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!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

project report

Even though I haven't shown much proof here on the blog, I really have been continuously sewing and quilting and knitting behind the scenes.  It kind of goes in little bursts and doesn't feel like I get much traction on any one project when there are too many in the works.  But here's some updates!

This lacy scarf is a long overdue completion, using a very special yarn.  It's called Quiviuk and it was a gift from my son, Dan, as a souvenir from a trip to Alaska.  What a great son, on his business trip and he finds yarn for me!
This has had some starts and stops since I first posted about it in 2012.  Sometimes it's like that.  I was frustrated with the pattern I was working on then, and I unravelled it and tried a couple other patterns before landing on this one.  A simpler lace.  I knew I would make something lacy with it for a couple reasons.  It would stretch the little pack of yarn further, with the open stitches.  And it is so lightweight, it feels like a feather, and will be fine for a simple dress-up for a shirt or dress.  And won't be overly warm!  I love the way it turned out!
I don't actually remember where I found the directions for this stitch pattern, but it's pretty simple and therefore, easy to pick up and put down on short notice.  Here's the stitch pattern:
K4, (YO, K2tog, K2) repeat between () across the width of the scarf.
I cast on 28 or 32 stitches (can't remember which), it just has to be a multiple of 4.
Knit 2 rows at the beginning and before cast off.

 And another knit that I hope is quick:

A simple little baby hat that with a little luck will be done in time for a Saturday baby shower to go along with this blankie--

 My niece, Nora, and her husband, Shane, are expecting their first baby, a little boy.  I get to attend the shower on Saturday back in my hometown.  This blankie was made from a square of plush double-sided cuddly fabric.  The binding is about 1" wide, and is sewn on by machine.  If you have ever tried to hand stitch a binding to plush stuff, you will understand why I chose to do this one by machine.  I think my mom sewed the binding for this when we were at a retreat last fall, before I even knew about this little baby coming our way!  It's good to plan ahead!

And a fresh finish!  The binding is done on my Mini Rings quilt and it's in the bag ready to go to Bear Patch.  It will be offered as a class this summer and on display at the store soon.

So that's all for now, folks!
And let's all sing Happy Birthday to my little sis, Jan, today!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

sewing and other stuff

I've got some random stuff to share with you, since I haven't been posting regularly it is a hodge podge.  I often do things, or take pictures, with the thought that I want to blog about it.  In fact, I kind of compose part of the words I want to write in my mind.  Then the moment passes, I get wrapped up in stuff, and it doesn't happen.  Today I'm clearing out some of the backlog!

Last summer I had a nice big outdoor planter dish full of thriving succulents.  By the time fall came, I brought them indoors and started a few smaller plants from the cuttings.  Part of the main plants still did well indoors, others not so much.  With the weaker light and short days of winter, they weren't real happy, but most survived.  In the picture below, that big healthy jade plant in the middle is from the last summer growth.  I uprooted all the rest and replaced them with all the little ones around the outside of the bowl.  As soon as we get more warm days, they will go outside again.  And I have more pots started with more cuttings.

When we cleaned out the garage, one of the more nostalgic finds was our original old tent, purchased in 1976, I think.  Still intact, and we even set it up in the yard to see what it looked like.  It brought back lots of nice memories.  Now it has gone to Goodwill and will hopefully bring more memories to someone else.

Yesterday was an exceedingly good weather day, plus Earth Day!  So I did a little digging and started getting rid of some of the old winter scum of dead leaves and even new weeds popping up.  I found a little bit of asparagus showing up!  Yum!

On the sewing side of my life, I am working on finishing up 2 things that will be offered as classes this summer.  One is called Mini Rings, and I don't have a picture here but if you look at the Bear Blog tomorrow you will see a bit of it.  And I'm nearly done with it, just finishing up the binding.  

The other is the big star quilt shown below.  I saw this on display last fall when I attended Quilt Market in Houston, and I was very impressed by the use of color and design.  It's called Star Storm and is by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  The fabric is also her design, called Meadow Storm.  We have complete kits and the patterns for this at Bear Patch.  Now to get it quilted!

Since you had a bit of grandson overload on the last posting, I'll toss in some info about things that I made for little Leo's nursery!  I found some fabric that pulled together some of the colors that Brita wanted to use, and here's what I made:

A "boppy" pillow cover--it gets a lot of use with just about every feeding time!  With the first grandson, I bought the pillowform and it had directions on the wrapper to make the cover.

A little pillowcase (travel pillow size) that matches,
but for decorative purpose only at this stage of Leo's life. 
Matching crib sheets to spruce up his crib.
He's still sleeping in a little cradle in mom and dad's room,
 but will eventually move onto his own mattress.
Use this link to learn how to make them.

And his name banner, not finished in this picture but you get the idea.
You also get the idea of how many threads are stuck to my design wall!  

