Friday, September 26, 2014

It is what it is!

Every Quilt Should Have a Story

I frequently get advertisements in the mail soliciting quilt magazines.  I rarely succumb to the temptation for more magazines.  I have a plethora of patterns and really don’t need the reminder every couple of months that I haven’t accomplished making all the quilts from all the patterns I already have.  I think magazines get repetitive and I’m seeing the same stuff over and over and well, you get the picture.  Tossing the solicitation is usually my answer. 
I opened one recently and there is a free pattern I have seen and tossed before but for some reason it struck my fancy this time and I put it in a clear sleeve and filed it in the ‘to do’ basket by my sewing machine. 

I think it really appealed to me because it is red and yellow and I was toying with making a red and yellow quilt but I just hadn’t settled on a pattern.  I had, I thought, the perfect red to tie red and yellow together.  Of course I was wrong.  That perfect fabric ended up on the back.  It apparently was perfect for the back.  Tweaking is my motto for quilt assembly.  If at first you don’t like what you see, go back to the stash and look for something else!

I love 9 patch blocks. They are simple and have so much potential
I happened to have a white men’s shirt my niece gave me because her husband wears out the elbow of his sleeve and I get the ruined shirts for my stash.  I cut it into 2 ½” squares and dug through the cupboard for all my rich reds.

My original plan was to use lots of different yellows for the yellow in this quilt and this wonderful red fabric with yellow circles for the red squares. That ‘perfect’ fabric I planned this around didn’t read as red, it was half red and half yellow and it ended up rejected.  Instead of one color for the red, I chose one color for the yellow.  I had a beautiful rich plaid that worked. The scrappy red makes the quilt sing.  I love the result.  If I had been thinking, I would have made it one row longer and it would have fit a twin.  It is what it is and I love it!

Bill's white shirt

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Scrappy Spinner

With just a little extra effort…

I found a block I liked in the Ladies Art Company Block Tool, Mosaic no. 18, which I decided to adapt to a technique I learned from Bonnie Hunter.  The units for the block are parallelograms that are easily made with a rectangle and two squares.  The squares get a diagonal line marked from point to point with a mechanical pencil and if the little extra effort is made to mark another line 3/8” from the first, you can sew both seams, cut down the middle of the two seams and have a bonus half square triangle.

2 diagonal lines drawn on each square with mechanical pencil

The size of the quilt the Scrappy Spinner blocks will make netted me over 1000 bonus blocks that are 2” unfinished,  and can be used in another project.  

I knew from a class I took with Bonnie about adding the second line and the bonus blocks from that class, Pineapple Blossom, were used in the border of that quilt. What I didn’t realize was how useful the little bonus half square triangle could be because it combines well with a 2” piece of fabric. In my short sightedness, I have never really used a pattern that had 2” strips as the size to work with because I had 2 ½” strips available by the gazillions.

Recently I was gifted a box of scraps that when combined with the tub of scraps I already had waiting to be utilized became TWO tubs of scraps.  I promptly bought a Go Cutter and Laura has been working her way through the scraps, one color at a time, cutting them into useful things.  The most useful things at the moment are 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangles and 2 ½” squares.  Emily has been cutting what won’t work on the two die sizes into strips that are 1 ½” or 2” or into squares of the same size.  All are getting sorted, stacked, organized and thought about.  Some are even getting used!

Because I was excited to start this project and the only two colors that had been cut up were the red and green, I decided I was making a red and green scrappy quilt.  The sample block I made looked pretty cool, but blah, so I made another sample and on one end of the red rectangles, I sewed yellow on the diagonal which as a block will become little yellow pinwheels set off by the red.  The green units will go beside the red units, but all other diagonal pieces were just random scrappy colors that were NOT red, green or yellow. 
red units with yellow for corner

chain piecing squares to rectangles
Red units done, green waiting patiently

Today’s little teaser is seeing the quilt pieces in a box

all units ready and waiting!
…all red and green units are ready for me to pair them, sew them into units that will then be made into blocks from 4 pairs of red and green units; 63 blocks in all.  I am still blown away by the number of bonus half square triangles.  

bag of bonus blocks waiting to be pressed
Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring will come...

