Monday, November 30, 2009

Inspiration comes in many forms

This is the Thanksgiving card I received that got me to thinking about blue/greens, golds and oranges for the Quiltville mystery. Isn't it amazing what will spin off a color scheme for a quilt?
I hope Bonnie posts part 3 of the mystery this evening. And I hope it works with the blue fabrics!
P.S. I got the stitches out of my back today. I think they were in residence a little too long. Ouchie!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I don't think they were paying attention

On the Yahoo Quiltville Chat group, there are folders for uploading pictures of your work, usually labeled by each step of a mystery, a completed Bonnie pattern, or other quilt stuff. There is a folder for Christmas Lights Step 3, the mystery that was in Quiltmaker magazine. I loaded two pictures into that folder, one of each of the quilts I made after I split up the blocks into two groups. They are shown here.

The group manager usually chooses one photo from each folder to "label" the folder. I just noticed today that they had selected one of my redesigned Christmas Lights quilts, the one with the star blocks and the new blocks that look like packages with bows, and put it on the folder. Maybe they didn't notice that I redesigned the quilt.

This is a little awkward...

ADDENDUM: Someone changed the picture on the cover of the folder and removed the photo of my quilt. I didn't say anything on the group. Wonder who's reading this blog, saw the post and changed the picture? I don't care one way or the other, but just thought the situation was interesting. I guess my sense of humor isn't appreciated.

Carolina Christmas mystery part 2 done

Not particulary thrilling to look at, but here they are - all 104 of them.

Now I have no excuses and have to clean the house this afternoon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Carolina Christmas

Bonnie Hunter just posted installment 2 of her mystery quilt (her picture at left). It takes the HSTs I made yesterday, gold and neutrals, and adds more of the gold to make this block. I'm using gold where she used green, so tomorrow's sewing will be more gold and no blue in sight yet. I'm starting to worry that I should have changed around where the blue and gold went. I don't want this quilt to be dull. It's too much work. ARRRRGH!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Carolina Christmas part 1

Well, here's part 1 of the mystery. It's looking more like Tennessee Autumn, which is what I will call it. I hope we use some of my pretty blue fabrics soon. This photo looks kind of dull. The gold fabrics in the HSTs are much brighter in person.

Quiltville's Carolina Christmas mystery is on!

Around 11 p.m. I staggered out of the kitchen after washing the last of the pots and pans. I checked my email before heading for bed to see if I had anything from the family, and there in my inbox was the announcement for part one of Quiltville's new mystery. Well, of course I had to go look at it and print it out, but I was much too tired to do more.

This morning after a quick trip to the post office (that's as far as I was willing to go on Black Friday - luckily it's not near the mall) I started reading the directions. She's given us plenty to work on in the first installment - and, blessedly, no square in a squares! I had to press everything and make a final decision on my neutrals before I could cut, so that gave me one more chance to ponder the color choices.

I pulled out most of the darker neutrals so they would contrast better with all shades of gold but left a few darker tans for interest. I like the selection of golds of all shades and intensities that I'm substituting for the greens, and the good variety of blues which sub for the reds. Instead of the single gold she's using to tie it together I'm using this pretty coral-y orange. I'm happy the colors play well together and have a lot of interest. Now, the only concern is - am I substituting the right colors? It's always a concern when you don't use the colors the mystery designer used. Since you don't have the end result at hand, you can't mock up a block or two in EQ to see how it looks before you cut. I think I'm doing the right thing using gold for green and blue for red, but I can't really be sure until I'm too committed to make changes. This is hard stuff for a control freak.

Well, I've given my back a rest after that stint at the ironing board, so it's time to start cutting!

Oh, by the way, check out the Oct/Nov issue of Quilter's Newsletter (which I JUST RECEIVED - what's up with that?) for a wonderful small basket pattern quilt made from a Moda Layer Cake. Now I just happened to have a layer cake - Moda's Simple Abundance - that wasn't committed to any project so I decided to try it. It's one of those patterns where you sew together patches and then cut to size, and I normally dislike that method, but for this I'll give it a shot. I basted and appliqued basket handles yesterday while the turkey was cooking. I finished all the basting to the freezer paper shapes, but only appliqued 4 out of 12. But I've got a start on it for when I can get back after the mystery.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Every fabric finds its use

See that tan and red print at the top of the picture? It's from Moda's 2000 collection "Trumpet Vine". I bought it then for the backing of a quilt, but decided not to use it. There are at least 5 yards of this beautiful print, and I could never cut into it because I never had a project I felt worthy of it. This is weird because I'm not a red quilt person, and generally don't even buy much red. I do, however use rose and pink often, and have a large stash of small remainders of those colors, as well as some Thimbleberries reds left over from the pieced flower, birdhouse and village quilts.

