Tuesday, May 27, 2014


 I finished piecing this quilt last year- or was it the year before?  It was from the class with Anita Grossman Soloman the Museum Quilt Guild hosted in 2011.  I got stuck on this the first time because I had a small piece of the stripe I used, and wanted a bigger quilt.  I finally solved that issue by making my own striped fabric with strip sets I pieced!

But then I fizzled out at the point where many quilts hit a roadblock- How do I quilt this?
So I put it on the pile of unfinished tops to let it percolate for a while.  Every so often, I would take it out and look at it but never had the "aha!" moment! 
When the guild had a meeting focusing on getting unstuck so we can finish projects (hopefully in time for the October quilt show), I brought this in.  It was a fun meeting- seeing others having the same issues I do and helping each other resolve those issues.
Suggestions were dropped into a shoebox if we weren't standing there to discuss them.   (because we had great ideas for everyone's project but our own!)
Using my "draw free" app, I have auditioned some of the ideas I got.

The first suggestion made me say, "yes- that's it!"
Since it has the strong geometric already- and doesn't need anything else to make it interesting- just enhance that with the quilting.  The lines are hard to see, but that would be the point of this type of quilting.  Using the black lines in the original fabric is perfect, but where would I quilt in the other blocks?

(I just noticed I drew squares in an X block)

There were several suggestions following the though that you should add curves to a quilt with strong lines.  Using one of my favorite zentangle patterns (called a tangle), I thought maybe just a few curves in each block?  (Not fan quilting)  The direction of the curve alternates, so it would make a nice texture.
 But the suggestion that really made me say "hmmmmmm!"  was the suggestion of all over wavy lines like Jane Sassaman does on many of her pieces.  In this one, she uses a feather stitch, or maybe it was two lines of the blind hem stitch. 
So I started playing with wavy lines.


Which direction would they look best?
Obviously they would be closer together on the quilt- and I hope I could echo my lines better on the machine!

 Or maybe follow the "frame" made by the strip set blocks?  If I do this what do I do in the corners?  It doesn't divide evenly into quarters.
 So now I've gone from not having ideas at all to having too many options- and I want to try them all.  Drawing lines on a printout, or doing it digitally as I have done, is a great way to audition ideas.  But you can never really tell how it will look until you start quilting.  And with machine quilting, that is the point of no return. 
My first impulse is to keep it simple- as Anita taught us!
Of course, I haven't even thought about the quilting in the borders......

My green thought is having noticed how often religious literature- small pamphlets, trading card sized things, etc- is left in public restrooms to be tossed in the garbage.  Apparently those who want to save my soul have no concern at all for saving the planet.  Just a bit of irony, in my opinion. 

I am grateful for:
Angela finally started purring when I pet her the other day!
Watching a hummingbird feed just a few feet from me as I worked in the garden.  (it almost makes up for the hours and hours of weeding I have to do.  almost)
Perry's now makes a dark chocolate ice cream.
Finding a fabulous vintage skirt at Goodwill yesterday.
I finally made it to the sewing room for a few minutes yesterday.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Alien plant life

When I watered my plants the other day, I was struck by the visual texture of the plants in this pot.  I don't know the name of either, as most cacti and succulents are sold with the label, "cactus"- no species name.  Both of these plants are fairly fragile, so I end up with pieces when I move them.  I dropped the succulent- a sort of hens and chicks- into the dirt with the newly potted cactus waiting to see what would root.  It all did.  They seem happy, though.

The succulent is happy enough to be blossoming.  See the fuzzy  little antenna sticking up on the left side of this picture?

There are more of them right at the edge of this one.

And coming right out of the center of this one.

I'll have to try and remember to get pictures of the blossoms.  (but don't hold your breath)
I may have to try and interpret this in a quilt.  You know, in all my spare time.

For the "green tip" I'm just going to remind everyone ( myself included) that, although Roundup is faster, it is poison. There is more and  more evidence that pesticide use is killing the honeybees.  Who knows what harm roundup is doing?  (personally I think we are creating roundup resistant dandelions!)
 I am making it a habit to bring the spray bottle of vinegar out with me when I am outside, even going to get the mail.  You have to spray it more often and repeatedly but it does the job for the most part. 

I am grateful for:
People to be silly with
Listening to the Orioles sing while pulling the dastardly weeds in the garden
Mary Lee is now living in a house "on my way" from work to home!
Quiet time in the office.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lost at sea

I went from having nothing to say to having no time to say anything in the past couple of weeks.  I am going to try and make posts regularly again, though they may be shorter.  I see so many bloggers who make this promise.  So I guess I am not alone in having this problem.
Anyway, I am going to try and make it a regular part of my routine again.  I know my loyal reader will be pleased. Do let me know if you prefer more posts or newsier ones...
Today's post will be short. 

