Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Grandson's Request

I got a call from my Grandson asking if I knit. Hmm. I can. Do I? Not so much. He asked if I could KNIT him a creature from a video game. I got the name of the game from him to see if I could sense what he was talking about. Luckily the site had instructions to make this creature. AND EVEN MORE LUCK!  It is yarn wrapped around armature wire! The trick will be in making the form, even with good instructions.


Really detailed instructions are on the site. I headed to the art supply store in town and bought the wire and yellow yarn (he wants it in yellow).

Although I did lay out & pin columns for the wedding quilt back, Yarny is a priority for the day. 

Mine is yellow as requested and mailed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I've been working on the quilt back (RAINBOW BABY) for the wedding quilt and extended it quite a bit from the pattern so it would be a bit larger than the top. Additionally, I am listening to the 2nd book in the series for Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children titled Hollow City.  

Both activities are soothing to my spirit after that trip to the Remington Hot Springs about an hour from here. They are built next to the Kern River. First the hottest water flows into the smallest tub, which has a small overflow into the medium tub, which in turn flows into the largest tub next to the River. It is the coolest. I guess someone emptied all the tubs the night before so the water was pristine and heavy with healing sulfur and other minerals. The River is low so one can be in the middle of it and less than waist high. Thing is, it is a LONG walk down from the parking lot and an even longer walk back up. Temps were above 100 and the altitude was hard too. Guess its the Mighty Blue Pacific for me. The hard part of that trip is the 3-hour-plus drive. However, the Hot Springs are one of life's greater pleasures... to have been there as many times as I have gone. While the minerals heal the body, I wonder if it is all taken away by the heat and walk.

Its a piece of this for a peace of that.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Creating Quilt Backs

When I first started quilting, my lessons came from one of the fabric store owners in town. Her story is probably similar to many others who open small shops. She loved quilting and had money to buy whatever fabric she wanted. Yet, like most of us, she could not quilt as fast as she built up her stash. It was overwhelming her home. The only thing left to her was to open a store. She could quilt all day, and even got deep discounts on fabric. Yet, even with this perfect set-up, some fabrics did not get sold and she could not quilt fast enough. Her method of making quilt backs was pretty standard for quilters of this era who seemed to have unlimited funds to buy and buy and stash and stash.

It takes at least 4 yards for smaller quilt backs. And a bolt, while it says it holds 10 yards, usually is closer to holding 9. One needs at least 10 yards to make a larger quilt.

how-to-quilt/finishing/preparing-quilt-back  I researched quilt back construction and couldn't get a comprehensive history on it. Some folks I know use muslin. Others look for extra wide fabrics. Many, myself included, bought enough fabric to piece it and yet have it look like a solid finish using the method shown in the link above.

Then, quilters created ways to use larger leftovers of coordinating fabrics. I've used this method too, especially when I had so many larger leftovers. And then as my scraps began to dwindle as I made more and more quilts, my backs became a simple series of random squares. 

I had started cutting my leftovers into certain size squares such as 10", 8", 6", 5", 4", 3", and 2.5". At first I went through the 10" squares to make a back, and then kept using them as I could. I found a way to use 2.5" strips. While I took photos of all my quilts front and back, they are somewhere in cyber space between releasing my IMac and embracing this PC. (Well, not quite embracing!)

Now, I am actually making easier quilts and using them as backs. This RAINBOW BABY pattern will work for backs on the wedding quilt and the MN WILD quilt. When I say easier, I mean that the pattern calls it easy and for a beginner. I guess they are, yet they still take time and energy to make. There is cutting, pinning, piecing, pressing many times until it measures just a little larger than the top.

And they are time consuming because there is an art to being random. One needs to think in terms of color, contrast and coordination. Just like the example above, to look good means planning. To be good takes work. To think good takes living with value.

And while I did a bit of piecing already, its time to head out to the Kern River and Remington Hot Springs.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

More, more, more

I took out the back part of the project that was started for the MN WILD quilt, thinking I could use those pieces for the wedding quilt I am making. However, the wedding quilt top has specific colors where the other one is scrappy and can stand up to a more scrappy back. To that end, I went through my scraps, colorized and trimmed where needed to get 4.5" squares, and cut a solid white for the background.

