Friday, February 28, 2014

Another Fab Friday Finish

It was a delight to wake up to the sound of rain this morning. California is in a very serious drought right now, so it was most welcome.

I finished the first of my two comfort quilts for the guild. Its 40"x54", or toddler size, and also works for a person in a wheelchair as a lap robe. 

The top of this quilt was a donated and unfinished piece. I took it because my goal is to make quilts for men and boys. It turned out very nice. It is quilted with diagonal lines, and machine binding. The group prefers machine binding rather than hand binding because they learned that when people are stressed, they will find an opening to stick a finger into and 'worry' it apart. Also, these quilts get washed a lot so need to be of a utility nature.

It is one of the most interesting quilting tips I could ever get about stress in folks who need comfort under any situation. It makes me think of times when I have felt stress, and in truth, I cannot remember what I do that might have that sort of repetition or mindlessness at the time other than pacing halls. 

Providing comfort quilts is something I see as meeting needs for warmth, for security and safety of a sorts. I've always seen them as shields against the night, against cold, against the monsters hiding in closets, under the beds or around the corner. Having a comfort quilt feels like it connects me to the person who gave it to me or who gave me the fabric to make.

What I hope is that whomever gets this quilt feels the love that went into it and that it is something of their own in the darkness.

I like this structure to finish something on Friday. The rest of the morning is dedicated to cleaning up my workstation, so it also is a finish to the week. 

New partners were assigned for the Christmas Quilt Block Swap today. Yae! We have already exchanged some ideas.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A day like any other

I am a morning person. I wake up usually before sunrise and then get to watch the dance of clouds and see the belt of Venus wherever I am and know it will be a good day.

(I didn't take this photo, but wanted to include it so you knew what I meant.) There is another belt that comes out at sunrise. Wikipedia says: The Belt of Venus or Venus's Girdle is an atmospheric phenomenon seen at sunrise and sunset. Shortly after sunset or shortly before sunrise, the observer is, or is very nearly, surrounded by a pinkish glow (or anti-twilight arch) that extends roughly 10°–20° above the horizon. Often, the glow is separated from the horizon by a dark layer, the Earth's shadow or "dark segment." The Arch's light rose (pink) color is due to backscattering of reddened light from the rising or setting Sun. A very similar effect can be seen during a total solar eclipse.

Regardless of the science, when I see these lovely colors in pinks, reds, yellows or oranges, its the start of of a lovely day. 

I have more than a number of projects at my workstation. One of them was to make a new-for-me block that only had the measurements but not instructions on how to put it together. 

I love how it turned out. Its going to be one of a kind and not an orphan. Its design is to have a number of unique blocks to this quilt.

Some designers take their cameras on vacation with them to capture the natural colors and then come home to create quilts in these colors. I tend to like the more intense fabrics, and sometimes think it is because I look to the sky all the time and see such brilliant colors.

Everyday I wake up, is a good day. I like being a morning person because of the freshness I smell, the energy that is at my birdfeeders from all the visiting eaters, and that I chose to forget what hassles might have happened yesterday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

Got another quilt basted at the clubhouse this morning. Its been a great plan to take one in each week and just do it. 

All beautiful things take time to grow or develop. I've never had luck wearing watches, but know where all the clocks in my world are so that I know what time it is, how much time I have to get somewhere, or get something done, and when to say something is completed. There is no such thing as being late to something or with something because everything has its own timing. 

This one is a Log Cabin that the fabric begs to be named SONG BIRDS. I cut fabric for the centers and the borders going one direction, so laid out the blocks in what is called "All Sevens". Its quite bright and if washed so the reds don't bleed will tone down in time. This fabric (and no, I don't know which manufacturer it is any more) is high end so it handles well. 

I have come to appreciate the better grade materials since learning to quilt and know that the investment of a couple dollars more per yard to get it from better manufacturers is worth it.

I am not sure if this quilt will be a gift this year. With that recent concern I had about reds bleeding onto those yummy cream colors, I want to think about the intended recipient a little while longer. It will give me time to consider how I am going to quilt it as well. It moved along through this stage and for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Their Way?

When I was at the Comfort Quilt meeting, a few of us stood and pin basted about 9 quilts. It went fast. Lay the back, tape it. Lay and cut the batting. Lay the top. Pin.

Its not the method I like to use when I baste. I like the old style of thread & needle. I use a long doll making needle and have two of them, so it goes quickly for me. With this method, the sandwich of top, batting, back doesn't shift when it gets machine quilted.

I've brought home two comfort quilts to finish, both of which were pin-basted. I treated the machine quilting the same by moving slowly, smoothing fabric under the needle. So it surprised me to see a couple of these puckers on the back.
They are easy enough to rip and re-do, however, it was still disappointing to see. 

When I was at the table laying down the backs to tape, the women there all had their personal preferences to either tape it taut or give it some ease. 