In the last few days when I was searching for the Storm At Sea pattern, I reacquainted myself with a lot of my quilt books. Interestingly, however, the pattern I found that captured my imagination was in the same McCloskey book as the SAS.

This is it:
I think this simple Ohio Star pattern is so striking and so effective, it will be worthy of my hoarded Moda print. I'll use it for the background, and use the 30 red/rose/pink selections in the star blocks - each one different. The whites in the picture will be the star backgrounds. The sawtooth border will be made of the various reds and pinks.

I wanted to get a real variety of reds and pinks in this quilt. If you look at the large flowers in the Moda piece, you will find many, many shades of red, rose, pink, and even a little coral. So I gulped, stepped outside my comfort zone, and started pulling scraps. There's exact matches, there's sorta-matches, there's lighter than, there's darker than, and there's pieces that shade into the range and coordinate. There's also monotone prints, two color prints, and three color prints. Enough to make the eye dance all over the quilt. I think if you're going to go scrappy, really go for it.

I'm also going to reduce the pattern size. The book gives measurements for an 81" x 100" queen size quilt with 9" Ohio star blocks. I wanted to make a smaller quilt, but not reduce the number of blocks or its complexity, so I downsized everything by 1/3. The quilt will now be 56" x 78" or thereabouts, and the blocks 6".

One thing I liked about the layout was it was a zigzag set, not an alternating block set. That meant that I had to recalculate the setting triangles (there's three sizes) and also resize the sawtooth border. It's my feeling that this quilt will be more interesting on a smaller scale.

I keep coming up with new ideas that line-jump my project list, and this had to be one of them. I'll start it after the Quiltville mystery which begins Friday. Then, "Kentucky Girl Moves to Tennessee" (the blue and gold one) will be after "Ohio Through Rose Colored Glasses" (my name for the new one!). Alas, I won't have much time to work on the mystery or anything else through the end of the month, since I have a doctor's appointment on Monday to have my stitches removed and then find a new cell phone, Christmas shopping and wrapping on next Tuesday so I can take presents home when I visit later in the week, and a dentist appointment next Thursday (the one that means a 150 mile round trip back to my former town). Then I leave town a week from Friday for 4 days. In between all that, I have to get a little time to sew!

Maybe I can take the sewing machine home. Mom goes to bed really early.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Drowning in a storm at sea

There's no reason to ask if you've done this. If you have any UFOs, it's likely this problem has happened to you.

I have a scrappy Storm At Sea that I started an embarrassingly long time ago. I've been in this "finish what you started" mood for a while, and I'm almost done with stockpiled binding jobs. I only have a few small tops awaiting quilting (I hope to do these myself if Santa got me those machine quilting DVDs I asked for). In fact, I'm pretty much caught up and ready for the mystery quilt that starts Friday. That is, except for the UFOs stockpiled on the top shelf of my stash closet. There's about 10 of them. Some of them are UFOs because I bought a kit and never got around to finishing it. Some are half-done and I got bored, bored, bored. Others were too nerve-frazzling for the time I was making them. This Storm At Sea was such a quilt.

I figure it's been marinating up there for about 10 years. Maybe more.

I pulled out all the bagged bunches of fabric. There were the pieces for the 8" square-in-a-square-inside-a-square blocks, the pieces for the diamond sashing, and the 4" square-in-a-square sashing corner blocks. But there were also some 8" square-in-a-square blocks, and some diamond sashing and 4"square-in-a-square corner blocks with the light/dark colors reversed. Wha????

I have no idea how this quilt is assembled.

OK. I knew it was a pattern from a book. Now, which book? Even though I cleaned out my shelves last year, I still have quite a few quilting books. So I pulled up a chair and started thumbing through them. It took a while, but finally I pulled out Marsha McCloskey's wonderful "Quick Classic Quilts" and there it was.
A Storm At Sea quilt with a reversed-colors pieced border. Page 114. It's on the chest at the foot of the bed in this cover picture.

What size is it? 94" x 94".

