A View of My Quilt Life

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Presenting ... "Connections"

Connections - 34" x 43"
It's Done!  The last binding stitch was put in on Thanksgiving night, while watching a movie with the DH, surrounded by our cats & dogs - most fitting I think.  And just in time to be my entry into the NYC Mod Quilt Guild DWR Challenge, and in celebration of our 10th Anniversary coming up in January.

center rings up close and personal

 This quilt was fun to design and make, blending the old and new.  While there are great acrylic templates available out there (and I even bought one), using it/them would have made this quilt fairly large - not what I was looking to do. We are planning on hanging this quilt over the front door so size was a consideration, not to mention I wanted the background to only be one piece. So, all of the applique pieces were cut by hand using cereal box cardboard templates (with special 'help' from a cat who tried to eat the arc template - ARGH!) and hand appliqued. The arrangement is modern/arty, the machine quilting was marked with silver pencil by drawing around the cardboard applique templates and the binding was the background fabric, wrapped to the back and hand stitched down.  The fabric is all hand dyed Cherrywood cotton, in the Renaissance colorway, which has been in my stash for several years waiting for the right project to come along.

Yes - you are not imagining things - the rounded corners are of two different sizes and follow the curve of the quilted rings.  Deciding on how to quilt this was the hardest part.  I wanted to try so many different patterns - free form flames, hard right angle paths and boxes with different textures, sunrays, etc. - all sketched on paper, all of which ended up wadded up in the garbage can.  Overthinking to the max!! I drove the DH to distraction with my frustrated drawings.  Finally, I made myself go down the sewing area, set the sketchbook aside and listen to what the quilt was telling me. DUH!!  I truly cannot imagine it being quilted any other way and me liking it any more. 

Here's the back, blowing in today's wind. There's nothing like having beautiful sunshine - thank you - and a quilt flapping in the stiff breeze, except when you are trying to take a picture of it.  The dogs were outside helping me but thankfully stayed out of my way.

The machine quilting was done on my trusty Singer workhorse, with the feed dogs up, using YLI machine quilting cotton thread.  
This next picture is not the best (taken into the sunlight) but I liked the way you can see the colored arcs ghosting through the back.

Just need to add the label later today.  I am very happy with this finish!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I am Thankful for

in addition to the normal things I am thankful for - husband, family, friends, our pets, my blog, etc. - I am thankful for...

I promise you they are straight, level and anchored into the wall seven ways to Sunday!  The DH engineered these thing so they will not fall down in the face of a Zombie Apocalypse! We still have to paint the shiny silver hardware black so they won't be noticeable. The miscellaneous items/boxes are just place holders to de-sensitize the cats to the new shelves before I put any breakables on display. There is another one to put up on this wall, directly below the one on the left side. YAY!  I can't wait to unpack some boxes!
I am also thankful that my DWR is completely quilted and bound!  I finished after dark today so pictures have to wait.  As soon as I can,  I will be posting pictures here and of course uploading it the NYC Mod Quilt Guild DWR Challenge
Tomorrow is the start of Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice Mystery  I've never done one of her mystery quilts but I'm going to give it a try this year.  The colors Bonnie has selected from Olympic Paints paint chips are:
Hmm, I really don't have many fat quarters in these oranges or yellows, and shopping is not an option, so I have to shift those two colors a bit.  To make this quilt more me, I'll make it in all batiks. and I do have tons of Blues and Greens in batiks so I'm covered there.   I finally hit the stash this afternoon and pulled the fats out and into piles.  I just need to add some neutral batiks and I ready to go.
Very early tomorrow, I am headed out for a day long Road Trip so I won't be starting the mystery until at least Sunday.  This should be interesting!

The Neefling Thanksgiving

I hope all of you are gathered with friends and family, enjoying this special day.

