Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crazy for Cherries

When I was young, my family used to go to the Traverse City area of northern Michigan (in the "little finger" area, for you Michiganders!) for our summer vacations. In case you don't know this, Traverse City is "The Cherry Capital". We always had a wonderful time there, and I love those memories of my family. Cherry motifs always remind me of that time and place, and so does the "Cottage" decorating look, as most of the places we stayed at were little cottages and were kind of quirky, kitschy and cottage-y. I love that look. So, this quilt is to remind me of all that.
I call this "Crazy for Cherries" and it's made out of mostly cherry fabrics. It actually started with the border fabric that I found at Daisy Kingdom in Portland a number of years ago. Then, of course, I had to collect cherry fabrics to go with it. That actually wasn't too hard to do! I think I ended up with more fabrics than what I used in the quilt!

This was a pattern in Fons & Porter's magazine called "Crazy 9-Patch". A bunch of my friends decided we'd all make quilts together, to help us all figure out how to do this. It was tons of fun, and easy to do. Of course, it helps if you can count. You're supposed to stack 9 fabrics together and then "slice and dice", shift fabrics, then sew together. I think there's lots of patterns like this out now. Anyway, I somehow got 10 fabrics stacked up. It just created more variety in those blocks, and left me with an extra block. Apparently, I did this twice, because there's 2 extra blocks on the back! Like I said, counting is a good skill in quilting!

Here's a closeup of one of the blocks, so that you can see some of those cherry fabrics. On the right is the cherry border fabric that started it all. I believe it was a Mary Engelbreit fabric.

And here's a closeup of the quilting. This is on the back of the quilt because it shows better here. My friend S~ did the long-arm quilting on this, and I'm thrilled with her work! She's an awesome, free-hand quilter!

Here's a picture of the back. I pieced together all my left-over and un-used cherry fabrics for the back. It took much longer to piece this (or at least it felt like it!) than it did to do the front! (If you look carefully, you can see the tail of the inspecting cat disappearing off to the left.)

Shade cannot resist the quilt laying on the floor. He must get under it!

Here he is, all cozy in his quilt cave.

Dunkel is intrigued with the giant lump in the quilt, and must investigate. Shade gets disgusted with him and leaves.

Dunkel is triumphant! The quilt is his!

And, here is the latest progress picture from the quilt studio. I managed to empty 3 large boxes of fabric over the long weekend! I'm getting worried. I have a lot more fat quarters than I thought I did, and I'm running out of places to put them! I have filled all the small bins and am starting on the large bins!
DH and I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie last night. I really enjoyed it! I love a rousing good adventure movie, and I love Indy Jones. I can't believe how old Harrison Ford is looking, but none of us are what we used to be! (I did miss Sean Connery though. I thought he was the best part of I.J. #3.) This movie didn't disappoint me, so I was very happy. I'd recommend this movie, if you liked the others.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Progress!

Well, the yard sale didn't go real well. It was over 90 degrees on Saturday, and I think people either didn't want to go out in the heat, or had better things to do. We had a good time, but didn't sell but about $20 or so worth of stuff. Oh well. The heat was overwhelming for me - I don't do well in that kind of temperature. Fortunately, we were at K's house and she has A/C, so I survived. Wow, it was really hot! Today we're back to a high of about 55 and rainy! I'm happy with that! DH isn't. He was hoping the heat would stay.

Remember how far I had gotten on the quilt studio here? Well, I've been folding fabric like crazy. I have emptied all my plastic bins, which is only part of the fabric, by the way! Here's what the wall of shelves looks like today:

I think measurable progress has been made! I'm not really going as fast as I would like, but real life gets in the way most of the time. I'm sure you all know what I mean.

Here is a closeup on the fabrics folded thus far. It looks like a predominance of plaids because I had 3 bins of plaids!! See that big box by the shelves kind of under the ironing board? That's the next box of fabric in the queue to be unloaded and folded. It is packed to the tippy-top. All of that was from the previous quilt room closet, but by no means is it all that was in the closet. I haven't counted how many boxes I have to unload. That would probably be discouraging!

Here's the other end of the shelves. The plastic bins on the top and the first 2 shelves were full of fabric. They are now full of fat quarters that will end up somewhere else. (Yet to be determined, exactly.)

Here is the first empty spot in the room! Those are bins that were full (to the brim!) of fabrics and are now EMPTY!! The small box used to sit on top of the box that is next to be unloaded. I can actually see the carpet there - Yay! Those other boxes are full of fabric, projects, tools, and who knows what else. Their day will come.

