A View of My Quilt Life

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I'm Home from Switzerland!

I got home late last Friday. 

There is so much to catch up on, every which way I turn.  All in due time!

Let's start with the most asked questions: 

1. How was it?
It was amazing. It was busy. It went so fast and felt like forever. It was strange and completely normal.

2. Did you get to travel?
Most of my time was spent working - early mornings before my commute, evenings and weekends.  BUT, yes, I managed to take 2 of the weekends completely off and traveled to London & Paris.  Both were whirlwind trips but I got to experience a bit of two iconic cities! More on those trips later because fabric/shopping/art is involved and there are many pictures that need sorting. 

3. Blogging/Email?
Okay - yeah, well, the best laid plans... 
I did have my new tablet with me, though typing long posts or messages are not the best on it. It was more a lack of time to focus on anything but the project.  Yeah - I know, we're all busy but here's an average day schedule:
Up at 5:30, leave apartment by 6:45, catch the 7:10 train, arrive at office at 7:45, work, catch the 19:02 (or 19:29) train, arrive back at the apartment at 19:45, log back on by 20:00 and work until 22:30, call home to check in and crash by 23:00. Rinse and repeat. 

Not a lot of room in there for personal computer time and honestly, spending time in front of another screen was not very appealing.

Yes - some days were a bit easier. But it was a huge project, with the typical challenges, unexpected hiccups, some extra drama, a tight timeline and a lean team.  We did it - the platform launched. We are now dealing with the aftermath but I am home.  Currently, there's no plan for me to go back. 

4. Quilt project progress?
Not as much as I had hoped! The Van Gogh challenge has the base done but no detail added yet. Pictures to come. I did not hand stitch one square on the Blue Quilt. 

5. Are you staying home now?
Not exactly.  I have 3 trips planned before the end of the month. Michigan House gets opened tomorrow. Midwest Horse Fair is next weekend. AQS Paducah is the last week of the month.

6. Would you do it again?
In half a heartbeat! Not sure the DH would have the same answer, though.  I told the Director that I can be packed & on a flight back to Switzerland with 24 hours notice.

Hope you are all enjoying some warm Spring weather this weekend!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pushing Boundaries, Crossing Borders

I have safely landed in Switzerland and am settling in.  This time I flew economy class. It's certainly different than business class!  The biggest drawback was the luggage weight restriction.  One checked bag, maximum weight of 23 kgs, or 50 l and 1 carry on bag with a 8 kgs, 17.5 lbs. Thankfully, I also had my backpack for my work laptop and new tablet. 

Packing for 7 weeks, including quilt projects, definitely pushed the boundaries on creativity!  The Van Gogh project fabric was rolled into a shipping tube, that the DH cut down to the height of my big suitcase. My IKEA lunchbox served as a sewing equipment box to safely get scissors, thread, needles, etc., here but will be carrying my lunch to work during the weeks ahead. 

I knew 1 fabric project would not be enough to keep me busy in the evenings and whatever I brought had to be a handwork project, small enough to fit. I decided to bring the blue squares project.

 It's 1.5 inch finished size squares, of 1 white, 1 purple and 4 blue fabrics. It is a completely hand pieced project, started years ago when DH had several surgeries, with considerable hospital stays. 

The apartment I'm calling home for now is in Lucerne. As in, the heart of the city! 

It's quite a change from our suburban townhouse! I am embracing this adventure and doing my best to assimilate into this culture. The grocery store is a short two block walk, which means a few trips a week, given the tiny fridge. 

I also need to get used to using this tablet for typing blog posts. 
More later,

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Outward Bound Again

Yep - I'm hitting the road skies, again! 

Just last Thursday, word came down that I'm needed back in Switzerland.  The Project is big, global and needs all hands on deck.  Me, being here, seven hours behind the team is not optimal, not even good. 

So, the last 6 days have been a whirlwind. DH is up & running on all things house related. Bags are packed, except for a few last minute items. I'll be gone for seven weeks.

