Saturday, December 30, 2006

BOM, Flying Geese Ruler, and Book

I am a sucker for each new quilting toy that comes along. At least these toys are within my budget.

This year our Guild BOM was Black and White and Red. The January block was flying geese. I don’t know how others do them, but frankly, I don’t like the quick-corner method at all. They don’t ever come out accurate, and then we are all tempted to do ‘something’ with that little corner we just cut off.

This ruler, by Joan Hawley, was mentioned as a good tool, so I had to try it out and ... I like it! It IS very accurate, and best of all there is no waste. It is a bit pricey ($20.00) but then ... it works well.

I also purchased her book, with myriads of pattern diagrams, and I’ll have to study it more. There are no quilts inside, but a huge supply of new ideas for using flying geese and HST.

Some new quilters have not learned to ‘twirl’ that center seam where they all come together. We try not to have a bump there, so... on the back, along that last horizontal seam that you sewed, release the last 3-4 stitches of the center vertical center seam that you just crossed with the horizontal seam. Release stitches also from the back of the block of that same vertical seam. Then open the block, and open that little center point, fanning it out in one direction, and – smoosh that center flat with your finger. Then press from the back, pressing all the large seams in one direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on how it is constructed. From the front, that center will no longer be a bump, but will lie flat.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Almost to Arruba!

I wanted to tell you about the Limo/shuttle ride back to the airport while I was in Florida. It was really dark at 4:00 am, when he picked me up at my sister’s, and the driver put all my luggage (black) in the back behind the passengers - dark!. We picked up one couple on the way and I asked them their destination -- they said Arruba! How nice for them! Personally, I wanted to get back home to snowy Nebraska.

That couple unloaded first at their airline and the driver unloaded all the luggage onto the sidewalk that he figured was theirs. I had the good sense to look out the limo/shuttle window and noticed how similar all the black luggage was, but then I saw MY little quilt-y TAG! blowing in the breeze, sitting on the sidewalk, on it's way to Arruba! Whew – that was a close one!

Do you have a few extra small blocks? ( duhhh! ) They make GREAT inexpensive and personal, useful gifts. NO ONE will have one like it, and you can pick your baggage out among all the other similar suitcases on the airport baggage carousel. I haven’t figured out how to combine the conventional ID with my quilt-y tag, so I use both. You might have to make a few extra because I have a feeling they occasionally may develop legs – many people commented on mine. You could put them into a greeting card as an extra gift. Who wouldn't like to see one hanging on a door, or knob, or a purse, or keyring? That little tag saved me ... probably $1000 in lost clothing!

Happy New Year 2007 to all my quilt-y friends.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Home Again, Home Again

I am back home in snowy Nebraska after 2 weeks in warm Florida. The flight home was only 2 days before that paralyzing blizzard that cancelled all flights in and out of Denver. I am counting my blessings!

We endured part of that storm, with 45 mph winds and whiteout conditions, but not as much snow – about 10 inches overall. Some of it drifted high but a lot of it blew east towards Iowa! I discovered it’s not easy to take a photo in white-out conditions! But here is part of our back yard, after wind had abated, and after DH struggled with the snow blower. The snow is piled up like cake icing!

I had forgotten these 2 Christmas Pinwheels I had made for my sister and Mother some years ago. Many of you may have made this pattern before. It’s not difficult, but you have to keep your wits about you, getting each color in the right place. I made one for me, and only after displaying it for 2 years, did I notice one of the pinwheels had a wrong color on the point, so I had to fuse the right color in the right place. (I’m not showing you THAT one!)

This is a quilt I made some years ago, one of my favorites, Birds-in-the-Air. It was my first effort on an appliqued border, and as we all know, we learn a few things along the way. It is hand quilted. The border was made up of scrappy string-pieced leaves. I then made a leaf-shaped template, and cut out a larger than necessary leaf, then faced it with a lightweight fusible interfacing, and sewed with a very small stitch around the leaf shape, and trimmed close to the stitches (a la Eleanor Burns method). The interfacing is slit, then the leaf is turned right-side out, finger pressed, and then fused to the background. Later, I blanket-stitched all the leaves in place with invisible thread. The border could use more quilting, but that’s as far as I went. I love the colors, mostly red, purple, black, all rich, color saturated. One of the fabrics saturated right through to the backing, unfortunately – “ooops, did I prewash this?”

