Monday, December 31, 2012

Something to show for my time!

      In my little group of art quilters, we have all pretty much identified ourselves as process people- those who do things for the sake of trying something new, or just to pass some time playing- and product people- those who need to have a finished object from their time.  I am a product person.  I can't bear the thought of spending time on a project and having nothing to show for it.  I know this is contradicting my last post- where I was playing with my random strips.  But if you go back and look, I did make a block- and it is growing into a product.
So it is no surprise, I'm sure, to know that I record all of my projects each year.  Since today is the end of a year, I got out my little journal (thanks, Maura!) and tallied things up. 

The grand total for projects which reached some level of completion this year was 84!!!  I was stunned.  It had felt like I didn't do very much this year, believe it or not.

It breaks down like this:
Wall quilts ( all finished!): 22- including the 12 calendar quilts
Other quilts and quilt related items: 15  This includes blocks for a swap, the raffle quilt, comfort quilt tops I pieced and the ArtCGirlz round robin project, among others
Quilt tops: 4 Some had been only block for over 2 years!
Garments: 10- includes 4 pairs of boxer shorts which take about an hour each
Accessories: 5- purses and such
knitted items: 12 - only 3 pairs of socks this year!
Miscellaneous projects: 16 This includes beaded bracelets, the sunflowers for the Guild quilt show, some household items and the sock kitty!
When I looked back on it, I decided my favorite project(s) of the year was the round robin!  It was hard for me to decide what to do to a couple of them, but on each one, I tried to stretch a bit technique wise.

 On Lori's, I added the leaves with rubber stamps, then did a little thread work to enhance the texture of the tree as well as the leaves.

On Elaine's. I did threadwork flowers on soluble stabilizer, which I had never done before.  I was extremely pleased with the way my addition to this piece turned out!

 On Chris's I added dragonflies to what became a little wetland scene.  Using angelina fibers for the wings, all of this one was done by hand!

I had a hard time with Susan's because these are really not my colors.  The one on the left had a tree hiding in the lines of the hand dyed fabric.  I cleared it up a bit. (sorry the picture isn't closer) The other was inspired by a Chagall painting, which she said her daughter would like.  I had never done fusible with organza before.I liked how you can't tell which figure should be the one in front.

Mary Ellen's was the hardest for me.  None of my original idea was something I felt I could do well.  So I had to live with this for a few days before I decided there needed to be a mist in the woods to reflect the glow from the moon.  I fused netting to create this.  It's a delicate fabric and I hope she didn't curse me too often when she finished it for the quilt show!

It's kind of odd that these were my favorites for the year, since all of these were "process" pieces!  Maybe Kathi is rubbing off on me!

For the Green thoughts this time, I will ask each of you who to go to this website and learn about the regulations New York state is proposing for hydrofracturing.  They are no regulations at all for someone like me who has discovered evidence suggesting they will be drilling right across the street from me if New York approves the process.  Frankly, I am scared to death that they will!  If you live in NY please use the comment link before January 11 to let them know we do not accept that this process is safe for us in any way! The short term gains cannot be enough to offset the long term damage we will all suffer!

I am grateful for:
Time spent with those dearest to me ( you know who you are, I hope!)
My husband who takes very good care of me
Sunshine in winter
A little girl to play Barbies with
The cookies are almost gone (time to get on the treadmill- not that I'm grateful for that)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Therapy sewing

As I may have mentioned last week, I haven't spent much time in the sewing room lately. 

And now what little time I do have will have to be devoted to the Guild's challenge.  I NEVER wait this long to start mine, but here it is, only 33 days before I have to present it and I haven't put one stitch into fabric yet.  Some of my fellow members will laugh at me, because they wait until after the First of the year ( so they say) but to me, this is the very last minute!

Just a hint...

 Anyway, the point of  all this rambling is that I can't share what I'll be working on very much. 

Yesterday I had a bit of time for sewing, but didn't want to come out of the sewing room with nothing to show but some shapes on wonder under.  So I got out my "therapy sewing" box.  I started this last year after reading Rayna Gilman's book.

 I have a nice pile of bits I've randomly sewn.  I may have a plan for them, but who knows for sure.

