Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pin Blossom

I hope everyone had a warm, family filled, blessed Christmas day. I love the festivities. I also enjoy getting back to *normal*. Eating PBJ for lunch with cold milk and going into town to run errands. That's what I'll be doing after this blog post. =)

Since I'm on Christmas break from work, I decided to 'give myself permission' for a little off the beaten track project. One of those quick I-just-want-to-play projects... and so I did.

The pattern calls it a pin cushion, but I might just hang it in the window of the sewing room. Filled with sawdust, not poly-fil. Thanks Su for supplying the sawdust and company while I *stuffed* this puppy!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Strippy Update

Here are pics of my Strippy Leader/Ender quilt. I've been running these under the needle while piecing the blue-green Snail's Trail blocks. This is about a third of the total strips waiting to have the little red triangle added to the end.

I got the strips all pieced and it felt like I was pressing for days!

I'd just jumped in with the construction of this quilt without a lot of thought. Then realized I'd better stop and do some planning. So I drafted what I think I want it to look like in EQ.

Love that cheddar, red, sage green combo! It's a little bit like Bonnie's Strippy Leader/Ender but hopefully different enough to make it my own. Thanks for the inspiration Bonnie!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Doll Quilt?

'Member these colors... as a change from my blue-green Snail's Trail blocks? Su said, "Might keep dolly awake!" I think so. But Su's tastes keep rubbing off on me and I'm not complaining! We each entered a "Radio Flyer" quilt in our guild show, her's in red, orange and tan, mine in navy, blue and tan. Guess who got the better ribbon?? Yup! My friend Su.

Notice I just did a *small* quilt in these break out colors for me. *giggling* baby steps... So now I'm trying to decide if I need to sew the rest of the rows on, or stop now, border and quilt!

Luv ya Su!

More Mini-atures...

And while I'm talking about mini's and how fun they are, I just had to share this pic.

Entitled the World's Smallest Half-Square Triangles. =)

*Chuckling* Don't cha just love it! Sooo cute!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Another Ornament

The women in my mini-group like to *tease* me about my minis. They don't understand why I'd want to spend all that time on something so small. And you can't sleep under it, so why bother? =) Last year when several of us went to quilt retreat I was often tweaked for the way I dug in their trash bags for 'useable' scraps. "Leslie...!"

During the retreat Su won the daily doorprize of Triangle Papers and spend part of the afternoon making little, tiny half square triangles. She said she didn't know they were going to finish at that size , or she 'never would've bothered.' Leslie, do you want them? Of course!

So partly to show there really was a use for 1/2" half-square triangle, and partly because I wanted to show 'it could be done', I made a Sawtooth Star block. It was so cute! I showed it around the group when it was finished and they just shook their heads - there goes Leslie again... The block was pinned to my design wall for many months until last week I took it into my care again. I bordered and backed it and now it's hanging on the tree in the living room.

Mini Trio

I like making mini's because I get to try out color schemes and pattern ideas without making a full-sized quilt. Sometimes the block piecing doesn't go any faster than a full-sized block, but if the block (or the quilt) doesn't turn out, I can throw it away without guilt!

These mini's are all pieced in the traditional way. I made most of my mini's before paper-piecing became popular, so I just use half-square triangle methods and away I go! This trio is hanging at my quilt guild's annual October show. It was fun to see them all together like that. When they're not at a show, they live in a drawer at my house. Too many quilts, not enough display space!

And no Virginia, these are not potholders and placemats. =)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Love These FPCs

I wanted to make a special gift for a friend who's going through his first Christmas season without his wife of 27 years. But sometimes you have to know a person really well before you 'bequeath' a quilt on them, don't want to overwhelm him... Still, I had that - I want to make something special for this person - feeling in me. So I made a fabric postcard.

He talks about the night sky. When he got back from Hawaii in November he commented on the way the Milkyway looked so completely different down there. He's told me about sitting in his hot tub on a winter night with the starry canopy for company. So I wrote this lyric on the back:

Catch a falling star and put in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away

He *loved* it. It's sitting on his computer monitor where he can see it daily.

Be well Steve.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What is the Opposite of Blue-Green?

