Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heading success

After 2 dozen tries at least...success in creating a header for the blog that I like.  The new design feature just doesn't understand that I don't want a header that is huge, so I had to crop a new photo by just taking a thin slice of it.  Much better.  But I still can't get the preview option to work...oh,well.
RAIN-- wonderful rain last night.  And cooler for a few days or so they say.  Any day below 90 degrees is a keeper. 
    We had an unexpected visitor yesterday afternoon.  He swooped in and rested on the deck railing for about 10 minutes.  I think it was  a red-tail hawk.  Glad I was safe inside...he was huge.                 
 After he flew away, I threw this quilt over the railing for a quick photo.  This is the quilt for our out-going  guild President this year.  All the strips were donated by members along with a signature strip.  I sewed  a simple basket weave design and another member, Jaylyn, did the quilting.  Fun to make and a great thank you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Never ending list of projects

I'm a list maker and have been since just after college.  I get great satisfaction in crossing things off my list---done, and completed!  That carries over to my quilts in progress....only it is never ending.  No sooner do I finish one--and get to cross it off--and I realize I have started a project that is not on the list.  Crossing off the jewel box scrap quilt, I saw that the blooming 9 patch (which is cut) is not on the list, and neither is the Alaska quilt (and there are 5 blocks done for it).  Oh, and then there is the french roses lap quilt that is my night time project---not on the list either. 
  Maybe I just need to look at it a different way......I don't have too many projects, rather I am inspired by a lot of things, events, and places!   Sounds better to me.  Inspiration hit again this morning over the first cup of coffee.  I was just sitting and staring at  Scrappy Mountains on the quilt rack....light bulb moment.  Use the delectable mountain block pieced into the AK quilt. I have a couple more ideas to incorporate. 
Here's the jewel box quilt.....I love the black background and how everything just pops because of it.
Off to the sewing room....happy stitching.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tip for scissors

No art project to show today, but thought I would share a quick tip.  My scissors --that are about 30 years old-- have been tough to open.  It was like they were sticking and rubbing.    Russ suggested I try a tiny drop of Tri-flow lubricant at the base by the riveted hinge.  Ah.......sure enough there was the problem.  Just the humidity in the air had caused some rust on the rivet (which is not stainless like the blades).  I let the lubricant sit, and then opened and closed the scissors a few times, wiping the black/rusty excess off.  Now they are good to go.   So I pulled out all my scissors, big and small, and checked them too.  Each pair got sharpened and oiled.   A small thing to keep the tools working.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Itchy fingers and new design features....

Sorry,  I confess to having itchy fingers.  A few weeks ago, I realized that my template background was gone.  It happened when blogger made the switch to the new design feature.  I was getting bored with the gray background, so today I hit a few buttons and then there was no going back.  I will probably still make a few adjustments to what is here now...especially with the blog title and photo.   The one improvement I found was the "cloud" layout for the post labels....I really like it.   Any hints on improvement, I will gladly take.

The heat is burning up a lot of things in the garden...I am so glad the cone flowers are surviving.  Today is another 98 degrees with humidity to match. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Starry Twist/ Tropical Twist/ Star Struck variation pattern

Thank you, Bonnie, for a prompt reply to my request.  Bonnie granted permission for me to post my measurements and etc. for the quilt .  The pattern is a variation of Star Struck that is on her website.   If you haven't visited her, you are missing a treat.  She offers lots of wonderful patterns and ideas .  So I really suggest  you follow the link and get her directions for the pattern.  My efforts to duplicate the pattern would be a waste, and she loves the traffic on her site.

Here's a snapshot from my sketchbook in EQ5 that I used as I worked.  So here are the measurement changes I used and my layout. 

I created unit blocks that were 8 1/2 inches square --finished--using 2 1/2 inch strips.....because that is the size I had tons of.  
For each unit block:  ( 4 units to make a large block) .             The  2 1/2 inch strips need to be at least 9 inches long.
Two dark or medium dark strips were sewn together and then cut into 9  inch lengths.
Two light strips were sewn together and then cut into 9 inch lengths.
Two 4.5 inch squares---one light and one dark.  Draw a line corner to corner on the back of each.  This is your sewing line. 
The dark square was sewn to the light pair of strips, and the light square was sewn to the dark pair of strips.   See Bonnie's site for great details on piecing and assembly.
Look at the diagram and you can set the layout is achieved by alternating the placement of the dark points.