 So I found some pieces of a block I abandoned at some point in there and decided to play with them and see what I could accomplish in an hour or so.Here's what I ended up with.  Pretty "normal" compared to the rest of the bits.  But I think it will be ok.  My color choices are being determined by the fabric framing this block.

Thinking Green this time, consider the durability of a product before you buy it as a gift. Cheaper, less durable items often wear out quickly, creating waste and costing you money. Look for items that embody the concept of reuse. For example: swings made from used tires, wooden toys made from scrap wood, craft kits that take advantage of used goods and discards, and drawing boards that can be erased and reused.
This is just one of the earth friendly tips for you to consider over the holidays

I am grateful for:
Not having to scrape the car on frosty mornings.
Time well spent helping unwanted pets find homes.
The break between semesters.
a visit from our soldier over the holidays!
I've given away a lot of the Christmas cookies. (less for me to eat)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Maybe my shoes are too tight?

It's that time of year again when I feel like I am too busy for Christmas.  Even when I don't have a ton of gifts to make, the whole Christmas season just takes up too much of my time.  So it's a good thing I like that color, since I seem to be turning into the Grinch!

Unlike the Grinch, I am not trying to steal Christmas.  I just want the time back that Christmas steals from ME!   I have made some of the cookies, done some shopping, mailed half of the cards and decorated my house.  Hubby thinks I could skip that part, but I really enjoy having different stuff to look at every year for the holidays!

 I haven't had time to sew with all that going on, so this is what I was working on the last time I DID get to play in the studio.  I dug out the blocks I made in the Xcentric class the Museum Quilt Guild did last October with Anita Grossman Soloman.  I didn't have enough blocks from the piece of fabric I used for the class to make a very big quilt, since this was all that is left of it.  I did this to give an idea of what I started with to make this piece.

 I took these scraps to the store and found some pieces I felt looked good with this and made my own striped fabric with those fabrics!  
One of them was a stripe, so I got extra and made blocks with that one, too. 

This is what I ended up with.  The blocks in the center are all from the original fabric.  The ones framing the center are the strip pieced ones.  It still won't be huge, but at least it's big enough for more than lining the crate for the next batch of kittens. 

When I trimmed the blocks to size, I ended up with this pile of bits.  I thought it looked pretty cool.  I even toyed with the idea of making something with them- for long enough to take this picture.

I haven't done well saving the planet lately. Sadly, I'm not alone in this- which you know if you followed the news from the recent climate change conference in Qatar.  We can't wait for any government to do it- it's up to us!!  We do not want some future beings from an advanced society coming here and finding all of the buildings and the garbage shaking their heads and saying they could have saved themselves so easily!!!  Do everything you can!  Use less stuff.  Repair, don't replace.  DO NOT USE DISPOSABLES when there is another option- and make your voice heard to those who complain that it's the only way.  It is NOT!

I am grateful for:
My friends who made me enjoy myself even when I was grumpy.
My husband who puts up with me being grumpy.
Christmas cookies ( and elastic waist clothing)
All of my foster babies have found forever homes!
Winning the boss lottery.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's beginning to look....

I wonder how many of you heard the resounding "HOORAY, I'm DONE!!!!" last week when I finished the December calendar quilt.  I am pleased with these quilts, and will enjoy them for years to come, but I will not miss the monthly deadline I set for myself for all of the past year to get them all finished each month.

I changed the December one a bit.  I've never really been a red and green person for my own holiday decorations.  I prefer blue, and snowflakes.
I found this great piece of blue in my stash, and then remembered the gold star buttons!  It's quilted with  a silver metallic silk thread.  Lots of holiday sparkle!

So then I started looking around the studio, at the mess mostly.  There sat a Christmas quilt top I had hoped to have finished last year.  It's a Scrap Therapy pattern. I made this top when I taught this pattern as a class several years ago.  I doubt it will be finished before this Christmas passes.  I don't have an incentive to get it done since I don't know who I'd give it to anyway.

There were quite a few leftovers from this top, so I laid them all out and decided they look pretty good all by themselves.  I'm not sure what it's for, but it might look nice under the plants for the holidays!The read around it is the backing, but the binding will be that color.

There were a six blocks leftover, and I thought they'd make a cute baby block. I wish I knew a baby who might like it.

