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Friday, January 29, 2010

Quilting in the Desert

I'm in Phoenix right now, staying with a good friend and taking a couple of classes at a retreat called Quilting in the Desert. This is my third year doing that, and it's such fun! It's put on by the same people who organize Quilt Camp in the Pines each summer, and I've been going to that since 1998, so you have to know that I love it. :)

On Thursday I took another machine quilting class from Sharon Schamber, who does amazingly gorgeous work. We worked on learning how to do micro stippling in some of the many styles she used in her award-winning Spirit of Mother Earth. I don't have a photo to show you of that, as I haven't finished the sampler we began in that class.

On Friday Melinda Bula taught a class called "Renegade Thread Painting" -- it was lots of fun. :) She loves to make floral quilts (among others) with lots of thread painting on them, so we made a sampler of some of the techniques she uses for that thread painting. Here is my version of the eight-section sampler:
As you can probably see, we wrote our names in thread, practiced swirls, and then moved on to embellishing flower shapes with thread. Below are a couple of close-ups of some of the samples.


Here are some leaves with thread forming the spines and veins.
And here is a flower shape with echo quilting surrounding it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Giveaway from Geta!

Geta makes the most beautiful quilted items, and she's giving away the pattern for her little quilted pockets,like the one pictured here:

Just go to her site and leave a comment for a chance to win! :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oatmeal cookies

A friend of mine shared a recipe for oatmeal cookies, so I took some time off from embellishing today to bake them. Yum!! I think these may be the best I've ever had. I don't know if any will be left after my grandchildren come sample them, so I took a picture right away. ;)

The recipe called for raisins, but I used dried cranberries instead, since I had some on hand that needed to be used.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Embellishing, part 2

I'm making a little progress on this embellishing thing. ;) I actually thought I was finished with this section, until I realized that the little French knots I'd used in the white section at the top simply don't show.



I'm going to need to do something more there, and I may also need to do something more in one or two other spots. While I think about it, though, I'm starting the second section.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Embellishing

Before I go any further, let me say that I'm definitely not an embellisher. I admire lots of embellished quilts -- especially crazy quilts -- but I'm not comfortable doing embellishing myself. It's been a real stretch for me the past two years when our guild challenge has mandated embellishing, but I've done what I could.

That said, one of our local group members, Judy W., made a drop-dead gorgeous caddy to put over the arm of a chair while doing handwork. It has a couple of large pockets for scissors and threads, etc., as well as a pin cushion to eliminate the need to poke holes in the arms of our sofas and chairs. What made this caddy so special, though, is that she's an artist with embellishing; she is truly amazing. So what could I do when she offered to teach our group how to make this caddy? Yup -- there simply wasn't any choice at all; I had to make one! So the project was begun yesterday, and I've pinned several trims in place and begun the embroidery on my caddy. Here's my progress so far:


I have until March to finish what I've started, and then we'll have another lesson on how to assemble the parts. What you're seeing here is the two pocket sections, as well as the book of embroidery stitches I'm keeping very handy (I've forgotten everything I ever knew as a child about embroidery!), a small hoop, some threads, etc.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Better late than never



Before the holidays, I'd meant to make some very small Christmas stockings to hold little things, but then I got the flu. Oh well. I've finished three of them now, with a few left to finish before next Christmas. They're about 9 3/4" tall, with the patchwork made of 1" squares. The next batch will be of slightly different colors; making a strip set actually gives enough for three stockings.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finished!


Yesterday I finished binding and washing the table runner I've been working on sporadically. Here's a photo of the whole thing, though it's hard to see the quilting in this shot. In case you didn't see the in-progress photos, this is the result of a "play day" with paint sticks at my local group.


I quilted feathers (my favorite!) in the open areas around the painted parts, as well as in the red setting triangles. This shows the four feathered sprays I used for each of the main blocks. That adorable little owl you see there was a gift from my twin.


It was really hard to get a photo of the feathers in the red triangles, but this should give you an idea of what they were supposed to look like. They're really hard to see in real life, though; I should have used a different color thread or just done some simple straight lines. It was all good practice, though!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Practice

I've mentioned that I'm going to make a new quilt for our bed, and I'm planning to use the Winding Ways pattern. Since this pattern is all curved piecing, I thought I'd better make a practice block or two. I used leftovers from the table runner, which is almost finished, rather than wasting some of the "good" fabric purchased for the quilt. Here's what I've done:


The block on the left was the first one, and you can see that it has a "problem" in the center. Oops! But the second one was better, so I think I'm good to go, when I get to that stage. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Progress ...


My dryer is finally fixed, so I'm running my laundry from several days ago through the wash again and then through the dryer. While that's going on, I'm quilting my table runner. :) I've now finished one entire block's feathers and am fairly happy with how the block looks. Two more blocks, and I'll be able to start the setting triangles!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Feathers!

Have I mentioned yet that I love feathers? I love seeing them on quilts, and I love quilting them myself. Today I finished doing the outlining of the little painted motifs on the table runner I'm working on, so that means I was finally allowed to put the first feather into some of the empty space. Yay!