I am wishing all you quilt-y gals a Merry Christmas, Good Health, Happy Hearts, Great Quilting, and Happy New Year for 2007!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Steps in our Lives

Tonight I'm writing from near Tampa, Florida, where I've spent the last 2 weeks on family business. My sister, brother and I have helped to move my Mom, almost 91, into Assisted Living. Florida is a long way from my home in Western Nebraska and how I've loved the restaurants, shopping, discount shops, quilt shops, but how I HATE the traffic and gazillions of people and cars.

This was an emotional and difficult project - we were not sure how our mother would adapt to leaving her own condo, but being gregarious by nature, she seems to be taking it well, and enjoys her new friends. We 'children' were having a harder time than our mother, but are happy with the decisions made.

I can't wait to get back to 'normal', read all your blog updates, and get to my quilting again. I only hit one particularly appealing quilt shop (oh gosh, they are ALL appealing!).

Peace to you all, and Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 04, 2006

End of one Project, Beginning of the Next

Diamond Challenge:
I am almost finished with this Diamond, lacking hand quilting in 2 of the 4 corners, and in the border triangles. After seeing it here in my blog, I think it still needs more quilting - maybe a diagonal (diamond) grid. I also will block this project before calling it 'finished.' I am naming this something like Botswana Diamonds, since the Challenge theme is “Diamonds”. There are numerous diamond mines in Botswana, South Africa. I did some unobtrusive machine stitching in the ditch with silver thread, representing diamonds. But Botswana has other ‘diamonds’ – treasures, such as its wildlife. So I quilted a sable antelope in one corner, a baobab tree in another. I have yet to quilt the hyena pup, and lion.

Now, my question ... my center is sewn perfectly, but it also takes up too much visual space, so I want to add ... something. I have wooden beads, hand-made twine, but so far, no other ideas. I cannot find appropriate buttons, – these are some of the ideas I’ve been thinking about to help fill up the large space in the center. Any ideas? Dimensional something or other ... Remember, I live way out in western Nebraska, shopping for ‘just the perfect thing’ is not reasonable – it has to be something I can make myself.

Next project is paper-pieced, from a pattern by Karen Stone. I seem to be working on patterns these days - I am unable to come up with my own original ideas, (due to other things heavy on my mind), but hers are splendid - much more interesting than I could ever devise. I have chosen a pallette of pinks, rose, greens, pinky browns, dark browns, a bit of deep purple.

I am going out of town on family business for two weeks, and want a wonderful project waiting for me upon return.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Credit where Credit is Due

A number of bloggers have asked about "Earthy Stars," a previous post, and I did not include appropriate credit -- this is really a big 'no-no' to me -- but I was so caught up in the nitty-gritty details of posting, I totally forgot.

For few days, I couldn't even FIND the book (am I the only one?) even though I faithfully alphabetize them -- group them in like kinds, but some are next to or under the bed, some in the bookcase, some next to the TV, a few loaned out, some buried in fabric, or a wanna-be project, and one original book, that I actually bought a SECOND COPY because I was positive I had left it at a fabric shop, was found 6 months later under my car seat, where there is NO SPACE, except for one book!

Lo and behold, I found the sought-after book, properly alphabetized, exactly where it should be -- who knew I actually WAS that organized?

I wish I could say "Earthy Stars" was my own idea but NO .. but DID make some minor changes. It is from a book by Evelyn Sloppy, "40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts" and is called "Sew Scrappy," made by Marge Springer, 2003. The book is from That Patchwork Place, and includes a number of neat scrappy quilts. I have another one of her ideas already paper clipped, and fabric purchased -- if I can find where I put it ...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Two More Confusion Quilts

I've received a LOT of comments, and E-Mail about the previous posting, "Out in Left Field," so I thought I would put up two similar projects. I was on a roll with these clever quilts.

This red/white/blue is one more of my "Confusion Quilts," a Maple Island pattern, designed by Debbie Bowles. If you are looking for this, ask for "Confusion Quilts" - that is the official name. This started with purchase of patriotic fabrics - I hadn't the foggiest idea of what it would look like, and I was amazed to see it ended up looking like a flag! I used many of the red leftovers, where the red ran over into the border, and I used the blue leftovers where blue ran in the border. The photo isn't great.

