Friday, January 23, 2009

Quilting & Cricket

I have been sewing recently, but the Totally Tubular quilting approach referenced in my last post takes forever. It's a bit like cricket, really -- the game, not the insect.

In cricket (as I understand it) there are two teams. One team bats first and plays all its innings right then -- well, over a lo-o-ong time; test matches take three days! -- and scores all its runs before the game switches over to the other team's batting. The second team knows what score they have to beat (usually a 3-figure number) and they start racking up the runs before all their men get out. If they score more runs, they win; if they don't, the first team wins.

Now, imagine this in baseball terms: The Red Sox sends up batter after batter until they've used up all 27 outs. If they've scored ten runs, great. If they've scored only three runs, that's a bit less impressive. Then the Yankees come to bat, and they get 27 outs. If they need to score 11 runs to beat the Red Sox, that's one thing; if it's only four runs, that's another.

D'you see yet how this could be rather boring? Basically one team is ahead until they're not, at which point the game is over. I'm assured by Hub 1.0 that cricket is more interesting than that, but really I think he's confused. Sure any game in which there's a googly, a square leg, a first slip, a maiden, a silly mid-on, a chinaman, a golden duck, and a daisycutter is not all bad, but the quirky vocabulary can't make up for the fundamental flaws in how the game is structured.

Well, the piecing for the tubular back I'm doing is a bit cricket-ish: sew strips together until they're all sewn together. Iron those, then cut them again, then sew some more, then iron, cut, sew, etc., over and over until finally: a huge piece of patchwork miraculously appears. Like cricket, you're not ahead until you're done.

This is discouraging -- while I've no doubt that my work is actually accruing, there's none of the satisfaction from completing a block, and then another and another. The front of this quilt has log cabin blocks in two color ways. I did strip piecing, but at least I got half the blocks done before I started the next set. Then I cut the sashing and cornerstones and sewed the rows, then cut and sewed the borders. At each stage, there was a real sense of accomplishment.

Now, I'm the first to admit that it's the height of quixotic folly to decide to piece the back of this quilt. The reason why I'm doing it is, the quilt is intended to "go" with my niece Lucy's room in Yorkshire. As I recall the room, it's got white, palest pink, and palest mint green walls with some leaves stenciled on one wall in darker green, and hot pink puff balls along the ceiling. I had a hard time finding just the right shades of pink and green, so the log cabin blocks are all bolder and brighter than I would have preferred. The white sashing looks quite bold as well. I like the overall effect, it's just not quite what the room called for.

In my search for the right fabrics, I found one that had some softer colors in a large, rather modern print. This fabric wasn't perfect either, but it was so appealing, I got some. The tubular pattern I'm using alternates large blocks of a solid fabric (the book uses black) and that's where the large-scale print comes in. The piecing is in a fairly simple looking block that would be a pain to do using traditional methods; I have eight different color combinations for that part.

In the end -- if I've planned this adequately! -- the pieced back will be virtually a reversible quilt top. That way if Lucy repaints her room, or moves to university, or whatever, she'll have options for the quilt.

Pictures soon, I promise. But at the moment, it's still a boring old cricket game.