Monday, February 4, 2013

A Wiscasset twin

One of my last finishes of 2012 was a present for my dad.

You may remember last year, I made a quilt for my parents for Christmas.

My mom, however, promptly laid claim to it, so of course I had to start work on a quilt for my dad, too.  Luckily, I had a couple of jelly rolls of Minick & Simpson's Wiscasset squirreled away for a rainy day, and spent the summer making up some blocks when it wasn't too hot out.  I used Kim Brackett's Blessings from the Hollow pattern from her book, Scrap Basket Sensations.  

I have to say, I tend not to be a traditional pattern girl.  I often mess with things, cobble together my own spin, etc.  Not in this case.  I give major appreciation to Kim--this was a great pattern.  Clear, easy to follow, and with great results, if I do say so myself...

I had a bit of extra yardage of Wiscasset, too, so used a sprigged cream print and a dark blue paisley as borders.  

The backing fabric is Kona Cadet and the binding is Kona Navy.  I love the solid backing--I quilted a quarter-inch inside the inner borders of each square and along the inner edge of the star shapes.

It was finished about a week before Christmas and Dad?

Loves it!

(Sorry, no gift photos--he ran off and hid it from my mother as soon as he'd opened it!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quilting against the clock

When I originally set myself a timeline for a quilt that needs to be finished by a certain deadline, I try to pad it a little, to leave myself room for the inevitable SNAFU.  It doesn't always work out the way I'd like it, but I don't like to deal with more stress than I have to, and I hate to make quilting stressful.  I enjoy it, after all!

However, back in late October, I thought I had plenty of time to finish this quilt before the November 1 deadline--that being my grandmother's 90th birthday celebration.

I used the Granny Square tutorial (appropriate, no?) from Blue Elephant Stitches, and a jelly roll each of Butterscotch & Rose by Fig Tree Quilts and Moda Bella Cream.  The finished quilt is a great throw size, about 60" by 70".

But I wound up with a slight snag.  See, I was pushing to finish this by November 1, and even had the whole last week of October off, but then Hurricane Sandy happened on October 29.  Here in CT, we knew a day or so in advance that landfall was imminent, and that power outage was inevitable.  See, we dealt with Irene the previous year and were without power for 4 days, and then had a snowstorm that followed Irene and were without power for 8 days.  So we stocked up on firewood, charcoal for the grill, bottled water and canned goods, and put away anything that might be blown around the yard.  And then I quilted like my life depended on it, so that the electricity-reliant part of the process would be done before we lost power.  I finished machine sewing the binding to the front of the quilt at around 5pm...

The back fabric is another Fig Tree fabric from a different line, Mill House Inn, and the binding fabric was a serendipitous find at JoAnn's a couple of years ago.

And then a scant few hours later, we had this happen.

40ft pine tree blown over on our cars.  :(

Which looked like this in the stark light of morning the next day.

In any case, all's well that ends well--the insurance and tree service people were hugely helpful, my car's been replaced (the madman's SUV was actually fine), I finished the quilt although poor Gram's party was put off by a week--my parents and grandmother were all without power for over a week, and the madman and I were lucky to only be out about four days this time.  

And Gram?  She loves her quilt.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy New Year! And also, what I've been doing the last 8 months...

Well then.  It's been awhile, hasn't it?  I took the summer off of just about everything.  When I wasn't working, I swam and read and slept, only tiptoeing into the sewing room to make up blocks for my last remaining bee, the Peace Circle of do.Good Stitches.  2012 was the year of simplifying, and giving up all but the bee I love best was part of that.  It made the blocks I was making a special treat instead of a dreaded chore and another deadline.

We had a brief stretch of cool-ish weather, and I made up the last of the blocks for my father's Christmas present (which was properly gifted and under the tree as promised on the 25th, but I'll share the finished quilt in another post...).

The Madman and I went to Disney for our 10-year anniversary, and I took photos of tilework, because what else does one do on vacation?

Makes one think of quilts, though, doesn't it?

