Sunday, June 28, 2015

Did you ever solve a Rubix Cube?

A number of years ago I got a wild hair about hexagons and English Paper Piecing.  I knew it work work well for travel and had lots of flexibility. 

Marti Michell has a book focused on hexagons and had a couple of line drawings of some ideas but no patterns for what I wanted.  I could see that if I could find 6 shades of some basic colors I could work up a variation on a tumbling block quilt with some pieced stars.  The whole thing does a 3 dimensional look.  Over the last 6-7 years I have collected the fabrics and worked on the quilt every now and then.  Often the quilt would just sit on the wall waiting for new pieces to join in.

In the last 6 months I got serious about completing the quilt just simply because I was close enough that I could see the end.  Blocks came together and went up on the wall....moved around to other locations....The stars moved from the top to the side of the blocks...making the stars took more trial and error than what I planned ...remakes were numerous....and suddenly the whole center of the quilt was done.

With the help of Page, Mary, Debbie and MaryAnn I figured out the border treatment and got the top finished and to Page for the quilting.  She experimented with different thread colors and designs in the border to complement the flow and movement of the piecing.

As with almost every quilt that I make, I learn something new or fine tune a skill.  In this quilt I found that my hand-work on the English Paper Piecing dramatically improved with time & experience.  I also found out the it is really hard to have a floating border that stays straight.  If I had to do over there are multiple color placement changes I would make and I know for sure that I would stitch in the "in the ditch" quilting for the ribbons first and then applique down the fabric after the fact.  The double piping that I used on this worked well but I think I needed a slightly larger cording to add a little more weight to it.

I like the quilt, it looks great (hangs straight despite the quality of this photo), it will never get a ribbon (just too many errors) but it was a process and adventure.  On to the next one.........

A 50th Anniversary

Steve's cousin is celebrating 50 years today.  We are on the way to the event this evening. 

I asked for a copy of the Anniversary  photos used on the invitation to include in the label I put on the back of the quilt.  I got the binding on my lap size version of This and That from Glad Creations and think it will work well for them this winter.

Take Three Fabrics, Just Add Thread

This quilt has been such an adventure over the last 15 months.

We did this as a group quilt with Mary Reinhardt taking lead on the fabric and machine embroidery/applique.  Jan Malmquist put the blocks together.  Page Johnson went wild with the quilting.  I did the piping and binding on the scalloped borders.  Gail, Shelly, Debbie and I all helped Mary get the crystals and beads on the quilt (truth be told, Mary did the lion's share and then some).

The quilt has ribboned in every show that it has been in.  At MQX in Cedar Rapids this spring it took the Best Collaboration ribbon and First Place in the Group Category at AQS show in Paducah this year.  Mary and Page were there to walk the stage and get the ribbon for that one.

Mary has submitted the entry for Houston but has not heard yet if it has been accepted.  We just got copies of the AQS 2016 Calendars and find that we are collectively "Miss March"

It has been fun to watch this quilt do so well.  Now Mary has another idea for the group.  We will start a new project soon.

Sample Quilt

In a later post I will tell you about the challenge that started this quilt for now we will just talk about the quilt.

I was challenged to use some colors that are a bit of a stretch for me and found a goodly selection of the right colors in the Amana Colony quilt shop when Steve was at a handtools wood working weekend event.  I also found the pattern at the Woolen Needle in Willamsburg, Iowa.  Their design is for wool applique but I thought it would be a great practice piece for Karen Kay Buckley's machine applique technique.  When I looked at my purchases I realized that the one complemented the other and I was off to the races.

So far I have the center nine-patches made and assembled plus the flying geese border.  I decided that it is coming out better than expected so I am redoing some of the flying geese where the tips got cut off.  Next is the wide outer border and a really nice gentle applique design.  It should be good practice for me.  I have some ideas for the binding that is a little different too.  We will see as this project comes to closure.

More to come on this one....

