Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Prayer

I saw this prayer in the newsletter from Stitchin' Heaven.  I thought it was too good and I should remember it more often.
New Year's Day prayer......
Dear Lord, So far this year I've done well.
I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper, I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I'm going to get out of bed, and from then on I'm probably going to need a lot more help.
Happy New Year and happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stitching on the Braid

Last night I finished the scrappy mountain blocks--delectable mountains--that I had cut.  After the pressing I realized I had cut too many "downhill" blocks and not enough "uphill" ones  (the mirror image).  So I hit the stash again and cut the needed squares to make some more "uphill" blocks.  Here's some of the "downhill" ones.  I am using 10 1/2 inch squares to begin and then the strips are cut to 2 1/2 inches.  The block end up unfinished at 8 1/2 by 10 inches.  Since I am adding more blocks that I need, the quilt will end up large rather than a lap size. 
I have been piecing using the featherweight machine.  It began running heavy and needed a good cleaning and oiling.  And a new needle....remember it goes in sideways!   Even so, I love that little machine.
And back to the french braid......I had one run done and have begun the second, which is about half way done.  I wanted a photo to be sure I was happy with the colors.  The second run does not start with the same fabric as the first, and the third and fourth will be different too.  The photo shows the two runs....unpressed or trimmed.  The piecing is very easy once you get the system down, so the rest should go together quickly.
 I found some batik on sale while in Asheville that I believe I can use for the separator bands, as it has the blue, purple and rosy tones in it.  But that is for another day, I need to finish the piecing first!  That's why I usually have 2 or 3 projects going at once.  I get bored easily and my mind starts jumping around to something else.  By switching back and forth between projects, I manage to get things finished.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lots of snow and lots of food....

Our few days in Asheville, NC was wonderful.  There was lots of snow on the ground, and thankfully the roads were mostly clear.  The cabin was just a dream with a huge long covered porch and a bird feeder.  So guess what was the first thing that greeted us....a cardinal, so I knew we were welcome here.  We did a little bit of shopping and found  a quilt shop, The Cotton Company, and of course I added to my stash.  And I found the Isacord thread that Leah at 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting reccommends.  So I can't wait to give it a try.
Christmas Day was cold and rainy.  I got up early to put on the roast and guess what?  It was still in the freezer and I went into a panic.  After a strong cup of coffee,  I calmed down and gave thanks for the frozen roast.  We got it thawed enough for the crock pot, so all was not lost.
The Corn Pudding my daughter made was so good and even better the next day.  So here is the recipe.
Corn Pudding
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 can whole kernel corn--drained
1 can of cream corn
4 eggs--beaten
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp  sugar
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 tsp of fresh nutmeg
1/2 C melted butter
Mix all ingrdients together.  Pour into greased baking dish--about 1 1/2 quart dish.  Let sit for 1 hour.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes till the center is set and lightly browned. 
I did manage to get blocks stitched and cut into pieces for assembling for the scappy mountains.  I only got one block completely pieced.  And that is okay, because as I finish it up I will have the wonderful Christmas memories to stitch into it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

I spent the day making a list of items to remember to pack up tomorrow for our Christmas trip to a cabin outside Asheville, NC.  It is a new twist for us to get away over the holidays, just to have some good family time together.  Deana is really hoping for snow, so I am packing more food just in case.  
I have the featherweight packed up and ready to travel.  I did get some  fabric cut to begin piecing on the scrappy mountains.  It just seemed like the perfect take-with-me project while spending time in the mountains for a couple of days. 
Now for the hustle and bustle of getting everything together. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Re-purposed cabinet

I just have to share a couple of photos of this cabinet.  My husband has been working for the last few weeks on this for our daughter.  Russ took the bathroom sink cabinet from her bathroom  (that they remodeled  this fall) and converted it to a work center for her kitchen.  Since the bathroom cabinet was only 29 inches high, he built a base for it.  He made the 2 center drawers (from dresser drawers found on the curb) to fill in the  original false fronts.  The cabinet hardware was original to her house that he cleaned and polished.  The final stage is the granite tile counter top and touch up painting.   A great Christmas present with the loving touch of a father.  A white cabinet that is really "green"! 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Insights I have gained

