Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quilting Bloggers

On the right side bar, you may notice a new button. It's for the new Quilting Bloggers site, created by Michele Foster. The site is an interactive database of (you guessed it!) quilting bloggers. What's neat is that they're organized by country and state--or province for you Canadians, so you can see the work and musings of quilters in your own backyard. Think about submitting your site.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Graduations . . . of a sort

It's graduation week. My son "graduates" from PreK and my daughter from K. Both have parties in need of cakes, so I'm on call to create sand castle cakes (from my miraculous bundt mold, what a great investment) and some triple layer, moussed, chocolate calorie killers. I made 10 cups of swiss meringue butter cream this weekend, so I'm halfway there :)

One of my son's teachers has been so perfect for him while he was in the PreK version of our private elementary school. She completely understands boys, loves pirates, and always had time for him--no matter if it were the nine-billionth time he asked her to draw Jack Sparrow. In the time he's been at the school, he's advanced light years, largely because of her selfless interest in him and his success. So, of course, I've made her a quilt:

I've become fascinated with the new Moda Layer Cakes. This is the Fresh Squeezed line with fabrics from my stash mixed in for the border and binding. I simply crosscut each square, first into four smaller squares, then into eight triangles. I mix-matched the triangles when piecing the half-squares, and then sorted them into pinwheels when piecing these into blocks. I really love how this turned out. The colors move all over, and the quilt is so warm, sunny, and summery. It just screams, "picnic, please!" Piecing all the triangles was definitely a bit of a bore, but I listened to the end of the Spare Wife to get through it.

The quilting is basic in the ditch to pull out the triangles and then swirling curliques in the border in a sherbet-toned variegated thread.

I found two more layer cakes on sale at our LQS over Memorial Day (Maypole and Dandelion Girl), so I'll be playing around with them some more in the future.

Oh, and I got an iPhone!! Yipee :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Banner

Thanks to this vlog tutorial, my rudimentary understanding of Photoshop, and a mini-tutorial from my husband, I created a new banner for my blog. Yay!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Civil War Blocks Redux

In a previous post, I mentioned that one of my cats had pee'd on my completed Civil War blocks--an act of aggression I viewed as being rather uncivil, quite frankly. Well, I decided to start over on this project. I didn't necessarily take her action as a comment on my fabric choices; instead, I believed it to be her comment on being locked in my sewing room over night. However, I thought I could take a new direction with the do-over. At first, I thought I would do two sets of blocks, one from the CWD book in repros and one from the CWLL book in pastels. But, because the blocks are so small (6.5 in), I became a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of picking all the fabrics. Then, a wad of unused jelly roll strips and remnants from a previous quilt caught my eye. The pieces in these CW blocks are so small, they lend themselves easily to jelly roll strips. So, I pulled out the wad, through it in a basket and started off.

Here are my "second" first eight blocks:

Not in any order, they're Back Home, Americus Soldiers' Relief Society, Another Battle, Queen of the West, Baptism, Selling the Livestock, Sugar Cane, and John Morgan. The jelly roll strips come from two different lines: Sanctuary and Allspice Tapestry. They are nice muted, cottage-y tones with some more vibrant browns, reds, and blues tossed in for good measure. They add a poshy cast to the blocks and make them seem of a family. Because I focus on just one block at a time, it's amazing how quickly the blocks come together. Some of these are so intricate, I'd never, ever make a whole set of them, but making just one is completely manageable.

With this quilt, I also started keeping a quilt journal. Alma Allen from Blackbird Designs passed around a couple of her journals at the workshop I took from her and Barb Adams a couple weeks back. It was such a cool look into her creative process, that I tucked it in the back of brain to roll around a while. After grading college composition papers for years, I have HORRIBLE handwriting (such that one of my husband's great amusements is reading aloud his interpretation of the grocery lists I write for him), so I've never been a big journal-er. Plus, I do my introspection introspectively and only talk it out once I've reached a solution or stopping point, so I never felt a need to write this kind of stuff out. But, I loved the notion of pasting in my fabrics, jotting down the inspiration, using lots of arrows, little drawings, etc.

Then, when I saw a journal covered with buttons at Target yesterday, I knew it was the universe (or at least Dayton Hudson) sending me a message: Just Do It!! Here's my new journal, my basket o' jelly rolls, the CW books, and my indispensable iPod/speaker combo. Right now I'm listening to more trash, Alex Witchel's The Spare Wife.

Have a wonderful Sunday!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

El Dia de las Mommies

This has really been a full-on Mother's Day weekend.

We started on Friday by seeing Baby Mama (okay funny, but not 30 Rock funny) and then coming home and finally watching our Netflixed Waitress (really funny and touching, and heartbreaking given Adrienne Shelly's murder and her own daughter's role in the movie). I immediately iTuned Baby Don't You Cry from Waitress--contrary to the title, it will make you cry.