Compass Moon

We serve no wine (whine) before its time!

Years ago I was really impressed with the stunning Moonglow quilt.  I thought it was gorgeous but I really didn't want to do a kit.  Time passed and then the 10th Anniversary version came out and I thought "Kit or no kit I am going to make that quilt".  When the kit arrived I got all organized and started my paper piecing journey with Jinny Beyer's pattern and fabrics. 

I quickly realized that I had a goodly amount of fabric that I could do some editing with AND I really didn't want a large wall-hanging.  I started tinkering with the design on paper and in EQ7 and figured out that I could put a center compass star in the quilt as a medallion and size up the quilt for my bed. 

It took a couple of years working on the blocks every now and then to get the framing squares ready to go.  Then I drafted the center compass star.  I drew it out to scale so that I could paper piece the whole star. I worked on the colors and the fabrics to go in the compass.  I ended up buying enough additional fabric to make several stars and blocks.  Every time I thought I had what I wanted I would decide that another fabric would work better.  Naturally on the first compass I was a smidgen too large for the actual space.  The second star (mind you these are 42x42 inch compass stars) had colors in the wrong place.  Finally by the third version I had the star I wanted.  For almost a year I had the hand drawn pattern taped to the top of my quilting table so that I could re-trace the pattern if I needed to make it one more time.

In April of 2014 Steve and I were in Washington DC and stopped at Jinny Beyer's store where I found the perfect border fabric to complement the quilt versus the five or 6 borders she has on Moonglow.  When I looked at the fabric I realized that I could take one row of border fabric to frame the compass star and tie it in more with the other blocks.  A little tinker here and there and I finally got the compass pieced into the center. 

A couple of weeks ago I took the quilt to The Quilting Page for Page to work wonders on my newest personal quilt.  I will post a photo of the final quilt with the quilting in the next month or two.  For now here is the quilt with the center.  For me, the quilt is off the table and out the door.

The last six months in my quilt life

As they say: My road to hell is paved with my good intentions.  I really thought that I would carve out the time to blog on a regular basis and I just haven't done it.  So I will try again.

In the spring of 2014 I took a class from Janna Thomas at the Mancuso Quilt Show in Savannah.  It was a great venue for the quilt show and a really enjoyable class.  The Blocloc system is a little fussy but boy do you get some nice results.  While shopping the vendors I found some fabrics to add to the quilt and essentially ended up changing 60% of the fabrics based on my purchases.  I blame Meg Latimer for unabashedly encouraging me (she knows my fabric preferences better than I do and manages to help me spend money on a consistent basis.).

When I got home and had time to work on the quilt I was really pleased with both the pattern/ruler and the fabric. 

I did finish the quilt in November 2014 and worked with Page Johnson of The Quilting Page to do specialty quilting.  She went a little over the top with this one but it is fantastic.  The quilting really plays off the stripes and stars in the quilt.  Between Page and Mary Reinhardt they talked me into using a double ric-rack as a finishing edge with the binding.The effect is just too much fun and fanciful.

I think I put the last stitches into the binding the day I took the quilt to Glad Creations for the annual "Staff Quilt Show" the first week of January.  Our theme for the year was stripes.  I used a really cute striped fabric for the center of the blocks that I cut on point and mirror imaged for a "square" setting.  With the crayola colors carried from the centers out to the points and accent stars the whole quilt is just fun.

The quilt has been in a couple of quilt show and received 2 Teachers ribbons at MQX East and a teacher ribbon at the Minnesota Quilt Show in Duluth and made it into the Duluth Newspaper.  I entered the quilt in Non-Judged for a couple of reasons and  I was thrilled that it took the Viewers' Choice Ribbon.  How great is it when other quilters enjoy the quilt as much as I do. 

The quilt is back at Page's studio in Eagan hanging up on the wall.  With a black lab that sheds and a white background quilt, I think it is better that the quilt live at the studio for now.  Someday I will figure out a good home for this quilt.