And, this was the first "Confusion Quilt" I tried .. the color choice was meant to 'go' with terra cotta floor tile. The setting ended up looking like floral rosettes. My mother was so pleased she entered it in the local art show. Thanks Mom!

All non-quilters are amazed at "how did you sew all those teeny pieces together in the border?" Quilters know the secret.

My favorite part of each quilt is the border. Each quilt finishes to a large nap size.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Out in Left Field, and Earthy Stars DONE!

Out in Left Field
This quilt is from a pattern where you make the blocks oversized, then chop them to size – this procedure definitely appealed to me - so much so, that I made 3 others within several months, and then gave a workshop for our quilt guild. For whatever reason, this one reminds me of a baseball field, hence the name.

The blocks are oversized, then trimmed wonky, with a 6 ½ inch square ruler. Everything that is trimmed off is later put back together on a separate border, which is machine quilted heavily, and THEN sewn back onto the quilt. I LOVE all the various shapes that show up in the border - there is no predicting what the quilt will look like, until it’s done! My kind of quilt! I LOVE the surprise aspect.

This is a “Confusion Quilt,” by Debbie Bowles, of Maple Island Quilts. The first time I saw her on Simply Quilts, I ordered the pattern the same day - her example electrified me with enthusiasm. When it came to choosing fabric, I had to trust her judgment with lights, mediums, and darks because I absolutely could NOT imagine the end product. While it was not technically a ‘mystery’ quilt, the end was going to be a mystery! What fun this was!

Earthy Stars DONE!
I showed this some time ago, as a WIP, and it doesn’t look a whole lot different, except that it’s done! Those double rows of HST were not easy, since they had to line up exactly across from each other. I had visions of hand quilting this project, but my time ran out, and it’s a gift for someone who will not know hand quilting from machine quilting, so... machine quilting it is! I might still make another one, hand quilted, for me ... oh yeah, I already have over 50 others in the house, for me ...

I am still having problems figuring out how to modify borders such as this (the plain light border), when the last row MUST be a definite size. Something about measuring the width of the quilt (finished or unfinished?), divide by 2, and then my eyes glaze over. I’ve only been quilting 25 years, you would think I could soak that solution into my brain. Note my ‘creative’ center in each HST on the 2 borders – another one of those ‘I shoulda planned better’ moments.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving Menu

  • Ham - cooked and sliced ahead of time, then simmered with orange/brown sugar sauce - less fiddling.
  • Scalloped potatoes - less fiddling
  • Slow cooked green beans on the back burner, with bacon/dash of a good salad vinegar - less fiddling
  • Cranberry/pineapple/walnut gelled salad - made ahead - less fiddling
  • Home made dinner rolls - made ahead of time - less fiddling.
  • Chocolate/mocha homemade pie - less fiddling
  • Pecan pie - ahead of time - less fiddling
  • Last minute - REAL whipped cream
  • Wine, so we can fiddle the afternoon away.

We'll have a toddler (and parents) at our house and I want to spend time with those folks -- not cook!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Five Good Things

Years ago, I was listening to Oprah, who gave some good advice. When you are troubled, write down “5 Good Things.” You cannot just think about them, you have to write them down. They can be anything, big, little, a moment, a glimpse, a national event – just write them down, and it won’t hurt to re-read them now and then.

I see something similar on some of the bloggers, Gratitudes, Thankfulness, etc. In this season of Thanksgiving, here are a few of mine.
  • That bright 4 year old in the library, who, after Story Hour was finished, rejoined his Mother, all smiles, with a “How was YOUR day, Mommy?”
  • Husbands who dutifully hold up their wife's latest quilts without too much complaining, so she can take photos for her blog.
  • My Mother taught me how to make GOOD bread from scratch.
  • My father encouraged me to have fun.
  • My mother had an artistic inclination and encouraged my own creativity.
  • My brother recently told me, “You always were a good sport!"

(Ok, that’s six!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Found more inspiration looking at my own blog!

Oh m'gosh - I am looking at my own post, and a new pattern has appeared in my imagination!

