Thursday, August 18, 2016

Because I didn't know how to quilt it

PLEASE NOTE:  ALL quilted work shown in this post is linked from

At the recent AQS Quiltweek in Syracuse, I attended a seminar with Jane Hauprich, titled Get Your Quilt Quilted! She gave great tips on how to decide how your top can be quilted.  Jane is a longarm quilter now, but began her quilting life on a domestic machine, so her tips work for everyone.
After going over basics, like batting, threads, machine tensions and always always always doing a sample before stitching on your quilt, she shared some of her methods for planning out the quilting.

One thing she does is break up large spaces.
By adding the random lines of what she calls "ribbon candy", she made the spaces more manageable- taking smaller bites.

Another neat way to design the quilting is to add a secondary design in the quilting.
The curves in the border quilting add a nice element to the quilt!

And remember, fancy quilting doesn't show up on bold printed fabrics.

I took along this quilt top, which I am planning to show in October, for suggestions.
She gave me a jumping off point, and I came up with a plan!  Stay tuned.

Jane sells some pretty cool workbooks for practicing free motion designs in her store.  (I'm not affiliated with her in any way, but have found them useful!)  If you doodle, you create the muscle memory that will help you when you try free motion.  Try it and see!

Since my last post, we have had several rainy days at my house.  This morning I noticed the weeds sprang up fully grown as a result.  I guess I have to squeeze weeding back into my days off schedule again.  sigh.  You take the good with the bad, right?

There will soon be new standards for big trucks on the roads.  (assuming all of the environmental progress we've made in the last 8 years isn't overturned after the election of course)
All I can say is It's about damned time!!  It's too bad they don't apply these retroactively to get those older black smoke spewing trucks off the roads!!!

I am grateful for:
Being alone "that" day.
Much needed rain.  (too late for most crops but maybe my well won't go dry as some have)
Macaroni and Cheese
Lorna Doones and Ginger Ale

Friday, August 12, 2016

How dry is it?

When I was a kid, I loved the afternoon game shows, especially "Match Game".  They had a lot of questions about poor "Dumb Dora".  The audience always asked "How dumb is she?"
So when I said to myself it is so dry- I immediately heard a chorus of "How dry is it?"

Anyway, here is how dry it is here this year.  As of today, our area has a 7 inch rain deficit since March, with 92% of the state in some degree of drought.  Our area (western NY) has been in a severe drought for over a month.  I have never seen it this dry.  Needless to say gardening has been an exercise in futility this year.

 I was surprised to find any of the morning glories had survived. They are self-seeded from last year.  Usually the trellis and birdhouse are covered at this point.

The poor Rudbeckia.  It has pretty shallow roots, but is normally one of the bright spots in dreary August days in the garden. 

 One plant doing well is the Grey-headed Coneflower.  I planted it near this tree since it grows so tall.  My hope was the tree would protect it from the wind.

My pots haven't done much better, with the sun baking them every day.  I have been trying to be grateful that I haven't had to weed very much.  But mostly I'm just ready for summer to be over.  Gardeners- like farmers- can always hope the next year will be better.

For other gardeners- here's a reminder of how to water and still conserve water.  (I'm on a well, so don't use the hose to water ever)
First- if you hand wash your dishes, dip the water out of the sink, let it cool and use it in the garden.  It might even keep some of the bugs off your plants. 
Second, bring a bucket with you in the shower.  Just let it collect the water while you let it heat up, or while you're lathering.  I can get 2 or 3 gallons since it takes forever for the hot water to get upstairs!  Every little bit helps!!

I am grateful for:
Being able to share an unpleasant task with friends and laugh about it.  (the ones who know will get it)
Being able to sleep at night. (I didn't want to say air-conditioning again)
I caught my mistake in time.
Cookie dough!
Easy washer repair.