There was a swap sent...

And received (thanks again, Dawn!!)...

Oh, and there was a hurricane.  Thanks, Sandy.  

That's a 40 ft pine that came down across our driveway and both of our cars.  My husband's SUV only had a few new dings.

My car?

Well, my car was toast.  Many thanks to the awesome tree service guys who were out the day after the storm to remove the tree, and to my amazing insurance folks, who were incredibly calming and helpful during a very stressful time.

And past few months?  Well, those have been a whirlwind of finished quilts, holiday prep and partying, and cherishing all the good moments, letting those outweigh the bad.

Happy New Year to all of you, and see you around here a lot more often in 2013!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wow, my bad...

If someone would like to explain to me where the last month has gone, that would be awesome.  In reality, life has been sort of ridiculous lately.  Super short-staffed at work, lots of stress that seems to come home with me and knock me out on the couch as soon as I walk in the door, running around trying to get myself prepped for a pending vacation (my first in nearly seven years--woohoo!), trying to keep my flight-phobic husband calm about said pending vacation, realizing I have nothing to wear on aforementioned trip...  Yeah.  I'm a bit of a basketcase, though some of the stress is good.

I admire people who travel easily--I was one of those people, about a dozen years ago.  I shake my head at my young self, traipsing around Europe on breaks from studying in London.  If I knew then what I know now? Kind of glad I didn't, actually, as being young and foolish was half the fun, I think.  

In any case, I've sort of turned into a weekend sewer, since the evenings have either been filled with errands (shoe shopping, in particular, is a helluva chore.  I'm abnormal, I know.  But if you wore a 10-wide, US, you'd be crabby about finding cute shoes, too.) or I've just been coming home and collapsing.  As much as I'd like to share details of work stress, since people have this wonderful idea of libraries being these quiet, calm places to work, suffice it to say that filling out police reports and trying to manage coverage for service desks AND still have enough people available to get new books and dvds out to the public in a timely manner makes for some interesting times.  Anyone who thinks libraries are dull and quiet probably hasn't been to one in awhile...

Oh, and I'm still writing blog posts for work, which acts as sort of a creative siphon, so that by the time I get home, I'm running low on words.  I know, weird, right?  Rest assured, this blog will likely never wind up monetized, simply because I don't think I can manage to get paid to maintain TWO blogs-worth of content!  That, and my point-and-shoot photos are nothing to write home about.  :)

On the weekends (though I often work those, too), I've managed to carve out little pockets of time to get to my sewing machine.  The results?

A couple more Swoon blocks.

Some improv piecing to clear my head, and my scrap bin.

My blocks for the April round of do.Good Stitches, Peace Circle, using Michelle's tutorial.

And occasionally pulling little piles of fabric for a couple of secret projects.  Don't you hate it when quilters pull that card?  Me, too.  And I'm sorry!  I'll have more to share on these piles in about a month.  

Now, let's hope I can manage to hop in here and say hello between now and then, shall we?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Slowly Swooning

The last week or so, I've felt "off". Maybe it's the time change? I feel frustrated, unfocused, and edgy. I thought maybe it was because of the full moon (it can't just be me who has trouble sleeping when it's so bright?). Then there's work stress, but then, who doesn't have that, right?

I know. I'm whiny. And tired. Mid-way through the week, I thought maybe some quality time in the sewing room would help. Until I started sewing parts of my Swoon block together wrong, and then I knew it was time for bed.

(Block 6 in progress. Also, please disregard my disgusting ironing board cover...thanks!)

I'm so close to being done, though! And by so close, I mean...I have 6 of 9 blocks done. Just 3 more! But as I am admittedly one of the slowest sew-ers on the face of the planet, it takes me an hour or so to cut all the pieces for a block, and then about 2-3 hours to sew, press, and assemble the block. When I'm in a good, productive groove, I manage a block a week, cutting one night, sewing the next two. If I'm super-lucky, I do that AND cut a second one, then sew it up one day during the weekend, provided I actually have a day off that weekend. (To the women who work full-time, and are moms, AND manage to blog and finish a quilt or more a month, I salute you--I don't know how you do it. I feel like a slacker!)

