Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bon Voyage!

I'm heading out today. I am SO excited, that I am sure that is why I am up again at 3am. I've been piecing 5" pineapples since, and preparing to leave in a few hours for Charlotte to catch my plane.

Yesterday I hit Kohls for some last minute shopping, and some little necklaces caught my eye. Sterling silver, marked down from $50 to some ridiculous low price of $14.00.

I bought one, just to remind myself....it's a little round twisted ring with words on it that say "LOVE LIFE, BE BRAVE" :cD It's my talisman for this trip.

The little verse that came inside the box reads:
It's not who you are that holds you back
It's who think you're not.

This seems to be the week that I find little hidden messages for living in strange places. First the bookmark that fell to the floor earlier this week, and now this little gem.

Repeat these words three times daily, until you start to believe them yourself. It just might change everything!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Snugglies for the Plane??

Or Maybe a project to quilt on during long airport layovers? :c)

You know me, I hate to be found without a project to hand. Chances are I usually bring TOO MUCH. Wouldn't it be easier just to have a book to suffice, like NORMAL people?

But I got to thinking..it's a red-eye flight. I get cold. Those whimpy plane blankets never do me any good...and I need a new hand quilting project to take with me since the small little one (which wouldn't keep me warm even if I tried..okay, maybe one THIGH?)is almost done.

SO. I grabbed this orphan top that I've had done for quite some time...it is a good "sit down and cover yourself" size....and I went into my "get rid of it now" closet and picked out some lovelies (HA!) for the back! Bonnie M in TX, you might remember this butterscotch print from a box you sent me...I think it was with your "stinky" quilt! It's perfect for the back of this..I'm really in the mood for fall colors right now, and I'm putting this old fabric to good use.

You know when a fabric is old....it has no www.fabric.com website address printed on the selvage!

I paired it with another weird yellow that has a vine stripe to it, and since it still wasn't big enough, I inserted some leftover bricks and stepping stones units that had been given to me...

It didn't take long at all to load it in the machine and baste it all over with huge toe catcher stitches. It's really funny when people see me hand quilting, and they look at the basting.....wondering who would QUILT so badly! They think the basting is the quilting!!

At any rate, the basting will hold it together enough to keep me warm during my overnight flight, and if I don't get any stitches into it, at least it served its purpose for warmth, right?

I can hardly wait...Randy and I have been invited to a quilting bee for a group of French Quilters. Cafe & Patisserie. Ooh, la la!!

I've also got the blocks that I worked on at retreat...the berries have been appliqued to 7 of the 16 blocks now, so those are coming along nicely....It is amazing how MUCH 4 little circles can add to a design! The remaining berries are in a baggie to be prepped for the applique, and that is a good take along project, just the prepping part, even without having to take the remaining 9 blocks with me. Kinda boring though? They've been good "TV WORK" at night.

The fun part will be arriving in Paris...finding the place to change American dollars into Euros so I can buy a ticket for the bus that will take me into town where Randy is going to meet me. THIS PART MAKES ME NERVOUS!! But if she can do it, I can. And I'm sure since I'm not the only one riding from the airport, I won't be the only one struggling with luggage and STUFF!

So..there better be room in my luggage to DITCH the orphan block quilt while I'm dealing with luggage and the bus.

Tomorrow is packing day. I think I've gotten all the errands done. This just feels so surreal..I can't believe I'm really going to Paris!

Happiness Is.....

While cleaning up the studio this morning (after yesterday's frantic sewing of the Welcome Home top!) I came across a bookmark that had fallen out of a book, and turning it over, I came across this beautiful statement and wanted to share it with you today.

It reads:

Happiness is something created within--Not a treasure you search for again and again. It's an attitude gained from learning to know how to deal with the bad things and letting them go. It's smiling whenever life gives you a reason--And finding a reason through all of life's seasons.

I just love this. It is very appropriate for my life right now, and maybe it will touch some of you in the same way it has me.

Here is a picture of us taken at the retreat! I saved this pic that Joes posted, because I didn't have one of all of us on my camera :c) In this pic: Joes, Elizabeth, Lucy, Biz, Isabeau and me! :c)Good friends, good times, good memories.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Welcome Home!

It was one of those nights.....you know the kind?

Fall asleep by 10pm, only to wake up by 3am. More than half a night sleep, less than a full night's sleep...up to the rest room, grab an extra quilt. Try to get back to sleep. No dice.

