Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Unlikely Muse

The original muses were 9 Greek goddesses to whom poets and artists prayed for creative inspiration. To be a modern muse, one doesn't need to be a beautiful deity, but must inspire uninhibited, original creative work. My inspiration comes from joking around, silly stories, crazy prompts, oxymorons, other people's weird ideas, the worse the better.

I'll take an idea, pull fabrics to express the feeling, audition neutrals to create dimension. Then I'll look for patterns. The internet is a wonderful cornucopia of free patterns, I also have a few quilt books for ideas. And then there is my fabric collection, my stash of possibilities.

This project started as a question in my etsy shop last summer. Could I make a Christmas Tree skirt with photos? Not my idea of the best tree skirt, but, yes, I can do that. I didn't hear back from the client for several months. Then, in September I received an email with 7 stunning professional photos of a beautiful, Land's End type family. She wanted a style of classic modern country Christmas. No Santas, angels ok. My muse had arrived.

I found a pattern on a blog I like called Quilt Inspiration. They offer 30 different quilted tree skirt patterns. I found one with 7 stars on point, perfect for my 7 photos. It was designed by Margrit Hall for RJR Fabrics. Slightly larger than the traditional 48 inch tree skirt, this one comes out at 54 inches across.

In early October I attended a Kaffe Fassett lecture on color  inspiration. With his ideas fresh in my mind, I chose one of his prints with red and orange flowers, and small turquoise and forest green jelly beans. The orange gives the quilt some nice zest. The rest of the fabric is Moda.

I didn't bother with fastening ties for the skirt opening. I doubt the skirt will fall away from the tree.

Tree skirts make elegant table toppers. Therefore, you can never have too many tree skirts.

The client was happy. Here's her review on my shop: Absolutely gorgeous! I ordered this tree skirt for my parents as a Christmas gift with family photos as a memento for Christmas over many years to come. It is truly beautiful and Jane combined her skill and eye for patterns into a great piece of art that I am so excited to give to my parents. They are going to love it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

UFOs Finished

I was contacted by a woman who had half a dozen hand pieced quilt tops that her grandmother and great grandmother had made. The fabric was from the 40's through the 60's, and in good condition. There were also 4 embroidered pillow cases and a set of embroidered blocks waiting to be finished.

A lot of bias stretching in the handwork, quilted out.

The scrappy variety was lots of fun.

Two table runners. One with pale grey Moda, the other with pale green Moda.

The 40's flour sacks were sweet.

I added a little black checkered border and a yellow binding. 
I am happy to think of these quilts being shared and loved. Grandma and Great Grandma are happy that someone else finished them.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Welcome to Long Life

My little sister Pam came for a visit last weekend. She is my best friend, closest genetic match, the one who knows me better than anyone and might be my biggest fan. We have so much fun. She is a quilter extraordinaire, a gardener, a chef, puzzle solver, walking encyclopedia of song lyrics, and a southpaw. She has been taking on line drawing classes and loves to sketch birds, flowers, and scenery. She spent time in my garden capturing the Datura flowers, with their lavender tinged blossoms that smell like a dream.

the flowers reseed themselves

photographing the spiny seed pods
Here is a fun wonky improv block I sewed for Stash Bee, the online block exchange I belong to. It is Patience Corners, a traditional block that is old as the hills. I made it in beach colors, the batik looks like beach glass. I like the look so much I might have to make myself a few of these blocks.

MJ's modern  block
In other fun news, I got a wild hair and decided to have a blue streak put into my hair. I love it!

I have been feeling prematurely old and the blue streak shows that I am not your average plain Jane blue haired old lady. Why old? Because I have been to the Dr. a couple of times and have decided to have a knee arthroplasty (joint remodel) in November. In the meantime, I borrowed an exercise bike, which is great exercise, am limiting my sugar intake, and taking some prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. I am vacillating between denial, bargaining, anger , and denial. Welcome to long life.

My new favorite flavor is sun dried tomato/basil leather.

dried in my Nesco Gardenmaster dehydrator

Peeling the leather off of the plastic sheet, folding it for storage

Into a zip loc and then into the freezer 

 Mmmmm. I roasted the tomatoes and pesto sauce in the oven to cook down the liquid, then pureed it and dehydrated it. Nom nom nom. This is preparation for the dehydrating class I will teach this fall at Autumn Equinox at Maven's Haven.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dash and Dart

A pregnant doe has been here by Squaw Creek, which borders our property. She had her fawns close to the garden two nights ago. Yesterday morning Mike found them hiding in the tall grass.
So small and still.

Curled up on a bed of warm rocks.

