Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two finishes!

Scully the Granddog received his quilt:

Backing is some microfleece and a couple of strips of plaid to make up width of the remnant.

Love those ears!

Scully loves to be under the covers!  He already started to chew on the "S" but I told Elaine not to worry about it--it is an inexpensive quilt for a dog and not an heirloom so he can drag it around and chew on it all he wants!

On Sunday, I completed my nephew's quilt.  In record time (for me!), in one day I pieced the backing, sandwiched and pinned, machine quilted the quilt with simple diagonal lines per the pattern, attached and sewed down the binding by machine, and even made and attached a label!  It was a long afternoon and evening but I am really happy to have it finished well before John's March birthday. 






My goals for January were to complete three projects...only one is left and I have already started on the hand quilting of the mini.  Progress is good!  I'd like to keep that up all year.  Imagine, three finishes a month would give me a big pile of quilts by the end of the year!

Of course, their was a new twist thrown into this mix: DD Erica picked out the quilt she wants me to make for her and on Saturday we picked out fabrics for the pieced blocks, lots of pretty prints in purple, green, pink, and cream.  This quilt pattern calls for dupioni silk for triangle points on the blocks and the outer border is cotton velveteen, which we have yet to pick out, as well as the background fabric.   The pattern is "Material Matters", from the Fall/Winter 2009 Quilt Sampler magazine.  It called for 12 fat quarters but we couldn't find enough that we liked so bought 1/3 yard cuts, which were very generously measured by the shop clerk (meaning lots of yummy leftovers!).  Erica says she wants the quilt by her birthday--which is the first week of March!  Hmm, we shall see...

Also, yesterday I received the Month 3 BOM set for the Moda Greenpiece quilt and that means I am now behind six blocks!  I'd better get started. I've been a little afraid to cut into that gorgeous fabric so have been acquainting myself with the directions thoroughly and will get the wools washed tonight.  The fabrics are truly luscious.  So, onward and forward, lots of interesting and beautiful fabrics to work with and different projects to keep my interest :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quilters--vive la difference!

I have been thinking about several conversations about quilting that took place in the last couple of months.  My grandmother's sister, one of her brothers and his wife and son from Nebraska came to visit in early November--they had planned the trip before my grandmother died in October and didn't change their plans, as they came by train.  I was especially eager to talk to my Grandma's sister, Clara.  Unfortunately, her memory has deteriorated significantly and it was apparent why the photos and letter I sent to her earlier in the year asking about Grandma's quilts had gone unanswered.  My Aunt Jean was able to answer some questions and as a sometime quiltmaker herself, understood my desire for documentation.  I was correct in my thought that this quilt below was made by several of the sisters, but my Great Grandmother did not also work on it, as I had thought.  I had never seen this quilt before Grandma showed it to me about 5 years ago, but by that time she told me, "I think I made this quilt, but I just can't remember", which about broke my heart! 


Aunt Jean and I talked about some other quilts of the family, including a story that had been shared at Grandma's funeral service. Grandma and Grandpa had arrived at a niece's new house before the family got home for the day and were settled in comfortably when the family arrived home from school and work.  When asked how they found the place without getting good directions, Grandma stated she knew it was the right house because she recognized the quilt she'd made for her niece's graduation hanging on the line! Aunt Jean said Grandma had made quilts for all the Nebraska family members for their high school graduation, another story I hadn't known. These were backed with sheets and many were tied--Aunt Jean seemed a bit apologetic about this. But she didn't need to be--to me the gift of a quilt is in the love stitched into it, no matter the materials used! 

