Monday, July 30, 2012

Boston Molasses Flood

As promised, here is the alternate color way for Isaac's Storm, called Boston Molasses Flood.  (Actually, BMF came first, but it's still being quilted.  Yay for hand quilting?)  This is an up close and slightly wonky shot of the quilting - since it's all about the Boston Molasses Flood (ew!) that sent a wave of molasses through parts of Boston in 1929 (If I remember correctly).  It may have happened in January, but the wave moved fast and struck hard. 

Other than that, it's Monday.  Which means work.  I have a migraine and really want to be at home sound asleep, medicated... but not today.  Too much work to do!  Maybe I can leave early... I hope.  If not, so be it!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Finish Line (Almost, Anyway)

Today was a day of finishing things (or getting close, anyway).  Yesterday was spent rampaging around East Texas, hitting estate sales and quilt shops with abandon.  Some success was had, and some non-success.  Got ignored at a quilt shop by two employees.  Completely ignored except for a glance up at us.  Really?  Are we too young??  Eh.  We didn't buy fabric there.  Bought it elsewhere, where the clerks were nice and said hello and such.  No big loss, really.  Found some lovely material for D's next quilt - she's designed one of sea life, and found the perfect material for the background.  Hooray!

So today D. worked on the sealife while I finally got a quilt on the mid-arm (my Middie Frank) and got busy.  Mind, this is my FIRST quilt on Frank.  It's definitely a learning experience!  But I could tell that by the end of it I was already more skilled than when I began, so that is very gratifying!  Here they are, Isaac's Storm and Middie Frank, hanging out together.  Oh, and look!  Scissors!  (I can NEVER find them when I need them.  I think I own a dozen pair, and STILL lose them all the time!).

So after four hours of standing and sewing with Middie Frank, Isaac was complete!  Hooray!  Except... I forgot the binding.  And don't have enough of the wave border fabric to make binding.  So... that will have to wait until tomorrow.  But that's okay.  I actually got work done, and ALMOST finished!

It's uneven in places, but here's a close-up of my very first attempt at Middie Frank.  Since this is Isaac's Storm (named after the book of the same name about the Galveston, TX hurricane of 1900), I thought I would quilt a spiral - the whole hurricane/cyclone thing.  It went PRETTY well.  Some of my arcs are a little flat, and some of them twitched a little, but since it's my first go, and I am not entering Isaac into competition, I am not concerned.  I finished a quilt on Frank!  That alone makes me almost giddy!

Tomorrow will be working on Texas Blue Jay Summer.  All I lack are the bluejays... they are in progress, and when I have them done, I will show them off!  I promise!  And I need to get a good pic of the other colorway for Isaac's Storm up, because of the OTHER thing I almost finished!

My first pattern is done, complete, printed, and so forth!  It's actually for Isaac's Storm, and I am hoping to get it to distributors soon.  So wish me luck!  (I don't expect to get rich, but it would be nice to have some patterns out there that are recognizably ME).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Workings

As promised, I did take pictures!  Here's the best - a picture of the as-yet unfinished top to Blue Jay Summer.  It's very simple, just the way I intended it.  This shot makes it a little hard to see, but some of the pine trees are made from a novelty fabric with a pine needle print.  My favorite tree is the dark one down in the lower right hand corner. 

All this lacks is the blue jays.  They are so small that my applique skills would need a boost to do the way I intended originally.  (That and my glasses prescription, too!)  So I am looking into alternatives - think I've found one, but we shall see.

Blue Jay Summer is a little wrinkled right now because it's on my design board.  I wanted it up where I could see it, vertically, the way it will be displayed.  I can't wait to get back into the studio and finish it up!  I have enough of the background fabric to do the back, and MAYBE enough to do the border.  If not, I may look at the dark green, or one of the other trees.  We'll see.  I am hoping I have enough of the ground.