Nose a bit stuffy, sneezing sneezing, eyes a bit crusty and itchy...Maybe benedryl will help.


So, I've been sewing since about 4:30 am!!

This isn't what I was intending to work on, I really just wanted to pull some orphan blocks out to piece into a back that wasn't quite big enough, and I found all the "Welcome Home" house blocks that so many of you sent me when I moved from South Carolina to North Carolina NEARLY 2 years ago!!

I laid them all out, determined to do something with them. Many of them could be squared up to 9.5"...so I did that. Another stack could be squared up to 8". So I did that. Still, another stack could be squared up to 7.5".....

Some odd balls had to have some strips added on and then squared to some measurement, but they would all work!

I used leftover blocks that have been given to me over the past couple of years as well....also threw in some leader/ender 4 patches, some other extra units.

I'm not sure I'm done...but I'm ready to let it set a while. I don't even think it NEEDS borders...just maybe a fun black/white binding or something.

It was fun to spend this morning throwing together this top fast and furiously, not worrying about matching seams, what goes with what, or how to make it fit..just DO it....Of course, it's going to have to wait in line for quilting, but in the mean time, it's fun to visit all these blocks and see how they play side by side, like good neighbors :c)

It's only 11:30am right now. I feel like It's got to be later than that. Somehow...I have this feeling....that by 3pm I'm going to need a nap!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mystery Women....

Did you ever notice how an ordinary day can become the extraordinary simply because someone unexpected has walked through?

I've had a couple of these days, just since being home!

Imagine if you will, my returning from weeks on the road to a HUGE pile of mail, including some boxes.....I could tell ONE of the boxes contained the long awaited book I'd been patiently anticipating. "An Echo in the Bone" By Diana Gabaldon was in the first box.

In the second box? It was LARGE, and I couldn't for the life of me imagine what it was. I opened it up, and INSTANTLY was thrown back to the early 1990s as I unwrapped some shop samples for some stuffed dolls that I had designed close to 17 years ago. These were some designs that were picked up by the Butterick Pattern Co back then, and I had specially made the samples for a shop owner in my town. We moved away and I forgot about them. She closed her shop, they went into storage....and evidently from the letter she sent, they had unearthed themselves as she cleared out storage, and she decided to send them back to me! I look at these very dated 1990s VIP prints and remember them fondly. Those were fun days, two small children under foot, designing my heart out, playing with fabric then, as I am now.

Instead of turning my nose up at these old cutesy fabrics, I am thinking back to where I was in my life then, awed at the memories these dolls hold, going back and forth in my memory to the ages of my sons at the time, the places we lived, what we looked like, and the young men they have become since. It can't possibly be that these dolls are THAT old, can it? But they are. And here I am...many years older, and not so wiser. :c)

I even know for a fact, that if I were to dig in my boxes of leader/ender squares...I might just find some of these scraps still remaining, bringing memories with them every time I sew them into something.

Carleen, in Idaho, thanks for sending the memories back to me...you are Mystery Woman #1 in this story!

Mystery Woman #2: Susan Davidson!!

The third box I opened yesterday contained this lovely old cutter quilt! It's a periwinkle star pattern, made probably in the 1930's-1940's era. You can tell by the prints in the stars themselves, and the orange fabric is that lovely melon color, not a cheddar of 19th century quilts. It is all hand pieced and hand quilted, and has been loved to shreds. I love utility quilts. I think I've written about that many times. I'd much rather adopt a well loved falling apart quilt that has had a life, and therefore a multitude of memories lived with it, than any pristine thing that has been put away and never used or washed. Susan sent this one to me completely out of the blue! I am gobsmacked, to say the least...She said it's just been living in a closet at her house, not getting the attention or appreciation it deserves. She also knows I love orange. Susan, thank you so MUCH for this little lovely! I'm going to display it as is, in all its orange glory!

Mystery Woman #3?

Dear Martina, I don't even know your last name! I was coming out of the post office at Hane's Mall running to my car in the rain, and there you were...in your dress slacks and high heeled shoes, looking frustrated! You couldn't find your car...you were lost and at your wit's end!

I beckoned you into my car, and told you that I would help drive you around to find your car. (I told you I was NOT an Axe Murderer!) I know the mall entrances all look the same, and we drove around and laughed and laughed, even as strangers, about how our memories go south with gravity the same way our body parts do into our late 40s!