See all those string quilts? What would happen if at the corners/ends of each string pieced unit, you just put a background square? Then the strings would show up and appear to be floating. I was looking at the turquoise and yellow one - I no longer have the original and cannot remember what how the corners are constructed, but it looks like I left it light - same as the background. Hey, that's another opportunity!

Mercy, maybe someone will get that done before I get to it! If so, send me a photo. I'd love to see how THAT would turn out. And scappy, to boot!

String Quilts - My favorites

ALL of these string idea quilts are because I was inspired by Bonnie Hunter at She calls it something like String-X if you need directions. I even had her web page or blog as my home page for a time, because of her daily inspiration. Thanks, Bonnie.

My first try is D2R2 - an abbreviation for Dumpster Twice, Retrieved Twice! I did not have faith, and didn’t finish it with borders. I kept it for several years, and dumped it twice, when cleaning out drawers., then felt guilty, and retrieved it from the dumpster. Finally, not too long ago, I was asked to do a Trunk Show. I am a believer that we should show our ‘failures’ and well as our successes, so once more, I dragged it out and forced myself to add borders, and machine quilt it. Was I ever surprised that it turned out .. ‘not too bad’! Certainly it is not a heritage quilt, but it DOES make a great stash buster, and it is a reminder to myself, that just because it’s not perfect, does not mean it’s not OK.

Strings - baby quilt: Yellow and turquoise scraps. Who did I give this to?

Brights – wow! I made this from scraps from an earlier post - the Wonky Flying Geese with Neon green background. This is a lot livelier in person. It's been folded up in the closet for a while, hence the wrinkley appearance.

Strings - cozy brown/reds. I call this one that belongs to my DH, “His Girls” because the backing is all Pin-up Girls in provocative/lovely outdoorsy cabin-y type settings – those gals are pretty racey - !

Strings - purples and yellows. I had a lot of them and wanted to use them up.

I made one alteration from the original, on most of them. I felt the triangle at the end of each diagonal path needed to be added. The first one has a quick corner added to each side of a light strip, joined together, to make a point. That got a bit tedious. I wanted the triangle to 'float' on the light background, so I came up with the idea of using one long light piece for background on each of the four sides. Then, at the end of each outside pathway, take 2 triangles, sew them together along the short side to make a larger triangle. Face them with fusible lightweight interfacing, using a tight stitch, leaving the longer side (bottom) open. Turn it right side out, finger press, then insert that into the seam, between the background and the diagonal string, matching seams carefully, and sew. It really simplified making the point. Then when they are all sewn into the seam in the correct position, fuse/press it down. I later used invisible thread to do a tiny blanket stitch -- totally invisible.

I definitely learned that even though they are scrap, I should use SOME discretion when putting them together for a scrappy quilt.

All of these quilts were sewn onto a foundation, mostly telephone book pages. Several of them have been hand quilted, as well as stitch in the ditch in the long straight seams. They are not masterpieces, but intended to be used, and I love them all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sugar Beets Harvest

Last of the Harvest - Sugar Beets

This is almost the end of the sugar beet harvest. This mountain of stuff, called a sugar beet dump, is built from one of the major agricultural products in this area. Now in early to mid-November, the trucks are all over the fields and highways, hauling these beets from the fields to a central locations such as this. They are then unloaded onto a piler that throws them onto the already-huge mountain. The trucks are so full, sometimes a few of the heavy beets will fall out of the truck onto passing cars resulting in dents or a cracked windshield! The phrase is not “I love you” or “Be careful” when a loved one leaves for a drive in the car, it’s “Watch out for the sugar beet trucks!” From the dump, they will be hauled to the processing plant in even larger trucks to be turned into our beloved sugar.

I read this in the paper today: Average yield per acre is 22-23 tons of sugar beets. (That's a lotta sugar beets!) In Montana it is even higher. Average sugar content is 17%. This is for all you Trivia folks out there. I know very little about sugar beets, but it is a major product in this area.

I’ve cut one open do you can see the rings, similar to a regular beet. And they are so sweet – awful sweet tasting.

I’m wondering what other agricultural products are in your location that most of us know nothing about?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Diamond Challenge

Here are my fabrics for my Challenge Quilt for our 2007 Quilt Show. I have so many ideas, projects, stored quilts, photos of quilts, and I’m getting a bit bored with them and finally decided to try something a bit different.