About this time last week, I noticed the area around my house that we laughingly refer to as the lawn, was a sea of yellow.  It happens every year.  I have come to accept it as part of life.  My husband sees it as a personal failing on his part that he can't get rid of them.

They make a nice contrast with the redbud tree, don't they?

Sadly, they are also the only blossoms in my big perennial bed right now.  

Then we had two days of heavy and somewhat unrelenting rain.  Hubby had mowed the lawn the morning before the deluge began.

This created a sea of a different kind.

Fortunately we are on high ground.  I cannot imagine what the poor people in the Penn Yan area are suffering after the storms hit them twice!

I heard reports that this kind of weather will be more common as our climate continues to change.  And still there are people who deny it.

I am grateful for:
the kind people caring for my aunt
the kittens are all doing well at last
wine o'clock
a very sweet reunion!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

How long does it take?

I have had a hard time the last couple of weeks finding something to write about. 
I thought of doing a post about
Billy- my poor little foster kitten who almost died.  But sick kitten pictures aren't very appealing.  And the story isn't exciting.  Every time I went into the nursery for nealry two days I expected him to have expired.  But he didn't.  I take no credit.  I got advice from one of the other foster moms and medicine from the vet- who really didn't expect him to live.  But he did. 

Otherwise, until a few days ago I was spending most of my creative time on the raffle quilt.  I mentioned to my husband that I wish I was one of those people who keeps track of the time I spend on a project, because I bet I have a couple hundred hours into the raffle quilt.  ( I really have to get a decent picture of it one of these days)
Quilters are often asked how long does it take to make a quilt??
Well, that depends on the quilt.  This one has been a very long journey for me.  And in the end, I will have nothing at all to show for the time.

First there were the hours spent researching ideas with my committee.  Once we decided on a basket medallion quilt- based on a design I had done before with "a few" modifications- there were the hours spent designing, drafting, and calculating size and materials. 
There was the hardest part- the shopping.  (Thanks again to Emmy for helping me choose the wonderful fabrics!!!) 

Then there was the making of sample blocks and writing out directions for all skill levels to be able to follow since this is a group project.
 I had to make the center applique before I could even decide which fabrics would look best in the borders around it.  So there were the hours in doing hand applique. 

Then came cutting and packaging of kits. (thanks to Mary Ellen for coming way out to the boonies to help with that one!) And more shopping when I changed my mind on one of the fabrics and needed more.

I distributed the blocks at guild meetings, recording who had which blocks.  There was the receiving of completed blocks, most of which I had drafted over-sized so I could trim them to size once they were returned to me.  So I spent hours squaring up blocks (my least favorite part of quilt making!)

THEN came the say when laying out the blocks for assembly that I discovered my rookie mistake- adding the width of the border only once instead of twice!  That required me to make more blocks.  Many more.

Once I finally had it assembled, I layered and basted it myself since finding space and a time for others to help was harder than spending three days on my dining room floor. 
While it was down there, I marked out to the third border for hand quilting.  And I started hand quilting it until the next meeting when it would be passed off to the first name on the list to help. 

But the marks faded, so I had to re-mark the third border.  There is no pattern, I made it up.  So no one else could do it.

I had it most recently to finish marking the last border and corner baskets. 

I am not telling this so anyone will know how hard I worked on this quilt.  I'm not looking for sympathy, recognition, awards, or adulation.  But once I started thinking about it, I decided maybe I am glad I didn't keep track of my time!

The project I worked on last weekend is for a swap with my online friends.  (it is in transit so I hope she gets it before she reads my blog- if she reads my blog!)  It was MUCH quicker, although it did help that I had done most of the small piecing as samples for the class I taught.  (I cleaned out my sample box recently!)

I have made this bag several times, from a Scrap Therapy pattern. 

It's a great project bag, but I always give the warning that if you fill it to capacity you may not be able to lift it!

Hopefully now that we are getting some nice weather, I can show pictures of flowers soon.  I was out in the garden yesterday, but the only thing blooming is those yellow flowers- you know, the sort of fuzzy ones that grow low to the ground everywhere?  I guess they have been around for thousands of years.  We used to look forward to eating the greens in the spring, but I haven't had them in years.

I am grateful for:
Being able to walk outside, eat dinner on my screen porch and have windows open all night in the bedroom.
The people who helped me through the kitten crisis.
My best friend who never tells me to stop whining.
I am nearly finished with the raffle quilt. (well, at least the end is in sight)
Chocolate- every day!