Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Playing with the frogs

Can you see the problem? I didn't until I put it up on the design wall, and even then it took me a minute to figure out where the problem was. In the spirit of wonkiness and freedom, I considered leaving it, but my mental image of what I wanted was just too different. So I decided to do the frog stitch (rip-it, rip-it) and fix the problem. It wasn't a simple fix and I should probably have just started over, but I didn't.
Here's what I ended up with. I'm so much happier! :)

Oops, well, I was much happier until I previewed this post. In the photo I prefer the first a, but in real life it looked weird. Anyhow, I am NOT re-redoing it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Back at it!

Yay!! I pulled out the pieces of my Stroop quilt today and put them up on the design wall. I was surprised by how many letters I had already done.

I have only two more color words to do -- orange, which I started today, and green (which will be done in orange). I did o, r, and a today, but liked the a better as an e, so tomorrow will do a, n, and g and -- I hope! -- green. It went very quickly and I would have done more if I hadn't spent some time cutting for another quilt. That was avoidance, pure and simple, but I think I'm over the hump.

See the black and green prints at the top of the color words? I've been trying to figure out how to put the words together as a quilt, and it suddenly dawned on me to do a border of crumbs using the colors of the words, but I think I'll throw in a few crumbs of these fabrics for a little sparkle. I'm also thinking the purple fabric (the word pink) may be too dark, and I may re-do it in a lighter purple. Then again, I may not.

You may be sick of seeing my I Spy quilts, but since I finished piecing this top (except for the borders), I'll post a photo of it. I did this one in odd moments, but I have such a system for it now that it takes very little time. I enjoy working on it, though it's no longer very creatively or intellectually or even technically challenging. I enjoy thinking of the kids the quilts are going to, and I try to personalize each one a tiny bit by choosing a few designs that relate particularly to the recipients. In the last one I had a cup of coffee labeled "Kona", since my nieces live in Kailua Kona -- plus I put in some tropical and oceanic prints. In this one I have a map in one square and the name of one of the towns is my niece's last name. They are little things, but fun.

Friday, February 22, 2008


When I want a little relaxation, I can tootle over to the sewing machine and chain piece my I Spy hexagon stars, but slicing and stitching without measuring is another story. I need to psych myself up for it. I feel just a wee bit of trepidation when it comes to making something without a pattern. I want rules! And yet I don't, and I find myself attracted to things that are more free form. Once I get into it, I enjoy it, but I have to get over that getting-started hump. I decided that making a house for Bonnie would be a good way to warm up my creativity so I can get back to my own free-piecing project.

For those of you who don't know, Tonya at Lazy Gal Quilting is hosting a housewarming party for Bonnie. I've used some of Bonnie's patterns and sending her a house block is a way to say thank you. I rooted through my novelty prints to find something to fill the doorway. I had wanted a cat and couldn't find one quite the right size, but Micky seemed up for the job. Very fun! I have a whole pile of stuff I need to mail, so I'll pack this block and everything else up this weekend and head to the post office on Monday. I would do it tomorrow, but I have to spend the day in Kankakee for work. (I'm taking Monday off to make up for it!!)

And more on houses -- I just found out they're going to be doing Happy Houses at the national Project Linus conference in June! Yay!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to make a mola

Molas have been running through my mind ever since I posted yesterday, so I did a little more scouting on the web and found an excellent site with great detail about how to make a mola. Not surprisingly, the short description usually given is over simplified. Take a look Charlotte Patera's directions here. Check out her quilt gallery (there's a link on her home page, which you can click to from the mola directions) and look at some of her mola-inspired quilts.

Monday, February 18, 2008


While I'm recovering from Make A Blanket Day (our raffle quilt brought in $1024 for Project Linus!), I thought I'd do a post about molas, the traditional multi-layer applique of the Cuna women who live in the San Blas inslands of Panama. Unlike traditional applique, in which fabric is stitched on top of a background to make a design, molas are made by layering several brightly colored solid fabrics and cutting through to the desired layer to form the design. The top fabric is folded under and hand stitched along the edge. In the mola below, the top layer of fabric is red.

