Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quilt in A Box

For the last two years, my splinter group in Cobblestone Quilters Guild , Indigo Quilters, has been working on a quilt in a box project.

What is a quilt in a box you ask?  It is a type of block exchange where you get a little more control of the type of quilt you end up with.  I have been involved in several block exchanges were everyone makes you a specific block out of their fabric.  Unfortunately these have remained "orphan" blocks because the fabric just didn't play well together and there were not enough blocks that an odd block or two will fade into the background.

In a quilt in a box - you provide the fabric:  the focus and a background to be used in every block and a variety of coordinating fabric to be used.  Each person working on the project picks a block to make and they make that same block for everyone else in the group out of each persons fabric.  So at the end you end up with a sampler quilt that goes together. The boxes were exchanged at our monthly meetings and we did not get to see inside our box again until the very end.

My focus fabric is the black, white and gold floral print in the block below and the background fabric is the white with light grey print.  The block I made for myself and eleven other is called Nosegay and is a combination of paper piecing and traditional piecing.

The black and gold are additional fabric I had in my box.

One of the blocks made by another quilter is this star block.  I need to get names of each block and who made them to put on my label when the quilt is finished.

Another block is this quarter circle applique block:

We started this project in September 2012 and finished this past September.  I am planing to quilt each block separately (as I machine quilt much better on a smaller project) and set the blocks on point.  The black border in the pictures is actually the beginning of the sashing I am using.  The outer border is a black and white paisley print and I intend to use it as a guide for my quilting design.  I am planning on using gold thread for the quilting.  

The fun part of this project (besides a quilt out of fabric you like) is seeing how different your block looks out of different fabric.  This is a Nosegay block I made back in March.

One word of warning if you do this project - make sure you like the block you are making and that it is well with in your skill level to do quickly - it seemed like I had just finished one box when the next was due!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How Do You Eat A Tree (or Conquer a Long To Do List)

Last week we had a Pileated Woodpecker visit our "bird" tree.  We think this tree was struck by lightening a few years ago and is slowly decaying.  This guy decided he need to hurry the process along and spent most of the afternoon "eating" the tree.

Like most artists I always have more ideas and projects than I will ever get done. Add in teaching (last class of the year today!), working on publishing my first patterns, and of course handmade Christmas gifts (that should have been done and mailed by now) and the to do list is of epic proportions.

I have decided I will approach my to do list like this little guy - one bite at a time until it is done

Friday, October 18, 2013

Think Pink

I recently traveled home to visit family and took with me this small quilt to donate to the Susan G Komen Southeastern Colorado organization which my sister started working as the executive director of earlier this year.

Our mother had breast cancer so this is a charity near and dear to my heart.  If you are above the age of forty make sure you get your annual mammogram as early detection is key.

I called it Ribbons of Love.

The fabric is hand painted and I machine appliqued the small ribbons.  I played with two relatively new books on machine quilting to do the feathered heart and the corners.  The feathers were from   Sue Nickels – Fabulous Feathers & Fillers and the corners from  Karen McTavish – Custom Curves.

As usually I was under a tight deadline and actually finished the binding out in Colorado.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Tale of Two Needles and Two Bridesmaid Dresses

So, it's been a while since my last post.  I have been working on many projects - unfortunately some are presents yet to be given and some are experiments and are not ready for prime time.

Along with these soon to be seen projects I was knitting a new pair of socks.  My first use of self-stripping yarn and a single Addi Turbo circular needle in new toe up design.

Epic fail.

I kept trying to convince myself they really did fit but after turning the heel, I had to face facts - these are terrible socks. The pattern has a too pointy toe for my wide feet, the heel is also too pointy and worst of all - they are too big. I did not realize that US size 1 needles actual come in two sizes.  The Addi Turbo size 1 needle is 2.5 mm and the Cover bamboo size 1 double pointed needles (that I have used successfully before) are 2.25 mm.  A difference of .25 mm and yes, gauge does matter. So this sock is history!

I am starting again - with the circular needles for the toe and first few rounds (I did like that part of using the circular needles vs the double pointed) and then I am switching to the bamboo needles (which I like the feel of better).  I am going to use the slip heel basic sock pattern from Socks for the Toe Up by Wendy D. Johnson that I have made before and get my sock Mojo back.

Along with this not so successful knitting project for most of the month of July I was making bridesmaid dresses for my daughter and her friend for a wedding held the first weekend in August.   Multiple layers, lots of gathering, pattern pieces that didn't fit together very well and not one but two dress to make!  They were finished the Thursday before the wedding and the girls looked very pretty.

It has taken a few weeks to get my studio straightened and back to work on my own projects.  Hopefully the hot, humid weather of summer in Charleston is coming to an end and I will be more inspired to work.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Be Still

At last months NC Quilt Symposium I worked on a second painted piece in my class by Hollis Chatelain based upon a photo I took last fall in the NC mountains.