Sadly, it means no sewing machine for 7 weeks.  I can't work on the 182 Solstice Day challenge. The machine quilting on the MQ and the construction quilt will have to wait. BUT, and there's always a BUT, I have a project packed.

The Cherrywood Van Gogh challenge design I'm working on it a raw edge applique project. 

The full size cartoon drawing is done, fabrics are selected, safely rolled into a shipping tube and already packed in my suitcase. 

The DH & I went out on Saturday and got me a Kindle Fire 8 HD.  If everything works out, I should still be able to use it to post things to the blog. Fingers crossed. Catch you next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Almost Bound Around

The re-quilting on the mini went well.

It still could have been a little flatter but I'm happy with it overall. This nasty wrinkle it gone.

 I used the lime thread on orange - it appears more yellow and it totally works.

Love the look of a newly trimmed quilt! 

I have the binding attached, turned and pinned to the back. 

 Not sure when I'll get it sewn down because there's big news in this girl's life.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Detouring to Phoenix - Fabric Choices

It's a new year, so it's time for a new Quilt Challenge. Besides,  of course, the Cherrywood Challenge, the New Quilt from an Old Favorite Contest, the 182 Day Solstice Challenge...

I couldn't help myself!  

I was driving home from work, right past Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop, like I always do and suddenly, out of the blue, i remembered they had recently announced the details of the 2017 Challenge.  It was right there, on my way home,  I had to stop.

They are doing a "Phoenix Rising Challenge".  The idea is to take a old block (your 'Phoenix' that will rise from the ashes) to use as the medallion of your quilt.  Add in a background fabric, at least three other fabrics, follow the monthly directions for the subsequent borders and after four (4) months the finished quilt will be about 68 inches square. 

The lovely salesgal who was explaining the challenge to me was puzzled when I told her I didn't have any old blocks laying around.  

The conversation went like this...
'You know, like when you've taken a class, made a block & then didn't do anything with it afterward'.   

'Umm, no - don't have any of those.  I'll have to make a new block'

'Really, you don't have any old project blocks?  You must have one or two? You know from a class...'

She was very nice but just didn't grasp the way I work.  Not slamming anyone here! Just a different perspective.  So I need to draft a block. And I already have an idea...

Of course,  I did need fabric!  The shop specializes in Civil War repro and some 30s & 40s prints.  Again - not my norm.  But - they have solids!  I have discovered Riley Blake's Confetti Cottons.  

This pile already has been through the washer & dryer.  The Confetti Cottons have a LOVELY hand to them!!!  The color selection was great. The exception in the pile was the darkest red - 'Rich Red', that is a Kona Cotton.   This fabric selection should be appropriate for a 'Phoenix Rising' quilt. 

Next up - drafting the center block.  It needs to be 18 inches square, set on point and then squared up with the background (black) fabric setting triangles.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Solstice Block # 6 - The Crosswalk

The Solstice Block progress has run aground. Temporarily, thankfully. 

I had caught up with the week's blocks from when I was gone.  I was happily awaiting the Week 6 block release last Wednesday.  

The Crosswalk. 

Oh, don't get me wrong - it's a fine block.  I've seen other quilters' versions on the link up.  I've seen the multi-block layout of it - looks great, very versatile, and easy to make.  Except when you need to shrink in down from 12 inches to 3 inches.

That's when things ground to a halt. The strips and blocks would finish out at a half inch wide and a quarter inch wide in my mini block.  I'm so not sure I can do this. I'm going to try.  

I do like a challenge. I do like a challenge. I do like a challenge.  I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

Worse case scenario, if it's an epic fail, I will need to redraft the block to make it less complicated. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

What's Worse than Un-Sewing?

That would be UN-Quilting!

So what had happened was....this.

Yeah - that's not going to quilt out!  ARRRRRGH!!!

It entirely my fault - I rushed the initial layering and pinning. And I know better.  And I ended up having to un-quilt. 
Then re-pin.

