Sunday, December 24, 2017

yes, I'm still here!

I know, I've been a bad blogger here!
But I do write the blog for Bear Patch, and that has been more of a priority lately!
So, I've neglected my little frayed edge account.
Today, Christmas Eve, I have some minutes available to update here!

First, I love this picture of my son-in-law, Ben, with Jack (left) and Ian (right).  They were visiting the Atlantic Ocean shoreline of North Carolina.  Baby Leo must have been napping.  It makes me so happy to see their happy faces!

Next, here's a big beautiful barn quilt hanging on my house.
Specially made by Jarry and Mary, my brother and sister-in-law.
They make quite a creative team!  I love it!

I got a new rug for my living room, after an unfortunate incident with some red wine on the old one.  I was really actually glad that happened, because I needed to replace it, anyway!
This turns out to be a good replacement.

And I've been sneaking in a little sewing, too, but not so very much.  I did make this contemporary Christmas wallhanging, called Shining Star, from a pattern by Sandy Gervais.  It's part of our Christmas display at Bear Patch for right now.

And here's my only other Christmas sewing, a runner called Crazy Christmas Trees.  It's one of the Cut Loose Press patterns and uses a special ruler called the Spiderweb.  I did a little tutorial on it last fall for a retreat group, and there were a lot of Crazy Christmas trees made that day!

I have been slowly working on some English paper piecing.  This is a block from Sue Daley's Round We Go block-of-the-month.  We're supposed to be making 4 each month, but I think I have made 8 now when I should have completed 16!  Oh well, I might be making a smaller version!  This block is a reminder of my recent trip to Kauai, with turtles, seaweed, bubbles and sunshine!

 This stack of fabric came home with me from Houston Quilt Market in October.  It's called barkcloth, a heavier fabric than our usual quilting cottons.  It's like the old curtains my grandma had, and usually had some large floral motifs.  Most of these prints are on a small to medium scale.  This fabric comes from a company called Ella Blue, and if you click on the link you can read a story about the designer and what inspired her.  I saw a quilt made from these with just a scrappy assortment.  Looking at them like this makes me realize I need to add in some lighter colors.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


I realize I kind of left a big gap in my little travelogue for you!  To continue on with our September trip to the Las Vegas, NV, area---

 We did more hiking and walking in the Red Rocks National Conservation Area, returning to a different area of the park on this day.  This trail was a little hard to follow, as it was a lot of working our way up through bolder fields.  We did this in the morning, so we didn't mind the heat as much.  It was a beautiful hike and a good experience as I'm trying to condition myself to not be so fearful of heights.  Some bright little flowers along the trail, and one of those prickly pear purple flowery things!

I realized I don't really have much to show for quilt shop fun during this trip.  In addition to visiting Quiltique, which I wrote of in my last post, we tracked down 2 other quilt shops in the listings for the city.  Sew Little Time was a small fabric shop in a strip mall, also selling machines.  Not impressive nor friendly, I'm afraid that the name reflects the length of my experience there.  Can't win them all!

The Christmas Goose was another stop, and despite a name that seemed like a flashback to 1980, it did house an impressive collection of fabrics, patterns and samples.  They had an adjacent large classroom area with a group indulging in something creative.  The focus in this shop was a lot more towards traditional and Civil War repro fabrics, but they also had some good seasonal picks.  I also picked up a nice little travel light there.  It did help me accomplish a little more nighttime needlework, although we were winding down on the days (and nights) left in Vegas.
Often, when I visit other quilt shops, I am much more focused on their displays and merchandising than on actually shopping for myself.  So not very interesting to share!  It's things like this method of folding and packaging pre-printed panel cuts in a bag that can be hung and kept orderly.  Those panels have always been a source of frustration for me at Bear Patch.  They are hard to display in a neat and orderly method.  We pre-cut and price the panels individually, and fold them in a basket.  Even if there is one of the panels open and displayed, customers understandably feel the urge to unfold those panels.  That usually leaves a wrinkled mess because they don't end up refolded the same way.  Just like those pesky road maps that never collapse back to their original size!  Well, at Quiltique, I saw their panels done this way with a picture of the entire panel on one side of the bag and the actual size of a portion of the print visible on the other side of the bag.  I need to try this out!

We did take one night to go down to "The Strip" and walk a few blocks, get dinner, and see some of the sights while shouldering our way through the crowds.  We ambled through the Venetian shops, alongside the canals complete with gondolas.  Just window shopping here, as most of the places were very posh designer names that don't really fit with my lifestyle!  I did enjoy seeing a small rare book shop, and admired the 1st edition Mark Twain Huckleberry Finn book priced around $11,000.  I left that one behind for someone else, and just imagined everything I could do with that money if I had it in my hands!

This is kind of dark, but it was part of a beautiful autumn display in one area of the hotel lobby/ casino. 
White pumpkins and gourds with black tendrils and foliage.
This was an art display of thousands of blue/green ribbons hanging from the very high ceiling over a water pool.  They swayed slightly with the air movement. 

We traveled on Spirit Airlines for the first time for this trip, thinking we would test out just exactly what this "no-frills, bare bones" approach to air travel would feel like.  It turned out fine, but there are plenty of little rules to pay attention to.  Luggage and carry-on and personal items became very important to clue in on so we didn't unintentionally end up paying for more than we expected.  Even the timing of when you reserve your spot and plan what you are bringing makes a difference in the fare.  Even though we don't have to absolutely fly the cheapest way possible, it's nice to know up front what we are paying for.  We did have one combined suitcase to check, but with a fee for going over 40 pounds, we had to pack carefully.  That's why I ended up wearing my hiking boots home!  Not such a sophisticated look, but it got those heavy things out of the suitcase!  Which brings me to ask the question-- If their main reason for limiting weight is to economize on fuel, as they state on their website, why does it matter whether those boots travel on my feet or in my suitcase??  They get to the destination either way, but in the suitcase they cost extra!

This trip ends with a very sad epilogue.  We left Las Vegas on Saturday, September 31.  On Sunday night, October 1, the mass shooting occurred.  I learned of it early Monday morning, and couldn't believe that this had happened in the midst of where we had just been vacationing.  Walking on the same streets, by the same hotels, near the concert venue, along with other people who may have become victims that night.  And a black cloud of the thought of that shooter walking amongst everyone, too.  I come away with no great conclusions about the meaning of life, the politics of gun control in our country, nor the culture that sustains such a strange city of contrasts.

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!