A View of My Quilt Life

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Recap and 2014 NewFO Link Up

August brings the winding down of Summer.  It was a jammed packed month of activities - outside the house and away from the studio, so there's not a ton to share. 

I am participating in Barbara at Cat Patches 2014 NewFO Challenge. Click here to see everyone's new projects  August NewFO Challenge and Linky Party

My August 2014 quilt stats:
1 new top - FINISH!!
This was a NewFO this month - Summer Irish Chain.  This was just a transitional piece - something simple to work on after 4 Finishes in July. 

1 new quilt part - FINISH!!
This was a NewFO this month - shades of red, pink & orange batiks.  This will be the inset, accent part of the New Quilt from Old Favorites - 9 Patch.   I created this as a separate mini quilt so that once it's applied to the rest of the quilt, it will add dimension.

September's focus is the rest of the 9 patch - New Quilt from Old Favorites.

How was your August?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Not a Stitch has been Sewn

in the Studio this week.

Not for lack of trying to want to be inspired to create something. Just not there...yet.  It will come, just need a little down time. But that doesn't give me a lot of blog fodder.

So let's talk AQS quilt show thoughts to share:

1. Love the venue, easy access off the highway, underground parking, big, bright, etc.

2.  Love the guild challenge exhibits - each guild enters 8 quilts from a challenge they held over the past year.  They determine the rules, size, theme, etc.  Some AMAZING creativity and craftsmanship is displayed.

3. The special exhibits were great - though I've seen some of these before.   Like New Quilts from Old Favorites, Carolina Lily.  The Stitch Like An Egyptian exhibit was smaller than the previous two years, the tentmakers were not there in person, but there was a video playing describing their process.

4. It seemed like there were fewer competition quilts hanging. Can't really say for sure but it felt light. The quality was fabulous as always. Very inspiring!!!

5.  Way fewer vendors! This was disappointing to me.  It was definitely a let down after driving all the way up to the show. It seemed like the vendor are has shrunk to about half or less than the first year. 

Bottom line - I will really have to think long and hard before I head up there next year. Yes - I was able to purchase most everything on my shopping list but I was not inspired to buy anything new or decadent. The depth in merchandise simply was not there.  And this totally bums me out since this is my birthday trip.

Flip side - there is the Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, Sept 4-6th, I'm off work that Friday and I heading up there to get my fill of inspiration & shopping - fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sharing the Birthday Shopping

Being both the Empress of the Universe (during birthday season) and the Shopping Maven at the same time means you sometimes have to share the shopping good fortune with the Minions, er, friends.

Part of last week was an almost unplanned trip to Shipshewana. We didn't think we could squeeze it in and do the drive back to Illinois & Wisconsin & make it out to my official birthday dinner, dressed, full of witty conversation without collapsing.  

Wait - back up to the 'we' part first.  This was suppose to be a solo adventure to Michigan for Quilt show and stitching time.  Through a twist of fate, and thanks to a few clients really pissing her off, my friend Pam escaped the corporate bonds for Thursday & Friday! 

 Since she didn't feel up to driving 3 1/2 hours on Wednesday night (sissy!) after a day dealing with the aforementioned clients, we made impromptu plans to meet up at a mall (??!!) in South Bend and head out together from there.  This plan cut off a good hour of travel if she would have come here and then we headed out back down into Indiana. 

We headed to Shipshewana for the things on our list:

A few more colors of Peppered Cottons,

some black poly/cotton blend batting,

some titanium needles,

Klasse Machine Needles

and JAM for me.

Pepperoni for her.   Why on God's Green Earth we have to travel through Chicago, all the way to Amish country Indiana to find decent pepperoni (at a reasonable price) is a mystery but we were here so it's all good! 

I have shared that I was also checking out local tack shops for any interesting bits of tack - new & used.  And while the shops I stopped at on the way home from the quilt show were very nice - nothing jumped out at me.  Kind of a let down but hey, since we were now heading to Shipshe, tack finds might still be possible.

I have been researching tack shops in IL, WI, MI & IN, as well as hunting new & used saddles, learning the different websites for reliable information, the various features of certain brands of current and older models of saddles,  following the progression of old saddlery companies into their rebirth as divisions of new companies, the use of the same/similar models numbers across manufacturers and basically doing the geeky research thing the Shopping Maven is known for.