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Few Favorites from the AQS show in Syracuse

I'm going to begin this post with a bit of editorializing- sorry.
This was only the second year for the "Quilt week" event in Syracuse, and it was also the last.  The AQS has decided to focus their efforts a bit and are paring down the number of commitments, as described in the email I received the day after the show closed.  While I can respect the need to focus one's attention and set priorities, I do not feel that two years was a fair test for the success of the show in Syracuse.  It seems like just another example of the "get rich NOW" mentality that has pervaded almost all business practices these days.  No one is in it for the long haul.  If something isn't an overnight success, it is abandoned.  So I feel quite honored that I had a quilt in each of the shows they did have so close to my home.  But I wish they had stayed longer and taken the time to build an audience- maybe by including more quilts in their quilt show???

OK, so I took a ton of pictures and got home to discover I had taken many of them in macro (for getting the details on the quilts you can get right up close to!) mode so they are out of focus.  D'oh!  But of the good ones, I can share a nice sampling of the talent that was on display.

One of my very favorites was this one, which won First Place for home machine workmanship.  But what I was impressed by was the hand work!
Bailando en la Noche, by Shelley Stokes

I found a blog post from the maker, explaining the process for this one and was more amazed to see the design was stenciled on with paintstiks!

My viewer's choice vote went to this one.  I don't know if she dyed the fabric or not, but the design is completely made up of beads!
What's up Buttercup, by Chris Taylor

I loved the way  the striped and ombre fabrics were used in the borders on this one!!
Mandala, by Karen Gloeggler

See the black flowers in this one?  They aren't there- it's the curtain behind them!
Proud Peacock, by Antonia Hering

And then this one, amazing enough for the color arrangement and the quilting.  When I got close, I realized the rainbows were all the same fabric design, from the Kaffe Fassett group, in different colorways!  I've always thought it would be fun to use all the colorways of a given fabric in a quilt- and I was right! :-)
Chasin' Rainbows by Teri Herne

I didn't take note of how the colors were added around the edge. 

And there was so much quilting inspiration!  I have always liked a lot of quilting on my quilts, and am very hopeful I can find ways to put all this inspiration to good use!
Hosta Dream, by Nancy Goans

Toward that end, I attended the lecture with Jane Hauprich on getting your quilt quilted.   She had some great ideas for choosing designs and where to use them.  Hopefully you'll see what I learned soon.  :-)

I am grateful for:
Air-conditioning (still)
Good macaroni and cheese
Playtime with my BFF
Great ideas
I didn't step on the pointy end of that old nail!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Now I Have Three

In 2014, when the Museum Quilt Guild last had a show, they decided some of us had entered too many quilts and asked us to choose which ones we most wanted to hang.  Many of the pieces I had entered were very small; a purse, a couple of the "creative girls", the piece I made in the Wendy Butler Berns class.  I withdrew all of those, plus I think my most recent challenge entry- which had been exhibited previously.  So this year, I decided I would not put too much effort into getting a lot of pieces finished for the show.  I have been trying to whittle away at the UFO list, though.  I've decided I will only show new pieces, as in things that I have never shown in another guild/ local exhibit.  I should have four ready by the registration deadline (Aug 20).  At present I have three.  The first is my fish, which was just in the AQS "Quilt week" event in Syracuse but has not been shown locally.  Second is my One Block Wonder.  And this one. 
 I made this using leftovers from a class I taught- bonus half square triangles!- and the borders were done for a demo using the double diamond ruler.  I got stuck- as so many of us do- deciding how to quilt it.  I decided just to doodle on it. 
 I have a big piece of clear acetate I can lay over quilts to help me audition quilting ideas.  (Be careful not to go off the edge with the whiteboard marker, though!!!)

You probably couldn't see the quilting in the picture above where I hung the quilt on the wall.  I couldn't, so I took it out and laid it in the sun.
 Much better!  

It's finished, I had fun doing the quilting, and feel  like I get a bit better at it with every quilt.  (at least I hope I do!)

Whether or not you agree, plastic bag bans are making a difference! It takes some planning and requires creating a new habit, but if you can switch to using your own bags,  you may find yourself wondering why you waited so long!  Don't forget that you can also recycle most of the plastic bags food is wrapped in at the grocery store as well. 