We spent several hiking days in the Blowing Rock area and I took tons of photos. This is one of my favorites.  I call it Be Still because you can only catch these moments if you are still and look for the little things along the trail.

I was ran out of time in the class and had to bring dye home to finish the background - and it wasn't quite the same color blue so it has a bit of a mottled effect.

I added some watercolor pencil work in the thistle.

After that I did a bit of thread sketching both on the thistle and the butterfly.

Then I layered it for quilting using wool batting.  I did an non-square edge treatment to help get rid of some of the blue that just didn't work and started quilting.

I learned lots in the class and I think this is the first class in a long time in which I came home and actually finished the projects started in class!  Can't wait to do some more dye painting.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

An Old Plant and a New Quilt

When I was growing up, my grandparents lived in Florida in a magical place - on a lake, in the middle of an orange grove and with lots of places to explore.  My grandfather was a builder and every time they ran out of room - he would build another building.  There was a main house, two cottages, a barn and a bomb shelter built during the height of the cold war.  At the entrance to the main house was a court yard growing all sorts of plants that a Colorado girl like me had only seen inside at home.  Grandmother grew enormous Crotons and Dieffanbacias as well as others that I don't know the names of.

Years ago (more that 30!)  we potted up a few of the Crotons and the Dieffanbacias and I still have some.  They have suffered some through the years - with moves and dry climates - and there was at least once when my Croton was nothing but a stick. Everyone said it was a lost cause but with a little TLC it recovered and now is beautiful.  I think being able to live on the screened in porch in the SC humidity for six months of the year has really helped it flourish.

In May, I attended the NC Quilt Symposium and took a class with Hollis Chatelain.  I have been wanted to take a class from her for ever.  It was wonderful.  We needed to bring a few drawings to use for our painting and I decided that Grandma's Croton was one of them.

When I returned home and rinsed out the extra dye this is what the piece looked like:

I like uneven edges so created a couple of shadow leaves in the background and did an envelope finish.  I used wool batting for the first time and am in love.  I really like how it quilted and how it does not have a memory like cotton.

Next, I quilted the shadow leaves:

Then I quilted the main leaves using a red thread and a variegated yellow/orange.

I was very please how the pieced turned out and now have a croton that will survive even if the plant does not.

I am linking up to Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday.  Next week I hope to get back on my Marsh quilt after a long hiatus.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Color Affection Continues

I am making progress on my Color Affection - I had wanted to take pictures after I finished the second color but was so excited to see what the third color would look like - I kept knitting and forgot to get the picture!

I am please with the colors and now that my "garden" is back on the porch maybe I will make better progress on this piece.  I also have a pair of socks that I can't wait to start.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Starting to Quilt Marsh Isle

I am moving out of the hate phase of the love/hate relationship I general go through with a new quilt.  I always see a certain image in my mind and then struggle to get the fabric and thread to recreate what I envision.

Having decided to separate the log into bark and bare wood pieces has added to my struggles - of course I had not designed in any seam allowances and will need to cover awkward places were they didn't go back together well with strategically placed cattails and extra pieces of bark.

I have added my egret - who is actually a Great Egret and not a Snowy Egret as last reported.  Great Egret's have black feet and yellow beaks and Snowy Egret's have yellow feet and black beaks.

And I finally started machine quilting the piece - and had to pullout about an hours worth of work - the tension was terrible.  So the quilt has stalled for a bit.  I hope to spend some more time on the quilting this week and move back into at least the like phase.  I am once again linking up to Nina Marie Sayer's Off the Wall Friday and would love to have comments on my progress.

My bird tree continues to attract a wide variety of species - I think this Red-bellied Woodpecker has a nest in the tree as she has been seen going in and out of the hole in the tree numerous time over the past few days.

This Osprey brings his dinner by nearly every evening.

And these guys were just part of the flock of Turkey Vultures hanging around -

not every bird will inspire a quilt!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Background Nearly Done

I had hoped to get a little further on my Marsh Isle piece this week - but spent time working on samples for several new classes I will be teaching this summer and as Spring has finally arrived in the Lowcountry, I started working in the yard and on my plant pots.  Because of the deer in my area, most of my plants are in pots (the only way they survive) and every Spring I have a major effort in moving them to the porches and decks from underneath the back deck where the are protected from the winter weather. We had a very mild winter overall (although March was 11 degrees cooler than normal) and more plants than every made it through the winter.  I think last year I counted over 60 pots and I probably have more this year.

I did continue painting the background pieces I needed for the quilt.  The first cut at the pond water is too blue and too light.

With many more layers and the addition of black and brown paint I think I am pretty happy with it although it shows more blue in the picture than in real life.  I will be added a little chartreuse green for algae before it is quilted. I also painted the cattails and separated the log into bark and bare wood pieces.  The black spot in the log will disappear when I get to the construction phase.

