Friday, February 29, 2008

Between things

I worked on the machine quilting of one piece that I may send to the IL Artisans' Gallery in southern IL. The deadline is tomorrow for the paperwork and I haven't made any decisions. There is a church in Chicago that accepts quilts and tops for sale at their one day show and sale, and again the deadline is tomorrow for the paperwork. I haven't been able to concentrate on this either.

So I decided to pull out a piece from 3 or 4 years ago that needs borders. I had originally planned on this border; strips of a batik with little leftover patchwork worked in here and there.
Then last year I found this batik and thought maybe it was just right.
Here is a shot of both borders at the same time.
I also made a little piece out of the leftovers. I have had this up on my wall for 2 years trying to decide what is wrong with the borders. I have trimmed a couple times and think I still need to have narrower borders on a couple sides. Meanwhile I stare at it every day hoping the decision will come.
We got more snow last night, maybe 2", but it is above freezing already so the roads should be clear soon. Maybe my head will clear too.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Busy work

Thank you everyone for your prayers and good wishes. I really appreciate it.

My mother came home from the hospital yesterday late afternoon. The swallowing therapist wanted her to stay one more night but she let them know she wanted to go home. The hospital is only about 9 blocks from her apt. so we can easily get back to meet with the therapist.

You have all heard the saying that when you get older you will have either your mind or your body, probably not both. My mother's body is full of arthritis, she is hard of hearing, and has macular degeneration in one eye, glaucoma in both, and a blocked retinal artery, and she is pretty sharp yet in her mind. My dad on the other hand was physically able to do almost anything up to his 92nd birthday, however his mind had started deteriorating at 90. I made him fix his own sandwich to see if he was capable. I purposely left him unattended yesterday to see how he would do if Mother was gone for any length of time. He walks with a cane now and sometimes a walker. As a pair he helps her walk and she helps him think. It is the next step I dread, the one where one of them is gone.

To keep busy Tues. night I picked up the scraps from the yellow and green crazy pieced blocks and started playing with them in postcard size. I was working on automatic because I was bone tired. I just did what I can do without thinking, lay the strips down until they covered the heavyweight product, zig zag their edges in place, trim any fabric hanging over the edge.

Last night I came back to it and started adding a few things to it. Below is the batik on the back of the postcard.
I am going to the sewing store today to teach a class on designing as you go. They are bringing their embroidery machines and while the machines are busy embroidering I will teach them how to take many different size blocks and plan a layout.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Not a sewing day

Yesterday looked like it would be a "snow day" to stay inside and sew but it turned out very differently. At 9:10 a.m. I got a call that my mother was going to the emergency room in an ambulance and that I might want to come over and be with my dad. My mother has had swallowing problems for years and she thought she had a pill stuck in her throat from the previous night. I grabbed my bag that I had prepared with my yo-yo makers in it.

They were just getting her on the gurney when I got there, vital signs all good and in fact she walked to the gurney. They saw how elderly my dad was and suggested we just wait at the apt. instead of sitting in the emergency room waiting room, while we waited to bring her home. Three hours passed so I finally called the hospital to see what was going on and they were admitting her.It seems that one of the routine tests showed something else that they wanted to check. Her throat checked out ok and we are hoping we will get a call this morning to go pick her up.

I made a little batch of yo-yos to keep my sanity, and when I got home I replenished the bag with some more fabrics, just in case.

The sun came out yesterday and most of the streets and driveways that had been plowed melted off. The sun is out again today but it will be below freezing if the prediction is right.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

And the winner is.........

MOTHER NATURE!!!!! Or maybe the winner was the weatherman, because he was right for once. Here is the snow coming down in little puff balls last night.
By 7 a.m this morning.
This is the forsythia bush outside my kitchen window. I wanted to get a picture before this guy.......
knocked all the snow off getting to the bird's food.