Sunday afternoon

This morning Tom and I decided on a tree to move a new birdhouse to.  It had been hung too low last fall, and facing east getting full sun for too long and it had not been a ‘home of interest’ to the locals feeding here all winter.

small bird condo

The wren builds a nest next to the air conditioner in my studio window every year.  Most times it is on the east side of the a/c and some years it is on the west side.  I checked this morning and it is on the west side for a change. The window faces north so is always in the shade.  I feel guilty using the a/c before the birds fledge figuring I will scar them for life with the noise, but I get hot and my machine gets crankier than I do when it gets too warm in here, so I do not hesitate to run it when the need arises. The way the weather has been acting this spring, it may never  need to be run this year and a whole generation or two of wrens may grow up in the relative quiet of 61 bird heaven.

The birdhouse that got moved my sister bought last year from a gentleman in Peninsula.  As I recall, she had to come home for her wallet and someone else wanted the double birdhouse but the seller knew Joanne was coming back so he declined to sell to the ‘sure sale’ standing in front of him.  It is an interesting piece of folk art made from barn wood and slate.  It has two levels and hangs from a chain.  The tree we moved it to has a convenient stump of a branch which Tom hung it from.  Hopefully it will get some attention now that it no longer faces east to get the full sun.

Since I had the camera out I walked around the yard taking pictures of the other houses we have.  The brown one is being ignored.  I saw a chickadee check it out a few weeks ago but no takers.  Maybe where it hangs seems too trafficked since the bird feeders have hung here all winter under the oak.

little brown house...too close to feeders?

pottery wren house,unused for a few years

In the back yard I have a blue one that was not being used because it was full of twigs from previous years.  I see upon taking a pair of tweezers to pull all the stuffing out that it must have been a popular abode.  It was a stupid build, though.  There is no way to open it to remove the leavings so after a couple of years there was no room for babies. 

poorly designed, but nice slate roof!

I hung a turned wood birdhouse I bought at a craft show several years ago.  I had kept it in the house because it is so lovely, but it was built to be used.  The maker attached the top with two tiny nails that easily can be pulled so the insides can be cleaned each year.

Lathe turned

Last spring Tom and Laura spent many hours when Laura got home from school making bird houses for me.  Some were used as gifts and finally this year Tom hung one.  Before the morning was over I saw a Chickadee checking it out.  You can almost see him just above and to the right of the house.

3 houses for small birds

3 blue bird houses

Tom decided to plow the garden to plant asparagus before the rains come.  It is supposed to rain for days starting tomorrow.  I bought 3 year old plants so next year we get to eat what grows.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


...and the things we do for them!

I spent the last 3 days of my week off doing something I’m grateful I don’t have to do anymore. Prepping for weaving is hard work!

I took the kids to a dear friend’s house and helped her get her studio back in order.  Like everyone else, her life got in the way and things got out of hand. 

Linda is a weaver of the finest caliber that I met early on in my weaving career.  I remember walking with Linda through a field in Akron at the Hardesty Park Art show where we were both setting up our booths.  Her daughter, Cara, zoomed up to her and whispered that the ‘competition’ is here.  Linda replied to her that she knew, she was walking with it. I don’t know who was more astonished, Cara or myself, as being someone’s competition is really outside my thinking.  I have always looked at Linda as a friend. I will admit I am a competitive person; I just tend to compete with myself. I want to do better than I did the last time, that sort of thing. It’s part of what drives me to excel.

Weaving is hard work. I did it for 2 decades.  Linda has 3 decades of weaving under her belt.  Making a living as an artist is not easy no matter the medium and I’m not saying any artist has it better than another when it comes to whether work is hard or not. To me the best part of doing something you love and making enough money doing it to pay the bills is that you are doing what you love. How many people stumble through life stressed out over work?

One of the things I found myself most grateful for these past three days is leaving all the dust behind.  There is a smell to fabric, it is not a bad smell, but it is very prominent. As you descend into the stairwell from Linda’s house to her shop you become aware of the difference in the air.

The kids and I sorted, stacked, moved and sorted some more and came home exhausted and sore.  We all went to bed early on Wednesday. I hurt so bad in places that apparently muscles have not moved much in the last 12 years that another thing I was grateful for was a soft bed.

Before Wednesday was over Emily and I also warped a loom. 