I got re-energized at mini-group. My quilty friends all have very different tastes and piecing preferences, which makes it fun. Evette likes the "East Meets West" themes, Asian fabrics and motifs. Mavis likes anything Sunbonnet Sue. Judy likes machine pieced traditional, Kim takes on a Mystery quilt project maybe once or twice a year. And I like to see it all. I came home wanting to *sew*. Well... wanting to start something new. Remember my blue-green Snail's Trail? I've been piecing those blocks since June, trying to stay focused. I have 4o- FIVE out of 48 needed. But I need a break!

So I decided to make a quick doll quilt. Nothing flashy, just easy and satisfying. But what color scheme should I use? Hmmm... I have a bizillion blue and green 2" squares already cut. Noooo!
I asked DH for a color scheme idea and he suggested yellow-orange and red. (!) I pulled colors (with his help) and this is what we came up with.

I'm calling it "Firestorm". =) What a stretch for me.

Christmas Tea

I've talked about my mini-group before, the "Sew What's". We try to meet once a month for fun, food, fellowship and quilt talk. This week we got together for a Christmas Tea. The hostess does a beautiful job of preparing the right foods to set the mood. We all sat and ate finger sandwiches and Christmas cookies and drank tea. It was'lovely'. But seriously, it was so good to see everyone! We hadn't met since September. The show and tell of quilt projects finished and under construction was so inspiring. I came home all charged up!

The hostess has a fabulous collection of ladies hats, so we were encouraged to wear a hat, or chose one from her collection. I wore this bright green and yellow "British Invasion" cap I recently received at a Christmas gift exchange. We had a blast!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Baltimore Album Quilt

For some reason I only think to post new projects and quilts. But I love reading about the quilts others have done in the past and many of you haven't seen my stash of quilts. So with that in mind I offer these pictures of my hand-applique'd, hand quilted Baltimore Album quilt. I posted a picture of this back in June when it was finished, so this is the first year I can put it out in the living room for Christmas.

I finally finished it after fourteen years of fits and starts. At the time I was a die-hard traditionalist so I wanted a cotton batt. Well it was so hard to needle I could only get two stitches on my rocker needle at a time and it was *not* a pleasant quilting experience. The top was complete in 1995, cotton batts have improved a lot I'm told, but I don't think I'll ever attempt to quilt another quilt with a cotton batt!
These are friendship blocks created for me by members of the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, of which I was a member at the time. When my name was drawn I was allowed up to twenty blocks, with the understanding that I'd 'pay back the block bank for as many blocks as I asked for. So I chose twelve instead.
I have loved wreaths and floral spray designs for more years than I can count, so an "X's and O's" selection of blocks seemed like a good idea. I collected a few traditional patterns: Rose of Sharon and Laurel Wreath, found a few current day patterns and drafted a few of my own. I chose the colors and fabric, provided the pattern in a kit and my friends applique'd the blocks.

Then I chose the layout, pieced the top and quilted it. When I finished it, I attempted to contact the 12 women that had helped me create this beauty... I wanted to thank them for their part in the creation of this quilt and to share a picture; for it really is one of my favorites and I'll never make another like it. But so much time had passed I was only able to get in touch with about a third of the twelve. Some had dropped out of the guild, others had moved away and no one knew how to reach them.
Last year I entered it in three local fairs. At the community Redwood Empire Fair in my town, it received Best of Show and was displayed in the winner's circle in the Home Arts building. At the county fair it was up against some National ribbon winning quilters and it placed Second. And at the end of the summer I entered it in a local quilt guild's annual Show and it placed Third. =) So all this confirms what I've thought all along... I make quilts for the pleasure of the process, the beauty of the finished product and the enjoyment of myself, family and friends. Quilt judging is subjective at best.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Been too long

Hi! I'm still here. I just sort of dropped off the Blogland map for awhile. Life got in the way...

Here's a picture of some quick strip ornaments I made last week. I have so much blue, it was easy to pull strip scraps and zip these up.

I try to make pieced ornaments each year for gifts, and if I think ahead, keep one for me. Here's a picture of last year's ornaments. These were actually created in EQ5, printed on fabric, bordered and then quilted. That was a fun experiment.

I guess I like cool blue looking ornaments. =)

And 2004

What a great idea for using mini's. I have a few mini blocks that never made it into a project. Guess I could make them into ornaments, hmmm...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Memories in My Mind

I had a list of four or more blog posts I was going to put up... pictures of a trip to the Redwood groves north of us, my current strippy quilt in it's next stage, a first block my oldest son pieced... but they all lived together on my thumb drive. And that thumb drive decided to die one day.
I'd been telling myself for weeks I needed to create a back-up, but did I? Rhetorical question.

