Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Off to Retreat!

Just a quick note to say Toodles for now! I'm off to California in the morning for 5 days of quilt retreat. I'm so excited to be going, and can't wait to see all my friends! I'll be back next week. . . .see you then!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy National Quilting Day!

Dunkel is so excited that it's National Quilting Day! He's totally wrapped up in celebrating!

Since I have had strings on the brain lately, I thought I'd show a string quilt that I made a few years ago. I made this at a quilt retreat with my friend KV, just like we'll be doing next weekend. I wanted to see how big we had made these blocks , and just see what it looked like. I really haven't seen it in about 2 years, due to moving - it's been in a box. It's hard to tell exactly on the block measurement because the quilt has crinkled up since washing, but most of the blocks measure at 9 inches.

These strings are about 20 years worth of memories. They're from other quilting/sewing projects, pillowcases, clothes for the kids or me, and even some from friends. As we were making the blocks, some of the other quilters at the retreat would bring us their strings and say "Here, put this in too"! I had two huge bags full of strings, and let me tell you, it was a job to get them all ironed and ready to sew! But it was worth it.

I've included some closeup shots of my favorite blocks. Some of these fabrics are pretty dated! How many of these do YOU have??

When we were making these blocks, we'd lay them out on the floor to see how they looked, and everyone had such fun coming to see them and finding all the conversational prints. Even the people who run the retreat place came to see them, and they were amazed at the variety of prints and fun fabrics. I think we forget that people that don't know quilters have no idea of what kinds of fabrics are available now. And I think that they think we're a little nuts! Of course, they may be right!

I love this Monopoly fabric! I made a fabric game board for my DS when he was in the Air Force that he could easily take with him for "down time", because Monopoly was his all-time favorite game. They used to get stuck in places when their plane needed repairs, and he complained of having nothing to do. (Trust Mom to try and take care of that!)

After making this quilt, I started buying a little extra fabric when I bought, so I would have enough to throw some in the string bin. Is that cheating??

Dunkel gets to be the star today, because I actually got a decent picture of him. Not great, but decent. He dislikes having his picture taken and won't hold still at all. I had to sneak up on him, pretending I was shooting the quilt. Little does he know. . . .
I think I'll go celebrate the rest of National Quilting Day in the quilt studio!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Éirinn go brách! (Which, if you don't speak Irish Gaelic, means "Ireland Forever!") (thanks to Wikipedia) I don't happen to speak Irish Gaelic, but I am of Irish descent - mostly. So this is one of my favorite holidays. I don't eat cabbage and corned beef, nor do I drink green beer, but I still love having an Irish holiday.

This lovely piece of Celtic knotwork was executed by my darling daughter. This is a bamboo breadboard (bamboo being a typical Irish tree??) that she did for me for Christmas one year. I think it's wonderful and have it displayed all the time. I've even used it some. This is the main side.

She even decorated the "business" side of the board!
I hope everyone has a grand St. Paddy's Day! (And if you're drinking today, have a Guinness for me.) If I have any visitors from the Emerald Isle today, please leave me a comment - I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Doodle Bugs return. . .

It was just over a year ago when I first showed my Doodle Bugs. (you can see them here) I can't believe it's been that long! Wow, time flies when you're having fun, I guess. Anyway, a while back someone commented on the Doodle Bug wallhanging that showed up behind Shade in a picture of him in the quilt studio. I looked through the old posts and apparently I've never shown this top! Don't know how I missed that. So, at long last, here it is! It's only at the flimsy stage, but it's been up on the wall in the quilt studio (for the last year, I guess). I've been hoping to get inspiration for quilting it. I really don't know what I want to do in the way of quilting it.

Here's a closeup of one of the bugs. I used a dotted fabric for every bug, where on the originals I added the spots. This was easier! They are fused on with Misty Fuse, which isn't supposed to need to be stitched down. These guys are pretty small - 4 inches from nose tip to tail - so I don't want to have to stitch around each one. The Misty Fuse was dream to work with, as far as fusing it. It was so easy - I loved it!

I love this fabric in the background. It looks like hydrangea leaves to me.
I made the first Doodle Bugs for my granddaughters. I'm not sure where this wallhanging is going to live. Maybe at my house for awhile! Of course, I need to finish it before that's a problem, huh?
I've been doing more stalling, apparently. Avoidance of putting together the Witch's Pantry, although, in my defense, I have been working on it. I'm trying to finish up the last jars, and only have to put the lids on the last few. I just seem to have string quilts on the brain. I'm going to a quilt retreat at the end of the month and my friend KV and I are going to be making string blocks. So, I've been "testing" patterns. The latest one is the String X block. It's a pattern from Quiltville and can be seen here. Here's what I came up with:

I used old telephone book pages as the foundation. I used Bonnie's recommendation and used a larger needle (size 16 Denim) and a smaller stitch (about 1.5 on my Bernina), and the paper comes off like a dream. The pattern makes one quarter of the block. This is how Bonnie shows it put together - as an X. I, of course, had to play with it:

You can also put it together as an O. I think it would be cute to put both X's and O's together in one quilt. I wonder if it would need sashes between the X's and O's to show that they're X's and O's and not just some crazy pattern?? I'll have to try that.

Then DH got in the spirit and came up with this idea. I think this is called Indian Hatchet. That's kind of fun too! This could be fun to try lots of different things with. I just love asymmetrical blocks - there's so many fun ways to put them together. Anybody else have any other ideas?
KV and I will be making 11 inch square blocks, but I think I'll take some foundations to do this block too. The strings it uses only need to be about 5 inches long, so this block is good for "leftover" ends of longer strings. I haven't decided what background fabric to use, but I think that can probably wait until I have all the foundations pieced.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day! It was up to 55*f and warm enough to go without my coat for the first time in months and months! Two days ago our high was 35*f. So, this was a gift. It was wonderful. Blue skies, singing birds. And rain tomorrow. At least we had one beautiful day. That'll hold me for a bit. Now I believe that spring is on the way!