These pretty boys are my most recent batch of foster kittens.  They went to the shelter the day before Thanksgiving, so they would be there for "Black Cat Friday"  Two of them have found forever homes already!  I spent some time at the shelter this week to help out.  So much love just waiting for someone to give it a good home.

It's a hard season to be green, frankly.  So many holiday parties where the hostess just isn't able or willing to provide reusable tableware for her guests, or the office party caterer uses disposables.  Not to mention the blatant consumerism- where we are all somewhat compelled to buy things we just don't need.
So make one small change for the planet if you can.  Reuse some gift wrap, or use the Sunday funnies!  Cut down on the number of lights you hang outside.  The world only needs one Griswold Family!  :-)  Instead of cheap bows, add a gift to the outside of your package with fun shoelaces, hair accessories, dried flowers, a necktie...
Or just bring your own plate to the office party!  There is no act too small when it comes to saving the planet we inhabit!
There are a few more ideas to be found, if you wish to look here, or here

I am grateful for:
Thanksgiving- my favorite holiday!
Hot turkey sandwiches.  (not the only reason I live Thanksgiving)
Sewing days.
The dedicated folks at the animal shelter (some are there 5 or 6 days a week)
Running out of color ink on the last page of pictures I needed to print.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A finish and a great show!

 I bought the kit for this at the quilt show last month.  I'm not big on kits since I usually want to choose my fabrics.  I did substitute a couple in this one- the socks for one.  I'm sure this is meant for Halloween, but it suits me.  I may hang it over my desk as a warning!

Last Monday the ArtCGirlz, hung a display of our work at the GOArt! satellite gallery at the Senior Center in Batavia.

We each brought in a few pieces, many of which had been in the guild show just a couple of weeks ago so it was all ready to hang!
At first we weren't sure how to fill the space, and then we weren't sure we HAD enough space!  But it all worked out and it looks really great (We are GOOD!)

 This is the book page project we did a year or so ago.  Top to bottom, the pages were made by Kathi, Lori, Martha and Elaine.

We each chose a section of a photograph to enlarge and interpret.  This was my first "random piecing" project- and I have loved it ever since!
This is the back of mine, which shows the original picture.

 Here are a couple of the sections at the show. 


This is painted on one of the non- gallery walls of this room.  Isn't it pretty?
Here are a few of the quilts I especially loved.  I am going to have to go take more pictures, because I missed a lot of great work , apparently!  I'd have sworn I took better shots of more than these few!  I missed Elaine's round robin, Mary Ellen's Leaves, Susan's bird........(sorry girls!)

Sharon made this from a class she took with Velda Newman

Another book page project Kathi did

Sharon made this piece using decolorant and thread work!

Look how the crystals sparkle in Kathi's landscape!

I'm more pleased than I can say to be included in this very talented group!
(and I'll share more pictures soon!)

In "Green" thoughts this week, my tip is to remember it's not enough to just change your light bulbs and put your newspapers on the curb every week.  If you are truly concerned about the planet, there is so much more!  Talk to people who don't seem to understand.  You don't have to shout, just remind them how easy it is to recycle, or buy more cautiously.  Become an activist by contacting your representatives at all levels of government to let them know how you feel.  I know I'll be writing "my" new congressman a letter very soon.  (I surely did not vote for him since his views did not represent me in the least!)  Be informed and share what you know- gently, as I've learned.

I am grateful for:
An "Indian Summer" afternoon to sit on the porch and read.
An easy and delicious new cake recipe. (be patient, Guild members...)
A man who tolerates my crabbiness.
Some unstructured time.
Cuddle time with the foster babies- for 6 more days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's on the wall?

The quilt show is over.  The next challenge quilts aren't due until January and February.  So I can try to clean up the studio a bit.  So, here's what's in the works these days.

 This is the picture from Kim Schaefer's book of the last (FINALLY!) calendar quilt.   I decided to get this done right away instead of putting it off for the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I don't think I have any big Holiday plans, but who knows?  Besides, I really want to be done with these!  I'm glad I've done them, and I really like them.  But the "have to" that came with them was terrible at times!
 Over time, I decided those applique squares weren't as charming as I had originally thought.  So mine won't have them.  And I decorate my Christmas tree in blue, so mine will be more like this.

