A couple of you asked for a definition of neutrals. Wow, a loaded question! I'm going to explain the neutrals that we talked about last weekend at Retreat, and how Alex demonstrated those to us.
Her neutrals are shades of white to light brown. This would include creams, tone-on-tones, dark tans, gray (yes, gray), etc. The quilts she brought from her neutrals book coming out in the spring were interesting to examine. A lot of different fabrics, a LOT of them. Small figures, polka dots, flowers, stripes, checks.
Most all of those quilts had another color punched into it. Not to highlight that color, but to make the quilt sparkle. Alex had a neutral quilt in one of her older books. I'll go digging in my unorganized book shelves this weekend to see if I can find it. That quilt photographed as mostly white/tan, and I was so surprised to see a touch of green in it when I examined the quilt in person.
One quilt that will be in the book was made by Paula Reid. Paula is a machine quilter (Bernina) who quilts the majority of Alex's quilts that are published. Paula is a master quiltmaker in her own right. Her quilt was stunning. It was soft whites and beiges, with touches of pale pinks in it. At first blush you didn't see the pink. It didn't scream at you. But when you looked closer, you could see the beautiful neutral backgrounds with soft pink florals on them. She used a very pale floral fabric (Yuma maybe?) on the border. And, of course, the gorgeous feathers she quilted throughout the quilt top just made that quilt sing.
Holly and Jim, two of our long-time retreaters, went on a neutrals shopping spree. They came back with FQs of over 50 neutrals each. They went across the hall into the dining room and spread them out. Absolutely stunning fabrics. Jim also picked up several FQs of soft blue to incorporate in his quilt. He has the most wonderful eye for color. Some of you may remember Jim Kankula. He was only "Simply Quilts" a couple of times. He's the guy that dyed fabric using the shaving cream method. Alex also dedicated her paper piecing book to Jim. A fabulous, funny guy! It's a joy to see him every year at retreat.
I've already made a neutral quilt. Jane gave me a huge bag of neutrals for Christmas a couple of years ago. That quilt is just squares with sashing and cornerstones, but I love it, especially since it was one I could sew one-handed while recuperating from shoulder surgery. I'm also working on Verna Mosquera's White Christmas applique pattern. I have a goal -- to get the remaining blocks prepped as soon as possible so I can "release" the rest of the fabrics in my huge neutrals basket back into the stash.
We are to collect neutrals all year for our 2007 retreat project. I'm off to a flying start in that regard. I need to pick up some very soft grays, and decide whether or not I'm going to introduce a color into the fray. Since there will be quilts with pink, blue and green at the next retreat, I'm thinking maybe a soft yellow. I don't know. I need to ponder that for a while. After all, I've got 12 months until next retreat!
I hope this answered most of your questions. I know there are other colors such as black that can be a neutral. But for this project, we're using the white to brown pallet.