Saturday, November 28, 2015

QuiltCon Triangle Challenge

So, it's that time of year again where I work furiously on a challenge quilt to enter into QuiltCon.  This year the EZ Quilting challenge was to use a 2.25" triangle ruler--the quilt needed to have at least one triangle in it.  I made 9 of these spinning-gradient triangles and then had to decide on layout:
Triangle challenge quilt: layout ideas

I did play with the first layout quite a bit, but finally deferred the decision to my kids.  They both chose the center layout (my daughter liked that it looked like the number 3, because she's 3).  Then I had to figure out piecing:

Triangle challenge quilt: the ribbon and garland are size/shape guides.

Triangle challenge quilt: Piecing it was like putting together a puzzle in the right order.

Triangle challenge quilt: Piecing it in the right order meant no Y-seams!

Triangle challenge quilt: All the weird angles left me with a lot of odd shaped scraps.

Triangle challenge quilt: Nearly all pieced.

Triangle challenge quilt: The quality of the photos gets worse as the sun went down.  Sorry.

Triangle challenge quilt: Two more seams!

Triangle challenge quilt: One more seam!

Triangle challenge quilt: Morning light, hallelujah!  Finished piecing and trimming the quilt top.  Also worth noting is that I used Kona Black from two different dye lots and the difference is kind of glaring.  I am still kicking myself for not using all the same dye lot!  

I spent a lot of time thinking about quilting.  I first tried stitching in the ditch of the center triangle block.  It was so frustrating I decided to do something else with the other triangle blocks.  But I did create several "ghost" triangle blocks:

Triangle challenge quilt: Quilting ghost triangles.

Then I added some swirls to the triangle blocks, and after a lot of deliberation and discussion with my friend Sara, I decided to quilt the entire background with this orange peel/dogwood pattern on a triangle grid (more commonly known as the Flower of Life pattern):

Triangle challenge quilt: Quilting the background.

Triangle challenge quilt: Finished quilting!

Today I was able to finish and wash the quilt, and will be back soon with the finished photos!

Pssst there is still time to enter my Aurifil giveaway!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

In Memory of Jessica: Aurifil threads

I really want to thank Aurifil threads for supporting this quilt by sponsoring the threads.  This post is to honor and celebrate the company, people behind it, and the threads they sent me to use in this quilt.  Here are all the threads I used in this quilt:

Aurifil threads used for the In Memory of Jessica thread painting.

Aurifil very generously sent me 1 large and 24 small spools of thread (the large spools in the upper right of the photo are from my own stash).  I tried to pick colors as accurately as possible, but still ended up with 8 unopened small spools (the ones at the bottom of the photo).  I did use 27 different threads on this quilt though!

Here are the colors I used on the face and neck:

Aurifil threads used for the face and neck.

The only place I used the Dove (2600) was the nose ring, and the only place I used black was the eyelashes.  I used Dark Brown (5024) and Chocolate (2360) for the eyebrows.  Butter (2123) was used for the brightest highlights on the chest, cheek, nose and forehead.  For the lips I used Light Salmon (2220) mixed with Peach (2215).  Peach is also used for most of the middle skin tones.  Raisin (2345) was used for the lip creases.  Fleshy Pink (2420) was used for the brighter skin tones.  I used Cafe Au Lait (2340) for the medium shadows and Dark Antique Gold (2372) for the dark shadows.

Approximate areas the threads were used on the face.

I used 15 colors for the hair--though I wish I hadn't used Dark Antique Gold in the shadows because it really has too much of a green caste for the hair.  I used a lot of the other threads to help blend it in though.

Aurifil threads used for the hair.

I arranged them in the above photo from highlights to shadows, here is a list of all of them (from left to right): 2123, 2106, 4658, 2134,  2320 (large spool), 2214, 2210, 2930, 2335, 2155, 2372, 2355, 4012, 2360, and 5024.

Aurifil threads used for the hair.

I meant to keep the background really simple, but I ended up grabbing 3 extra greens from my stash to create the shadows and highlights in the background swirls:

Aurifil threads used on the background.

I used Light Toast (2320) on the back, which used up about 9.5 very full bobbins:

Aurifil thread on the back of the quilt.

I love how the back looks, using all the same color really gives it a different feel than the front of the quilt!  

Back of the thread painting.  I love how the thread gives it a feel of shining and glowing.

It is kind of amazing to me that only 27 colors of thread (and only one of them is a varigated) was able to create this convincing portrait:

In Memory of Jessica thread painting using Aurifil threads.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting using Aurifil threads.