One website I have checked often for used saddle, discovering they have AWESOME prices on new saddles as well, is the Horse Saddle Shop.  What I hadn't noticed is the small-ish print a the top of the website - 'Visit our Northern Indiana Store'.  Really???!!!   I.AM. AN. IDIOT!!  I missed this - just how dense can I be?  Google maps showed us within a spitting distance on their location. Okay, maybe not that close but it was only a HALF HOUR straight south from the mall where we met up, an hour west of Shipshe but heading back towards my car.  This was a no brainer of a stop - we're here and if we stayed on task, stuck to the shopping list and blew threw the necessary stops, we could do it!  I don't think I've ever made it in & out of Lolly's Fabrics that quickly in my life!

Was it worth it?  YES!  We walked into western saddle heaven - makers, models, styles, new & used all waiting to be found.  Except for the one we were hoping they would have in stock. The one saddle Pam wanted for herself, having ridden it at the barn and me having found the same one used for her husband Tony earlier this year. 

The Horse Saddle Shop had this saddle advertised on their website for $948.  Other shops sell this same saddle for between $1100 to $1400!   But they didn't have it in stock.  Bummer!!!

But wait, the friendly, helpful staff said they could order it for her... at the sale price.  wow!

And then it got interesting.  

Since they would have to call to order it anyway, would it be possible to see if it could be made in another color?  We were reaching for the stars at this point but it couldn't hurt to ask, right?  The saddle is normally made in the Chestnut Brown color. Would they, could they do a different finish?  Both Pam & I were holding our breath, cause the next question is - if they are willing to do a custom order, how much would they charge for it? 

Dig this, Shopping Maven minions - the saddle was to be sold at the sale price of $948, it would be made in the Medium Oil color (shown below on a different saddle) for only an additional $37.50, AND shipped right to her house at NO shipping charge!!!  

A totally custom saddle, in the model Pam wanted delivered for just over $1000., including tax!!   There was much joy and even squeals of delight.  Nice birthday present to herself (October is right around the corner) and I got to share in the excitement. 

And we made it home early Friday afternoon - plenty early to be rested and dressed for dinner!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Birthday Connections

My Birthday celebrating was delayed a bit this year by other happenings but was definitely worth the wait!

Several years ago, I vowed to wake up on my birthday at the Michigan house. 

 While that sounds easy enough, Sweet Man does take exception to that.  It's hard to wish your wife 'Happy Birthday' and start her day off right, when she's 2 and a half hours away!  So now I just try to get close as possible to the actual day.  

I should explain why this was my particular wish because I'm sure some will think it odd.  What's so special about being at the Michigan house on your birthday?   When I was a kid, we were always here for my birthday, having been blessed with spending entire summers running wild on our gravel road, through the woods and across sandy beaches.  

My birthday marked not only me getting a year older, but a reminder that summer was drawing to a close and soon it would be time to head back to the city (ICK!) and school (double ICK!).  Definitely bittersweet birthdays!    

My tie to this place is older than I am - my mom came here earlier in the summer before I was born.  This morning the grass was heavy with dew from overnight rain.  The sun is not quite up but my toes are bright.

Hey, look - 50 year old feet!   

These feet have been walking this land for 50 years!  Technically, not in this exact spot though because this is where the twin to this maple stood.  

It was removed over 25 years ago so the house could be built where once only a cottage stood.  That makes this particular spot in the yard a favorite of mine.  It's where I like to stand to be connected with the place on a primal level. 

And it's an awesome place to enjoy the quiet, sit, stitch & quilt!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Trip, Threads and Tiara

I'm in Michigan -  No other place has the power to refresh me like this does.  Apparently, now that kids are going back to school this week, summer has arrived. Sunny, hot & humid with a few thunderstorms popping up every couple of days.  I could do without the humidity but otherwise, I'm good!

I hit the AQS show yesterday and will share thoughts on that next week.  My postings for the rest of this week will be rather sporadic - lots of miles to cover, friends to see & things to do.  But I will tease you all a bit with a some of my shopping finds.

Thread - Yes, YLI was a the show.  I went with the 1200 yd. 30 wt. spools - good all around thread for piecing and machine quilting.

It's hard to see but these are all lightly variegated threads.  Show special - 8 spools for $40.  They also have a great 40 wt. machine quilting thread and amazing hand quilting thread.  I could have spent a lot more time & money in their booth.

Meanwhile, back at the house, I have pulled out some fabric. It's all about the reds, oranges and pinks. As usual, I have commandeered the dining room table for my work area.  Good thing no one else is here.