I guess I know why I burned out on it before. I'll start with the center, and if everything goes well, I'll add the pieced border. Or maybe not.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stitches update

The stitches in my back are going from ouch-y to itchy. I bet a lot of you know what I mean. Don't you just hate that? Luckily they're in a very inaccessible place over my right shoulder blade.

Nothing quilt-y to report, since I'm still doing bindings. I' ZZZZZZ..........

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm in stitches

I had a cyst removed from my back yesterday. I have stitches. Ouch.

I went through this a few years ago with a pre-malignant cyst on my arm (we didn't know how about the pre-malignant stuff until the path report came back). How did I forget how sore these incisions get?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

EQ6 is deeply cool!

The above image was created from EQ6 using imported images of fabrics from the webstore Thousands of Bolts. (This, by the way, is one of my favorite places to shop on the web. Just be sure you have plenty of time to browse - their stock is LARGE. And discounted!)

I originally drew this using sketchbook fabrics in EQ6 similar to those I posted Wednesday. After I assembled that pile of fabrics I was trying to decide whether to use them on this project or on the new Quiltville mystery. I was aiming for "not brown" to please my husband. This pattern, by the way, is taken from a Connecting Threads kit. It has a traditional name but I can't remember it, although I've seen it before. I made a navy/wine/brown/neutral version about which my husband said he liked the blocks but not the colors. So, I sketched it using blue/navy/gold/orange. That got the thumbs up.

I browsed Thousands of Bolts this morning while waiting to leave for a doctor's appointment. They had some lovely batiks with dark and light blue backgrounds, an orange monotone batik, and a gold with blue and rust flecks. So, I decided to splurge (if $4.50 a yard for batiks is considered a splurge) and ordered the fabric to make a quilt for my husband.

Here's where the EQ6 coolness comes in: I copied the fabric samples from the web store and imported them into my sketchbook in EQ, so I could color my layout with exactly the fabrics I will use. I have a few quibbles: the light and dark blue pieces have more visible yellow and orange swirls in the batik and aren't as gray as the imported images look, but generally it's pretty accurate. Know before you sew - I love it!

You all probably already knew about this, but I hadn't tried it yet, so allow me my moment of Yippee!

By the way, as I looked at this quilt with light and dark blue, gold and orange, I decided to name it "Kentucky Girl Moves to Tennessee". Blue for University of Kentucky colors, Orange for University of Tennessee, and blue and gold for University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dreaming up a color scheme

See that piece of pale blue/green in the bottom left corner? I woke up this morning at 6 a.m. thinking about it. I used a bit of it in my version of "In Lucinda's Garden". You know you're completely controlled by your fabric stash when it wakes you up in the morning. Anyway, I love the color in this fabric and would like to make something else with it.

I got up and pulled it out of the "blue" box in my stash. Then I started looking to see what else wanted to come along. The gold bits on some of these pieces sent me to that box and there I found batiks with the same blue in the pattern. The, of course, I had to find coordinating neutrals.

The stack was lovely but needed a "kick". I thought about rust, but I'm out of it. Then I found a 2 yard piece of that beautiful orange-y coral. I don't even remember why I have it; I seldom use any shade of red or orange. Since blue and orange are complementary colors, a small amount of this accent could really add life to the resulting color scheme.

I guess I still had Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt on my mind, because I gravitated toward a color/color/neutral/accent arrangement. So now that I have pulled these fabrics, what should I do with them? Does anyone have a quilt pattern in mind?

ADDENDUM: Oh good grief! Look at the colors in my new background which I recently added. I think this was a subliminal suggestion!

ADDENDUM 2: And, we got a Thanksgiving card yesterday, with golden and rusty leaves on a blue/green background. Another subliminal suggestion. It's nice to know that some part of my brain works on these things without supervision.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I got bored with sewing bindings so...

...I made this for my cat.
Molly the changeable has taken to sleeping on a chair in the living room. She is now completely shunning her "kitty cube" that she loved so much just a few months ago. And, after over seven years she made up her mind that she can sleep on furniture other than the bed. So she snuggles up in a corner of the living room chair near the hall door so she can keep an eye on the comings and goings.

The problem is, she sheds. And the chairs are upholstered in a cream/blue/taupe stripe from Kravet that isn't made anymore, so I am really careful not to stain/damage them. So, I pulled out a small pink and green Lover's Knot quilt I made for my last cat back when the living room was a different color and scrunched it into a little kitty nest for her on the chair seat.

Molly loves it. I can't express how shocked I was because usually if we suggest anything she immediately hates it. So, I decided on the spur of the moment to make a quilt to use there which will coordinate a little better with the living room.

