Thursday, August 28, 2014

Progress... Mckenna Ryan Quilt

I have been working on this McKenna Ryan quilt since 2008, though not with any dedication.  The real push has been during the last year while I've been taking a class at my LQS in how to make a McKenna Ryan quilt.
The quilt is called Forest Hollow and it's all/mostly owls with a few other little critters here and there.  I'm pretty happy with it, mostly just pleased I got this far on it.  It still needs to be quilted, which is a major thing on a McKenna Ryan quilt.  If you're not familiar with her method, it is to do all the applique raw-edge, with the quilting being done around the motifs with invisible thread to sew them down.  I've got SO much work ahead of me with the quilting, But I'm glad the cutting and fusing is done.  There's a lot of detail in this quilt and I hope all the pieces stay fused til I get the quilting done! 

On the non-quilting front, I've got a very sick elderly cat who is declining rapidly.  We are doing all we can to support her, but I fear we are coming to the point where we will need to make some hard decisions about her care.  I love my furbabies, and I hate being in this position, but I have to be a responsible caregiver too.  Sometimes just love alone isn't enough. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Home again home again, jiggity jog

I flew to Dallas on Friday to attend the Quilt Plano Show.  Oh myyyy!!!  The ladies of this guild are SO talented!  I was amazed at the incredible skills they evidenced in their myriad quilts.  Just amazing.  Not only was it a judged show, which is not typical for a guild quilt show, but the quilts were really impressive.  It was like a mini-Road to California.

Obviously it was not as big as that show, but they so many great displays.  The mini-quilt silent auction was wonderful and I would have bought a couple of them, but the ones I really wanted were sold for the 'buy it now' prices (which were about $175-250 each) before I'd even gotten there.  Then there was the show itself.  The quilts were hung in groupings, so you could see in most cases which quilts were in competition with each other, for easy comparison and ability to see what the judges saw.  I really appreciated that.

There is a group of art quilters in the area as well, and they had several mini-displays, showing off their work as well - SO wonderfully talented!

The best of show quilt was a Baltimore Christmas quilt (one of two at the show), but what set this one apart was the fantastic quilting!  I could absolutely see what set it apart from the other quilts in the show.  They were all beautiful, but this one was superb!

Anyway, against SO much tight competition, I felt honored that my quilt took a second place ribbon in the 'large applique, two-person quilt' category.  The quilting by Kathy Bradbury REALLY was key to the quilt getting an award.  I hope it does well at my guild show in October.  I  think I will try to submit it to Road to California as well.  Not sure if they will take it, but I can try!.

While I was in the Dallas/Plano area, I got to visit Quilt Country shop in Lewisville.  I picked up their row-by-row pattern, bought a few small pieces of fabric to make postcards with, and had a ball walking through their thousands of bolts of fabric admiring all the batiks (enough to rival Candy's Quiltworks in Northridge), and their wonderful brights and fun fabrics.

I even bought a foot pedal sticky mat at the show to keep my pedal from sliding on the floor.  I am going to give it a try next time I sit down at the machine.  I also bought a new quilt cabinet from Kerry's Collectibles while at the show, but I don't actually get to pick it up until Road to California in January (they don't ship, it's prohibitively expensive).  It will be nice to be able to put away more of the quilts I'm not using, as they DO tend to pile up around the house.

Many are memory quilts of one kind or another, so I am loathe to donate them, as the memories are only for me, and I don't have enough wall space to hang them all.... so storing them seems the only option.  Some I do rotateout depending on the season, but others are just stored all the time.

What do you do with your finished quilts?  Donate?  Keep for yourself?  Give as gifts? 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Oh gosh, I am always heartbroken every time I hear about quilts being stolen.  Oh, don't get me wrong - LOTS of things in this world are heartbreaking - starving children, abused animals, and so forth.  I'm not immune to such feelings too.  However, this blog is about quilts, so I will refrain from straying that far off topic.

Anyway... Nancy Rink is an internationally known quilt lecturer and teacher from here in California.  Recently her studio was broken into and a lot of quilts were stolen.  I won't go into details, or show pictures of the quilts here on my blog.  HOWEVER - you can read all about it HERE.

