Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

   This lovely table runner was hand pieced by my daughter Ainsley's mother-in-law, Nancy Miller. Actually by her sewing friends. Many years ago. The fabrics are very cute 70's calicoes. The blocks languished at Nancy's for many years in a sewing room full of fabric and yarn. Then, she gave them to Ainsley to finish when Ainsley started quilting. I took them last spring year and added little border strips of muslin to highlight each block. Then I pieced them together with sashing from TJ, Nancy's son and Ainsley's sweetheart. I hand quilted and bound the table runner. It made the perfect Thanksgiving table setting for Nancy and Bill's table.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Feeding Frenzy

   So, the usual overload in shopping carts has already begun in town. Buying lots of food for a meal, buying lots of stuff for holiday gifting. I am grateful to be at home, truck not running (Mike got the parts in the mail and is working on it), and no shopping spree in site unless I get on line with my credit card. I got into the Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale on Etsy. Some of my kits and supplies are 25% off for the long weekend. I set myself up to go photograph a bunch of my fabric and get it on the shop site, to add to the offerings. Hopefully I will clean out my Qi.  Now I have to sit back and relax for a minute. I was getting crazy.
   While the world is getting ready for a feeding frenzy, I am preparing to sneak up to my sewing loft and play with my fabric. My biggest creative dilemma at the moment: what to make for my 6 yr old grandson for Christmas? He has so may toys. I want to give him the gift of imagination. I am thinking about a little treasure box with an arrowhead, an elk's tooth, flicker tail feathers, and other treasures from the Salmon river.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Creative Juice

   Scraps from Ainsley in a modern, simple setting. Backing more feminine since it is made for a little girl. Kid Comfort is a program sponsored by the YMCA and the armed forces to give quilts to kids whose parents are on active duty. They provide the photos printed on fabric, and the postage. I provide the fabric, batting, and back. And the time and creative juice.

    I have been looking at a blog by Sue Spargo  and feeling inspired to push my own blog limits. And, to push and define my own style. It seems confusing today, is my style recognizable? Some of the big names in quilting can be spotted across a crowded auditorium. My summer work has been in such a different colorway, block size, and type of quilting. It happened by saying yes, and then being pushed beyond my comfort zone. That is what my creative juices need!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Under Adverse Conditions

I finished this big project last month, and even impressed myself with how well it turned out, considering the adverse conditions. I need to write them down lest I forget. It was 105 degrees all month, and at least 5 degrees hotter in the sewing loft. Then add quilting gloves. (At least I didn't notice hot flashes, I was already sweating.) The house is still under construction so the floors are USB flooring planks that don't sweep well and can't be mopped. The ceiling fans are in, but between them and the open windows it was so windy everything had to be held down in the loft. No design wall, so I used a giant flannel sheet on the floor as a design surface. Dirty and dusty! And I had to keep reminding myself, keep it simple, no fancy stuff. The solid strips look pretty good, although at the time I had my doubts. The backing wasn't big enough for this king sized quilt, so I tea dyed a piece of similar fabric and pieced it. Close enough. I hand sewed the binding in one day. This photo was after I washed the quilt to get the dirt and dog hair off, and it is drying on the garden fence. (No drier, yet.) You can see the side clothes pins holding it so it doesn't blow away! Just as it dried, a freak thunder/lightening storm hit and the only rain for the whole summer started! I had to hurry it inside so it would be dry to mail. By the way, it didn't rain enough to water the garden. That was another difficulty, climbing up and down the 24 ft ladder to the sewing loft every half hour to move the garden sprinkler each day. It is so dry and windy here that I had to water daily to keep my veggies and flowers hydrated. I almost fell off the ladder once, which was a good reminder to be careful. Whacked my shin.  Even if I love heights, gravity still exists.

As tough as it was wrestling that giant quilt on my lap under my sewing machine in the heat, it turned out so pretty.  I quilted it in wavy lines every half inch all over. No wrinkles, smooth and soft, highest quality cottons with a bamboo batting. The patron LOVES it. Interesting, her name, Danna, means patron in Japanese.

