Thursday, August 31, 2006

Classified Ad

The Garage Sale column in the local paper ran this ad:

Estate Sale
Old quilting patterns, lots of cotton fabric for quilt tops.
Artists supplies, large easel, collectables,
costume jewelry. Fri. & Sat.
8-? 8400 East Rd. RV

And I just happened to have that Friday off; it was my 27th anniversary and DH and I had a day trip to the coast planned. But a little detour to the Estate Sale wouldn't be a problem. And what a nice way to start off a special day.

I drove by Thrusday evening so I could find the place. I got there the next morning at 7:45 am, but there was a group of people standing around waiting for the go-ahead. The women were still bringing boxes and bags out of the small clapboard house and we were told, "we're not ready yet!" I spied a sterilite stacking drawer set-up and when they gave the signal, I made a beeline for that. Didn't even ask the price at the time, just knew I wanted it.

Turns out it was a dollar a drawer!

With that tucked over by the cashier's table I went around the large fifth wheel for sale and found the boxes and barrels of fabric. Yes... *barrels* There were four large barrels full of plastic bags of fabric. I started with the cardboard boxes on the table... found an empty one and quickly sifted through the first box, moving it to the empty one. There was that air among the shoppers like we had to grab and go before the good stuff got taken by someone else, so I was moving pretty fast, deciding what I wanted and setting it in a pile under my arm - lest it should be snagged by someone else!

There were at least a dozen sets of partially pieced blocks, no finished sets that I could find, wonky piecework, bulky stitches, ghastly color combinations. It was really interesting. However these three blocks didn't seem to be from the same seamstress and the fabrics are much older than the 70s and 80s calicos most of the projects were pieced from.

So I *dug* through bin, box and barrel after barrel of fabric. This women didn't throw *anything* away. Old pajamas, cut out blouse fabric never made, faded curtains and aprons, remnants of old sheets. She obviously loved fabric, but considering how much of it was there, not much of it called my name. I bought two aprons in fairly good repair because the fabric could pass for 30s prints.

And some of the 80s calicos were just ugly enough to be fun. I pulled out cut aways and remnants, got 'em home, washed 'em up and call them calico crumbs.

After I unpacked all the barrels I moved to the knitting, embroidery and book table. Just couldn't resist some of the old tyme publications and projects. That feed sack is a neat, quality muslin. Don't know what I'll do with it yet, but it called to me. Unfortunately the quilt book doesn't have a date on it, but it has that Kansas City Star look to it.

A funky aqua and red (!?) print feed sack.

And then I cruised the rest of the sale, the kitchen drawer, the baking corner, the living room bric-a-brac, the bathroom goo-gaws. It's amazing how similar these collections look after awhile. I was aware of the fact that I was just transfering items from her collections to my collections and that was a bit scary. I mean... the adult daughters were trying to liquidate their deceased mothers' entire personal inventory. Someday my adult sons will probably have to do the same. At least I have *finished* quilts and tops in my stash. :D

I couldn't resist the bric-a-brac, even though I have so much of it of my own already.

And I wanted this cute little six unit muffin tin. Made fresh blueberry muffins Saturday morning to christen it.

I had a lot of fun, as you can tell. But the best part was at the cashier's table. Grand total: $10.00. Now that's the kind of shopping I enjoy best!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One Less UFO in the Stack

Hooray! It's finished! Three years, three months and an unknown number of days after this was a completed top, it's now a completed quilt! I can't *tell* you how glad I am to get this off my plate. :D
In the summer of '03 I was between jobs and pieced this little lap quilt for fun and amusement. The whole idea was for it to be a great place for me to practice my free-motion quilting skills. But it just sat. I found a job and other projects called to me louder than this one for a long time.

It's amazing how little time it really does take to free-motion quilt a quilt. I of course am my own worst critic, but when I stand back and look at it through the view finder of the camera, I pretty much like what I see. Not too shabby; as they say.

I also find it's harder for me to get motivated to finish a quilt when I don't have a recipient in mind as I'm making it. But now that it's done I think it's going in the guild's Country Store; a quilt boutique that's part of our annual show. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I always say. If it doesn't sell it might go into my "Grandmother's hope chest". You know, that pile you make ahead of having grandkids so when (if) they come you'll be ahead of the game? Or maybe it's okay to just keep a quilt because as you worked to finish it - it grew on you again and you decided you liked it after all. :D

Postage Strippy

I've decided I like mindless sewing; what Su calls "No-think-um" sewing. Just put the pieces together and *go*. No counting, no matching of seams, no aiming for the 'x' to make sure the point is sharp on that triangle. It's great. I can sew this sort of thing for hours... get into the zen of it.