After pinning everything, I started the piecing process until I ran out of neutral thread, switching to a black and going onto another machine quilting project. There is enough batting to finish those two scrappy/rainbow quilts and then larger leftovers of batting to do the remaining two quilts on my list for this year.

I worked for quite awhile on the Hallows projects for my Grandchildren and took the jars to the next level. They are filled, labeled and ready for a ribbon around the lid. The goal is to ship them out next week, so they are a priority to finish.

Monday is an hour-long trip the the Remington Hot Springs rather than the 3-hr-plus trip to the Pacific. Not even on the map, it is a long walk down from, and up to, the small parking lot. Its relaxing being in the three-varying heats, and so close to the Kern River.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Returning to the MN WILD quilt, there was more than one concern to deal with. Even though I laid these blocks out, numbered and pinned rows, as I pieced the blocks together, I wondered about my memory. Each row has two pins. One is the row number. One is pointed to the top right corner so I would remember to join the blocks from this side in order that they were stacked. Did I remember the code?

It seems that I have always questioned my memory which is why I work hard at being organized, and with quilting, including notes-to-self. This first row is joined, with a whole basket holding the other rows, the template and instructions in a blue file, along with leftover fabrics. I have little choice but to piece on at least another row to see if it is done correctly with four rows to have the swirl show.

It took awhile to fussy cut the directional print border for the wedding quilt. My big thing right now is to find something in my closet bins that works. Both borders were from leftover fabric used on other quilt backs. Amazing that they work and do not distract from the heart blocks. Guess there is truth that the more fabrics one uses in a quilt, the less you have to worry about them all matching. I am starting on the back and will attempt to make it match the rainbow effect on the topper and at the same time use up more of those wonderful scraps.

The back for the MN WILD quilt also uses this RAINBOW BABY pattern so I plan to make two of them and can concentrate on just making these blocks for awhile. (Pictures to come as soon as they are not simply stacks of fabric)

I found the little receiver for the wifi channel changer to the SmartTV/Tower. My memory held true that I had put it in a container. The container was a candleholder. So funny how relieved I was. It freed me to pick up all the piles of fabric spilled out of bins. For some reason, I was taking comfort in the chaos at the time. Maybe my subconscious didn't want me to hunt for the little receiver and having a big ol' mess immobilized me.

Friday, August 26, 2016

ROM Spools

I am not really a fan of the Spool block, and yet am following the pattern so made it as suggested. 

Of course, my first one didn't turn out because, while I thought I was following the pattern, At least I am learning enough about how I read them that I can pay attention. I misunderstood what was written, even with the picture. Luckily, I made another block so it wasn't that big a challenge. I also took the time to join some of those 2.5" squares in a checkerboard fashion, which means, simply that it is a light/dark rotation. I actually like three of them put together though I only stitched them two together for now. The notion that ripping is an option seems like one to avoid. Probably, the sides could go on with each month, but that is not how the author is having us do it. 

I worked on more paper crafts, one of which is a Day of the Dead altered cigar box. It is meant to honor someone close to you who has passed. This keeps the original boarder paper and has some card stock on it and a bead pull. The inside wood will be left yet the inside top is also papered. I don't want to go much further with it until I know who it is for. Usually, I grieve and honor a person at their passing so as not to have unresolved issues.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Very Productive

After basting my Friend's quilt at the clubhouse, I really thought I was finished quilting for the day. However, after some time, I was back at it.

I finished the August ROM, and did add another row of the 2.5" squares to make it three rows for that first border. I am not sure if that will make it too busy but there is always the ripper if it doesn't look good. My machine does the deco stitches a little strangely and it is what it is and will be fine. The author of this pattern calls it SEASONS and this one is her Winter. I've selected fabrics for the September row and like them next to August.

I was able to join the heart blocks and add the first border, which is white. I am still 'auditioning' for the second one, and am looking at fussy cutting a directional print for it. That might be a challenge to make it look right. And if it works, then the dark blue for the third border and binding. The binding will work with the back too.