Here is my stack of "discards". The bag on the right is to be disposed of, and the stack on the left is to be cut up into strips, squares and other useful pieces. I had a ton of pieces of plaids. I'm not sure why I was saving them. They were too small to really be useful. Now they will have a purpose and be easy to access. *We won't talk about who will be cutting these up, or when this operation will occur.* One thing at a time!
I'm getting pretty antsy for this all to be done, but for the most part I am enjoying the process. I listen to my mp3 player and sing along with the music, with Shade sitting right next to me, waiting for pets and kisses and taking up all the space he can get away with. He's always there with me! And he doesn't complain about my singing! When I'm all done, I'll have a really good idea of just how much and what fabrics I have. I think that will be a good thing. I hope.

And, just so there is some actual quilt content, here's a little quilt. This was a paper-piecing class at quilt guild one night. We did hand-stitching to make these little 2 inch blocks to learn the technique. Then the teacher took the blocks and made the little quilt with them. Later, she did a drawing of the names of all the people who made the blocks, and I was lucky enough to win! I really enjoy this little scrap quilt - it's so happy and cheerful!

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Clever Idea and Another Little Quilt

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted last. I didn't mean for it to be that long! It's been a busy week: babysitting the granddaughters, a doctor visit and getting ready for a yard sale tomorrow. Time flies when you're having fun (or not!).

The picture above is one that I accidentally deleted from my last post. (Ooops!) This bench was in the Rhododendron garden, and I thought it was a great idea. It's somewhat like a terrarium. The bench was made of stone or possibly that new decking material, Trex. I don't know if you could do this on a wooden bench or not. And then it looks like the dirt, moss, plants and rocks were just piled on. Like a mini-garden! What a great idea. At least as long as you really don't need the bench, anyway.

I made this quilt a few years ago. We always had so many black birds in our yard in California. Now, in Washington, we have crows and ravens. This one was done with fusible and finished with hand blanket stitching.

We are having a heat wave here this weekend. Actually, the whole west coast is having one. Two days ago it was chilly enough that I was wearing sweats in the afternoon. Today it's about 80 to 85 degrees. Then, by Tuesday next week, we're supposed to be back in the 50's & 60's for highs, with rain again! That means we'll probably have a good turn-out for the yard sale, with the nice weather. I hope we can sell most of this stuff! And, it's not bad weather for sitting in the garage. I don't usually like all this heat, but since it's only for 2 or 3 days, after a long, rainy winter, it's not so bad. DH is very happy - he loves the heat and sun! I guess that means it's now my turn to complain! Hee hee!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rambling thru the Rhodys

Here are some of the doll quilts I've made in the past. This first one is an Amish Bars quilt. I made it as an exercise to try these colors, using Roberta Horton's book on Amish quilts. The colors didn't come out quite true on this one - the red is more intense than it looks here. My friend Ka~ hand-quilted this one for me. I used this for years on a little doll bed that DH made for me, until a certain cat decided that it was hers. She was way too heavy for the little bed and it finally gave way under her weight!

This quilt is a simple 9-Patch. However, it was made long before rotary cutters and accurate rulers! The blocks are 3 inches. This one is tied from the back. I usually display it at Christmas and then leave it out until Valentine's Day

Here's a close-up (kind of fuzzy - sorry!). You can see this rather dated fabric I used, which will tell you how long ago I made this! (I think I still have some of it! Yikes!)
I love to make doll quilts. They're a great way to practice a technique or pattern without a huge investment of time or fabric, but they're not nearly as challenging as doing a miniature. I use them for display around the house, changing them with the holiday or the season. And the cats particularly like them if they can be laid upon. They don't really seem to care about the quilt if it's hung on the wall!
Tuesday we had a little outing. We went out to lunch with K~ and then we went to see the Rhododendron Species Garden near here. It was wonderful to see everything blooming. The best part was that nearly everything was labeled, so we could start to learn some of the local plants. We walked 2 or 3 miles around this garden, which is 22 acres! I think we saw most of it. Here are a few photos to share the beauty that we saw. (You can click on the photos for a closer look.)

I love the colors in this photo!

This looks so typical of the Northwest, with the Douglas fir in the background.

This is the entry into the garden.

A pink rhody, that smelled like apple blossoms!

These white flowers are Foam Flowers, with, I think, geraniums in the background.