Janna was at the Minnesota Quilt Show in June 2014 where I saw her book "The Block Maker II" with some great quilt designs.  I bought the book and a couple more rulers (like I need more rulers in my sewing room) and have been tinkering with some additional quilts for the future - but hold that thought.

Monday, April 13, 2015

So how much fun is this?

American Quilters Society is sending out blast emails reminding all members of the Paducah show in 2 weeks.  Right in the middle of their splash screen is our quilt (or at least part of it - but not the border or binding that I worked on - but still our quilt!)!

I am not going to Paducah but Page and Mary are going down to walk the show.  They promise to bring back pictures.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The adventure continues

This is proving to be a learning opportunity.  The camper has had some new vehicle issues and struggles to figure out how things work and where to put stuff.  Bonnie hates the furnace and every time it kicks in she tries to hide.  During the night she comes to the side of the bed to say "Mom, MOM its making noise again" and lays down so close to the bed I can't even get out.

She dislikes, but is surviving, being on a leash.  A couple of days we have been able to drive around with the windows open and her nose is going crazy.  There are so many new smells and critters to investigate that she quickly forgets she is on a leash.

We left Alpine, Texas, last Monday to head into Big Bend National Park for 4 days.  As a national park they have no electricity or water at the campsites.  We were right down on the Rio Grande River with cold nights (low 30's) and comfy days (60's & 70's).  With no heater at night we were very happy that we had thrown the down sleeping bags in the camper.  (We bought those bags 43 years ago from REI when we were heading off to South America.  That speaks to the value of good equipment.)  When we got up in the morning the camper was at 39-40F - just a bit nippy.

The photo does not do justice to the view
Driving the park was mesmerizing.  Almost 50 miles north to south and about 40 miles east to west.  Each road was a passage through geological time.  The mountains go up over 7800 feet (almost 6500 above the river level) and feel very much like the Rockies.  The desert was starting to bloom while we were there.  Carpets of little plants with white/lavender flowers popped up around the prickly pear and other cactus.  The hiking was impressive with great views.  Steve made one hike up the Lost Mine trail with amazing vista (dogs are not allowed on ANY trails and it was too hot that day to leave a dog in the car so I stayed behind with Bonnie).  At the Santa Elena Canyon trail we were able to get photos of the iconic Rio Grande river - interesting that accessing the most associated image of the area was so easily available.

Santa Elena Canyon

After Big Bend we went on to Seminole State Park.  Although we had water and electricity this place felt more isolated that when we were in Big Bend.  There was no cell phone service within 30 miles of the park.  We camped on a ridge that ran out in the desert with great views of unrelenting scrub brush, sand and rock.  We had great night skies.  I was finally able to get a day at the visitor's center to work online while Steve went on 2 treks to see cave paintings.  He was very jazzed by his hikes and I finally felt like I put a dent into some of my computer work.

Knowing that we had snow/sleet weather coming in we headed to Del Rio for 3-4 days.  No road travel when the weather is this rough and I can have a number of really good days on the computer.  Steve is doing the putsing around activities of tinkering with the camper, laundry and scouting out this town.  I am trying to catch up on the computer and at least feel like I am not 6 months behind.

The place we are at right now is sort of a nice  camper parking lot.  We are lined up and every one stays pretty low keyed.  On the other hand it is rather chilly out there and a good couple of days to just hunker down.

It is still well below zero in Minnesota and Steve is threatening a northerly trek by the weekend.  I know that I do not want to live in Texas but heading home sounds chilly right now but probably appropriate by this time next week.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

So what an irony!  I knew that the weather for the area was high winds, colder temps and snow at higher elevations.  In fact we have nothing planned today because it is supposed to be cold, cloudy - even rainy, and generally not nice.  So this is my work on the computer all day sort of day.

During the night the wind was blowing and I heard the rain start.  First it was individual rain drops more like the cloud was thinking about t than like it was really raining.  Finally the rain became more organized and a continuous sound that is nice to sleep to.