What I heard was an assurance that making these comfort quilts got easier and helped with your personal work. Easier and better. This was part of the learning process to figure out which ways worked better for each quilter. 

Some times there is a wrong way to do a thing, whether its in quilting or some other endeavor, but at least in quilting, there is a ripper and a possible do-over.

With luck and a few pulls by my ripper, I can ease this pucker out. If anything, it feels better to SEE it now and make that change. I plan to baste my own quilts with needle and thread, and will continue to practice pin-basting on the comfort quilts. Maybe, just maybe, I will come to see the benefits. Or not.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Design Floor

Due to a lack of wall space, my quilts get laid out either on my floor or across my queen size bed. Over the many decades of my life, I've learned to adapt to my circumstances.

I've never believed that staying in a victim mentality gets a person much other than to immobilize them. And if that is what is sought, then that is what is received. 

I like action.

This morning I laid out Patrick's quilt (well as much would fit). Its a modified pattern from McCall's Quick Quilts Oct/Nov 2012 issue. The original pattern called for Asian prints in the blocks and I've chosen to use up some 2.5" squares to make up the blocks. I love how it turned out. Many of the squares are holiday themed fabric, and the back of this will have a holiday flannel.

There are two more rows that didn't fit on that one section of my floor space. Everything will tighten up when the rows get pieced. This layout was more to see how the blocks line up. Its a new sashing treatment for me and I love how it turned out. I did add more blocks and sashing to the overall pattern because Patrick is a tall guy. This will be a hefty one to machine quilt, but is so gorgeous already. 

I found myself getting frustrated and immobilized by an old pattern I am using for another quilt. As it sat next to my work station, I kept feeling an aversion to even pick it up again. My worry-mind-wheels started spinning around tossing off all sorts of negative messages to me. I don't want to give anyone a quilt that has the least amount of negativity assigned to it. So I stopped working on it.

At this stage, its easy to give up on everything.

Negative messages are so sneaky. I don't know where mine come from, but they have such power to destroy creativity, self-esteem and my ability to move forward.


Yes, snap. I just move along.

There is so much to do with all the projects I have going that I don't waste much time whining. Recently, I modified my to-do list so that I can move along and get things done in a timely manner. Quilting is fun, and if something starts to be not fun, then its not quilting.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Mystery Quilt

I am working with the Mystery Quilt appliques today. Darlee Bryon has been posting the new week projects on Sundays and just switched to sending them out on Fridays. 

What I realized from reading the blogs of other quilters is that when you get going with so many projects as I have, its a good thing to dedicate a day every week to a specific project. This sets up a system so there is progress and add clarity to the work.

I used to do this with housework in my early days of learning that system. Each week I would focus on cleaning one area of my home...say the great room & entries the first week, the bedrooms the second week, bathrooms & hall closets the third week, kitchen the fourth, and if there was a 5th week, then those leftover areas. I would spend 15 minutes a day in that room and could get so much done it was crazy!

This is my second attempt with appliques, and the first at learning how to do it correctly. 

For her Applique Mystery Quilt, Darlee created a combination of machine quilted applique blocks with small 5" patch blocks for this quilt. Her plan is for us to do one of each per week. I fell behind because I didn't make it a priority. It is a priority now. I will work on it every Sunday to stay up with the plan.

The first attempt using an applique process that I ever did was for this quilt named NIGHT SKY that went to my younger Son last Solstice. The doors are appliqued on and turned out perfectly.  I like this pattern so much that I know I will make it again.

In fact, once I finish this round of quilts, I am leaning toward making more of them with the house motif.

Appliques are not as difficult as I thought they would be. I don't see myself doing them by hand with all the turning under that this process takes. Doing them by machine makes a quilt that can be used and laundered, where the hand work is more for wall hangings. I want the quilts I make to be utility quality.

The growing system is working for me. Sunday Mystery Quilt, Wednesday Basting (while it lasts), Finish Something Fridays! Enough and not too much a routine that I get rebellious and chuck it all. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Drive

Tehachapi is at least an hour drive to the 'big cities'. Usually, I try to do as much out of town shopping as I can on the trip. And it is a gorgeous one either the north is Bakersfield through the mountains, and to the SE is Lancaster / Palmdale through the desert.

All my life I heard that deserts symbolized the hard times of our lives and that the mountains were where our spirits soared on eagle's wings.

The Mojave Desert is gorgeous any time of year. Weather dumps both rain and snow in it from time to time. Flowers and trees bloom and the ground and plant material change colors with the seasons. There is always something to behold.

Today it was a drive through the desert to buy a new camera. Admittedly, it is my favorite way to drive.

Once home, it meant reading directions, installing the system, and seeing how it works. As a non-mechanical person, it took me longer than it has to and its functioning at just the minimum for now.

 My first pic is the next three quilts ready for basting during the next few weeks on Wednesdays. I need to re-arrange storage bins now to hold top-batting-back with binding in one area. The best thing to do for this plan, is to complete the quilting and add the binding for those times when I need hand work. Eventually the machine will go in for service, and usually that is a three-week wait.

