Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Week, Part II

Well, it seems a little silly to call this post "Part 2" when we're almost through the next week! Oh well, it is a continuation of last week.

When I was diagnosed with the tenosynovitis (sore thumb), I was pretty upset that I wouldn't be able to sew. Then I calmed down and took a look around the quilt studio. Remember these string blocks? Well, I found what was left of the phone book pages that I had cut those foundations from, and they were a useable size. . .they'll finish at 4 1/2" x 10 1/2". So, I just started sewing strings to them. Now there's more of that Spring String thing going on!

I learned to use the little scissors with my index and middle fingers (because of that lovely thumb brace), and I cautiously used the rotary cutter left-handed, while aiming at the brace, not my exposed fingers! (don't need more hand issues!) Well, I'll never do precision cutting that way, but it was sufficient for what I needed to make these! I have trimmed a few blocks, now that my thumb is feeling better, because I just needed to see what they were gonna look like. Most of the blocks are waiting for trimming until my hand is all better.

While I was happily stitching away on these, my mind raced with the possibilities of what I could do with them. The easy answer was Chinese Coins, but I think that's too predictable and boring. Then I thought of a spiral, starting in the middle of the quilt. I tried laying out the blocks for that, and I can't imagine how I would ever put them together that way! Doing the background would be a nightmare, I think.

So, then I thought of making rectangles. Above is the first attempt. I think that may be toooo long and skinny.

So, then I tried this layout. I think this may be it. I might go with the center design being off-center in the quilt, but I'll have to see how that looks. Still have a lot more blocks to sew. I started with about 70 foundations. Someday all those strings might actually be used up. . . . . except for the fact that I keep adding to them!

Last Saturday, my local quilt guild had a workshop on painting on fabric. We used acrylic paints. Now, don't laugh. I'm not much of a painter (stenciling is more my forte), so this isn't anything even remotely close to great art. But, I don't think I totally embarrassed myself. I don't know that I'll ever do anything with this painting, since it's kind of stiff, but the workshop was fun.

When my sister visited, she brought me some cute fabric. When I got home from the workshop, I went into the quilt studio with the intention of pulling fabrics for a color challenge I need to do, but then got distracted by the fabric my sister had given me. It was sitting on the top of the pile on my cutting table. . . . I'm sure you know what I mean! Then I found this cute cat fabric that I bought last year - it has cats on it that were by the same artist (Debbie Hron) that did the calendar I had last year. . . .I thought they were just so funny and charming. Well, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was cutting and sewing , and ended up with this:

"Love Notes"
This fabric cracks me up! Some of these "notes" are too true. For example:

"Please put away that suitcase. You are not going anywhere. XOXOXO, The Cat"

"The litter box needs cleaning. XOXOXO, The Cat"

"I would prefer to drink from the faucet. The water in my dish is unacceptable. XOXOXO, The Cat" (my personal fave - this is Dunkel!)
There's about 12 of these little notes. If you're interested, you can see this fabric here.

Here's a closeup so you can see the cats in the border fabric.

Now, I'm trying to get something more done. My problem is Quilter's ADD! I want to do it all, and try to - all at the same time! As you can imagine, I'm not really accomplishing much.
Need to focus. . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Week, Part I

Well, it's been a busy week around here. Last weekend, my sister came for a visit. We went to Bellevue to see the exhibit of antique quilts that is currently showing at the Bellevue Arts Museum. If you're interested, you can read about it here and see a couple of the quilts too. There were some awesome quilts. I believe the oldest quilt was a whole cloth from circa 1830 with the smallest quilting that I've ever seen. And there were 2 string quilts that were different from most. Both had very small strings (some finished as small as 1/4 inch) and were totally free-pieced! Those were fun to see. After we finished at the museum, we drove to Kirkland for dinner at the Wilde Rover pub. We had a wonderful Herbed Chicken and Brie Boxty - Yum! (sorry, no photos - I totally forgot!) If you're ever in that neighborhood, I recommend the pub for dinner, and they have some great beers on tap as well.

