.) It’s a medallion quilt centered with a large-print African fat quarter I bought a year ago. I’ve added and subtracted and moved borders from sides to top and bottom and improvised and cut carefully and … now I’m working on borders that need to wait until other decisions are made. And man, it’s hard!Β But it’s fun and keeps my brain working. For now, I’ll keep the progress to myself. As for its process, this is designing one step at a time, where the steps are dance steps, sometimes forward and sometimes backwards, in heels. πŸ™‚

A third project is for my small group. I’m delighted that my group decided to do a round robin again this year. Our March meeting is Monday. We’ll pass the center blocks at that time. We agreed again this time to have no real rules, just guidelines. With that, the center block should finish between 9″ and 12″. Mine is a 12″ block.


I never know how colors will translate between real life and your screen. The background color is a celery green. The print points have blues and greens on a black background. The center orange strips are quite vivid, the color of a bright tangerine peel.

I’ve decided for this project, for all the rounds I add to my groupmates’ projects, I’ll try to work from my scrap drawer. When that fails me, the next option is pieces from stash smaller than a fat quarter, and then from larger if needed. Only as a last resort will I buy. Since we all have different tastes in fabrics, I know buying might happen. But my creativity is engaged most when I have constraints. This constraint will force me to look at my scraps a little differently.

How are you all doing these days? Feeling frustrated with current events, too? Making progress on projects?Β 




46 thoughts on “Busy But Quiet

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It’s different! I wanted the center to stand out, and it certainly does. Since it’s for round robin, no telling how it will turn out! A mystery to be revealed over time… πŸ™‚

  1. Quilt Musings

    I love that block! On my computer, the colors look great (if not quite what you have described), and I love how crisp it is, especially that center 4 patch set off by the background fabric. The tension issues must be horribly frustrating. I hate unsewing and only do it very rarely. Two hours for 10 minutes of poor tension seems like a very unfair trade-off!

    As for the election hullabaloo, I am glad I am far away from it. I already hold imaginary conversations in my head trying to convince people to move away from the insanity and look at facts and not just rhetoric…It’s probably a very good thing I am far enough away to avoid arguments!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for the comments. I love the center, and I love the block. I’m not as sure the center goes with the star points. But one great thing about round robins is a lot of things that don’t quite go together do become a whole composition. So I’m willing to wait this out and see what it becomes.

  2. snarkyquilter

    Uneven, gnarly tension seems to be present in your quilting and our politics. If we could just undo the latter in as straightforward a way as you’ve done with the stitching.

  3. twallisstone

    Thanks for posting when you can! I find it difficult to blog plus keep up with projects. In regards to quilting, my mantra is “I’ll keep making quilts until I get it right.” There is always something….Keep quiltin’!

  4. Paula Hedges

    Your block is beautiful even with altered colors. Our political situation is just as colorful, but in a bad way. For me what is scary and disappointing is the following some candidates have. How can supporters not see how detrimental the choice could be for this country?

    For me, March has not been a productive month and can’t wait until April comes and hopefully I can get a grip on my life again! Currently have a client’s quilt on the frame I hope to get to today. Am doing a mystery quilt, so I need to focus on that today or tomorrow. Plus, I have a bag cut out for my daughter. I did just ship off an USA flag wall hanging I made for my 15 year old grandson – it was approximately 4′ x 7’6″. Came to the conclusion, if there had been 50 states when Betsy Ross made the flag, she would have chosen a different pattern rather than a star for each state!

    Tension problems quilting can raise my tension faster than anything I know. Especially if I don’t catch it quickly. Don’t envy you the ripping out. Good thing quilters are a determined group!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Determined, yes. I really gutted it out. Fortunately Jim helped with moral support and also stayed under the frame for the last couple of passes. He had a utility light so he could see when and where any looping happened. Hey, a loop here or there will happen. But you know the mess when it’s worse than that. Ultimately it turned out okay, but I will say I’m not very happy with my machine now. Thinking of what my alternatives are…

  5. zippyquilts

    Indeed, I just read an article on moving to Ireland if Donald Trump is elected. Only half joking. I do expect politics to be mean-spirited, but REALLY, as Mother would have said.

  6. Thread crazy

    Oh I like the colors…while they may be off on our monitors, to me they work well together. I do recognize the “star’s” point fabric..one of my favorites! So so sorry for tension problems again, but guess it goes with quilting on quilt machines. While my sorriness doesn’t help the situation, know that I’ve been there before and know how frustrating it can be. Somehow between helping husband and trying to keep up with both inside and outside, I’ve managed to carve out a small time to work on a baby quilt for our new great-granddaughter. However saying that, I’ve been trying to quilt this small blanket for over 2 weeks…yes, I stop and go and stop and go….so hoping I can sit down and finish it soon. Love your block and anxious to see more borders..you never cease to disappoint.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, tension problems happen and it’s just part of making a quilt. Fortunately, not part of EVERY quilt! Congratulations on the new baby. I’m sure you’ll get your project done soon, and she won’t mind waiting.

  7. jmn111

    I can’t imagine actually living in the US and having to deal with the reality of the federal election you’re experiencing. It’s bad enough watching it all from Canada!
    Love the block with the KF fabric in the HST. Looking forward to seeing how Connections turned out.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      In truth I like your “Connections” better than mine. However I love the design and if someone gave me this quilt, I’d be pleased. So I will offer it as our gift in that spirit. Thanks.

