Thursday, July 28, 2011

happy day

It's a good Thursday! I have everything done for my 2 new patterns and company is coming! I have the day at home to tidy up for our overnight guests, Jan, Serra and Aurora. That's my sister, Jan, from San Francisco, along with her daughter, Serra and her daughter, Aurora, from near Seattle. I don't think Serra has ever been here, and I'm absolutely sure Aurora (age 3) has not been here before. So I'm thinking we should have some fresh sweet corn and green beans from the garden. The basil is prime for pesto, so maybe a pasta dish? No tomatoes from my own garden yet, so a trip to the Green Barn is on the schedule.

While we are on the subject of barns, that reminds me of the fun wedding we attended last Saturday! Out in the countryside of western Wisconsin, near New Richmond, is the home of my cousin, Reanne, and her husband, Lester. Their daughter, Stephanie was married to Spencer in the front yard under beautiful shade trees (and black clouds and thunder but not a single raindrop). Followed by dinner in the backyard sheltered by a huge tent and then music and dancing in the barn. We left before the bonfire and that may have gotten rained on, if the deluge we drove through moved in their direction. It was one of those rainstorms that makes you wonder whether it's safer to pull over or keep driving slowly along with the other cars on the road. I chose to keep driving. Anyway, this is the spot for the "I do's"--

And here are the 3 sisters that I haven't seen together in a long time, my cousins Lori, Lisa and Reanne (mother of the bride). We had a little chance to catch up with each other and remember things about the best grandma ever.
It was a wonderful party and I even got to step into Reanne's creative space. She designs and makes custom garments, including the dress she was wearing in the photo. I always find it fun to see the sewing room/design studio of other people.

My own latest design--Row Low--

I had quite a rigamarole getting this picture finally done. Since this measures 70 x 80, I don't have a good indoor location to get a full photo of it. My next choice is the pergola in the backyard, but it was partial sun/shade by the time I got organized to do the picture-taking, and that doesn't work because the picture comes out looking spotted. So my next choice is to use the styrofoam panels propped against the front porch. Those panels are stored in the basement, and getting the 4' x 8' up the stairs with a landing and 180 degree turn is probably comical to watch, but I wasn't laughing! Then get them propped up and duct taped together, standing as vertical as possible. Haul the ladder out of the garage and get the quilt pinned up as perfectly straight as possible. Spill the box of pins on the landscape rocks, which causes the dilemma of whether to just let them stay in the rocks and use other pins, or take the time to pick up the pins while the sun and shadows are moving. Get the tripod and camera in place, realize the tripod won't extend far enough to get the camera centered on the quilt. Find 3 cardboard boxes of matching sizes to put the tripod legs on. Take several pictures, download to the laptop and examine them to see where the pinning needs to be adjusted. The crooked spots in the edges really show up in the pictures much more than when I am just looking at the quilt, and will really really show up on the cover of a pattern. Go back outside and pick up the styrofoam and quilt off the ground because a breeze blew the whole thing over. Have a little hissyfit and put it all back together. Get smart and duct tape the panels to the porch. Take a bunch of pictures, download and delete the worst, make some adjustments to the best ones and send the pick of the litter off to Dan for placement in the pattern cover template. Decide that it was really too shady, take the quilt inside, and in the afternoon full sun put the quilt back out there and take another set of pictures that I like much better. Dismantle everything and put away, reverse the image of me struggling to get those big panels of styrofoam back to the basement without breaking them in half. Send new and improved picture to Dan and breath a big sigh of relief! Now it's time for supper and some creative quick cooking! So just in case you are thinking of how easy it would be to design your own patterns, you do need to consider how much fun it is to just get a simple little picture taken! Now the quilt is on display at Bear Patch, and the patterns are ready, and it is truly rewarding to have total strangers stand in front of it and say, "Wow, I really didn't much like this fabric until I see it put into this quilt! Can I buy the pattern and kit?" Bingo!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

steamy hot

Hard to imagine how cold and snowy it was at the beginning of this year, when we are in the middle of a heat wave! It really seems like two different worlds. This beautiful water lily spent the winter in a cube of ice and now is putting on a spectacular display--

It seems almost artificial, but I swear, it's the real deal.