(Blocks 1-4)

(Block 5)

I have so much I want to accomplish, but Swoon is feeling like a big beautiful albatross right about now. I want it finished! Now! Especially since I have three other quilts waiting in the wings that I want to leap into. Normally, I'd just shift over for a few weeks, then try and shift back. But my track record on the "shift back" part is kinda shaky, so I'd rather avoid that if at all possible right now.

So, to get my proverbial engines revved, I had a play with a few different color palettes this morning. Nothing I plan to cut into quite yet, just a little juice for the old brain, and the eyes.

First, this delicious stack of Heirloom by Joel Dewberry, from the Ruby and Sapphire colorways. I chose to keep the greens out of it, and just ran with purples, pinks, and those bits of mustardy yellow. Those who have been reading around here know that I am typically not a pinks and purples, at alllll. But this collection really spoke to me, with the architectural, modern feel to so many of the prints. My plan is to use these beauties for Camille Roskelley's On A Whim pattern, which is what the Swoon-along group on Flickr is working on next (alongside another of Camille's patterns, Hopscotch, but I'm saving that one for another day...).

But there's another quilt in the works, and I have some test blocks I need to make in the next month or two. So I built this palette of basics in royal, navy, carrot-y oranges, and sunny yellows.

How can that not make you happy? I'll be sharing more of this one as we get closer to the summer, I think.

Hope everyone has lots of their favorite things this St. Paddy's weekend. My husband HATES corned beef, so we're skipping that and going straight for the Guinness! Cheers, and happy sewing!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Southport Congregational Church Quilt Show, 2012

I've spent the last week kind of noodling this post around in my head, because it feels like there's so much to it. Those of you who have been reading since last year may remember that I attended this show with my grandmother last year, too. (If you missed those posts, take a second to go back and browse--there were some really incredible pieces!) Southport Congregational Church has been putting on this quilt show, Fabrics and Fabrications, since 2003, and it is hosted and run entirely by community volunteers. The proceeds go to Emerge, Make a Wish and Project Learn. This year's show hosted over 150 quilts and quilted objects, and the theme was "Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice!". There was a huge showing of scrap quilts, as you'll see, as well as a special exhibit of art made from found or repurposed items. The special exhibit was super-crowded, and I didn't manage to get many photos of it, unfortunately.

The day was overcast and kind of dreary, which meant that there wasn't the same stained-glass glow lighting the quilts in the sanctuary as last year. The lights were turned all the way up, but some of the photos still feel a little dark--my apologies! I also didn't get a chance to take as many pictures this year--last year, my grandmother had brought her cane, but chose not to walk very far, and sat at the entrance of the sanctuary while I ran around and ooh-ed and ahh-ed and snapped photos. This year, she'd brought her wheeled walker, and I believe I might have used the term "heck on wheels" more than once. She's a speed demon with what she calls her "jeep". So I didn't get as many photos as last year, and therefore chose to keep this as one post.

There were LOTS of scrap quilts this year, and they ranged from antique to contemporary, traditional to modern. Actually, you'll see that there are quite a few more modern quilts this year than last, something one of the volunteers mentioned while talking to a reporter from the local paper as we walked through the chapel display (the chapel's pretty small, I swear I wasn't eavesdropping...much). It was cool to see that shift in the show quilts in just a year's time!

Finally, I will say that there were a few issues with the program this year, so I will share what I can that I think is accurate. I'm also linking out where I can--I'm not receiving any compensation or incentive to do so, just so this is all above board!

This first is a star sampler using a Connecting Threads pattern, using fat quarters. It was finished in 2010 by Pat Cole, machine quilted by Butler Country Crafts, Clyde Park, Montana.

This Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt was hand-pieced, -appliqued and -quilted. I don't think I've ever been to a quilt show that didn't feature a hexagon quilt! There's a reason we're all obsessed with these all over again, I think--they're so timeless. We might not use seafoam green borders if making one today, but if you didn't include that, you could easily be looking at something a modern quilter might create today.

Log cabin variations were very well represented this year. This one was made in 2008, machine pieced and quilted.
This next was made in the 1930s, and was machine pieced on a Singer treadle sewing machine, then hand-quilted. Many of the fabrics were flour and feed sacks. I could have honestly looked at this one all day.

Another log cabin quilt, hand pieced and quilted, finished in 1998.

I kind of love the crazy scrappiness of this next one. It was made sometime before 1920, according to its family pedigree, and is just a flimsy (an unquilted, unbacked quilt top). It was hand-pieced by the owner's grandmother and great aunts. I really kind of have to wonder why it has gone unfinished for nearly 100 years. What happened? That's one for Jennifer Chiaverini to write about, huh?

This next one I totally fell in love with. I love Ocean Waves, though the thought of so many little HSTs gives me pause. It's a bucket-list pattern for me. This one is a quilt that obviously saw lots of hard use and was well loved over the years--you can see that some of the fabric triangles are worn clean through to the batting in some places. The program says 1922, and was made by the same women as the quilt above. Can't you just see a group of sisters sitting and hand-piecing triangles every night? This one went into the owner's grandmother's wedding trousseau. I love the stories behind these.

This four patch had pride of place on one of the front pews. Unfortunately, this is one that the program sort of doesn't agree with the number, so it will go down as the mystery 4-patch.

And now we start seeing some of the modern-feeling quilts. This one, made in 2006 by Richard Killeaney (a local CT quilter), is machine pieced and quilted, using 13 men's dress shirt fabrics (some over dyed with natural dyes). The back and batting are organic cotton. As a side note, there was a second quilt made in a similar style by Mr. Killeaney in red and white fabrics from recycled men's shirts. Unfortunately, I could not get a photo where that one did not read as sort of muddy pink! Could not do it justice, sorry Mr. Killeaney!

This next is also one of Mr. Killeaney's quilts, and I really wish I'd gotten a better picture. Called "Design Elements", it represents different elements of quilt design, including photocopies on some of the fabric of paper piecing designs. The creme color represents masking tape. This quilt was made in 2003.

Can you tell yet that I seriously love Richard Killeaney's design aesthetic? This 2008 Zig Zag quilt is another of his designs, made from 13 different men's shirts, with a linen backing and organic batting. May I say that the linen backing gave this quilt the coolest drape? I didn't touch, but I did ask one of the gloved volunteers working there to show me. I just love the neutrals, the echo quilting, the giant zig-zags. It honestly made my heart go pitter-pat!

Numbers 130 and 75 in the next two pictures were both made by one of the lovely ladies my grandmother and I lunched with that day, Charlotte Matthews. I'm particularly enamored of this first one, with the almost pixelated edges and neutrals mixed with just a couple of pops of color. Her process on this was to copy a photograph onto graph paper, then determining colors and sewing it together using just squares. It is called Leaves in Pond Ice. I can see it, can you?

Charlotte's other quilt, #75, was a scrappy throw to cheer up a friend. I was also taken with #74 beside it--do you see the wonky piecing? Me, too!

And finally, can you guess who made #46?

If you guessed Richard Killeaney, you'd be right! I have to say, I didn't look up anything in the program until after I got home, so this was all purely by what spoke to me. This piece was Mr. Killeaney's RISD thesis, machine pieced and appliqued, lined with flannel.

I hope you enjoyed my little highlights tour of the show--I'm very excited to attend a second show here in CT next month, the bi-annual Connecticut Piecemaker's Quilt Guild show, A Spring Shower of Quilts. The madman was nice enough to accompany me at the last show, two years ago. I'll be interested to see if there's a shift toward more modern quilts in this show after two years, especially since seeing such a shift at the Southport show.

What's inspiring you these days?