While working on this quilt I came across this quote on Jessica's facebook page, "Do not give from the depths of your own well, give only from its overflow."    I feel like the extra Aurifil I have is my overflow from this project, so I am giving away a set of 4 Aurifil threads to 2 lucky winners!


Set A: Terracotta (2385), Very Light Brass (2915), Creme Brule (4150), and Yellow Orange (2145).

Set B: Cinnamon Toast (2390), Toast (6010), Light Caramel (6001) and Golden Glow (3920)

Giveaway Rules:
1. PLEASE make sure you are not a no-reply blogger (if you're not sure, google it)--if you are, you need to leave your email address!  If you do not, I will not have a way to contact you and will pick a different winner!  
2. International entries welcome.
3. Giveaway open until November 29th at 6pm, MST.
4. Winner notified by email, if they do no respond within 48 hours I will choose a new winner.
5. Winners chosen at random.
6. Limit of two comments/entries per person.


To Enter: leave a comment below telling me which set of thread (A or B) you'd prefer.  Followers get a second entry--just leave a separate comment telling me how you follow me (IG, email, blog reader, etc).

In Memory of Jessica thread painting and Aurifil threads.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting series:
6. Aurifil thread colors used (you are here)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In Memory of Jessica (thread painting)

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: measures 11.5" x 14.25"

Three years ago today my friend Jessica died after an incredibly painful 11 months of fighting Ewing's sarcoma.  She had been having a lot of unexplained symptoms, and by the time she was finally diagnosed it was a stage IV cancer.  

In Memory of Jessica: original photograph by Morgan Estill (used with permission), photo printed on fabric at and thread painting by Renee Hoffman (that's me!).

In making this quilt I've had to reprocess all my thoughts and emotions from her death.  It has been hard, but overall a good and healing experience.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: face detail

Today, the anniversary of her death, I think has hit me harder than last year because of all the emotions and thoughts floating on the surface.  Also it feels strange to have this project come to a close after 2 intense weeks of working on it.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: shoulder detail

How I'm Feeling
This is the last installment of sharing my thoughts and feelings while working on this quilt.  It is hard to gather them and express them, but I think the discussion has been really good.  It has made each part of this quilt more relatable and personal to the reader, and more expressive and whole to me.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: chest and neck detail

I heard the new Adele song Hello, today for the first time and for some reason is really reminded me of Jessica (who am I kidding, everything reminds me of her lately!). 

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: sunlit hair and flyaways detail.

I think the song reminded me of Jessica particularly because of the idea of running out of time, and trying to call someone on the other side that can't be reached and just really wanting to say hello to them again.  And calling a thousand times.  Where is she?!  How come I can't even send her an email?!  It's not fair she's so gone.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: background detail

One of my blog readers, Faith, sent me this song and it touched my heart so deeply I knew I needed to share it with everyone: You Can't Make Old Friends by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.  "How will I sing when you're gone?"  The old friends are the hardest to lose.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: hair detail

One thing I've been struggling with yesterday and today is just how alone and isolated I feel in all this.  I think that 3 years after her death a lot of people have found closure and peace.  If it weren't for my time spent working on this quilt I think I would feel that way, actually.  It just feels very fresh and new again.

In Memory of Jessica threading painting back, 9.5 bobbins of thread.

Actually, I don't really have contact with the people that surrounded Jessica, so I don't know how they are feeling today.  Without her to bring us together we scattered in the wind--for better or worse.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: back face detail

One of the things I wanted most from this quilt was to rewrite the image of her in my mind.  The images of her succumbing to cancer prevailed any time I thought of her for a long time.  In reviewing my memories, stories and photos of her I think my plan has worked--I think of the person she was, not the body that slowly decayed before finally dying.

In Memory of Jessica thread painting: back hair detail

In closing here are a couple more photos of her I think are worth sharing:

At my wedding in 2007--the only photo I have of us together.  Photo by Roger Holden.
Also from my wedding, she's signing the guest book.  Photo by Roger Holden.

I had been planning to also discuss the 27 different Aurifil threads I used, but feel it would be superficial to try and discuss both Jessica and the threads in the same post.  So, later this week I will go into detail about which Aurifil thread colors I used and why, and I will be giving away some of the threads I didn't end up using!