This is another shot of Baylee's quilt with the blocks held by the hoop. In a night, I can get several of the small squares done with the heart shape. This ink pen does disappear completely in 24 hours. Hand quilting loops do not hold fabric as tightly as one does with embroidery.  I think there are 20 blocks of 4 squares each, and with luck, there will be enough time to hand quilt the two outer lavender borders in heart chains as well. This quilt will consume most of my time in the evenings so that it is finished before my trip back to MN / WI in mid-June.

It was a lovely drive through the desert today, and my bright shiney new red camera is a joy to hold.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Another Finish for Friday

I finished the March Calendar block the other day, and finished the two Spring Mugs for  a swap going out in a week. HOWEVER, true to the practice, I cannot show pictures of them (even if I had a working camera) until Rex receives them. I like how the universe conspires to help us keep our word, our promises, our vows.

This new idea to 'Finish Something Friday' is working for me. There is a sense of accomplishment that was the goal.

I looked online to price the small point and shoot cameras and think they are available in most brands for under $100. The plan is to head out to the big city tomorrow. I know what I want it to do and know that its important for me to have. Someone gave me one a few years ago without asking what my needs were and it never served me well and actually cost me so much that I gave it away.

In all cases, whether it is about communicating with another person or the divine power, its very important to be clear both in speaking and in listening. 

I am not sure I listen as much as I should. For instance, all these quilts I only a few cases, a very few, have I asked for color ideas; Baylee's Mother told me purples and pinks, CC asked for hot pink, Jeanne told me pinks for the fundraiser, Virginia mentioned more earthy tones and beyond those few, I have just gotten hints from others regarding small candle mats.

Things won't change much for my quilting choices until I use up the fabric that was given to me. I can lean towards colors that I know might work, but in truth, don't know how well the gift is received. Thinking more about this.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Death of a Camera

I've had this little Kodak for years now and have made good use of it, so as it started to eat up batteries, I wasn't sure if it was giving up. Its gone. Before buying another one, I want to do a little research. 

Right now, my projects are all WIP's or works in progress, so there is little to show with a photo. 

Here is a short list:

  • Nick's back & then set aside til next year
  • Patrick's sashing
  • Tony's trees & then set aside til next year
  • Calendar block for March (finished, not sent)
  • 2 Spring Mug Rugs for a swap 
  • Baylee's graduation 
  • weekly basting
  • 2 comfort quilts

Mundane tasks are what most of us do all the time without needing to record them. Its the celebratory moment we notice. This is the time we put on our best faces to take 'selfies' or group shots. There is plenty of time to take notice of accomplishments when its notable.

Every once in awhile, someone has taken a picture of me doing dishes or some other chore. And it feels silly. No one ever took a photo of me cleaning a litter box or brushing my teeth. Or even better, I don't think I have any photos of me tying my shoes. Sometimes there are work photos, and many times photos of oceanside or lakeside fun.

For now, there will be no photos of my quilting projects. I should have a new camera by the time some of these are finished. Til then, its all about dreaming and imagination and reading text.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Another Wednesday Basting

Each Wednesday, I take a quilt into my clubhouse down the street to baste, which means the quilt goes to the next level of being done. A WIP is just that; a work in progress. It has to go through so many stages, just like we do with our lives.

I've heard that comment a lot, and it means that we try to be better with who we are, and see ourselves with gentle eyes. The main thing is to keep working, not give up, and especially to keep evolving.

The first few years of quilting produced small pieces that demonstrated my struggles. Then I moved onto it all as a beginner. Every time I went to a quilt show or sat with other quilters, I could see how much there was to learn if I was ever to get skilled in this art.

Here is a closeup of Baylee's GARDEN PATHS. The lavender doesn't photograph true to color with my camera in closeups, but it is stunning. I decided to hand quilt hearts on each of the blocks. I tested a couple of fabric pens with disappearing ink. One had to be washed out and bled, so it was not going to work for this. The other one is supposed to stay on for 48 hours but is gone with minutes!  I drew on the 4 hearts and quilted with the speed of lightening. Well. The thread is just dark enough to show when you are close, and blends enough so that it isn't the focus of this stunning pattern and materials.

It can take two hearts at a time for the actual speed of Bellezza. I got nine hearts completely done last night and will make a better plan for the future nights of work. Colors show up better when I step back with my camera. 

I am very proud of this piece and how it is evolving.

Most quilts go out of here done on the machine and work more as utility quilts meant to be washed and worn, loved to shreds. I've learned to start in the middle with the quilting whether by hand or machine because if a change is needed for whatever reason, it won't compromise the work.