When my sister Kathy was here for Christmas we also talked about quilting.  I originally got her "hooked" in late 2005 when I took her to my local quilt shop to have her pick out fabric for a quilt I wanted to make her. While there she picked up a Ricky Tims "Convergence" book.  She was fascinated by his methods and was really excited about trying them.  I was not so taken as she by that style of quilting but was happy to have my sister join me in the quilt cult!  We even went to a Ricky Tims weekend seminar the following year which was one of the most fun trips I have ever been on.  This past Christmas Kathy brought a convergence quilt she had started for me several years ago, which was still unfinished.  I asked her if she had made any more convergence quilts since then and she said "not really".  Pictoral quilts grabbed her attention and she almost exclusively does them now.  I marvel at her free and instinctive feel for translating printed fabric into "painting" a picture, and she marvels at my cut and pieced squares, triangles, and rectangles.  We share a passion for quilting from totally different spectrums (Kathy's Lilypads below).





My sister in law Laura has been a collector of fabric for many years.  I've been trying to turn her into a quilter for the last couple of years and finally last summer with my helping a bit by doing some cutting and providing support while she sewed and planned, she completed two quilt tops all on her own and was loving it.  Over Christmas she put together the quilt top we collaborated on for our family friends, and before she left that day, she said that putting together that top had given her a renewed eagerness to sew more.  I have gotten two reports since that instead of working on her paper and stamping crafts once she returned home after the holidays, she is quilting!  As a newer quilter still building confidence she is concentrating on simple patterns and building her stash.  We are both more traditional piecers but when shopping for fabric head in completely different areas of the store.  Florals, pinks, dusty shades and orientals call to her, whereas I head for prints in brighter or deeper shades and lots of geometrics.   




In a very subjective world, I find it fantastic that lovers of  fabric, thread, color and pattern meet under the broad category of "quilters" and share their passion, knowledge, and stories, and I am happy to be a tiny part of that community!      

Monday, January 18, 2010

Down for 2, but a finish


Grant got a stomach flu and was very sick on Wednesday night--he even stayed home from work Thursday, a true rarity for him...I developed symptoms on Friday and was down from mid afternoon with this very unpleasant bug.  Saturday was a bust for doing much, as moving around made me feel a bit nauseated.  Even sitting and sewing was too much activity so off to bed I went again, spending nearly my whole Saturday afternoon doing nothing but watching TV, smashing my plans for participating in Judy's quiltathon.  Watching commercials for food was out of the question!  Barely ate more than a little soup and a few crackers all day.  Felt a lot better Sunday and finally was able to get in the sewing room in the mid afternoon and do some organizing.  Lots of cleanup of surfaces and relabeling and figuring was done to get those project boxes ready for work.  I did some cutting, ironing, folding, and discarding.  It was late afternoon I actually sat down to sew. Scully's the Granddog's quilt is finished!  I'll be taking it over to Elaine's today and will get some pics.  Today I planned to get a lot more sewing done...but now Erica appears to be down with the bug and I will have to cover her at my former Job #3 this afternoon!  Oh, well, best laid plans...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Details, details

I worked on Scully the Granddog's quilt but didn't get the top completed as I need to applique the center square.  We heard yesterday from Elaine that they are moving, after only six months at their current place.  Since they got the puppy and have no fenced yard, I guessed it was coming but not so soon.  They've found another place close to their current one, and will be moving in a month. 


It's a manly flannel quilt for a Boston Terrier who likes to burrow under the covers.  The bear print was a recently purchased remnant and the buffalo check, tan and red solids from stash.  Those are 6" finished squares and I'll do a quick stitch and turn with a fleece backing. 

My nephew John's quilt top went through some color change plans.  Originally the third border was going to be the multicolored dot but I decided to calm it down with the pastel green and use the nulticolored dot for the binding.  I also changed my mind about the four patches in the second border and ended up with brighter colors than the two blues I originally planned.  Those other four patches will get used on the back probably.

 


Love the animals in this print! 

Here's the mini made from Grant's Diamonds leftovers.  I am thinking it is doable to hand quilt as it is pretty small, only 18 x 24 inches.  It will be simple and definitely prim looking big-stitch type of quilting. These were all leftover triangle squares.  I matched them up to make square in square blocks.  The pic should enlarge a bit to see the seams.  Hmm, loking at this pic, I may have to switch the bottom right two border triangles--don't like that bigger brown triangle that is jumping out!