The theme for the Challenge is “Diamonds” so here are diamonds, and the fabrics are a bit Africa-y looking, one looks like wood blocking. This is paper pieced, not usually my favorite, but I like how this is turning out. I haven't decided to use the speckly print on the bottom of the stack for the corner or side triangles. It may look very different when the diamonds are finished, although I am also tempted by a cheetah print at the LQS. The star finishes at 28", and I'll add borders when I see what it likes.

The center is turning out to be a large space - I can see where it may improve with being broken down into smaller triangles.

Helpful Toys

I purchased this little iron – on a whim – and I think I like it. It is extremely small -- I’ve seen others that may be larger. This one cost $10.00, and is called a Craft Iron, from Ben Franklin. I press on a small ironing board, and the larger iron takes up so much room. Additionally, ALL my ‘regular’ irons seem to konk out in a year or so anyway, so I’m not devoted to a larger iron. This little one is dry only, and doesn’t get REALLY hot, but the current project is paper piecing, and it’s just right. The cord tends to get in the way, so I have to hold the iron in a certain way. Also, the weight of the cord sometimes wants to tilt it over on it’s side. It will be OK for classes also. There is no OFF - I control ON and OFF power, along with my sewing light, with a power cord. Sewing lights seem to konk out at the switch, so by using the power cord, the light fixture lasts longer.

The second item has been wonderful to help imprint machine quilting patterns in my brain. I was happy to read that Karen McTavish, a long-arm machine quilter, also suggests this type of toy. This one is called a Doodle Pro - great for kids in the car, but I have this next to my TV watching chair for practice during commercials. To erase, you slide the bar across. You can see my leaf/vine practice. About $15.00

I am paper piecing - something I’ve not done for years - and am amazed at the efficiency with my newer machine using the auto-thread cutter and knee lifter. When I bought my machine, my only interest was increasing the bed space – nary a thought to those extra features prior to purchase. Just a suggestion if you have not been using these features, or don’t have them yet, give them serious consideration.

I’ll post my paper piecing soon - it’s pretty gorgeous!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Diamond Table Topper and CAFFEINE!!!

Had a good, quilt-y weekend. Must have been that new coffee drink I tried - yeah caffeine!

I finished off these diamonds that will be another table topper. This was started last month at our Guild class. I have been so envious of some quilters, who can change table decorations with the season, so I made one for ME. This is actually Baby Blocks, but assembled log cabin style. The trick was keeping the 60 degree angle accurate. The binding was finished differently than what I've done before. Separate strips (6) were sewed on and at the points, it was marked, sewn and folded to make an inverted binding at 120 degrees, which neatly folded over onto itself in the back. (Clear as mud?)

I have never worked with batiks before – while they are beautiful, I wonder if, over time, appear dated, and will not retain the charm of ‘traditional’ fabrics. The crispness it a great feature, but I don’t think hand quilting would work? Comments about retaining charm?

I chose those particular green-y gold-y pink-y colors to blend with my maple table. My DH made the Duck Basket - a kind of primitive item, originally meant to hold my quilt books ... LOL - I don't think he actually every counted how many quilt books I have, so I'm putting a plant in it, or Christmas cards, or apples, or pine cones, or whatever. We both like the basket so much he made 4 more.

With that success, I forged ahead, and cleaned the accumulated stuff off my little ironing board and stapled on a new fresh cover. Wahoo! Sometimes just a small improvement makes one want to work some more. Uuhhh, do we have any extra fabric to make a fresh cover for our ironing board?

Next I managed to empty my studio trash basket (AND did NOT give in to temptation and retrive any of the little scraps!), vacuumed the studio, and cleaned off my catch-all tray, all on the same day. Sometimes little steps are all one can manage. I had been reading Stashbuster Mail List, and there were many ideas to encourage a self-imposed slug to just get a'goin!