That link tells all about what happened and shows pictures of the missing quilts.  Please watch Etsy, Ebay and the like and keep your eyes open for these missing gems.  If you see them, report them immediately.

I cannot even begin to closely imagine Nancy's sense of loss and violation over this theft.  If I were her, I'd be more than hurt, I'd be angry too, and I'm sure she is, and has every right to be.  My best wishes are with her that the rogue(s) are caught and prosecuted and that she gets all her quilts back safely.

Thanks for listening.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On the Journey

My word for this year was JOURNEY, involving myself more in the process than my investment in the finish.  I have been doing more hand work than usual, and less speed-sewing (except for that one lapse for the Row by Row Experience)...

Anyway, I kinda lost my mojo a little bit after the rush of the Row by Row.  I didn't sew for almost two weeks after I finished that quilt.

Today I got 'restarted' sewing.  I've had these two applique blocks that were fused but not sewn, and today I sat down at the machine, took my time, watched a couple of movies while doing my blanket stitching.  I finished up the machine stitching on two blocks:
Bertie's Year, July

Bertie's Winter, Sleight Ride
Neither block has the embellishments, like embroidery and buttons added yet... those will come in time... maybe later this week.  Still, it was fun making them to this point. 

Tomorrow is another day, and I'm not in a big rush to finish these, though I will get a new Bertie's Year block early in August, so I'd like to be done by then.  We'll see... I'm not going to stress over it, though. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Row by Row

Row by Row Experience is a different sort of shop hop... it is nationwide (plus Canada) and requires no passports.  You simply go to participating shops and pick up their row pattern for free.  The first person to return to a shop with a completed quilt that includes rows from at least 8 different participating shops wins 25 fat quarters and possibly more prizes as well.  What a lot of fun!!! 

I went to eight shops in my area and picked up patterns, then sewed like a mad demon for a few days to finish up my rows.  Then I basted, bound and labeled it and returned to one of my local quilt shops to claim my prize.  My finished quilt:
It's not the best applique I've ever done, not the best quilting, but it's done!!  So thrilled to win 25 fat quarters, which they cut from whatever I wanted in their stock at Cotton and Chocolate Quilt Shop

So generous to cut me what I wanted... Naturally I went right for the batiks, my favorite fabrics.  Because I included their row in my quilt, I also won a gift certificate for the shop, a beautiful tote bag, and a coffee mug.

Now that the row by row experience is done for me, I'm at a loss for quilty things to do.  I already pieced my Saturday sampler blocks for July, pin-basted a table runner, with no plans for immediate quilting, and made a few more hexagons for my hex quilt.  I DO have two Bertie blocks to complete, but I have lost my mojo for actually working on them.

If you see my mojo floating around somewhere in the ether, send it back my way, please.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Travel Time

I haven't posted in a while.  I've been busy busy with travel.  I drove from my home in Southern California to a quilt show in Midway, Utah with a friend.  It was a fun drive, with a stop in Vegas on the way there and back (gotta sleep somewhere!).  We hit several quilt shops in St. George, Utah (a small town with like 8 quilt shops!!!) on the way to the show, and then some shops in Provo and Orem too.  Midway is in the Heber Valley, which is about 25 miles north of Provo in a quiet, beautiful valley ringed by majestic hills and mountains.  Everything was SO green (especially notable after coming through all that desert!).  Just beautiful!

 Even the view from our room was charming!

Anyway, the show 'A Small Town Quilt Show in a Big Town Way'  was very cool... just beautiful quilts on display and about 12 or 15 vendors.  It was not a huge show, but very fun.  We took some classes there too.

I learned how to sew hexagons together by machine (easier than it sounds).  It was so cool to learn a new technique!  I made a very pretty bag out of the hexagons.  The class was taught by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life.