These are all scraps of fabrics from Connecting Threads left over from other projects. The border design arose because I didn't have enough navy fabric. I would have liked the darker taupe inset strip to continue straight across the corner of the quilt but the navy strips weren't long enough so it came out asymmetrical. Oh well.

I had to piece the backing too. There was a length of a cream print that wasn't quite wide enough so I added a strip of rectangles in blue/taupe/cream/navy. Those inserted strips are a good place to sew on the label. Oh yes, the binding had to be pieced from two slightly different shades of taupe. It felt good to be able to use up all these related scraps, but it was a stretch trying to finish without running out!

Now the trick will be getting it quilted and ready to use before she decides that chairs are yucky and she doesn't want to sleep there anymore. It could happen.

ADDENDUM: I just looked in the living room and she's sleeping in the other chair. Rats.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hand sewing day

I've got the second Christmas present quilt rolled up on my desk to expose the binding I'm sewing right now (third side - I've been at it for hours) and have music playing on my computer (The Wailing Jennys now, Vienna Teng later). My desk is a great place to do hand sewing. There's a nice bright light on an articulated arm so I can see, and a padded desk chair, and when I want to take a break I can look out the sliding door at the golden leaves on my neighbor's sweet gum tree. The wind is rhythmically moving its branches and the leaves occasionally detach and flutter down.

A nice quiet day for completing some of my binding work. As long as I have good music or interesting radio to listen to, I can stay here for hours. But maybe I need to get a pillow for my lower back first...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Count me in and call me crazy

I may be a glutton for punishment, but I'm officially buying into the new Quiltville mystery. So far with these mystery quilts, I'm batting 0.500. I loved Double Delight, wasn't so happy with Christmas Lights, although it made two nice quilts with a little jiggering. So now she announces the new mystery to begin right after Thanksgiving and what do I do? I start pulling fabric and planning a color scheme. (Keep in mind that I still have six quilts to finish binding. See? I need my head examined. Not to mention that the holiday season is nearly here, and I have to start Christmas shopping.)The mystery quilt is called Carolina Christmas, but I didn't want to make another Christmas quilt after Christmas Lights, so I took a suggestion from Quiltville and made a blue/brown/gold/neutral color scheme. The gold is rather mellow. The blues and browns will substitute for the greens and reds, respectively, and were pulled with an eye to variety of shade, scale and pattern. Not all may be used, but I wanted to get a large pool together to stay really scrappy.

I'm hopeless about taking on too many projects, but after I'm committed to a home for the perpetually overscheduled someone will have a LOT of really nice quilts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quilt labels

I've been in a frenzy of label-making recently, and this is one of my favorites.

For this quilt:Backed with this fabric:
I made this label:
When I decided to make this one last year I picked "calico cat" colors for the fabrics, and jokingly named the quilt after my feline princess. The cat fabric I found for the backing had a little calico standing up on its hind feet that looked so much like Molly I was thrilled.
(Sorry for the wrinkles, the quilt was folded up in storage.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Helpless" women on TV, and why it drives me nuts

I just saw a television commercial that resonated with one of my pet peeves. It's for a Ford car which has a built-in computer that tracks the service requirements on the car and sends you an email when something like an oil change is needed. The girl in the commercial (and I use the term intentionally) looked to be in her mid-20's and would certainly have been driving several years, said something like "I don't know when my car needs an oil change."

Well, sweetie, there's a built-in piece of equipment on your car that can tell you that, and it's not the computer. It's called the odometer.

Look in your manual and see how many miles between oil changes are recommended by the manufacturer. Or ask the guy at the service station ('cause I'm betting you never did it yourself). Note the number of miles on the odometer; add the miles between oil change and write that down in your manual. Now, watch the odometer. When it gets to that mileage, change the oil. It's S-I-M-P-L-E.

Well, the curmudgeon in me just came out.

You see, I not only don't think we need to rely on a computer tracking such simple things for us, we ought to actually know how to do them ourselves. Not that we would always have to do them instead of going to the garage, but we ought to know enough about our cars to be able to. And know enough to recognize if a mechanic is blowing smoke. A little knowledge can save you a bundle of money.

