Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4!

In this block for my Press for Success class, we had four centers to snip the threads in the seam and swirl around -- plus a fifth intersection where we simply snipped the seam to let the fabric fall in opposite directions. Pretty amazing. (Click on the photo to see the block in greater detail.) This block is called Shoo Fly, a new one for me. Again, my fabric choice obscures the design. I'm starting to regret that I chose such a big print. I knew it would be weird, but I wish I had kept the lines of the stitching cleaner.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Beautiful beyond words

Oh, I see, I think you think I think this block is beautiful. Well, I like it, but don't really want to waste my bragging rights on this. What I am referring to is the BACK of the block. While I did the stitching myself, the beauty is all from the wonderful method I learned in my Press for Success class. I can't believe how amazingly flat this block is. Right now it is next to my computer and I am patting it from time to time just because I can't believe it's real or that I had any part in its construction. Click on the photo to enlarge it if you want a better look at the way the block is put together.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kudos for Myrna!

Here's my finished center block for Myrna Giesbrecht's Press for Success class at Quilt University. It went together so easily. I love putting blocks together this way! And check out the back:

What I really love about this (besides the flatness of the block) is that the blocks will join easily with butted seams. Take a look at the photo of the back. To join blocks, turn one a quarter turn and see how the seams butt up to each other so well! Hoorah!

Celtic Corners

Here's my Celtic tablerunner as it stands so far. Once you stitch down the bias on one side, you have to go back and stitch down the other. I think I'll do that all at the end, so right now it looks a little bumpy and curvy because the far side is coming up a bit. It's a neat project -- fun to learn how to put this together in a reasonable way rather than with one long piece of bias that you form appropriately. I worked on this in the car on the way back from Chicago, and had quite a headache by the time we got home. I hope it isn't a problem on airplanes!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hovering Hawks

"Hovering Hawks" sounds so dramatic, like something is about to swoop down from the sky. It's the name of the first block for my sampler in the Press for Success class. (Did I hear you groan at the pun?) The angularity of the block and the half-square triangles (HST's) look like hovering hawks, I guess, but the impact of the line is somewhat diminished by my fabric choice (see photo below). That's ok, however, as I love my fabrics and couldn't stand a sampler of traditional blocks in traditional fabrics.

Anyhow, we started by making a grid and stitching 1/4" from the diagonal lines to form HST's. Very cool!

Then we cut along the lines and pressed (very important!) carefully, and trimmed the blocks to exactly the same size. It really is easy to work with blocks that are exact.
And this is what the block looks like!

And, very important, this is what the back looks like. Nice and flat, no?

Monday, August 21, 2006

My quilting buddy's convergence quilt

Great quilt, no? Glen, my good quilting friend, made this. It's a Ricky Tims convergence quilt that she made with hand-dyed fabric. Just gorgeous!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Consistency of taste & other news

I read somewhere once that if you buy only things you really love for your house, eventually you'll find that everything goes together, even though purchased independently. That's because your taste affects all your purchasing decisions. I seem to have very definite negative taste ("I don't like that"), but it's not clear to me that there is a cohesive style that captures what I do like. In any case, I laughed when Val gave me these great earrings on my birthday -- look at the quilt I was making at the time! I definitely like these!

And speaking of quilts I'm making, lesson 2 just went up yesterday for my QU classes. I have started stitching the celtic applique. I cheated and marked the design on my fabric with pencil. The instructor is afraid pencil won't wash out, but there are disadvantages to other marking methods, too. One student in our class marked hers, but the weather was humid, and when she picked it up to start stitching, all her markings had disappeared! Suzanne Marshall, who taught another applique class I took, marks everything in pencil, so I decided to do that. I marked well within the pattern lines to be sure the bias tape covers it up. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sampler done!

Yay! Here is the completed top for my first Press for Success sampler. I don't know what I'll do with it, but the pressing techniques will really help me with future projects.

Watch your back

My Press for Success class at QU is wonderful! Myrna Giesbrecht, the instructor, does a fabulous job. This is the back of our first sampler project. It's a simple 1-patch, no problem, but by the time all the rows get joined, there are always some seams going in the wrong direction and you get lumpy messes at the intersections. Myrna has a pressing plan for everything, so we pressed half the blocks one way, half another, and different rows different ways, etc., until by the last two rows that we joined, every seam on the row matched perfectly, each side butting nicely with the other. (Doubleclick on the photo to enlarge it so you can see how flat everything is.) The back looks great, and in front, the points are all perfect! This is all the more amazing because I did not use even one single pin during this whole project. I still have to put on the two borders. (She has one on the sampler, but I'm using two because my fabrics need them.) I can't wait until we do flying geese blocks!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Viva Italia!