We do things a little different around here on Thanksgiving. 
It all started years ago, when most all our friends still ran around to various family members houses, spending most of their time cleaning, cooking & driving, only to end up being thankful to finally get home or sit down exhausted from the drama at the end of the day.  We didn't do that.  The friends looked on with astonishment as we explained that we simply retreat into our own space, well provisioned with delectable edibles, watched movies, do some hand stitching and are thankful for each other, this wonderfully quiet time and our animals that bring joy to our lives.  Our friend Maddie dubbed our way of doing the day as "The Neefling Thanksgiving". 
No driving across the countryside in whatever weather there was.  No arguing over who gets the turkey leg. No having to make sure to spend equal time at both families house.  No watching endless football games. And we get sole possession of all the leftovers, especially dessert (homemade custard pie)!
Over the years, the menu has varied.  Yes, I have cooked a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings - for two people.  But I've also  done salmon & seafood, pork wellington, and beef roast.
Our favorite way to do the day is carpet picnic! We gather an assortment of appetizers, hot and cold, and graze our way through them all day as the mood strikes us. Then, at some point, I chuck something in the oven - this year its a rolled Pork Roast Florentine, a la Trader Joe's - and whip up some quick sides.  Yes - Pork this year.  Mostly because our friends Pam & Tony are roasting a local farm raised, fresh 30# turkey on Thursday and we'll be having their leftovers on Saturday's Game Day!
Now for the thanksgiving part of Thanksgiving.
This year I am thankful for this blog. It allows me to share random thoughts, candid pictures, and work out those design decisions, while tracking my quilt journey. And I'm thankful to all those who choose to follow along. Hopefully you all enjoy the ride.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Believe it or not

Summer Stripes is ready to be a quilt sandwich!  Yesterday was a extremely cold day for November (with the wind chill it was a whopping 4 at 2:00 in the afternoon), perfect for stitching most all day. There have been a few thing hanging around that need to done - namely the DWR needs to be completely finished & posted by December 1st, so of course I started working on the Summer Stripes quilt.  I was just clearing the decks, you know, loosening up before hunkering down to machine quilt... okay, I was procrastinating but more on that later. 
I figured out how I wanted to do the borders.  On Friday, I made and sewed down the black 1/8" flange so I was all ready to sew the border hunks and corners on.

I realized I had a lot of striped fabric left on the cutting table & I'm pretty sure I don't want to look at it again in a project in the near future, so I started cutting large squares to piece the quilt back.  Someone had to help me by supervising. 
Back's done!
Not wanting to sandwich it now because I really need to get to machine quilting the DWR, I folded up Summer Stripes top & backing and got down to business...
doing the necessary figuring on the quilt math word problem "Can I make 2 identical French Braid quilts with the fabric I have on hand?" 
This required the calculator, a cuppa and some snacks, which equaled more procrastinating. But finally, I cleared the decks, wound some bobbins, threaded the machine and faced the DWR. 
I NEED to Embrace the Wide Open Space. 
So I started in the confined middle where it's safe.
There's always tomorrow.   But then I'm really, really going to have to focus on quilting this thing - the clock is ticking!
PS. The answer to the quilt math is no. I'm short on two braid run colors, the accent stripe, and the ending triangles. Haven't even considered the border stripe fabric design yet so I'm pretty sure I'll be short there too.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cat Training - HA!

A little stitching got done yesterday in between chores but not enough to show you yet.  It's suppose to be cold (twenties with wind - brrr) all weekend & I'll be hunkered down with a new space heater in the sewing area with the DH is indulging in a Dr. Who marathon.  Every once in awhile, I'll have to come up, poke him and of course, feed him something yummy.

As the finishing house projects continue, we have to take the animals into consideration as we change their surroundings.  The new kitchen table is pub table set, which puts the cats up higher, even though they are NOT supposed to be on it. 

The new height puts them in closer proximity to the kitchen shelves that will once again display my collection of salt glaze pottery and my Grammy's kitchen utensils.  Now, they may not even bother anything but some interest was shown when just the shelves were reinstalled and we are not taking any chances. So, we have put up placeholders to desensitize the cats.
And the re-shelving of the house moves on to the living room. Here the Girl Kitties take advantage of us checking out the proposed box/shelf arrangement to see if these shelves are comfy enough. 
Thankfully, DH is engineering the hanging system for the living room to withstand an earthquake or the unexpected landing force of a 20 pound cat, whichever is greater.  It will be awhile before I put our art glass collection & other breakables in the display boxes!  Need to go find the earthquake putty...