I'll have four curvy feathers in each block, and I'm planning to put more into the red setting triangles that go between the on-point blocks. You can just barely see some of the red to the left of the feather; the blue marker visible at the bottom of the block is to keep me from quilting into the seam allowance. ;)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Shopping!

The quilt I currently have on our bed (this one) is almost seven years old and showing its age; the fabric is beginning to split. That's doubly sad, since I don't really enjoy making enormous quilts. ;) However, I've wanted to make a Winding Ways quilt for some time, so I'm going to take advantage of the fact that we need a new quilt for our bed to make that pattern.

I took my Christmas gift cards to the quilt shop today, sternly telling myself not to go in with any preconceived ideas about colors, since I didn't want to shop anywhere but where I could use my gift cards. It's a good thing I'd decided that, too, because the things I'd sort of considered in the back of my mind just weren't available today -- at least, not in the quantity I needed. I'd sort of thought about either some oriental prints (most were too large to show well in this pattern) or possibly pink and brown (my husband might have been a bit unhappy about that, though, so it's a good thing there weren't any that really appealed to me ). Batiks, which I really like, just didn't seem right for what I have in mind, either.

However, I saw a set of lovely Moda prints that sort of jumped into my arms. ;) Then it just remained to find some gold-ish beiges to go with them, and this is what I ended up with:


Who'd have thought I'd end up with red? On the other hand, the table runner I'm quilting (I've been delayed on that, due to circumstances beyond my control) is also mostly red, and I've been wearing more red lately, so maybe it's all related.

I hope I'll get to wash my fabrics soon -- but the dryer needs fixing first. :S

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Lion King!

Last night my husband and I went to see The Lion King at the Mandalay Bay Theater. It was everything I'd ever heard it would be -- absolutely fantastic! Naturally, we weren't allowed to take pictures, so you'll have to content yourself with this photo of the program and the little envelope that held the tickets. ;)



More sewing room photos

I did say I was going to show you where I quilt, but then I only posted a photo of my Bernina. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll show you the rest of the room. It's a bedroom in our three-bedroom home, so it's not huge -- just about 10' x 10', minus one corner that was chopped off for the door. ;)


This is my lovely cabinet! I keep the right-hand leaf extended to hold various notions, and underneath is a perfect place to store packages of batting. The left-hand leaf and the huge one at the back of the cabinet come up when I'm quilting something larger; you can see that the left leave also has a flip-up piece to fill in the corner when the back leaf is also up.

Behind the cabinet is my ironing board and iron -- not very convenient, but it's the only solution for my room. The doors behind that are hiding the containers where I store my fabrics, and above the doors is a rolled-up piece of flannel which serves as a design wall.


To the left of the closet is a tiny wall that is "sort of" behind the door to the room. That wall has pegboard on it and serves as storage for some of my rulers, scissors, threads and other notions.



Opposite the closet is my computer desk, where I can play with Electric Quilt or read about what other quilters are doing. I like having a laptop so I can take it with me, and of course I use a Mac. ;) I've used Macs since about 1990.


To the left of the desk is a rocking chair, which has been commandeered by my QI, Bisou, who is an adorable red and white cocker spaniel. Here she is napping while I work.


And here she's keeping an eagle eye on developments in the neighborhood. ;)


One last photo shows a rack hanging to the left of the window so that my most-used rulers are handy and accessible. Behind it is a small library quilt made with blocks from a swap some years ago. More photos of it are on my site.

So that's my sewing room!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Here's where I quilt

I thought I'd show you where I quilt. This is my Bernina 630 (no embroidery module), which is set into a cabinet from Tracey's Tables; I just love my set-up!

What you see here is a table runner in progress. The three main  blocks were done with paint sticks, and I'm outlining the little motifs. Then I plan to put lots of feathers in the remaining open spaces; feathers are probably my favorites!

Welcome to my blog!

I have to admit that I never thought I'd be doing a blog. After all, I have a web site, so what more did I need? I do think I'll be keeping the web site, too, as it's a good way for me to quickly find information I've saved about any specific quilt. However, I think the blog has several advantages, as those few people who would like to see what I'm doing will be updated automatically, if they want to subscribe.

So to begin this blog, I thought I'd tell you a bit about myself. I'm a retired high school French teacher, a métier I loved while I was doing it. :)  I was living in a small town in Arizona with my husband and two daughters, but when the time came that I could retire I jumped at it -- as so many people do. Our daughters were grown and married, and my husband and I decided to move to the Las Vegas area to be closer to them and their families, now numbering five grandchildren. :)

I had begun quilting while I was still employed, and retirement allowed me to expand that by a lot. Living here has given me the opportunity to take lots of classes from wonderful instructors, which I truly enjoy. One of my favorite places to do that is at Quilt Camp in the Pines, in Flagstaff, AZ. I've loved the chance to meet other quilters, too, as there weren't very many where we lived previously. 

So here's hoping I have something to contribute and that you will enjoy it! :)