The holes are where the little presents will go.  Mine are sparkly.  (a big surprise, I'm sure!)

These scrappy blocks have been tacked up on the design wall- under various other projects at times- for months!  I finally got them assembled last week.   This will be a donation quilt.  I may add another row onto it, so I haven't added the border yet.

 This is the only thing I had for sale in the Boutique at the quilt show that didn't sell.  I took a good look at it and decided it was kind of uninteresting.  So I added some sparkles.  Can't go wrong if it sparkles. 

I bought a kit for this at the show.  I forget which vendor, but the pattern is by Bloomin' Minds.  Called a "Half to Have" pattern.  They have LOTS of cute designs.  I'm going to have to see if I can find a few more of them!
I changed a couple of the fabrics.  I thought the black and white stripes were better for the socks!  Oh, and I have red glitter for the slippers.  (can't go wrong if it's sparkly!)

I just finished "reading" (is it still reading if it's an audiobook???) this book.  Short and an easy read, but it left me with some strong feelings.  It's about a 50 something woman who wakes up one day and finds she is invisible. Turns out she's not alone, and that many of the women were invisible long before they couldn't see themselves in the mirror!  I think others will find themselves nodding their heads and sharing the feeling.
I think this book can remind us all to find ways to let our inner lights shine more brightly more often!

Along those lines, I will announce to any who have not heard that my small art group, the ArtCGirlz, are showing our work at a GOArt!satellite gallery in Batavia for November and December.  Unfortunately the gallery is open only weekdays, but if you get a chance, it's a pretty great show!

For a green tip this time, I was looking at wrapping paper at the store today.  Then I asked myself if I really need any.  Wrapping presents is a fun idea.  But there are more earth friendly ways.  One pet peeve of mine is people who only use those little gift bags once.  Why throw them out? I even save the tissue paper if it isn't torn!  Here's an article that asks you to make your wrappings and decorations out of your junk mail!

I am grateful for:
My ArtCGirlz
Sunshine when we can get it
No pressure sewing time
The joy of the extra ten minutes cuddling under the quilts on a cold morning.
No more campaign ads/ calls/ rhetoric- for a few months anyway.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NOW it's done!

I can't believe tomorrow is November 1st already!  October just got here, didn't it?
I have one more of these calendar quilts to do.  I will be so happy to have this project ( for I have thought of it as one long project) finished at last!!  The November one almost didn't make it.  The fabrics I chose for the turkey all looked fine laid out on the table, but the one tail feather didn't look right after I got it all fused. It still doesn't make me happy. I stamped it, I rubbed ink on it, I colored it with watercolor crayons- which only served to highlight the seam in the background.  But I decided I could live with it.  So I finished it.  I practiced feathers in the tail.  Turns out my fussy machine loves invisible thread.  That's all well and good if all you want is texture.  But I'm the kind of person who figures if I'm doing all this great quilting, it should show up! That's why I like the heavier threads.  (sigh)

Somewhere in July, I think, I hinted at a project I was working on that was in need of a lot of work.  It is finally ready to be revealed.
The "ArtCGirlz"- the small art group we formed a few years back- decided to do a round robin at the beginning of this year.  We were to bring in anything we wanted for the others to play with.  I had recently decided this old whole cloth piece needed a new life.  I made it back in the early 90's as a way to improve my hand quilting.  It was a lovely pearl grey then.  But hanging on walls, then laying on table tops faded it to an odd pinkish color I really hated.  So I had already started playing with it when the round robin came up.  I found this picture in a magazine and decided to use this as my inspiration ( minus the yellow)
Sadly no pictures of this piece exist before it was altered.

My only rule was that the existing quilting should remain the major design element.

So this is what it looked like when I got it back after the 5 other members of my group had their turn with it.  In the little journal that went around with it, they all said the same thing- how they thought it was so pretty and they didn't think it "needed" much done to it.  Clearly they didn't get how much I disliked it the way it was. 
So, Mary Ellen painted in the corners for me,  Susan added the line of stitching just inside the binding, Elaine added some beads in the feathers, Chris gave it some sparkle with crystals and Lori beaded small fans in the center.  Well, that was a nice start......