Judy has another Quiltathon this weekend and I am going to play along, probably unofficially!  Goals are to get John's quilt finished and also Scully's.  If I cut the dilly-dorking to a minimum, it will be a great finish to the first three day weekend of the year!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trees and tops and pondering

My new look is the result of some window gazing.  Out my kitchen window I can see my poinsettia, my dwarf Hass avocado, and my ornamental pear tree.  The picture in my header is what the blossoms on the ornamental pear looked like last year about this time.  It was gorgeous!  This year it's looking quite bedraggled.  The poinsettia grew very tall this year--the new canes reached even higher than this pic from last year:   It has bloomed continuously since October but now is starting to lose its leaves.  I'll cut back the canes next month and start fertilizing monthly (if I can remember to!) so I get the really deep dark green leaves next season.



Over the weekend I completed two small quilt tops.  I got the borders on the baby quilt for my nephew and am thinking about the backing.  Can't decide if I want to piece it or not, what with all the busy-ness on the front.  Hmm, pondering.  I also put together a mini from some leftovers from Grant's Diamonds quilt (pic of Grant's below).  I'm thinking about hand quilting that one.  Hmm, pondering.


Grant and I went to a baptism Sunday for his grand-nephew.  It was an unexpected trip for me, as I had plans to work and then sew while he took his mom, but she was feeling under the weather and didn't want to get the baby sick, so I told Grant I'd go with him; I knew he didn't want to go alone...but I told him my fee was a stop at JoAnn's fabric store on the way home (I'm sneaky that way).   

Though I was baptized myself as a baby, I've never been to one since and Grant's first and last time was to the baptism of the mother of this grand-nephew!  It was very interesting and the rector? deacon? explained everything that was happening in a very friendly and down to earth way.  It was the only baptism taking place so just family and friends were there.  They fully immersed the baby in the water and he didn't even cry (it must have been heated!). The parents took forever to get him dressed in his new white clothing afterwards, to laughter, and nearly missed the finer points of the end of the ceremony!  Lots of pictures were taken and we had a lovely luncheon at our niece and her husband's house, to which we had not been before. Didn't get to hold baby Jake as he was being hogged by a cousin the whole time, but we did get to meet him for the first time, little cutie.  It was a gorgeous warm day and Grant and I enjoyed spending time away from home together, however brief!   We talked about where to go for our 25th anniversary next month and if we want a party.  Hmm, pondering.

Believe it or not, the trip to the fabric store was the first time Grant has ever accompanied me to one.  I picked out some very unexciting white background fabric on a bolt, and while I waited to have it cut, Grant went to wait in the car (he didn't QUITE bolt! hee hee).  I always like to cruise the remnant bin and came home with some nice pieces that were 50% off, including a piece of microfleece that will be the backing to the quilt for the granddog.  The pieces got cut for that Sunday as well and I'll put it together tonight.  Tomorrow I plan to get pics of all three completed tops.  Maybe I'll manage a triple finish for January!  Hmm, pondering...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

And we're off!

I've been working on a baby quilt for my nephew born last March.  He's a pistol, that one, fights sleep like the Dickens--which is not a good thing for a 6th child in the family!  At Christmas he had a cold and was a bit fussier than normal.  Why do babies hate it when you want to SIT DOWN and hold them?  I bought the Noah's Ark fabric on clearance at JoAnn's soon after he was born, thinking it would do well with this free Super Sized 9 patch, but it was not appropriate for the fabric so it languished without a plan until I downloaded this free pattern from Quiltmaker.com some time ago. 



It has been fun to assemble the little nine patches. All of the solids were in my stash and some of the dots.

 
Isn't the Noah's Ark print adorable? I couldn't resist it (Henry Alexander Fabrics 2006).  I've got the other two borders all cut and ready to go after the nine patch border is finished and attached.  My goal is to get it all assembled this weekend and ready for quilting.  