Sorry about the angle and quality of this photo and the next -- I have these molas under glass and was trying to minimize reflections when I took the photos. I love this first mola, which my parents bought for me when we were living in Panama in the 1960's. It's a very traditional one, with no embellishment; even the eyes are made by applique. There is so much playfulness in the design! Are those little donkeys reflected in sunglasses, or is that just a design? I don't know, but I smile when I see it.
I got this mola from my aunt. It's hard to tell in this poor photo (try clicking to enlarge it), but it has quite a bit of embroidery on it. What was that old TV show where the guy said, "I like it, but I don't love it"? That's how I feel about this one. It's very cool, but it lacks the warmth and spontaneity of the first one.
Molas have become quite popular and there are now many designs that at first glance appear to be molas but are not really. Some are quite lovely in their own right, but they're just not molas. I bought this vest at the Ann Arbor art fair in the mid-90's. I adore it, it has not one but two "made in Panama" labels, but it's not a true mola -- the design is appliqued on top of a black background.
I've thought about trying to make a mola, but it would be a painstaking process. Still, I think about it from time to time. I got these two books to help me. The Electric Mola is out of print, but I found a used copy for about $3 on Amazon. The author used the mola style but makes the design through machine applique. Some of them are really fun, but I don't think it's quite what I'm looking for. The other is a Dover book -- I love Dover books! This is just black line drawings of traditional mola designs, but there are some color photos in the book. It occurred to me that some of the shapes would make neat quilting patterns.

If you want to see more molas, do a google search and a zillion will show up. They're wonderful to look at!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Neat blog for bloggers

I have been a little out of it the last couple days (just had a colonoscopy, everything's fine), so have no fun quilting photos. But I was looking up how to put a signature at the end of my post like some of you have -- very snazzy! -- and found Tips for Bloggers. Vin, who has a great signature at the end of his posts, runs the blog and explains how to do all those things you want to do on your blog but don't know how. (Well, *I* don't know how!) He covers adding Paypal buttons, social bookmarks, signatures, multiple photos, and much more. And he responds to questions people send.

Still haven't put up my own sure-to-be-cool signature, but I will ...

I did change my comment settings. Spam arrived thick and fast when I first had a blog, so I quit allowing anonymous comments and started requiring people to type in those crazy letters. But I've noticed many people don't have those restrictions anymore. I wonder whether google's awesome spam filters help prevent problems these days? Anyhow, I changed my settings a few days ago and so far, so good.

(Apologies to my non-blogging friends and family who read this post, but I'll be back to quilt photos soon.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

strings and rows and pretty shapes

This coming Saturday is Make A Blanket Day for Project Linus, and getting ready for it has taken up most of my quilting time recently. It's fun, but I'm getting impatient to get back to my own projects. One of our big MABD projects will be making heartstring blocks -- they're easy to do, and inevitably we get eager attendees who don't know how to sew. This is such a fun way to learn! This morning I stitched together some blocks we made at a worknight so we'd have a sample to show on Saturday.
The only personal quilting I've had time for this week is my new I Spy. I was able to cut up shapes on the breakfast table while all the Linus stuff was spread out downstairs by the sewing machine. With all the pieces for each row in a little baggie, it's pretty easy to stitch a row. It amazes me how hard my first I Spy was to make, and how now I think of it as easy, mindless sewing.
And just for your aesthetic delight, how's this?
That's my new olive oil dipping bowl that's sculpted into onion-like layers. The golden green puddle is cold-pressed, extra-virgin, polyphenol-rich olive oil. It's good -- so good, so very very good! I discovered how send-me-to-the-moon delicious really fine olive oil can be when we visited Italy a few years ago, and now I'm splurging on the occasional bottle of this wonderful stuff. Unlike your grocery store vegetable oils, each one has its own spunky personality. Mmmmm.....

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Two Kinds of Trips

Appropriately enough for a quilting blog, a trip-around-the-world quilt is the first kind of trip I'm writing about today. I was inspired to post this photo since I've seen so many blogs where people joined Bonnie's Super Bowl and made scrappy bargello quilts on Super Bowl Sunday.

I made this Trip Around the World top in 2005, one of the first tops I pieced. I had gone to a Project Linus work day and noticed that there were lots of strips in the Linus stash and I determined to use them up. I did an internet search and found Bonnie's Quiltville website with directions for using up strips to make very simply constructed, scrappy bargello or Trip Around the World quilts. Hers was the first quilting website I bookmarked -- if you haven't been there, go! She has lots of ideas and shares them freely. Bonnie's a real boon to the online quilting community.

