Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spoiler Alert

I already spilled the beans to middle daughter, Ainsley, and mentioned her (surprise) bridal shower, coming up. She knew about it, but said, "what shower?" Oooops. I might be able to attend, but it is iffy at this point. My sewing goal for May is a gift for the surprise shower, and the even more surprise party game. I won't tell you what I am sewing, but I promise to show before and (hopefully) after photos at the end of the month. The wedding is July 4th, in Boise at Municipal Park by the Boise River. I am excited to be sewing swishy skirts for the flower girls, and a pretty dress for myself as well. The girls' skirts will be white, and my dress will be solid summer green. I will be using rayon challis over double gauze from Imagine Gnats, a fun online shop, blog, and sew much more. If you are interested in checking out the fabric, you can click on the link at the right side of my blog. She also has patterns, many of them free downloads. I especially love the variety of adult sized garment patterns that are available.

Last month my sweet sister, Pam, came to visit and teach at my quilt guild's retreat. She shared a fairly new ruler and technique with us, the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) from Sew Kind of Wonderful. Here are some highlights from retreat:

Leona happily creating.

Pam rocks the hair tie.

My sample poinsettia, with the QCR.

Jody from Homegrown Quilts sewed the rows and borders of this group project.

Adorable Pam, showing her pressology expertise.

Pam finished this "Metro Scope" quilt top, one of the patterns using the QCR.
I finally finished the quilt top for Dianne, the Utah Star. It looks about the same as the photo before I sewed the edges, but here it is anyway. Pam is going to quilt it. It is about 90" square, almost king-size. As a nod to Dianne's mama, and her Utah heritage, there will be bee hives quilted into the corners. I can't wait to see it finished!!!

Dianne Hunt's Utah Star, pieced by her mama, Ramona Shurtliff.
Other news update, the toad is active in the garden, a fat female chirping and peeing when picked up. (I just learned that the females are the ones with those behaviors... ) I am so glad to have an organic garden, and to witness the wildlife. We have a baby cotton tail rabbit in the garden as well. The stuff of stories...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Artist Will Prevail

Now I see why her mom cried over this lone star quilt top. It lies flat but the bias is taunting me. The artist will prevail where the perfectionist tailor was stymied. It is gorgeous and I know she will love it! Here it is, ready for pattern pieces of the corners. I had to add the olive-brown edging to help it play nicely with the ecru corners. It will be 3-dimensional to the rest of the top. 

I will have to hand shimmy the diamonds to work this star into submission.Completing this top was my February goal, and since I didn't get it done, it is my March goal for ALYOF . I drew the pattern pieces, so cutting and sewing them will be next. 

In other blog news, I made blocks for Stash Bee's block exchange for January and February. The bar is set very high for quality, fabric selection, and fun. The tutorials are easy to follow, and so far I have wanted to make myself quilts with these designs. 

January's Hunter's Star 16 ½" sq.

February's String 9 " sq.
I pulled out a very old UFO from a class I took over 20 yrs ago in Seattle, "Special Effects, Iridescence/Opalescence" on color theory. I put together the pieces and here it is. The upper left corner is iridescent, the rest is opalescent. I thought it looked like an eye. I added a border that makes me think of hawk feathers, and named this, "Eye of the Raptor."I am not sure the hot pink will work. I may need to make it paler. I might try covering it with some tulle. Stay tuned.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Plain Jane

Last fall a friend from Boise asked me to finish an incredible lone star quilt top that her mom started. The star is hand pieced in 70's calicoes of brown, yellow, orange, and ecru. It is a masterpiece, and lies perfectly flat. It needs to be cornered, and then quilted. My goal for February is to sew the corners of this lovely star. I believe it deserves to be hand quilted, which is a big goal, and not one for the faint of heart.

An article in my favorite, and no longer published journal, The Quilt Life, (Oct 2014) discussed the setting for an antique star quilt using unlikely background colors of red and dark olive green. It makes the stars ZING. I am inclined to do that for this lone star quilt, and here are two audition photos:

The center fabric is my first dyed attempt, and is browner than the photo. 

This center fabric is a primitive weave linen looking cotton.
I like the colored fabrics best. The ecru piece is what some people like to call "plain Jane." Ouch.