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Milkmaid

I just have to show you the beautiful milking stool that my daughter made. Well, she didn't construct it, but she did do the wonderful wood-burning. Her goat had kids on the 18th of February and she has now become a "milkmaid". She's milking the nanny goat and bottle-feeding the kids.
Here's the top of the stool, really showing the Celtic knotwork that she designed. I think she's got a real talent for wood-burning. If you want to read about how she designed and did this, or if you want to see pictures of the baby goats, visit her blog here.
After I finished the doll quilts that I showed in the last post, I had a hard time getting back to work on what I'm supposed to be sewing. I was cruising through the blogs I read and saw this great spiderweb quilt that Amandajean of Crazy Mom Quilts blog is making. You can see it here.

She said she got the pattern from Quiltville, so I had to go see how it was made, of course! I've used lots of Bonnie's patterns and have always enjoyed them. This spiderweb quilt really intrigued me when I read how Bonnie came up with the 'kite'-shaped piece in the center, and that she uses "used" printer paper for the background. So I had to play around with it. The block above is one I did first. (Sorry for the poor quality of the photo - that's what I get when I try to photograph at night.) I thought it was fun to do, but I'm not real thrilled with the over-all look of all those old fabrics. So I had to try another:

This one gets me much more excited! I love the polka-dot center and all those bright, happy fabrics! If (and that's a big IF) I ever make a spiderweb quilt, this is what I will use for it. The block uses the smallest strings and takes quite a bit of time. I don't have that many bright strings yet, so this project is being shelved until the "right" time. But, I have to say, it's an easy pattern to do, and even removing the paper base is easy, if you follow Bonnie's directions.
I have some links to share with you:
First, my friend KR sent me a link to another wonderful group doing bras for Breast Cancer. This group is from South Carolina and they did the Artful Bras Project. Take a look here. And be sure to read the titles - some of these are just a hoot! What a talented group of women!
Moda has a new blog - well, fairly new to me anyway. They have lots of guest designers, and I think most everything is made with the pre-cut packs that Moda is becoming famous for. You know, layer cakes, jelly rolls, etc. Thus the name "Moda Bake Shop" for the blog. They have some very cute projects. . .check it out!
Lastly, I saw this amazing video on someone else's blog - sorry, I don't remember where it was. But it's so cute I have to share it too. If you love color, and what quilter doesn't, you'll love this. It's a nice "fix" of tropical color as winter drags on too long. It's brought to you by the same guys that did the diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Click here to see it. Warning: this may cause an overwhelming urge to go buy sticky notes!
OK, back to the quilt studio for me. I have projects to get done!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sneak Peek Reveal

Remember the sneak peek in my last post? Well, here's what I was working on. Two doll quilts for my granddaughters, who both recently had birthdays. They have more-or-less matching dolls, so they now have more-or-less matching doll quilts! The quilt above is for the 6 year old.
And this quilt is for the 4 year old. These are done with the Disappearing 9-Patch pattern, which I'd not tried before. It was easy and fun! Both quilts have mostly the same fabrics, except the whites are different white-on-white fabrics, the purple and the green (which are in the same places on both), and the borders are different fabrics. All of the fabrics used, except for the border fabric, were from my scraps. Even the backings! These quilts have no binding. The top one got lots of quilting, but when I realized that I was running out of time, I did less quilting on the 2nd quilt. I did straight-line quilting in the bodies of the quilts and "drunken bee" quilting in the borders. I don't know if it will show up well in the photos when they're enlarged.
The girls were over yesterday and we had a fun time. They both went home clutching their dollies wrapped in their quilts. *Smiles all around*

See what's in my yard? Spring can't be far behind. We had 55f today! Practially balmy!

But see what else is in my yard? Someone thinks this is a salad bar. I've also found two tulips bulbs unearthed and eaten. I'm not too happy about this. I'm pretty sure that it's the 4 big raccoons that have been hanging around. Grrr!
After doing the Disappearing 9-Patch, I have some "bonus" triangles hanging around. I don't want to just toss them. So, I was thinking of making a baby quilt for my DD's friend who just had a premature baby. I'm just not sure what fabric to put with them. So, I did a test of different color fabrics to get an idea of where to head with this.

Here are some of the triangles on blue. You see, they have small white triangles on their points which, if I put the triangles with white, would just disappear. So, that complicates matters.
I'm not sure I like the blue. Perhaps too strong with the pinks.

Then I tried a greyed purple. Kind of boring, huh? And the color didn't come out well in the photo either.

Here's a not-too-bright lime-y green. I think this has good contrast, without being overwhelming.

And here they are on a pink/white/green plaid. Cute, but perhaps too low contrast. Which is not necessarily bad for a baby quilt, I guess.
I'm liking the green and the pink plaid fabrics the best. But these probably aren't the fabrics I would use - I don't have enough of them for the whole quilt. The problem is, I don't have many pastels. They're not a favorite of mine, and I don't buy them often. So, this means a trip to the quilt store. (Oh, the hardship! But someone has to do it!) The triangles are 4 3/8 inches (raw edges) on their short sides, just so you have an idea of how big they are. I have 40 triangles, 2 of each fabric. I sure could use some opinions on which color direction to go. Also, if you have a better/different idea of how to put these together, that would be interesting also. Thanks!
Shade seemed partial to the blue!