The scene out my dining room window is beautiful. You can see this was a piling snow and under it all is the layer of sleet we got first. It is definitely still winter in northern Illinois.

Monday, February 25, 2008

This picture is fuzzy

Sorry I just couldn't resist that title. Everyday I have to think of a title for my post. It isn't quite as bad as coming up with names for the quilts but is a close second. I usually load the pictures first and then hope a title will spring into my head.

There was that craze a few years back for the fuzzy seams in quilts. I made a few but I thought the clipping of the seams was brutal on my hand and didn't stick with it for long. The one below is made with the yarn dyed wovens that are a little looser weave and that fray very nicely. I have another one, a log cabin started in the same type of fabrics. It has been in a box for at least 5 years. This little quilt is 30" x 36" and is really a little more burgundy than the picture.
Here is a close up of the seams. This particular direction had you sew with 1/2" seams where some of the flannel quilt patterns used 1" seams.
We had a balmy day around 40 degrees F yesterday and now late today we are supposed to get 4" of snow. My art quilters are coming today so I hope it holds off til evening.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The beginning

This is the fist piece I made with my raw edge, free motion stitched flowers. I was doing workshops for a guild in Decatur, IL and this is the background that I made in the hotel room where I stayed. I was limited to just what I had with me and when I got home I sewed it together, but I was never happy with it. That is why I ventured into the unknown and tried putting flowers on as another layer. If I had never made an unsuccessful piece, I may never have said "What if?". It is still an unsuccessful background as far as smooth blend is concerned, but the flowers have usually caught the viewer's attention.

It is bright and sunny today. Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paper piecing

Paper piecing for most people is a love or a hate thing. I am in the middle about it. Although I don't love doing it, sometimes it is just the right thing for me. I don't always finish a project out of the blocks. Sometimes I just want to experience the process. I have owned many of Carol Doak's paper piecing books and have passed some on to friends. I still have this one and you can see I have a partially completed block laying there with the book. Carol gave the blocks the names of the states; this is Idaho on the left and Illinois on the right. In the book she even encourages you to take all of the A parts of one state block and mix them with the B parts from another state. I'll probably go back to this some day when I am between projects and just want something to sew on.
Yesterday my sisters-in-law from the family I married into got together for one SIL's birthday. I decided not to go out and buy a card and to make one instead (we don't do gifts anymore). I know she likes hummingbirds so I embroidered this on my embroidery machine, layered it with fusible batting and one of the heavyweight products (lighter weight than Timtex) and a backing and quilted it and finished the edges with a satin stitch of 30 weight veriegated thread. On the back I hand wrote my greeting. The embroidery was a little too wide to make it in the 4" x 6" format so I just got a greeting card envelope and made it a little smaller than the envelope. This took 2 hours to make so I guess it might have been less expensive to buy a card.
The sun is shining and it is supposed to go above freezing today. Yea!!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008


Can you believe I didn't have anything to post today? I didn't take any pictures yesterday and in fact didn't even sew yesterday. I shopped at W*l-M*rt in the morning, went to computer club at night. I'm not sure where the afternoon went.

I think I showed this 4" x 6" postcard size piece before but I think this is a better picture. The stitching is a metallic thread.

I have just a plain piece on the back of this one, not the embroidered postcard back like I showed you in a previous post. Have a great day, everyone.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yellow!! and quotes

Remember the yellow strips I showed awhile back? I took all of the ones that were not a full length (44") strip and made them into regular log cabin blocks. I'm saving the full length strips for a courthouse steps version. I decided to made a tablerunner with these. It is a little brighter in real life. Here is the backing fabric, same as the border. It is one of those fabrics that I wouldn't have bought at regular price, but at 40% off it looked pretty good. I felt like wavy line quilting, not anything fussy.
I was looking at quotes yesterday and I came upon some by Monet, whose birthday is November 14, 1840. I was born exactly 100 years later to the day. One of his quotes is:
"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment". I can relate to that.
Another quote is:
"People discuss my art and pretend to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love". I can also relate to that. Sometimes the artist's statement that accompanies a quilt is trying to make you understand where they were going, when really isn't just loving the way the piece looks enough?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cheerful color

