Saturday, June 30, 2012

Something new to grab

   You meet the greatest people in blog land.  I am so blown away with the complete kindness and generous spirit of quilters here.  Such  a blogger is Mrs. Techie Claus,  Dana at Stormy Days .  She offered to "play" around and see what she could come up with for a button/logo for the Mrs. Claus project for me.   And overnight, she sent me a selection of buttons to try.  Note:  She is in sewing machine withdrawal right now, waiting for parts for her best little stitching time was lost, even if she pulled out her hair over this for me.  Do drop over and thank her...and enjoy her blog while you are there.
  I could not make up my mind on just wonderful Dana created both for me.   Isn't he the cutest reindeer!
 And the tree is so me!  So feel free to select your favorite and spread the news about the doll quilts.  

   The buttons along with the grab code are on my side bar.   They will directly link to the Get Your Mrs. Claus On page where all the photos and details of the project are.  I'm so excited over this.  Many thanks to Dana  for her hard work.
I'm going to stitch a little bit while I watch some more Olympic trials.....I love all the courage and determination that our athletes have.  They inspire me.  Happy stitching.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do you like Pina Coladas?

     You know those fruity drinks with the little umbrellas that remind you of the tropical islands.  Pina Coladas are the one drink I do like.  Anyway,   Cheree at Morning Latte  shared a recipe for  Pina Colada Zucchini Bread  a while back.  I thought it sounded good and stored it away for the future.   When Sir Old Man picked up a bag of aging bananas at the store this week....very aging and very cheap, I knew what I could do with about half of the bag.    So I sort of blended my favorite banana bread recipe with Cheree's recipe and came up with Pina Colada Banana Bread.

   The changes I made were few.  8 mashed bananas for the zucchini, reduced sugar to 2 Cups, 1 C shortening for the oil.  The pineapple is a great addition to the bananas.  I ended up with 2  regular loaves and 3 mini loaves from this recipe.  This  is a keeper---and will be great to share with others.    
    Thanks, Cheree, for the inspiration from your garden.   I wish you could smell and taste this good.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Use it or lose it

 Adage:   Simple words of wisdom often passed down from mothers to children.  I have a treasure trove of them from my Mom.  Today's is  Use it or lose  a couple of  ways. 
   Muscle memory----I keep hearing that over and over, from free motion quilting to the therapist.  So let's get that out of the way first.  Day 67:   PT put the hurt on yesterday.....lots of stretching and the good news the rotor cuff is not frozen but the muscles have shortened.  Tears flowed but I got the arm up and managed to touch my head!  That sounds strange, but  to me it was a miracle.  Now to revive the memory in  the upper muscles. My brain says move to them and nothing happens;  they need to "learn" or relearn the action I want.  That is muscle memory.
  Second form of muscle  memory is free motion quilting.  This is the year of the Free Motion Quilting Challenge.  I got through April before the injury and I completely missed May.  And now it is the end of June.  I worked so hard to learn muscle memory and improve in this area, I just have to try again.  This month is taught by Cindy Needham  and repetitive designs are the focus.  She also has a great discussion on disequilibrium---teaching the brain a new trick causes an unbalance.  That's me right now!   Even if you are not participating in the challenge, it would be worth the time to check out the lessons.
    I spent a couple of days working on the tutorial for this month.....the results are not great.  I have not used it and have taken a couple of steps back.   I am not in full control doing repetitive lines.....need work there.  
But I will be brave and show what I ended up with. What I do know is  that I need more practice, and I do not like doing the pebbles or the geometric designs.  I love seeing them on quilts....I just don't like stitching them.   So another practice sandwich will be prepped and I will do this one again.  Use it or lose it.   

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mrs. Claus and the quilts

Two boxes of doll quilts arrived today.  The first 15 from the quilters at HGTV Message Board.

The second box of 30 doll quilts came from one wonderful quilter, and all from her stash.  
Each one was similar in style, and so filled with color.  I ran out of floor space to show them all.  