The most time consuming project was the Prayer Flag for the Sorceress archetype. The flag was easy, it was the research that took time. I came up with a few conclusions: 1. People of all genders are afraid of Her power; and 2. Women, part of humanity, for the most part do not claim their personal power and by the time they get to this stage in their lives, they have co-opted most of their identity, turning unresolved issues into personal illness or accidents; 3. Because of the fear we all have there are no positive role models for us to see ourselves. 

I did discover that Galadrial from The Lord of the Rings tale is called 'The Sorceress of the Golden Wood' and was the only one I found who was not an evil witch or crazy lady. Yet, there was a sense of her power that the movies didn't tap into. We do get it. I spent a fair amount of time looking for movies and books but was sorely disappointed in what is there.

It made me look within and do some writing about it elsewhere. Suffice to say, that small quilting project has gotten to be quite deep work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Rowing Along With ROM

I am not finished with August's Row. It almost helps when you are in a group and some of the participants finish earlier. One of the women expanded her 2.5" block border to be three deep, so I pulled more of my squares and pinned an extra row. I like that idea of pushing out the borders rather than doing more blocks.

Others are playing with sizes and going off the pattern. I elected to stay with the pattern this time and see where it takes me. New. Another thing to see is their use of color. It almost takes some of the mystery out in as much as I can see what I like when others do the same pattern.

So when September's Row was issued EARLY, I wasn't ready. I hadn't finished the August Umbrella row. Then I remembered it was still August and I could 'just keep rowing'. 

September's Row is the Spool pattern. As a scrappy quilt, made by shopping from the closet, the challenge is finding fabrics that work for the pattern and coordinate with the row as well as the one above. I dug through the bins to find 6 horizontal fabrics for the thread section of the spools, with 6 coordinating fabrics for the spools themselves. Some participants used the same fabric for the spools. Others coordinated the thread section with the spool section, and I liked that best.

I have had enough experience with these mystery quilts to know that COORDINATION is a top priority. I also want the backgrounds for all the rows to give some sort of flow for the eye to rest upon. All the scraps for each row are going to make it look busy. Busy is OK, but so is resting.

Did I just write that????

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Killing the Art

One of my dear Cousins replied to a recent blog regarding the Purple Heart block that is part of a wedding quilt I am making. She said there is a skill in knowing when you are done with your creation, and shared that one of her art teachers said that over-doing your project can be an act of killing it. Wow. That is amazing advice.

And moreover, it means really trusting your instincts and creating the work for yourself first, because, she said, that most recipients will not notice or care about it. I know that often-times I do fret about this and that with my quilts.

When I go to quilt shows and see how intricately they are made, I come home and rate my own work as 'less than', when it really is OK. I don't make quilts for shows, I make things to use and use up. 

As I worked on framing the blocks, each one was a lovely piece of art. There is something to be said for taking photos, but the scrappiness of these blocks doesn't show how they look in real life. And as for that Purple Heart, well, those light squares are a stunning lavender that enhances smaller prints around them that the camera also doesn't pick up. My Cuz is so right on. It is going to be a sweet, sweet quilt that will be loved and well used.

Another thought I had about the advise she shared is that being done is easier with art projects than it is with relationships. Each of these hearts could very well represent a relationship. Within each are the lights, mediums, brights, and darks that come with our interactions. One could say all our experiences are represented.

And then being done. OMGoddess! That is always a challenge with our relationships. We have such a hard time letting go or being done that we hang on and hang on until time passes and we are so locked into those interactions that we cannot let go.  

In fact, there IS a killing when we over-do and cling to the thought that we can make it better if we just make this one change. Something in one of us or both of us dies. It might be how we claim our values or define ourselves. Yet, we have opted not to release that one part of our life that no longer fits.

Oh dear Cuz. You gave me so much to think about. How I wish we were geographically closer so we could chat and chat and settle all the problems of the Universe. I pray that both of us have the courage to say something is done when it is.

As for the quilt. It needs borders next. It is far from completed so I must return to the project. Tomorrow is a basting day at the clubhouse on another FB14 project. I will not be showing photos because it goes to my good Friend Rex and she reads this blog from time to time. I want it to be a surprise so will figure something else out for the blog. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Spinning Wheels as I Second Guess

I've kept looking at the purple heart block in the photo for the wedding quilt. Not the actual block. The one in the photo. It seems that the lighter shades make me think I should take it apart and replace those squares with a darker shade. Its still something that can be done. But why? In the larger scheme of things, once it is completed, a few squares on it will not really matter. Not really.