I tried something this week that I've talked about for a while, but never worked up the courage to try. I actually accomplished my first art quilt! This was due to some pointed encouragement by my DH. It's not quilted yet, but it's all fused. I'm very happy with it. It came out better than I thought it might. Now I just have to quilt it without screwing it up - wish me luck. I'm nervous about it now.

I worked from a photo I took a few years ago of some black-eyed susan flowers that were in front of a picket fence in the backyard of our previous house in California. This little quilt is approximately 8" x 10".

Here's a closeup. What was interesting was that those flower petals weren't the shape that I assumed they were. I had to really look at them and then change the way I was cutting them when the first ones I made weren't right. An eye-opening experience, so to speak!

One day this week, it was warm and sunny, and I couldn't stand it any longer. I HAD to get out and dye fabric! It's only been something like 2 1/2 years since I've gotten to do it, and I've really missed it. The house we're in now has no good place to work inside (I'm terrified that I would drip dye on the light-colored wood floors!), so I have to wait for a nice day and do it outside. It didn't take too long to get set up and get to it. I've gotten a little rusty in that 2 1/2 years, but mostly did OK. The hard part was chasing the sun spots around the yard! I finally found a sunny spot. However, by the time I figured that out and tried some sun printing, the clouds came in and there was no direct sun. Rats! Next time I have to do it earlier in the day and in the right spot.

Here's what came out of that session. I'm happy with them, but now I want to do more!

Yesterday our little ducky friends came calling. They saw me through the window and came up on the deck - hoping for a handout, I think. They're pretty tame due to being fed over at the park. But they posed prettily, and let me come out on the deck to take their picture. They were a "couple" last year and it seems they're still together. Pretty soon there will be baby ducks here!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Catching Up

I haven't been blogging much this week, for some reason. I have some catching up to do! Actually, most of this stuff is from farther back than just this last week.

Before I went to the quilt retreat (almost a whole month ago! where does the time go??), I made some gifts to take to my friends. I found a cute pattern that I really liked, so I made everyone some little bags.

These are all done from this pattern , and they all finish @ 4" x 6". I obviously got tired of piecing all those little squares, but I also wanted to personalize each bag. So, upper left is Pat's, and she is a Beatlemanic (like moi), next is Kate who loves purple and 30's fabrics, then Jeanne who is as bright and cheerful as these Mary Engelbright fabrics. On the right, there's Pam's bag, and we all know she loves purple!

Bottom row left is Jill's bag. Jill and I hand-dyed this red fabric together, and I did some improv piecing for her. Middle is my bag, also done with hand-dyed fabric that I made. (I jazzed mine up with some beads, embroidery and prairie points.) Then on the right is Roberta's bag. I also hand-dyed and sun-printed this fabric. (Roberta makes wonderful hand-dyed fabric too!)

Here's a bigger picture of my bag. I made covered buttons for all the bags. I love covered buttons, except that was the start of my messing up my thumb. Duh, I finally went and got the little hammer after a few buttons. Slow learner, I guess. Anyway, I think everyone enjoyed their bags. I use mine for my mp3 player and/or my cell phone. It could also be used for sewing supplies.

I also made a couple of snap wallets. (You can click on the pictures to biggify them.) I found the pattern for these cuties here. I had a heck of a time doing the snaps, so DH did them for me. The next ones I make will have velcro fasteners. I love the look of the snap, but it's too hard for me to unsnap easily. But, these only take a few minutes to make, and are a lot of fun.

These are great for lots of things, but I'm using mine for carrying all those store cards that don't fit in my wallet anymore. You know, like Costco and Petco, the library, etc. The cards fit just perfectly.

My DH, The Potter, has been a busy guy here. He just recently completed a custom order for me. I ordered a new set of dinnerware. There was nothing wrong with the old set, except we only had 6 of everything and now we need at least 7 when we have the rest of the family over. And, spoiled rotten that I am, I was just tired of them. I mean, what's the point of having a potter in the family if you can't get some new dishes now and then? Right?

