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?

Friday, August 11, 2017

bits & pieces

I'm having a cactus moment!
This plant has been living with us for over 2 years.
It showed no growth at all.
I thought it might be dead, I couldn't really tell if it was growing or had become petrified.  Not petrified as in scared, petrified as in dead and turning to rock!  Still, I watered it, wiped off the cobwebs, kept it in a sunny spot, and figured that even if it was going to die, it was a unique specimen.  Then, I started noticing something funny going on up on top.
Now it is sprouting out little clubby branches!
So we'll have to watch and see what takes shape!

Last night my quilt group, Ham Lake Piecemakers, had our summer picnic/party at the home of one of our members, Nancy.  After our potluck feast, we had a little socializing and show-and-tell.
Maggie showed this quilt, just back from the longarm quilter, Dawn.
It's a pleasure to see one of my patterns all sewn up by someone other than me!
This pattern is Connections and I think it was from 2015 for Quilt MN.

Yesterday also brought some work in our garden, and picking more green beans.
A few had been allowed to grow past their prime!  I much prefer them at a smaller, more tender age!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Minnesota Quilters' Annual Show

I had missed out on going to the MN Quilters' show for several years, but last Thursday I had a perfect chance to go with some friends to Duluth for the day.  
The quilts I am showing have a very distinct theme--scraps!
They also are quilts that are one-of-a-kind, in most cases.  
Maybe they will inspire me, or you, or anyone watching, to dig into those scraps or bits and pieces of fabric that just really need a home in a quilt.

This is a small section of a quilt with an overall neutral tone effect.
Mostly beige/tan/gray with random slivers of colors.
Then all heavily hand quilted!  It was striking!

Here are some blocks that we use in many quilts,
so there's nothing technically difficult about this one.
But the overall combination really creates a textured look.

This is a pattern I have seen before but I can't find the name.
I know it is by Brigitte Heitland, designer of Zen Chic fabrics and patterns for Moda.
She designs some great "modern" or contemporary quilts.

I loved this version of a different layout for scrappiness.

This pattern is apparently well-loved, because I saw it more than once in the show.  The quilting is shown in better detail below, and was done by Karen McTavish.  She had the honor of being "MN Quilter of the Year", and had a great exhibit of her work.  She is a very talented and innovative machine quilter, who teaches worldwide and has published several books.  She is from Duluth, and has a studio/store there for classes and use of her longarm machines.
Karen's name has been given to a specific quilting style, McTavishing.  It's the echoed circles and swirls shown in one section above, and makes for a great background texture.  I've taken a class from her and applied the technique to some of my own quilting, although not in the teeny tiny scale shown here!

Here's a design I've seen many times in quilts,
but this just popped out at me as something I would like to make.

Again, back to the scraps!  I've included this quilt especially to show
the straight-line quilting that doesn't have to always be straight to look great!
Random sizes of strips sewn into groups, then chopped up in sections combine
to make a design-it-yourself quilt!
Notice that seams don't need to be aligned and sections are different sizes.
So much freedom!

Improvisational triangles trimmed to make squares of one size give this quilt a
much more organized look, but still allowing for lots of
freedom in fabric choices and piecing angles.
The quilt info said that many of the fabrics came from mens' shirts.

 And lastly, below, a luminescent quilt that seemed to glow!
I had to get up close because I thought it was all painted, 
but, in fact, it's all fabric pieces appliqued onto the black background.  
It had an eye-catching result.
A work of art!

There are also a lot of shopping opportunities at a show like this.  I guess having worked quite a few years in a quilt shop makes me a poor consumer when I go to the vendors' booths, because if I see something I like I can make a note and then order it for Bear Patch.  I ended up buying only 1 pattern, but I had my hands on a couple of different quilt kits that were tempting.  I reached into my fortitude and resisted!  Maybe I'm actually understanding that I have more than enough fabric and patterns to last my lifetime already!  But I do appreciate all the hard work that goes into setting up and running a booth at a show.  I've done that a couple times for the store, and it is no picnic!

I hope you've enjoyed the quilts, and I wish I could provide more information on designers, patterns, maker, etc., for them.  It was a fun field trip, and I thank Jean and Mary for doing the driving for our group!  It was a pleasure to ride with you!

Monday, June 12, 2017

the kids are here!

It's that glorious time of year when the days are extra long and the world is a riot of growing things.  It's hard to imagine that life could get much better than that, but it did!  The kids are here!
Brita, Ben and the 3 little boys flew from Charlotte, NC, for a nice long stay.
They said it was the best flight they have ever made with kids, so that's a great way to start the vacation!  If you have ever traveled much with little people, you know that it takes a whole different kind of wrangling to get to your destination!

It's been about 2 months since we saw baby Leo, and what a change!  He is almost identical to his 2 older brothers at the same age.  There is so much more of him to love and snuggle!
He interacts now, has developed a little smiley face, holds his own head up, likes to be upright so he can learn how it feels to support his weight on his feet, and can be happy spending some moments on his playmat alone.  He's just amazing!  I imagine he's thinking "oh boy, my grandpa and grandma are back, I remember their arms and scent from my days as a baby!"

 Ian and Jack are growing into such wonderful little boys, and they LOVE Superheroes!
They have these great little shirts with capes on the back, so they totally have awesome super powers!
We have a deep window well that often is home to some frogs, 
and they were looking to see if any needed to be rescued.  

Yesterday our pastor performed a baptism service for Leo, so that makes 3 for 3 that he has baptized!
The big brothers and 2 of their best Minnesota friends had ringside seats, and they even poured the water into the basin!  It was fun for them to help and they stood so nice and still during the important bits! 

