Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blue Eggs, and a Jewel Box AKA Buckeye Beauty WIP

It's been almost a MONTH!!! since I posted anything - Where have I been?  However, the weather has been beastly cold - down to -28 below zero at the airport, and several other mornings at -18.  We had a 10 inch snowfall, fortunately light and fluffy, and had to do the snowblowing thing, a demand that took us both several days to recover from.  ( I know, that's a dangling preposition!)  We did the snow blowing and the temp was still BELOW zero.  Some kind unknown persons with a tractor plowed  the entire block sidewalks - what a generous gift to all of us.  We are most grateful!  It's been a week since it snowed, then the extreme cold kept us all inside, and today was the first day I actually ventured anyplace in the car. 

Last Saturday, having some ham left from Thanksgiving, I decided to make a REAL breakfast.  DH brought home eggs from the Barber Shop and I opened the carton to this lovely surprise. 

 All lovely shades of (neutral?) brown but the blue ones were just plain lovely.  I've never seen them before and had to Google "Blue Eggs".  Todays lesson!  

The Araucana, also known in the USA as a South American Rumpless,[1] is a breed of chicken originating in Chile. The Araucana is often confused with other fowl, especially the Ameraucana and Easter Egger chickens, but has several unusual characteristics which distinguish it. They lay blue eggs, have feather tufts near their ears, green legs and yellow undersides to their feet. Conversely, the Ameraucana has blue-slate to black legs and either black or white on the undersides of the feet.  Araucana hen showing ear tufts.jpg

Below is a current project on my "Design Floor" - yes, another scrappy quilt.  I kept the HSTs all in browns, deep reds and a few greens.  I kept the rest of the palette somewhat consistent, with a few brights for "twinkle."  The lights really needed to be scrappy for a bit of contrast (IMHO).  This should be 10 x 11 blocks and the blocks are 6 inch finished.  I was smart this time and make ALL the 4-patches, and ALL the HSTs and kept track of them with a tally sheet. in baggies, then started sewing them together. It's a small suggestion, but often I don't count ( duh) which is definitely a waste of time.  I make 10 blocks at a time, then get up and do something else.  Sewing definitely goes faster if one does not need to stop and cut more, a little at a time. This block has so many possibilities.  If you are consistent in sewing the same way each time,  I found if I twirled all the seams in the back, (pressed all clockwise) each block's seams will nest in the next block with no problem seams - a good time saver. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Retreat, RRTK and Machine Quilting, Hourglass

I spent last long weekend at our Guild Retreat, located at a beautiful lodgey YMCA, with friends, a LOT of food, and beautiful views.  I think this was my 5th or 6th retreat at this location.   If you've been to a Quilting Retreat, these kinds of photos will look familiar. If you HAVEN'T been to a retreat, you are missing something. 

 I think that head on the pink shirt is Marlene!
 This pink shirt belongs to Donna, the recent Raffle winner of a quilt I helped make last year, called Prairie Schooler - lucky girl!
 Another view - we had a fireplace when needed.
These are part of Scotts Bluffs, the view out our window.  Just beyond the rail fence is the North Platte River, gurgling away, full of ruching water.
 The walk in front of the various rooms.  I believe there were 5 or 6 double rooms.
More North Platte River, with the noisy, gurgling tributary.  
 This is the entire lodge where we stayed - so comfy, economical and pleasant.  We gals did the meals, all taking turns in the wonderful kitchen.  No one went home hungry!!
My workspace - that "red" around my quilt is a flange, not binding.  I was with 2 other friends, and we were comparing work spaces -- neat or messy.  Note - no mess on the floor under MY project.  Also, I have learned to use a boat cushion on my chair to help me sit high enough.    A boat cushion doesn't compress, nor does it make rude noises when I plop down on it!

That portable machine worked just fine for much of the machine quilting.

 Carol, one of my roommates, also works neatly.  Note, no mess on the floor.  This was her first retreat, and we KNOW she had a great time.
 And then there's Tina - my other roommate, who said her floor was a mess because she was piecing a tiny chicken that took her all day, and there was much unsewing!   8-))
 This was just to show to DH, how much of a mess we all make and that he is not alone when he comments about MY mess at home.

I almost finished my project, a Rocky Road to Kansas design, that I call "Stringin' My Blues"  I DID have to unsew one entire border side of machine quilting as it just "didn't do"! The improved version was 2 simple evenly-spaced lines using my walking foot -- soooo much better.  Even someone who has machine quilted a LOT makes errors in judgment.

