Wednesday, September 27, 2017

a day in the desert


A tenacious little tree growing out of the rock.
I wonder if the roots will someday become large enough to crack the stone?

From the Red Rocks National Conservation Area.  It's easy to understand how the land was formed when you can see it open like this.  This summer we bought the National Park Senior Pass, and it has already paid for itself on the trip here!

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead are easy to get to and memorable.

My hiking companion.  He's a keeper!  
This was in the Spring Mountains National Conservation Area, just northwest of the city.

I brought along some paper piecing to work on, but forgot to bring a light.  The lighting in the living room area of the condo leaves a lot to be desired, once the sun goes down, so even though we've enjoyed a couple good movies on TV, that doesn't mean I have very many pieces together.  This little section is part of the Round We Go series from Sue Daley.

A couple of things that have made an impression on this trip:

Most people here are not born here.

The highway system is really good.  Back at home, the highways are always damaged by the freezing/thawing cycle.  Plus, less than half of the year is available for a lot of the roadwork that needs to be done.  Around Las Vegas, we have driven on wide roads that seem like new all the time!

We are within a couple miles of the famous Strip, but have enjoyed all of the things to do away from there!

We have found some good local restaurants that I would recommend:  DW Bistro for shared small plates for last night's dinner, The Bite for breakfast and Lindo Michoacan for good guacamole!  Since we have stayed away from the casinos and big hotels, we have really lucked out on finding these places that have excellent food and service.


We visited one quilt shop, Quiltique, so far.  It was a very nice shop with great displays and friendly people.  And since they have Victoria Findlay Wolfe in the store for a lecture on Friday night, I'm going back for that!  Yay!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

where in the world...

Can you use these pictures to guess where I am tonight?





After all that pretty scenery in Red Rocks National Conservation Area, all you have to do is turn 180 degrees to see the desert oasis of Las Vegas!


We (Bob and I) drove from the airport though the mania that is "The Strip" and headed out to our little home for the week, then further west to these mountains and some peace and quiet!  We took the scenic drive through the area and scoped out some trails that we will return to soon.  And we're seeking some good restaurants, more sight-seeing, pool time with a good book and yes,
 a quilt shop or 2!  I'll be reporting back soon!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

the season's changing

Taking a little walk around the neighborhood shows just how much summer is slipping away.  Moving on to the next season, with days becoming shorter and shorter.  This morning, daylight didn't show up until about 6:45.  Very tardy, compared to the 5AM dawns of midsummer.  This little pond down the street is all green speckled with the turning-crimson leaves of sumac.


And these bright orange berries tell me that summer vacation is over and school buses are making the rounds again.  We had these trees growing in front of the school that I went to.  Summer seemed like a wonderful time, but when I saw these berries appear, I knew the fun was coming to an end.  These said Back To School before anyone dreamed of school supply sales at Target!

 

But back to the sewing room!  I'm getting ready for a vacation next week, and I need some little paper shapes all set up and ready to go with me.  I'm continuing at a slow but steady pace on the Round We Go Sew Along from Sue Daley Designs.  These are the 2 blocks I have finished so far.  They are 7" diameter, as a frame of reference.  I am instructed to make 4 blocks of this design for month 1. 

 And here are the pieces for blocks 3 & 4, all prepped and ready to go on vacation with me!  A little Halloween and a bit of summertime flowers.


These take me a bit of time to pull together, I have to review my entire fabric stash to find just the right colors and shapes.  I look for interesting little bits of color and design that might catch the eye and even stir up a bit of humor in an unexpected place.

The Month 2 blocks have a couple of different shapes, and even though it doesn't show up well in the photo, I've mixed in a little metallic sparkle.  Along with little owls in stocking caps!

Also tucked into my little sewing bag is a block that I had forgotten about--also English Paper Piecing, that goes with another collection of blocks that I haven't finished!  This one is on a little larger scale, and I love the way the fussy-cutting of the red and white outer ring.  Some might call me crazy for spending time on these little things that are really of no great consequence in "the big picture".  But this is a little touch of beauty that I can create, and helps me make it through the mess of the daily news created by the people that are supposedly world leaders.  Just give me some fabric!

An interesting side note, for readers that know a thing or two about EPP-- The new project I am undertaking comes from Sue Daley Designs, and Australian company with a lot of history in this segment of sewing.  The paper pieces, acrylic templates and instructions all come from that company, and the acrylics are sized with a 1/4" seam allowance.  That's a little bit different from most other things I have been sewing that originate from Paper Pieces.  That's an American company and supplier.  Their acrylics have a 3/8" seam allowance.  That 1/8" difference might not seem like a lot to you, but it does make a difference to my fingers as I work on basting the fabric to the paper.  I much prefer the 3/8" size, but sometimes you have to work with what you've got.  The picture below shows the slight difference in the size of the fabric turned to the back side of the paper piece.