Oh - news flash!  The Michigan house has moved in to the 21st century - the wireless connection is up and running.  This makes things so much easier - like posting to my blog.  I even have a new traveling mouse pad - picked up two of them for $1 each.

And finally, one of my other quilt show purchases yesterday.

This girl will be appropriately decked out for birthday celebrations this weekend...tiara and all!

See you in a day or two ... or three *wink*

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gearing Up & Getting Ready

Over the previous 2 years, I have taken many Road Trips but since returning to the workforce, not so much.  To say I’m hoping that all the planets align so I can head out later this afternoon is an understatement.   The primary focus of this trip it the AQS Grand Rapids Quilt Week. 

I’ve attended the show for the past 2 years and loved it. 

The DeVos Place Convention Center is Light, Bright Spacious, easily accessed from the highway with underground parking and lots of BIG restrooms!! 

My shopping list is a little light this year and that’s okay.  Mostly because I know I’ll find more than I could ever think about looking for – best to keep an open mind.  I always cruise the vendor aisle, shopping on paper first.  Then I take a refreshment break (must stay hydrated!) to look over my notes, weigh out the options, fulfill the required items, using the least expensive, logical solution and then allocate the leftover budget dollars in order of priority or want or whim.  And try NOT to break the bank!!

This year’s most sought after item is a Singer Featherweight bobbin case.

This prized little piece of machinery is going to run around $50. Ouch!  But oh, so necessary!  Yes, I could always just swap the one I have between the 2 FWs, once the unnamed 1949 is back from her Spa makeover.  But I can foresee me grabbing a FW case, not checking for the bobbin case & ending up very frustrated far away from home with no working sewing machine.  ACK!! The stuff of nightmares!

I’ll be hunting bargains on backing fabric, some YLI thread for the stash (LOVE their thread!) 

and maybe, a bargain book or two.

Once I get those purchases squared away I am open to whatever the Universe drops in my lap.

Okay, okay… I’ll confess. 

I mapped out 3 saddle shops on my travel route to try to visit. So it’s not all about the quilting – much like my life.  Remaining open and out of the studio leads to inspiration for the studio time!

 And then there is a winery or possibly two for tasting visits, though not on the same day.   I am so excited!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

August Celebrations Have Begun!

I have a confession to make...

I am a bit of a Diva when it comes to my birthday.  

Okay, to be honest,  I turn into the Empress of the Universe, with many minions gathered about to do my bidding and pay me the homage due to a person of my grand stature.  At least, that's how it is in my mind if not in real life!

My idea of properly celebrating one's natal day is to devote the entire month of your special day indulging in as many whims as possible, ramping up exponentially as the day draws nearer.  I've rather started out slowly this year but am picking up steam!

Saturday was the wedding of a dear friend's son, a young man we watched grow up from a teenager. The bride, his very long time girlfriend who we know very well. It was wonderful to gather with friends and enjoy the special day.  I can hardly believe it was over 10 years ago that the groom  attended our living room wedding and was Hobbes, the beagle's attendant.

The wedding ceremony touching and beautiful, the reception a joyful celebration.  I had my own mini celebration.  My wonderful Sweet Man & I danced!!  The very first slow dance right after the bride & groom's first dance, we took to the floor.   DH had a BAD hip and endured 6 surgeries to get his hip replacement.  We didn't dance at either of our weddings.  But Saturday night , we hit the dance floor for one song.  It was sweet & wonderful!!!!

As the batiks and my quilting tools are already packed for next week, no sewing time was to be had this past weekend.  I've decided to take the Singer workhorse this trip, though Wendy, the 301A is begging for a project to run her motor on.  Sewing time will be short enough that I don't want to waste a minute getting in sync with her idiosyncrasies.  Soon, just not this week.  There is too much celebrating to do!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Batiks, Backings but No Boots!

It is officially, official – my featherweight is safely in Gerald’s hands and has taken its place in line to be refinished.

Not much stitching has been done this week.  I’ve been busy with work, chores and shopping.

Shoe shopping!!!

Oh, the wondrous world of fancy shoes.  I need a pair for the weeding this weekend and heels are OUT!  Just can’t wear them anymore, though there were many pairs of strappy wedge sandals and fancy glittery heels just begging to go home with me!   For the first time ever I visited DSW – dang!!  This place had some great styles and killer boots.  No matter how hard I looked,  I didn’t find a pair of purple Wicked boots – shame. 