We arrived at church just as a severe thunderstorm hit, so actually we were all baptized by the heavens above on our dash into the church!

We love having the Burkes visit, and I'm sure we will have many memorable moments while they are here.  Sometimes we get photos, but just as often they are images that pop up in our conversation weeks or months later that are vivid reminders of our family life together.  We are so blessed!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#1 son and his surprising sewing talent!

So, I've been doting on my little grandsons lately, so I have to catch you up on something fun for my son, Dan.  He's the guy who lives way out in northwest Montana, loving life in the mountains around Glacier National Park.  He and his girlfriend, Jessica, find many ways to enjoy the outdoors there.  they ski a lot, sometimes clear UP the mountain when the lifts aren't running.

And then, there's the biking, and even though there's still plenty of snow at the higher elevations, they will bike up as far as they can go.  This picture is from Going-To-The-Sun Highway, running across Glacier Park.  It's really steep and narrow and winding, and full of cars when all the snow is cleared.  That's still awhile in the future.  But while the plows are still working, bicyclists have the freedom to use the open sections without worrying about being run off the road.  

 Between work and play, Dan has developed a new little sideline business.  It's named Totes Magotes,  a name I knew nothing about but sounds quirky, so I googled and learned this:
Totally, meaning 'Of Course' 
First used in the movie 'I Love You Man'
- Are you coming to that party on Saturday

- Totes Magotes! I'm so there.
Even his business cards are quirky!

He has started offering the bags on his new Etsy shop, and is discovering the many ways that a sewing machine can come in handy!  He's using one of my older machines and a gifted serger on his dining table to put the bag pieces together.  I think he started learning to sew when he wanted to repair and/or tailor some of his own clothing.  I taught him the basics and he's self-taught from there.  He really does a good job, even his a good cutting mat with rotary cutter and ruler.  And he knows how to use an iron, too!  That started way back in high school when he had a job that required neatly pressed khaki pants every day.

I gave him a recycled burlap coffee bean bag a few years ago, made by my friend, Kristina.  Eventually, he became interested in the idea of making his own, after a lot of people saw his bag and liked it.  Now he has 3 bag designs that he makes and sells.  The main bag is about the size of a paper grocery bag, and there's a smaller version for kids or book or lunch.  Then he has developed a specialty bag to hold a yoga mat, too.  They're shown below:

He even makes custom orders with painted designs.
This was an order from Canada for a Mother's Day gift.

Every coffee bean bag comes from roasteries in Montana, plus a couple imports from Minnesota!  Every bag is different.  That burlap can be pretty tough.  He found out that sewing through bits of bark will break your needle!
He's been stockpiling some bags in order to offer them for sale at the Farmer's Market in Whitefish when that starts up.  I've been to that market, and it's a good one.  A really good community event.  So if you see a bag on his Etsy shop, you should get it now before that market opens.  It's fun to see him learn how things are made, and then figure out how to do it.  He will really take on just about anything!  When both my kids were little, I always tried to convey the message that it's always worth a try to learn anything new.  It might not work out, but it also might be fun!  No matter what, Dan will always know how to run a sewing machine!

If you shop on his Etsy page, tell him mom sent you!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

this and that

Last weekend, we (Bob and I) made a little journey south.  We were hoping for a bit of warmer weather to counteract the unusually cold spring we are having, but the weather really didn't get much better.  After all, it's less than 200 miles, so we shouldn't expect to wear flip flops with our winter coats, right?!

We did get to attend a baby shower for my niece, Nora, hosted by 2 of her girlfriends.  It's Nora's first, and her mom's first grandbaby, so I really enjoyed catching up with them on how this baby-making is progressing!  Here's Nora, with her mom, Mary, and my mom, too.  This will be my mom's 6th great-grandchild and the 4th boy.

One of the shower decorations was this sign, and I love the verse on it!

Meanwhile, my own little grandson, Leo, is growing by leaps and bounds!  We went from the 20th percentile on growth curves at his 1 month checkup, to 50th percentile at 2 months!  I think he's determined to catch up with his big brothers, Ian and Jack.
I can't wait for Nora and Mary to get the chance to ooh and aah over their little guy's milestones!  Leo is starting to smile and interact in a real way, not just hopeful thinking!

I'm into baby-hat-knitting mode, and here's another one just finished!

And another cast on!

This yarn looks a lot like denim.  It's called Tenderfoot and comes from The Polka Dot Sheep out of Whitefish, MT.  The color is named Stillwater.  I've lost the name of the yarn used in that first hat, unfortunately.  I really should get better about keeping the names and care info with the yarn, but if the yarn sometimes needs to be wound into a ball or "cake", and then the label doesn't stay connected.

No sewing done here except to get the quilting and binding done on 2 quilts for classes at Bear Patch, that was on a deadline so I was very happy just to meet that deadline!  Especially since I was the one that set that deadline for all the class samples to be turned in!

Along with getting all the class samples ready for display, there is a lot of "backroom" work on the computer, which is what I have spent some time on the last few days.  If you want to see proof of my labors, just look through the class information for the store's website.  Click on any class, and you will get a full description plus details.  I'm glad that's all done for now, but I'm still looking for errors every time I look at it!  There are a lot of dates and times and requirements to include, and after awhile they are all swimming around in my head like a whirlpool!

Today, I'm swearing off computers and going outside while the sun is shining so I can pull some weeds!  Have a great day!