And this is what the world looks like this morning

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Blogging Revisited

Well, I have had several people ask me to re-start the blog.  Now that I am more or less semi retired I have decided to share a little more about my quilting journey.

Let me start by saying that I am really tired of the long winters in Minnesota.  Steve doesn't mind the snow and the cold but last year was just so unpleasant that I really did not want to repeat the whole thing.  I started looking for a way to get us out of town for a significant block of time to break up the winter.  Cancun looked interesting, so did Costa Rica but both were just more of a stretch than what we wanted to do. 

We had talked with some acquaintances who recommended a month in Texas in the camper.  My problem was how to get from an appealing idea to out of the house and on the way to Texas!  Well a quilt retreat solved the problem for me. 

I have wanted to take a class from Karen Buckley for a long time.  She did a cruise in the Sea of Cortez in December that I thought about but decided that it would be more of a leap than what Steve would agree to.  So I kept looking and found 2 in Texas in February.  I preferred the idea of Galveston at the end of the month but really liked the classes in Dallas better the first week of February.  So I asked for the retreat as my birthday present back last June.  Since it was far enough out Steve agreed to the Dallas trip.  Now I had a reason for us to leave town for the month of February.

In October, 2014, we were the campground hosts at Tetteguchie State Park up on the shore of Lake Superior.  It was a great experience and one we will repeat for the month of July in 2015.  As part of our responsibilities we would walk the campground everyday and make sure that things were reasonably tidy in each site for the next campers coming in.  Steve would get chatty with folks and ask about their travels and equipment etc. 

One guy had a truck like ours and he was pulling a small fifth wheel.  We did find that our trailer was really tight when we were both in the camper at the same time.  And when you added Bonnie to the space there wasn't room to turn around.  Steve was so intrigued by the prospect of a larger camper and the stability of a fifth wheel that we just had to go look.  I asked him to leave the checkbook behind, which of course he did not.

Our new camper in Alpine Texas - what a beautiful place!

So now we have a fifth wheel (my business partner, Kristi, calls it our pull-a-home), I have a 4 day class in Dallas the first week of February and we have suggestions from several people on things to do and see in Texas.  Steve was ready with plans for places to go and ideas for our trial run with the new camper.

With a few starts and stops we left Minnesota a day later than planned, but between snow storms.  The drive to Dallas is really long when you do it in 2 days, but we made it.  Steve dropped me off at the hotel and he went off to a nearby campground with Bonnie for 4 days.  He had some first trip problems that he was able to address without my questioning why he was doing this or that.

I had 4 days of classes with Karen Buckley at The Kathy Dunigan Academy of Applique and it was really good.  I had a 1 day class on hand applique and 3 days on machine applique.  The hand work was a good reminder and I picked up a couple of tips that will be good going forward.  Here is a photo of her class sample for the hand work:

My block is in progress and I have a ways to go.  I have a great green zigzag fabric for the frame that looks kind of like a tile roof.  At the pace that I am working on it at night I might have it done before I get back to  Minnesota in March.

The second block  is the machine applique.  This was a very interesting 3 day class that I completely enjoyed.  I have a couple of projects in mind for this technique.  I don't have a picture of my block at this point but I am very pleased with the way it is coming out.  It will be some time in March before I can touch this again since I did not bring my sewing machine on this trip

I will add some more comments over the next couple of weeks about this adventure in Texas.  So far I am really liking it.   We are currently in Alpine Texas at a great campground (the best we have seen on our 3 days of driving around) with good wifi so I can work 4-5 hours a day on the computer.  That leaves us the rest of the day to do different activities.  Last night we went to McDonald Observatory and had a great time - this was one of those lifetime memories because it was so different from what we have done in the past.

The view from our camper includes very few campers and a great view of the mountains!  The deer wandering around drive Bonnie a little bonkers but she is keeping us safe. Yup I like it.