Lastly, I decided to take time to see where some of you Bloggers are from, by using a FREE program, Google Earth. What an amazing program! It is based on GPS systems. You probably need DSL to make it work well. I have ‘visited’ Red Square, the Imperial Gardens in Japan, my mother’s house in Florida, checked out Iraq, looked at Blogger Joyce’s town in Manitoba Canada, Blogger Jenni in Queensland, a military base in England, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Vesuvius, and so many others. I saw a red car in the driveway of my earlier residence - the image is that clear in some areas. I halfway expected someone to come out the door and wave to me! Check it out!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Table Runner, Missouri Star

A small project - but it’s finished! I even have my own ‘personal’ label on the back – one of those woven labels you order. This will be a gift for a young wife/mother and her husband who are coming for a visit for Thanksgiving – hope she likes it. At first I wanted to have more ‘modern’ colors, but this is what was on hand. It is 14" x 38", and machine quilted in the ditch with invisible thread because I thought the pattern was outstanding on it’s own.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What the ...? Chapter 2

Thank you for all the assistance. Seems everyone out there sees everything on my BLOG. Amazingly, at my home office , I also see everything, in Netscape, in IE, and in Firefox. When I checked this morning at my work office, I didn't see portions of my profile, links, Archives, etc. This sounds like ... versions ??? of browsers? OK, I really don't know what's happening, but for the now, I'm happy and I'll stop whining.

It's the weekend, and I'm going back to my studio, where I'm in charge and I know what's going on.

What the ... ???

AArrrghhhh, now what happened to my BLOG? All looks just fine with my BLOG using Netscape (except for seeing underlines that others do NOT see) as my browser, all looks fine in Mozilla Firefox, but in Internet Explorer, a LOT is missing, i.e., my sidebar, profile, links, archives, counter,(I would rather be quilting, than figuring out these mysteries.)

If I remember correctly, my last post was done in Firefox, because IE was acting 'funny' and Google indicated they were making changes.

Where do I start to unravel this oddity?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kansas Troubles

I am a pretty decent quilter but NOT a pretty decent photographer. Nevertheless, this is a full size, scrappy, Kansas Troubles quilt, hand quilted. The colors are richer than it appears. I purposefully chose muslin for the lights, to use something similar to what would have been used during that time in history.

While most of us love the speed of machine quilting, there are times when nothing is more delicious than curling up on the couch, with the fireplace glowing, a cold winter wind outside, with a partially finished quilt in your lap, quietly hand quilting something lovely.

The little triangles at the corners are not easy to keep from stretching, so I used Sally Schneider's method of making the block, which makes 2 blocks at once, a method similar to "Mary's Triangles."

This is one of those blocks where there is no end to settings. Instead of making a large dark triangle, it can be left light, giving an airy, delicate flavor to this pattern. Or, the corners where the blocks meet makes a pinwheel, not apparent in this setting, but that's another option.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Change of Seasons

Drat! It must be expected. Last week was warm and balmy, and this morning, we have snow. The moisture is much appreciated, but ...where did fall, uhhh summer go? I wasn’t looking carefully enough, and now, both seasons are gone! It seems I am frequently saying, “I thought I had more time.”

When starting this Blog, I promised I would post something every week, but life kinda got in the way. All my projects seem to be at a standstill, with one pesky problem or another staring me in the face, looking much more difficult than they really are, so I am posting this lovely little quilt I made some time ago. This is a Drunkard’s Path version, made with straight pieces, rather than curves. I keep saying I’m going to do another, only larger ... one of these days. This is from a beautiful book by quilter/author Mary Sue Suit, who just happens to be from our area and in our quilt guild. After looking at her lovely patterns, you can tell she loves geometry.

My label with crooked footprints

You may notice all the ugly underlines that have mysteriously appeared on my blog, and on some others also. I’ve spent too many hours trying to figure how to delete them. From what I can piece together following their unexpected and unwanted appearance, something has changed either in Blogger or Google – I have a feeling it has something to do with CSS – or ‘something Style Sheets.’ Naturally I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that’s as close as I’ve come to solving the mystery. Gosh, I barely learned HTML, and now there’s something else to learn.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wide Open Spaces

Saturday afternoon we took advantage of one of our last fall days and drove outside of town, about 15 miles, into the sandhills. In my profile, I've mentioned the beautiful spaces, and incredibly blue skies -- isn't this amazing? For a gal born in a major city, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been introduced to this part of our country. It is very dry this year, moreso than other years. In the second photo, you can see this County road snaking off into the distance. One of the views I enjoy are the wide vistas, and especially, the late afternoon shadows – there is very little to see other than space – a hawk maybe, an occasional rabbit, and once in a while a coyote, although they are very skittish during the day. There are usually herds of cattle dotting the hills. We drove almost 1 hour, and never came upon another vehicle.