  8. allisonreidnem

    I like the centre you’ve given the star. I often think a large square of one fabric in the middle can look a bit too dominant and blank. I see mustard yellow instead of celery green on my screen but please don’t give up on the photos as the ones you publish are always well composed, inspiring and aid my understanding of the process of your quilt making.
    As for US politics, we are getting lots of ‘soundbites’ in the UK which make for scary listening/watching. My hope is that your elections will follow the pattern of last years UK election where we had an ‘out there’ character speaking off the top of his head about issues that mainstream politicians had been ignoring. In the end the mainstream lot got talking about the things ordinary people were concerned about and the ‘character’ had little success at the ballot box. Of course UK politics doesn’t have the issue of huge finances and the power of lobbyists to contend with in anything like the degree US Presidential elections do.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, my first intention was a big print in the center of the star, which would have filled the space fine. But the one I anticipated using did not work with the star points, so I decided a pieced center would be better.

      Thanks for the encouragement on using photos even when they show badly for the true colors. I’ll keep at it.

  9. KerryCan

    This political climate is like nothing any of us has ever seen, or wanted to see. I cannot believe Trump . . . On a happier note, I just a quilt top (it still needs borders) after making one mistake after another. I think I’ll go back to weaving for awhile!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      One mistake after another — construction mistakes? were you distracted? Was it worth it in the end? Frustrating, but not fatal. πŸ™‚ I’ll look forward to seeing it.

      1. KerryCan

        Some of the mistakes had to do with it being a complicated pattern and I kept setting the blocks together wrong. Some of the mistakes had to do with me being not very good with a sewing machine. I think it’ll be worth it, ultimately. I am showing it to my sewing group today, to get their thoughts on borders, etc. Ai yi.

          1. KerryCan

            Yes, the red and white. And it’s complete enough now that it can be shown next month with the rest of the challenge projects. I’ll put it away for a bit, I think, and then come back when I’m not ticked off at it anymore . . . πŸ˜‰

          2. Melanie McNeil Post author

            It will be stunning. You might consider (as one of oh-so-many options) using a narrow white, followed by narrow red, followed by wider white. That can of stepping can ease the transition when there is stark contrast with the reds and whites. Just one idea of many… πŸ™‚

          3. KerryCan

            What would you think of a narrow white and a border of red and white pinwheels that echo ones in the middle of the blocks? Do you think there would then need to be a solid border, to give closure, so to speak? Thanks for this brainstorming!

          4. Melanie McNeil Post author

            OH that would be fab! I would probably edge it with another narrow white. That would stabilize the edge and also make sure the binding doesn’t remove part of the pinwheel size. Would you PP the pinwheels, too?

          5. KerryCan

            That’s a good point about the stabilizing, for sure. For complicated reasons and to use up fabric I have, I’m making some of the HSTs for the pinwheels with one method (2 at a time) and some with another (4 at a time). No paper. Kind of sick of paper . . . πŸ˜‰

          6. Melanie McNeil Post author

            Another idea and a little simpler, both construction-wise and design-wise, it a row of HST around, rather than pinwheels. Feel free to email if you want to kick around ideas. And take a look at my red and white quilt in my medallion photo gallery.

          7. KerryCan

            Oh, I remember that red and white of yours! I love it. And I like the sawtooth border, too. Hmmm . . . I think I’m committed to pinwheels but, we’ll see!

  10. knitnkwilt

    And the background I saw looked like mustard. I’ll have to remember to talk about color when I post photos. I translated as I read your description and like the described block. I’m emerging from a phase of mental quilting. Photos soon.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Ah yes, the mental quilting. πŸ™‚ I’ve been doing a lot of that on my African project, trying various options, mostly in my head. It’s productive time, though, and we need to honor that. I’ll look forward to your photos and color descriptions.

  11. katechiconi

    It’s *hard* to hit a sticky patch, where progress seems slow and steps back outnumber the steps forward. A spot of whiny-voice is permissible. I do love that round robin block, but as you suspected, the colours are way off on my screen. The background appears to be a green-tinged light mustard, and the millefiore print seems to be mostly deepish blues and sludgy yellows. Having said that, I still thought it was a great block! The true colours would be preferable, of course…
    I’ve got myself into the usual spin when I have too many things on the go at once. Since the Husband is working over Easter, I will have the time to sort that situation out, however, and hope to emerge triumphant, with several boxes ticked and blocks finished ahead of schedule. Have a great Easter vacation!

  12. shoreacres

    I’m glad you added the comment about the celery background. On my monitor, it shows as a remarkably vibrant yellow-green — not at all what I would think of as celery. On the other hand, all of the other colors agreed with your description. I know there’s a lot of variation among monitors — and I’ve never delved into color calibration on this monitor. Maybe later. I have too many learning curves in my life right now as it is.

    In any event, even with the yellowish-green background, the design is really nice.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Variation among monitors and also one application to another. I downloaded the photo and opened it. Colors were good but needed a little more exposure. I adjusted for that and a slight adjustment toward blue. It all looked pretty good, realistic on my screen. Then I uploaded into WordPress and it was all wrong. That happens all the time, and frankly discourages me from bothering with photos much. OTOH, what is a post about something visual, quilts, without something visual to refer to? Frankly, that’s part of why I’ve been infrequent posting lately. Seems like the payoff is just a tad low, from that standpoint.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  13. just carla

    I like Lisa’s view of things! And, your quilt project is simply stunning. It seems that even with the current political landscape, I still have a few (choice) words but, oh, they play on my disposition!!
    Hang in there!!


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