Been grieving it like the loss of a friend, six months+ of blog pictures, special e-mail and journals. *sigh* So this is why I've been so quiet. I've wanted to write, been thinking about what I'd write... but what's a blog entry without pictures?

This is a generic picture I grabbed off the web. But it looks an awful lot like the Eel River valley DH and I visited last month. I bet I can find the photos from that trip on his computer. They're worth sharing.

I'll get back to you.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Indian Summer

I call this quilt Indian Summer. I finished it in 1992. I think every quilter ends up making at least *one* sampler quilt. It's such a great opportunity to play with color and experiment with pattern and design. This quilt was taken from a layout that used ten block patterns twice each. But I only got as far as six used twice and finished it. Look at the blocks and see if you can match the pairs. There's always at least one pair that stumps people.

This block is called "Indian Corn". I'd never seen it before, nor since. Sure like it though. Machine pieced, machine quilted.

Course the Autumn sunlight was a little harsh during the picture taking, but you get the general idea.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy Day!

My DS's came up for the weekend to help me celebrate my birthday. It was *great* to see them and hear their news. We had a really nice home cooked meal, complete with fresh baked blackberry pie with vanilla ice cream. Can you say "mmmm"?

Then DH suprised me with my BD gift. A custom mat and frame on this counted cross stitch sampler. I was so tickled! I finished it in time for our 25th anniversary, but then it sat for two years for lack of discretionary funds to frame it.

Thank you drhrt! You knock my socks off!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Guild BOM

This block's called Road to Heaven. The Block of the Month coordinator for our guild requested Fall colors, so I was forced out of my typical blue-green-wow color combination preference. :D

The green on the sides is just the olfa board. Lila was watching me the whole time I was setting up this photo. She's happy to be inside now that nights are in the 40's. During the summer we hardly see her at all.

Q: What kind of cat does a quilter own?

A: A calico of course. :D

Trailing Along

Here's the Snail's Trail at twenty-five, 5x5. I have more blocks, but I don't have anymore design wall. :D

When working with 12" blocks, aren't a lot of quilts 4x6? If I were making that size I'd be done by now... But this is a good study in perseverance.

When I was five years old I attended Blue Birds... the forerunner to Brownies. We stood in a group at the opening of the meeting and recited the Blue Bird motto which included, "I will try to finish what I begin..." I don't remember anything else from that motto, but there it is, impressed on my mind at a tender young age.

I've been making quilts since my youngest son was just a twinkle in my eye; he's now 24. I've made a lot of quilts - bed quilts, wallhangings, placemats, baby quilts, lap quilts, donation quilts, the list goes on and on. And still I find I learn something from every single one I make. This one has already spoken to me twice. Originally I was going to use my teal, jade and aqua fabrics that I've been collecting since the early 90's when they first came out. I thought I'd do a jade with teal and then a teal with jade sort of thing, the combinations would be easy and I could be systematic. Having a system emerge always makes the construction of a quilt go faster. But that plan didn't work and I bogged down. Then I added clear blue and worked with less jade and I started liking it again.

After about 15 blocks it went blah again, I considered making it into a lap quilt, putting borders on it and calling it done. But I listened to the inner voice telling me to stick with it, see where it goes, try to make it work... and you don't want *another* UFO. So I listened to what the quilt was saying, it told me the colors were too close in value, it was all medium and therefore low contrast. Well that helped identify the problem... I really like HIGH contrast. But high contrast wasn't suitable for the original vision of this quilt. I introduced some light-mediums in among the medium-mediums and this is where it is now.

Sometimes quilts evolve beyond your original vision for them and you listen to what the quilt says it needs. Other times you just make minor adjustments along the way and you find you can keep working. I think this one is the latter.

I'm passed the half-way mark, 27/48 blocks, it's getting easier. But I remember why I don't make many King or Queen sized bedquilts. There are too many other ideas calling to me. It's hard to stay focused. :D

Friday, September 15, 2006

Strippy Update

This is really a 'leader and ender' project, but I'm have such fun with it, I sew off a dozen or so in between the piecing of the Snail's Trail block units. I've pieced 16 out of 48 total blocks needed for the Snail's Trail and I'm' actually getting tired of blue, blue, blue; so the strippy L&E helps a lot! It provides welcome color play and no thinking is required at this stage. I was just throwing them in a bin until I had a enough to bother counting.

