Friday, 7 September 2012

The Design.....Challenges

I always knew vaguely what I wanted to do with the quilting, use symbols from old maps along the lines of "Here be Dragons".

So in the negative space I know I want to add these images:

  • Sea serpents
  • Wind blowing
  • Mermaid/Sirens
  • Sun with a face on it
  • Sea Horse
  • Old sailing ships
  • Maybe starfish and clam shells
But what to do with the compasses?

Anyway as a starting point I'm going to fix the compasses by quilting a line around the edges.

Quilting Areas
Traditional wisdom states I should start with the centre Compass and quilt out from there, but this is such as huge quilt, I know that this in itself will be a huge task and I need to work up from there.   So I'm going to at it as follows:
  1. Put a quilting line around the edge of each compass to stabilise the quilt a bit
  2. Quilt each of the smaller compasses using filler designs from The Free Motion Quilting Project 365 days - I'm not going to over think this bit otherwise I'll never start, just pick a nice pattern for each area of the compass and start.
  3. Having limbered up the fingers, I'll then start on the centre large Compass and hopefully by then will have understood what helps to emphasis the points and circles and what doesn't.   Will try to plan this bit only when I get to it
  4. Get my map images as listed above and start quilting those.   I promised that I would let them sit randomly but I don't think I will be able to due to Step 5.
  5. Use a number of Leah's sea inspired patterns as filler between the images, as there are about 6 I want to use, I will have to plan this bit but as Scarlett O'Hara would say kinda "I'll worry about that tomorrow"
What I do know is that if I sit on the designing anymore, it will be another year before I take the quilt out again and probably sit and put it all off all over again.   So I'm just going to start and start now!

OK might get a cup of coffee first and do some spring cleaning.


The Shipping Forecast - expanding the Mariner's Theme

My father, aged 14, ran away to sea at the beginning of World War II.   Lying about his age he spent the war serving as galley boy, cabin boy, cook's assistant in the Merchant Navy travelling from England to Australia, Canada and as many far flung places as a romantic boy's heart could wish.

Growing up in Ireland in the 60s and 70s when radio was much more a part of family and day to day life then television, the Shipping Forecast from BBC was a background noise, soothing and lulling despite the warnings of gale force winds and even today if I lie in my bed listening to the torrential rain of a Singapore monsoon, I feel protected and safe knowing that things indeed might be much worse off Viking.

Around the time of the block round robin, I listened to an audio book of Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly about the history of the Shipping Forecast and his travels around the coastal regions.   I listened to it 3 times in a row while walking the dog and doing my runs.

I wanted to incorporate this old childhood friend in my Compass quilt and decided to use embroidery extension of my sewing machine to do so.

With a little finageling - there are 31 regions and I had with 4 smaller Compasses room for 32 names - and using the old name of Finisterre as well as Fitzroy, I used the four smaller blocks for the region names.   I choose the block and regions based on a link between the maker and the regions.

This proved a bit of a stretch as I wanted to keep the names of the region in the order given by the Shipping Forecast.

I chose the selection with Viking for Ju as her father was from Finland so kinda sorta part of Scandinavia, although given Jo was born in South Shields, Tyne should have been hers.

Ju's Compass:  Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne and Dogger

Then I choose for C part of the group that included Thames as she lives in North London.

C's Compass:  Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland and Plymouth.

My compass choice was fairly easy, born and growing up in Ireland, I got the section that included Irish Sea.

My Compass:  Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Finisterre, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet and Irish Sea

Jo's groupings were based on the fact she was living in Aberdeen so got the grouping with the Scottish coast, although this also meant she got a bit of Ireland as well.

Jo's Compass:  Shannon, Rockhall, Malin, Herbrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes and Southeast Iceland.

For the large 47" centre Compass, I decided to use some of the most spectacular forecast warnings and quotes from poems.

Seamus Heaney's poem The Shipping Forecast

Dogger, Rockall, Malin, Irish Sea:
Green, swift upsurges, North Atlantic flux
Conjured by that strong gale-warming voice,

Collapse into a sibilant penumbra.
Midnight and closedown.  Sirens of the tundra,
Of eel-road, seal-road, keel-road, whale-road, raise
Their wind-compounded keen behind the baize
And drive the trawlers to the lee of Wicklow.
L'Etoile, Le Guillemot, La Belle Hélène
Nursed their bright names this morning in the bay
That toiled like mortar.  It was marvellous
And actual, I said out loud, 'A haven,'
The word deepening, clearing, like the sky
Elsewhere on Minches, Cromarty, The Faroes.