Saturday--Starbucks and then ballet in the morning with my daughter--during which I shopped the Farmer's Market outside her dance studio: netting 2 red mandevillas, 2 purple native plants that look like posh dandelions, a slew of veggies, and some excellent carrot/onion bread. A quick zip to the gift shop for BOGO Webkinz for a last minute afternoon birthday party. Dinner and M's day presents for my mom (and dad). At the end of the day, I cleaned my quilt room and found that my cat had pee'd all over my Civil War blocks--long story--so I'll be starting that project over!

And, today, I got perfectly imperfect class-made gifts from my son and daughter, another awesomely cozy Pajamagram from my husband, and a full day of quilting while finishing the Shopaholic and Baby audiobook. Now, I'm blogging while doing some advance baking for a Teacher Appreciation Lunch this week (a chocolate cake, that after a day chilling, will grow up into a chocolate buttercream frosted triple layer cake with raspberry mousse filling). The extra batter is now heartshaped chocolate-chocolate chip mini-cakes, quite delicious when warm and served with white milk. Yum!

Here's my M's day project--the Jammie Quilt. If you glance at the blog regularly, you may recall my Domino Challenge quilt. Well, it's all quilted now, and I should be able to bind and clean up the loose threads on most of it tomorrow at Guild.

It's big--about 66 x 66. I love the brightness of it--so summer!

Here's a closer look at the quilting--I did a lot of different things depending on the shape/section:

The blue/red is the backing. I figured the more color the merrier. This is a Dargate Book print, I think.

Hope your Mother's Day weekend was delightful!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Beautiful Spring!

Look what arrived in the post, all the way from Wales:

My swap partner, Andrea, made this adorable 30s repro wall quilt for me as part of the 4 Seasons Swap. It's handquilted in a gorgeous salmony pink, including the cute spring blossoms in the counter-squares. Even the binding is scrappy. And, her label is also pieced. I'm so lucky to have been gifted with this thoughtful, clever, and beautiful quilt!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back to the Blog

The phrase "I've been at sea" sometimes means that one has been lost or without a direction. Well, I've actually had too many directions lately--too many work world changes to chase down like a mom running after overactive toddlers careening from bright thing to brighter thing. So, I haven't had much blogging--or quilting time. But, I did find some family time to go literally to sea! We took a Disney cruise during the kids' spring break, and it was a wonderfully timed break for us all. Just looking at the lovely blue sky portrait of the ship below brings a sense of peace:

I've also had to do a bit of work traveling recently. I spent almost a week in Rochester, NY (with an evening dinner event at the supercool George Eastman House). I'd never been there, and the city was surprisingly charming and full of spring life leaping into color. When I came home, I had to jump quickly into my Four Seasons Quilt Swap spring quilt--so I was thankful for the inspiration (and the cool pink and orange wallet I bought there!).

I sank into my quilt room chair overwhelmed. Where to start? I had delayed this project a bit too long to go crazily creative, but I also didn't want to cheat my swapmate. Then, my eyes lit on a Strawberry Lemonade charm pack. It perfectly suited her stated color preferences. And . . . I designed (as in, with my own little brain) a quilt that would use all of the charm pack. Voila:

I used the lighter prints for background, drafted two flower patterns for the layered blooms, and used buttons for the flower centers and accents. I made the binding from the remaining charm squares. I called it "Strawberry Spring," and quilted the word "spring" in there among the meandering. I hope my swapmate likes it. Based on her blog, it seems just her style.

Then, I turned my attention to my daughter's Kindergarten teacher's baby quilt. Each of the children in the class decorated a 6.5 inch square. Each was unique and captured the child's personality to a 't'. I added one block to make 25, which is whited out since it had her personal info on it. It's put together with a simple pillar and post setting, and "hello" and "baby" are quilting throughout the sashing. Here it is:

My daughter gave her the quilt at a special shower breakfast last week, and tears were had by all :) The teacher is leaving the school after this year, so the quilt is doubly special as it represents the last class she'll have there. I didn't cry when she opened the quilt (only when I was making it--ha!), but I did cry when she took me aside to tell me that all her students are special, but she knows that one day she'll hear about the great accomplishments of a few--including my daughter. Given that I work about 9000 hours a week at a job I love, am frequently out of town on trips I usually don't, try to keep up with my writing projects, and have all the working mom guilt that goes along with this--I felt so good to know that I am still stirring the pot in the right direction at home. That coupled with a super cute note from my son's preK teachers that he is definitely ready for Kindergarten (he skipped a level largely on verbal wit and native charm!) really made my week.

Then, yesterday, I spent a whole day in a quilt workshop with the Blackbird Designs women, Barb Adams and Alma Allen. They were just wonderful--clever, giving, gracious, funny, and just plain nice. I got just a wee-bit finished on the workshop project, but learned oodles of great tips for machine applique and bias stems. Plus, I got to do some active browsing (read: buying) at one of my absolute favorite shops: Olde Green Cupboard.

Today, I'm in house and porch cleaning mode with the liddle kiddles as my workforce. Wish me luck!!