I think this is a natural thing for people to do. Its like worrying about matching shoes to a purse when one might simply be grateful that they have shoes to wear. I need to get on with finishing the top so it can get basted and then machine quilted.

One of the easier projects I have going right now is for a Swap-bot exchange. This one is for a Hallows Home Decor and it is sender's choice with two partners. Party banners are an in thing, and in my case, this project will use up a few more scraps very quickly. They just get joined across the top with a ribbon as the band, which is long enough to tie at both ends. No finishing of the edges. Two items are needed for the swap and these will finish off to any size. My single window is 36" wide, so that is my plan.

Speaking of plans. Today is Monday and its field trip day with another one planned to go to the Ocean. Ventura has a number of them to see, and is easy to get to as well. So the banners were my only quilting project for the day. I am looking forward to laying on the beach under the tent and feeling the energy there. Mmmmm.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Wedding Gift

Although I cannot attend the wedding, it is an important one for me to make a quilt. One of the Brides is the 2nd Daughter of my high school friend.

I found this sweet pattern that makes up rainbow hearts from scraps. I look at the photo and think about re-doing one of the blocks and then decided it was going to be how it is going to be. They are all trimmed and ready for the same color frames as the next step. Then they will get a white border, and two other borders. I will put up more photos as it progresses.

I am extending all these steps at least half an inch so that the end result will be a little larger too. When I paired it with the RAINBOW BABY back, it is a perfect addition, and because that part is almost finished, it does mean less work so it can get shipped out on time. Exciting.

A lot of people like rainbows and some do not get that the rainbow color is one of the symbols LGBT folks chose to represent their diversity. As a two-sided quilt with the rainbow on both sides, this will be a sweet gift for the Lesbian couple.

With short conversations with my friend's Daughter, I have learned that she faces a fair amount of discrimination from closer family and friends. That is not really surprising and is almost an earmark for LGBT folk for as long as comings-out have happened. 

It is much harder for people close to any of us to accept something any of us does that goes against expectations we have for our families & culture, for our religions & politics, and for our education & values, for our health & dying. Change is never easy. Yet change is the one thing we can depend upon.

Sometimes I wish I had the energy to send simple messages to people, those I know & love, those who challenge me, and those in the public realm of taking action. I want to tell people that I support them, or that they challenge me to grow. Yet, sigh. I don't make the time.

This quilt is something I can do. Maybe it is for my high school friend who took her life decades ago and left her Daughters to face their lives alone. She left me too. I often think of how different my life might be had she stayed. Maybe the quilt is just there to say I accept her Daughter just the way she is and just for the lifestyle she has chosen. 

It is not just a quilt. It has meaning. It is made with love. Oh wait. All of the ones I make do.   

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Quillow Complete

It always surprises me when I come here to post a blog that I have missed a day or more. I believe it is because I am still getting used to my hardware setup. My only commitment is to self. Sometimes I also think it is because I think that what I have to say is not earth-shattering or newsworthy. And that is down right silly because the world does spin with love and I do my work with love.

My gardens are also taking time. I am pulling out grass and transplanting plants and working toward making it all more eco-friendly. That takes time. This morning, I got out and cut back this very aggressive vine growing near the NW corner of my house that spread into the AC setup. It almost filled the trash container, and I came inside quite exhausted. Temps outside are 10-20 degrees cooler in the mornings. 

I did finish the fleece Quillow for my Grandson. The pillow part of it is made to look like a Minecraft avatar. And blocky. It is as good as it will get with what I know about it and with what I had on hand to create it with. 

How-to-Fold-A-Quillow.html I found these easy directions and printed off a copy to tuck in the pillow itself so he would know how to do  it.