I've been trimming cut-aways into two inch squares for over ten years. I put them in neat little stacks in a shoebox that lives on my shelf. It's another mindless thing I really enjoy; cutting. I get my fabric fix, I get to play with color and if I ever use all those squares? All the better.

I recently decided to jump into a new project and started sewing those two inch squares into pairs of light and dark and then pairs of pairs. I have a pattern in mind, but I just sewed 'mindlessly' for *days*. It was great. In my mind I thought the strip of five ended with a light square on each end and I didn't have very many lights already cut in my shoebox stash... so I cut lights for over a week. The little stacks of light squares were adding up nicely. Then I looked at a picture of the pattern I had in mind and found the rows have a dark square on each end. :D Well back to the cutting table.

After several days and weeks of this mindless sewing and cutting I decided it was time to actually *plan* a little. How many strips were there in each column and how many columns were in the overall quilt? Well when I did the math I found I needed 1264 total squares. But by that time I had about 3200 squares stacked up in neat little rows in my shoebox. eek! Enough for two quilts!

So is this about the zen of cutting, mindless sewing or making this quilt? *shrug* I don't know... I don't really care. :D

When people give me a hard time about what I do, which seems to happen on a pretty regular basis, I smile and say: "Hey, I'm not hurting anyone and it keeps me off the streets at night." That almost always gets a laugh. My co-workers love to see my work, but many of them say, "Are you insane?" or, "You have way too much TIME on your hands!" or, "How did you ever get into this hobby?" Does anyone ask tole painters that question? Does anyone look askance at an artist in fine oils and say, "How lonnng did THAT take you?" What is it about patchwork quilts that doesn't garner the respect of other hobbies? Is it because it's considered a 'craft' and not an 'art'?

Whatever. As Bonnie said. "I love making traditional scrap quilts and I don't apologize." I *like* it!

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Week or So Behind

I'm finally getting around to posting my pictures from the Redwood Empire Fair.
And yes, it was during our on going heat wave so Su and I sat outside under the canopy in 100+ temperatures trying to sell tickets to our guild's opportunity quilt. The irony of /that/ was that the quilt we were selling opportunities for wasn't even hanging near us, it was on display in the Home Arts building, which /was/ air conditioned.
But the public still came over and talked to us and looked at the patchwork car and occasionally we sold some tickets.

Su and I took turns going into the Home Arts building to refresh, cool down and take in the quilty sights. There were a couple of really stunning quilts. Unfortunately not all of them were displayed full length due to limited space.

Like this Hawiaiian Sampler for example. It was beautifully hand applique'ed and hand quilted in the traditional echo quilting. It also took First place. So why was it in the very back of the room folded in fourths and displayed on a rack? Go fig...

This one has three dimensional items hanging on the clothes line. The quilt, dress, apron and tee shirt are separate from the surface of the quilt and attached to the clothes line with miniature clothes pins. Adorable!

So often a photograph of a quilt just doesn't do it justice. That's the case with this Sunflower. Most of the petals are three dimensional, and have such a terrific hand-dyed texture to their color, the whole thing just *glowed*. Only a second? Huh...

And I saved my favorite for last. This is a Jinny Beyer, her fabrics, her terrific border prints. But the workmanship is also really good. It got a First place and the Superintendent's Award. The only thing I saw that could've been improved on was the mitred corners weren't very well placed. But that's a tricky step, I know, I've tried. The maker of this quilt did it for hire. (!) I can't imagine letting it leave home after I'd done all the work it must've taken to create it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Time To Sew

I was recently talking to a quilty friend who's home full time and she was in awe of the amount of piecing and quilting Su and I manage to do. She said, "How do women who work full-time get sooo much done! What's my problem??" It was so cute. :D

So I've been thinking about this off and on since she said that. I know that I get more done when I have a daily schedule than when I'm on vacation... for all sorts ofreasons. When I have a week off at the house I think I'm going to "get so much sewingdone", but I don't. 'Cause I putter in the yard, read magazines and look at catalogs that I don't have time for when my week is full with work, errands and household chores. When I'm working, I get up an hour before I need to leave, dress, make a simple breakfast, pack a lunch and afternoon snack, stretch for ten minutes, sew for ten minutes and have a ten minute devotion before I charge out the door. That way I feel like I've fed my mind, body and soul. It also keeps in interested in what I'm working on and helps me want to get back to it.