I think that is true with my own life. I need to start anything and everything at my core and work out. If spirit is at my core like the center of a quilt, then the layers going out are mental (how I think), emotional (how I feel), and then physical (what I do).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

36 blocks for the back

I finished making thirty-six 12.5" blocks for the back of Nick's quilt and cut left-hand sashing for them. Its like making another quilt!  Any photo I might take of them is only going to show a pile of fabric pieces.

Photos are a treasure, and I know I am behind the times using the technology. My cell phone won't upload the App for SnapChat so I miss out on a lot of pics my family exchanges. Those pics are good for less than a minute and go away. Our world has become one of rapid communication.

I wonder if they realize how much a person enjoys looking at them when those times pass? My family of origin wasn't much for taking photos when I was growing up, so when someone has some of the days of my childhood, I welcome even dim copies.

And I am really appreciative of the ones I've taken of the quilts I've made. They aren't important in the greater scheme of things, and probably only to me.

Patrick's quilt is coming along too, yet is still a pile of fabric pieces as well. Quilting takes time, which is why a lot of projects are in progress.

One tiny project I finished today is a single 12.5" block for Jake's quilt.

This is all 1.5" blocks or strips, and I wanted to keep to a teal color theme for it...just because I had the fabric. This one requires accuracy in cutting and with a scant 1/4" seam. Even then, I ended up shaving a few times just to keep the line.

I know that my Christmas Block Swap partners will only be sending me blocks for 8 months for this project, so I am going to make four of them myself to add to the quilt. This is one of the four. It is my picture for the day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Comfort Quilt Meeting

I've never been much for meetings, whether I am a spectator, member or a facilitator.  Probably if they had such tests when I was a kid, I might have been diagnosed with either ADHD or ADD. Just can't sit still long and just need high stimulation to keep my attention.

What works for me in these particular meetings is that I do not have to stay sitting and can be where I want to be whenever. There is something going on everywhere in the large meeting room, and until its lunchtime, there is no structure. Today, about 15 quilters showed up.

I got there in time to set up chairs and roll big round tables in from a closet in the other room. When the trailer came, I helped unload the numerous storage bins. I turned in the navy baseball quilt; found a back for the green/gold quilt from bins labeled "backs"; walked to the table where the batting was being cut, and volunteered to help pin baste. One woman & I pin basted 7 quilts before lunch break and 2 more quilts after we all ate lunch.

Committee chairs went through some of the bins and made a pile for give-away fabrics, folded others neatly, and returned fabric to the bins.

At various tables, quilters were giving informal tutorials, and every where I stood, others had tidbits of advise to offer. Yes, other than for lunch, I never sat down.

Meals are often hard for me when they begin with prayer said by some well-meaning soul who suddenly becomes a wanna-be minister delivering a eulogy over the food. That is not to say the woman saying grace today did that...I mean SOME. Her words were short, sweet and simple. Whew! As a vegetarian, I usually don't stay for meat-ladened meals to begin with. I kept eyeing the door, but promised to finish the pin-basting, so stayed until they were finished.

Difficult to sit still at any table for long, I was able to eat a handful of grapes, a piece of asparagus wrapped with a crescent roll, and a babybell cheese. Everyone else was eating more and more by the time I started packing up the containers, rolling round tables back to the storage closet and folding chairs.

As I write this, I am shaking my head at myself. After all these years, its still the same. I am still not much for meetings.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rex is a Genius!

I struggle with a lot of the electronic technology and sometimes just want to Quilt. As I continued to write this blog, it seemed that it was getting bogged down by all the photos and text. My friend Rex, who named herself CROW CALLING WOMAN, has a slide show feature on hers, so I asked for help. After about an hour and a half, it was successful so now you can select the "2014 Finishes" link above and see the results of this very hard work.

My friendship with Crow Calling Woman started many years ago in Madison, WI when I facilitated a learning community there. She got to the educational stage of presenting workshops that were simply awesome. One class after another one with her, I was convinced I could be creative. She put such spirit and reverence into her teaching and art, that I knew she was a kindred spirit.

This is one of my favorite photos of her and I am not sure she's ever seen it. There is a lot of beautiful energy and a sense of confidence and well-being in this shot.

Crow Calling Woman is a great swap partner for the Calendar Quilt (link above this post) & I feel internally pushed to do better all the time. 
Her blog is:  

We do chat fairly often about quilting techniques, fabrics, stitches and all things quilting. Crow Calling Woman takes risks with her fabric arts, and is a self-taught artist. She sets an example for anyone who shares learning space with her.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Monthly Challenges

I found another blog that has a monthly challenge using a theme or word of the month. Artists can use any medium to interpret this challenge. If you select the icon on my side bar it will direct you to the group.

They post a new word on the 15th of the month and the theme of this month is ORDER. They ask for pictures and an explanation of why you chose what you did for the theme. All projects are to be finished when submitted. I've seen this blog before and browsed the finished projects related to the theme. ORDER appeals to the business side of my mind and even though I have no idea what I will make, I really like the idea of making it to fit the theme.