The best part for me (more than getting paid to make it,) was the giant learning experience. I feel so much more confident in my ability to machine quilt. I broadened my style by sewing with soft pastels. I designed the pattern myself, and created a work of art.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Scary Story

OMG  I thought I was eating cooked ladybugs! That would be the worst thing, and not because of the taste. They are my sweet little garden helpers. Jeez, I was wolfing down some steamed swiss chard and purselane, with tuna and diet dressing on top, feeling so dietishly virtuous, and glanced down, noticing some little red flecks. OMG I almost spit! Abby was right there, waiting for a crumb to drop. Ah it was pimientos from the sweet pickles, NOT ladybugs. I am not really a Jainist, and would eat a crunchy bug, especially after dieting for several days, but not my sweety pies.

I am meeting a bunch of gals I worked with 32 years ago. I have only stayed in touch with one, by best friend Joan, and probably don't even remember let alone recognize the others. So why do I even care if I am a little bit softer and fuller than I used to be? I have a phobia of appearing fat. It is true. I have the cognitive distortion, the secretive eating thing, the trick with the scale thing... it is a sad story. Almost as scary as eating a ladybug.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Camping in the House

   We moved into the house July 10th. It was simple to unload the tiniest RV in the world. One tote of food, one tote of dishes and pans. One arm load of clothes to hang up for each of us.
   Moving my fabric from the trailer to the loft was tricky, because each (big, heavy) tote had to be carried up the tall orange ladder (in the last photo.) I have also carried my sewing machine, chair, and table up the ladder. Now I am spending lots of time up there, and it is my sanctuary. I am using the floor for my design wall, and really need an upright wall. I am going to buy a folding screen and cover it with flannel.
   We now have the two sinks installed. The bathroom sink is huge and doubles as a utility sink. It is a lovely enamel sink with a high arched faucet. The kitchen sink is composite granite, acorn brown, and also huge and complete with an arched faucet. We have running water to do dishes in the kitchen! Going from heating water and washing dishes in a tub in the yard, to then using the bathtub since it was plumbed first, then using the bathroom sink, wow I appreciate the convenience so much. I guess I could use the redneck dishwasher, place everything in the toilet, add soap, and flush.
   One adjustment is the heat. When it is 105 outside, it is the same in here.Wind comes up every afternoon. At night it cools down. Mike plans to get a swamp cooler next summer. Seriously. He bought a box fan but doesn't like the noise it makes, so I get to have it upstairs in my loft.
   I am excited to go visit Boise in mid August. I am spending a week or so just getting my daughter and friends fix, going to meetings, thrift store shopping, fabric shopping, biking, library visiting.... eating out, it will be a nice change. Can't wait to see my pal Joan. It has been WAY too long. Our time together will be brief, but wonderful. She is the reason for the visit, and it is so nice to have the flexibility to go.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Too Salmon Riverish

   Discussing a commission with a potential client. She contacted me through my etsy shop and gushed aobut my custom pet quilt. Wants one for her little doggie. Sent lots of photos of the doggie and her California Cliff May house. Said last year 1000 people toured her home and next year my quilt would make me famous!!!  I chose these colors after digging through the back of the locked travel trailer, feeling inspired and pleased,  hauling a big armload into the RV, setting up a table in the under construction house, taking photos, uploading them, sending, sitting in the HOT RV at the appointed time with no phone call, sweating. Finally an email back, these look too Hawaiian. Bah! They look Salmon Riverish to me, but not overly, just right. The big green zinnia turned into a splash by the lavender batik salmon.
   This is another case of clashing tastes. She wants soft, muted, pastoral pastels. ok.
   The photo above will be a quilt for me. I see embellishments, and maybe a driftwood hanging rod.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Developing my Style

    I wrote my "About" section for my etsy shop, and had to describe what makes my style unique. These two projects came to mind, both gifts for Ainsley. Her partner, TJ bought her the painting at Art in the Park. I designed the table runner and pillow to coordinate. I used Gwen Marsden's book for inspiration.
   The quilt below was a combination of talents. The trout was painted by my mother-in-law, Melva on the back of a shirt for her first husband, Jay. The waterfall background was rescued scraps from Sue Pilarski, a quilter who only does trip around the world quilts. Diane gave me the wooly bugger dry fly for the trout to jump at. There is a tiny pine tree fairy up in the bough of the tree branch. The border is gunny sack, to represent a creel. This was one of my first machine quilting efforts.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Garden Gate