At work I often bring some small task to do for 20-30 minutes on my lunch hour. It might be sorting scraps to be cut - into light and dark, or standing at the staff kitchen counter rotary cutting squares or strips for a project, or doing some hand sewing. When I get home we have dinner early, I usually rest or meditate 20-30minutes to decompress from the day and then into the sewing room to work on two or three things at once. Currently I'm sewing 12" Snail's Trail blocks and sewing my leader and ender squares together for the strippy quilt. As I cut fabric for the Snail's Trail, I'm also cutting squares and strips for the scrap bins; what I call 'cutting clean-up.' After an hour or two of sewing room time, DH and I get together and take turns reading out-loud to one another or we watch a video and I hand applique', 'reverse engineer' a piece I'm working on, or hand quilt (in the winter).
It sounds like a lot doesn't it? But there's so much MORE I want to do! I have a three day weekend coming up and I hope to sew most of Saturday. Even so, I take 'body breaks' and go do little household chores every so often so I don't stiffen up.

I'm curious, would you be willing to share a page out of your day? Drop me an e-mail and tell me how you break away from the responsibilities of the day and get into the quilting mode. It's fun to hear how other people go about the creative endeavor.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Zen Moon

I love this photo. DH took it just the other night. It's so calm.
I love going there.
Tx drhrt.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Think I'd Rather Be Elmo

You Are Bert

Usually serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!
You are usually feeling: Logical - if you can analyze it, you can figure it out.
You are famous for: Being smart, a bit of a neat freak, and maybe just a little bit whacked.
How you live your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Free For the Picking

When Su and I drove back from Quilt Guild Saturday, the roadsides were just lined with blackberry bushes. The small birds were darting back and forth across the road and I knew it was time to plan to pick blackberries for pie.

This is an annual event for me and any other able-bodied, willing assistant. Two can pick 16 cups, enough for two pies, so much faster than one. When my sons were small the three of us used to go. It reminded me of that children's book, Blueberries for Sal, as their buckets didn't fill as fast as mine; because as many went in their mouth as in the bucket! Well my young assistants have long since move out on their own, so DH and I went.

He was such a sport. No one can accuse him of being a character in the story of the Little Red Hen. He knows if he wants to eat blackberry pie, it would be great if he helped pick. He was often out of sight in the berry patch, but I could hear him. "Ouch!" "Yikes!" "Let go you!" *giggling*

At one point I was stretching out to pick that perfect berry just out of reach, you know the one, and started to lose my balance. I was seen circling my arms like a cartoon character trying hard not to fall face first into the briars!

From that to this:

And this:

And this:
Ahhh... summer.

Windfall Quilting

The next best thing to a trip to the quilt store is the Freebees table at our guild. It's amazing what other quilters want to get rid of. This past Saturday was our guild meeting and I always get there early and hang out by the Freebees table to see what's going to be dropped off for the membership to adopt. This month I made such a haul I almost felt guilty, shouldn't I pay somebody something for all this?

First off I scooped up 10 back issues of Fons and Porter magazine. Those will be great reading when the weather turns cold and I'm curled up by the woodstove.

Then I talked to a new member Kitty and admired her quilt guild cloisonne' pin, only to discover it was OUR guild's new pin. Had to buy one of those!

By that time there was a wonderful, warm buzz of quilters arriving, visiting and unpacking for the meeting. I said hello to our President and presented her with her Birthday FPC. She didn't know what to say! Partly I think because she'd never seen a FPC before. :D

I took another turn around the room and said hello to my good friend Rosy. She asked me if I'd been a good girl and that threw me for a loop... Yes, why? She then opened her bag and presented me with a couple dozen spools of DMC and Mettler machine embroidery thread! She said it was to go with my terrific new machine. And she didn't want to 'burden' me with too much, but thought I might enjoy playing with the embroidery feature on my Janome. Knocked my socks off! Rosy you are such a sweetie bear.