Right now, my monthly projects include the Calendar BOM with Rex, the BOM with my local quilting friend Carol, the Christmas block exchange and the charity quilts with the Tehachapi Mountain Quilters guild.

Why do I commit to them? I think that I like having projects with deadlines. 

The Mystery Quilt is a weekly adventure and that one is a faster pace for me. The family quilts also have deadlines that are months out. All of them require a sort of awareness of finish dates. 

Over the decades of my life, its been easier for me to start projects than to finish them, which some say is typical for an Aries. And this Aries woman has a rising, sun, and mercury placements. I disliked the label and decided to examine the start/finish issue. I made it a point to organize my life in ways that did bring about finishes. 

Sometimes there were projects or situations that I had to release because I knew I would never finish them. Releasing meant giving them to someone who wanted to finish where I started. That was realistic. Keeping something just because I might finish it someday only added to the guilt of not completing it. Giveaway. Release.

Then it became an exercise in letting go.

I've come to a better place with that now. I am more realistic with everything I do and the timing it takes.

So yes, having these monthly projects...short, sweet, simple...are just what I need.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Friday Finish

Last week my angst from feeling overwhelmed with unfinished projects or works in progress, helped me make a commitment to FINISH SOMETHING FRIDAY.

I found a button pic online that I am using as a reminder for myself & anyone else who wants to link up & show their finished project. If you select the button on the sidebar, it will bring you back to this blog and your link will share what you finished. It doesn't have to be quilting. It can be any sort of fabric art, or some other kind of project you finished up for today, from sweeping the floors to paying bills. 

What I finished this morning is the top to a comfort quilt. The Tehachapi Mountain Quilters guild sub-committee meeting for Comfort Quilts is this Monday. I have the navy blue baseball quilt to take that is completely finished, and this one. I'll need to find fabric for a back and get it basted with batting, bring it back home to machine quilt and bind for the next meeting. My intention is to make the quilts for boys and men. Many quilters love making them with florals and in pastels that little girls love. This size works for kids as well as folks in wheelchairs.

My focus fabric is not a floral, so it lends itself to being more masculine even with the pink. After it got put together it reminded me of the football colors for the WI Pack (Green and Gold). Hmmm. Not my intention at all. I come from MN where the border rivalry is long and unforgiving. So it made me laugh that I selected these colors. The person who receives this quilt may or may not know about the Pack and still enjoy its brightness.

The guild gets a lot of donations for materials, thread, supplies and has them sorted & labeled by color. There are kits already made up, and they have specific patterns and sizes (like this one) that they prefer. When I go there on Monday with the top and some basting pins, a small group will gather around the table and pin it in no time at all. I want to make several more in this pattern/size before taking another step. I still have lots to learn about it and am willing to stay within their guidelines.

There are always formal and informal classes going on, and the group has a pot luck lunch, chats awhile before going home. Quilt donations are made wherever they are needed in our county. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Roads

As I cut more strips for sashing on Patrick's quilt, I noticed that a Moda fabric I was using is called 'Winter Lane' and decided to modify it for the quilt name to "Winter Roads".

If I learn anything about being a quiltmaker, it is that one doesn't just follow patterns, one steps out and creates something of her own, making all the parts of it her own.

For many years, I saw myself as a Beginner who needed to follow directions in order to learn the way of this all. When I deviated, it often meant re-tracing my steps, and that fractured my confidence. I am not sure if this was the same learning track for other things, but it is quite clear for me in quilting. There are mathematical calculations to consider, color values, technical skills for pressing, pinning, stitching. I never knew this when I first started quilting.

Patrick's quilt had to be for a tall guy. The Oct/Nov 2012 issue of McCall's Quick Quilts had an interesting pattern that finished a quilt at 59x70. I calculated an additional 26 blocks would make the quilt more like a twin size.

As I looked at the pattern, I realized I could use up 2.5" squares, piecing them into the block sizes as if they were specialty prints. I followed the pattern and use a high contrast white/dark green for the sashing.

It has become "Winter Roads".

Leftover cuts are leaving me with interesting scraps. Here is where more of my Intermediate quiltmaker status comes to play. I am already thinking of some possible uses for the short strips. There will not be a pattern that calls for these strips and they may go into my bag of orphan blocks until I need them. 

Oh, and that back for his taller Son...that is coming along, block by block too, taking on a life of its own.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Basting Wednesday

Once again, my Wednesday was spent in the clubhouse down the street basting another quilt. This is one of the holiday log cabin quilts I will finish this year.

My older Son called just after I got the back & batting down, and we spent half an hour just chatting about small goings-on. Its fun for me to tell him which quilt I am creating and is almost like planting a memory in his thoughts.

Its going so much faster now, this stage of basting. There is distortion in looking at the photo of the quilt as it lays across a table, and is not yet secured by the basting stitches. It will get pulled a bit tighter during the basting and any wrinkles go away.

