Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Christmas Quilts and Snow in the Forecast :-)

This morning it's 17 F (-8 C) out and it's rather hard to believe that last week it was 60 F! I can't complain though, as I do love the changing seasons-especially the cold weather, and lots of snow. Tomorrow we're supposed to be getting snow here in the Boise valley and the mountains around us are supposed to get even more. Happy days!! Should I get my skis out and prop them up in my family room? ;-)

A fall textile postcard that I created using improv piecing with various batik strips-

I've pulled out my Christmas quilts and hung them around the house. Don't you just love decorating for Christmas? I found a couple of neat things at the thrift stores-a cheery, round Santa to go on a library table.

 Some vintage Christmas ornaments to hang on our tree-

Every year I try to make one or two new Christmas quilts to add to the collection. It's fun rotating quilts in the wall hangers and draping a cheery bright red Christmas quilt on the sofa. So I've put the other projects on hold so that I could do some Christmas sewing.

I like exploring blocks using EQ7 as it gives me the chance to play with colors, block sizes and border ideas. Sometimes simple and classic is just what I want, so for the first quilt I chose the eight pointed star block, and then I sized it to a nine inch (23 cm) block. I pulled out a Hoffman Essentials print in various deep reds, a Kona cotton white for the background and I was ready to roll. I decided to paper piece this for accuracy.

 I outline quilted the stars using perle cotton and then it was ready to hang in my kitchen. How do you like my classic Christmas star quilt?

The second quilt that I'm currently working on is made up of Cross and Crown blocks, which is a block I've never worked with before. I decided to paper piece this as well as I didn't feel like fiddling with the small triangles. This time I went with a black background, using Kona cotton fabric and I stuck with the Hoffman Essentials print.

As I started sewing the blocks together, I paused for a moment to pin the blocks to my studio wall to see how they looked. I discovered a secondary pattern from the black squares which was detracting from the view of the primary design. I took the blocks apart, and then sewed black sashing strips to each block. That fixed the problem and allowed me to focus on the primary pattern that I wanted to see.

I still need to sew the borders on this, and I'm thinking a dark forest green that's almost black so a trip to the LQS is in order. Oh, darn.

I have another quilt in the works that I printed out this morning and it's a Christmas basket quilt. I think that I'll paper piece the handles and then rotary cut the rest. It should be fun to sew up today :-)

A couple of weekends ago my husband and I rode up to Thorn Creek Butte fire lookout one last time before the snow makes it impassable. Well, we had to ride through snow to make it to the lookout and the wind was blowing like mad, but it was an awesome day to be out in the mountains.

Happy stitching,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Free To Be Me

Have you ever started a new project only to find part way along it just wasn't coming together like you wanted? I started a scrappy strip star quilt, inspired by Gwen Marston's book Liberated String Quilts. I cut out a variety of pink and purple solids and batiks and happily started sewing. The star went together easily and then I faced the inset seams. Whoa. I faced that job with trepidation as it had been quite some time since I'd sewn seams like that. The first star was a bit rough with the ripping out of many seams while mumbling under my breath, but it finally came together. The second star went together much easier and I pinned them up on my studio wall. But-they didn't inspire me-and instead they bored me. Drat. So I left them to sit there while I thought about how I could change them for the better. Which meant more thinking while pedaling along....

It was serendipitous that I was reading Rayna Gillman's book, Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts. I read with fascination about her working methods which were quite new to me. Not think about matching? Not stress about color? Wow. I liked her ideas and how free she was to just mix things up. Her idea of throwing fabric strips in a paper bag and then pulling them out to make random strip sets sounded like such a freeing way to piece. 

And then I knew what I wanted with my strippy star quilt-more variety in the colors and fewer light valued fabrics. So I cut strips out of acid green, moss green, turquoise, orange, and all sorts of bright yellows. Okay, I have to admit that when I first started sewing the strips a little voice said to me, "they don't match." I had to ignore that voice in order to press on, and I'm glad that I did. I just finished one star and I like it oh, so much better! Thanks, Rayna, for opening my eyes to a new way of approaching color!!