Also, some of the gals were interested in how I machine quilted on my DSM, questions about  what did I draw with, what stencil, etc.  Repeat - this is all free-form - no drawing, no stencil, no paper.  At first, thinking about quilting those swirls in the white border scared me and I had planned to draw them, or draw guidelines, but almost right away, I realized I could do them just fine free-form, and they are all surprisingly evenly spaced. Frankly, I'm amazed they ARE evenly spaced and wonder about brains and hands actually being able to coordinate so well. The design itself took about 10 minutes of practice to get the right size for that border width.
The flange sewn between the border and the binding definitely gave the quilt pizzazz - a trick I learned from my friend Jody (Goddess).  I DID purchase the RED for the last minute idea to add the flange.
 All of the other fabric for the top is from my stash.

Here it is today, hanging over my fence.  I hung heavy clamps to the top of the quilt that weight it over the top of the fence so wind does not blow it down.  The size is about 71" x 81".  As I frequently have said, "It turned out much better than I thought!"  

And here is my Hourglass, ready for sandwiching.  More stash use.  Hmmmm, how to quilt this????  This is probably the easiest pattern I ever made.  Onward and upward - Quilt ON!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Practice, Practice, Practice

I'm beginning to think about preparing to start to commence studying a possible plan for quilting this recent Rocky Road to Kansas.  Yes, my brain is NOT focused, and every time I get on a direction, some diddly nothing changes my direction - what's with that???

Here are some samples, and disappointments, or I should say, "not yet successful designs."  I was thrilled with the first McTavishing  (diamond on the right) but by the time I got to the bottom, hypnosis seems to have taken over and I totally became "lost" in the design!  Yes, I remember about half-way finished, "perhaps I need to stop for a few seconds" but I didn't.

The diamond on the left is OK and I might use it, but in softer threads.  The wonky triangles in the top middle look interesting and not as difficult as I thought.

The wiggly lines in bottom center have the right "feel" for my scrappy stars, if I use a soft blue/gray thread.

I've not machine quilted since ??? spring -- hey, a person gets rusty!  It's amazing how much improved a design becomes with a little practice.

This second practice piece is almost a total loss!  The "wormy" thing on the bottom left has possibilities.  I was using my own imagination which has a mind of it's own every 2-3 seconds! Even poor practice results are better then no results at all.  If you are not appreciating my dark thread, remember that a thread that blends will alter your surface dramatically.
My practice pieces are saved in a 3-ring binder in page protectors, just like PatsyThompson Designs.com suggests.  Many times I can't think of any design, but that practice binder always has reminders.

I am also practicing designs from www.FreeMotionProject.com, by Leah Day.  I own her big beautiful book, and added a spiral binding to it.  Free tutorials of all her designs from her book are on her site. These two generous machine quilters have given so freely.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A new block, prairie grass, and quilt basting

 This is the design for a new donated project our monthly Thursday night  quilters want to make.  This is the first batik fabric I've purchased - yes I love it, but there is so much standard cotton to use!  It's called Eli's Wheel and is a free pattern at Moda Bake Shop.  

 Note the prairie grass against the bricks, now taller than the house - it grows from nothing in the spring to over the roof in places.  I really wanted a tree in that place, but trees take so long.  Those plumes will last until spring when I cut them down, ready to start over.
Rocky  Road to Kansas.  My last Hurrah of fall - basting in the garage, where I set up the 2 tables, and put legs on legs, to keep from bending over for pinning. This job from beginning to end (assuming all is pressed) takes about 45-60 minutes, from set-up to take down.  Now to get to the quilting, my favorite part, although I haven't a clue as to quilting design.

Here's what I decided for the border.  More stash use-up.  

Today is lovely, but icy, snow, drizzle coming our way.  

Happy Quilting!

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Shirttails" Bonnie Hunter Class

Saturday was our Bonnie Hunter class in Englewood, CO, about 5 hours from my home in western Nebraska.  My travel mate was (above, left) Jody (I usually call her Goddess) who was waaaay more familiar with Denver than I ever hope to be, and her sister Janice who lives in Denver, and Bonnie, then Diane (far right), our table mate from Washington state who was visiting relatives in Denver, but they weren't home so we know which activity took priority!   Our project was from Bonnie's book Shirttails.  Janice and her husband went out of their way to make ME feel welcome - what a lovely visit we had in the evenings and at an incredible breakfast Sunday morning!

