Friday, December 23, 2011

Finished in the "nick" of time!

I'm not the kind of quilter who enjoys sitting at the baby shower stitching the binding down.  I work well with deadlines, but I hate the pressure of doing things at the last minute.  I  prefer to be done well in advance of the deadline.  This year, I let things get ahead of me and had several projects I was working on a day or two before I had to have them done.  The biggest one was this quilt for my step-granddaughter.  She asked for it in June, after I gave one to her brother for his graduation.  She said - to her mother, who told me- I don't think I can wait 5 years to have a quilt of my own. NO quilter could resist that sentiment, right?
So I knew well in advance, chose a pattern and started collecting the fabrics.  But there was gardening and a baby quilt and other gifts and challenges due ahead of this, and (say it with me) I had time.  The pattern I chose didn't work out due to the fact that it was written for fat quarters that have 18 x 22 USABLE inches.  I rarely get those, how about you?  So there was a pretty major setback, since the fabrics I had were purchased for that pattern.  I was lucky enough to find one I ended up liking better in French Braid Transformation, by Jane Hardy Miller.  It's a variation of the one called "the Wavelet".  The border and background were late additions, but they really made the quilt sing for me! 
I quilted this myself.  The first large quilt I have done since having "miles" of space for quilting on my elna excellence!! 

The quilting doesn't show much on the front, so here's the back.
  I don't think it's my absolute best work,  but I'm pleased with it.
I finished quilting it last Sunday.  I machine stitched the binding Monday and finished the hand stitching on that Tuesday evening!  Today is Friday.  We usually have our Christmas gathering with this side of the family the week after, but it worked out that we did it today!  How's that for the last minute?

The other last minute project I managed to get done the very last day I had to do it was my "Brown Bag" challenge piece. We each received a paper bag with seven items:  A zipper, a piece of rubber shelf liner, a wire dish scrubber, a flat wooden bead, a hair scrunchie,  a paper doily and a man's tie.  We were told we could do anything, that the items could be used in the project or to alter materials for the project, and that we had to use everything in the bag.  When I dumped mine out to see what was in it, I laughed and said it felt like dumping out my purse.  So it was easy for me to decide what to do! 
The wire scrubbie I used to paint the purse fabric.  I stenciled with the paper doily. The tie, the zipper and the painted wooden bead are part of the bag.  And the rest are some of the contents of the purse. Also in the purse are the interfacing from the tie, the brown bag, scraps of the purse fabrics and the instructions that came in the bag!  I traced my own hand, added bits of old jewelry, some beads and actual odd keys to complete the piece I call, "It's in there somewhere"
Other than taking the tie apart and the painting, I started it a mere 6 days before it was due and was literally tearing and throwing fabric as I worked.  It worked out pretty well, but I wouldn't want to work like that very often!
Next on the list- blocks for an online swap which have to be mailed in 2 weeks and a January quilt for the office.  Wish me luck!

My green tip this time is for the holidays.  Saving pretty bows, gift bags and boxes to use again not only saves precious resources, it saves money. Use one of the gift boxes to keep the bows from getting crushed until next year.
If you are entertaining, use it as an excuse to get out the good dishes rather than using disposable dishes.  Or go the thrift store and buy mismatched dishes to serve your guests.  Let them take the plates home with leftovers, or re-donate them when you're done!

I am grateful for:
The look on Amy's face when she saw the quilt
Good travel weather for the holidays ( for most of us)
Christmas lights
Christmas cookies
Guy will be home in 3 days!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The holiday rush!

Let us start with Thanksgiving.  When asked, I always say it is my favorite holiday.  Nothing is expected but family and food!  What more do we need?  It makes me very sad that this wonderful holiday doesn't get the respect it deserves.  I was appalled by the fact that so many stores opened late in the day  for "Black Friday".  Having worked retail for several years, I knew of only three days of the year I was guaranteed not to have to work.  Now it's down to two, apparently.  I was even more appalled when the media reported it was a smashing success. That means it will only get worse. Dave Barry once said, "If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings."  I would add black Friday to that!  Humbug!