The bird is only a sketch at this time - I was trying to get the size and placement.  I think it will be a Snowy Egret like the one who visited us this afternoon.

I thought about using a Little Blue Heron which starts out white and during its first year changes to a blue/grey color, but think I need the focal point of an all white bird.

Last week we also had this guy in the tree.   Pretty awesome.  I think another quilt will be required.

Once again I am linking to Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday.   Having a deadline every week has really helped this piece move along.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Color Affection

After having seen numerous Color Affection shawls created this past year, I finally succumbed to the temptation and started mine this past week.

I had the two grey yarns in my stash.  They were given to my by my sister after one of her many trips to Chile.  The cherry is a skein of Madelinetosh.

I hope I have enough - lately I finish my projects with inches to spare (or worse with inches to short and I have to find a scrap of yarn that will work color and weight wise to finish).

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Log for My Marsh Isle Quilt

This week I worked on the log for my quilt of the marsh pond in my backyard.  The log started as a very tall tree on the edge of our property that had been dead for sometime when we moved here in 2005.  My husband was quite worried that if it fell the wrong way it would take out the fence, the deck and even part of the house. He spent several days measuring and calculating and finally decided that the house would survive even if the fence and deck didn't.

Several years ago we had a severe storm come through and as he watched, the tree swayed back and forth in the wind until it went just a bit to far -  and down it went. It landed just about perfectly along the edge of our marsh pond (away from the fence, the deck and the house).  Since then it has been a perfect place for the water birds to perch while they scout the pond for fish and frogs.  The turtles also like to sun themselves on it.

The first picture is the first layer of paint. It is much too light.

I added more paint and for the bark area, I used a sponge.  For the area where the bark is peeled off I dragged a fan brush across the surface to create wood grain lines. 

Originally I planed to have the log be one piece - but now I think I will cut the bark out, thread sketch it, and then use an additional layer of batting under it to create more dimension.  It will add some issues in construction, but I think I have figured out how to cover the additional seam with the cattails I am working on next.

I am linking this to Nina-Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays as a way to keep me focused on finishing this piece!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was one of my favorite books as teenager (do not do the math!) and when I saw the scarf on Ravelry I knew I had to make one.

The pattern by Martina Behm was easy to follow and was a quick knit.

I added a bead at every point to add a little sparkle and as everyone knows the answer to the universe is 42 - which is is the number of points my scarf has.  Now if someone could just come up with the question.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The View from My Studio

I have been working on a quilt  that captures a bit of the view from my studio. When I look up from my sewing machine I often see an osprey sitting in a dead tree across the marsh

or egrets in the pond below.

The quilt I am working on uses the pond for the inspiration.  I have sewn the upper part of the background using hand painted fabrics using a variation of braids.  It took longer than I thought it would to finish (it always does) and I am now ready to begin the foreground which will include a log, cattails, an egret and a bit of the pond.

I want to enter this in an upcoming show with a deadline not to far in the future so to keep me on target I am going to link my progress to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday posts.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I Don't Get Things Done

Lately I have been working on lots of class samples and my daughters costume for the anime convention she attended last month.  Sewing four extra legs into this pattern was challenging to say the least.  She made all the hooves and ears.

Sleipner - the eight legged horse from Norse mythology
She had a great time - and is already thinking of her next outfit!

Of course she reminded me that she didn't fall far from the tree.  When in college during the summers I spent the weekends at the Colorado Renaissance Festival fencing (in costume of course)!

Way to long ago to give a date!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

From Many Hats - One Bag

For Christmas this year I knit hats for my husbands side of the the family.  Lots and lots of hats.

Of course after knitting all these hats, I still had lots of yarn left over - but not enough to make more hats (thank goodness!)

The yarn, Cascade 220, felts wonderfully so I decided to make a bag based upon a Petite Felted Carrier I found on Ravelry.  I modified it a bit to make it a little bit bigger.  The pattern has 112 stitches and I increased it to 128.

So around and around I knit and when I was finished this was the result before felting:

It was thrown into the washer with some towels and after about 10 minutes it looked like this:

I put a couple of bowls in it to shape it and now I have a new bag.

A very fun and easy project (I knit some of it in the car on a trip to Columbia, SC to see my son play his trumpet - no I was not driving at the time) and as I still have a lot of grey and teal yarn left I will probably be making another sometime soon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Quick Trip to Savannah

This past weekend my husband and I made a fast trip to Savannah to see a model train show and visit the Georgia State Railroad Museum.  Chris has had an interest in trains since a boy and is trying to get his model railroad up and running again.

I took lots of "tourist pictures"

as well as pictures that might some day work their way into a quilt.

Saturday was almost hot and as you can see from the pictures - way to many things are blooming way to early.  This star magnolia downtown was in full flower.

and this rose was in the garden at the museum.