Hopefully, the re-quilting goes better.  Breathing deep, going slow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sewing on the Solstice Project

There has been some stitching happening!   

I have a few projects that need to be layered before they can be quilted - the Bonnie Hunter mystery mini, the Construction Truck twin size, and a few that need to be designed - the Winter Woods. And one in the middle of the design process - the Cherrywood Van Gogh piece. But none of those have been under a needle. 

So what have I been stitching on?  Wild Cherry, the FW, has been pulled out as it's her turn, to stitch on some little parts.  Back on December 29, 2016, I posted about the  

Since then, 5 blocks have been posted - 1 each week with another due to be up today.  While I haven't joined in the Linky on Pat Sloan's project blog, I have caught up on making the blocks, though they need a good pressing.

While Pat's blocks are designed as 12 inch blocks, mine will finish at 3 inches.  

Because I can - that's why. And see the top blocks?  Those plain center squares are supposed to have baskets appliqued there.  Not sure if that's going to happen - have to wait & see how they play with the other 20 blocks we have yet to make.  

Or 46 more for me, as I'm doing two of each plus 6 extra to get a 7 x 8 layout.  Interestingly, the camera is not picking up the shades of aged muslin I'm using. I'll have to work on the next batch of pictures to see if I can get them to show up better. It felt good to be at a machine again!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Other Swiss Treasures

Someone asked about the food I may have indulged in while on my recent trip. You know, some Swiss specialties. 

Like maybe the:
Kalbsgeschnetzeltes nach Zurcher Art with Rösti at the Zeughauskeller Restaurant in Zurich

Panfried sliced veal and mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce, served with hashbrown potatoes.  These are not your Grandma's hashbrowns!  These are browned in like a stick of butter per serving. 

They even bring you the rest of the serving in a heavy stainless steel pan, kept warm over a flame so the sauce doesn't break. It was AMAZING!  Just the thing to warm me up after trekking around Zurich on Sunday in the cold and damp.

But I have a guilty confession - I ate at McDonald's one night.  It was late, I was cold, tired & hungry by the time I got back to my hotel.  The area was more industrial (near the airport) than touristy, so dining options were limited.  Rather than eat in Zurich or at the train station, I got on the first train  heading back and then slogged over to McDonald's for sustenance.   This is were the sticker shock was felt - 11.70 CHF (about equal to $11.70 USD) for a Big Mac Meal.  Not the healthiest choice but it fit the bill. No pictures of that.

One evening in Zug, we had a team dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant - AnaCapri.  I had the grilled octopus, drizzled with a wonderful balsamic reduction. And wine, white wine, red wine and a bright Moscato to finish the meal. YUM!

On another evening, I worked later with the Project team, while my boss and his colleague headed back tot he hotel & then dinner.  They had reservations at a Thai restaurant (not my favorite) and I didn't know when we would be done so I sent them on their way.  I later headed to the Rathauskeller for a lovely solo dinner.  

I finished my meal with a caramel custard, with whipped cream, dusted with crushed pistachios, dotted with pomegranate seeds, accompanied by a waffle cookie and decorated with a sugar thread piece.

I have yet to try Swiss cheese fondue (better with a group) 

and Raclette (melted/grilled cheese).  

Next time...

And finally, on the last night of our visit, after a long day at work and some gift shopping, three of us ended up at the Zug train station and an Asian takeaway restaurant, that also had sit down service.  We indulged in a few adult beverages, laughing hysterically, as we were trying to order Asian food from a menu printed in German. Need to continue my German language lessons!   

Thursday, January 19, 2017

More Goodies from My Trip

Quilting, and in particular patchwork, is not very common in Switzerland, so the hope of finding quilting fabric was pretty much non-existent. Further, I was hampered in my efforts to visit fabric shops by the fact that most all shops are closed on Sunday. But....I was not to be deterred.  In Zug, there is a Bernina sewing shop that I hit on day on lunch.  
Translation:  I Sew with Bernina, and you?
The selection of fabrics ran more to knits, jerseys and clothing materials, but I did grab a nice piece of cream cotton bottom-weight that I liked.  