  Speaking of being a humbug,  I admit to being a bit of a Grinch.  I just don't see why this one holiday should take up a whole month of my time!!  But here I am, spending hours decorating and shopping and baking and still making gifts, which I never do.
(I guess I can't say that anymore)



I kind of redecorate the whole house for Christmas. Not the huge displays you see in magazines, but all of the knick knacks get swapped. 

Most of the gifts are made, in spite of my whining.
Fabric star snowflakes, from PennyMarble Designs.

 I even made some gifts using the Xcentric block we learned from Anita Grossman Soloman.  The Christmas stripe is one I just found in my stash!

The blue tote was a wide stripe I used for one of those magic table runners  
Try to act surprised if you get one of these, ok? 

Here are some green tips for the Holiday season:
 * Recycle last year's cards into this year's gift tags. Use serrated scissors to cut the front of the card into appealing shapes and sizes.
 *   Make sure this year's cards are made from recycled paper.
 *   Put E-mail to work and send paper-free electronic greeting cards.
 *   Avoid wrapping paper. Use newspaper or brown craft paper that you can decorate yourself. Sunday comics also make a colorful, recyclable wrap kids will love!

I am grateful for:
Having a little one to play with once in a while.
Guy is coming home at Christmas!
Christmas cookies (even though I have to put in time on the treadmill after!)
Christmas music, especially the silly ones like this.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Works in Progress

How can it be November already?  I think I must be suffering from some kind of time warp.   The fact that we have been able to go outside in shirtsleeves this week isn't helping me keep track of the season, either!  (Not that I'm complaining)

So, aside from getting out to enjoy the weather, and buttoning up the gardens for the year- it broke my heart to put the pots away as some were still blossoming!-  I have been in the sewing room as much as I can the last couple of weeks.  I wish I had more to show for it!

 This is the big cutting table in the "studio".  I'm not sure how many projects are there in one form or another.  What you can't see is the piles of projects I have pushed off the table onto the futon.  There are two on the back of it that only need quilting.  The pretty green and red bit in the center is one my great grandmother made.  I'd love to replicate it some day!
 This is sideways.  It's a Christmas gift.  This is the latest I have ever started something to be given for Christmas.  I hate this kind of pressure. This one is going together quickly.  It's from the book "French Braid Transformation", by Jane Hardy Miller.  I was pretty upset when all the light blues landed in the same area- no matter which way I turn those strips- but now I kind of like it.  It looks like I did it that way on purpose!
This is a sneak peak for my Guild members.  We have been working on a new quilt to raffle next year during our quilt show.  I am the chair for the project this time.  I did not design this, just changed the way the colors were laid out and added the borders.  I got the pattern from McCall Quick Quilts.  One side of the pieced border is missing four colors (it was the only way to get it to come out right at the corners)  Can you find them? - sorry the picture is at an angle and makes it harder.
 We'll have this machine quilted.
 I've knitted a few more tiny snowmen to use as gifts this year. (If you get one, act surprised, ok?)  They stand about one and a half inches tall.  Each one takes about an hour.  The little scarves are actually the hard part. 
I'm working on a Kanzashi Christmas bouquet.  The extras will be used as ornaments and "bows" on presents.

My Green Tip this time is about all the leaves we have to clean up this time of year.  Raking is good exercise,  and leaf blowers use gas, creating CO2 and noise.  If you live where they collect leaves, just pile them up, don't bag them and clog up landfills.  If you live in the boonies, like me, use them to mulch around your shrubs and tender perennials, or just add them to your compost pile.   If you don't want to rake, chop them up with the lawnmower and leave them on the lawn as mulch and to enhance the soil.

I am grateful for:
A few extra days of nice weather allowing me to take walks outside!
Friends who are willing to spend time with me.
Having a little one to play in the leaves with last week.
A chance to have my say and doing it in a calm manner.
When things work the way they are supposed to- making life a little easier!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Business!

Kathi, me and Anita!

Anita's Xcentric/Concentric block quilt
Anita Grossman Soloman visited the Museum Quilt guild last week!
We enjoyed her company for three days.  As the workshop chair, it was my pleasure to be her hostess.  She is fun and witty and gracious!