The stack of new arrivals.
The stack----with all the doll quilts----drum roll and cymbals-----130!
To all the wonderful Mrs. Claus around the world,
Last November I never dreamed this small project would touch so many hearts.  In the grand scheme of the world , it is a small project, but has an amazing effect on each of us.  Our work to create a small doll quilt of our stashed and horded fabrics, or of our leftover blocks and strips, has become an amazing journey.  Your hand work may inspired a young girl to become a quilter one day, or to learn to sew.  She may try harder, love deeper, feel stronger because you cared.   The quilters who have participated   have learned new techniques, improved their skills, and spread their love of fiber and thread.  They seek to leave a legacy in their giving and caring.  Others have donated fabric, and batting and been such an encouragement to the entire project.   So, even though I may not know each of you, I am sending hugs and blessings to each of you.  Thank you.
And just wait till those elves hear about this!  And there are more to come...... Happy stitching.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

You have to squint....

  Day 65---Slightly stiff  today...probably the heat and humidity.  I am looking forward to PT this week so they can manipulate and relax some of those muscles around the rotor cuff that are frozen.
    I managed a little sewing over the last couple of days.  So I have 3 runs completed and have 3 more stacked up to sew of the floral braid.  This is just a temporary arrangement until I get the rest done and then I will play with the runs and see what happens.  You have to squint or stand back a bit to get the real blended effect.  
The braid is about 30 inches long, so this will be a small one.   I will finish off the points with triangles.  

 Have you noticed or seen the Winter Olympic banners?   I am intrigued by them....blending and bold colors.  Good inspiration here,  maybe a couple of seasonal banners based on them?  Not sure, still playing around with this in my head.  My first impression was 1000 pyramids , but not in various sizes, a piecing nightmare!   But I bet we will be seeing quilts inspired by them all over soon.
Happy stitching.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dinner guests

We spotted a visitor in the back yard just about dinner time.  She was just calmly nibbling away under the Maple tree by the garden shed.  

Oops!   I think I made too much noise trying to slip out onto the path the take a photo.

And a small friend watched the whole thing and enjoyed a few greens.
The heat and humidity have set in on us for the next week.  Stay cool and sew.  Happy stitching.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Selecting fabrics for watercolor

 Two more questions  came about selecting fabrics for a water color quilt and for a blooming 9 patch, which uses  the blending technique to achieve a similar effect.   For the blooming 9 patch, whether you are using  5, 7, or 9 fabrics, fabric selection is important in the beginning.  You need light, medium, and dark values in the  fabrics that will blend together as you add each row outward.  So here  are a  few photos to show some of the fabrics  I  use.   I will try to give a better explanation of why they work for this technique.  

  On the right are the "light fabrics".  There is more background color---from white to light tan---showing and the design or print is light or faint looking.  Note the low contrast between the background and the print.   These can be hard to find, so when I do discover them, I buy a lot!
  Update note:  Janet reminded me that often the backside of a fabric will work for a light.  When you have a difficult time finding the right fabric, flip it over and see what the back side looks like.  It could be just what you need!  Thanks, Janet.  
   On the left, are some light medium fabrics.  Again, the background is light, but the print is stronger and has more contrast with the background.  The one on the far left is a great example of a "sprigged" print.  A 2" square of this one can blend into a very light area like a sprig the extends from a branch of a tree.

 The above photo are a collection of medium fabrics.   These are the work horses in watercolor.....they often bridge from a lighter  area to a darker well as being the most used.  The background may range from light to darker cream, or  tan....maybe a light green even.  The design is darker and in good contrast with the background.  Usually there is less background that shows, making them "closer packed".  

And the dark fabrics......give the watercolor depth and life.  The background color is, brown, blue, green.....and the design has strong contrast.   The areas of light and dark on the dark background provide the way to blend and merge the squares for a water color.  

  I talk so much about the right fabric, I thought I should also mention the wrong ones.  These are great fabrics, they just don't work well for blending in a watercolor.  Why?   Mainly because  they are one or two color fabrics.  Either they "read" as a solid or a polka dot from a distance.    Step back from the computer and look at them again.   The second fabric---purple paisley---fooled me when I bought it.  I thought it would work, but just does not blend well because the design is so evenly spaced.  So save these fabrics for another project or turn them into backings.                 Thanks for the questions, hope this will help with your fabric selection for a watercolor project.  
   Happy stitching.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


 Overflowing with doll quilts for Get Your Mrs. Claus On, that is.   And that is a very good thing.  