So, here's what he's done. This is a service for 10 (except for 4 more dessert plates that didn't fit in the kiln for this load). He always makes extra of whatever he's doing, in case something doesn't come out.

And here's a better picture of the wonderful glazing that he did. I had a hard time making up my mind as to what I wanted. It actually took me 2 months and many test plates before I was happy. (I'm lucky he loves me - I think he got tired of all the testing!) I think the dishes came out beautifully! I'm loving using them. Must be time to invite the family over!

One last thing. A while back I made and sent some little 9-patches to Bumble Beans for a charity project she was working on. The quilt, titled "Nothing But Kisses", is all made and quilted and is now up for auction at the Born In My Heart auction. Click on over to her blog for the explanation and a direct link to the quilt auction, and take a look at the really cute quilt she made with all the 9-patches that were contributed to her. I hope they make loads of $$ on it!
Edited to add: here's the direct link to the quilt auction!

I've been busy this week with some actual sewing and other fiber-related things occuring. I'll have some photos to show you in a few days! Stay tuned. . . .

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival

Here is my entry for the on-line Bloggers Quilt Festival. This is a wonderful idea organized by Amy of Park City Girl .

This quilt might look familiar to you, as it is the "fraternal twin" to this quilt that I showed previously. The only real difference between the two is that this one is done with purple sashing and border (it doesn't show as purple real well here, but trust me, it is a wonderful deep purple), while the twin quilt is done with blue. The blocks aren't exactly the same, but are similar.

(the quilting)
We're supposed to show our favorite quilt. That's a tough one, because each of my quilts is my "favorite" for one reason or another. The reason I picked this quilt isn't because of it's wonderful artistry or the creativity or great fabrics, but because this quilt (and it's "twin") holds so many memories for me. It contains bits and pieces of 20 years of quilting and sewing projects: the graduation quilts for both my son and my daughter, clothes I made my children, the baby quilt for my first grandchild, fabrics my mom, my sister and my friends gave me and so on. Literally, pieces of my life.

(the back has a "racing stripe" - all in flannels)
And so, this one is important to me. I love looking at it and remembering all the things associated with so many of the fabrics it contains. Maybe it's a humble scrap quilt, but it's also a memory quilt. Kind of like a grown-up I Spy for me!

It also reminds me of the fun I had at the retreat where this was made. My friend Kate and I both made these blocks, and we had a lot of fun doing them.

And this last block holds a little surprise! Do you see the bottom left-hand corner? That little scrap of red? Well, it was a bigger piece of fabric originally, but when I trimmed the square to size after I pieced it, that little scrap was all that was left. And, it has a tiny little heart on it! It makes me smile when I see it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pay It Forward

While I was in California, I recieved this wonderful bag and pin from Pam (Passionate Purple Quilter). I had agreed to Pay It Forward with her back in July.

This is an exchange based on the concept of the movie "Pay It Forward", where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with the hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness will pass it on. (Side note: Interestingly, this concept was discussed by Benjamin Franklin back in 1784!)

So here is how it works: I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF with me.

I don't know yet what that gift will be, but it will be handmade by me and it will be sent in the next 6 months. What you need to do in return then is Pay It Forward by making the same commitment on your blog. Please remember I will need an email address to correspond with you.

This is your chance to get a handmade gift made by Me! That doesn't happen too often. I know you'll just jump at this chance!
Oh, and you can leave a comment without signing up for the PIF, just so ya know.

Didn't Pam do a beautiful job on the bag? I just love it!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It's Here!!

Whoo hooo! I'm so excited! I LOVE this book! I think it may be better than the 1st Collaboration. The pictures are luscious. The quilts are wonderful. Freddy has a chapter of discussion of color, and Gwen has a chapter on antique quilts and how she is influenced by them (my favorite!) The Parts Department is here again, with some new parts. A lot to digest.

