Tuesday, November 30, 2010

walking in a winter wonderland

Woke up this morning to a transformed scene outside. Yesterday it was dark and rainy all day, melting away any of last week's snow. The rain changed to snow overnight, and left several inches of heavy wet white stuff on everything. I have really expected to have a power outage or fallen branches with all the weight of the snow, but so far nothing bad has happened. I did wander outside to take some pictures of the prettiness before it blows off--
The pine tree in the picture on the left was a little baby seedling that Brita brought home from school when she was in grade school, and we planted it and have watched it grow into a substantial tree. It is in the back yard, next to a flower bed and wooden fence. That flower bed holds some special memories, my BIL, Rick, had a part in making it happen. He was visiting, and quite ill, but well enough to sit in the lawn chair and give me direction on where to put things. Rick died that year, but I always think of him when I am out there pulling weeds or digging. It also has been the final resting place for several beloved family pets, so there is a special feeling about the place.
This beautiful red cardinal was looking for a bit of shelter under the grape vines on the patio arbor. The only speck of color in the black and white world. Looking at this makes it clear why a quilt made of black and whites and a little splash of red is always so striking.

I haven't had much actual sewing time lately, I've been spending more time on quilting and knitting so things are done for Christmas. One thing that I did get to make was this little zipper bag while at the Stitchin' Trips retreat--
The directions are a freebie from Linda Lum deBono. Another good little zippered bag, this one is lined and finished with no raw edges so makes a very nice pouch, maybe good for a Christmas gift? I do try to make as many gifts as is practical and possible each year, without stressing myself out too much. I try to keep my ambitions in check, and always have a back-up plan in case the handmade effort peters out! The 2 fabrics I used in this project seemed to be made for each other, even though they came from 2 totally different sources at 2 different times!

Now here's a very special quilt! Doesn't this just scream 1969 to you!?
I think that was the year it was made, or near that time, and was the quilt in the room that I shared with my sister during high school. It wasn't pieced, just printed fabric that we hand quilted around the blocks. It reminds me of happy days in that little bedroom under the eaves in the old farmhouse. It was definitely mod, don't you think? This was also about the same time that I fancied myself becoming an interior designer, I have no idea where that came from because I was far, far removed from ever knowing an interior designer! Looking back at my choice for this fabric, I think we can all feel relieved that I wasn't turned loose to design for other people!

Had a fabulous night at the movies last night, watching the conclusion of the "Millenium" series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. And enjoying another refresher class in Swedish, too. Multi-tasking is what it's all about!

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. --Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

turkey day approaching

I had a chance to work with my cameraman (Bob) last night while I was quilting and thought I would post it here for you--

We are still learning!
I did finish up this quilt last night, and started on the next one. This one is for myself and I wrote about it already here. I think I will be doing a freehand design over the entire piece, which isn't really large but will be perfect for sitting on the couch. I don't think it has any chance of being ready for tomorrow's couch time so I will have to use a substitute. One thing I am not short of is choices for a quilt to curl up in!
What are you doing for Thanksgiving! We will be having fun just enjoying a day off, but the best part will be spending time with Brita and Ben, celebrating the first big holiday in their new home! Ben will be doing a lot of the cooking since Brita will be working at the hospital (we are very used to this necessary evil since it has happened many times during our nursing careers) and his preliminary menu has me drooling! We will be traveling to visit other family on the weekend, providing the roads are OK. There is snow forecasted for today, but hopefully it will be minimal. On the other end of that minimal snowfall is our son, Dan, enjoying multiple feet of fresh snow in Mammoth Lakes, CA. That's feet, not inches! Luckily, he will be able to spend the holiday with his CA family in San Francisco--thank you Jan and Dennis! However, his drive over the mountains will likely be extended due to road closures. Let's hope he makes it safe and sound and in time for turkey!
Please enjoy your holiday in whatever way makes you happy!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

playing hooky

I had a last minute opportunity to come to Bridge Creek Cottage with the Stitchin' Trips retreaters, so I loaded up and hit the road! I feel very lucky to get back here, it has been a couple years so I was overdue. And the women here are just as fun and happy as ever! I left the city yesterday afternoon, driving over the river and through the woods and it was a dark and stormy night when I arrived, just in time for supper! It was raining and sleeting, and a little snow on the ground when we woke up this morning. We are warm and cozy inside, so no complaints from me! And this is what I've done so far--
2 quilts done, if you can use a miniature size!
These are the Primitive Pinwheels from Primitive Gatherings.
So I am signing off for now, getting into some more fabric fun and a massage this afternoon!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