I also took a class on making fabric postcards.  Now if you read my blog, you know I already do this, but Laurel Dillman taught a class on how to make them a bit differently.  She fuses motifs to the background fabric, then the background fabric to the Peltex and THEN stitches the motifs with either a satin, zigzag or blanket stitch.  I have always done that edge stitching around the motifs before fusing the background to the Peltex.  It is actually very cool to do it Laurel's way as the Peltex is much more stable than the fabric alone.  I learned something new!  I love that!

I also won some ribbons at the show, which was very exciting!  A first place ribbon on my Woodland Creatures quilt, second place on Under the Jellicle Moon and third place on I.D., Therefore I Am.  Exciting!  I love winning!
Woodland Creatures
Under the Jellicle Moon
ID, Therefore I Am
Tres cool!  My fourth quilt in the show didn't place in its category, but that's okay, it was very cool that it got juried in.

I'm looking forward to more shows with Woodland Creatures.  It is going to be in a show in Plano, TX in August, and my guild's show in October, and will be submitted to a few more shows in the near future after that.  The quilting on it is superlative.  I simply cannot say enough about Kathy Bradbury's extreme quilting!  It is just amazing.  Seeing it up close and personal for the first time at Midway was a thrill!

I have lots more summer travel planned visiting quilt shows around the western states.  A busy time, and as much as I love being home with my husband, kitties, dog (and air conditioning!), I love being out and about too!  I can't wait to see all the eye candy out there and be inspired!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

EPP Travel Kit

I guess I should start with "What the heck is EPP?" - It is short for English Paper Piecing - a method of putting together little hexagons for quilting/crafting projects. 

I found this little tutorial for making a travel kit for taking your EPP projects along with you when you travel.  (Okay, it's actually a kinda long tutorial, but with very detailed instructions and good photos to illustrate every step). 

I made my own EPP travel kit.  It only took a couple of days, which is pretty good for me, because I rarely do handwork, and this was pretty handwork intensive - only a little machine sewing.   I made two EPP flowers over the course of a day and a half, then started the tote kit last night, which I finished today. 

This is the kit - all closed up, and ready to travel

Here it is, standing open, showing off the second 'flower' on the front of the kit.

Here is how I loaded it up with supplies for my handwork hexies.
Now, I did all this, knowing I don't even do EPP.  (Well, I had to teach myself how to do it a little to make the hexagon 'flowers' for the front of the kit).  But I DO sew hand bound prequilted hexagons as one of my 'take along' hand projects.  (To get my hexagon tutorial for this fun activity, click on the link to 'tutorials' at the top of my blog, then click on the hexagon tutorial).  So I loaded up my new travel kit to hold my hexagon project, and everything just fits fine... hooray!  A win for me!  And you, if you decide to make it... I'm thrilled.  I was a little afraid the big hexes (the blue ones in the back compartment of my kit) weren't going to fit, but they just fit in quite snugly.

Even though the EPP travel kit isn't MY tutorial, I think I'm going to put the link to it on my tutorials page. 

Enjoy and happy quilting to you.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Home Alone

My son moved home (temporarily) to finish school for a few months only.  My dear daughter-in-law moved in with her parents for the duration because she's allergic to our cats.  Poor dears are separated for the first time since their marriage and they are both unhappy about it, as are we.   My husband had to move his computer desk and files into my quilting studio for the duration.  This leaves me with limited space to sew in, so I am rethinking my concept of what makes a studio.

I thought I needed more room to sew in, but I'm learning to take up and work with less space around me.  I still have my design wall, but having my cutting table and ironing board in the same room with me will have to wait.  Besides, getting up and walking about is good for me.  I keep trying to tell myself that, haha.

Still, I am getting things done, a little at a time.  I got my Saturday Sampler block from one shop last Saturday and got it done on Sunday. 

Saturday Sampler block from Cotton & Chocolate Quilt Co.
Then I got another Saturday Sampler block from yet another shop today and got it cut and pieced.

Saturday Sampler block from Quilty Pleasures
Done and done.  Somehow I am not suffering greatly from the cramped space in my studio.  I, of course, will never reveal this fact to my husband.  When he asks how I'm handling it, I just roll my eyes and let out a long suffering sigh.  "I'm dealing with it, dear," I say with a slight lingering note of quiet despair.  He doesn't need to know it's not that bad.