It seems I really don't want to have to count or plan with this quilt... but at some point I had to figure out how many of these little rows of light and dark squares pieced into strips I need to make. So looking at a thumbnail of the quilt-to-be, I counted the rows in the columns - 35 and mulitplied by the number of columns in the proposed quilt - 7 and got my total - 245. Well I'd pieced 325, so then I counted the strips into groups of 25 each, put them on safety pins and put the 'left overs' in another basket - maybe they'll be Starter dough for another quilt... The groups of 25 are what this picture shows. I thought it was cool how they fan out and you can sorta see the colors and get an idea what the quilt's going to look like.

In the next few days I hope to add a picture of the EQ draft. That'll give you a better idea where I'm going with this puppy. AND a picture of the break-out solids (for me) that I purchased at Beverly's for the sashing and border.

More later...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Spiders and Snakes

Despite the title of this post, this is not about the coming of Halloween. Unlike some, Halloween is *not* a favorite day of the year for me. Instead I wanted to share some pictures and some thoughts.

I was lying on the floor doing my morning stretch and saw a hair-fine spider weaving his web between the arm and the side of my recliner. I could barely see the strand as he moved and spun and it was only because of the backlighting that I could see it at all. Amazing... how do they know how to *do* that??

I thought about the belief that we all just sprung from some cosmic ooze and all the insects, plants, mammals, birds and humanity on this earth just sort of *happened*. How can someone that believes that look at some of these natural wonders and not see the hand of a Master creator?

DH and I walked the Gabrielli Winery road the other day and saw this little guy.

He couldn't have been more than seven inches long and about as big around as a pencil. He was so still (why are snakes always 'he?') we thought he was dead. But then he waved his little black tongue at us. It was so cute... I loved the little black stripe across his eyes, like a racoon's mask. It was hard to tell if it was a Western Rattlesnake; he didn't have a rattle, hadn't grown one yet perhaps? We left him alone and went on our way.

This morning I was walking the Mill Creek road by my office and came across this one:

Again, the one I saw was tiny... only as big around as my pinky finger. I didn't know it was a California King snake until I Googled it. Unfortunately he was dead, not stiff yet, but he had definitely expired. Should've have played in the road, I guess.

When DH and I were vacationing in Kaua'i a few years ago, I was wading in the wonderfully lukewarm waters of Hanalei bay. The water was sooo clear. Frank said, "Watch out. That looks like a snake." I was immediately intrigued. That wasn't a really bright reaction, but that's usually how I react when someone points out a snake, curious and without fear. So I stepped closer to the shape in the shallows and sure enough, it was easy to tell it was a snake as he swam *away* from me. He was smarter about the encounter than I was apparently.

They may be strange, or poisionous and therefore to be avoided, but I still think they're beautiful. The patterns on their backs, the way the scales lay in overlapping rows. The touch of the Master creator at work.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Late Summer's Daydream

Last spring I posted pictures from my walk along the pathways west of my office building. Lately I've been thinking, "What's growing now that it's mid-September and it hasn't rained in four + months? The following are a few of the plants and silhouettes I see.

Left: Last year's Anise

Right: This year's Anise

I like to pinch off the tiny dried seeds and crunch them between my teeth. For such a small granule, you get a lot of licorice flavor.

These are all considered 'weeds', which I guess means they aren't valued by some people. But I think they have a beauty all their own.

This one is a shrub along the walk-way at work, so it is watered. But I love the way the leaves are turning purple on the end of each stalk.

~ One is often closest to God in a garden ~

Well sometimes all the world seems like a garden if you just look.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September Sunflowers

I just love the look of a row of sunflowers bending their faces to the sun.

This bouquet lasted a long time, and I love the look of our Double X quilt in the background.

I've admired sunflower block patterns for years, maybe one day I'll make a full-size quilt of their cheerful circles. In the meantime I had to try at least one...

Then there was this jacket I made:

And this Rebecca Barker Quiltscape jigsaw puzzle I just *had* to have.

Hmmm... I see a theme here.

~Happiness is homemade~