After picking myself up off the floor from surprise at her gift, I went back to the Freebee table and another member was unloading what looked like a good chunk of her fabric stash onto the back table in 5 or 6 large brown grocery bags full of quilt material. You're giving this away? She said she didn't have any use for it. Well you can bet I swooped in, trying to decide between what I'm always drawn to and 'rounding out my palette.' I tried for a little of both.

Greens are not unknown in my stash. So these pieces called my name.

And while I love purple and wear it a lot, I've never made a purple quilt. So these had to come home with me. And yellows used to be hard to find, so I often think I need those too. But the best find were the blues. Clear, watery blues just right for my Snail's Trail blocks. I got two 'useful baskets to put things in' from the Freebee table and sat during the meeting folding and grouping my blues in a little display.

I had one or two guild ladies ask me what I was doing putting these together like this. I smiled and said, "Just playing." Color play is so refreshing. And we all have enough fabric in our stashes to color play just fine, matching and contrasting fabric groups to our hearts content. I've gone on record as saying I don't do pink. So just to stretch myself, I threw in a pink print for fun.

To top off the day, I won the door prize. You guessed it, more fabric. :D Gee I went home happy that day. A serious fabric fix was had, without spending a dime. The best way to do it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Snail's Pace You Mean

Well lots of blogland quilters have talked about the recent heatwave putting the kobosh on sewing much. I'll use that as an excuse for why my whirl-wind efforts to piece Snail's Trail blocks got put on the back burner. I got back to it this week after taking time to piece the border strips between my leader/ender stars. I'll post a picture of that when the top is together. In the meantime...

Snail's Trail blocks, 12" finished. Nine down and thirty-nine more to go. (!)

My design wall is full, but as I choose colors and cut pieces for blocks I refer to these to remind me of where I'm going. I have a TUB of blue fabric, but so many have grey in them and this is to be clear and bright, like water, sea and surf.

Maybe it'll be done for the intended's birthday Spring of '07. Then again... *shrug* The contrast seems sort of low for what I like to do, so it's challenging me. I'm already struggling to stick with it.

It's good to get out of my comfort zone once in awhile.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fair Time!

We went last Saturday. My oldest son Nathan invited me to come down for the weekend so we could 'do the Home Arts' building together. That way, he said, he'd have someone to make comments to that understood and could comment back. I thought that was wonderful. 'Course he's lived most of his 25 years with a quilter-mother, so he knows the ropes pretty well by now and can hold his own when it comes to naming patterns and commenting on color and design.

Oh man, what I DIDN'T know was that he'd planned to present me with a pre-purchased Janome 6500 that I've been wanting for almost a year. Ever since my quilt buddy Su got one at Pacific International... somehow my 30 year old Riccar suddenly looked kinda shabby.
This is Nathan and I at Parkside Sewing, the vendor's booth at the fair. They told me to smile for the camera, but I was already grinning like a pregnant ape (what a weird expression). I was so shocked, pleased and surprised I felt like I was levitating. Now I know what people mean when they say they felt like they were walking on air. Thank you Nathan, you are such a sweetie bear. :D

We walked through the main pavillion, also known as the hall of hawkers, ate fair food for lunch and then I got my favorite ice cream on a stick, rolled in almonds and toffee bits. Yum! He told me I had to hurry up and finish, 'cause I couldn't go into the Home Arts building with food. Okay, okay!

So many wonderful things to see! So much talent and creativity in one room. I tried to see it all, be systematic and go down one side, then back and forth through the center, then down along the other side. But I kept getting distracted by the sights and exhibits that caught my eye. Here is the top winner for Best Use of Color and Design. I liked it better than Best of Show which I don't even think I took a picture of. Machine pieced, hand quilted.

Pineapple in 1930's reproductions

This one's for you Su. I think you should make one of these. =)

The curved piecing on this one is very nicely done, as is the highlight quilting - that doesn't really show in the picture.

Burrgoyne Surrounded

And I love this little scrap strippy. They had it displayed over with the dolls and knits for babies, but I could sure see it hanging in my house! Blue ribbon too. Machine pieced, hand quilted. Sweet!

This was a "Build your own teddy bear" vendor outside the Home Arts building. Teddy pushed the handle around and around and it mixed the fluff seen in the window to his left. The vendor's sitting there with his laptop open on his knee. I thought that was interesting.

And then it was time to go home. I wanted to stay and see more knitting, stitching, quilting, rughooking, tole. But my eyes were just too tired. It happens almost every year. So long till next July.