Friday, November 22, 2013

November Catch Up

Back on November 3rd, I attended the Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild ( CLMQG Blog ) meeting/program and never blogged about it. Shame on me!  On of their members, Shannon, found me thru Melody Johnson's blog Fibermania and invited me to attend.  I am glad I went!  While I don't consider myself only a modern quilter, I have dabbled.
The meeting was attended by 32 members and 14 guests - the place was packed.  Business was taken care of quickly in order to move on to their guest speaker on the day - Jacquie Gering (Tallgrass Prairie Studio ).  Before she started her presentation, I kept having the weird 'but I know I know her from somewhere' feeling.  I'd been on Jacquie's blog before and I knew she had been recently featured in AQS' American Quilter Magazine - that's her quilt 'Balancing Act' on the cover.
DUH - I can be so slow sometimes!  Put the AQS article with the quilt featured on the front together with listening to Jacquie start her talk & it finally clicked!  I had attended an Author's Roundtable up at the AQS Grand Rapids show back in August that she participated in. This setting was much more intimate and of course, her talk was more in depth.  I was very inspired by her quilts and her approach to quilting.  Fortunately, I was able to snag one of the last copies of her book that she brought along and got it autographed. 
Check it out (and her blog) if you get the opportunity.  And finally, on November 17th, Jacquie announced that she had been elected to be Chairman of the Board of the MQG!!  How cool is that!
And now for some 'back in the sewing dungeon area' action - I took a break from the French Braid quilt because I have some serious quilt math to do to see if I can really squeak out two F. Braid quilts from the fabric I have on hand and I'm avoiding it at the moment.  Oh look, here are some nine patch blocks that need to be worked on, let's do that instead.  
 I also figured out how I am going to border this quilt but those pictures will have to wait until I actually sew the borders on the quilt, maybe later today.  See I can do scrappy, as long as it's all completely planned out.  OK, so it's a control issue thing... I'm working on it!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm Getting Serious Attitude

And it's all coming from her.  Zena is so mad, she won't look at me.

NOPE - not going to look at me.

It's all because DH has started a new house project.  After 10 years, we are finally able to replace the main stairway fan.  It's so much easier to do house projects when you have the right tools for the job. In this case, a 26 foot multi-positional, contortionist, telescoping, darn heavy ladder. I didn't get a picture of the old fan intact but here is the motor still hanging, Yes - it antiqued brass and the blades had plastic rattan inserts. *shudder* The light did not have its own pull chain so it was either the fan & light on or the fan & light off.  When the bulb burned out - it was a good thing!
It helps that the DH is tall, has a functioning hip now and is not horribly afraid of heights, like I can be sometimes.  Here is the new fan all installed and it actually matches the dining room light. Normally the dining room light would be hanging lower over a table but we don't have a table & DH kept whacking his head on it going to the dog crates at meal times.
 The attitude, or cat-titude, is because we won't let her climb on the very tall ladder when it is set up, particularly when it is set up on the stairs!  My job in this project was to assemble the fan blades, read the instructions, hand DH things or take them from him and keep Zena off the ladder!  Easier said than done - I couldn't get a picture because I had to get her down - twice - before she fell or I had a heart attack over her antics. This cat is afraid of nothing!  The other two cats wouldn't dream of climbing on the indoor jungle gym.  Zena will get her revenge, I'm sure, 'helping' me get some stitching done.  Or when DH & I start the next house project later this week.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

While the Rain Came Down...

On Sunday, I was away with fabric.  A few years ago, a friend of mine was in Shipshewana with me when the quilting bug hit her.  Or more accurately, we were admiring the selection of gorgeous Oriental fabrics in Lolly's Fabrics & Quilts, when Pam realized they would be perfect for Shar Pei quilts and that I could make them for her.
Let me digress, Pam & her DH breed & show Chinese Shar Pei. 

 We have one of their dogs - Drake, aka, my shadow, or more formally known as AKC CH. Magik's Redfyre Renaissance Man.
Now, Pam can sew. They have a custom embroidery business. They make period garb for Renaissance fairs. She DOES NOT quilt. Period, end of discussion. Not going to happen in this lifetime. (Well, we'll just have to see about that, now won't we - insert evil laugh here)
What Pam did do that day was completely run amok shopping in the Oriental fabric selection. And now it's finally time to get down to the nitty-gritty job of designing and making of those quilts. Yes - plural - quilts.

Aren't these just gorgeous fabrics!! This is going to be quite the project, er, projects.  One of the main challenges will be deciding which design will work best for each of the fabric group. And then there's size, use, quilting, etc.  So far, all we have is that one will be a queen size bed quilt & one will be a tribute wall hanging. Time to get started as this will be ongoing for the next several months!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Illiniois' Recent Tornado Outbreak

I did not post this yesterday because I wasn't ready to.
This past Sunday, a very bad storm system spawned an outbreak of 80 tornadoes, leaving a path of destruction over 125 miles long from Washington to Frankfort, Illinois, as it traveled northeast. 
It was not near us though we had heavy rain and winds - we are fine. There were severe weather conditions at times in the area.