My poor photographys skills notwithstanding, I assure you the Moda fabrics in this BOM are really, really pretty. The dot is burgandy in that grouping on the left.  The wools are showing up okay.  I'll post pics of my blocks when they are done, hopefully with much better lighting!



Also, I signed up for a block swap with the online quilting group I belong to (we just did the house blocks a couple months back); 30 blocks due at the end of January.  There are a lot of jewel box blocks I gotta start cutting for...this may require a trip to the fabric store. Oh gee, isn't that too bad!  So, all smiles, the weekend sewing plan is unfolding.

Monday, January 4, 2010

O.M.G.

Serious O.M.G. hit my kitchen counter today---my Moda Greenpiece BOM box arrived, gift wrapped with a handwritten card to me and everything!  My sweetie Grant placed the order for me over my objections to the extravagant cost by the end of the 10 month program (upwards of $300, gulp).  The box had Block One fabrics, all the yummy wools, instruction sheets, and Block Two fabrics.  These are gorgeous fabrics in deep tans, plums, browns, and a gorgeous buttery yellowy tan print for the backgrounds.  I loved it online, but in person it is to.die.for! 

I was so excited about this package's arrival that I called the FatQuarterShop customer service a week ago, expecting the delivery that soon, since Grant ordered it on the 24th.  Though it was shipped out the same day, UPS took its time, sending the package first to two different cities in Texas, then north to Louisville, KS, which baffled Kathy, the customer service rep I talked to.  It then made it west to California but was routed to three different places in LA before getting up to me in Ventura.  And that was called "on time" delivery for a 3 day package!  By my calculations, starting from when it was catalogued in on the 27th, it should have been to my house the 31st.  Now, I know I have a little trouble with math sometimes, but sheesh, even I can handle single digits! 

I'll post pics when I get new batteries for my camera.  I have also been working on a baby quilt and will take pics of that too.  Now on to less exciting tasks, like cleaning the cat sewer and doing 2 wks of laundry.  Ah, Monday!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here's what my kitchen window vignette was all season.  This little tree I have had for many years and it has moved all over the house.  I think I like it best here! 


The ornaments came from Nancy Halvorsen's "Here Comes Santa" pattern book.  I love her designs.


My sister and I spent a great deal of  December 31st working on the quilt for our friends.  Kathy accused me of taking too many breaks, but everyone needs to eat, blog, and relax, right?  She brought over King crab legs and she and Grant and I ate our New Year's Eve dinner standing over the sink, dripping with melted butter!  Yum.  Then we put together a jigsaw puzzle with our Uncle Fred while Grant watched sports and more on TV.  Talk about a wild party!  Shortly before 10:00 pm I finally got the last of the binding sewn down on the quilt and she took Uncle Fred home. 


Above: Blocks sewn by SIL Laura before borders were sewn on by me.  For our throw size, we made 15 blocks from the Turning Twenty pattern.

Above:  After quilting.

Above: some fun stitches and colorful thread were used by Kathy for the quilting portion.  I did the binding.

Above:  Backed with Minkee (aka Polyester Lithium)

I posted my last Travelogue and then Grant and I rang in the New Year alone; he took his drum set's cymbals outside and banged on them a few times to make some noise.  It seems we were the only people outside this year on our block, though we could hear noise of people shouting and firecrackers nearby.  We had our New Year's kiss outside under the full Blue Moon.  A lovely end to a long and full year!

On reflection of all the "bad" that happened in the world in 2009, and the shiny New Year before us, I can only say this:  It's a crazy world, that's for certain.  The "good old days" rarely stand up to that phrase.  There will always be violence, politics, disease, poverty, and misery in the world.  There will also always be joy, hope, love, creativity and generosity.  Here's to less of the former and more of the latter category.  From my corner of the blogging world, I wish all of you happiness with what you have, power to change what you can, and the recognition of the amazing capacity of the human being to do good for fellow inhabitants of this planet. 