Value---I only used lights and medium-dark to dark  values.  I saved the medium value fabrics for another project.  I wanted the stars  points to pop, and using too many medium value fabrics would  distract from that. 
I saved the cut offs from adding the squares.  I  made pinwheels out of them and created the top and bottom border.  The pinwheels were alternated with plain squares in the borders. No side border on this one, I didn't want to end up with a square quilt.  Instead, I just put my twist on it. 
Let me know if there are any more questions, and I will try to explain better.
Happy stitching.

Quilt pattern used for the ALS donation

Starry Twist that I donated to the ALS Challenge is posted on the Hopes and Dreams facebook page.  Lots of wonderful comments and interest in the pattern, so I said I would put the info on my blog. 
The pattern is by Bonnie Hunter and was printed in Quiltmaker magazine in the Jan/Feb '09 issue.  Bonnie calls it Tropical Twist.  I checked for a link on her site and at the magazine site and no luck.  I have emailed Bonnie for permission to post instructions with the sizes of strips and squares that I used.   I don't want to violate any of her copyrights, so until then check your back issues to see if you have the magazine.    If she gives me permission, I will post basic instructions.  Thanks to all who commented and emailed about this pattern. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sweet scents of inspiration?

Looks what is blooming right now....this lily is huge!  There must be 20 buds on it, and it stands over 5 feet tall.  The blooms are about 8 inches across when open and have the sweetest scent, especially in the evening.  I just love the buttery color of the petals.  Could be a great inspiration photo for an art quilt.....or just to be inspired by the color combination for a project,   or use the curved lines of the petals for a quilting pattern/design for texture.  Hmmm....I think I just did a word/photo association exercise  to jump start my imagination!
I got the nicest  phone call today from Quilter's Dream Batting.  They received the quilt I sent for the ALS Hopes and Dreams Challenge and wanted to thank me and let me know the quilt was being photographed to use on their facebook wall.  How many times does someone call to thank you for a donation quilt?   This was a first for me, and I have donated quite a few quilts to various organizations.  The call left a wonderful impression of the company on me,  as well as validating me as a person and quilter.   Guess you can tell who will get my business when I purchase batting....and probably another donation quilt! 
Insight---I'm a sucker for a big thank you.  And I can be loyal to a fault.
Happy stitching.   

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hibernating from the heat

It has been too hot this week to do much of anything, but stay inside.  If this is the first day of summer at 98 degrees, what does August look like?  Ah, dreams of the coolness of I have been working on two new blocks for the AK quilt. 
Tundra Rose....the Tundra Rose grows wild in AK, and it just happened that the cabin  where we stayed  was named the Tundra Rose.  A log cabin block as the background for the machine applique seemed just right to me.   I used my machine to stitch the name along  the top log. 
Second block was the Chapel on the Hill in Copper Center. 
I knew the photo I wanted to use for the view, so I confess to a
"cheat" here.  Tracing paper taped to the computer screen (after I enlarged the view of the photo) and a felt tip pen made quick work of the basic pattern.  The 3/4 view had some funky angles that I just didn't think I could get right.  I actually pieced the brown part of the building--using freezer paper for templates to get the angles right.  Finding the right fabric and then creating the shadows, and figuring out how to do the steeple took most of the day.  I used stitching to create the chinking "between"  the logs.  I will probably add a few more details before I get it squared up. 
I also finished the quilting on the jewel box quilt yesterday...I still haven't named it yet.   Just the binding to go on it.   And the art group meets tomorrow, so I have lots to share then. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quilter's Dream Batting sponsoring ALS Challenge

I just read about Quilter's Dream Batting sponsoring a challenge in support of ALS--Lou Gehrig's Disease. Here is some info.....
◦To raise awareness of ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease

◦To provide quilts & bring recognition, hope, and warmth to the lives of ALS patients
◦To raise funds for research for treatment and a cure
Please give the gift of a quilt to warm the life, the heart and the lap of an ALS patient, and help raise awareness and research money for ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease. To be a part of the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge - Simply fill out your entry form and donate your quilts today.
Here's the link if you want to know more. 
I packed up a small scrap quilt to send off tomorrow.  It needs a new home.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fractured block?