Not for quilting but it will be used for something here. They also had these patches for the Cantons of Switzerland that I visited, with the hopes of adding more next time I get to go over. 
I indulged myself in a pair of stork embroidery scissors made by Victornix (better known as the company that makes Swiss Army knives of every conceivable kind).

This shop had a great green ribbon that will go with the embroidered roses piece. 

And see those peach embroidered knots?  Those were at the outlet shop in St. Gallen and are destined to become spool pin doilies for the vintage Singers. 

It was an amazing, whirlwind, busy, work trip but it's good to be home and able to play in the studio again.  The little rose piece is just for fun but there are a few more pressing projects needing some attention.  

Like a Cow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jet Lag? What Jet Lag....ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz

No, it's not horrible.  It's real but not horrible & I'm thankful that I had the weekend & MLK Day to get back on track.  

Suitcase unpacked -

Laundry done -
First Tack Sale of the Year -
Gifts for DH & the kitties handed out -
Trip to Wal-Mart for groceries -
Pictures downloaded - not quite all of them yet 😐
Bills paid - ICK - No! 
New textiles unwrapped and fondled - ✓✓✓

Just a few pictures of what came home with me for the stash.  St. Gallen, Switzerland is known for its embroidery.  Gigantically, huge computerized commercial embroidery machines created yards & yards & yards of high end textiles that feed the fashion world designers.

I hit one of those manufacturer's outlet shop.  It was small in comparison to most average US quilt shops but the textiles were gorgeous!   I hit the remnant area and found this piece. 

It measures about 27 inches x 54 inches. It's heavy, luxurious and the color is a deep, coral-terracotta.  

I picked it to do something with it in my bedroom. What? That may be remains to be seen.  At the same place, I found these little rose gems in baskets on a counter, begging to be dug through. 

The colors are a little off but it was the best I could get them adjusted to for this post. The larger background leaves were purchased in Lucerne at another shop, and I had to guess if the green shades would work with the roses, I think they do.  I've been playing around with the layout for just a fun little wall hanging.

I didn't get any pictures inside the shop as my time there was extremely limited before they closed for the night.  I have more textile treasures in the next post!

*** Side note - I LOVE the AmazonBasics packing cubes!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

First Trip of 2017

I need to pack. Well, maybe shop a bit more first, then pack. 
Where am I going you ask? Since I always seem to be headed out on a road trip somewhere, I should be a pro at packing everything from sweatshirts to sewing machines. Not this time.  This is not a 'Chuck everything in the truck and put the pedal to the metal' kind of trip. In preparation for this trip, I  purchased some AmazonBasics packing cubes to see how they help keep things better organized in my suitcase.  
Kind of glad I listened to the DH & got the 29 inch suitcase back in fall! 

My newly acquired passport is about to get it's first stamp.

It's a business trip - with a few extra personal days tacked on for sightseeing. Rather excited, of course, but there are a million things to do first.  I can't just go winging off without research on where to visit, what to see and can't miss things. I'll have 2 and 1/2 days to fit things into & also not rush to do it all!

It's amazing the amount of research that can be done from the comfort of a couch.  I've discovered the Swiss transportation system goes everywhere - often & definitely on time!

You know there will be fabric involved at some point, right?! And chocolate!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mystery Quilt Link Up

Hope this finds all doing well on this second day of 2017!  The new year is off to a quilty start with the Link Up party for the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt.

Having the last week of the year off work found me spending a good deal of time in the studio, so Clue #6 was cranked out in short order.  My lime looks more like pea soup green here but it is brighter, clearer in real life.

The Mystery Quilts bits are piling up nicely in their bin. 

There still should be some bits yet to make so not sure when the final clue & big reveal will take place.