There is a Tai Chi group that comes about the same time and every so often, a member will step away from their work, walk across the hall to where I am and recall tales and memories of family quilts and quilters.

It touches me when they sigh with longing for a different time with their families. Its very clear to me, that their longing includes a strong desire to wrap themselves up in a quilt made by a Mother, Auntie, or Grandmother. They know, by now, that those times are it was written, 'gone with the wind'.

After running a few more errands in town, I relaxed with a book and then started up piecing again. 

I am working on Patrick's quilt this afternoon. Its a very different pattern from any other I've done and I am really enjoying how its coming together.

Making memories for someone is an endless task whether its living those times with children growing up, or connecting long after they have children of their own.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Darling Downs Chinchilla quilt block

A drought is nothing to laugh at. California is only one place on Earth where natural water from rains is in short supply. Tehachapi has its own water supplies from the mountains, but if if doesn't snow, there is no water added to the reservoir.

There is a drought of spirit that happens for us too. A long time friend of mine called Friday night and told me what has been happening in his life and that his very soul is dried up, crumbling and crackling from this drought of spirit. I asked what I could do and was given an easy task (for me) and sent him what he needed as words in a letter.

Sometimes its easy to offer drought relief, sometimes I don't even know when my hand of friendship is needed. 

This morning, I made a block for a quilt to be raffled at a drought relief fundraiser being held in Chinchilla, which is a town in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia in early March. One of the group's members in a block swap I recently joined sent out a request for specific size and style blocks she will use to make up this quilt.

The Log Cabin pattern was the first quilting class I took, though it was taught using a chain piecing method to make an entire quilt at once. 

This one block was made with scraps, and I do have a lot of them on hand!

It was my thought to use up all that pink fabric, but as I went along, I had less of it that would work, so started going a bit bolder with more orange tones on the dark side. The lights were a little more difficult to show a progression. 

In my search for fabrics, I found a couple of pieces that were used on the front of Nick's quilt, so I started adding them to the back blocks.

I've started piecing Patrick's quilt (he is Nick & Tony's Daddy and my Niece Lisa's Husband). The goal is to finish those four  quilts along with my other Niece's family for this year. I remind myself that this is mid-February.

My own droughts of spirit come and go with the days of my life. Quilting with all these colors pulls me up from that feeling of being parched and weathered.

As I look at the pic above, it touches me how quickly it came together because of all the scraps there are to chose from. I really never in a complete drought of spirit with all these abundant resources to chose from. Oh sure at times, the drought has different guises that fool me into thinking it is so, like aging issues, separation from family and friends issues. Those kinds of things are real enough.  

And then I quilt.

Monday, February 10, 2014

And sew it goes

I've been enjoying the odd piecing that evolves for Nick's quilt back.

The blocks are 12.5" square and most random. It looks like 36 of them will work once they get a side sashing and joined in rows.

I think about that tall 16-year-old who will most likely get taller before this even goes out my door. He has a ready smile. I wonder how he's adapted to a rapidly growing frame, even as these blocks grow out between the pins and stitches.

Sometimes there is no reason to how our lives unfold either. If we are lucky, the colors coordinate like the choices we make for our future and in the end everything makes sense. Or at best, we make sense of it. The top of this quilt had patterns within the the patterns. Each small piece was joined to another and another to form blocks, which joined to form the top where borders were added.

Not so the backside. The back had no pattern to the individual blocks, though as quiltmaker, I consider how to separate them with sashing so that they don't look entirely random.

Quiltmaker, Great SheWho. Hear me laughing as I if I could fool anyone, including myself, into thinking I know what I am doing. I never lose sight of the 2-3 rippers I own. I never forget the Great DoOver options. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I found a friday button

Quilting teaches me much about myself. Sometimes I think about the people who receive my quilts and there is no way for them to even grasp the value of the work I've put into it as well as what has happened in my soul as I did it. My goal has been to use materials that have been given to me, and the huge part of this is that often they are fabrics I would not chose to purchase.

A lesson here is learning how to make something beautiful out of what I have.

Although I still don't know how to create a blog button that others can link up to, I did find a blog button in the public domain that I can use. Its going to just go up here and if anyone knows how to activate it, message me.

I want to use this button as a reminder to finish at least one thing every Friday and be able to post a pic of it. Its all about my personal sense and need to complete something in the whole WIP of quilting. Last week I really got down on myself for not seeing something. No one was behind me talking about deadlines or projects. It was me. The voice in my head.

I've also gone to the Jinny Byer site for free pattern downloads and printed off a couple. They are simple enough to cut and piece as an addition to the back of Nick's quilt. There are three larger pieces of fabric that were used on the front. Two of them are darker and one is a medium print, so I will vary them as much as possible.

What I am doing now is giving me simple practice in cutting, with chain piecing and all done with accuracy. At least for me, I need the practice pieces so that it all becomes part of body memory.