Last Sunday, Easter, Bob and I had the afternoon to ourselves and decided to visit someplace we had never been before but not far from home.  The Mississippi River is maybe 10-12 miles west of here, and there is a big dam and park that we have never visited.  It's called the Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park on our side (the east bank) of the river, and we walked across the dam to explore the trails on the west side, too.  The dam was much bigger than we expected, so I'm glad we went there.  We came upon an area that has had a lot of recent beaver activity, in this picture you can see all the trees that they have been gnawing on.  Lots of carefully made wood chips!  We saw lots of people walking, some folks fishing in the river, and some osprey watching us!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

this is all about the grandkids

I spent the last 2 weeks of March in Charlotte, North Carolina, (actually Ballantyne, a southern suburb) at the home of my daughter and son-in-law, Brita and Ben.
But primarily, it's the home of my 3 grandsons, Ian (5), Jack (3) and Leo (1 month).

It is such a busy, lively, happy house!  There's a lot going on within those 4 walls, and it takes a whole lot of energy just to keep up!  I got to do so many fun things with the little boys!  Here's a sampling:

Leo the Lion in his full regalia!

We celebrated Jack's 3rd birthday!
Although they don't always get along (typical brothers),
there are moments of clarity
when the brotherly love really does happen.

I had the privilege of being the "Mystery Reader" and surprised Ian at his preschool!  It's been a long time since I had to read a book upside down and show the pictures.  Then I got to answer questions from his classmates.  Such friendly teachers and kids!

Tree climbing with Papa--this was as high as it got, but I know there are some nervous moments ahead as they grow up and tackle bigger trees!

And here's the 3 of them on Leo's 1-month-old day.
I just want to cuddle them!  Ian and Jack like to know what's going on with Leo at all times.  Or Buster, which is what he was called before his birth.  I tried to squeeze in as much time to help keep up the house as I could during those 2 weeks, helping with meals, sweeping floors, doing laundry, walks to the playground, driving to/from the Y for preschool, getting groceries, etc., etc.!  It was hard to leave there.  It's such a happy but stressful time for Brita and Ben.  Brita has had to cope with postpartum depression after each baby, and that can be rough for both of them.  Things seem to be on a pretty even keel now, and I know they are more than capable of raising up these children.  But I can't wait to see them all again!

Monday, April 17, 2017

mother nature never fails

I've been putzing around with growing succulents indoors this winter.   The plants that had flourished outside last summer mostly became weaklings during their period of meager sunlight.  A few, like the jade plant shown below, didn't seem to mind.  So a couple days ago I rounded up my various pots and plants and did some dirty work.   I should get my fingernails dirty more often!  I'm always poking around stores for some new and interesting shapes and colors in succulents, and I had stumbled across some good ones, although itty bitty pots, at Lowe's last week when I was supposed to be looking at garage shelving.  Here's one of the re-potting samples that I put together:

There are several more specimens to accompany this one, and it won't be too much longer before I can put them outside again.  New plants and fresh dirt always make me happy!  An appropriate activity for the Easter holiday.

Just 2 weeks ago, I was in Charlotte, NC, for active-duty grandparenting.  And it was fabulous to be in an area that was actually in full-bloom-spring-mode!  These were a few of the plants and trees that brightened my days there, and gave me hope that once I returned to the tundra, spring would happen again!

On my last day there, we participated in an Easter Egg Hunt organized by neighborhood volunteers for all the kids.  It turned out so nice, with a lot of families present at the little playground area, just mixing and socializing.  It really is a good community of people.  My kids have lived there a little over 2 years now, and have become familiar with many of the people in the few blocks around them.  I was impressed with the friendliness and support I saw and felt.  When little Leo was born March 2, he had a bit of a struggle and had to stay in the NICU for awhile.  This was a lot to handle for 2 young parents already working to keep up with the other 2 boys at home.  The neighbors rallied to help them with keeping Ian and Jack happy and entertained while mom and dad were needed at the hospital.  They even went as far as organizing some meal deliveries, which extended through the whole month.  That's the kind of neighborly response I would maybe think to expect after living somewhere for several years, not just 2 years of residence!  I'm really happy they have a good community there!
The Easter Egg Hunt was a treat for me, because that's not something we normally do back at home.  The day was warm and sunny, a sharp contrast to many Easter holidays in Minnesota.  We probably had indoor egg hunts more often than outdoors.  And cute little spring outfits were generally worn under a winter parka!  But now, back in MN, the leaves are starting to show green and the yard is changing from brown to green rapidly.  The rhubarb is pushing bright pink stalks through the dirt, and garden plans are being discussed.  As for that garage shelving I mentioned earlier, it is still in the planning stages but we did actually find a good day to haul a lot of stuff down from the old garage shelves and sort and clean out there.  Plenty of stuff found its way to the garbage, and some things to be donated.  I'm still pushing for a garage makeover, it could really use some "sprucing up"!  The temporary rough construction steps leading from the garage into the house have lasted 30 years now, and I'm aiming for an upgrade!  Wish me luck!