Carol Ann Duffy's poem Prayer

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child's name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio's prayer -
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Stephen Fry, in his 1988 radio programme Saturday Night Fry, issued the following "Shipping Forecast" in the first episode of the programme:

    "And now, before the news and weather, here is the Shipping Forecast issued by the Meteorological Office at 1400 hours Greenwich Mean Time.
    Finisterre, Dogger, Rockall, Bailey: no.
    Wednesday, variable, imminent, super.
    South Utsire, North Utsire, Sheerness, Foulness, Eliot Ness:
    If you will, often, eminent, 447, 22 yards, touchdown, stupidly.
    Malin, Hebrides, Shetland, Jersey, Fair Isle, Turtle-Neck, Tank Top, Courtelle:
    Blowy, quite misty, sea sickness. Not many fish around, come home, veering suggestively.
    That was the Shipping Forecast for 1700 hours, Wednesday 18 August."

And some forecasts,

  • Humber, Thames. Southeast veering southwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6 later. Thundery showers. Moderate or good, occasionally poor.
  • Tyne, Dogger. Northeast 3 or 4. Occasional rain. Moderate or poor.
  • Rockall, Malin, Hebrides. Southwest gale 8 to storm 10, veering west, severe gale 9 to violent storm 11. Rain, then squally showers. Poor, becoming moderate.
  • Southeast Iceland. North 7 to severe gale 9. Heavy snow showers. Good, becoming poor in showers. Moderate icing.
And most spectacularly, on 10 January 1993, when a record North Atlantic low pressure of 914 mb was recorded:
  • Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey. Southwest hurricane force 12 or more.  

The Making of the Compasses

Back in 2004, the Friendship Quilting Bee decided to do a block round robin based on 12 inch or larger blocks of tricky techniques.   Each person would decide on 2 block patterns and a theme colour.   My colour was warm orange.   

I decided on Drunkards Path and Mariner's Compass.   Drunkards Path because it introduced curves to us all and Mariner's Compass because I loved it.   For the Mariner's Compass I decided to use Quiltsmart Mini Mariner's Compass foundation piecing packs as I didn't think any of us were up to the challenge of "real" compass piecing and also because some of the group hadn't done foundation piecing before.   I love Quiltsmart and had used their double wedding ring pack - fast, easy and effective.

For the round robin, members had the option of simply making the block for the person who had decided on the pattern and sending it on to them in their theme colour, or making that block again in their own theme colour and keeping it.   I had already decided to do a second block in my own theme colour and making a nap quilt.

C's choices were Salem and Balkan Puzzle in green and grey.

Jo's choices were Texas Lone Star (foundation piecing) and Feathered Star in red.
 Ju's choices were Christmas Star and Morning in Burgundy

My second choice of Drunkard's Path in orange.

In order to add enough blocks for the quilt top, I added a Crazy Patchwork block using bits of the fabrics used in all the blocks
And a centre block of a wonderful painted Gecko fabric I bought ages ago.   I used lovely bits of warm flannel and dark brown to sash and ended up with this delicious snuggly quilt top.
And with Leah's wonderful Free Motion Quilting Project quilted it to death.

OK have gone kinda way off topic, but nice to go down memory lane.   So back to the Compass.

As the pack had four templates I thought I would also make a compass and doing it and finding it so easy and wondering how I could include my 21 inch compass into the nap quilt with the others, made the snap decision to buy the Quiltsmart 47" Mariner's Compass, use that for the centre of the large double bed quilt and surround by the four round robin compasses.

Top Left - C's Compass.   Top Right - Ju's Compass.   Bottom Left - my Compass.   Bottom Right - Jo's Compass.   Centre - my Compass.

The Quilting Challenge

I started the year with 4 UFOs which had been sandwiched and waiting to be quilted for over 2 years and decided this would be the year I would finish them.   There were a number of reasons why I wanted to, to clear the decks because I was tired of starting quilting projects and never fully enjoying them because I knew that there were those UFOs stuffed in chest begging to be finished and used and because I was mid way through a 2 year border round robin with 11 other quilters and knew that by mid October I would receive my quilt back and it would need finishing.   UFOs piling up and up and up.

I found Leah's Free Motion Quilting Project and decided it was an ideal way to get those quilts out, finish them and improve my quilting at the same time. 

Despite my best intentions I also made two new quilts, a baby quilt for my new grand niece and a hug quilt for my sister but even so polished off 3 of the UFOs and have the final one - my round robin Mariner's Compass waiting to be transformed from an UFO to a WIP (the transition to my mind is that first stitch!).   So I'm taking up Leah's challenge of UFO Sunday and also how to design a quilting pattern for a quilt.

 UFO Sundays on the Free Motion Quilting Project

The journey begins here!