Cheerful color, isn't that what we need in winter? Here are 3 sizes of yo-yos laying on the table together. Here they are again with the yo-yo makers. That little green one is the one I started out with. Don't look for a project made out of these any time soon. I will have to make bags full before I have enough for anything. I have packed a ziplock bag with fabric for all 3 sizes, scissors, needle and thread to grab and take along when I know I will stuck somewhere for a while. The small ones are about 1.2", the large is 1.8" and the X-large is 2.375". Why didn't they make a medium? There is another size an X-small that is about .75". I didn't figure I needed that one.
Here is another postcard I made last year from the scraps of one of the Kaffe Fassett fabric quilts. I used a veriegated rayon embroidery thread for the stitiching. It is all raw edge cutaways laid in place and then stitched over, no fusing. It is 4" x 6".
I have the pattern for the postcard backs for my embroidery machine so I did a bunch and use them as I make a matching color card. The piece below is square, it is the camera lens that distorts it.
I wasn't really paying attention when the weatherman said we might get a dusting of snow overnight. This morning I thought I heard a snow plow and when I looked out we have a clean fresh blanket of white on the ground. It is supposed to be 9 degrees so I'm not ready to go out and shovel yet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snow and snowmen

Did anybody else out there make every Debbie Mumm pattern that came out in the late 1980's? I just loved cutting all of those strips, then squares and rectangles, and having piles of each to assemble the blocks. I think this is the only one I still own. It has polyester batting in it so I had a hard time trying to make it hang straight. I guess I could have used pins! It is just stuck on my flannel covered design wall here. I quilted swirling snow in the background. It is 25" x 32". As far as real snow goes, I still have a pile along the driveway, our yards are still covered but the streets are clean. We had 40 degrees and an inch of rain on Sunday, falling temperatures yesterday, and skating rinks everywhere the rainwater had collected. It was 2 degrees this morning.
We have had such mild winters the last few years that this one is feeling really loooooong.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Follow the leader

One of the ladies in my art quilters' group is also a quilting teacher and she kept showing us her many samples for her (Ricky Tim's) Convergence class. Several of us had to try it too. I had purchased the book earlier but just never took the time to try it. As many of my friends know, I love zebras. I have a little bit of zebra in every room. I chose an all over zebra body print and one with foliage and zebras to constrast with my mottled green print. I picked up the orangy red from the mottled print to put in my inner border. Then I realized what I had trimmed away from the edges could be sewn back on in reverse order as a border. I added the zebras at the pool as a fused fabric patch. It is still a top but I'm on a roll finishing in February so maybe it will get finished.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A quilt and a mystery

First, the quilt. This is the only picture I have of this quilt and it isn't very good. I made this quilt in the spring of 2005 and gave it to my dentist for her waiting room. It is an I Spy quilt with 6.5" squares bordered by Moda Marbles in lots of different colors. I hear it is a big hit with the kids. Now to the mystery. A couple years ago I decided to update the wiring in my 1953 house to grounded wiring. I had to use those 3 prong adaptors everywhere in my house before that. I figured it would be money well spent when I ever sell the house. I decided to add a few perks while I was at it and had motion sensor lights installed in several places, one being on the back of my house. Every night around 11-11:15 I walk out to the kitchen and studio to turn off lights and the back light is on. I was beginning to think I had a timer on it and didn't know it. I always go to the window and look out and rarely see anything out there. Sometimes it is just the close tree branches moving with the wind that have set it off. Last week I finally saw one of my visitors. He came back again last night so I decided to try taking a picture with just the light across the yard from him.
Here is Mr. Opossom rooting around in the area below a bird feeder. The squirrels are greedy and messy and drop a lot of seeds to the ground in their haste. I saw a rabbit out there at night this week feeding off the same spot. So the mystery is finally solved, this old guy just lumbers through my yard tripping the light and then he usually hides and I don't see him.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine flowers