  I discovered a few more photos that I had not uploaded.  It was raining the week these I just scattered them in the entry way.    These are from the group at HGTV Board.  Hand tied, machine quilted, appliqued, strip pieced, cheater panels, and a few whole cloth quilts.....such a wonderful assortment.  I don't know how to describe how precious these are.
    You see, it is day 61 of the shoulder event, and I had just been lamenting about this project, and trying to figure out how to finish up the rest that would be needed.  My sewing time is limited to about 30 to 45 minutes....after that the muscles required in the left arm turn to jelly and refuse to work.   Although I am healing and improving,  the muscle strength and stamina has a long way to go.
  And then, I get an email from Nicki about a huge, huge assortment of doll quilts she just received.  That is why I describe this post as "overflowing".....I know that we will have enough doll quilts this year.
 Yes, there is a Mrs. Claus, this year and  next year too, I hope.  Thank you so much, each  and every Mrs. Claus, for all your help and hard work.  I send hugs to all of you.
  I do have a request.....I think we need a better logo or design for this project.  Does anyone have the time or talent for creating a simple logo for Get Your Mrs. Claus On?   Please let me know, I would so appreciate it.  
  OK,  I need to let those elves, and the Pesky Elf  especially, know about this bounty.  They have a lot of work to do to keep up with the quilting Mrs. Claus group.  Happy stitching.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another start

  Day 56 and  yesterday, for the first time in 8 weeks, I was allowed to raise and move  my arm away from my body with assistance!  That is a huge for me.  After PT,   I have a whole new set of exercises  to do and a few to help with the back and leg problems.  I have been able to do some  stitching by keeping the arm supported and using fingers mainly.....but now I can actually allow the arm to stretch out, still with support.  But movement is wonderful, and I was so ready.  So I celebrated last night with a new start.

     Another braid.....I have been playing around with this in my mind for a while, so I listened to Dana's suggestion ( Thank you for encouraging me!) and played with fabric strips and scraps during the last couple of weeks.  Last night I sewed a run to see how it worked.    I used all floral fabrics---told you I had a big stash---to construct a simple braid beginning with a medium light fabric to a very dark fabric.  I plan on joining the runs without a separator strip, so that the individual runs merge and blend together.
    Next to questions  I get about making about water color quilts, questions about making a braid come in second.   The technique is simple, and  the sewing is easy.  There will be some waste when the edges are cut and joined, but I would rather have the small waste than work with bias edges on this.

  Once the strips/scraps are laid out to achieve the blending of dark to light, they are stacked up in the order to be sewn.   I begin with a 2" square and add 2" strips to each side.    To the first side I add a strip that is 4" long, and then the second strip  of 6 "  is added to the other side.    Just keep adding the strips in order---first to one side and then the other---to get the length you want.  

   The next most common question is about blending the fabrics.  It takes time and patience to figure this out.  And a lot of variety of fabrics with different values in them.   This close up photo shows the blending from light on the left to the darker fabrics.  In a close up you can see the different prints, and how the background value goes from light or white to a little darker tan to a dark black.  The prints tend to merge and blend where they are joined.  Squint at it and see what I mean.
     Some day I may try this technique with just scraps and  put everything in....I have seen some wonderful scrap quilts made this way.  But this one will be done as a color wash with blending.   Hard to give up what I love so much.  Happy stitching.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Laughter is medicine

  Need a big belly laugh?  My uncle sent me this video of an all time favorite---Carol Burnett.  Just her expressions are priceless, and her antics are so funny.  Enjoy, if you dare.

  It is day 54 for me.  Status is the holding pattern.  But a good laugh improves my outlook.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blooming garden

    I mean just about everything is in bloom!  Both of these photos are of the large front island bed.  It is anchored by a maple and cherry tree at either end, and the center is filled with day lilies, cone flowers, and other perennials.  Just ignore the stray weed and clumps of grass....I do right now.   
    I've spent a lot more time on the porch---directing Sir Old Man as he did some yard maintenance for me.  Still the day lilies and cone flowers and peonies need to be divided.  He just trimmed back the rosemary, and I have to  rinse some pieces for him to chop and freeze.

    It is day 50 of the shoulder event....that translates to 7 weeks.  The word for this week is painful.  At PT, my therapist worked on my neck muscles which are one big knot from wearing the sling.... and causing me to have back spasms also.    So I have not been very productive this week at all....mainly staring at "the wall".

     Insight:  The wall, like in hitting the wall...not the design wall.  It is the stopping point, that mental block that stops you in your tracks and makes you doubt yourself and your abilities, and it  saps  your inner strength.   That wall.   Dig deep inside yourself.   Avoid it like the plague!