This class was sponsored by Wooden Spools, and amazing shop that buys quality cotton fabric from regular quilt folks and resells it at a generous discount to other regular quilt folks!  Bargains galore for first-quality fabric - what a concept!  They also have a Bonnie Hunter ... not sure it's called a fan club, but they all make more of Bonnie's quilts.  What an amazing shop - they gave us breakfast Saturday morning with leftover yummies for Saturday lunch!!!  They are in Englewood, south of Denver.

Because of the distance, we made a weekend of the class - I am exhausted.  It was a VERY good - and humbling experience to be traveling with younger, strong women!  

Many photos are on Bonnie Hunter's site.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bonnie Hunter class preparations

My preparations are almost completed for a class with Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville, in south Denver.  The all-day class is sponsored by Wooden Spools quilt shop.  I remember how disorganized I am at a class so I cut pieces ahead of time.  Well, then I was tempted to sew "just one" but ended up with 2 Jacob's Ladder, and one Rosebud.   Jacob's Ladder had always been a favorite.  I have a 3rd set of blocks cut for Union Square but not shown here -- better save something for the class!.  Believe me, I have a LOT of plaids!  I LOVE this Rosebud -- normally it ends up looking feminine, but wowser, plaids make a big difference! We're making the quilt Bonnie calls "Shirttails."  I'm planning to set the blocks in a Row format, and each row will using the same fabrics.

I am traveling with a friend who knows how to navigate Denver traffic.  Denver is about 4 1/2 hours from my home in western Nebraska, but we'll have a lovely visit during the drive.

Thanks Jody, for that lovely soft blue plaid in the Rosebud block - it sings!

My Show and Tell will be my favorite Pineapple Blossom that I started in Casper, WY, also taught by Bonnie 3-4 years ago.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Goodbye Sue

One gal in our local sewing group, Sue, was planning a move from our area, and among her many tasks was destashing a LOT of stuff she's saved for YEARS!  She brought numerous bags and boxes of free loot to our sewing group, and we swarmed over it like vultures.  I grabbed a bag suitable for strings, and Lois grabbed that center embroidery, Garden Sue.  I wonder if friend Sue knew where that particular piece came from??? Garden Sue had a dirty dress, and the muslin was quite yellow.  Someone said, "Hey, let's use this stash and make her a memento gift" and off we went, all in secret.  Carol made a new dress for Garden Sue, another chose "30" pieces for strings, a number of gals learned how to make string blocks, and someone else quilted it.  The rick-rack around the embroidery was used to help transition the yellowed muslin to the white string blocks.  Simple outline quilting around Garden Sue, and a sun in the upper corner was all that embroidery block needed and the rest of the quilt was done in viney swirls and hearts in a variegated pastel thread.  It's large enough for an grandbaby girl if one shows up (!), but mostly, it's a gift to our friend Sue, who lived here many years.  She will be missed. 

We all really LOVED using HER scraps to make this small gift.  She probably figured she'd never see those scraps again!  WRONG!!!   We decided to send it to her NEW home in order to avoid the complexities of packing in the OLD home.    I will mail it and then post this a few days later.

Above is a close up of the vintage Garden Sue embroidery, and below is an over-the-top label made by Nancy on her embroidery machine.  I put a white facing under the label to keep the bright turquoise backing from showing through.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Hourglass -- watch which ruler

Dear Elaine Adair:

Please remember that when you first wake in the morning, you are full of enthusiasm, but your brain is not yet in gear.  If you had just waited 20 minutes or so, you would not have wasted so much fabric cutting all those side-setting triangles too small by choosing the wrong ruler -- the much -loved Companion Angle -- when you should have used the much-loved Easy Diagonal Set Ruler. But you also deserve a pat on the back because seeing all those miscuts gave you an idea for the border.  

I am sure others can use either ruler with better-functioning brain cells, but in this case, you did not. 


Here, the side setting triangles are now correct.  Now, on to the border.  I LIKE it!  I felt that using fabrics of similar value, for this setting, worked well, even with a few "clunkers" for interest and education.  

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Hourglass, or Spools

[ Late edition -- The general consensus for this block name is Hourglass, and some call it Spools.  Thanks everyone!]

Here is my current project - blocks are made from my box of 2 1/2 inch strips.  Several of the blocks were too light - they will be labels.  As is my style, I just started sewing the strips together, very light and whatever dark was in the box, not knowing where I was heading.  In the end I put the darker blocks near the edge, lighter in the middle.  It goes fast.  They are set diagonally, and I used a Side Setting ruler to cut the corner and SS triangles.  I actually have enough of one fabric to do all the side setting and corner triangles.  I've seen other examples where all the values are similar and they seem most appealing to me.  The first 3 upper left diagonal rows are sewn together.  Wouldn't this be great in Crayon colors?