The garden is planted. After my trip to Chesterfield over Memorial Day Weekend, I'll plant the basil and lettuces. I want to be around to baby the seeds, water them twice a day, and give them pep talks. I am excited about how big my garden is, and how well it is growing.
   The raspberries and strawberries are getting flower buds. The peas are tall enough to need their second string, but not flowering yet. The elephant garlic is 2 1/2 feet tall. All of the feral rhubarb from French Creek is sprouting leaves.
   I finished the flannel lap quilt for Chesterfield. It is soft and cuddly, and very folksy. I am working at not being self-critical. It isn't top of the line as far as blue ribbon technique, but that isn't because of lack of effort. I measured and measured! The border/binding is just not perfect. But that little quilt has character. Old Reliable.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chesterfield Foundation Auction Quilt

Tops made by Nancy Miller, from all top quality flannels. Size 45" x 60".  I pin basted it with a flannel back and cotton batting. Yesterday I machine sewed vintage white buttons all over it. Today I'll machine quilt it. One week till road trip time!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

   Living in an RV is cozy. Very cozy. It makes the new home look huge when in fact it is small by new American home standards. (1000 sq ft main floor, and 450 sq ft loft.) This morning I am meditating on the things for which I am grateful. I have a warm, safe cozy place to live. The new home will have a sewing loft about 4 times the size of my current abode! I will be set up in it within 2 months.  It will be spacious, full of natural light, and away from sleeping men and dogs, who should be left alone.
   At the moment I am perched on the edge of the couch/bed typing into the laptop on a folding TV tray. Mike and Abby(the dog) are asleep in the bed on which I perch. Mike has had a bad GI flu with aches, fever, and diarrhea for 7 days, and I am being quiet so he can sleep. I'd love to be sewing right now, I have 2 quilts that need to be finished on the machine. They will have to wait until maybe later today if Mike is outside or at least awake, and the bed folded up. I have hand sewing to do (always!) and can work on that for now. BUT! When I can go to my sewing loft at any hour of the day or night and not bother Mike, I hope I remember how lucky I am and how much I want to sew!! And I intend to get a lot done with the new space. By then I intend to have the rocks dug out of the garden so I'll have more sewing time, too.
   Many, many women I meet say they don't have time to sew/quilt because they work, have kids, no space, etc.. I have always asserted that I made time despite work and kids, because it is a priority and it is my sanity saver. I will have more time later this year, but I find time now... while we watch a movie at night, on drives..  and now it is time to get to it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Voila! Inspiration Strikes!

St. Quilta

   Quilt inspiration comes when I least expect it and am busy otherwise. I was typing a quick letter, describing Mike fixing the rototiller twice in one afternoon, (after I repeatedly asked him if we could borrow one for the garden, and he said no there were too many rocks, and sure enough there are) he was cursing a blue streak. Voila! inspiration strikes! As I dig up rocks with a #$%&** pickaxe this morning I will design the quilt in my mind.
   The north half of the garden was fairly easy to dig, compared with the south end which was prehistorically a basalt parking lot, apparently.My bingo wings should be toned up by the end of the garden excavation.

   Meanwhile, Mike has had the bad GI flu the past 6 days, and he has been the most seriously chronic malcontent I ever had the displeasure to live with. Good thing I haven't felt sick, it would be too damn bad. Women can't get sick.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Magnum Opus, Reconsidered

    Current Girlfriend here. I arranged these hand appliqued 18" blocks at a recent quilt retreat. I started sewing them August, 2010 and finished all of the applique blocks and border pieces March, 2012. Now I am cutting the 2 1/2" sashing squares, 574 total. There are also 76 - 4 1/2 x 2 1/2" rectangles in the border setting. My intention has been to have my sister, Pam, machine quilt this on her long arm machine. Yesterday I reconsidered hand quilting this, my magnum opus.

   Ok, my question is, why didn't anyone else at retreat use a design wall? My project was admired. A few said they had heard of design walls. This retreat, annual to the Pinehurst Quilters of Riggins, ID, is not so much about encouraging creativity. It is about bringing in a teacher and all doing the same projects, games, and devotionals. The same two women have organized this retreat for several years, I think 7 years.

   To me, a design wall is intrinsic to creating a quilt. Distance creates perspective. I want to be able to see the trees and the forest!

   I read about a psychologist turned quilter, Laurel Reinhardt, in the latest Quilt Life magazine. The article is titled, Finding answers in quilted labyrinths. She makes small quilts for finger tracing a labyrinth. Her quilts, patterns, and books can be purchased on her etsy site. Look for her at her website,