eight by eight

January: finished project by daria
January 31, 2008, 11:35 pm
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Dear Blair,

Well, here it is: NEW*.


Except for the pale green button you sent, which was supposed to go on the pale leaf sticking straight up on the right side, only last night I looked away for two seconds to thread my needle & when I looked back , ready to stitch it in place, it had completely vanished. But believe me when I say that that there’s an imaginary pale green button right there.

As I’ve said, very early on I got stuck on a version of the postcard you included very early on, a branch half-covered by snow, tiny green leaves poking through. I liked the imagery, plus it seemed like a good way to pull together the colors you sent: green, blue, peach, brown. The idea of the January package I sent you was also very obviously lingering over the entire project, too, since everything I added was white or ivory. (This was a complication I did not expect — I had such a clear idea for the January box I put together that it was hard to approach the materials you sent me in a completely fresh way. I’m going to keep that in mind in future.)


I’ve never done much with appliqué before, so putting the branch together was my favorite part of this project. I love the way the stitched woodgrain turned out.


I did a little bit of hand quilting in green under the branch (with poly batting to keep things as puffy as possible), then layered two kinds of white tulle (sparkly & regular) & did some machine quilting over the top of that, randomly bunching to try & get a mounded sort of look. I got about halfway to the look I had in my head, which isn’t bad for the first time out, I don’t think. I maybe should have put some more beading on, though.


I quilted the remaining white space pretty heavily, with a few lines of echo quilting around the top of the branch & leaves, then random loops for the rest. There was a lot of white space left; 8″ square seems so small until you have to fill it, turns out.

Next month I’m definitely paying more attention to scale. Scale, & maybe some more woodgrain.

*Here’s most of it, anyway — I posted larger images than usual for the big reveal but looks like our template cuts off the sides so be sure to click the pictures for full size or check them out on the 8×8 flickr.


snowy whites by Blair
January 28, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Blair, inspiration | Tags: , ,


Dear Daria,

Every time I’ve picked up my eight by eight project pieces from you this month, I’ve wondered if somehow you had a foreshadowing that Seattle would have so much snow this month (isn’t there more to come tonight?)…or that Shari would entice us all with her idea of posting lovely winter whites last week. This image struck a chord with me, as did Siri’s frosty white images, Alicia’s too. I was totally clueless about the winter whites when I posted my white pictures last week (I’m so behind on my blog reading right now), but I do love it when it feels as if some serindipidous thinking is happening in the blog world. White does feel very “clean” as I’m sure was your thinking when you sent this package to me, and, yes, it feels very new in a blank slate sort of way. Its apparently feeling that way to many of us.

Even my newest book, The Left Bank Look, alludes to “A Blank Slate” on its pages. Perfect timing!
I have thoroughly enjoyed interpreting this project this month. I really can’t wait to see our finished January pieces. I’m clearing wall space in my studio this week to hang each piece up when its complete, so I can see them.

I think that means its time to mail out our February box, right?


p.s.- You inspired me, I went out and bought new Moleskins too. Doesn’t it just make you think more clearly?

January: clean is still the thing by daria
January 22, 2008, 11:43 pm
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Dear Blair,

The funny thing is, I have never even picked up a Jane Cumberbatch book — so if she’s hovering somewhere in my inspiration, I’m pretty sure I’m getting it by way of YOUR blog (though, thinking about it, your pictures aren’t so different than all of the airily-styled Japanese craft books I’ve got around). Those images are great, though; I wish my own January involved such a quiet white room.

I did manage to get my hands on the Williamson book, & here’s my favorite:


I like the stitching as line drawing plus the small spots of paint, like you mentioned with your pick from the book, the cleanness of it appeals to me. I know that a lot of people are very excited about her use of unusual materials; I think maybe I should check this book out again in six months, when we’ve been working with the idea of this project for a while, because right now I am less excited about sewing with onion bags or etc than I am about messing around with all the regular supplies in my studio & just seeing what I can do.

Turns out that the first thing I could do was use eightbyeight as the perfect excuse to buy a new packet of Moleskines.


Which also seems like a January kind of thing to do. Also, there are few things I love more than filling a notebook with sketches & swatches.