I have one star finished and now I have the drive to make the other three blocks :-) I'm going to name this quilt Free To Be Me.

While I was pondering how to fix/change the strippy stars, I decided to sew two pillow shams for my bed to go with the lady of the lake quilt. I had been reading Sunday Morning Quilts, written by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison, which made me think of using the slab method of creating the sham. I pulled out various blue and green strips that I had on hand and started sewing. When I achieved the size that I wanted, I pulled out some wool batting leftover from the quilt and hand quilted the piece. I still need to sew the back on, but this is how it looks so far.

More polka dotted baby quilts are heading out the door to the women's/children's shelter in town and I will drop them off while I'm cycling along the Boise River. I was thrifting the other day, and you guessed it, I came across more cotton polka dot sheets that came home with me. I guess the pressure on those closet doors isn't going to abate any time soon....

One day I felt like some quick sewing, so I created a textile postcard to mail out in order to brighten someone's day. They really are addictive to make!

 I realize that I haven't talked about fiber or spinning in quite some time. I've been knitting socks in the evenings (of course!!) and I alternate that with hand carding rolags. I've been creating rolags from a combination of kid mohair and Cormo that I dyed with turquoise and bright blue acid dyes last year. I will be spinning these on my canary wood/ebony spindle that Marshall created for me, with the thought of making enough yarn for a special hat, scarf and mitten set to go with a new bright turquoise down vest that I just bought :-)

The trees are turning and it's such a lovely time of year, don't you think? I think that there will be snow up on Bogus soon!

Here's hoping that you have time for fiber/fabric today,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thinking of Comfort Food or Comfort Quilting?

First off, I'd like to share with you two fall textile postcards that came in the mail. The first one is from Lin, who blogs at St Victor Quilts, and who created it using one half inch hexies. Yes, 1/2 inch hexies! She's one patient woman to hand sew those tiny hexies together.

The other fall postcard came as part of Sheila's postcard swap and it was sent by Selina, who blogs at Selina Quilts. It brought a smile to my face with the cheery bright orange fabrics  and the fun stitching.

Thanks so much for the lovely postcards!!

I came across a ball of handspun corriedale that I decided to dye using orange drink mix. I filled an old pickle jar half way with water, and then added vinegar along with four packages of orange drink mix. I didn't stir it once the yarn ball was in the jar and then I microwaved it to set the color. The result was a soft mottled look to the yarn which was just what I wanted.

The title of this post talks of comfort food and comfort quilting. Do you find yourself sometimes craving comfort food? There are times when a bowlful of homemade mac and cheese just hits the spot. I find that traditional quilting-with the steady process of precisely cutting out the pieces for each block and then seeing each block build slowly one by one-gives me the same feeling of eating that delicious homemade mac and cheese. Sometimes it just satisfies the creative urge like nothing else.

Twenty years ago I made a bow tie quilt using traditional methods with a plastic template, studiously cutting out each piece by hand and then hand quilting it using tiny stitches.

This past week I cut out the pieces for another bow tie quilt using a rotary cutter with the plan of making a small quilt, but I was having so much fun piecing these bow ties that I just kept making them! I used a variety of scraps and fabrics that I had on hand to make this. I had the blocks on the floor ready to sew together when Sweety, our little cat, came along and did a spin on them. Ugh. Back to the drawing board for placement....

This is the quilt with the border, and it really was comfort quilting to me.

I'm hand quilting it with *big* (hurrah!) stitches using perle cotton thread in variegating neutrals. One of the things that I love about quilting is the diversity-traditional, modern, art-and then the lines can blur between them depending on the vision of the person creating the quilt. What's not to love about having so many choices?? And from where I stand I think they all merit appreciation.

