Monday, April 25, 2011

Spinning wheels.

And I don't mean my Dresden plates!

I am at an in-between place with all five of my on-going projects. After getting several quilts quilted and bound, I was in the mood to do some more quilting, but the 2 projects closest to being ready to quilt--the black and brights geese and the circle skirt circle quilt--both need something special before I move ahead with them. For the geese, I need black batting (will order it from Connecting Threads) and the circles need a border of either charcoal or pepper. I hope where you live you have a LQS that carries lots of Konas and Bellas, but none of mine do. The best place for me to get solids is from the chain stores, but they just carry the basic crayon box colors, nothing as 'subtle' as dark grey! So again I will have to order. The Dresden plates have been on hold cause I was stumped as to what to use for centers, but I was very pleased to have solved that problem with nothing more than a root in my fabric stash. These smudge-y tan dots seem to make all the plates happy--and me too!

centers!

I got my row done for HMQG. This month I brought home Sabrina's batik spools. I haven't done anything with my batiks for a long time, so it was fun digging through what I had on hand and putting together some pretty pairs. I had forgotten how nice it is to sew with batiks--and I love the way they smell when they are ironed--so waxy! Sabrina, this will be a wild and luscious quilt!

sabrina's row


Then I started organizing my sewing room--storing and stowing and putting things away and I came across these buttons. Early in our days of getting to know each other, I asked Bryanna to look at her Walmarts for some buttons I couldn't find at mine and if they had any would she get one of each for me. Well, she showed up with $40 worth of buttons--which I have yet to do anything with! She said anyone who spent $40 on buttons was a kindred spirit. Occasionally, I get them out and just play with them. They are so pretty, prettier than gold coins, and more valuable--to me--because they represent the beginning of a friendship!

beginnings

Monday, April 18, 2011

Believe it or not it's just me.

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good and I hope yours was too.

Saturday morning, I did one of my exercise dvds--for the first time in a long time. And while my abs and shoulders ache now, it felt good to get my body parts and blood moving again. In the afternoon I went to the HMQG meeting. FUN! After the business-y part we had show and tell: several members brought swaps they had recently received--doll quilts, make mine modern, home goods. All were amazing! There were some robins, Bry got hers from me and has now taken it out of rotation as it is HUGE. I got Sabrina's batik spools to work on this month. A surprise was presented: Safieh's wedding quilt! And I think we really surprised her! She and Charles will be married this week--Best Wishes to you both! Then we showed off the things we made for Project Park. They were are beautiful and all so different. Yay us!

On Sunday, Shug and I went out on our bicycles. The weekend weather was lovely, cool and low humidity (well, for Houston). We had a nice little tour.

Then I spent much of the afternoon in my sewing room. I have 5 projects going right now: there are the 2 black thread projects (brights and black geese and the circle skirt quilt), 2 white thread projects (indigo floating stars and purple wonky stars) and a grey thread project (peachy plates). Now I usually tend to hop around--a LOT--between projects, but not wanting to change thread all the time made me focus. I had the black thread on the machine, so I finished the geese top and am nearly done adding the lines to the circle skirt top. And I am LOVING how these are turning out; actually I am loving how all of these projects are turning out. Do you ever work on something and it is going along so well and looks so awesome that you can't believe that YOU are making it? Well, that is how I am feeling right now. I am looking at these things and I can't believe they are MINE!

Now I know I have a Process Pledge button over there on the side and I have let you in on the progress--up till now. I want to keep these under wraps until they are done for a big reveal. ;-)

auditioning thread

adding lines

lovely plates

Friday, April 15, 2011

What is better than an ATTAGIRL?

An ATTAGIRL from a friend!
Bry at A Blond Quilts is an amazing quilter and blogger and my IRL friend and she recently passed along to me the the Stylish Blogger Award! {internet hug} Bry--until I can give you a real hug!


With the receipt of this award you are asked to do several things:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 6 newly discovered bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers to let them know they have been nominated as Stylish Bloggers.

So, 7 things about myself? Let's see...Audrey, Pippa and Louis are the 8th, 9th and 10th cats I've had in my life; I have a lovely collection of vintage wedding cake brides and grooms that I have not been able to display for several years now because Pippa began taking them down from the shelf. Fear of breakage caused me to put them away; Shug and I sail a Hobie Wave, a little 13 foot catamaran. It is lots of fun. And I think I might want a kayak this summer; I am becoming far too interested in vintage and antique sewing machines--but come on, we don't want all the old machines to end up as window dressing for AllSaints stores!; I've never dyed my hair (I like my grey!); just over a year ago, my Mom went in to a nursing home for what they delicately call "memory care". She still knows her immediate family but is increasingly confused. I really miss her; and lastly, Shug and I are married because of quilting: in 1991 (OMG! 20 years ago this fall!) I came to Houston to my first Quilt Festival. While in town, I phoned an old friend from college days who I knew had recently joined the faculty at a local university. Well, 14 months later, we were married and I was a Houstonian!