This is the block I worked on for the AK quilt using the inset strips technique from the Art Quilt Workbook.  I am very pleased with the block, but still think the technique is a pain....  This is not really what the book had in mind, but it captures the image I had in my head of the mountains. 
 Truthfully this is a fractured bargello type technique. I never completed one of those and now I know why!
I used the same blues for the sky and mountain top as I used for the background of the purple moose and fireweed blocks.   Hopefully a little consistency in fabrics will help make this quilt work.  Guess I have learned a few things from doing all the art projects.  And by doing all the exercises I am getting blocks done for the AK quilt.  I like that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


That's what we call them---furkins.  Here is Logan, Lucy, and Songo piled on the bed at Deana's.  She also had 2 other dogs, Phoebe and Nick. 
Lucy's sick right now---vets think she has a low thyroid, but also some type of infection.  She is such a sweetie, so I thought I would share a photo of her.
  I am working on another block for the AK quilt.  It's an experiment to blend fabrics for the mountains with inset strips.  I know I said I didn't like the technique, but I decided to try one more time.  I hate to let something get the best of me. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quilt stand--gift #60--finally

For my birthday in December, I got quite a few "iou's" from Russ.  Today he cashed one in.  The quilt display stand is finished and he put it all together this afternoon.  He made a few improvements on the original design by making it about 8 inches taller, and adding a couple more rungs in the back for hanging quilts.   I think it is beautiful and can't wait to fill it up.  I figure I can get at least a dozen quilts on for every month!  Thank you, Russ, I love it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remy was here!

A fun afternoon with Remy. 
 Here's his letter ;) to his mom.....

Dear Mommy,   
I hope you are having a good vacation. I am. Today I went to Clarke's Cove. I played and had fun.   Aunt Deb let me pick my lunch in the garden. The daisies were good, but I didn't like the weeds too much.   It was a long way up to the road to get the mail.  I was tired.
Then Uncle Russ let me have a lot of fun driving the Mustang. I went very fast, and very far. I drove a long, long time. I told Uncle Russ I was sorry about the radio. It doesn't work any more. I love you and miss you. 
Your Remy

He is now 17 months old and into everything, and interested in everything too.  But the car was the big attraction. And don't worry I really fed him pizza for lunch. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Monday's art quilt project

Yesterday I was determined to stay on schedule and get to the Art Quilt Workbook  project.  My inspiration was a photo of the moors in Devon, England.  Each field seemed to be a different shade of green and was bounded by stone walls.
I began by sewing hunks of green fabrics together  (for the fields) to get a large enough piece to cut and slash apart for insets.  The inset fabric is a rock print, like they often use to divide the fields.   Then I added the curved piece for the sky, and decided to add a curved section for the foreground. 
But I don't like the  strong line between the greens in the middle.  Even adding yarns to soften the lines doesn't work for me.  Russ was harsher---ugh.

Insight Inset strips are  not my favorite technique.  But I am enjoying the curved seam technique---done by top stitching. 
I have decided what to do with the other block from the first exercise with curved seams.  It is the reverse placement of the background fabrics that I did the purple moose on.  Since the moose is going to be in my AK quilt, I think this  other block will be a great background for the  fire weed wild flower that  I have been working on.  The  pattern is based on the road signs we saw of the fire weed areas.   Here's  block two for the AK quilt.

 Insight:   Who knew I would be brave enough to draw my own patterns?   Not me, but I am. 