My family and I took our dual sport motorcycles out the other weekend, loading them on the trailer and driving across town to the foothills. We drove up Eighth Street which went from being in a country club neighborhood to dry foothills then on to the treeline with plenty of pine trees. It was a lovely day to be out with the sun shining but with just a hint of a bite to the air. We rode for hours just enjoying the Idaho views and spending time together as a family. I should have stopped more to take some scenic photos but I was having such a good time I just stopped once near the summit to look over the view of the valley below. I love Idaho!

There's a nip to the air in the mornings now, and I read where there was the first snowfall in the mountains. It's almost time to strap on the skis-oh, I can hardly wait....

Happy stitching,

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fun With Textile Postcards

Can you believe that it's Saturday already? Wow, where did this week go? A couple of weeks ago I signed up to participate in another fabric postcard swap sponsored by Sheila (thanks, Sheila!). This one had a fall theme which motivated me to start dreaming/thinking about what I wanted to create. It's funny how you can be out doing something mindless like pedaling a bike, and if you let your mind wander over color or design the ideas just start to flow.

I started with some sky fabric that I had previously painted using textile paints, then I added some brown batiks to the bottom and I was on my way. I had on hand some white fabric with black streaks that I thought would make great birch trees that I cut out and used a short zig-zag to sew down. Then I was stuck-how to do the leaves the way I wanted them to look? I thought about that one for days-more cycling-and then it came to me that I have a wonderful stash of wool and alpaca that would make the tops of the trees look just how I wanted them to. So I pulled off some Cormo wool and alpaca wool, added bits of cut up orange batik fabric and then sewed that down using monofilament thread. Ah, sweet success.

A couple of weeks ago I was playing with bright color strips, making a small quilt when I stopped to make a couple of postcards. One just flew over to England to visit Cathy who creates unique ceramic creations with quilters in mind.

I think that it would be fun to do a series of small quilts exploring this technique. I need to add that to the list on my whiteboard.

I realized the other day that the closet where I store fabric/vintage sheets for donation baby quilts was stuffed to overflowing. Hmmm. Well, I pulled out everything, sorted it by fabric type/color, and then neatly stacked it back in the closet. And I thought that I'd better sew more donation baby quilts to ease the pressure on those closet doors!

Aren't those large polka dots just fun??
My flower garden is putting on an awesome last show of the season and I thought that I'd share some photos with you. I so enjoy looking out my sewing room window and seeing the flowers.

If you want to learn a unique way of painting fabric, head over to
Egléa Senna's blog where she graciously shares how she creates her special fabric that she uses to make postcards. Thanks, Egléa, for taking the time to write that post!!

It's supposed to rain here all weekend, so I think that it's going to be a GREAT sewing/fiber weekend (plus football watching).
Happy sewing to you,


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Liberated Log Cabin Placemats

I was browsing in a local craft store the other day, looking at the jelly rolls of quilting fabric that they had for sale. I came across a jelly roll made up of bright and whimsical Moda prints called One For You, One For Me by Pat Sloan. They were just what I wanted for my colorful, liberated log cabin placemats! And they were on sale :-) The log cabin assembly was fast and fun and I threw in a few prints that I had on hand.

I hand quilted these using a large running stitch with perle cotton thread in bright colors. I love the texture that appears after a quilted piece is washed.

I made some cotton napkins to go with them from solid cotton fabrics that were cut into squares and then finished with a simple hem. The walnut napkin ring was created by my husband, Marshall, who turned it on his lathe.

That made me think of making some new potholders with the leftover scraps of fabric. I filled the center with one layer of Insul-Fleece and another of batting.

And I knit up some felted wool oven mitts which are so easy to make. I forgot to take photos of the mitts prior to felting, but they were huge. The yellow mitt had to be washed twice in my washing machine before I was happy with the thickness of the fabric, but the orange felted much faster. If you're felting something, don't forget to check on it, more often than not (please don't ask me why I know that ;-)

Here's hoping that you have time for fabric/fiber today,