All of our loved ones are safe.  By the grace of the Universe, our friends Mike and Martha (Thistle Rose Weaving ), are safe. They live 7.25 miles northeast of the town of Washington, IL, most of which was extremely damaged.  I spoke with Martha just as they were seeking shelter, the tornado about ten minutes away, heading right for them.
They are safe and unharmed, though the house was impaled by flying debris and the free standing garage lost part of its roof.  At one point, a neighbor who is a volunteer fireman looked out and saw a tornado right at the back of their house.  Apparently, the tornado veered to the east just as it hit their property line. Several of the neighboring farms are gone. Barns, house, outbuildings, livestock were wiped out. As of yesterday, all persons in their immediate area are thankfully accounted for. 
Since Mike and Martha are running on a generator, she won't be online for awhile, as power can't be restored until all the demolished electric line poles are replaced.  We are just so grateful they are okay.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are We Going Shopping or Not??

That is the million dollar question today.  I have a list of things we need. Most of the things are in preparation for Thanksgiving (I so don't like to shop the week of Thanksgiving if I can help it). But a few things are critical - like Kleenex.  So what's the problem? Besides not having any back stock of Kleenex in the house, I mean really!
The problem is I have very low energy today. I blame that on yesterday's wretched stormy weather and the fact DH wants to go with me.  I LOVE my husband, I really, really do.  It's just that He is so expensive. It's like taking a 7 year old and a twelve year old, rolled into a 6' 4" man to the candy/video game/electronic store!  It takes a lot of my energy to keep him from loading up the shopping cart and exploding the budget.  No, it doesn't matter what store we need to go to, it will cost money.  And today is Wal-Mart and Home Depot and maybe Trader Joe's.  Oh No - The checkbook is going to self destruct.
With luck, I'll be in the sewing area later this afternoon - lots to do!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slow Start Sunday

We've been up for almost 2 hours, not moving very fast but we're up. Well, at least some of us are still awake.
The French Braid top is on the wall!  It's been awhile since I last made this pattern and I forget that the braids are done until the ending triangles are on. And that they are a pain. Not a huge pain but pain.  Ending triangles are bias edges. 
So I have to go slow and minimize handling, which I can do easily enough but I was in more of a mindless chain stitching mindset so I really had to pay attention.  I worked 1 braid at a time, slicing the 2 large squares in half to make the triangles right on the mat on the machine table and didn't move them. Only when I am sitting down braid end in hand did I pick up a triangle, pin in place and stitched it immediately. Then repeat on the other end, press the first two flat, return to the machine and add the other two triangles - one on each end and one at a time. TWENY-EIGHT times!

 Slow but steady & no stretched out of shape, wavy weirdness to overcome. YAY! More bias edges come into play when you trim the braids square, or square-ish.  The whole length of the braid is made up of the nasty little buggers! ACK!  But I LOVE this pattern - all about the color play.
The top is currently assembled in three sections (yellow lines above show breaks) so I can finish this using a quilt as you go method.  The borders are still undetermined - that should be interesting.  A quilt this big doesn't allow me to take straight on pictures of it in my sewing area and it rained all day.
The search for a backing never happened.  Maybe I'll get lucky today as I gather fabric for an away from home adventure.  No, not a road trip, but you'll have to come back to see how I spend my Sunday away.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Braids Done!

This will be quick - the braids are done for the French Braid quilt. 
I need to add the ending triangles and add a few narrow accent stripes for today's sewing. I think this will be done as a quilt as you go project.  I've done several large quilts in this way & its much easier on the hands and frustration level.  Need to go check to see what I have for quilt backing... hopefully the stash come through on this.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Taste of Winter

As part of yesterday's cutting table cleanup, new fabric got washed but rather than run the dryer, I took advantage of the breeze.  It was clear, breezy but cold.
Snow on the Ground, Batiks on the Line
And since our fenced yard is small, it stays a little warmer so we've had geraniums until Monday's snowfall.
Geraniums and Rosemary Frosted with Snow
On to the cutting table today, but probably no sewing until late today or tomorrow.  Hoping to sneak out to the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Tinley Park. 

Moving a little slow this morning as I rode last evening.   Only two other riders in the lesson so we rode our butts off, presenting the horse with some interesting skill tests and combination.  I rode Fire, who had been having a few 'ain't gonna do it' meltdowns lately.  He & I usually click & last night he was on. We successfully, calmly walked over the dreaded 'water' (crinkly blue tarp) several times both following another horse & by himself! Go Fire!  I even had him stop and stand right in the middle of the 'water'. 
The snow has all melted and we should see some sun - YAY!!