I'd really like your opinion on the colors, though I am at the point in my life where I do what I like and I like my own color choices.  Since I hardly ever ask for opinions, go for it!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Don't Sugar Me

Another word for doldrums



 noun
A feeling or spell of dismally low spirits:
bluesdejectiondepressiondespondencedespondencydolefulnessdownheartedness,  dumps,dysphoriafunkgloomglumnessheavy-heartednessmelancholymope (used in plural),mournfulnesssadnessunhappiness.
Why am I blue? Just avoiding sugar, and missing that dysfunctional relationship. I love sugar, but it gives me a quick thrill and then leaves me in the lurch. I am not answering that call this evening, so don't even leave a message, Sugar. Don't sugar me! Here are the lyrics to the song, by Walt Kelly:
Oh, I may be your cup of tea,
But, baby, don’t you ‘Sugar’ me!
Don’t stir me, boy, nor try to spoon,
Don’t sugar me, cause us is throon!

I won’t sip a lip with you, less
You want a granulated lump or two,
Just roll them eyes right out that door,
Them saucer eyes ain’t square no more.

All them things, them diamond rings,
Them stuff you promised me,
Were figments, Newton, sure as shootin’,
Shootin’ sure as A, B, see

The teapot pouts that the kettle’s blue,
It don’t work out that spar is true,
Just boil away, boy, don’t sit and brew,
Don’t sugar me, cause us is through!
 Don't worry, I am having a low spot, but it is transient and most of my day today has been great. I slept well last night, slept in till almost 8 am...a luxury of retirement. I got up and made a pot of espresso, got a fire going in the wood stove, heated some breakfast, and came up to my loft. I did my 3 pages of morning writing, which is my key to creativity. I wrote under the glow of my full spectrum light.

 My task for today was to work on my fabric inventory. Before we build storage in the loft for my fabric and supplies, I need to measure the dimensions of my stuff, and that means it is time to reduce the amount. I am following a plan laid out in Creating Your Perfect Quilting Space, by Lois Hallock. My goal is to have a lovely studio, rather than an attic full of stuff, which is the case now.  It was painful to imagine purging some of my wonderful but ridiculously excessive fabric hoard. However, once I started, it turned into relaxing therapy. I have gone through a large plastic tote of brown fabric and a medium size tote of yellow fabric, and have folded, condensed, sorted, and purged. Anything smaller than an 1/8th of a yard is either going in the trash, or donated to a thrift store as a "scrap bag." I have reduced my amount by 1/3 so far. Wow! At this rate, the 12 more totes will be reduced to 8, and that is a big deal for this hoarder. 
Here are a few before and after photos, but be warned, it isn't pretty.



One of my activities is a monthly goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. This is my third year with ALYOF, and it has changed my sewing life. This month I set the goal to finish 4 quilted bags I started last summer, and to embellish them. I did it. I used favored buttons on the front flaps, and it was a nice touch. 



Super cheerful. Just writing about this, and seeing the photos has brightened my evening glums. I am cheered by the finish, and dreaming about my next month's goal. I am also cheered by the contentment of dinner finished and put away, dishes done, coffee pot ready to start in the morning, and the end of my day... my favorite way to end the day, snuggled in bed with the cat, dog, Mr. Thimblepie, and my latest book. Life is good, and I am ready to go to bed. Good night!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jane's Exotic Garden

Happy New Year to you! Waking up to a new year and a whole bunch of fresh possibilities is always exciting. I am one who sets goals and makes them come to fruition. It isn't so hard if they are reasonable. Then looking back at the end of the year, I realize that I have not only accomplished my goals, but something surprising and unexpected, too.

In 2014, I completed a year of apprenticeship with Darcy Williamson, a veteran herbalist from McCall, ID. I graduated to Senior Apprentice a few weeks ago and am proud of my accomplishment. What this means is that I have mastered the following skills well enough to teach them: pulverizing herbs and making capsules, harvesting and garbling seeds from wild plants, making tinctures from roots, leaves, flowers, and mushrooms, and bottling and labeling them, preparing salves with the correct consistency, making soap and packaging it, setting up and using the distiller to prepare hydrosols and essential oils, and dissembling and cleaning the distiller, taking inventory of the studio and stocking the shelves, and foraging and sustainably harvesting wild plants from the forest  for various uses throughout the year.

Now I can use my skills to teach classes or seminars, write monographs on the pharmacology of wild plants, assist Darcy in programs she gives, and develop and market my own line of herbal products. Creating my own logo is on my goal list. My arnica and brown's peony root salve is very popular around here for easing aches and inflammation, and treating bruises.

In other news, I completed my December sewing goal (shown in the last blog post) but did not get it blogged in time for the end of the month finish. I sent it off to mom, a soft and snuggly lap quilt with a wild purple binding from Jane Sassaman's line, called, "Jane's Exotic Garden." The backing is the softest, thickest flannel, Moda's needle felted cotton flannel.

love me some selvedges
My goal for January's A Lovely Year of Finishes is to complete 4 quilted purses that I started last summer. I blogged about them here and completed one for the Michael Miller challenge. These will need some embellishments and hand quilting to add zippy eye appeal. I haven't decided who will get these, or whether I will sell them in my etsy shop...