As for me, beyond the usual list of resolutions I renew annually such as "lose weight, get organized, and exercise more", I desire to become a little more like my Grandmother and use some of my free time and sewing skills to create for charity.  I also plan to stretch myself and join a group to do just that.  Not being much of a "joiner" and tending to work alone, it will be a challenge to me. 


 From my family to yours, Happy New Year!

Australia Travelogue--Part VI. Very long post!

I have lagged in posting this last part, as if by not summing it up and posting the pictures, the vacation will never be over and I can still keep a part of me in Queensland!  But the end of the year calls for cleaning up loose threads, so with a sigh of regret, I wake from the dream that was Australia...

Thursday, November 17 was another hot and sunny day.  After a quick breakfast (I continued to be impressed with the speed of the electric kettle for my cup of Earl Grey each morning), Susie and I went into Port Douglas for some leisurely souvenir shopping on Macrossan Street.  I found a few unique items for the girls and some traditional ones, like tank tops and Tshirts, for the men.  There was a great art gallery of aboriginal art, huge painted pieces as well as sculture and crafts.  There is nothing like seeing art in person!  

We headed home after yet another trip to the grocery store and were there enjoying lunch when Jon returned from Cairns after having picked up more wedding guests, an old friend of Jon's and his wife, who had just emigrated to Australia from the UK several weeks before.  They were eager to visit the boat and, to my joyful surprise, we once again headed out to the reef, returning to the Low Isles to "find Nemo" as Jon had promised.  It was another calm day and we snorkeled for a short while, without Susie, due to a misunderstanding of thinking we were short on stinger suits.  We did indeed "find Nemo" and I greatly enjoyed being out in the water again.  Later Jon made another trip to Cairns to pick up his daughters.  That was his third trip in one day, having been to the tip at dawn!

The whole bunch of us met for dinner at a pub at the Courthouse in Port Douglas.  I was suprised to find that Chicken Parmesan came served over "chips", with salad on the side.  This earned me laughs as of course everyone else knew that pub meals always come with chips! 

Friday I had a quiet morning as Sue was off to town to do errands and Jon took work calls.  It rained for about 10 minutes in the morning, which set off all the frogs in the lily pond!  A very hot day with high humidity.  The catering crew was working on setting up lights all over the garden and making it look festive. 


Sue's daughter and son in law and their two very young children arrived later and it was wonderful to finally meet them.  The kids were a bit overwrought, having weathered a long flight delay from Darwin and there was a bit of clinging and crying, but after a swim and some lunch they seemed better.  I developed a rash on my arm which Sue said was from the heat; that and the humidity made me feel very sleepy in the afternoon and not very comfortable!  I should have retreated to an air conditioned room but didn't... More family and friends came into town and I met Sue's older son, some of their employees, and also Jon's son.  We had another swim session; I played baseball with the pool noodle and managed to hit the large ball every time despite being without my glasses.  All stayed for a late dinner at home and even later chatting and laughing under the pergola. 

Saturday, Nov 21:  The Wedding Day started with a heavy rain shower, but didn't dim our gathering at a local marina restaurant for a lovely family breakfast--I was honored to be included in that grouping.   Back at home, we helped clear furniture from the living area for the caterers to set up the tables, did a lot of floor cleaning, and watched the caterers work. They set up this huge table for 30 in the living/dining room:



A hairstylist/cosmetologist came later and made Susie gorgeous as well as doing the hair for four others, including straightening mine--a real feat in the heat and humidity, as it rained on and off through the day.  I helped make some luminaria for the garden and then finally it was time to dress.  Ever the joker, Jon put on his costume first while Sue was getting her hair and makeup done. 
 

Too funny!  Sue's mum appreciates the joke...I think!  Sue and Jon stayed in their airconditioned room as the guests began to gather, and finally emerged hand in hand to begin the ceremony taking place on their own gorgeous front entryway.