It's the time of year when I reflect on the last twelve months.  I am not one to make new year resolutions, because I never keep them.  Rather I have found I can learn from my successes and failures and then create a plan for me.  I learned to make lists from  Pat when we were roommates just out of college.  She had a list for everything.  Over the years I developed the habit, too, and love the feeling of crossing things off when completed...done...finished...over with!   Thanks, Tricia!
So here's a list I have been making this year of insights I have gained from my various projects.
1.  Use fabrics I love.   For me that means florals, tone on tone patterns, batiks, paisleys and swirls.  I don't care for 30's and reproduction prints, or  many conversational  type prints.  Many of the latest "modern" fabrics are unappealing to me.  My "Turning 60" quilt took on a life of its own as I worked on it because I truely enjoyed all the fabrics in it.  Completing Deana's quilt of reproduction fabrics was a labor of love because I was bored with the fabrics.
2.  Use color to create a feeling or mood in the quilt.    "Autumn's Carpet"  done in batiks showed me this.  Right now it is hanging in the sunroom where I see it each day.  The background captures the bright sunshine and the sky as well as the changing colors in the landscape of fall.  The same goes for "Shenandoah Colors" from last year.
3.  Have a source of light.  Any of the watercolor quilts show this.  The concentration of light fabrics blended to dark create that wonderful effect of light.  Even in a traditional quilt or a scrap quilt this is good to remember.  The trip around the world in florals just glows from the center out.  One of our speakers at  guild mentioned this too.
4.  Extend the pattern into the border.    That is the hardest for me.  Until a couple of years ago, I always just added a frame style border and called it quits.  Doing the 9 patch pizzazz quilt spree---about 5 of them--I carried the leftover parts to the border to use them up.  I really liked the effect and tried doing that with other quilts.  In some of the watercolor wallhangings I spill the design over and let it become the border.  Some quilts need a plain border, but not all.
5.  Remember the rule of thirds for the focal point.  The rule of thirds is a design rule---Deana's education paid off for me too.  It is more pleasing to the eye to offset a focal point rather than make it dead center like a bull's eye.  The Dogwood which was the donation quilt  for the Alzheimer's auction was a joy to make because I really liked the offset layout.
6.  Be inspired to inspire others.  Do not copy.  I buy books and magazines, rarely individual patterns for quilts.  I don't do an exact copy of a quilt that I see.  Rather I like to take inspiration from the pattern, layout, or color selection.  How would a quilt look if...?   And I seem to ask myself what the quilt would look like done all in florals.  That was why I made  the "Carolina Fence" lap quilt.  Wonder how the cobblestone pattern will look done in leftover florals?
7.  Express yourself.  Quilting is my visual art form.  Things I love and enjoy find their way into my quilts.  I say that a piece of my heart is in each quilt.  Even the ones I give away.
  Wow, I sure can run on.  Think it is time to add to my list of projects for 2010, as about 3 new ideas came to me while blogging this. 
Happy stitching to all. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gifts from Deana

When my daughter showed me the scaves she was knitting a couple of weeks ago, I did my usual whine, "When do I get one?".  She brushed me off with the comment that she didn't have time this year.  She's a sly one!  She already had something better planned.  This is the photo of the absolutely beautiful snood that she knitted for me. It has scalloped edges and drapes so nice around the neck.   It was one of the 60 gifts for my birthday....and that's another story.  The snood is like a  cowl-neck scarf that can be pulled up to cover the  ears and head.  I love it, thank you Deana. 
She also gave me a notebook to use as a journal with the  label, My Alaska Trip.  We are planning a week long trip in the spring to Alaska and have booked our tickets.  I thought that was so special and today I made a quilted cover for it.  I used an "orphan" block and added scraps and fabric pieces to make it large enough.  The bluish-purple fabric was perfect to use  because it has scripted journal entries and line drawings on it.  Can't remember how long it has been waiting for a project to be used in.   That is the great thing about a fabric stash, just finding the perfect fabric to  complete a project.   Hope your stash grows often and is replenished with use.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shenandoah Colors and Corn Chowder

