Thursday, April 29, 2010

I'm baaaaaack...................

Hello all, I've been gone longer than usual. I have a "frozen" shoulder. That's what they call it, and it's exactly what it sounds like. I have lost a huge amount of mobility in my left arm. No easy fix, either, my first time in physical therapy, but, you know what? When you wake up one morning and can't shampoo, or blow dry your hair, and the next morning you have trouble pulling up your's time to do something. So I will probably moan, and groan, and bore anyone who will listen (or read) silly, but I WILL do the exercises. I will, I will, I will.

A moment to recommend a wonderful book for anyone who enjoys epic adventure tales. Into The Wilderness, by Sara Donati, is the first in a series of novels, taking place in the 1790's American frontier. It is full of wonderful characters, both Native American, and all the people who came from Europe to "settle" America. Reminded me just a bit of The Last of the Mohicans. I have ordered the second book, and can't wait for it to arrive.

Kathy has started a sew along for a very cute Christmas quilt designed by Melinda Bula. The book is Candy Cane Lane, and she is showing tutorials on various steps of the process. I have joined the party, and would invite any of you who would like to participate, to check it out. There is a separate blog for it, and if you sign up you will be able to post your progress, chat with the others involved, and be eligible for prizes that Kathy is offering.  I have decided to do my version on black and white polka dotted background. That is a new idea for me, and I look forward to seeing what challenges it will present me. Mine probably won't end up like the pattern, but I'll try to do at least some of the blocks as shown. You might also like to go here and see an adorable free Santa pattern. I think he is definitely showing up in my Candy Cane Lane quilt.

I've been working on block #7 of the Les Fleurs top for the last ten days. It is almost ready for it's picture to be taken, but not quite. I must finish the blue bird first. So for pictures, I am going to show my last finished quilt. I haven't seen Texas Hay Rake since last October, when it was shown at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. It (not me) was invited to tour with the show to Los Angeles, and Chicago, and also to Golden, to QNM for photographing. I hope it is behaving itself, and will eventually return home no worse for wear. It is the first quilt that I designed all the quilting for myself, deliberately working to maximize the negative space for a more complex design. It is hand appliqued, hand quilted, and is based on an antique quilt presently owned by the Quilt Study Museum  in Lincoln, Nebraska. The original was made by an unknown quilter, and I just loved the movement in the design. It was a challenge, and very rewarding to make, and I was thrilled to win a third place in my catagory of Merit Hand Quilting.

Firstly, for you city girls, here is a picture of the farm machinery that caused me to name the quilt Texas Hay Rake:

Here is the finished quilt, followed by a close up of the quilting:

I had no knowledge of what the "best" way to mark my design onto the cheddar background, and for those who might be curious, this was how I ended up doing the scrolls. I used freezer paper, ironed it on the top, and marked around the paper. It worked quite well, and I ended up very pleased with the resulting pattern. The grid is 1/2 inch in the background, and inside the scrollwork, it is 1/4".

I hope I haven't put anyone to sleep, but I've gone on way longer than I expected to. I have missed talking to you, you see. My shoulder is aching from this mornings manipulations, and I'm burning daylight, so bye for now, and happy stitching.  Hope to talk with you soon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prizes for my Peeps..................

One thing I am learning is a new respect for commercial photographers. They make it look so easy! I find it very difficult to photograph things, and show them to advantage, no matter how nice they actually are. Please bear with my less than perfect photos, as I wanted very much to get them posted quickly. Without further ado, here are the prizes from which to choose:

1) This Stack-n-Whack quilt top measures 60"x60" and is ready to be sandwiched, and quilted.

2) Then there is this 18.5"x18.5" mini log cabin Thanksgiving quilt. It is cute as a table topper, or on the wall during the fall season:

3) Next, is a pattern containing paper foundations to make a 34"x51" Emily's Star quilt, plus a roll of country/folksy fabrics in blues and earth tones:

4) This 43"x18" watermelon table runner, is a kit containing a pattern called Slice of Life by Blueberry Hill Quilt Designs, and all the fabric needed for the the quilt:

5) Last, but I hope not least, are the patterns for a 9 month BOM called Home Sweet Home, designed by Kelli Saffell. This is a full, bed size quilt, combining pieced houses, and applique with lots, and lots of hearts.

I  hope that there is something here that will please each of you. If you will just email me your address, and your selection I will get these in the mail as soon as possible, probably by the weekend. Maylene, as you are first you needn't pick a second choice. Linda, and Elaine, if you will pick a first, and a second, choice, I will be sure to honor your selection in order.