It took a bit of talking and figuring, but we finally decided to go to the road and drive back IN to the mall area so you could remember which entrance you parked at. That did the trick and in a few minutes you were back at your car with a smile on your face, and on your way back to your office. I never got your last name.

You wanted to thank me, but I need to thank YOU for getting me out of my blue funk today. Some people pass through our lives quickly, forever leaving their footprints on our hearts. I'll never forget your smile of relief when we found your car, still laughing. I'm sure you will have fun repeating this story to others too.

Mystery Woman #4:
You would be the woman who pieced this lovely top with fabrics going from 1910 all the way through the 1930s. I found this top in a lovely little mall off the beaten path in West Virginia on my way back home from Michigan. I wonder about who you were and what your life was like. I wonder who's clothes these scraps came from, because there are many different ones, both masculine and feminine in this quilt. You'd been sewing for decades, and as I think about your variety, I think of the variety that I have in my scraps too, some dating back into the 1970s and 1980s.....my life in fabric.

I wonder why this quilt never got to the quilting or tying stage. It is machine pieced, and I love the contradiction between the black mourning prints, and the bright splashy polka-dots. Were these representative of different times in your own life? I love log cabin quilts, and this Straight Furrows setting is a favorite of mine. I wonder if you made and played with other log cabin layouts too. You probably never gave a second thought to where this top might end up while you were making it, and it makes me wonder about MY OWN UFOs. Geeesh, I hope they don't end up in an antique mall somewhere! But if they do...maybe I will become someone else's Mystery Woman....

As you can SEE....Oscar was quite perturbed that I was disturbing his nap to take pictures!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Triangles on Parade...

Good morning from Parkersburg, WV!! I drove 10 hours yesterday and this is as far as I could go, no farther. I'm still about 6+ hours from home yet. Would you believe that it was SNOWING when I left Michigan at 8am yesterday morning?!? Oh, get me SOUTH..and FAST!!

I got the triangles around all my blocks! It's fun to have new excitement for such an old UFO. I'm glad I listened to my own heart about taking the quilt apart and doing something better with it. Really I am. It didn't take too long to disasseble, new seam ripper, foot up on ice...I was a captive audience anyway, so they came apart before I hit the road, and the first thing I did when I got to the retreat was to square them all up again. Amazing how after 10 years some techniques are "refined" for lack of a better word too!

Hopefully you can see that I alternated red/double pink with green in the sashings, and then for spark threw in a few extra cheddar triangles here and there, just scattered with no rhyme or reason for where they landed, other than the pinwheels in the cornerstones. There are also red/green recycled fabrics in here! I need to thank Kathie for sending me a pic of an inspiration quilt for this idea.....it was just when I needed when I saw it! The pinwheel cornerstones are my own addition to bring the cheddar into the sashings as well.

The consensus of everyone was to add 4 big red berries to every block...it just adds so much, so in some of these pics you will see 4 circles placed where they are going to be. Nothing is sewn down yet, as I have fabric I want to use at home, and I was happy just plugging away on my triangles.

I KNOW I never would have tackled this at home..that's why it stayed a UFO for so long.

We brainstormed on borders, and yes, I could do more, but Gwen said that she thought it didn't NEED a border..just a binding. And maybe a muslin one at that, so the triangles just float to the end of the quilt without a dark binding to stop them. Okay. Works for me! I don't think I've ever done a muslin binding, because I was always worried about it getting dirty first (ever the mom, right?!) But yes, I think it will be a good antique finish for this quilt. Whenever it is I get to the binding. It might take me another 10 years to actually get that far!

My crazy brain is also considering doing some reverse applique on the leaves, inserting that detail "slit" for lack of a better term but again...do I want to add more?? I can? But? Will decide as I go. I just really love that detail on quilts I see where they have inset that long oval, or curved 'S' leaf detail. And since these leaves already have the background trimmed away underneath, it would be easy to do. Insane. I know.

As to the quilting? So far the plan is to quilt it in all over hanging diamonds across everything, even the applique. The reason? I followed someone ELSE's applique method and trimmed the extra layers out from behind the applique pieces. This will make for a quilt that is not going to hold up to a lot of stress unless the quilting crosses the seam lines. I probably won't applique this way again, but heck, what did I know at the time? As I look forward 100 years or more, and back at the antiques that have come through my hands, the backing and extra layers were NOT trimmed away, and only those that were quilted over the seam lines and quilted very close together, are the ones where the applique is still remaining.