It has always been my stance that before a person gets a driver's license, they should have to take a class on basic auto mechanics and maintenance. Learn how the thing works. So many people have no knowledge of how a car is constructed and how it operates. If they get in and turn the key and it starts, great. If it doesn't, they don't have a clue. This class doesn't need to be as rigorous as, for example, a high school automotive shop class, but should cover the basics. How an internal combustion engine works, what maintenance is required, where all the components are located, how to change oil, change a tire, check tire pressure, check fluids, change an air filter, etc. The basics.

Helpless women get on my nerves. Representing helpless women in commercials like that is the norm and it's OK - well, that makes me crazy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Does anyone know the name of this quilt pattern?

I need a little help. In 2008 I made this small quilt, copying a pattern I saw online. At the time, I didn't label it when it was done. Now, I'm catching up on labels and can't remember what the pattern was called. I want to credit the designer but I can't find it online anymore. Here's a closeup of the quilt. I think it's an old traditional block pattern, but I can't find the name.
I just searched through Barbara Brackman's exhaustive (and exhausting!) "Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns" but didn't find it - or maybe just went cross-eyed from all the little drawings and missed it. It is related to an Old Maid's Puzzle or a Jacob's Ladder block. There was another block called Spool and Bobbin that resembled it too.
Does anyone remember this pattern?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Everything's back to normal

My brother-in-law is home safely, he's recovering from whatever crud he had contracted, neither of us got sick, the house is back to normal and the guest room cleaned up, and I have sewn the binding on two of the stack of quilts waiting to be finished. Whew! It's been a long week.

After I completed the binding on one of the Christmas gift quilts, I decided I didn't want to start another one tonight, but I did want to make a little more progress. So I attached the labels to four quilts after dinner. I've got two more prepared labels to affix and three labels for quilts finished earlier in the year that didn't get labeled to design and make. But I think I'll call it a day for now.

Funny how the simplest things become complicated. I left the house yesterday to drive the second, little-used car for a bit to charge the battery and then take it to the car wash to remove the grime that had accumulated over the weeks of it sitting in the driveway. It was dirty, but it was simply dirt, not tar or tree sap or anything really noxious. The weather was a little chilly to be playing in water, so I thought it would be all right to splurge on the car wash. It's a really nice one with new equipment and people to wipe down the cars and clean the windows after it comes through the machine.

On the way to the car wash I got stuck in two, count 'em, two traffic jams due to wrecks. And then when I finally got there, the attendant eyed the dirt on the car and proclaimed "Just so you know, that won't all come off in the car wash." "What?" I responded, a little startled. He repeated his statement that their wash wouldn't remove all of the dirt on the car. "Then why would I pay you to wash the car if you admit at the outset you won't get it clean?" I retorted, and drove away.

I washed it at home. The dirt came off just fine. I guess they only wash clean cars.

Monday, November 2, 2009

House (cough-cough) guest

My brother-in-law arrived safely yesterday afternoon on his way back from the west coast to his home in West Virginia. Snow in the heartland lengthened his trip considerably since he had to detour down through Texas to miss the inclement weather. I made him a good oldfashioned homemade dinner to offset the road food he's been subsisting on since he left Seattle last week.

He also arrived hacking and coughing, and has been sick for weeks, he says. Sounds like bronchitis to me. He has a doctor's appointment back home two weeks from now, but we were afraid by then whatever he has would progress to pneumonia, so we packed him off to the local urgent care clinic. Contagion has been on my mind. Surely by now he isn't, but as things are, if he has any germs to spread they have been proliferating in my house for 24 hours.

This might not end well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A difference between cats and dogs

I have to sweep the house in preparation for a surprise house guest, so I put the cat in the bedroom with my husband, who is still asleep, and closed the door. Molly is deathly afraid of the sweeper, and I'm hoping his proximity will calm her. I have never figured out how to assuage her fears of the vacuum cleaner. She wasn't afraid of anything when she was a kitten, but as she grew up the sweeper became her major nemesis. I once found her hiding under a skirted ottoman after I cleaned the house, and let me tell you, how she crammed herself under there I'll never know. She's a big girl.

Animal trainers tell you to associate a good thing like a favorite food of your pet's with a bad thing like a sweeper so they will transfer the pleasant feelings from the treat to the sweeper and displace the fear. That might work with a food-oriented dog, but I have never seen a cat eat when it was upset. Cats must have a better sense of priorities:

"You're giving me a treat. Are you insane? There's a kitty killing machine rampaging around the house. Right now I have to hide. Get out of my way. I might have a bite later."

And dogs? "What's that big noisy ---SNACKS!"

I have serious doubts about anything that can be distracted from danger by a Pup-a-roni.