As you all know, I have never done this sort of thing before, and I hope I've gone about it properly. If you have any suggestions for improvements on the giveaway front, please let me know. This has been so much fun, that I already have a bunch of items chosen for the next one! Thanks again for all your help in solving my quandary.  Michele

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Winner Is...................

Mayleen, Linda, and Elaine, you are all winners of prizes. Thank you all for taking the time, and making the effort to help a new blogger with a problem that I just couldn't figure out by my self. Why doesn't Google make the instructions as clear as you proved it was possible to do?!

I will photograph the prizes and post them, and then you may each choose the one that appeals to you the the order listed above. Elaine, though you didn't state the instructions, your generous offer of a phone call entitles you to a prize..........please don't decline, as I really want to treat you all. It will be either Monday, or Tuesday, before I get the photos up on the blog.

Thank you all so much. Michele

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Read to the end and (maybe) win a prize..............

My dear friend, Gina, drove up from Houston on Thursday morning to spend a couple days with me. It was wonderful! Nonstop talking, and applique, followed by an excellent dinner both nights. I didn't complete anything to show you, but fortunately she had brought enough show and tell for both of us. Gina began this ambitious effort about two years ago, shortly before she returned to work full time. In 15 minute breaks, here and there, she has finally finished the nine, 21 inch blocks. Aren't they just gorgeous? I love how the gradated berries seem to glow. I have never made the same block nine times, and don't know if I will ever discipline myself to do it (I'm not big on doing the same thing more than once) but the impact made by repetition is undeniable.

Here is a closeup of the block:

As if that wasn't enough, Gina also brought this adorable Spring quilt that she has already begun to hand quilt. I should have gotten the name of the pattern, but I forgot..........Sorry about that. It sure is cute.

I kind of hate to admit it, because truly my workmanship has improved since the making of the following quilt, but I made this top for one of Gina's birthdays, about 9 years ago. I won't mention that she still hasn't quilted it, because that would be tacky, right? Nonetheless, here it is  for your perusal. Most of it is from a BOM called In My Garden, by Kelli Saffell. It was fun to do, and was a forerunner, for me, of my burgeoning love of applique. Also, it was my first attempt at using yellow backgrounds, albeit more of a dark gold in this top.

Mabel Jane was fascinated by the outdoor photography, and kept trying to get smack in the middle of everything, plus the wind was blowing, as you can see, but eventually we got it done.

You won't see many pictures of beautiful flowers on my blog, because the only posies I manage to grow are made of fabric, but here are some bearded iris that continue to bloom profusely, in spite of me. They were given to me years ago from a dear friend, now deceased, named Jan Fulton, and they came from a time when she was thinning her iris bed. Jan was a wonderful gardener, and I sure miss her.

Valentina, I love the new photo of you on your blog, and I hate that you've been ill. And here I will end with a plea for assistance.................I'm begging you!  If anyone out there can actually manage to convey to me how to enter a link so that my blog friend's names will light up, and be able to take a reader to their blog, I will send you a big, fat, quilt related prize. I mean a reallllly "GOOD" prize. Maybe a set of BOM patterns, or a miniature quilt (already made), or something equally interesting. I have not been able to understand the Google intructions for doing this, and it's driving me nuts. I adore being able to move from your blog, to another blog, just by clicking on the highlighted name. If you can even send me to a link that I end up learning from, you will get the prize. Ladies, I throw myself on your mercy, and add that your name won't be showing up here in color unless some kind, intelligent person can school me in this matter. When I am able to get YOUR name to light up on this blog, I will consult you about your preference for a prize. A GOOD prize. Did I say that already? Oh. Love you guys! Michele
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Monday, April 12, 2010

You couldn't pay me enough to work this hard...................

If I had worked as hard at a paying job, as I work for "free" in my sewing room, Heaven only knows how much I might have accomplished. I find it strange that self motivation is a thousand times more powerful than financial remuneration. At least it is for me. I've been laboring over this top panel as if the house was on fire, and I had to finish it before I could leave. It's just weird, that's all I'm saying. There is no deadline on this, not even one implied by the "Block of the Month" title that we fall for, because (let's be honest here) isn't it appealing.........the whole concept of receiving one block a month, just one little block (that's all!), and if we just do that one little block, we'll have a finished quilt one year from the day we begin? Plus, who doesn't love receiving a little giftie in the mail, with pretty bits of fabric and a little diagram and photo? Some years ago, my husband, surely one of the most supportive spouses in the quilt world, told me he wished I would never again purchase a BOM. He didn't forbid it, now, he just "wished". He wished for extremely valid reasons, too. The fact is I have never (not hardly ever, NEVER) done a single one of the BOM's I've purchased. They are all in pristine condition in a big old Rubbermaid bin on an inaccessible shelf of my sewing room. This isn't to say that I've never utilized parts of the BOMs. I've taken blocks from one pattern, mixed them with another pattern, added my own fabric, and Voila! a quilt that is unrecognizable except as a block from here, and a block from there. I hasten to add that I always give credit to the designer, too, I don't mix patterns and claim it as my own design. I've also taken fabric from the BOM packets and used it for a totally different project. I don't know if there are rules prohibiting this sort of activity, but I do it. Anyway, that is what the current project, working title is "the yellow quilt", has turned into. Here is what has kept me quite busy this past week:

The top panel is from Celestial Dream by Susan Powell, and, as you know, the other blocks are from Les Fleurs des Jardine, by Lisa DeBee Schiller. I don't know what all may find it's way into this top before it's finished. That is what keeps it exciting for me. I wasn't at all sure she would work in my garden, but I think I have decided I really do like her. I would love to know what your response is to her, if you have one.


This one's a bit closer. Then I thought I'd share a photo of the only strip Round Robin that I've ever participated in. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and Janine Holtzman, who set it up, really knew how to make it work. We did 6" strips the width of the fabric, any design/style/color scheme we liked, then forwarded it to the next person. We had two months to do the next person's, when we received it, and it was a really great "growth" challenge to make their strip in the colors/styles they had chosen. It can be hard to do "primitive" if you are accustomed to working strictly with bright contemporary fabrics, or vice versa. This was my row of Poppies:

Here is the quilt just before quilting and binding, which have since been done. I was delighted with the entire experience, and really happy with my finished quilt.

Lastly, I wanted to show the first quilt I entered in Paducah. This was back in April 2007, and it was a very meaningful thing for me to see my work hanging in that venue. I didn't win anything there, but it truely was okay, because I never dreamed I'd ever even have my work hanging in the same show as those people we've all heard about.

Hope your weekend was a pretty, Spring one. Thanks for stopping by. Michele
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zipadeedoodah,, oh my.........

It is an absolutely glorious, cool, sunny morning here in East Texas. The birds are chirping, the dogs are frisky, and I feel pretty darn frisky myself!

Here is block # 6 from the Les Fleurs des Jardine quilt. I have recently become possessed by this particular quilt. This happens sometimes after I've got a few blocks made, and ideas for diverging from the original design begin to take over. I wake up in the night thinking about what I want to do differently, and what the same. I speculate about color choices, and what will be "too much", and what will be "too little". It's better than counting sheep! Sometimes, though, it can make it awfully hard to get back to sleep.

The original Fleurs is not a large quilt. I like larger quilts, and I prefer square quilts to rectangular. Who knows why? Friend Gina speculates it's because of King size beds, but this quilt won't be that large...........I did that size once, thank you very much (114" x 121"), hand quilted it (my first hand quilted quilt), and I'll just say "No" to another. But at any rate this leaves me design choices out the wazoo (a technical term) for additions I can make. So here is the first addition. This will be the top panel above all the flowers etc.:


Colorful, no? I had more fun yesterday, auditioning all the fabrics for the feathers. I can't tell you. I was like a child with a brand new box of Crayolas..........the biggest selection they make. It was a party in the sewing room. No doubt it will be too bright for some, but I like to venture back and forth from the vintage/antique/repro look to something a lot wilder in palette. This brings out my inner child in a big way. Having just celebrated another birthday, that inner child doesn't show up as often as I might like, so I welcome her with open arms when she does. For my birthday, I received new bookcases from Ikea. My quilting books had overrun the old, rickety shelving, and books were everywhere. I feel like the new cases make it look like I don't have very many............but having moved them out, dusted them, and placed them all back in the new shelving, I'm here to tell you that I have PLENTY of books! Books are heavy, folks, if you didn't know.

There's even room left for some other books, which will be nice, because we have a ton of them out in the book shed. It's not a very good place to store them, but it's either that or live like those hoarders you see on TV shows. You know the ones with newspapers stacked to the ceiling, and they have to walk a narrow path from one end of the house to the other.   I'll close with a last picture of Phebe. You'll see no more of her until she is quilted, not on this blog anyway. There are lots of people starting Phebe, though, and I look forward to seeing their versions.

I receive so much pleasure from seeing what all of you are creating. Every day is an inspiration. Blogging has become a very important part of my routine, and I thank all of you talented ladies for sharing your work, pets, joys, and even sorrows. Be well, and have a lovely quilting day.  Michele