Here is our star photographer! It was fun traveling around with Lucy and watching her work her big camera! I've got some other pics from the reteat, but Lucy took the best ones. Of course I didn't get any of MYSELF!! I was too busy shooting other people's projects, etc...I'll upload more over the next few days. I'll be home until I leave for Paris on the 22nd!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mess & Madness (of the best kind!)

Hi all!

I am here at Beaver Island Retreat with Isabeau, Joes and Lucy...and just a few minutes to post some glimpses of what is going on here!

I feel like I haven't gotten that far, but it is worth it..because without being here I never would have considered piecing 1400 1/2 square triangle units that finish at 1"!!! I am to the point of starting to sew sashings and cornerstones using the red,double pink, green, and cheddar 1/2 square triangle squares. I'm finally EXCITED
about a UFO that has hung on untouched for 10 years (or maybe a bit more? This was from my Idaho days.)

There will be more applique added to my blocks to bring some more character to them. Red berries are a must...but I am going to piece these insane sashings and then attach them to 2 sides of each block with a cornerstone unit, still leaving them portable so I can do the berries on the go over the next little while. It will be a worthwhile project, and it is great to be motivated on it again.

I have had so much fun meeting the ladies here, from all over...and there are wonderful connections with some people who I've only met through email or through blogland, and here we are in person. If you ever have a chance to take a Gwen Marston retreat, you really need to put it on your bucket list. But put it at the TOP of your bucket list, not at the end..life goes to quickly!

The weather has been rainy and cold and windy the past few days, but even that has made it a wonderful atmosphere for staying in and quilting with friends. The leaves are turning...SO beautiful. Lucy and I drove around the other day hitting a few quilt shops, and taking pictures of the scenery. It is so fun to see America through her eyes. We found THREE one room school houses, scattered all over the county, just while out on our jaunt. We weren't looking for them, but what a great photo opportunity! I hope she will post pictures soon.

The sun is shining today, I can feel it warm on my back through the beautiful windows that look out to the lake....still windy, still cold, but I'm happy has a cat sitting here, getting ready to sew those 1400 triangles into something fabulous :c)

Stay tuned...I'll send more when I can!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Just A Quicky!

Oh it's raining again!! But I'm trying to be positive here...it's perfect weathr for staying in and quilting the day away, right?

Yesterday we had a wonderful time learning to use the EZ Angle Rulers and the Tri Recs Rulers during a Cathedral Stars Workshop. It's so fun for me to hear ladies say that they would NEVER have been able to do those long skinny triangle star points without these rulers, they'd always been afraid to try before. Me too. Before these rulers came around I was daunted by the simple fact that the seam allowance would make that long skinny triangle SO long that it was hard to tell where to place your pieces so they turned out right. What a fun day!

I was done by 4 so I had a fun evening with Janice, her sister, her husband, and a couple other guild friends from my last trip up here..we all met at "On Tap" for some yummy dinner. Living in the South there are some delicacies that we just don't come across. Have you ever had Sauerkraut Balls? Seriously...very tasty!

This morning I was able to sew..as well as last night. And now I'm off to a quilt show before heading to Warren for tonight's guild meeting!

This pic is of Janice's cat Ryan. Isn't he a sweetie? He has a motor to match....

Tomorrow is a Scrappy Mountain Majesties workshop....and then I'm headed North to Michigan..counting down the days to play time with Lucy!!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Autumn Means Apples!

Here are a couple pics I took at Brandt's Apple Orchard outside of Ashtabula OH on Sunday!

It was a beautiful day, typical of fall....and since we left there it has gotten colder and colder and rained and rained! I'm glad I packed some warm clothes, but if I run out, I might need to go....SHOPPING! OH NO!!

The atmosphere here was just wonderful. There was a group of blue grass players, apple cider being pressed, the smell of goodies cooking in the bakery....we HAD to try the apple donuts! People came out in droves to enjoy the weather, the music, the food and the fun...

Actually I'm hoping that once Joes, Isabeau and Lucy get here, we'll ALL do some shopping. It's fun to watch foreigners shop through what we take for granted :c)

Yesterday was a FULL day! I met with the Canton Ohio Quilt Guild for a Boxy Stars Workshop, and had a trunkshow and lecture for the guild following that at 7pm.

I'm off again this morning to teach Cathedral Stars to the KISS guild in Copley!

Tomorrow? I heard rumor of a quilt show not too far away, and since I don't have another guild meeting until tomorrow night, I think that might be on the menu!