Of course, none of that applies right now.  DH is traveling for business and my son is at his school, so for the day, I've had the house to myself.  Which is why I got some cutting and sewing done today.  It's nice to be home alone, but I miss them.  Good thing I have the tv for some company while I work.  I don't like utter silence.  Then again, nothing is UTTERLY silent when you own a St. Bernard... they snore, they snort, they breathe heavily... it's doggie nirvana here 24/7.  

On the de-stashing side, I sold 6 empty plastic bins today!  And still have 3 left, just in case I need to reposition some things.   Which means I've gotten rid of a LOT of fabric!  There are more bins left in the garage yet to go through, but most of them are specialty fabrics (like Minkee for backs) or cat fabrics or WIPs, none of which I can cull much.  Still, it's going down!

I also figured out how to make additional pages in the blog, so my tutorials now have their own page, so I don't have to search through all the dates to find them when I need to direct someone to one of them.  That was a kind of special discovery, but when I set it up, my slide show of quilts stopped working on the main page... still working to recover it.  Win some, lose some, I guess.  Whatever happened to Win-Win???

How's your stash doing and what are YOU working on (WAYWO)?

Monday, June 9, 2014

WIP and a finish

It's such a good feeling to finish something.  I started a quilt in a class taught by Jan Krentz.  The pattern is a traditional Carpenter's Wheel, but Jan has simple piecing instructions for assembling the quilt that makes it a snap.  I added a few details to make it my own.  The class was conducted at sea on a Caribbean cruise about 3 years ago, and it took me this long to finalize a border, quilt and bind it. 
Floating in Space
I call it 'Floating in Space' and I loved making it.   I've made other LeMoyne stars before, but this was my first full Carpenter's Wheel.  Not sure I'd make another but you never know.  It's about 60x60.

I've also been working on my Bertie BOM.  Here are the blocks I've made so far:
Bertie's year, Jan-May
I still need to do a little embroidery on May, but these are the one's I've made so far.  I love how Bertie is doing a different thing each month and wearing a different 'hat'... so cute.  Also - love all the little border variations possible with just 1/2 square triangles.  Although now, knowing the BOM is available prefused and laser cut, I might have taken that option from the beginning.  I didn't... so more work for me, but in truth, it's not hard work, so I'm not complaining.

In two weeks I will be doing the Southern California quilt run, and the week after that, I'll be headed to Midway, Utah for the quilt show there.  Busy month for me, but I like being busy!  Keeps me focused.

On the homefront, my son moved home temporarily while he finishes school, which should be done by September.   His wife went north to Washington to live with her parents until Luke and she can get a place together when school is out.  Between lost jobs (reason for losing their apartment) and her cat allergies (reason she can't also stay with us), they have to be separated for a while, but we are all hoping this is only temporary.

The only really bad thing is that my husband had to move his home office (computer and household files) into my sewing room, so that my son could have the guestroom to himself.  My sewing room has only half the space for sewing that it did before.  I think I'm handling it quite well... I haven't killed anyone yet, lol.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Autumn Joy

Finally, I can call this BOM done.  17 months in the making, though in truth 3 of those were waiting for the quilting. 
Lots of fun to make, a journey taken with friends, most of whom unfortunately fell behind during the year.  I enjoy BOMs because there's very little pressure with only one block to do each month... normally I'd feel stressed to get an entire quilt's worth of blocks done in a very short time.  With a BOM, they are doled out in manageable bits.

I am doing 2 BOMs and 2 Saturday Samplers this year... so come December I should have 4 quilts ready for finishing and quilting. 

Of course, I SHOULD be working on other quilts as well, but right now, I'm just not.  I am busy sorting bins of fabric into 'want' and 'don't want' piles, so I will be ready to take the 'don't want' fabrics to a quilter's yard sale next Saturday.  I will also be selling old rulers and such too.  I hope it all goes so I don't have to bring anything home except empty bins.

Also, I just got word from my doctor that he thinks I need both knees replaced... waaah... I won't be able to sew for a very long time, I think... I'd better have a lot of hand projects ready!