It's cold here today for us.  That makes it a soup night.  Chicken corn chowder sounds good.  I have a base mix that I order from a place in Virginia.  I add a few ingrdients to cooked chicken and a few spices and onion.  It is so good, especially with home made bread.
We spent a week in the Shenandoah Valley about 2 years ago.  Just browsing and sight seeing.  We found a farmer's market in Harrisonburg and bought all kinds of jams and soup bases and had the best ice cream there.   We visited the Grand Caverns, toured a vineyard, went to the daylily farms, and toured the owner's private gardens, and the Green Valley book sale, of course.  When we got home I decided to capture those memories in colors in a quilt.  Thus the name is  "Shenandoah Colors".  I chose the deep purples and  reds of the vineyards, the golden hues from the daylilies and the Caverns, and the blues of the sky and mountains.   I used a variation of the trip around the world from Eleanor Burns, and blended the colors from light to dark.  And the quilt ended up being King size and we use it on our bed daily.   The photos are of sections of it....I have no place to hang it for a full size photo.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fall to Winter Banner and Sugar and Spice

Sugar and Spice is ready for the label.  It is an I Spy game quilt for Natalie.  I used 6 inch squares of all type of conversational prints.  I had a lot with hearts and flowers on them, hence the name of sugar and spice.  It is a long ride to Florida and hopefully it will take hours for her to count the hearts and flowers on this! 
On the label I listed a lot of categories to look for or to count like things to wear, things to eat, animals,  hearts and colors of flowers.  I used fabric with a cardinal on it for part of the label.  The finished size is 45 inches by 58 inches.  For the binding I used up a lot of extra leftover pieces.

The third watercolor banner for my seasonal series is ready for its label too.  The cardinal is harder to find on this.  He is hidden in the holly leaves fabric on the left near the bottom.
I called this one "Fall to Winter" because of the rust color fabric used on one side of the border.   The original fall banner ended up turning into an art quilt with the tree on one side and being too large to be a banner.  So I really need to come up with a winter banner.  I have a spring one that features an iris, and a summer one with the climbing rose.  I think maybe the winter one will feature a crocus. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Still Blooming and the cardinal

My old  world rose is still in bloom, even after a couple of frosts.  It is right outside the bedroom window and I love to catch the spot of deep red  from there.  The bright red berries on the heavenly bamboo, which is on the other side of the patio, are beautiful too.    I spotted a couple of cardinals at the feeders while taking these photos.  They always make me smile because the cardinal has become a personal symbol to me.  About 3 years ago I went through a very dark time in my life, and on top of everything that was going on I felt I had lost all my energy and creativity.  For months I functioned on auto-pilot.  That Christmas when I was unpacking the ornaments for the tree, I made a discovery.  I realized that I had a huge assortment of ornaments that featured a cardinal.  Some I had bought, some from friends, and a lot of them given to me by my daughter.  Then looking around the house at my  quilted wall hangings, again I saw a cardinal featured on many of them.  I found fabric with cardinals in my stash closet.  I noticed that many times I had used a cardinal graphic on my quilt labels.   I mentioned this a couple of weeks later to the counselor I was seeing.  His comment was that I might have found my symbol.  
I researched a little bit and found references to the cardinal as a symbol of hope.  That was it for me.  Today I use a cardinal in my quilts, either on the front or back.  It symbolizes the gift of my heart and who I want to be...energetic, one who loves life, and helps others when I can.  Even in the darkest of times, there is hope.  That is why the cardinal is featured in my "Turning 60" quilt, as a reminder of who I want to be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fabric Sale

Just ordered fabric again from ....I am very bad!  They have a good sale right now at 50% off  a lot of fabrics.  I needed some yardage for backings and found several at $2.49 a yard, plus I had a coupon to redeem. 
I put together an I Spy game quilt for Natalie and I am ready to pin and get it quilted.  Her 7th  birthday is Saturday and  I want to surprise her then.  It is very girly with lots of hearts and flowers, so she should enjoy it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter Banner

Here is the winter banner in my series.  It is sewn together but not quilted yet.  I used the thread painted pinecones and branches as the accent.  The branch wasn't quite long enough, so I had to use an extra bit of fabric to extend it to the border.   It reminds me of the Wolf Pines at the back of the garden shed.  And Russ picked the border fabrics to use.  He is getting pretty good at that.
 And here's a detail shot of the thread painting.    I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the branches and pinecones, and then a lot of straight stitches to secure the needles. 
  A word to the wise....I used the Featherweight and the plastic 1/4 inch foot to sew the watercolor background.   The machine began to bind up and squeak about a third of the way through.  Cleaning and oiling did not help.  Finally it dawned on me to swictch  to the regular foot.  That was it.  The  finish on the interfacing was causing a build up on the plastic foot and making the machine drag.   Lesson learned. 
 It's time to make cookies.  And maybe stitch a little later.                   
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