I tried to use a red fabric (or purple, when I ran out of red) in the same place in each block to provide some visual organization (I have a hard time with total randomness), but it never seemed like a Linus quilt to me. About two weeks ago I stitched the blocks together and decided I'd border it to make it big enough to back a Linus quilt. Some child will have lots of fun looking at all those fabrics!

The second trip I'll mention here is the one I took to San Diego last November to walk with my daughter Jocelyn in the 60-mile, 3 Day Walk to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. Jocelyn is quite taken with pirates, so we named our team the Pink Pirates. Toni at the Quilting Pirate had posted some wonderful pink quilting pirate fabric (the crossbones are made of scissors), so I ordered it to make scarves for us to wear. Turns out the store also had knitting pirate fabric (with knitting needles for crossbones), and since Jocelyn is a knitter, I got that for her.
Here we are in our scarves, posing with a pink-shirted San Jose policeman. A bunch of cops from San Jose volunteers to help patrol the San Diego walk every year, and they are terrific! They wear pink shirts (and often lots of other bling) and ride decorated bikes all along the walking route. They were there for our safety, but provided lots of moral support and were really funny, joking and singing and laughing with the walkers.
Decorated vans also drove the route to pick up any walkers that were having trouble. Here's one of my favorite vans, decorated with pink bras!
At one of the rest areas I saw this quilt, which I think must have been used as a fundraiser. (The hardest part of the walk for me was raising money!) If you click for a closer look, you can see that the quilt squares are signed by donors.

The walk was an amazing experience, and if it weren't for the annoying plantar fasciitis I have in my right foot, I would have recovered right away. I'm still in the process of stretching out my achilles tendon and strengthening various parts of my foot to ease the pressure. Here's a photo of my feet in yoga toe stretchers. Looks odd, but I'm starting to like how they feel!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I'm back!

Many apologies for the long delay between posts. Having gotten behind, it became more and more work to catch up, so I just didn't. I did a lot of traveling this fall -- so much so that the airlines have upgraded my status, but now that I have perks I am done traveling for awhile and can't use them! All those trips really cut into my quilting time, too.

I felt so bad about not posting, that I quit reading others' blogs, and I have really missed being part of the online community. Now that I'm back, I'm planning on some wonderful reads catching up with everyone.

So what quilty things have I been up to?

Working with the Project Linus committee of my guild has taken most of my quilting time recently. I just updated that blog (see the link in the sidebar to "Hearts for Linus"). Our raffle quilt is amazing -- I didn't make it, but as chair of the committee, I handled logistics. You can see it and read about it on Ami Simms' website. If you live nearby, please buy a ticket! All the proceeds benefit Project Linus.

I also coordinated putting together this quilt for a good friend who just had a baby.

Lots of people contributed blocks and I put them together and did the quilting. The pattern is called Hugs and Kisses from "the little box of Baby Quilts" by Jenny Wilding Cardon.

I also did the backing and quilting to finish off this I Spy for my nephew Andy's two little girls. It was finished last fall except for that, but I didn't get to it until this past week. Tomorrow I plan to trek to the post office to send it to them. The modern world is amazing -- I'll trudge through our snow to mail this, and they'll open it in bright sunshine on the big island of Hawaii!

And this is the back.
If you've read my blog before, you know I have plans to make I Spy quilts for all my nieces' and nephew's children. Andy's was the third, and here on the table are the hexagons being prepared for Andrea's quilt. The little kid in me loves playing with all the novelty fabrics!
I had planned to use a red background fabric on this, but when I laid some of the hexagons on it, they got lost. It was too dark and fought with too many of the novelty prints. So I tried this one, and I like it. It's not the greatest photo, but the fabric is blue with bright confetti.
And finally, when Val was home for the holidays, she and I started to make a holiday quilt together. The only photo I have so far is of the fabric, but I'll take more as I work on it. We had a blast choosing lots of sparkly reds and greens and creams.
And just for fun, here's a chest we recently bought for the family room. It goes with all our colors, and I have plans for a quilt that will look good in there.
I still have a few projects I'm working on that I will finish soon (I hope!!). Meanwhile, hello to everyone, it's good to be back in touch.