Still waiting to see if the State of Cali will give me grant money for the eco-friendly work. At least a week to go before learning their decision. Meanwhile, if they do consent, there is only 4 months to get the project done. It takes a lot to pull up the grass sod. It has to be wet for it to let go of the soil, and the piece needs to be shaken so it releases the soil back. I've got a lot of the Iris pulled out to transplant to the South of the house where it will get good Sun. I have a few hard trough/planters that need to be dug in and will serve as protected planters so that the underground critters cannot get precious roots.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Crafts for Hallows

Because my seasonal deadlines are creeping up, I spent the morning making some projects for Hallows. Over the last year plus, I saved some smaller, yet interestingly shaped jars to use with funny labels. I've also been buying odd things on sale that nobody wants so they can be used for apothecary contents for that scare factor.

These are some Pocket Whimsys I am making out of TP rolls. They have ribbon hangers on the top and will hold little Hallows items plus some cash for the Grand(kids & Nieces/Nephews). I need 14 of them so wanted to get started on them right away. I have a lot of smaller jars and just printed off some fun-free labels so that I can glue them on as soon as a jar is clean and ready for content.

To make memorable gifts for the kids, one has to think and plan quite far in advance just because they have to be made. I am big into re-purposing things so when I saw bottles in the stores with labels, I knew I could make my own. Thing is, people do that all the time and never take the steps to get what they see made. It just seemed so wasteful to toss jars. I have an idea for Winter Solstice gifts for them all too.

SwapBot really helps. There are a lot of creative people on that site making some very cute projects. Big for me is whether or not I can shop from my closets or cupboards, and then if it is worth my time to make the project. Sometimes I see things I like but discover how time-intensive it is and decide not to take it on.

The Pocket Whimsy project is cute and is a way to give them something non-candy. At their pre-to-post-teenage, money is the gift they will immediately appreciate. The Pocket Whimsy is for memories of things Granny (Great-Auntie) made.

And now, back to the fabric art projects. My Auntie's party is the end of this month, so that mug rug is the priority. Then, onto the wedding gift for October 1. The MR and wedding quilt are the only unfinished projects with deadlines.

I did find the RAINBOW BABY pattern that is being used on the back of the MN WILD quilt and it will go beautifully with the wedding quilt topper. I have enough scraps to do both backs. I made another appointment for next Wednesday to baste one of the FB14 projects. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Catching Up

I've had a real push regarding the new computer hardware, and it has been taking up more of my time than I like. I do have a call into my geek who says he will get here as soon as he is able. The things going wrong with it all are probably minor for him, but seem overwhelming to me. I have made a list of things for him to check because I don't want to forget something and then need him to come back.

Meanwhile, I made labels for a couple of quilts and got them sewn on. I have my Grandson's pillow and blocks cut and pinned on for the Quillow; and was able to locate squares for the wedding quilt, finishing the first round of piecing, and have the second round pinned. While I could take pictures of this work, it is more vital that I do it and keep at it.

I thought about deadlines and how I work to meet them. I got to thinking that I never miss a deadline and so know that stressing out for them is silly.

Monday's trip was to the Reagan Library in Simi rather than to the Ocean. The Vatican piece that touched me the most is this oil painting from the 17th Century called PORTRAIT OF A PROPHET. I tried to get information about it and did not learn much. The subject is the kind of man, a Grandfather archetype perhaps, that makes me feel like I want to curl up in his lap and just feel the comfort I see in his eyes.

I did find the mug rug pattern that I want to make for my Aunt's birthday. It doesn't take much fabric and should go together quickly. This is deadline project #1. The wedding quilt is next, with the Quillow an easy finish.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Next is the Quillow

My next project is the Quillow pillow. This is only an example of a Minecraft face and not what my project looks like. Mine will be in purples because I thought they were all that color. Ooops. Remembering that this is the rage, and that the faces are avatars for people playing the games. I asked my Grandson to send me a Snapchat photo of himself when he gets home. He gets a purple one and I would not doubt that he will ask for another color. Its one to a kid. His is purple.

The pillow part of it needs to be a 20" square and is reversible, showing when it is folded up as well as when it is open. I had one piece of flannel in a purple tone on tone that works so it is being washed in hot water with other pieces I want to use for the face. Nice that it is all squares.

Besides wishing for a new Mac, and trying not to whine about my choice to forgo that purchase, the MN WILD quilt top is ready for piecing. It was laid out in two sections of eight rows.