Val has a blog! It's all set up for when she goes to Italy. She PROMISES to post photos so those of us on this side of the Atlantic can get vicarious pleasure from her sojourn. Check out the link to the right!
Disclaimer: Just so you know, I'm not the only one who suggested (over and over) that she become a blogger while abroad.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Good things come in EBay packages

Today's my birthday!! And I got three wonderful packages from EBay, each containing a fabric with a moose print. Thank you, Jocelyn & Valerie! As Val says, they all match since they all have moose(s), even though one is black with red mooses, one is green with batik mooses, and the other is blue and white one above. I need to don my Maine moose shirt and get a-quiltin'!

Am I biased? You bet!

And here's the proof! I just made 24 strips of bias tape for my Celtic tablerunner class. The instructor, Nancy Chong, gave directions for a simple way to make bias tape from any fabric using a Clovis bias tape maker (that's the little doohicky in the photo) -- but we don't follow the directions that come with the gadget. She has a very clever way to do it. She also has us pinning them on a paper towel tube to keep them from opening before we use them. Since they were so easy to make once I got the knack, I made them while Val and I watched an episode of Monk on TV. Guess what Val did:

And here I am, showing off:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Will the rightful owner please speak up?

Even I need to clean out the knitting basket every now and then, and yesterday had a "now and then" feeling to it. I knew there were two things in it, both needing to be finished, but I was delighted to find that one needed only to be cast off and the other just needed some ends woven in. Hoorah! But what was that fuzzy black thing at the bottom? Another scarf, presumably knit by one of my offspring, but I am not sure which one (sorry guys!). Could you let me know?
Here's a close-up of the yarn in case that will jog anyone's memory. Nice, I really like it!

The Little Man was in a modeling mood, so he agreed to show off the other two scarves. I have these, plus a lovely one Val made me, and so I shall have to be certain to wear them this winter. I think what I need now is a thinner, cotton scarf that I can wear indoors. No one sees the outdoor scarves, or if they do, they are too busy stomping their feet and rubbing their arms to keep warm to notice.

Our Little Man was given to us by Brian's mother when we moved into our previous house. She bought him at a crafts fair in Florida and asked the vendor to send him directly to us. When he saw the address, he told her that his sister and brother-in-law, a professor at the UI, lived in the same town. Seven or eight years later I went to a PTA committee meeting at someone's home only to discover all sorts of little men (and little dogs and little cats and not-so-little men) like ours all over the house. Turns out the woman's brother had made our little man.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Only in Illinois (or Nebraska or Iowa)

It's a beautiful summer morning here in Champaign. Browsing through the stands at the farmer's market when it first opened, I could just taste the lush peaches, the bursting kernals of sweet corn, the tomatoes dripping with sun-ripened flavor. Our soil is among the best in the world, and you can tell when you bite into those farm-fresh veggies. But what to my wandering eyes should appear but a craft booth selling potholders, aprons, clothing, and ... quilts! They were all crib-sized baby quilts. The featured quilt, draped over the table for all to admire, was a John Deere quilt. It showed what I just don't understand about the midwest, and I wish I had had my camera. A variety of John Deere fabrics (take a look at those ) were joined in 6" blocks, but between each block and each row were ruffles of white lace! Lace and tractors, an archetypical combination of rural midwestern upbringing. It reminds me of one of the students in my office who grew up on a farm in Indiana. She seemed in some ways almost a girly girl, but on her sixteenth birthday, her parents said they would buy her a car or a cow, and she chose the cow.

Lotto star & QU classes

Back to quilting! It's been awhile since I've done any quilting (although, ahem, I have managed to purchase a little fabric ...). I did some cutting and layout for Project Linus, but this star block is the first machine work I've done in a month. It's for block lotto at guild, and that's always a quick project. Background fabric is provided, and you supply your own contrast fabric. I used fabric left from a reversible table runner that I never finished because I didn't like it, but I do like the fabric. These blocks always go together smoothly until near the end, when I find I have bulky seams and don't know what to do with them. I hope to figure that out soon, because I'm taking Myrna Giesbrecht's Press for Success class at Quilt University. Click here to read about the class -- I'm really excited.

I'm also starting Nancy Chong's Celtic Tablerunner class. I love Celtic knotwork, and I've been wanting a project I could take with me when I travel. This may be it. The techniques will work for stained glass quilts, too. Isn't this beautiful fabric? The yellow-gold will be the background, and the patterned fabric (totally scrumptious) will be made into bias strips for the Celtic design.