Here are some of my favorite quilts from the book:

Red Sticks

House Top

Liberated Wedding Ring

Marzella's Quilt

It's a good thing that this came. I have some time now to read it and plan and dream. You see, I injured myself while traveling home from California. I didn't realize how bad at first, but when it didn't stop hurting, I decided I'd better go to the doctor. I have De Quervain's tenosynovitis. It's a very painful inflamation of the tendon from the thumb to the wrist. The doctor gave me this to wear:

I "get" to wear this for 4 to 6 weeks. (excuse the photo - it's tough to take a picture of your own arm - left-handed!) Ugh! Of course, it's my right thumb and I'm right-handed. I'm trying to learn to do things left-handed. And thank goodness my DH is here and willing to help. And he can cook! But this is definitely gonna slow me down in the quilt studio. *sigh* I wonder if I can learn to rotary cut left-handed without slicing off fingers?? I can type - slowly, but better than handwriting. So, excuse me if I mistype or don't post as often. I'll do my best! (and I'll try not to whine)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Home Again

Wow, I didn't mean to take such a big break from the blog. I had a blast at the quilt retreat and have just been tired and busy since I got home . . . you know, laundry, doing taxes, etc. etc.

So, finally, here's some pictures from the retreat. Spring has sprung in California and it was beautiful! The hills are green, the poppies and the trees are blooming. And on Saturday we had 80* weather while in Washington, it was snowing - 5 inches!

The photo above is my messy work area. Jill was a sweetheart and let me borrow her Jem Platinum machine, and it was a dream to work on! I think I'm in love and need one of these! It's definitely on my wish list.

Here's Kate with the giant pile of strings that we were working with - my 25 year collection of bits and pieces of just about everything I've made over the years. And this was only about 25% of what was in the bin that they were stored in! Kate had pre-cut all the foundations so we really put the pedal to the metal and got down to business. We both made 35 blocks each - enough for one quilt each. Kate also made enough of the String X blocks for another whole quilt PLUS enough string rectangles for the borders of one of those quilts! She's unstoppable once she gets going!

Here are most of my blocks. I put the same red fabric in the middle of each square to use up this fabric. I'd cut these strips (before the rotarty cutter!) about 25 years ago to make a log cabin quilt, didn't like it after making 6 blocks and quit. I've carted the darn things around ever since through 3 moves! Enough is enough - use it or toss it. I have just enough left now to be the inner border. Yay!

Here is Jill. She got lots of projects finished over the weekend.

Jill made this quilt top from charm squares and a jelly roll.

Jill started piecing together all her leftover bits and parts to make the back for the one above, and ended up with a whole 'nother quilt top! Plus she has enough 2 1/2" strips strung together for the binding too. This was the first time she'd made something without a pattern. I'm so proud of her - I told her she was now liberated! I hope she does more of this!

Here's a little jack o'lantern wallhanging that Jill finished.

This is Jeanne. She was working on a quilt for a gift.

And here it is all finished. It's a Turning Twenty variation. All done with Roberta's hand-dyed fabrics. Pretty cool gift, huh?

Here's Patti, who was working on a couple of different quilts.

Here's Patti with a cute baby quilt that she made.

Here's Roberta, quilting on her project.

And here's Roberta with her finished (well, almost!) project. . .a tablerunner that she designed!

And Purple Pam was there was well! She has more retreat pictures on her blog.

Here's Barbara with her brand spanking new Janome machine. It was a real beauty!

Kate again.

Kate and Roberta together.

Joanne with the project she was working on.

Deana was making a chocolate bunny tablerunner for Easter.

I don't remember who is hiding behind this quilt!
The retreat was wonderful. It was so much fun to see all my friends again, and spend time sewing and talking and laughing! We got lots of sewing done, ate lots of good food, and had a blast! It was so fun and inspiring to see what everyone else was working on. There were lots of quilts and tote bags and purses. And there was always someone who had the answer to someone else's question of "what" or "how". I highly recommend a quilt retreat to anyone that hasn't tried one before.
Oh, and that bin of strings was finally empty at the end of the retreat!