I am grateful for:
The kittens aren't hissing at me any more.
Reaching the halfway point of the hottest part of the year.
Chatting with Guy and Anna on my birthday.
Time spent chasing Jonathan around the back yard.
Kiara trying to get chickadees to eat from her hand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Altered quilts

My recent success with the duffel bag gave me the courage to try and improve a quilt I made some years ago but never really liked. 
This is the original.  It was a project from the ArtCGirlz way back when the group was sort of in its infancy; called an "Instant Art Quilt".  Kathi brought the idea after seeing it on Ellen Lindner's blog or in a magazine.  I painted a piece of muslin with a sort of greenish yellow- which is way more yellow than I was hoping for at the time- with accents of pink and teal.  Once I arranged the bits, I decided it would be a plant growing out of a stone wall.  I thread painted the design on it and titled it "That Which Survives".  I ended up enjoying the process, but didn't love the quilt at all.  So, as I mentioned earlier this year, it went into the box of unloved quilts. 

I recently came across it and pondered how I could have made it a more successful piece. So I dug out the paintstiks, and this is how it looks now.
I added a subtle layer of light green over the whole thing, then used the darker green at each rock edge, hinting at moss growing between the rocks.  It's more interesting, but I still don't love it.

I apologize to anyone who tried to comment on the giveaway post and was unable to.  I did check the comment settings before doing that post.  But apparently I misunderstood the options. I chose the one that I thought meant you had to have a name and email address- not specifically a gmail account.  I wish I didn't have to do any of that, but you get spam posts if you don't make people prove they are people.  Sad, isn't it?

So last weekend we were talking about the hot dry summer we are enduring here, as well as some of the weather anomalies around the country.  I said "*#^!! you, climate deniers!"  But one of the other people at my table pointed out they had similar problems during the "dust bowl years", while another repeated the idea that climate change is cyclical.  I admit, I had no responses to these comments.  So I did some research.  I don't like to sound ignorant (as I often do) by trying to debate without facts.
I found out that, aside from the drought conditions, the dust bowls were due in large part to man's misuse of the land: (Excerpt of this article)
The Drought alone did not cause the black blizzards. Although dry spells are unavoidable in the region, occurring roughly every 25 years, it was the combination of drought and misuse of the land that led to the incredible devastation of the Dust Bowl years. Originally covered with grasses that held the fine soil in place, the land of the southern plains was plowed by settlers who brought their farming techniques with them when they homesteaded the area. Wheat crops, in high demand during World War I, exhausted the topsoil. Overgrazing by cattle and sheep herds stripped the western plains of their cover. When the drought hit, the land just blew away in the wind.

Some scientists are comparing climate change to the dust bowl.  
I also read some interesting articles about the cyclical patterns.  This one is very long, but has some interesting sections, especially this point:

Where are we currently in the natural cycle (Milankovitch cycle)?  The warmest point of the last cycle was around 10,000 years ago, at the peak of the Holocene. Since then, there has been an overall cooling trend, consistent with a continuation of the natural cycle, and this cooling would continue for thousands of years into the future if all else remained the same. But since 1750 however, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has deviated from the natural cycle. Instead of decreasing, it has increased because of the fossil-fuel burning. Methane and nitrous oxide have also increased unnaturally because of agricultural practices and other factors. The world has also warmed unnaturally.  We are now deviating from the natural cycle.

People who don't want to believe man is destroying the planet will not be convinced.  To them I ask this question- Why risk it???
If even the smallest possibility exists that that we are damaging the ecosystem that supports life on this planet, Why risk it? 

I am grateful for:
Rain yesterday- an inch in my rain gauge!
Spending time with some friends.
Some sewing time over the weekend.
Perfect timing.
Making someone else's day.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

When patterns fail

So yesterday I had an hour or so of free time before going to the shelter.  As I have mentioned it is not a good gardening year, plus yesterday was the hottest day we've had in years- so I wasn't going outside until I had to! Recently I've been cutting out some new summer clothes since it looks like they are going to get plenty of use this year.  (plus I'm just tired of the old ones!)  So I dug out a pattern and fabric I got several years ago for a very fun looking skirt.