This is not an unusual view - it is an ordinary view in this area. Does it help to keep my little troubles in perspective? You betcha!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


This year the Block of the Month Committee chose blocks with Black/White/Red. Here are two colorations. The smaller of the 3 is because ... uhhh ... I didn’t read the directions I won't be able to turn that one in. But, aren’t they great! One of them, made by a friend, has skeletons in the black. Wish I'd thought of it!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Neon Green as Neutral for Flying Geese

The Geese Quilt was inspired several years ago by Jan Mullens fabric. It was greatly discounted (what crazy lady would buy such LOUD fabric?) so I bought ALL the store had – This is my type of fabric!

The quilt is ALL wonky, and contrary to my original intentions of designing a 'devil-may-care' approach, I had to resist cutting off the tips/points of the flying geese – I just couldn’t do it. In one place in the border, there is ONE goose, with it's tip cut off, and I feel neglectful and guilty each time I see it! For the most part, my points/tips are nice and sharp – but every block is different, and the geese in the border are sewn down, willy-nilly, tipping whichever way. I used the black/white sashing to tone it down somewhat, and give it a somewhat cohesive look. I paper pieced the geese, 2 at a time, simply to keep the units square.

I used an extra block for the label. I made this several years ago, before I was experienced in machine quilting, but it came out just fine. Every time I look at it, I think, “Wow, this in my favorite quilt!”

Sunday, October 01, 2006

On the other side of the studio ...

I must post what my DH does while I am quilting. There are many more hours to his projects than in my quilts. Since we are in Nebraska, we definitely are NOT sailing any large bodies of water-- unfortunately -- and most likely, we will never own a 56 ft. fishing boat (the size of this scaled down boat) -- goodness, the garage isn't that large! However, these boats are replicas of the real thing. If one could shrink my DH, ( I am sure he is IN these boats as he builds them) he could actually walk all over this boat, which is complete with galley, head, engines, bulkheads, etc., all in the right places. With this particular boat, he started with purchased plans from the designer, and scaled everything down to the appropriate size. This is his 21st project. They are marvelous, extremely detailed, even in areas no one else will ever see, they all over the house, just like my quilts. On some, you can open up decks to peer down into various compartments, to see sleeping quarters, storage, sails, and hundreds of details, etc. My favorite part on the lower photo, is the head. You can just see the sink, but out of view is an actual tiny roll of toilet paper! I don't know how he has such patience over such a long period of time -- 6 months or so, and where he gained his incredible boatbuilding knowledge.

Rebuilt Log Cabin DONE, with Bonus Table Runner

My Rebuilt Log Cabin is DONE! Yeah -- I think it turned out just fine, considering it truly was a scap quilt. And I didn't purchase one piece (...uhhh... recently) for the project. I machine quilted it, on a year- old Janome Memory Craft 6500, on which I had never machine quilted, and I am very pleased with the evenness it stitched, (no stitch regulator other than my own hands). I used a regular sewing machine thread (a fine Metrosene) in the bobbin, and randomly chose 2 different heavier threads for the top, that sorta matched. Brown was too obvious so I ended up with a gray. The light you see on the closeup shot of the block is not thread, it's reflection. I used a light on the diagonal light areas, and dark, on the diagonal dark areas. (duhhh!) I had 4 blocks that were trimmed wrong (tilted to the left) so I made them into a bonus table runner. This pattern and colors blend well with wood and antiques in my house.

I must tell a short story about the techie who installed my new DSL Line. Almost always, I have a quilt on my living room floor, in one stage or another. I try to watch who visits, because sometimes it must be invisible - there has been more than one man who walked right over it, so I now watch carefully. This techie came to the door, and walked carefully around the quilt, and turned to me and said, "Hey, that might look good with Prairie Points!" Wow, I loved him! He knew all about quilts, the lingo, etc. When he turned on the computer, this Blog page is my home page, and he even took the time to look at the quilts! I love him. Wish I knew his mom so I could tell her what a good 'boy' she raised. A good day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Things change and then we change things."