   I couldn't help myself, I petted this one as it played statue. So sweet. (Petting is discouraged, however mama will come back and lick the human scent off...)  Late in the day they wobbled around and moved up the hillside. No sign of mama. We worried and tried to stay away... Deer will leave young fawns for 12 hours or more. Unless they are obviously dehydrated, or injured it is best to leave them be.
   Towards twilight a deer came to the yard. The fawns approached and the deer kicked one of the fawns. He wandered off bleating and both babies hid in the tall grass. He cried for a while. But then...  mama showed up. She was bigger than the other deer, very healthy with a full udder. She laid her ears back, lowered her head, and attacked the mean deer, then stood with her ears up, listening, and here came the fawns, cautiously at first then pell mell to mama. Happy Reunion! They were so little that they could walk under mama's belly. Their little tails wagged as they got full tummies. She licked and nuzzled them, and listened for danger. Mr. Thimblepie and I watched from the bedroom window, transfixed.
   After about 20 minutes she started to walk up the hill and the babies wobbled behind her, stopping her for topping off every few feet.
   I walked to the front porch to see them walk up the hill toward the mahogany grove. Suddenly mama was running, being chased by a barking hound full bore. I hollered for Mr. Thimblepie, who hollered to our neighbor to call off his dog. Thankfully the hound had a shock collar on, because we heard the hound yelping as it ran back home. The babies laid down, and they were fine, safely hidden.
  During the night, under a nearly full moon, mama probably moved the babies up to the grove or down to the creek bottom. What a magical series of events.
   When I was a child, one of our favorite books was Dash and Dart by Mary and Conrad Buff.
Written in 1942.

Daddy read this book to us many times. 
   Living in the mountains where we can see wildlife... it is really a dream come true.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hold 'Em or Fold 'Em

March appears to be going out like a lion here in the Seven Devil Mountains of Central Idaho. My log cabin home is shrouded in clouds and the snow line is just above us. I am going to cover the flowering apricot tree tonight since the forecast is high 20's.

Chai waits for a junco to land. 
I have been working on my Ugly Christmas Sweaters as promised, and have proof of my progress. I am having a blast with this pattern and my Christmas/Holiday scraps. I have seven completed sweaters and five in the works. The pattern can be found on Sew Fresh Quilts, under the quilt-along tab. Theirs are made with tropical solids. I have halfheartedly attempted to choose prints that are low volume. In this photo they seem to work. Yay!

Abby has a round butt. 
My Stash Bee block exchange month is March, and it is more fun than a rodeo clown in a barrel. I picked the pattern Cowhands, designed by Pam Rocco for June 2014 Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. She adapted the cowboys from the traditional tin man block. Then she made a cow block. The creativity and generosity of my fellow quilters is over the moon. One gal is even sending a purple cow block!

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

That was written in 1895 by Gelette Burgess and has been favored by lots of silly people ever since. So far I have a dozen cowboys and two cows, and I have also got a cowgirl block coming. Here is a layout of the blocks so far. My new pal, Susan sent a fun print of a cow and calf that looks to be from a feed sack. It might go on the back, where I like to piece the rest of a quilt's story. 

On my queen sized bed. Quite a posse! 
I will have a good time with some free motion quilting on this bunch of cowhands. Happy Trails.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Heart February

February is the month of paradoxes. Groundhog day silliness. Signs of spring. Slushy icy on Payette Lake. Gorgeous seed catalogs and dreams of gardens. Mud. Days getting longer. Teaser warm days followed by surprise snow storms. Cold winds.  Lots of time in the sewing studio. Relaxed resolutions and lots of new project starts.

I pieced my wonky churn dash quilt top. The blocks were gifts from my stash bee honeys. I chose the pattern and colors, they sent me the blocks. I love the coral border. It is  "Charlevoix = Summer...Beach...Rural Americana 1910-1935 By Minick and Simpson for Moda." The surprise was how many of the blocks contain my favorite fabrics, prints I assumed were obscure. This is a quilt top I am finishing for myself.

In other cheerful news, I have started making myself a Christmas quilt. The color challenge is red and black, a combination I have never cared for. I am making ugly sweater quilt blocks, in a quilt along offered by Sew Fresh Quilts.

I am falling in love with the color combination. There are going to be 20 different ugly sweaters in all. Each sweater will have a different quilt block in the center. Two blocks a week, stay tuned for more homeliness.

The next photo is a lovely tiny quilt I finished for a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. My intention is to send her love and happiness, which I believe is the secret to healing energy. Pineapples are the symbol of hospitality and welcome. I did a lot of Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) and was pleased with the results. Yay for my new Brother sewing machine. The binding is striped Kaffe.

The tiny disc says, "handmade." 
Now I return to my secret Valentine sewing.... do you heart February?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Dog's Best Friend

   I was commissioned to make a memory photo quilt via my etsy shop. The client told me her  young sister was recently widowed. Her husband had loved the outdoors, canoeing, his family, the color purple, and his dog. I wanted a simple, classic frame for each photo, and decided on a bear's paw design. Searching for a dog pattern, I found this "Dog Gone Cute" pattern at SewFreshQuilts. It is an instand pdf download, and very easy to follow.

48" x 48" with soft flannel on the back for lap snuggles

Vinyl pleather made the eyes and nose shiny
Getting into blogging and sharing online has helped expand my creative flow. There are so many inventive sempstresses out there, and they make my quilting world go 'round.