I use a fabric glue pen to adhere the fabric to the papers until they are all sewn together.  The glue isn't permanent, and I use a light hand with it.  The basic glue pen I have is from a company called Sewline, and the refill sticks from various makers (Fons & Porter, Bohin, Sue Daley, etc.) all fit the same basic glue pen.  This might be the first time I have used the F&P brand, which I picked up yesterday when I went to the Joanne's store for a Halloween decoration.  I knew I was running low and needed to get some of this done prior to my vacation.  But I'm now thinking that this brand might not be the best for what I'm doing.  I've noticed that I'm needing to use a little more of it, and hold pressure a bit longer to get a bond.  I'm talking a second or 2, so not a big deal.  But I'll probably go back to one of the other brands when I need more refills.


I don't plan on spending all of my vacation just sitting around and stitching on these things!  But it's good to be prepared!  I might get some reading done, too, in between other fun stuff.  I'll share a progress report when I get back home. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

retreat wrap-up

Last weekend, my mom and I attended a quilting retreat at Bridge Creek Cottage in Augusta, WI.  We've been there before with essentially the same group, so it's nice that mom has this circle of friends away from home.  She doesn't have a regular sewing group at home, so this is a good chance for her to have some fun with the rest of the quilting group.
She was very busy and productive!  She made all the blocks and put them together for this pretty quilt that will go to a great-granddaughter.  She started picking some of these fabrics while we were on our trip to Sisters, OR.  At Bear Patch, she added more fabric selections.  The pattern is by Terry Atkinson and is called Birthday Presents.


Last night she sent me this picture --

She added the blue border, layered it with backing and wool batting, got it rolled onto her quilt frame and has started the hand quilting!  She's going to see this little great-granddaughter, Elsa, who lives in CA, this winter so she wants to have it done to take along.  After that, she will get going on quilting the one she's already put together for great-grandson, Jack.  She is on a mission to make each of her great-grandkids (6) a "grown-up" quilt that will fit a big bed and be suitable for them at a later date.


 I did some sewing on those 3 1/2 days, too!  Here's what I worked on:

A Christmas wallhanging with fabric and pattern by Sandy Gervais, to use in the Christmas display at the store.  This needs some interesting quilting in all of the white space.  Little buttons will be sewn to the tops of the trees and hats.
The back is also pieced with a star, but I didn't get that done yet.
Here's something that had been waiting for me to sew together for awhile.  This is called Hexagon Shuffle, and it's a free pattern from Moda that came with a pack of the solid colored pre-cut hexagons.  The 2 rows on the left are completed and sewn together.


I had worked on these stockings last year and finished 3, but I had 3 left to do.  They were mostly done, but needed finishing up.  They still need buttons for eyes on the moose and squirrel.  Then they are ready for gifts!  Pattern is Stopping By The Woods by Laura Heine.

This quilt started out as demo samples for using a special ruler, the Curved Slotted Ruler by Creative Grids.  I had prepared several "step-out" samples to show the process of making a block.  After the demo, I hung onto the pieces.  I figured out I had enough material to make several blocks, and this is what I ended up with.

This is not a sewing project at all, but it does involve fabric!  This is a piece of wonderful woven cotton flannel called Mammoth Flannels by Robert Kaufman.  It's available in many colors and designs of plaid, and I've used this for samples at Bear Patch last winter.  They make great winter scarves by just raveling a fringed edge.  This particular piece was from a bolt I spied at Stitch Supply Co. on the way to retreat.  It was a color combination I hadn't seen before and really called my name!  So 4 scarves were born!

This picture isn't very flattering, but it's 2 little laminated Trash Stash bags that were another old project just waiting for me to finish!  They have a little hanging loop.  I use one by my sewing machine and one in the car.  The laminated fabric came from Bear Patch, and we used the pattern  as a make-and-take project for a retreat.
Here's an amusing sight!  I sewed on my Bernina 820, which is one of the large bed machines so it's a little larger than some other machines.  Saturday night, I ran into some problems with bobbin tension that I couldn't figure out, even with the coaching of my friendly Bernina technician, Beth, by phone.  So I got to borrow a spare machine that Barbara had brought along.  It's a baby Janome!  It looks like my big machine just gave birth!  It sewed just fine, and is light as a feather.  I did get my machine straightened out Monday morning.  Well, actually, since the problem was operator error, I got myself, the operator, straightened out!

So, all's well that ends well, and this retreat was very fun!  By taking along some things that I had started before, plus a couple new things, I felt productive with my time.  I used to go to retreats more frequently.  For right now in my life, that can't happen, so it's good to get the chance to go to this one.  I don't get another quilting get-away until January, so I'll have plenty saved up to work on for then!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

life at its best!