So, to tackle the theme project again.....I decided to take a different path and use the stack and shuffle method to create the moors.  I only used 3 greens this time and used inset strips in a couple of places and yarn in another.  Much better this time.  I just whacked off the bottom on the first one to create the foreground.  And I like the sky fabric better too.  Yep, think I am done here.
Happy stitching.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Coral Reef quilted

I finished up the quilting and binding on Coral Reef.  I used a small stippling in all the water--with a few bubbles--and  outline stitched the main elements.  There's a lot of texture in this now and dimension on some of the large fish and sea shell at the bottom.  I found just enough scraps for the binding that had  the turquoise blue of the water in it. 
I woke up Saturday with an inspiration for the theme project in the art quilt series for innovative piecing.  A good night's sleep does wonders!  I plan on using inset strips and curved piecing on it.  Now off to find the right greens for the fields and fabric for the rocks. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Garden sights

The lace cap hydrangea is just starting to open.  I love  the color combination of this one.

A favorite day lily called buttered popcorn!
Coneflowers are beginning to bloom too.  Note the friendly bee having some lunch on this one.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blending fabrics

When I first began quilting about 25 years ago,  I was taught that a good quilt included a light fabric, a dark fabric, and  a bright fabric.  Very traditional and correct, I guess.  Most of my early quilts--wall hangings usually-- followed that rule, too.  You might also notice that I don't feature any of them now.  Not only has the quilting world changed, so has my focus.  I still love traditional patterns, but prefer to put my own stamp on them.  I am not very good at following the rules.  So scrappy quilts and watercolor type quilts suit me just fine.  I like to find the surprise in each one. 
I had an email from someone who stumbled across my blog  asking about how do I blend fabrics.  They had seen The World is a Garden on Mary Jo's blog.  So I thought I would share part of the lesson I am doing on blending.
Blending the fabric squares is what creates the watercolor illusion. Nature abhors hard edges and straight lines, and so that is why blending is important. The seam lines when we sew the squares together will create straight lines, so we need to create that illusion of one square flowing and blending into the next one.
Look out your window at a tree or plant. First you see shape and color, then you see the shadow areas that are darker. Then you might notice the light that fills in through the leaves. There may be spots of other color behind the leaves or branches from another plant. That's the blended effect we want to create. 
Value is the main way to achieve this look, but not the only one. Sometimes I use the background color to blend from light to medium to dark, or it may be the flower or leaf color that I use to blend to the next square.
This photo shows how I blend from the dark at the bottom to the medium close prints to a fabric with a light background---in 4 squares. As you look at the photo, remember that ¼ inch from each side of the square will be lost in the seam line. Look at the red flower square--- the square below it has a touch of red and yellow at the touching edge. Although most will be lost in the seam line, there will be a hint of color that touches and it will fool the eye to blend the line. Now look above the red flower to the green leaves in the two touching squares. The greens are not the same but they are the same value. Again they will merge and not hard line for the eye to see. 
Now look at the purple and green square that is diagonal to the red flower. This is a great fabric because it has both light and dark areas and just a hint of a dark background that shows. The bit of white on the right edge will merge with the small white flower to its right. And the purple and green at the top lead right to a medium print on a light background at the top and to the left also.
The keys to achieving blending......value, background color and value, leaf color and value, flower color and value.
This applies to selecting fabrics for a traditional pattern like the trip around the world, or courthouse steps.   This is Summer Garden 2006 that is done in all floral fabrics using the courthouse steps pattern set on point.  The value radiates from the center outward.  The center blocks were done using light color fabrics. Then a set of blocks with medium fabrics with lights  on one side.  The last set was made using darks with medium values on one side of the steps. 
OK, enough class room time.  I have to finish up the sourdough bread I am making.  Deana bought me a starter packet while we were in Alaska.  So, off to the kitchen.  Happy stitching.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bitten again!

We worked in the yard for a few hours yesterday morning, and I got bitten again like last year.  This time it is on my hand and elbow.  I started the benadryl immediately and have been so fuzzy headed for the last 24 hours.  The swelling is down, but the itching is awful.  Hope I got started soon enough and it doesn't turn purple like my arm did last year.....of course then I would match my moose!  
So I am straightening the sewing room up in hopes of getting back to work on the coral reef and get it finished when my head clears.  Then on to preparing for the watercolor class.
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