I did find a pretty, though a little prim, pair of silver studded linen flats.

And a pair of pewter beaded strappy flat sandals.

Now I just need to decide which ones work better with the dress 

and my graceful clumsiness.

Thinking past this weekend and on towards my Road Trip, fabric needs to be pulled out, sorted and packed to go with me.  I will have one (1) day next week in the quiet of the Michigan house to play with fabric, sip some wine & hopefully not stitch my fingers together.   I want a good selection of batiks with me.  I don’t want to have to rent a UHaul trailer, at least not for the trip up there. *wink*

Last night was the beginning of the Grand Sorting.    This is the entire blue batik stash.

And here is the entire green batik stash.

 This is what I’ve narrowed it down to:

And these are the blues and greens staying home 

Yep - pretty much everything blue or green is going!

This is the part of the red/orange/pink stash that's going with:

Did I mention I would have only one sewing day?  I hope this is enough to keep me busy.

I packed all the quilty things last night.  Someone wasn't happy about that and refused to look at me.

Well, as a backup, cause there always has to be a backup plan, this quilt needs a back and to be layered. 

Looking at it all together and really thinking about it, I should have found a pale aqua/turquoise instead of the cream for the lights in the nine patch and the alternate solid blocks.  I think it would have worked better and really made the turquoise fabrics pop more.  Not totally liking all the cream.  I may just go crazy and quilt it with some variegated turquoise thread to add more color into the project and really practice some free motion work on the solid blocks.  

Need a really cool backing.  Not sure what’s in the backing stash… gotta go look.

This is what I found - not quite sure - I may just have to add backing fabric to the shopping list for AQS Grand Rapids. Hehehehehehe! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That

A few updates to share...

According to UPS, the Featherweight arrived in Arkansas late Tuesday morning.  Waiting to hear from Gerald on the approximate time frame, extent of work, etc.  Fingers are crossed.

On August 7th, Cherrywood Fabrics announced on their Facebook page that they expanded the WICKED traveling collection to 96 quilts!!  

My WICKED...Walking is among those that will be traveling for various exhibits over the next year.  But since they now have 4 times the original number of travelers, there are no guarantees that all of them will hang in the Broadway exhibit.

Do I want my quilt on Broadway?  Heck YES!!
Am I just as excited to be a part of the Traveling Exhibit? Double Heck YES!!!

Road Trip?  Yep - it's time to hit the highway.  Well, next week, anyway.  In honor of my birthday, I will be enjoying the AQS Grand Rapids, MI Quilt Week!  

No, I won't be there for the whole show but I am going.  Can't wait to be inspired by all the quilts on exhibit and visit the many vendors.   That won't be the only stop I make and I'll be taking pictures to share when I can.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Transitional Summer Irish Chain

Sunday's Studio Time results in a Summer Irish Chain Quilt top.

I unpacked the pre-packaged 2 and a half inch strips and laid them out to look at the color, patterns and value progression.

Hmm - 10 different fabrics with 2 strips (WOF) of each color.  It needed a few more neutrals to carry the progression and balance the almost solid watercolor batik in darker turquoise I had already purchased


I ended up with 8 colors and 8 neutrals (one was repeated). 

Color strips paired with their neutral strips
 Three of the neutrals were used for the solid 6 inch alternate blocks.  I didn't fuss over the block placement - much.  This is just suppose to be a fun Summer throw size quilt. And to get me into the 9 patch mindset so I can start spring-boarding. 

The color strips yielded 7 blocks of each color for a total of 56.  It took a bit of quilt math to get the strip cuts figured out to maximize the fabric I had.  I only needed 55 for this layout or 61 to even out the rows. I opted to just have an extra 9 patch block, which is probably going to end up on the back of the quilt. Lots of chain piecing to get this done quickly!

The blocks were stitched into 4 sections and then the four sections joined, though that's not pictured here.

I auditioned the dark turquoise solid for either a 2-4 inch border or just a binding.

I decided on using it for a binding, skipping a border on this quilt.  The top is pieced and ready to go with me next week to be layered.

Of course, I had some special help in the studio while stitching this top and can't resist sharing them with you.

Time to start thinking about the New Quilt from Old Favorites 9 Patch and packing up some fabric for that to take with on my Road Trip, too.

Intrigued? More on the Road Trip later...there will be quilts and fabrics involved!