Now the thing I’m doing is being a little stuck on a point of technique, since there’s a very specific thing I want to try to do, only I don’t know exactly what that thing IS (I hope I’ll know it when I see it). Good thing we have a few more days, hm?

more white inspiration by Blair
January 20, 2008, 9:07 pm
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Dear Daria,

How is your January box coming along? I thought I would share a bit more inspiration tonight. My project is most definitely still in progress, so its good for me to explore some more inspiration.

When I saw your chosen bits for my January box, all the whites and their close relations, I immediately thought how Jane Cumberbatch of you! Who does white better than Jane? She made the whole idea of white throughout my house appealling to me again. So, I pulled out my Pure Style Living and my Decorating Easy copies to get some more inspiration.


I love how airy these images feel…


a small peek… by Blair
January 16, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Blair | Tags: , ,

january peek

Dear Daria,

When the sun came out yesterday and reflected off the snow, I was struck by how much fun I was having working with the sequins you sent in the box. My whole worktable was glistening! This is just a tiny peek at what’s going on from my box so far. Far from done. I had really planned to just go for it, pull out the box contents and make it all happen in an afternoon, but this month hasn’t gone that way. I do envision doing that in the future though. Since I tend to overthink projects at times, I like the way that would get me feeling spontaneous.

To answer your question about Jeanne Williamson and the size of her projects, she says the smallest was 4″ x 6″. She recommends starting with an 8″ x 10″, which we’re close to with our 8″ x 8″. I have to say I really like the small size, its easy to visualize filling it.

Just as an aside, I just spent way too much time surfing for a good soundtrack and have come up emptyhanded this time, but I’m still thinking…


January: inspiration by daria
January 13, 2008, 3:56 pm
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Dear Blair,

The best thing about that video is the techno music in the background. Clearly, we need a soundtrack. (Actually, I loved the final step, drawing a rectangle & then cutting away everything outside of it. Does she work in specific dimensions? That book is on hold for me at the library, by the way. I’m heading over today to get it.)

I’ve been looking at small quilts too, though the two magazines are showing work that’s very different than Williamson’s, more in the altered book/scrapbooking/collage genre, lots of vintage children wearing collaged tall pointy hats, things like that (particularly in the Somerset mag I picked up, though it seems like that’s pretty typical for Somerset in general). I’m fascinated by the elaborate layering that goes on in work like this.


I like the repetition of form here (from Sew Somerset 2007).


I like numbers (Sew Somerset).


These are more “quilterly” works, I guess, lots of hand-dyed & embroidery, I’m attracted to the fact that the media is not quite so mixed (Quilting Arts Dec/Jan 08).

These projects are inspiring in the ANYTHING GOES sort of sense, but they’re also very visually… noisy. I’m rolling the idea of a layered fabric collage around in my head, but I want something much calmer & cleaner.

Like this:


The more I look at it, the more I love this Port2Port postcard you included in the box. It has just the right amount of noise.

January process by Blair
January 11, 2008, 11:30 am
Filed under: Blair, inspiration | Tags: ,


Dear Daria,

Last night I was looking through The Uncommon Quilter by Jeanne Williamson again. This book was what originally inspired me to think in terms of a long term project like ours in the first place. I loved that she didn’t make excuses for not finding the time to sit a make a tiny quilt each week, and that she set rules for herself that made this even more doable. For example she “could not throw out the original piece and start over with a new one if I didn’t like how it was turning out. I would not obsess over the aesthetic of the piece- the goal was to create.” I know if I allowed myself a “start over” I would ironically never really get “started”. Her goal was to create, as ours is here. She has an interesting You Tube video of one of her small quilts coming together, which gives an idea of the randomness of the process. The photo above is one of my favorite pieces in the book. I tend to be such a clean-lined girl, and always looking for symmetry and balance when I craft. Perhaps its time to change my own rules up a bit.

I have been thinking about “new” in terms of this month’s theme in so many different ways this week. Did you know that it snowed for the first time in living memory in Baghdad this morning? Talk about something new! I know what a sense of quiet and calm snow can bring to us here, I wonder what it felt like there… watching that snow fall?