Do you know the name of the block?

If you are not sure how this goes together, sew a Width of Fabric light (2.5 inch) and a dark strip (2.5 inch) together, press to dark.  Use your Companion Angle and lay the 2 1/4 line on that seam and cut.  I put a bit of blue tape on the 2 1/4 in. line.  Then reverse the ruler and cut the next, ALWAYS keeping that 2 1/4 line on the seam.  This will guarantee a good match when you sew them together.  Sew gently, as the units have bias edges.  I pieced a few of the blocks from shorter strips.  You can get 8 triangles per strip to make 2 blocks.   You cannot get enough for a block from a half strip - you need 42-44 inches.

Never wanting to leave things alone, I really want to see the results if all the triangles were mixed up with other, non-matching triangles?

It appears that this is our last week of lovely weather.  This view of 2 weeks ago
was so astonishing I gasped at it's beauty!

Time to get out the snow shovel and have it ready!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Owl Substitute

My friend in Illinois, a friend since High School, sent me a birthday box, full of surprises - I've told everyone about our owls, and she remembered that the screech owls seem to have chosen a home elsewhere. She is so thoughtful, and sent me this version to give me smiles.

I'll settle for this cute owl substitute.

Our little back yard still looks good, probably the last good photo before fall.   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

HG Fusion for Sale

My friend Sydney (no blog) is leaving this area (western Nebraska) and moving into a smaller home elsewhere.  She has decided to sell her longarm.   If you are interested, please contact me with name, e-mail, phone, etc., and I'll forward your message.  

The HQ24 Fusion®
Here are 2 photos of my Handi Quilter. It is the Fusion Model with a 24” quilting arm. It does have the
Pro-Stitcher, for  computerized quilting and a 12’ frame.  I purchased it in April, 2011. I want $14,000 for it.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Table Runners, and "Stringin' My Blues,"

I'm either really early or really late with a Christmas runner!  Fingers were itching and I HAD to sew something!  This is a Missouri Star.  I quilted around the star with invisible thread and made small paisleys with a soft variegated green in the green areas.  Colors are richer in person. 

Success breeds success and I made another one with a regular star, for Fourth of July (below).  The original plan was to quilt the side setting triangles in glitzy fireworks, but my LQS did not have the "right" thread - (that's a first!) - and I'm thinking it's fine the way it is -- I can add "glitz" later.  

Here's the back - cute, and On Sale.

I'm trying to come up with a good border idea for my Rocky Road to Kansas, now called "Stringin' My Blues" - oh yes, using up strings.   This was supposed to mirror the centers of the star blocks. Uhh, I'm not feelin' it!  Try again, Elaine Adair! It's always good to try with a FEW blocks before cutting fabric when one is unsure. 

And now, to my Design Floor -- shade over your eyes - this appears more "in your face" than my planned finish, and when I trim to better proportions, this border idea will "do it".  I'm sewing strings to phone book paper.  This is a 4 1/2 border, but I'll trim to 3 1/2 inches.  I'll widen the white border #1, to the proportion of that side setting white triangle, and will narrow down the string border, and will likely add yet another white border, same proportion, ending up with a 9 inch border.  The quilt blocks are 12 inches.  I'm happy!  For me, it was important to carry on the suggestion of frugality, strings, using up, and making do.  My border strings were approximately the same width as what is used in the stars.  And yes, I AM using blue strings from various projects as well as adding a few new ones to the mix.  There actually are NO more blue strings in my String Bin!

Hooray, energy and enthusiasm is restored in MY Studio.

Friday, August 23, 2013

3597 + 9 + 2 + 1 label

Last photo of "Determination", before it goes into the storage closet for an unnamed recipient.  Yesterday I did the binding in one day, and my hands were so cramped!  3597 pieces, which is documented on the label, but then I realized later that I hadn't counted the 9 binding strips, the 2 backing pieces and the 1 label!  So there, that's how many pieces.  Of course, the number of string units had to be averaged.  

The triangles on the border on ONE side were different than the others, so the quilting motifs had to be finessed, if that's what you call it!  I LOVE the black which is mottled, not pure black.  And I LOVE the thread, a King Tut, again a mottled/variegated black.  This was a very good idea and was visible even when eyes are tired.

New project - playing with strings, with basic, gentle machine quilting.  

 I do all my own quilting, on a DSM, a Janome 6500 MC.  This machine has been a workhorse - (knock on wood).