Elaine, Kathi, Anita and Dodie at our welcome dinner

In addition to the presentation at the meeting, many of the members-myself included!- were lucky enough to take classes with Anita.
Blocks made by class participants

The class I took was the one for the Xcentric block quilt shown at the top of the page. It's a fun process that will have us all buying striped fabrics to play with!

I used all the same fabric for my blocks.  This is what I got done in class.  Hopefully there is enough fabric to make a quilt some child will enjoy dragging around.

When I got home, I was playing with a border stripe I had used for something else and got these blocks.  They might end up as a bag, if I can find a nice coordinate for a lining.

Anita also gave a slideshow and trunk show at the regular meeting for those who couldn't take the classes to enjoy.  There are more pictures of this, plus the monthly show and tell (or there will be very soon!) at the guild's blog.
Now that I'm done with this project, I am hoping to spend an entire weekend sewing.  So, don't call me- I won't answer.

I am grateful for:
Winning the boss lottery
Being treated like a rock star by the members of the Yorktowne Quilt Guild
The stomach bug I had Sunday and Monday was relatively minor.
Neither of my boys were hurt seriously in their(separate) accidents.
Some time and the tools to play mad scientist in the studio.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Old Business

 I've had a busy couple of weeks and am still way behind and in the middle of another busy week.  So going back a couple of weeks.....

 We'll start back at the "Quilting Around Chautauqua" event. It was a wonderful day, in spite of the early weather forecast.

This event takes place on the beautiful grounds of the Chautauqua Institute

I loved the texture of the bricks and the rock garden edging.
 We get to spend the day admiring the architecture and gardens, as well as the quilts on display.
I need to find out what kind of Coleus this is!

The quilting on this one makes it really special!

In a little cafe used by one of the guilds.

Part of an "Under the Sea"challenge with a sister guild from Australia

Another "Under the Sea" quilt

There are displays by 8 quilt guilds or quilting groups from the area in several venues around the grounds.

This one makes me want an embroidery machine!

A bunny tea party- one of the vignettes in this display area.

Someone missed the bus.  

The weekend after that, while the men were off on a hunting trip, I did some sewing!

Calendar quilt from "count on it" by Nancy Halvorsen

The top for a baby quilt I have to get done in the next two weeks. Gender of the baby is unknown.

A panel I got at Calico Gals in Syracuse in August, and I actually got it done for this Halloween!

My portrait so far- from the class MaryLee taught at Guild last month. 

Coming in the "new Business" will be a report on Anita Grossman Soloman's visit to my guild.  I'm taking a class tomorrow, then she'll speak at Guild on Saturday!

I am grateful for:
October with cool nights and fall colors!
Working well with my husband on occasion.
The Bills winning 4 games. (I'll get on the bandwagon when they make the playoffs)
The completion of a major project!
An end to the gardening season.  I need a break. :-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A moving and powerful exhibit!

I'm sharing some pieces from an exhibit in the new gallery at the college where I work.  I have been in three times and find a new favorite piece each time! 
This is the artists's statement on the show.

You can see more about the gallery and the exhibit here.

One of my favorite pieces is included in the wall of women.

Text: "Gradually....

 I took many pictures close up since I was sure the full impact would be lost in a single picture.  Make sure to note the text written over the photo.

...Among the duties and...

...responsibilities and children...

....I lost myself."
The wooden books are very interesting.  You have to go around a couple of times to be sure you've seen the whole piece.

The house is the part that takes so long to appreciate- and where you find a new favorite each time.Inside and out covered with the smaller tiles.

I think I'd get more out of it if I understood Spanish.

Eye shadow pots as embellishment

Made with hair and fingernail clippings. Read the verbiage- in red.

There were pieces included about domestic abuse, as well as the ones I found most moving- the ones involving self image and being a woman in general.  I'm sure each person is affected differently.  Isn't it amazing how these women are so able to express themselves this way????? 

My green tip this time is  one I often forget- take the labels off the cans and bottles you recycle and recycle them separately.  If you don't the paper is burned. By recycling the labels, we can save one million trees a year!!!

I am grateful for:
Access to art that inspires and touches me.
Jane's new fabrics are up on her website!
Leftovers so I don't have to cook every night.
Excedrin on "those" days!
Meditative time in the sewing room.