Their wedding officiant led them through their specially written vows and Sue's mum read a lovely piece for the service.  All smiles afterwards, we applauded them while their dog Jonesy looked on (I swear Susie does have two legs!)  Her dress was gorgeous but Jon was sweltering in that suit. 

What a lovely party ensued with fantastic food and drink as well as some hilarity when Jon gave a speech, first thanking specific people--I was shocked and pleased to be first mentioned--and then launching into a very funny bit about passing Sue's family's "test" of his morals and merits.  The rain came down on and off all night but we partied for hours.  As the only American in attendance, the question I was most asked was "So, what do Americans think about Obama?"  I was asked to show the quilt I made and received lots of compliments.  It was a hot and humid night and there was lots of smoking, drinking, and eating, but no dancing due to the wet weather!  Finally Jon could stand his suit no longer and ended up in "boardies" and diving into the pool to cool off.  There was an invasion of flying ants brought on by the "wet" and even a visit from a large rhinocerous beetle and lots of frog activity.  Truly a tropical note to the evening! 

Sunday, November 22, 2009: My last day in Australia and I woke to the sound of Lorikeets squawking loudly in the trees.   The nearby eucalyptus were loaded with these huge bats, big as crows.  They had not been visible while nesting the rest of the time I was there.


 I wandered to the kitchen where Sue was with the UK guests.  Jon came out of the bedroom and said "Good morning, Annie" and "Goodbye Annie" in the same breath almost!  He was heading to the marina to get the boat ready for 16 guests.  Sue was staying behind as she insisted on driving me to the airport herself but we followed everyone to the marina to see them off. 

This narrow track train steam engine was leaving the marina as we arrived.  Another two minutes and I would have missed seeing it.   


A view of the marina's main building (Sue and boys/guests walking ahead). The blue awning shades the entry to the Lure restaurant, where we ate wedding day breakfast.  \

It was another perfect day for boating.

Jon motoring out of the boat slip...


...And everyone waving us goodbye.  We wished we were going out with them then!  Sue said it was the first time Jon had ever gone out in the boat without her and it felt a little odd.  He was trying to arrange a helicopter pickup for her later in the day. We drove back through town and spied her daughter having an outdoor restaurant breakfast with her family and we joined them for a few minutes.  Then Sue took me to Four Mile Beach for a last wade in the Coral Sea.

The little sand crabs made these cute little balls of sand while clearing out their holes, I couldn't resist taking a picture (my foot for scale).

I had brought a small vial with me containing some of my nephew's ashes.  He died the same week four years before.  I spread some of his ashes in the Coral Sea.  Rest in Peace, Jake.  So sorry you missed the real thing but now a part of you is in the Southern Hemisphere.

Too soon I was packed and we headed back to Cairns for my plane ride first to Sydney and then home.  Sue got a call from Jon, who had arranged to meet her with the boat so she would be able to join the group.  I called home one last time just as we got to the airport, and then Susie and I said our goodbyes, amazingly without tears!  The flight from Cairns was sparsely seated and I had a window seat so got to watch the pretty coastline views for awhile before the plane turned inland.  I noticed we were flying in over downtown Sydney so was able to catch a glimpse of the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  It was very hazy and smoky and the cabin crew annouced the temp as 41 C (about 106 F) when we landed at 5:30 pm!  I had a several hour layover so did some shopping, picking up some more trinkets and a new mascot for my sewing room.



The flight to LA was extremely heavily seated and I had a long, boring, and uncomfortable night and day...sitting next to the loo was a really bad idea as the traffic was continual.  I used my earplugs and travel pillow and tried to sleep but was not too successful.  My next trip to Australia will definitely not be Economy--I have learned my lesson!  Finally we landed, went through immigration and customs and I fell into my sweetie Grant's arms and saw Erica, soo happy to be home!