A big thunderstorm moved through at mid-day, which helped keep the hottest temps at bay for awhile. I was at home, and came up from the basement for a breather and found dark skies and stormy weather. I stood out on the porch for a bit, and could hear continuous low rumbling thunder, which gradually got louder, then lightning flashes and wind. Some of the lightning seemed almost purplish, I don't know whether I was seeing things or if that was real. It is pretty awesome to just experience that amount of thunder for such a long time. The storm moved on through in time for me to get out and meet Brita for lunch at the Good Earth in Roseville, a great restaurant that has many vegetarian options.

Yesterday I was outside quite awhile in the morning, trying to get a good picture of my new quilt. It is quite a production, made less enjoyable by 90% humidity and 90 degrees. Oh well, I think it helped steam any wrinkles out of the hanging quilt!

This is a hard quilt to show clearly, it is kind of muted and the scenery blocks just come out looking like an abstract design when shown in the whole big picture. Probably would turn out better with a pro photographer. I'm glad to have this much done, and a draft of the directions being proofed and double checked. The next quilt is on the frame, and with luck and some stick-to-it-iveness, I will get the quilting done yet today and the binding started.
I have to give a shout out to my friend and neighbor, Deb Lewis, who did me a big favor and did the hand stitching on this binding in order to save me a bit of time. Deb is one of our fine state employees who has been told to sit home and twiddle her thumbs while our politicians mess up at the capitol.

I hope you are staying cool wherever you are!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the pieces fit together

There has been much thread flying around here as I work on putting together 1 or 2 or 3 new quilts for Quilt MN. This limited edition fabric includes a border print fabric which fits so nicely into my previously designed pattern "One Row To Go". I have expanded that design with new blocks and a larger layout to more closely fit a twin bed. This is a portion of it...
and when I finish getting the borders done today or tomorrow I will show you a better shot. I took the partially finished quilt top to the store yesterday for some feedback on borders, etc., and decided how to finish it off. Plus I was able to show it to a few people, and was encouraged by their responses, so that helps me push onward!

It's a cloudy day today with a light rain, and I was outside admiring my hydrangeas:
These have gotten so large that we have to trim them back to allow access to our front walk. This all developed from 1 small plant, I never imagined it would become so large and thick! I don't put any additives in the soil to bring out the blueish colors that are often found in these flowers. I like the simplicity of these big white flowerheads.

"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." James Arthur Baldwin

Saturday, July 9, 2011

a fine fishing bag

On my recent fishing excursion, I used this bag for my boat gear. I like to have a few basic things handy to me, since we are out for a few hours at a time and it is definitely not convenient to go back to the resort on a whim. This bag was a gift from Debbie, and is made entirely of duct tape. If you want to make something like this for yourself, you can find many instructional ideas on the web. Many of the directions I found describe making a woven bag, but my bag was overlapped strips like the one I found on this video. It was waterproof enough to withstand some splashes and raindrops. And a good size to hold my little tackle box, rain jacket & pants, snacks, sunscreen and water. And, it was a definite fashion statement! I am noticing lots of new colorful tapes in the craft stores and online, so I am sure there are endless possibilities for you. What will you create with duct tape?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

sweat shop

It has been a busy day in my sewing room, the multitude of threads clinging to me is good evidence! I am creating some new/revised designs for the Quilt MN fabric. I haven't written up any new patterns for quite awhile, so the fact that I am working on 3 new things is a bit of a departure for me! I'm not ready to show all the details, but I do have a sampling of what I have been up to.

Working on a set of courthouse step blocks--

I do use EQ6, the software by Electric Quilt, for a lot of my basic layout, sizing, color placement, etc. But I still go to paper and pencil for the finer points of cutting and calculating.

Then it all goes into my MacBook and hopefully ends up in a coherent form. These have to be ready by July 29, which is steadily creeping up on me. After I get this sewing done, they need to be quilted and photographed, too. No time to waste!

My sewing room is on the second floor, and even with 2 fans and air conditioning, it collects heat. The halogen lights and steaming iron might also have something to do with it! So the 'sweat shop' image is appropriate for what my day was like! Good thing I got to take a break to get my teeth cleaned, one of my least favorite things to do. I want to know who invented flossing. No one said anything about flossing when I was young, when it might have been a good idea to do it and prevent all those later nasty gum problems that are used as a scare tactic at the dentist's!