When I first laid out all this fabric on my floor to make the back, it had not developed into something artful. Now, I am caught up with the evolution of it as a piece unto itself. Both sides will be lovely.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saturday Sweet Things

I got through the angst yesterday and decided that I do want to make a slogan/button and a plan for Finish Something Friday to be ongoing. It will be good for my soul to see things get done. I don't have the usual software like a paint program to get it done and so would take low-effort suggestions if anyone has any. I found a blog that gave instructions for how to do it and the technical part had me rolling my eyes to the back of my head. Not going to happen if I have to do it.

Its all those little details that take me out. Because I am still learning the blog technology, it might take me a bit of time to work through the details if not forever.

Rex got my Feb. Calendar block swap, and while hers should be at my PO Box, its not, so I am showing what I sent and will post them both in the link above when hers comes. Embroidery is one of my heartiest enjoyments for fabric arts, so this was great fun. The pen I used to trace the pattern was thick and I didn't know it would erase with water splashes, so I made adjustments to the pattern. My embroidery always uses the more primitive stitches.

The February BOM I am doing with my local quilting friend is finished too. This one was a bit of a challenge because I didn't swatch out the colors and had to keep re-figuring their placement in the block. Luckily there was only one.

I worked on the back for Nick's quilt yesterday afternoon and this morning as well, after a comment and a link to another blog by Marianne Jeffrey who led me to see how creative they can be when you let them simply take on a life of their own.  ...

I started playing around with the scraps, piecing the smallest bits together first and then cutting into those larger pieces to give support to the bits. Its my plan to machine quilt a diagonal grid across the front so that should not compromise the back at all either in design or bulk. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Finish Something Friday

Waves of angst flowed over me last night into this morning, and so I spent time at my altar this morning listening to my own distress as well as for the answer. What came to me as I sat in front of my fireplace where I had also lit a candle is that there are numerous WIP's going on and nothing had been finished for awhile.

My Feb. blocks had gone out to Rex for our Calendar block exchange, and to Cathy for the Christmas Quilt Block Swap. I am choosing not post pics of them until they are received. 

AND I am actively working on six of the WIP's (works in progress), as well as two Comfort Quilts. Logical, reasonable, understandable. Just not something I can see as complete.

I pulled out the container for another BOM I am doing with a local quilter, cut both the January and February blocks and set about finishing the January block. Done.

How simple to have peace of mind return. 

I pieced more to the back for Nick's quilt, and am letting it stay where it is to get a fresh look at it each time I go into the room. I also cut and pieced more one of the comfort quilts. Its easier now to keep going with what is next on the WIP's. If I learned anything about myself, its to do something simple that can be done in an hour. Finishing something is more important than I realized. I want to make that the first thing I do on Friday's...that is if I can. No pressure. Just fun and healing of self.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Back, get back, I say!

Sometimes I wonder what I get myself into.
Using my floor, I marked four corners of where Nick's quilt would lay with some tape, so I could lay out pieces of fabric and know what the size would be for the back. Its a design mat of sorts. Fabrics need to be pressed and I will do that as soon as I finish this post. It might help the visioning of it all. Binding will be the same green print as the last border on the front. I had a lot of leftover burgundy prints of various intensities and values. And the scraps were sewn together as a way to separate and join things. 

By filling up the marked floor space with leftover fabric pieces, I can play with them like one of those shuffle puzzles.  I wanted to keep larger pieces in it just for stability. I can see by the pic above that they need to be shifted around.

I never liked shuffle puzzles as a kid, and so might have to leave this one lay on my floor for awhile. At least with the puzzle, I could see what it was supposed to look like.

I've put the top away for now and am moving onto the next of my WIP's. Knowing myself, its good to have it there where I can walk past it several times a day until the arrangements satisfies me. When there is a final for this back, I will be sure to post my success with it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Who has got your back?

The other day, I watched a video about creative quilt backs using all the scrap pieces and leftover pieces from the front. Its a You Tube video you can find called Pieced Quilt Backs

I loved the concept! From what the quiltmaker in the video was saying, anything goes on the back of a quilt. What makes it work is that the same colors are on the front. She said to start with the smallest pieces and sew them together. Cut them to square them up and keep adding or sewing. Nothing matters. Only that you do it.

Its another challenge for me to push my comfort level to do something that literally makes no sense and can be contrary to what structure is needed for the front. 

After getting home from basting Baylee's Garden Path quilt, I spent the rest of the day trying to make sense of the leftover pieces from Nick's quilt. I am not sure, at all, what I am doing. 

I thought about how people see the fronts of each other when they meet, as they communicate, and how they evaluate what they see and hear and feel.

I thought about how the front chakras or power centers are the ones most people know and how the back chakras or power centers are almost dismissed in working with various health issues.

Backs of anything are what we lean on, find support from. Quilt backs are actually what is closest to our bodies when we cover up with them. 

Can I be artistic when it comes to making a back like this that uses up everything from the mini scraps to the larger chunks? Being artistic is like playing, and playing never came easy to me. Ever.