    One  bright spot has been  here.  I think bloggers are a special breed.  They love to send neat emails, and leave kind comments, and send soft, squishy packages to others.   They share their travels and their trials, seek to help and to learn, and  never ask for anything in return.   Blogland is a very special place.  Thanks for dropping in to my corner of the world.  I promise to return to normal soon.  Happy stitching.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


  A few lines from a song was the inspiration  for  Awakening I .   I included the words on each label.
   "Like the sun that rises,  From the darkness comes the light.  
      I hear your voice.   And this is my awakening."
  Each time I heard these words a strong mental image came to mind.  The first shimmer of light each morning....that early morning glow you see (if you arise early enough, that is) that streaks across the sky, peeking out from behind the foliage of the trees.  So my intent was to create the source of light that arises from the dark.

    Here     and here   are posts for the start of Awakening I.  The center of the piece blends out to the border on either side.  The strong contrast of dark to light---border to center area---is a favorite technique I like to use.  It creates a frame/border and  I like the way your eye is drawn around the whole piece.

     But by the time I was almost finished with number 1,  I wanted to try another simpler version.    So number 2 was started as a smaller piece.  I decided not to use as many dark squares, but rather selected more medium value squares.  The light is concentrated in the center and a single fabric was used for the border.    Still I can see the shimmer of the early morning light....and the simple  border gives a calmer view.    Or it could be just a little closer to sunrise?                              

    Once again.....number 3.  I still wanted one more shot at this image.   This one was the example I used for posts on using  negative space.    The  focus here is on the  much larger blooms in the dark areas, and again the light is concentrated.  The border is a  very dark fabric that is separated from the center by an inset strip of gold fabric.    The sun is up in this one.    The difference  in each piece is more obvious seen side by side......
  I think the similarities and differences show well here.  The light just shimmers on them.  

    I couldn't decide which shot or angle I liked I just included them all.    Watercolor quilts are hard to photograph I think.  It is a kind of catch need to be back far enough to see the "illusion" created by the blending, and yet you want to be close enough to pick up some detail.  
  Thanks for viewing and sharing my adventure doing a series.  I hope you might be inspired---just a bit.   I think I've said enough.  Happy stitching.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New assistant

    Do you thread your machine with your right or left hand?   Never thought much about it until I tried to do it with my right hand......unbelievably impossible!   Everything was going the wrong way and I was wasting a few miles of thread here.    Obviously,  I need to new technique to accomplish this feat.   So, on my feet----stand up, place thread in left hand and guide it through the guides and tension, then sit down. Thread the needle with the right hand.    Note----if you ever see someone in class stand up to thread their machine, just know they have problems with the shoulder!
    Now,  I need a few strips cut for more blocks.  Challenge for the quilter with a broken wing......rotary cutting requires 2 hands, one to cut and one to steady the ruler.  I spied a little assistant sitting on my shelf acting as a bookend..... my Grandmother's sad iron.
    I have 2 of these.  They have been  used as doorstops,  bookends, and generally just on display for long time.  They weigh about 7 pounds.   But why are they called sad irons?   Sad is an old term that can also mean flat or heavy.   I can only imagine how awful it was to actually iron clothes with them...I would be feeling sad after using one all day.
    But  this sad iron was an answer to my problem.  I needed something with weight.  So fabric plus slotted ruler plus sad iron plus rotary cutter equals strips.     I would not suggest using the sad iron on the acrylic rulers---the ruler could still shift or the iron could crack the ruler from uneven weight---but on the flat slotted ruler, it works well.
     Cutting strips solved.
     Happy stitching.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy dancing!

     OK, I'm not really dancing.....I promised to behave.  But I am really excited about another email from
Amy at Amy Creative Side and the Bloggers Quilt Festival .
  "Hi there!
I'm happy to tell you that you have won a prize in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival - Congratulations!  "
 What do I say, but Thank You All for encouragement and votes!  I was excited about the nomination....but!    I am not good at this....just know I do appreciate each and every follower and visitor.  I love hearing from those who stop by and enjoy all your questions and comments. There were so many great quilts to view and select....hope you enjoyed all the entries.  Thank you, Amy, for all the effort you put in on this.  
      From me to you.....the above photo was part of my inspiration for Persistence wall hanging.  The fuzzy muted background became the watercolor.  The Goldfinch perches on a branch rather than a coneflower seed head.   Yet you can't deny where my idea came from.  

Insight:   Take lots and lots of photos.  Inspiration may come from  a visual image.  

Thanks again all and  happy stitching!
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