Happy Day -- I hope. .. a DSL line is expected to be installed in a few days, and I will have to deal with a new E-Mail address. Blogging will be even FASTER! Life is good. Hope I don't disappear!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

"Water Logged Cabin"

Another scrappy quilt - I pulled most of the fabric from my stash - I made this some time ago. This is made similar to the previous Rebuilt Log Cabin, where the blocks are made oversize, then the corners are trimmed off and resewn to opposite sides. Doesn’t that technique give even more life to a Log Cabin? I had many scraps of purples, blues, greens, and I was aiming for an ocean-looking quilt. I asked the machine quilter for a swirly, kelp-like, frond-y pattern. She did a fantastic job!

I went one step farther, and beaded the corners with small blue and purple glass bubbley beads. The beading is minimal because I had visions of actually USING this double bed sized quilt.

The full size photo was taken at a quilt show – it shows off the bargello-based border that I adapted from the bargello techniques and samples adapted from Bonnie at What a versatile block.

I am sometimes a hand quilter, and sometimes a machine quilter, on my home machine. I’m not so great at machine quilting, but I keep practicing and am getting better. I've even experienced some moments of absolutely lovely machine quilting! Here’s also a closeup of the wonderful machine quilting done by a long-arm machine quilting friend.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Simple Lesson

Something I've learned ... among other things.

That 'regular' log cabin I just posted? Even though it was ... OK, I photographed it wrong -- the strips read right to left and no matter how many times I look at that photo, it looks ODD.

That's because MOST of us read left to right. I ran into this problem with a puzzle quilt I put together (currently a UFO) -- you know, one with a lot of odd blocks that don't match anything. I struggled doing the setting, until I realized things look askew and unsettled if it reads right to left. Notice how much more natural the 'Rebuilt Log Cabin' reads.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rebuilt Log Cabin

(Well, they are in the wrong order, but you get my drift! I gotta learn the right way! )

I attacked my scraps of 1 ½ in. strips last weekend - this time I used my left foot on the 'gas' and my right knee on my presser foot lifter, and gals, that technique definitely increased efficiency and speed! The result was this traditional log cabin layout (middle photo) , and I DID use a good deal of my scraps -- TRUE scraps, not just FQs cut up to make scraps. I made 4 rounds. Mmmmm .. it’s pretty comfy/cozy, and there’s not a thing wrong with it, but somehow, it just didn’t make my heart go pitter-patter.

Well, I added one more round, and started wacking it – I chopped off corners and resewed them to opposite sides, then trimmed to a consistent size. Well, I had a few problems, but ... there’s the end result (top photo). I’m pleased! This is the second time I’ve used this technique, and like anything, you learn some do’s and some don’t’s along the way. I will probably trim off some of the piano key border. If some of you need better directions, I’ll write something up. If you start on your own, make a few extra for practice.

I'll machine-quilt this myself. I keep practicing on my regular machine.

I saw this pattern for about 3 seconds on TV, Fons and Porter when Marilyn Badger was demonstrating long-arm quilting – she wasn’t featuring the quilt at all. That glimpse electrified me – I just HAD to make it. Well, she kindly sent me the basics very soon, and at the same time, I opened up one of the ‘bring one-take one” magazines we have a Guild, and miraculously, there was the quilt with complete instructions, by Katie Pasquini. Hers was mighty fine!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Any Way = 15 Quilt-y Years

I am wondering how/when my month of posts will roll over into archives? I seem to remember an option of ‘monthly.’ I guess I'll find out soon.

This little quilt was a Challenge Quilt for our Quilt Guild’s 15th Birthday. It had to mention “15" in some way, and the size limitations were each side less than 36 inches.

I started out thinking of numbers, computers, math, and had picked out some blue/gray/black fabric for the background. Holy smoke, it was COLD COLD COLD COLD! There was nothing “Happy Birthday” about it at all. I can’t believe I thought it might work , but at least I recognized its unsuitability before going too far.

So I next picked out this gold check to sash the blocks – definitely an improvement. The border is all cowboy related items (hey, we live out West!) So I started thinking about roundups, cattle, yippee, get along little doggie, etc.

I made up a puzzle arrangement of the numbers - no matter what way you add ‘em up, they = 15! The numbers were machine appliqued down, and for happiness and fun, they just HAD to look like they were dancing about! There is a party whistle on one side and a glitzy bow on the upper left. I actually received a Second Place amazingly enough!