Doesn't that make you want to go hug someone!!?
Already 1/2 a year old, and so happy that it makes him wiggly all over!  
When's the last time you felt that happy?!
And what could you do to make yourself feel that happy right now?

I know!  A trip to the quilt shop!  Last week our group of 6 friends visited the Perham, MN store, Bay Window Quilts.  This is a great destination quilt shop.  Perham is smallish city in west central MN.  It's right on the railroad and a main highway, so it's a hub for people in the area.  5 of us drove from Blaine to Nancy's house on Big Swan Lake in Todd County, northwest of St. Cloud if you are looking at a map.  We are a group who have become friends through quilting.  So it was only natural that the next day we set out for about 1.5 hours drive to Perham with the goal of romping through the fabric!  They have a good selection of types and styles of fabric, including quite a bit of flannel and "fluffy stuff" - i.e., Minkee/Cuddle/fleecy fabrics.
I don't get to shop in other stores very often, since I'm in my very favorite store to work a few times a week.  On our trip to Oregon, we actually were in 10 different quilt shops which is a treat for me.  I approach that kind of shopping excursion differently than a lot of quilters, because I end up looking at displays, brands, patterns, etc., that I can take pictures of to bring ideas home with me.
But before going to Bay Window, I decided that my mission would be to add to my stock of orange-ish fabric because when I did my last culling through the stash, it was low on orange.

I came away with a bit more than orange!  Here's a pattern for a dress that they displayed, and it looked like it would be comfortable and not so hard to make.  The 4 little fabrics in front were in a bundle that was my reward for spending enough money!


I did find some good oranges in small amounts to be used in some paper piecing--


I also bought a spool of thread that I want to try for paper piecing.  It's 60 wt. cotton from Presencia.  Under the spool is a piece of nice woven brushed cotton flannel that I can use for a winter scarf or 2 or 4.  The gray cloud fabric was purchased to go with the moon panel below --



the gray will make a nice border for a wall hanging for one of my walls.

We ate lunch right across the street at a very good little cafe called Whisk.  We all recommend it!

When I returned home, I found that the caterpillar that I found on a milkweed by my driveway and metamorphosed into a chrysalis!  According to what I have read, it should take about 10 days to turn into a monarch butterfly.


If this video works right, it will show a time lapse of this very interesting transformation!







Thursday, August 17, 2017

a little English paper piecing episode

Don't ask me why - I've got a couple of new handwork projects started.
I guess I have very little resistance to something eye catching!
It doesn't help that I have a group of like-minded people at Bear Patch!  We have our monthly Paper Pizzazz group, plus I have co-workers who aid and abet me!

The blocks you see below first caught my attention in a quilt called Floating Colors that I saw on the Paper Pieces website.  It is from a book titled Millifiore Quilts.
Later, I saw another quilt called Quatro Colors by Sue Daley, and I put 1 + 1 together and figured out that they are actually the same block.

 

I ended up ordering the acrylic templates and necessary paper templates to make a few of these blocks.  I got the starter pack, this made me feel like I wasn't tackling anything that I couldn't manage!  Well, now that I've dabbled a bit with colors and shapes, I might want to get a few more blocks done and put this together for something to hang on my wall.

If you are comparing the 2 quilts, Floating Colors and Quatro Colors, the difference in them is a 45 degree turn.  Also, the Floating Colors uses assorted colored pieces where I have used light background pieces in mine.
I don't really have a good color plan worked out for my blocks, I'm basically just picking things that I like out of my stash and mixing it up as I go.  We'll see what develops!

Then, at the Quilt Market in St. Louis last Spring, I saw a new Sue Daley block program that interested me.  Since I'm the leader of the Paper Pizzazz group, it's part of my job to bring new ideas and projects to the group.  Debbie (my Bear Patch boss) is a great enabler.  She always tells me that if I like it, go for it!  So, I ended up ordering this Round We Go Block of the Month program.  There are 5 more people starting this along with me, and we can sign up more if you are interested.
Below is my first attempt at picking colors and fabrics for a block.  The block is round and after it's assembled it will be appliqued to a background square.  This picture just shows my bits of fabric laid together on a design board.  I'll be able to show you a better picture when I get some sewing done.


I just finished a book, The Lost Boy, that is a real page turner.  I've read some other books in the series by Camilla Lackberg, and this has the same recurring characters.  I've discovered that there are 8 books in the series, so I should figure out which I've read and which are still out there waiting for me.  This happened to be an actual softcover book loaned to me by a friend (a Paper Pizzazz friend!).  Mostly I've been checking out digital download books from the library, and I was so happy when I figured out that I can get them on my phone and play them over the car speakers when I'm driving.  It's great when technology works in my favor!  With a drive of 40-45 minutes to get to work, I can move through a book at a good pace.


Read any good books lately?