Each of the 16 rows are pinned with a number and a directional pin pointing to the top right hand corner as the starting place. That red with white dot shows up more than any other print and so special care was needed to make sure it was random and an equal number of them were in the top and bottom segments. Once rows are done, it will get laid out again to make sure it looks random. That is so funny.

I've also started on a wedding gift for my high school friend's second Daughter. I found a scrappy pattern and took time to shop from my closet for 2.5" and 3" squares. There are 9 blocks to the pattern and each of the 9 makes up 10 HST (half square triangles). I am not sure a quilter can get away from them completely.  First to gather & cut fabric, the next step is to make the HST, and after, the pattern says the rest of the quilt assembles fast and easily. There are two colors I do not have so will get a FQ of each. I have not thought about the borders for it, but do plan to continue shopping from the closet first.

And also on my list to do is a simple mug rug for one of my dear Aunt's 90th birthday. I am still trying to decide if it shoud be either for Fall or for Halloween. I've made both of the patterns under consideration and am leaning toward the one for Fall. That one is really a priority to get it done and to my Cousin so she has it for the party. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Let the Layout Begin!

I finished piecing and trimming the MN WILD quilt, and so the next step is to layout the 80 red-centered blocks with the 80 white centered blocks in the swirly pattern. I could not see the swirl with my eyes, so took this pic to get a better feel for it. There will be 12 of these swirls; three across and four down. Four rows to each block.

Quilting, like healing, can be a mysterious complex process. Maybe this is why I am drawn to mystery quilts. This one is supposed to look like this swirled pattern, however, the scrappiness of each block gives it a specific nature. Then the question is raised for how the blocks fit with each other. This is why I made extras, and also why I left some blocks unmade in case they need some color to fit in with the greater vision of the quilt. As each block was pieced, care was taken to use differently colored logs. Having a random look to a scrap quilt means more mindfulness than one expects.

And then the back. I found a pattern called RAINBOW BABY and thought I made a copy of it. I know I did, however, with all the shifting of workspaces and taking down my Mac to set up this SmartTV and the other small work monitor, the pattern is hiding, so I measured what was done and created my own pattern for it. All the pieces to the RB were cut and only needed joining once the top is finished and measured. There are extras in the basket for it too so any adjustments are possible.

Our own healing often takes us by surprise and we are often only aware of it after the fact. So it is with scrap quilting. One day we realize our lives are not the same as they once were. Something magickal happened, and we are changed. We are not fragmented like the pieces we cut for the quilt. What was broken or cut into strips and squares is suddenly becoming whole. Miracles are possible, even for us. Even for our lives. Even for our quilts.

Yet, healing takes work. It is not something we do by going to some expert healer. We are the ones who do the work in making the changes. Experts tell us to eat right, to exercise. We are told to cut accurately, hold to a 1/4" seam and keep working on the quilting project until it is complete. So it is with our healing whether it is for our bodies, our minds, our emotions or our spirits. We do the work. Only us.

My design area is not on a wall, but ends up being on floor space. That means cleaning my great room floor by dusting and then using the wet spray for the hard wood and moving all the furniture to make way for the project. Layout for 160 6" squares has to be done in one session. It will need arranging and re-arranging to ensure the random look is there, then pinning rows and marking rows with my numbered pins.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Finishing Version 2

The MN WILD quilt has two different Log Cabin blocks. One has a white center and one has a red center. It is quite possible that when it gets to the layout stage that one or both of them will need more.

Meanwhile, have cut more of the white and scraps for both sides of this second block, and kept some of the larger pieces in case more is needed for either version. 

Scrap quilting is not easy when the project expands like this one did. I wanted to have the same pieces show up in the first rounds of the squares that appeared in the second and third. It will still be a surprise by the time it is layed out and the final joining takes place.

I realize that most of my life is more planned out than it was when I was younger. Perhaps it is because the healthier I got, the less willing I was to tolerate disasters, or toxic people. And the healthier I got, the more I wanted to set myself up for success. If a person is not at the stage of being organized or being heathy, it means simply that their path has more to show them. Me too. I have a lot to learn about life. About my life. My path has many steps for me to travel and lessons for me to learn. One block at a time. One quilt at a time.