This is like building a whole new quilt, & I have pieced backs before, so why its become such a big deal probably means there is some personal growth going on for me. 

This one in the picture here is a perfect example. It was the back made for a Halloween Rail Fence. The purple was long enough for the quilt but not wide enough, so I used scraps and some panels to make the middle strip. Its pretty structured, unlike the one I am trying to build for Nick's quilt. 

I'll get back to it in the morning. I might take out the frosty blue after seeing how it looks in the picture. Scrap quilting is not easy nor is it fast. It is good for the environment to use up all the parts of a yard of fabric that I can, and its also good for my bank account! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Creating Illusions

After seeing a recent pic of my Great-Nephew, I asked how tall he was. At 16, he is already 6'3.5". I am speechless because the quilt I am making for him is going to need some adjustments on the final border.

I converted this pattern to include a golfer panel in the center. The blocks themselves took a lot of time to piece. The foundation fabric is a frosty blue with good size snow flakes on it. 

I'm really just learning how to do all those triangles so end up shaving uneven edges, which knocks down the overall size. 

I had just enough of it to add a first border and bring it back to the original pattern measurement. Remembering that this is a scrap quilt, so I had gathered coordinating fabrics to make it and needed to work with what was there.

With Nick's height, it should have started out as a twin size quilt. However, the last time I saw him out here on Venice Beach, California, he was NOT that tall! His Father is tall, so what was I thinking???

There is a pretty good chunk of the green planned for the third border, and perhaps I can make the top/bottom parts an inch and a half each wider than the two sides. Its not much, and I do not want to throw off the balance the entire quilt has right now. Yet, I wonder how many times we miss the subtitles in quilting or in life about what we see because someone knew how to create a good illusion.

I can always trim off the extra if it doesn't work. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


One of the quilting students I've met lost her husband last week so I attended his funeral this morning. It moved me to see so many photos of them together and made me realize that you can never take enough photos or say "I love you" enough.

She is a brilliant quilter and very quiet in the classes. When she speaks it is to give outstanding quilting tips. I am sad for her. The church was filled with people from his work, our community here in town, the Marines (one of whom played taps on a horn in church-chilling always), and a few other quilters.

I came home to finish the block for my swap partner who lives in Australia. I signed up later in January so missed the partnering process. Cathy was sweet enough to include me for February, and offered to swap with me.  While I mentioned this group before, it is something so great I want to give another shout out to her and how she facilitates the group. You can select her hot pink name just above and it will take you to the page with all the information on it.

The block is finished and actually wrapped for shipping when I go out on Wednesday again. Cathy & I have shared a few emails about how the group runs. Because its my first time swapping with them, she was kind enough to give me pointers. 

I plan to use the blocks that come my way to make a quilt for my younger Grandson Jake. I write to him regularly, and just the other day was wondering what I was going to write about that was more grown up in both language and concept. When last we spoke, he told me he was in an after-school "Adventure Club." This is perfect! Each month I get a new swap partner from somewhere around the world, either another country, another state or even another city, I will write about that location from what I can learn. 

As soon as Cathy gets her block, I'll post a pic of it on my 2014 finishes link, and also include a pic of what the one she sends me looks like.

This is the way we learn from each other. Small pieces, small ways. Its all about learning and loving.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Moving Day

I've been wanting to move my workspace around for some time and finally got to it this morning. Every time I change things in my life, there is something that must be given up for something in return. 

This move was no exception. (please look at these pics with a soft eye because things are moved, not yet organized.) I have more space in the room to walk about. My ironing board has room to the side of the tables rather than to sit out in the traffic path. The printer, bill keeper, office supplies, and paper shredder are on a small table next to the door and are much easier to access now. I still can lift the sewing machine onto the table, have quite a decent work space and have it down when I want to work on the computer. Its going to be a good work station. (Yes, the waste basket goes under the table.)

The other side of the room holds a love seat, along with lamps for evening hand work. Light comes in from the west and bounces off the mirrors. That also seems like it will provide more natural light all year round. 

And of course, I am not kidding myself about what I have to give up with this move. On a shelf over the loveseat is a 4-candle holder that I light almost every night to honor my Grandparents. Not safe to use here when the loveseat kicks back.

And then there are the windows. Really difficult to give up the constant view of mountains to the west, trees, the pond, the stones, and flowers on the wall. Here is a Cooper's Hawk who visited yesterday. She found a live and easy to catch food source at my bird feeder to the south and comes here regularly.

I used to look up from my work whenever I saw a shadow fly by. Usually, in that tree during most warmer months, there is a pair of Hummingbirds who rest a minute several times a day before going onto the flowers or into the pond spray. Flocks of birds drop down to the pond, and often the neighbor cat makes her rounds. Not seeing those events might be hard, and maybe the furniture will move again come Spring and Summer.

For now, its lovely and spacious in here.