4 seasons: snowflake, crocus, orange creamsicle, and zinnia.
The bags have magnetic snap closures, which are inexpensive and very simple to install. They also have lots of pockets including inside elastic pockets. The handles are sturdy quilted fabric, and the whole bag is safe to launder. I have already put them together, but they are begging for some dressing up, don't you think?

which one is your favorite?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wait For It

If you are anything like I am, you want conditions to be just right before starting that next blog post, or that epic project. Here's the good news: there is no such thing as the perfect condition. So, jump in, the water's fine.  It is a drizzly Saturday morning here in the Seven Devils Mountains of central Idaho... Mr. Thimblepie is fishing on the Salmon river today, so I have uninterrupted time to create. I don't have to be at work for 2 hours. I even have photos uploaded for this post. Sounds pretty close to perfect.

I have been wishing for a design wall for my studio. With the slanted ceilings I thought a folding screen would be just the ticket. Guess what I found by the trash bin when I was cleaning the shop last week??? A gorgeous wooden folding screen. Here it is, with my December sewing goal draped over it.

 The screen is painted black with natural wood cross pieces. I will tack a flannel-backed table cloth to the back and it will be perfect for my studio. The little quilt top is 40 inches square. It is styled after Freddy Moran's quilts. It was a fun learning stretch. I used a tiny pack of pastel strips given to me by my generous sister, Pam, to create the melon shapes. The black and white polka dot borders are made bias tapes sewn in a technique I read in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, I think in 2008. In the upper left corner, the melon has a strip of turquoise for eye movement. I pin basted this top with some luscious brown needle felted flannel from Moda for the back. It is going to be a lap quilt for my mom, Melva Hutchens, who lives in a care facility due to her Alzheimers. She always loved red and black. The nice thing about making this for her, if it arrives late, she won't mind. And so the usual holiday pressure to get 'er done and in the mail does not apply. YAY.

In other creative news, I finished a darling swirly circle skirted dress for my youngest grand daughter's birthday. She turned 5 a few days ago. This dress was started by none other than my sister, Pam, who passed it on to me. Here is the lovely finish, complete with a fancy pearl and gold button and gold trim on the pink tier.

back view
I also finished a commissioned Seahawk baby quilt. It has some green pleather for textural interest, and blue satin binding, something different for me. The back is softest royal blue minkie, so I did minimal quilting, echoing the diagonal strips. The lining is a piece of flannel sheet. The top strip is steel grey.

I can't show you my other epic creations, they are holiday surprises. I will share them at the end of the month. Happy Holiday sewing, and please, don't wait for the perfect conditions, go for it!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Artist's Totem

I have been writing morning pages as in "The Artist's Way" for a year. I began 11/19/13. One result has been that I complete a lot more of the projects I start. I also credit ALYOF, the blog I joined 2 years ago that has challenged me to set a monthly goal to finish a UFO, and then to finish it, and to blog about the process. Let me state before I get too deep, that it is progress, not perfection. 

Intro: Traditional Tlinget button blankets are red and black, embellished with mother of pearl buttons. This image, The Soul Catcher, was designed by Martin Oliver for the University of Washington school of public health, in 1981. It is trademarked and I have no intention of selling this art piece. It is imitation, the sincerest form of flattery, and is for my own home. The image is two bears, and symbolizes physical, emotional, and spiritual well being through education, research, and service.

I have completed the top of my wool applique button blanket. I started it and blogged about it here.
Hopeful Beginnings

I am excited to be on the brink of the next step, which I think is layering and basting the top in preparation for quilting. 
Embroidery around the mouth? 
         Here is the top with vintage shanked mother of pearl buttons on the left side. I LOVE IT!! 

I need to do some research on how best to quilt solid wool applique. I am thinking about some echo quilting in matching threads. 

Totem is derived from a Native word meaning, kinship group. It is used loosely as a guardian, or spirit guide. In "The Artist's Way," one of the creative tasks is to create an artist's totem. It can be any symbolic thing, such as a doll or carving, that you feel protective fondness toward. It is to be given a place of honor, and then honored by not "beating up on your artistic child." Being creative means letting go of old hang-ups and fear of success. What is your totem?

Just a little more self-promoting: the icon on the upper right, Imaginegnats, is a link to a site with wonderful fabric and patterns. If you want to find some unique fabric at great prices, click on the link. If you go through my blog to purchase her fabric, I get a 10% commission. Win-win.