Ironically, weaving is like riding a bicycle; you just get back on the seat and remember how it all works.

On Thursday Emily tied on the threads we put on the beam to the existing threads in the heddles and Linda showed her how to pull it through and prepare the loom to weave. Laura helped me warp the second loom on Thursday between bouts of her sorting work areas. 

On Friday I had Laura tie on the threads from the second loom to the existing threads already in the heddles.  Emily helped her pull through and Linda tied that one to prepare for weaving.  By Friday Linda was getting pretty excited about being able to weave again.

not quilt finished tying on, that is why there are sagging threads
Just seeing the floor seemed like a miracle to me!

I promised to go back when Linda gets warp in to help warp this big loom

Today I am back to sewing quilt blocks, quietly being thankful that I am a quilter now. Weaving is hard work.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Latest project (Mad City Mama goes Rural)

I am so inspired by Bonnie Hunter and her taming of the scraps.  I have accumulated end trimmings from quilt edges and pieces parts from other projects for years.  They need to be brought under control.  Well right off the bat I know that is not going to happen, so just utilizing some of the scraps into a project is a project in itself.
I try to explain my method of approaching a project in the blog posts most times and I will explain my inspiration for this latest quilt.
Bonnie has a wonderful series of books I use for inspiration.  I have focused on a pattern called Mad City Mama in her book Adventures with Leaders & Enders.  It is a wild riot of color strip blocks and 25 patch units.  I am making the 25 patch units from 1 1/2” strips of fabric.  I felt the easiest way to achieve a good mix of colors with unnoticeable repeats was to make all my strip sets for the 100 blocks I need for my quilt before I cut them into units to sew together into the blocks.  I have a tub of 1 ½” strips of fabric that just keeps getting fuller. 

My sister tried to tame this tub years ago and found they never go away.  She made a lot of quilts before she threw her hands in the air and said enough!  She even resorted to taking bags of one color and sewing the entire bag of strips into long strings and giving the sewn strips to our friend, Linda, to weave purses with.  Still there are bags of strips.  Linda would report back and tell us how many dollars of stock she had created.  Good for her.  It got rid of the really awful stuff like PINK.
finished sets of 9" strips sets

pressed and waiting for subcutting

Back to the project at hand.  Today I completed the 100 strip sets and will cut them into 1 ½” units consisting of 5 blocks.  
I don't cut one set at a time!

trimmed and into tub for sorting into sets of five

These will get sorted into sets of five units to sew into little 5” blocks which have 25 1” squares. 
sets of 5 waiting to be sewn

lovely little 5" blocks of 25 patches!

I will change the way my quilt looks by not using strips to make the squares that set the 25 patch units together because the riot of color Bonnie used is just too much for me. I will tame it with Kaffe Fassett’s red shot cotton fabric I bought recently at a local quilt shop.  The star points will be made from a brilliant blue fabric.  

The planning part is always the most fun.

Pictures will try to tell the story.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dog and Pony

I was asked to bring my dog and pony show to the Common Threads guild meeting and speak about my addiction. I dragged my friend, Pattie, along to help sort, hold and fold.  We had dinner beforehand and got to the meeting 30 minutes early.  We sat in the parking lot waiting for someone to arrive with a key and we watched the snow blow off the roof of the church and hope that the storm that was coming would not arrive before we got home.

Our evening was quite successful.  The talk went well, the showing of the quilts was greatly appreciated and I got to share my treasures with people who appreciated looking at them.

Many of the quilts in my collection are tops I have rescued from various places and quilted, and a fine array of quilts that were made by my mother and great grandmother.  It is a joy to share them.

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3rd, 2014

What do you do when it is 2° outside when you wake up? Why you build a fire of course.

9 1/2" of new snow!
What do you do if you are a cat and it is only 45° in the studio and you still have to be here so you are only inches from the birds snapping up the suet right outside the picture window? Why you spend as much time vibrating in the window as possible until your whiskers get so cold you have to go warm up!

I know many more people got so much more snow than I did, but I don’t LIKE snow and I really hate being cold and I get to complain because it is colder than it has been on January 3rd for many a year.

I have been quilting and sewing and keeping warm.  I hope you are having as much fun as I.

Happy New Year!