One of my sisters-in-law gives me an amaryllis for Christmas every year. She knows how much I love them. This one had a very slow start and first bloomed on Valentine's day. This picture was taken yesterday morning. Today I took another picture while all four flowers are in bloom. Aren't they beautiful?
This picture was taken with a flash so you really see the glow of the white part.
I added 3 things to my blog-shop today, one of them is the Zodiac wallhanging below. It is machine embroidered.

Friday, February 15, 2008

25,000th visitor

On July 15, 2007 I added the sitemeter to my blog. Today at 8:45 a.m, exactly 7 months later, my 25,000th visitor was here. It was somebody from Friday Harbor, WA who uses a Mac computer, Rock Island Comm. provider, and visits me after going to fibermania, Mrs. Mel's blog. Whoever you are, thank you for visiting. Sometimes sitemeter is a little off on the town name but it would be close.

Sewing it all together

I have seen a couple blogs where the person sews each row individually. There are 2 problems with that. First it takes longer to sew the top together and second, you have to mark which end of the row is left (or top) or you take the chance of putting it together wrong.

I usually move a machine close to my design wall. Then I take down vertical rows one and two making sure I don't rotate the piles. Row 1 goes to the left side of my machine and row 2 to the right side. I add one from the right pile on top of one from the left pile and chain stitch them all together. Always leave your beginning tail of thread on where you started and you will always know where the top left corner is.

Then I go back and take down row 3 from top to bottom and put it to the right of my machine, open out the first 2 pieces at the top of my sewn section and now sew piece 3 onto all of the one and twos. I continue adding rows this way.
Here are pictures from each side of my machine as the fifth piece is being added to each row.
Here are the rest of the pieces waiting to be taken down to sew.
When you finish all of your pieces they are all attached together and you don't have to make any decisions the second time about which piece is the beginning of the row and which is at the end because they are all attached to each other. Now I press the seams in opposing directions on the rows and then sew the cross seams.
And the top is done, just as I had it on the design wall. You may remember these blocks if you have been reading my blog for awhile. If you go to LABELS on the right column of this screen and click on CRAZY PIECING and scroll down to Sept. you will see where I tried a bunch of different layouts.
I finally decided it was time to sew them together and had to make 2 final blocks to get the color to flow the way I liked it. I have named it Rainbow River. Than name just came into mind as I came down the basement stairs and saw it on the far wall. NOW I have to finish it. This top is 48" x 66". Some close up shots of the blocks.

It is cold and sunny today. We're supposed to go down into the deep freeze tonight again.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

This quilt was a pile of blocks in a bag 2 weeks ago. In Mary Ellen Hopkins "Connecting Up" book there was a quilt with hearts and stars and everybody that saw it wanted to make it. I figured out the yardage and started teaching it as a class about 20 years ago. I taught it many times and I know I made at least 4 others besides this one. I was just tired of this one and put the last set of blocks in a bag and put them with the backing fabric in the UFO box. In my search for all things "heart" I found it and decided to finish it. It is made of flannel and measures about 50" x 62". I started the quilting yesterday but still have the border to quilt as well as the insides of the stars and hearts. I outline quilted all of the hearts and stars and then did meandering with a heart now and then. The block below shows what to do when you don't have enough of one fabric for a block.
If you look closely you can see the meandering and a heart, maybe if you click on it and enlarge it you can see it better.
When my cousins were visiting a couple years ago I pulled out my old postcard collection and let them take some of them. I couldn't find the greeting card batch at the time so later when I found them I scanned some and then sent some of the originals to my cousin whose mother's birthday is on Valentine's Day. Here are some old fashioned greetings for you, my visitors...........