Friday, December 04, 2009

Here and gone!

This is the month of travels -- 3 trips between Thanksgiving and Christmas! I'm off tomorrow but realized today that I haven't posted since my return from New York. It was a totally cool trip. I got to meet Victoria of Bumble Beans, see both my daughters, and spend the holiday with my husband's family. I love New York, love it, love it. So exciting and inspirational!
I took waaaay too many photos to post, so I'll keep this one more or less quilty. I couldn't get a photo to show this well, but at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I saw these 3 little drinking vessels from the 2nd or 3rd century. They say,
"Avete!", "Misce!" and "Reple!"
-- meaning "Cheers!", "Mix another drink!" and "Fill it up!" How cute is that, especially decorated with all those dots? I think I'll put those words on a quilt, with grapes and wine bottles and such (and maybe a few dots). Too much fun! Makes all those years I studied Latin worthwhile. :)
And what's this? Looks like some primitive geometric design, laid out like a tablerunner. Think on it a second, and I'll show you the inspiration further down. Meanwhile, look at this:
Doesn't it look like a quilt? It's the ceiling of a Korean restaurant where we had dinner one night.
And that tablerunner design -- it's the sign (with reflection) from the Museum of Modern Art!
What a great museum! Wonderful stuff inside, but everything about its design is impressive. I loved the bridges and staircases:
And since I'm keeping this post quilty, there was a quilt on display at the MoMA!
Well, it wasn't displayed as a quilt, but the quilt is part of a piece called "Bed" by Robert Rauschenberg, and shows his own (they think) quilt, sheet and pillow, splashed with paint.

And finally, this is nice and geometric and could easily become a quilt design, but I was so annoyed to see a square pile of yellow bricks on display as art! I find it insulting.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was just pulling out our Thanksgiving leaves from years past because we read them aloud every year. When the kids were little, we'd each write something we were thankful for on a leaf to put on a tree, or sometimes we'd put feathers on a turkey. We wanted them to realize that they had a lot to be thankful for.
And what were they thankful for? Well, one leaf says:
"I'm thankful for scotch tape. It's sticky and it sticks to my fingers."
And there's a feather that says
"I'm thankful for no more world wars ... yet anyway."
They're a little more sophisticated now (!!), but they are still appreciative of things, and I am very thankful for them!
Ah, these nicely stacked boxes belie all the work -- and the huge mess!-- that went into filling them. I sorted and cut about 1 bazillion squares the last few days. They're from the Linus stash and we need to turn them into quilts.
Someone donated a pile of pre-cut solids that are just gorgeous, but there aren't enough for a quilt. So I pulled some other solids and sketched a layout. This one will be beautiful!
I got a little of my own stuff done, too -- cut my blue strata into squares (so hard to do -- I loved the big blue strata). They are much less impressive now, but they should look good again when reassembled with some other stuff. I hope so!
And what's this? At my guild's quilt show, I won a raffle! Twelve quilted placemats, one for each month of the year. Wow! They're just terrific, I love having them.

Some exciting news for the next few days -- tomorrow I get to meet another quilt blogger, and this week I see my grown-up kids!

A very
Happy Thanksgiving
to each and every one of you!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Thanks for the helpful comments on yesterday's post! I'll check my stash of blacks and reds and get back to it.
In the meantime, I did some more strip sets for the "Statavarious" (love that name!) quilt I'm making for the family room. These will get cut into much smaller pieces and be interspersed with some contrasting fabrics, so the order here doesn't matter.
And I finally took this block I made ages ago off the design wall! I love it, so I quilted and bound it to make a hot pad worthy of my best culinary triumphs. I tried a 2" strip for binding and it worked pretty well, but the corners were more difficult. There's no room for error, so I think I might do 2-1/4" (maybe 2-1/8?) on a bigger quilt, but this skinny strip finished nice and tight and it's exactly the same width on both sides.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Think ahead

The living room floor is there when the design wall gets too small, but next time I'll think ahead before I lay out the blocks and try to avoid the table!
It was still dark when I came downstairs this morning so the quilt was essentially in grey scale -- like looking at a black and white photo. Sounds crazy that this would help when looking at a black and white quilt, but it did! (Maybe it was just being away for a few hours that had the effect.) So I've rearranged a few blocks since I took this photo last night, but you get the idea.

Here's the plan -- a narrow border in color, then a wider border in tone-on-tone black (the one used in those little black cornerstones), and then a big zag zag all around. I'm thinking ahead and welcome your suggestions before I start cutting and stitching. Here's a drawing of my layout so you'll know what I'm talking about.

1) Inner border. Should the inner border be one fabric? If so, I'll probably do some shade of red. I was thinking of doing lots of colors, but I'm not sure whether that will just look sloppy here. I think the eye may need a place to rest. There will be a black border next to it, but multiple colors may be too chaotic on what is already a pretty chaotic quilt.

2) Zig Zag background. I plan to do the zig zag in brights and the question is whether for the background I want to do mixed blacks and whites (like in the center of the quilt) or choose only fabrics that are more black than white. I'm leaning towards that now, and will be sure that the brights stand out against it. Thoughts?