back to those scarves

Time for another knitting update! Never really thought I would be knitting ruffles, but this is a fact! I am strangely drawn to this scarf even though I'm not a ruffle kind of girl. I saw it displayed at Knitter's Palette and was intrigued by the technique used to make the ruffly edge. So I stepped out on a limb and purchased the pattern and yarn, this is out-of-the-ordinary for me, most of my knitting projects are free from Ravelry or printed in magazines or scavenged in other ways, and I seldom have the exact yarn called for so am constantly making substitution experiments. Not sure what came over me at the time, I think it might have been Debbie's influence since she was with me! And we were embarking on a fun trip together so kind of feeling free and easy. Whatever, I think it's kind of interesting to think about what motivates me to buy something, I find that right now I am motivated to buy very little and I kind of get a kick out of resisting the urge to respond to ads and commercials. Is that normal? Weird? But back to the topic--
pattern is "Molly" and comes from Classic Elite Yarns, maker of the Liberty Wool I am using. The booklet and yarn are available from the above-named yarn shop. I am using the 7898 colorway but there are several options to choose from, both solid and variegated. The yarn is a very nice worsted weight 100% washable wool. The ruffles are created by making some short rows on each side of a ribbed center section. The short rows are not hard to learn, it involves some turning and took me a little practice at first so I had to start over once, but now it's going smoothly. I kept loosing track of where I was in the 4-row repeat, but now I have a little system going and haven't lost my place again!
Now, back to the quilts!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

straight and true

In the past week I have encountered a few occurrences of fabrics and seams that have deviated from the straight and narrow. This is always a frustration for me, since I like straight things to be straight. I'm just that way. Are you that way, too? If so, you might be interested in reading how I have learned to get things to go my way!
Here's a little quilt I put together--
It's called Jelly Jive by Pieced Tree Patterns. It is made from a "Jelly Roll", which is a pack of factory-cut strips that are 2 1/2" x 42", composed of the fabrics of a design group. In this case, it is Pure by Sweetwater for Moda. I alternated directions in sewing my long seams to try to minimize the problem of distortion, but that still didn't prevent me from ending up with a parallelogram instead of a rectangle! In order to get this back to somewhat near normal, I had to get down on my hands and knees.
Using my big square ruler, water spray bottle and pins, I staked it out on the carpet. I used the big square to help me make sure my seams were running straight and the corners would be square. I pinned it out as close to true as I could and sprayed the whole thing with water. After drying, I did some more adjustments andsprayed again, and came out with a much better result.
I used these little pins by Bohin, they worked well, but you might have others that you like.
Here's another example of a similar problem, this time it was a print that was a little skewed, but I wanted it straight for my purposes. I cut on the lines of the printed squares, then pinned it to the floor.
This time I had my laser level and square handy, so I made use of that. I put it at a corner and used the projected laser lines to establish where my fabric should be positioned. You can faintly see the little red line on the edge of the fabric and the spot on the black cabinet in the background where the line stopped. This little tool projects 2 lines at right angles, so I could do one corner and then move around to the other corners and adjust as needed. Spray with water, let dry, and voila! No more torqued corners! My tool comes from Stanley, I am sure there are other brands available.

In between all my squaring and shaping up, I have quilted this for a customer--
Not only do I love the colors and design of her blocks, but she supplied a dark brown plush fabric for the backing, which shows the quilting lines as very 3-dimensional and sculpted. She wanted a leafy vine spreading all over the quilt, so I had fun with that. The quilt pattern is Circle Dance, the same as I used for the quilt in the picture at the top of this page. No wonder I like it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

tricks and treats

We had a few more visitors on Halloween this year, but that's not saying much because last year we had ZERO! Our most favorite was this little camo dino that we found wandering on the frontporch--
Cheerfully escorted by Grandpa Jim (in his golfer costume), wearing a fine dinosaur suit crafted by Michelle. Good job!
I've been working on an adaptation of my Star Light quilt, I decided that I wanted to make a version that is smaller so it could be more like a kid-size quilt. Instead of shrinking all the proportions, I chose to keep the center star the same size and eliminate some borders. I think I like the scale and layout so far. The colors are inspired by a quilt I saw on the Red Pepper blog. It took me a bit to find what I think are the right shades and clear tones to put together. I asked for some help here in finding more of this red and white polkadot, but guess what! I got what I needed from the fat quarter that I had! I had held off sewing this for quite awhile so I could find more of that fabric, but I was really itching to get it started. Then all of a sudden it dawned on me that I really didn't need all that much of the polkadot, and when I calculated it out, it worked! After that point, it all came together nicely.
The lighting here wasn't so good, it was pretty late (around midnight) when I finished sewing and I wanted to grab a quick picture. It helps me to view the overall quilt in a picture like this, sort of like looking at a design wall (which I still haven't created!). So, this is ready for some quilting, but has to wait its turn since I am kind of backed up on the quilting right now for customers who need things done for the holidays. But it really helps to have this out of my head and off the cutting table. I am going to teach the Star Light quilt for a class at Bear Patch and it will be fun to offer the group this variation.