Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gifting Season

We were BOOed tonight. Last year, the family across the street began a neighborhood tradition of "BOO"ing. You secretly leave a pumpkin of Halloween goodies, along with a cute poem and a little ghost image at two friends' front doors. Then, these friends need to BOO two of their friends, and like the old shampoo commercial revealed, soon there are dozens and dozens of happily BOOed families. I found our BOO basket by the door when I went out to turn on the Halloween lights. Tomorrow, we will excitedly pull together our BOO baskets and then run them around to the children's friends. Such a simple thing, but it brings so much joy!

That's today's theme: bringing joy! One of our guild service projects is to make doll quilts for the Salvation Army and the local homeless shelter. Each quilt complete with a doll or teddy bear is given to a needy child. I finished my two quilts (due in November) this week:

The charm squares were a gift themselves, from my guild secret sister last year. I thought they'd make a beautiful little quilt for a lovely little lady. The border, which I love, is a remnant from the backing of my strip quilt posted last blog entry. The binding comes from a couple bright Fassett FQs. They turned out exactly as I wanted, but then they needed owners to snuggle.

So, today, after early voting (hint, hint), I ran my kids up to pick out two teddy bears to match the quilts. They picked out almost-twin bears to match the almost-twin quilts. Here are the teddies sitting proudly:

I can only hope the receipients are as happy getting them as I am giving them. And, as someone I early voted for today once said, "There has never been anything false about hope."

My next project is quilting my daughter's All About Me quilt, the top of which I finished last November. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yes We Can

My politics in this election are fairly open--just check out my sidebar. So, I was excited when I saw that Denyse Schmidt and friends have made a wonderful "Yes We Can" quilt as a fundraiser for Barack Obama. If you'd like to support the campaign and possibly win the quilt, visit her personal fundraising site for Obama. Each donation of $10 gets you one chance at winning the quilt. Good luck!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time's Winged Chariot

Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it. I finished the work-y projects I mentioned in my last post in July . . . plus a few more. In August, I also took a vacation to one of my favorite places in the whole world. Here's my vacay self-portrait:

Here's a funny story about paying attention to details . . .

Our state natural history museum is having a quilt show: Quilting Natural Florida II. I was encouraged by several guild members to complete a quilt to enter. It seemed like a great opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone, as I don't really "do" non-traditional pieced or appliqued quilts. So, I downloaded a bunch of photos of Florida wildflowers, meaning to design a wall quilt of a field of flowers. Well, since I spent most of the summer designing new degree programs, rather than quilts, the October 1 deadline really snuck up on me. So, for two feverish weekends in September, I worked like mad on my first ever original art quilt.

I first sketched a potential design that included the flowers I most liked from my photos: verbena, blue-eyed grass, black-eyed susan, firewheel, and echinacea. They seemed to have a good variety of color and shape so that they'd be distinguishable from each other. The sketch is on half a sheet of typing paper. (typing paper--man, am I old!)

Great. Of course, then I had to think for a very long time about how in the world I'd get from this sketch to a quilt. While I thought that through, I pulled the colors I wanted from my stash. This was really very fun . . . trying to get the right colors and also a sense of depth in the variety to capture the moving light.

I finally realized that if I simply selected my background and then cut paper shapes that approximated the size of the flower heads I wanted, I could place them and then use them as guidelines for drawing bigger flower patterns on fusible. I had already decided to use raw edge applique. This felt like some kind of Nobel-worthy breakthrough :) I started in the upper right corner and just worked my way across, flower by flower. I figured that if it looked awful, I'd just ball it up and pitch it with no one being the wiser.

Well, after the first black-eyed susan and echinacea, I was completely overwhelmed. It really seemed to work and was looking awesome (IMHO). And, it seemed really, really easy once I broke the code of how to transfer the drawing concept into fabric. It took a while . . . I listened to all of Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship just while drawing, cutting, and placing the design--then almost finished No Way to Treat a First Lady while quilting it. Here's the finished piece in whole:

And, in a close up of the quilting:

As you can see, I went to town with the quilting. The background is curliques in variegated blue, and then each flower, stem, and leaf has its own quilting design in matching thread. Oh, and each border has its own design, too. I especially like how the batiks work in the background and borders. In keeping with the theme of the show, I called it Flora-dah (get it!). The quilt is 27 inches by 23 inches.

Okay, here's the funny part, as I was putting together my package to mail it just in time for the October 1 deadline, I gave the application one last glance. Yep, it needed to be mailed by October 1 . . . 2009! So, I finished the quilt a year in advance. Sigh.

The upside: I love (LOVE) it. It's completely unlike anything I've ever done, as my Flickr album documents, and is (by my standards) a full-on success. I'm putting it in a different show this year since I can't bear to wait more than a year to display it.

On a completely different note, I won the summer strip challenge that Hanne organized. I posted the top months ago, but finally got around to quilting it last weekend:

The quilting is all curliques in a pastel variegated. I really liked how the jelly roll worked in this format--all the piecing and binding is from one JR, so I think I'll remake this for my family with a S'mores JR I have on the shelf.

Whew, that's enough catching up for now.