And I loved my word of the day -- acnestis. It means "the part of the body where one cannot reach to scratch." Who knew there was such a word?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Night and Day

This Project Linus quilt, put together by my friend Diane whose co-workers colored the blocks...
...turns into this at night...
...because it was quilted by Joe with glow-in-the-dark thread! Wow! The kids will love his snazzy touch.

I didn't think the photo had come out, but I "enhanced" it on iPhoto and you can actually see the quilting.

And speaking of day and night, I heard on the radio that (at least here in North America) Jupiter will be shining brightly by the gibbous moon tonight. Take a look!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sticks and Stones

I was a little under the weather last week, nothing bad, just enough to keep me from getting things done. But by yesterday I was much better and did some easy stitching.
I participated in a swap for blacks, whites and brights at my guild and stitched up a few more blocks for that. (This is Bonnie Hunter's Sticks and Stones quilt.) I think the real fun of this quilt will be designing a border. I'm thinking piano keys with brights, or maybe offset bricks in brights, or maybe even some triangles or a zig zag. Suggestions? Ohhhh....and maybe I could interrupt the center with something more interesting, too, that gets picked up in the borders! A block or two with a design of some sort, or a zig zag that borders an inner section, or ... ??? The design part is just so much fun.
I like wonky, but only when it adds to the overall design. When I have cornerstones and small strips I press them on a grid so I discover problems before I stitch. Look at the strip on the left!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wonky Houses?

Edit -- Sorry, the text didn't come through when I posted this. I had forgotten about this photo and just ran across it on my phone. I took it in NYC last summer, I think near the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. I love the wonky houses! It's not a mat, it's metal and built right into the sidewalk. Such a fun discovery on the pavement.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm headed out of town (California, to see my mother, daughter, brother & sister-in-law), but didn't want to lose my posting momentum. So here's some fun stuff about color. This is a close-up from a Roy G. Biv heartstrings quilt we made for Project Linus -- a rainbow scrappy quilt. And here's the whole quilt.
My Word A Day chose color words a week ago, and I thought it would be pretty ho-hum. After all, I know my colors, don't I? (Well, now that I've learned vermilion ...) And indeed, Monday and Tuesday were easy color words:
  • ecru
  • russet
But Wednesday?
  • sorrel
I thought it must be green, like the plant, but it's a light reddish-brown color. Thursday was:
  • umber
Also a an earthy reddish-brown, which I knew, but how is it different from sorrel? That I don't know. But the really fun shocker of the week for me came on Friday, with:
  • subfusc
Subfusc? A color??? I know the word only from Dorothy Sayers mysteries (Gaudy Night in particular), where from context I divined* that it was student garb. And indeed it is, but so named because the color is "dark, drab, and gloomy". I wonder what they'll say at the quilt shop if I ask for some subfusc fabric. :-)

*If you've read Gaudy Night, do you get the "divine" pun?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Unexcused absence

Oh my, the summer got away from me. I didn't intend to back off from blogging, but I got b(l)ogged down and couldn't give it the attention I wanted to. I think things are on a more even keel once again.

Since I last posted, most of my quilting has been for Project Linus. I do enjoy it, but it seems to have taken over my quilting and I am trying to contain it. And on the personal front, we had some big family celebrations this summer (two major birthdays) and both our daughters moved -- one to Berkeley, California, and one to New York City! Wow! I foresee a lot of travel in my future...but I couldn't ask for more fun places to visit.

In a renewed effort to do my own quilting, I am heading downstairs to clean up my space and get going. Here are just a few photos until I have some real stuff stuff to show.
My guild's biennial quilt show was a couple weeks ago. Very cool -- the quilts were hung among the historic aircraft in the Rantoul Air and Space museum! Here's the Project Linus booth -- you can see our string quilts and strippie quilts (thank you, Mary, for the instructions!), as well as others that we made. Almost all our Project Linus info was picked up on the first day of the show!
And this is Carol Doak, Queen of Paper Piecing, wrapped up in her special Tribute to Carol Doak quilt. She taught a class here in town, and she's a fantastic instructor. Paper piecing has never been my thing, but I feel now like I can do it when I decide I want to. She was terrific.
And the skills we work so hard to develop, Mother Nature simply gives to spiders. Look at this amazing web I saw on my walk the other morning -- and look at that HUGE green spider in the middle! There was a section of the park I have dubbed Spider Alley because it was one web after another.
Isn't this one just gorgeous?

For those of you who emailed me or just checked to see if I was posting, thank you. I'm baaaaack!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

City Quilter

Yesterday I visited Manhattan's only quilt shop. Wow! Not a calico or
Civil War repro in sight. The very friendly clerk told me they saw
their fabric choices as an antidote to the grey city streets. It's an
awesome shop. Tomorrow I hope to see the Paula Nadelstern exhibit at
the American Folk Art Museum. (sorry I can't make a link when posting
from my phone).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quilt in use

I finally got a photo of my MIL with the quilt I made her. This was
the first quilt I made where I had to control value very carefully and
I love the way it turned out. You can't see it well in this photo but
I will post more photos from my real camera when I get home. This was
the best I could do on my phone. I may not have computer access until
the weekend. Have a wonderful week!