But I didn't want that grey at all!!  So here is the finished piece.  I colored the fans in some more, decided the green was weak and added more green- paintstiks I think- using the same paint on the loops in the feathers just to give them some color.  Elain'e beads didn't show much, so I colored behind them, then decided the rest of the "rope" quilting needed something.  First I colored it with a watercolor pencil.  That didn't do much.  So I couched a cool thread with bead and then couched another one with sparkle thread.   Using Lori's fans as my model, I added more beads around the edges. I had thought to add seed stitching all over it as a background, but the green didn't do much on the grey, so I found a wonderful sparkle netting and stitched that over the whole thing, cutting away selected parts.  I decided to try the "kantha" style of stitching Kathi uses so successfully in her work.  (and doesn't that look SO cool on the back?)  To cover the binding, I couched a chenille yarn with some rayon floss.
For a few minutes after I cut away the netting, I thought the grey still showing in the feathers would have to go.  But I  like how it looks kind of lacey!

I tried new things on this piece, always thinking I had nothing to lose because I didn't like it.  So it was kind of a "process" piece for me.  And I love the results!  Much better!

I named it "Masquerade!".  That seemed perfect because not only does it have all the sparkle and color one might see at a costume party, but now it's a plain Jane quilt all dressed up for a party.

The lovely sparkle buttons came from India, I think.  I bought them from Priscilla Kibbee several years ago.

It's not all that easy coming up with a "Green Tip" every week.  I keep coming around to the same old things, which all seem like common sense to me.  Sadly, I often feel like the only one.  I go shopping and I see the stores throwing away the garment hangers that used to get used over and over.  Must be the manufacturers are sending the merchandise on hangers now?  Sad!  The price of those hangers- and the cost of disposing of them- goes into the price we pay, you know.  Not to mention the resources wasted in making the hangers.  The waste in the retail industry as a whole is sickening!  But until it becomes more important -for financial reasons alone since that is their only true concern- to them to save than to waste, they will continue
So all I can do is my best- and ask you to do it too!

I am grateful for:
The fact that the hurricane Sandy did only minor damage in our area. (and my heart goes out to those who were not spared!)
The Army maintains a facebook page for basic training so my husband and stepson can track Jake's progress. (and thanks to Kathi for telling me about it)
My kittens are getting healthier!
Apple Crisp
Flannel sheets

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stitches in Time 2012

Well, we had our quilt show, and it was by all accounts a success.  But we are all glad we have two years before we do it again.  Here are a few of the pieces I especially loved.  You can see more by following the link on the Guild's blog post about the show.
The back of Marcia Muskopf's Xcentric quilt
The front of Marcia Muskopf's "Xcentric quilt

 These pictures are of a quilt made from the class we had with Anita Grossman Soloman last October.  When we hung it we weren't sure which was the front since both sides were so  beautiful!

Ann Michaud made this one. I forget the name.

My friend Lori Anderson won Best Landscape quilt for this one!

Machine quilting, small quilt
Two of the pieces I shared in my last post won awards at the show, which was nice. ( I reposted the pictures rather than make you go back to look)
 I always say I don't care about the awards.  But I admit it- I'm always happy to receive one!

Machine Quilting, small quilt

Kathi's Serena Jacket won best quilted fashion
 I was equally happy for my friend Kathi, who won five and my friend Elaine who won three.

Kathi's "Smog" won a judge's choice award
Best of all- Elaine won for a piece she had really struggled with.  How's that for a perfect reward for all her hard work and perseverance?!?
Elaine's quilt formerly known as the monster

A late season Calendula brightening the front porch steps
The day after the show was spent doing a lot of the things I had ignored all week, but yesterday was one of those rare autumn days you have to go outside since you don't want to waste it!

 I took George out with me while I picked up the chairs from the porch and covered my delicate plants.  She has only been out once before and didn't venture very far.  I think she's going to decide she really likes it outside, though.

My green tip this week is perfect for this time of year.  Make sure you aren't paying to heat the outdoors by sealing up those tiny cracks!  Take a close look at places where two different building materials meet, such as corners, around chimneys, where pipes or wires exit and along the foundation.

I am grateful for:
Improved kittens ( don't ask)
The camaraderie at the quilt show!
 Rare sunny October days.
The smell of fresh baked goodies.
I don't have to go back to the dentist now until February!