Now the 6 blogs I am awarding as Stylish Bloggers:

RachaelDaisy at Blue Mountain Daisy--Rachael is an amazingly talented quilter! Her career as a floral designer shows though in her brilliant (in every sense of the word) patchwork.

Ara Jane at you know what I love?--I just discovered this blog about quilting, knitting, baking, reading and gardening. Ara Jane's tone is so sweet and intimate she makes me love what she loves.

Sherri Lynn at daintytime--Sherri Lynn is famous for her Passage Quilts; they are as beautiful as they are touching and meaningful. She talks about life, creativity and shares her quilting skills with tutorials. I really want to try making my own Mod Mood Quilt.

Dan at Made by a Man: Sew What--Dan is a master of both precise (check out his Lone Star made with 1 inch strips!) and improvisational piecing and he takes his readers along through the process in a helpful and personable way.

Jenny at Sew Kind of Wonderful--Jenny's blog (one of two--the other is about long-arm quilting) is about quilting and life in general. She is developing a ruler that I am very eager to see--the quilts she has made with it are amazing!

And nifty quilts--I love the joyous quilts I see here. There isn't a lot of writing but lots and lots of beautiful quilts!

Enough with the Reptiles!

hughey & the turtle

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gemology and Quiltroversy

I have a BS in geology (*please* don't ask me when I graduated!) and while I was in school I once was a teaching assistant in a class called Gem Stones (aka "Rocks for Jocks"). It was then that I saw all the color varieties of garnet with their bizarre names; they range from olive to bright green (uvarovite and tsavorite), from orange to brown (hessonite and spessartite), from deep red to purple (pyrope and rhodolite). When I saw what my fellow members of HMQG were doing with Bryanna's row for our robin, it was these garnets that came to mind. She requested wonky log cabins in plums, greys and navies with an accent color that would pop. Well, amazing rows have been made! I was afraid that I would not get the chance to add to it, but Bry let me add one more row. (I am probably the last person who will get to work on it--it is HUGE now.)

w/o pippa

It is now ready to go home with its owner. Bry, I think you need to make an appointment with Jacquie for some time on her long arm.


Then I just want to say this about some things on the blogs lately:


I really dislike labels. They are often used only to exclude people: I am {fill in the blank}, but you are not. We are all quilters. I don’t care if your stars are wonky by choice or by accident, if your fabrics are bright and contemporary or muted and country, if style is traditional, modern, art, or whatever. I also don’t care if you are working on your first quilt or your one hundredth. We are all quilters! Not everyone’s work is going to appeal to all. But we can be kind when we express our dislike or disagreement. I truly believe that unkind words lead to unkind behavior.

It is hard for me to imagine an activity that seems less likely to attract harsh words and hurt feelings than quilting. But there have been quite a bit of both on the quilting blogs and flickr images lately. There have been several topics going around, thoughtful replies have been made but there have also been some rather stinging comments. I have carefully considered adding my opinions to some of these, but in the end have chosen not to. When someone asks me what I think, then I will tell her or him; until then, I am sure no one cares. It would only be for vanity’s sake that I would add to the long strings of comments, so I am just going to keep quiet. In my early days on internet, I did sometimes comment on some pretty innocent stuff and was often misunderstood. Somehow misunderstandings seem easier with the written word than with the spoken word.

Some may think me weak or na├»ve or Pollyannaish for not wanting to jump into the debates. But I feel like there is enough arguing and finger pointing in the world today without doing it about a pastime I am passionate about. 

Saturday, April 09, 2011

You can call me Finishy McFinisher!

After finishing my Project Park for HMQG, I was kind of on a roll--finishing-wise.

With the walking foot on the machine, I quilted two small quilts, then got the binding on them. And now they are done! It really feels good to have 2 UFOs off my to-do list!
This one will just be added to the growing collection of small quilts at our house. It is made with leftovers from my brother and sister-in-law's quilt. Since I rarely follow patterns I often cut more than I need when I make a quilt and can get 2--and sometimes more--quilts from one cutting session. A sort of 'cut one-get one'.

I just finished this one 

finish II

with leftover HSTs from this one.