In Memory of Jessica thread painting

In Memory of Jessica thread painting series:
5. Finished quilt (you are here)
6. Aurifil thread colors used 

In addition to those in my sidebar I'm linking up with:
Sew Cute TuesdayFiber Tuesday Link Party for all fiber crafts

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In Memory of Jessica: highlights and background

I hope you guys aren't tired of seeing this quilt yet!  The good news is the next post will be the finished quilt!  After my last blog post I added the brightest highlights to her face and chest:

Thread painting portrait: skin highlights 

But the nose just didn't look right, and even after sleeping on it and everyone on IG saying it looked great, I decided to rip out all the light yellow stitching on the right side of her nose.  It was tricky because of how dense the quilting is, but only took about 15 minutes!  Here's the after, and to me it was definitely worth ripping out those too-bright stitches:

Thread painting: surgery on her nose, fitting since she had several surgeries for a deviated septum!

Then I focused on the background and the lower shoulder area:

Thread painting: I think we're up to 7 bobbins now.

 Now more on the hair, adding lighter layers to the hair and brighter and brighter layers where it catches the sunlight.  Also I think I added more to the is honestly getting hard to tell where each bobbin goes!

Thread painting: the hair has more layers than I can remember!  8 bobbins.

Next was focusing on all the little details, especially brightest area of her hair.  But I also added highlights to the left eyebrow where it catches the light, and tons of stray hairs.

Thread painting portrait: after 9 bobbins (I think?)

I'm almost done!  At this point I've spent 10.5 hours on this quilt--mostly quilting and trying to decide on which Aurifil thread colors to use.  They sponsored all the threads, sending me 25 small spools to use on this quilt, but I think I've only used 18 of those.  There are a few little details left on this quilt and then it's time to block and bind it!  Whoop!

How I'm Feeling
Jessica and I knew of each other for many years before we became friends.  Our homeschooling circles occasionally overlapped, but we basically thought the other one was stuck up (or whatever the 10 year old equivalent is).  When I was 14 I started "dating" her good friend and neighbor (there were no actual dates, I think we held hands sometimes though).  He liked me a lot and would tell Jessica about me.  I guess he convinced her that I was pretty cool, and she initiated a friendship with me.  The relationship with her neighbor didn't last long, and we fell out of touch after a few years.  But I remained close to Jessica.

I really miss her friendship and understanding.  She was the type of friend you don't talk to or see for months at a time, but when you're together no time has passed and there are hardly any lulls in the conversation.  Sometimes I wish I could just email her, just to send her little life updates or songs or gossip.

She went into massage therapy with a focus of energy work.  She had a very holistic side, even though she was critically minded and skeptical of many things.  One of the things that haunts me most about her last few months is that she wasn't given the space to accept her imminent death.  She knew it was coming, but in her circumstances she was unable to celebrate her life.  I felt it then and still feel it now that she needed that.  I wish there had been a way to have a blessingway for her to make the transition easier and more natural.  I know that may not make sense to very many people, but I think it would have made sense to her.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

In Memory of Jessica: Adding layers

You can see my previous blog post about this quilt here. Below is what I've accomplished since the last photo I shared!  

I worked on filling in the rest of her face, did some basic swirls in the background and lines on the chest:

Thread painting of my friend Jessica--she died 3 years ago at 27 of Ewing's Sarcoma.

I love how the back looks!  I always think it is like a ghost image of the front.  And this time it also reminds me of the energy that flows through us--Jessica did energy work and massage, so I'm sure she would like this representation of herself.

Back of the thread painting after 3 bobbins.

Aurifil generously provided all the threads for this quilt, and the bobbin thread is # 2320 (light toast).  The next bobbin focused mostly on the hair:

After 4 bobbins.

The next bobbin I did some basic filling in on the brightest areas on her hair and shoulder, and started filling in more of the background:

Thread painting: 5 bobbins.

I love how this angle catches the sheen of the Aurifil thread:

Thread painting quilt progress.

Finally I got to add the highlights to her face (and still more layers to the hair)!  This is where I felt it come alive:

Six bobbins of work on this thread painting portrait quilt.

How I'm Feeling
I've been a lot calmer this week of working on this quilt.  After my first child was born she started giving him copies of her favorite childhood books, these are three she gave us before she got sick:

The Teddy Bears' Picnic -- I remember my mom reading this book and singing the song.

Thunder Cake -- after her memorial service they had a potluck and I used the recipe at the back of the book to make a thunder cake (chocolate cake with tomato sauce in it).

Wynken, Blynken and Nod -- this is one of our favorite books in our entire collection.  The rhythm of the story is really nice and the illustrations are beautiful.

The last time I saw Jessica awake I took the second two books to read to her.  She was in hospice, but had a nice view of a courtyard.  It was a difficult visit, nearly 3 years ago.  It was months before I could read Wynken, Blynken and Nod without choking up.

I sometimes wonder what other books she might have given us.