The fabrics are by Art Gallery, and are the softest cottons since Liberty of London!
The pattern is one I picked up somewhere along the line- either at one of the major shows, or from a magazine ad.  Note it says you can use fat quarters?  I bought the collection of fabrics in a half yard pack, and figured they would be perfect.  They have been waiting and waiting until yesterday.  That's when I found yet another designer who thinks fat quarters are bigger than they really are.  Needless to say this is not the first time I have had this problem- and not only with a garment pattern.  18 x 22 isn't very big. And many of them aren't even 22 inches wide!
Check out the picture from the fabric layout page:
Umm, how do you even produce a pattern saying to use fat quarters then use a picture showing you're lying???  I was not happy- that I now have to find a new pattern, or use for the fabrics, but mostly because I wasted my precious sewing time trying to follow the worthless directions!!  I went to the designer's website and told her my experience.  I'm sure she'll tell me I did it wrong.  sigh.

Meanwhile, I finally finished another page in my coloring calendar.

I haven't done much coloring since I started making the ornaments, and really enjoyed getting back to it.  I have to get better at backgrounds, though.

I did this one at work one day when I had no work and no boss. 
I had only my cheap dollar store pencils in 12 colors, but made the best of it.

I had only a few comments on last week's entry and one didn't want to be in the drawing as she is making her own ornament and needs the incentive to finish.  :-)  So both of the other ladies will get an ornament!  Like I said before- the fun for me is making them!  Although seeing a picture of Paula surrounded by them made me "need" a lot more than I have.

No long rant or advice this time.  Just this quote:

We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to."
— Terri Swearingen

I am grateful for:
Air conditioning!
A bit of rain.
I got to see my tiny kittens again as "grown-ups" before they were adopted.
Kiara believing in magic.
Jonathan's joy over the tiniest things.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

When it's too hot outside...

Summer is in full swing here in western New York.  In fact, it seems it has been summer for a very long time already, as it has been hot -off and on- and very dry here since May!
I don't tolerate heat well at all anymore (if I ever did), so once it gets near 80 outside, I go in!  Lucky for me, I always have something to do inside!

I may have mentioned the guild's biennial quilt show is this October.  I haven't registered any quilts yet, since I don't know how many of the unfinished ones I might stand a chance of finishing by the turn in date!  (I know this year they won't be asking me to withdraw anything because I entered too many!)
I'm happy to say I have one ready- only 4 years late!!  This is called "Jack (in the pulpit) in (One Block) Wonderland)"  The fabric is from the "Sunshine and Shadows" collection by Jane Sassaman.

I had thought of doing a wondrous free motion quilting design using the jack in the pulpit from the original fabric.  But, in the interest of finishing it, I used the Daisy Chain design I found at
I think it shows better on the back.

For the border, I found a complimentary design at The Inbox Jaunt.  As you can see, I hadn't washed the blue marker out before I took this one.  You can also see the faux piped binding I did.  LOVE this technique!

I am still hooked on the Opulent Ornaments! 
 I found a fun green batik with concentric dots, and used several colors of green beads and sparkly stuff to embellish it.  This is on a 5 inch ball.

I loved the medallion fabric I started with, so I got some more of the 2 or 3 inch balls to do some more with that one.   On this one, I decided to try using bugle beads.  The pattern suggests using staples, but they are too short to stay in the foam.  So I used beading wire.  Kind of labor intensive. 

 I've discovered it's much easier to use either a different part of the fabric, or something plain around the "equator".  Once again my sparkly stuff comes in very handy!



I really need to find the right light for photographing these, as they look kind of dull here. 

I'm interested to know who -how many people- read(s) my blog.  So I'm going to give one of these beauties away.  Just leave a comment.  I'll have hubby or Kiara draw a name for me.  You have a week. 

In case you missed it, there was a small bit of good news regarding our climate last week! The hole in the ozone is healing!  Remember when we all had to stop using aerosol deodorant and such?  This is why- and it proves that we CAN make changes if we really want to save this planet. 

I am grateful for:
The recent cool night we've had so I can sleep with the windows open!
A day with Kiara.
Sewing time!
How very sweet the formerly hissy kitten is!
The new raccoons aren't causing as much damage- so far.