R & J's quilt

The second quilt is for our neighbor's new baby, due to come home this week. Yay! This is another little quilt made from leftovers. In this case, the original was made for my cousin's first son. He will be 12 this October, so these parts have been laying around for quite a while.

finish I

Here is a snapshot of the earlier quilt with dachshunds marching around the border.

origins

Next on my quilting program is Bry's row for HMQG. (How is it that the 3rd Saturday seems to be coming so early in the month?! We meet next week, so I have to get this done!) Now, I did cheat a bit and 'robin ahead' with her row--I already have 2 squares done. Her colors are so rich and beautiful that this one is a real pleasure to work on. Pippa has made some suggestions with coordinating snakes!

robin & snakes

And an interesting, non-quilty side note. I've been trying to get back in the habit of exercising, so yesterday between laundry and cleaning and binding, I got in a walk on our neighborhood green belt. There is a bar bell-shaped oval, about 2+ miles long with a 'water feature' in the middle (I call it a drainage ditch, others call it a bayou.) In wetter times, it flows, but we are in the midst of a drought and it now is more standing than flowing. But it usually has quite a bit of life around it: turtles, herons, egrets, I even saw a roseate spoonbill there once. Yesterday I saw a small alligator! It was about 2 feet long, but would have been longer if it had all of its tail--it looked like a sawed-off alligator. In spite of being small, its mouth was probably the size of my hand! CHOMP!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

I LOVE this quilt!

This quilt is called "Two Brothers" and was made by helen richards quilts.

It breaks the mold of the row-by-row, block-by-block quilt. The large, rectangular pieces let the interesting fabrics and the rich, vineyard-like palette come to the front, but the fabrics and colors are not working by themselves here. It took a good eye and a deft hand to assemble them in a way that is both calming and exciting. The rich, dark solids are enlivened by the sparkling prints and the piecing is at once improvisational and controlled.
The construction seems to have been done in 3 wide and 2 slender bands, going the width of the quilt, using both wide and narrow strips--a perfect way to really showcase the beautiful Japanese fabrics. The coral and olive and purple and turquoise of the prints really sing next to the forest and navy, plum and grey solids. The overall impression is that of peaking through a window at a beautiful scene outside.
It is hard to get a feel of how this quilt is quilted. Because of its size, it may have been done simply--though this quilter is known for her excellent free-motion quilting designed to uniquely enhance each of her quilts. In the case of "Two Brothers" perhaps the best quilting was just 'in the ditch' letting the amazing patchwork and beautiful fabrics shine!

Two Brothers 

My challenge from this quilt is to experiment with large fabric pieces in a non-block format. This style of quilt would be perfect for those fabrics I am reluctant to cut. I would also like to play with this rich palette--I don't think I have ever used as many dark colors as are in this quilt!

Please find this quilt in my flickr gallery I LOVE these quilts!.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Whose room is it anyway?

Many of us share our homes and our creative spaces with someone else--room-mates, partners, spouses, children, pets. Mostly for better, sometimes for worse.
Many of us, too, have had those moments when we return to a project that was left out in an unfinished state only to find it altered by our beloved. With luck, we will do a Marge Simpson growl, grab the camera to document it, then precede to right the wrong.

Then there the other times.

I've had a few of those over the years. There was the vest I was making back in the day of vests. It was nearly completed and hanging on a hangar on the doorknob when Shug, who had been eating chips, walked by and picked it up to examine and leave behind greasy fingerprints. There is the triangular tear in my 'opalescent quilt' that I am pretty sure Pippa made. The quilt was hanging on the wall and she is the cat who tends to think that the laws of gravity shouldn't apply to her. There was Louis' first weekend in our house. He had yet to use the litter box, not used to the flushable litter we get. I was watching him closely when I saw him get into the chair where I had left the pin-basted quilt I was hand-quilting. At first I thought how cute, he is going to curl up on the quilt. Then I realized he wasn't going to sleep on the quilt, he was going to pee on it. I had to let it dry so that I could hastily machine baste it, get the pins out and get it into the washing machine.

This weekend something that has happened before--so I really should have known better--happened. I had left laying out the parts and partially assembled pieces for Lily's Quilts Dresden plate QAL. At 7:30 in the morning they were fine, but when I went back into the room at 9:30 I discovered that one of the cats had ralphed all over them. Now those of you have cats know that they puke--they puke quite a lot. And like I said, this has happened before--having to wash out quilt pieces in the sink, scrub down the table. But my cats tend to let a long time pass in between 'events' so that I let my guard down.

pippa's snakes

cutting board

ironing board cat

Friday, April 01, 2011

No fooling...

I finished something!!!
I finished the HMQG Kate Spain's Central Park charm pack challenge!!!!

completed!

Happy April Fool's Day!