Two strips of the quilt. There should eventually be seven. I love it already.

The man who owns the local quilt shop likes the piecing best. When he finishes piecing the top, he says, he is through with the fun part. He is ready to hand it over to someone else. And indeed there are many quilters nowadays who just use their machines to fill in random squiggles all over the quilt and leave it at that.

I don’t feel that way. I actually like the piecing least, since it is done on a machine. I am not generally in sympathy with machines. Plus, I can’t read while I do it. So, while I piece, I think about how I will quilt it.

Some people think this doesn’t matter, but they are mistaken. For one thing, the pieces you choose to emphasize make it look different. Most piecing patterns have a number of different geometric shapes — square, triangle, rhombus — and shapes made up of those shapes, as well. When you quilt around a shape in the piecing, that shape pops up and looks more important.When you quilt a pattern inside a shape, it flattens it. So, when you decide what to quilt around and what to quilt inside of, you are deciding what shapes to emphasize.

There is also the question of what to quilt. Quilting around the piecing puts the focus on the piecing. Using a separate pattern (drawn onto the fabric and stitched over) brings in a new design element, and puts the focus on the quilting.

This quilt top  from last year (unquilted above, and with the quilting begun on the left) had a lot of open spaces, which lent itself to elaborate quilting. Unquilted, it had  a very geometric look. I could have quilted around the piecing to emphasize that. I could have tied it for a puffy effect. But once I did a lot of close quilting, it had an old-fashioned flatness. I usually quilt in lines that follow the piecing, but in this case I used Celtic knot-work in the large spaces to make the quilting an important part of the design. This also brought curves into the linear design. 

This moon and stars quilt from the previous year has an all-over picture,  and a much more modern design, so I quilted around the motifs and left most of it puffy. There are randomly-placed shooting stars quilted here and there on the top, but the picture is the main thing. The puffiness also is more modern. In the old days, you had to quilt very closely, or the batting (the soft filling of the quilt) would shift and you would have lumps and wodges of batting in some spots and none in others. Traditional quilting therefore leaned heavily on rows of lines, or grids of tiny diamonds, as well as the fancy feathers and fans that result from twisting and curving those close rows. Modern batting allows the lines of quilting to be many inches apart. When this new technology came along, it became the fashion to have very thick batting, with relatively little quilting. Nowadays it’s just a matter of what look or feel you want.

With the Windblown Shadows pattern, there are a lot of different shapes that can be emphasized. Like the puzzles in math class where you have to find all the triangles, but some are enclosed in others. You might want to focus on the central squares, or the sort of striped open square that surrounds it. There are pinwheel shapes, and parti-colored squares set on point, in nice rows (except that my rows aren’t going to be that precise). I think I like best the ring of diamonds around the central square, so I believe I will emphasize those. That means I will quilt around them. Then the central squares must have something quilted into them, so they won’t puff out and make too much of themselves. I have a nice little stencil called Harriet Tubman which has, I think, the same sense of movement that I like in the blocks, so I may use that — if it fits.

I have also finished the second sleeve of Hopkins. Provisionally. Once I sew it in I will discover whether it is right and whether it matches the first sleeve. I’ll let you know.

No hats yet. It could still happen…

We are going camping today. I think we will go here, though there is also this place. Both are favorites of ours, and both have photo tours. So if you want to avoid actual camping, while enjoying nice camping places, go ahead and click on them.

We are very organized about our camping gear, and can have everything packed in a very short time. Saying things like this qualifies as tempting fate, so we will be packing up quite early. Then we must pack the cooler, a more complex matter. Number two son has offered to make the shopping list, and I know that he started it off with ingredients for s’mores. And then we have appointments with the hairdresser. On the day we are going camping? What can I say? This was the only choice, even though we called over a month ago. My hairdresser is very popular. At least we will be looking good to the deer and squirrels.