Friday, June 26, 2009

City girl

On my way to New York! Flying out of Indianapolis, faster and easier
than Chicago. Great new terminal here, a pleasure to use. But this t-
shirt in an airport store reminds me that Indy is not NY. At a recent
Linus worknight I got called "city girl" when I couldn't identify
( and didn't own!) any of the cows in a farm animal fabric.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Testing mobile posting

Mary at Mary Quilts kindly sent me info on how to make a post from a
mobile phone and I'm trying it out. These are raspberries in my yard.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

From inspiration to quilts

I've been meaning to post this link all week and keep forgetting! I really enjoy Laura West Kong's blog, Adventures of a Quilting Diva. Last Monday she had a wonderful post that shows her moving from inspiration (donuts!) to several possible quilts, some artsy, some traditional. You can read it and get inspired here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sunshine strings top done!

Thank you everyone for your extremely helpful comments on my last post! The Liberated Quilters group had a virtual retreat today, so I took advantage of that to make more strip sets for the border and to use in the second top (more on that later).
I trimmed all the blocks to make them fit perfectly so I would be less tempted to stretch a bias edge, and of course I overtrimmed one of them. Took me a bit to deal with that complication, but otherwise it went pretty smoothly. Better than that, it was fun!
And for the second top -- I'm going to use the hourglass blocks I showed yesterday in a column down the left side, a row of 3" blocks like the ones above across the bottom, and the rest of the quilt will have sets of Chinese coins using these strings. I should be able to use all the waste pieces from this quilt plus all the animal strings I've cut. I'm excited about it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunshine strings

Susan at Hanging On by a Needle and Thread just took a class from Ami Simms -- the same class Ami gave when she visited my guild a year ago. It inspired me to pull out my almost finished project from that class and finish it. As Ami says, the babies are cold.
I used strings from animal fabrics donated for Project Linus quilts (and this quilt will be donated), but decided to make the blocks bigger than Ami suggested so the strips could be wide enough to see the animals a little better. Because I didn't think it through carefully, I thought a 9" yellow strip would give me 9" block. But duh, it gives me a 12" block! That's a lot of blank yellow space.
I sought to liven up the quilt a bit by using the waste pieces (my miscalculation gave me lots!) to make an interesting border. I was also hoping that the quilter might practice some clever quilting in the yellow, or I thought I might cut some animals out of fabric and do a little brodie perse in the blank spaces.
But it occurred to me I could cut each block in half on the diagonal (I have more blocks than are on the design wall) and reassemble them as shown above to chop up the yellow space. But since I hadn't planned on doing that, I would now end up with bias edges on all sides, eek! I could stay stitch the edges and sew carefully. Would that be ok? Any thoughts on what I should do would be welcome!
Also sewed some blocks using pieces from a fabric exchange. These are for Bonnie Hunter's Sticks and Stones quilt. I have been getting my sewing area cleaned up by folding, stacking, organizing, and stitching UFO's. It has gotten my creative juices flowing and I have lots of ideas. Finishing up these projects so I can move on will feel great!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Class with Cynthia England

Guild dues are definitely worth it when they give you the opportunity to take a class from an amazing quilter. This totally awesome quilt was pieced (NO applique, all piecing) by Cynthia in a quilt that took Viewer's Choice at Paducah. I love this quilt!
She told us that she had been using a freezer paper technique that has you work in reverse, with the freezer paper templates ironed on to the back of the fabric, but once she accidentally ironed on to the front and realized how much more forgiving it was to work that way -- if something is not exact, then you move the template to where it should be and keep going! And it's true, this was an amazingly simple technique and it's extremely forgiving. I never would have believed it!

Here's a closeup to show some snow and tree branches. You can click on all these photos to enlarge them and take a closer look.
And I love the tree trunk!
Another quilter in the class put her hand down (Cynthia let us touch and photograph) to give an idea of scale. I love her fabric choices in the snow -- that bit of pink is just perfect!
I couldn't get a good photo of the back of her quilt, but here's an angled one. Very simple, but it was also beautiful.
And here's her pieced bird on a branch on the bottom of the back. It made me realize that incorporating her technique for a small area can be very effective -- I don't know that I have the patience to make an entire large quilt like this!
Here's a detail of the border of one of her quilts, again, all pieced. You can see the full quilt on her website, here. If you go to her home page, you'll find links to videos, a step-by-step tutorial and a few free patterns to help you learn her technique. It's not nearly so fiddly as you might think!
And what did I made in the class? Here's the beginning of her Country Roads design. She asked us to make one of 3 patterns. You could use your own fabrics or buy a packet for the kit, and I did the latter. I wanted to learn the technique and knew I'd spend the entire time making fabric choices if I didn't use what she gave us. In addition to teaching this piecing method, Cynthia also showed us several shortcuts she's developed over the years and demonstrated how to take a photo and turn it into a pattern for this method. Great class!