This is a Japanese maple tree by a pond. The pond looks scummy, but the sign said that it is actually covered with a very, very tiny fern. It looked so solid that there were signs warning that it wasn't safe to walk on!

Another rhododendron. This looked like a bouquet, it was so big!

Hope you enjoyed the mini-tour! And I hope everyone has a Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Some Progress!

I'm finally getting some stuff done in the quilt studio! Yay! Last week, DH put together the bookshelves that we got at IKEA. They smelled pretty strongly when they were done, so I opened the window, closed the door, and let them air some.

I've started going through my bins of fabric and sorting them into half yard and larger pieces, fat quarters, and so on. I'm using this book as my guide to the setup of this room. This is the progress I made in 2 hours on Tuesday. Doesn't look like much, does it? I think that was 3 small bins worth.

I don't have any available table space to fold fabric on, and then remembered the ironing board! After standing for about an hour, I got tired, and then remembered the ironing board height is adjustable (Duh!). So I lowered the board, got a chair and continued working. Now it's pretty comfortable to work there.

I got back in there today and got some more done. Here's my "folding station".

As you can see, my furry friends are "helping" me. Shade insisted that he had to sit in/on this bin, which made it only slightly difficult to access.

Here is my sorting setup. The half-yard and larger pieces get folded and put on the shelves. They'll eventually be sorted by color, for the most part. The fat quarters get folded (differently, of course) and put in a bin for now. (I'll deal with them later.) The box is filling with fabric that is smaller than a fat quarter that will get cut up into strips, squares and whatever (Bonnies' Scrap User System). The paper bag is fabric I'm getting rid of. I don't know if I'll give it away or throw it away. Most of it isn't 100% cotton, so I don't know who would want it.

It's been amazingly difficult to give up some of the smaller pieces to get cut up. I keep telling myself that it's not like I'm throwing them away or anything. I will see them again, and they'll be useable. I know the Scrap User's System works well for me, it's just somehow tough to toss the really cute fabrics into that box!

Here's another kitty "helper":
You can see here that I made more progress today. The bins that are on the shelves have the strips, squares, strings, etc. in them. They'll be going in something else eventually.

Here's the photo I took at the end of my session today. Shade hasn't moved from the bin, but the fabric has been leaving, and now he's sinking into the bin. He seems to be saying, "It's mine, all mine!" And, of course, all the fabric does belong to the cats. And all the quilts belong to the cats.

Now I have to start shifting the stuff we shoved to the other side of the room, because the rest of the bins and the boxes of fabric are behind all that stuff and I can't reach it!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Cat's Meow

Today I'm going to show off my little quilts that feature cats. I apologize in advance for the poor lighting quality of my photos. I broke the flash on the camera (short story: it fell down the stairs and landed on the stone entry area- ouch!), and that's making it quite challenging to get a good photo.

"You're The Cat's Meow" is a small wallhanging that my sister (Hi Sal!) made for me a few years ago. She was making a bunch of little embroideries for a church bazaar, I believe, and did this one for me. Her own design, of course! I'm thrilled with it and that she would do that for me!

Next up is "Kitty Friends". I did this a few years ago from a purchased pattern. I just loved the little kitties. I'm not super pleased with the fusible I used for the applique, as it's kinda stiff and distorts the quilt. (Another lesson learned. *sigh*) Now I do the technique of cutting out the middle of the fusible and leaving 1/4 inch around the edge, which I learned from Fons & Porter's magazine.

Here's a close-up of the black kitty, since he's hard to see. His markings are the black-on-black like Dunkel's. (We didn't have Dunkel when I made the quilt.)

The last quilt is a pattern called "Alley Cats". I thought it was just so whimsical, and a great way to use some of my large stash of plaid fabrics.

I used a softer fusible on this one, and then did the blanket stitch by hand. This was supposed to be wonky, uneven and primitive-looking. I had to rip out my stitches quite a few times because they were too even. It still looks too good to be truly "primitive".

I worked on the stitchery when I was helping my mom while she recovered from surgery. I really enjoyed doing this one, although embroidery isn't really my cup of tea. And I love the mis-matched eyes on these guys. Gives them more personality, I think. It was fun to pick out which buttons to use to give them a "look".

Here's a couple of close-ups of my favorite cats. You could check out my stitches, if you really wanted to! Then you would know why I say embroidery isn't my forte. *smile*

Help!! Why is Blogger so hard to format? I spend more time "tweaking" the spacing, paragraphs, pictures, etc. than anything else. Is there something I don't know?? If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear from you. Comment or email me, please!