If I can get my act together and get some restful sleep, I can get out in the studio again and get some things accomplished!  Right now, though, I just want to crawl back into bed.  Not that I didn't GET sleep... apparently I just didn't get enough!  Tonight, painkillers and try again. 

In the meantime, I am planning the details of our first class - it doesn't happen until the 11th of August, but I want to be prepared.  Maybe even over-prepared.  I can always not use something if there's no need or no time, but I can't always make up relevant stuff on the fly.  (Well, I could, but I want this to be useful to all the students).  Maybe a handout...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Tuesday Already??

Wow!  The weekend FLEW past!  Yesterday was a 12 hour day at the day job, so yikes... here it is Tuesday already....

I WILL have pics up tonight of Texas Bluejay Summer (which has everything except the blue jays so far).  I have decided I will stipple this one... mostly because it reminds me of heat waves rising off the ground, which is ENTIRELY appropriate for Texas in the summer!  

We went estate sale-ing this weekend and I picked up something that reminded me of Texas summers in a whole different way.  To me, Texas summers have a definite smell - something of dried and dead grass, and something else that I've never been able to identify.  Maybe heat.  :)  But I picked up some oil lamps that smelled like Texas in the summer to me.  I had to have them.  Now I just have to go get oil and wicks and I am in business!  (There were 12 of them, and I got them and a LOT of books for $15.  This is why I love estate sales). 

This weekend also looks good for estate sales!  (But I promise I will try to sew and quilt more!)

We DID get Frank (the mid-arm - does that make him a Middie?) set up this weekend.  A few bobbles and thread adjustments, and we are up and running.  Here's D, helping with the threading after I stomped off in a huff.  (Well, not really, since I am there taking pictures, but at first it was frustrating).  The piece on Frank in the picture is a test piece - an old pre-printed length we got at.... big surprise... an estate sale. 

I got in plenty of practice this weekend, and there will be more practice this week.  I want to get my first quilt done on Frank.  Number one on the list is Isaac's Storm.  I marked my pattern Sunday, so it will be ready when I think I am.  :)  Which should be this week, if I take it easy when I start sewing.

I am excited.  Which means I will have to be careful! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Anvil #1

I was gifted this little leatherworker's anvil some time ago.  It seems an appropriate thing to put in the quilt forge. 

Isn't it cute?  I hope to have more anvils out there soon.... if anyone knows where I can get a full-sized one to put in the corner and drape a quilt and hammer over, I'd love to know!

In the meantime, I am working on a pincushion shaped like an anvil.  I think I know how to do it.  Now it's just a matter of giving it a try!

Oh, and I finally got all the skulls cut out for Sugar Skull.  I guess that means this weekend I should start laying them out and sewing them back together again! 

I also was be-thumped by another quilt idea: since all of my grandparents' generation is now gone, I spent some time remembering what it was like at their homes over the years.  Combine that with a nice toasty summer, and lo and behold, another quilt. 

My grandparents moved a lot - fixing up houses, selling them for a profit, buying another one, repeat.... but they had two houses that I remember very well.  Both were in the country, with large pieces of land.  On one piece of land my grandfather and father built the house.  It's still there, by the way.  But the other thing the houses had in common, other than their rural nature, was the type of trees.  They both had pine trees.  My grandparents lived sort of on the edge of the Big Piney, in East Texas.  Whenever we would go visit them, there were certain things that always seemed to hold true: the sound of the hot summer wind in the pine trees, the sound of cicadas, and the sound of blue jays.

That is summer in Texas to me: pine trees, cicadas, and blue jays.  Where I live now doesn't have pine trees, but it has the other two.  So there's another quilt building in my mind; I have a rough sketch, and by Monday should have more than that!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday on the Anvil

Yesterday I promised pictures, so here they are!

This is Isaac's Storm - so named after the Galveston, TX hurricane of 1900 that killed approximately 10,000 people.  Yes.  10,000.  It's a matter of chaos, really... no one had ever encountered a hurricane quite like that one, and it was considered to be just another storm.  Obviously, it was not.

The title of the quilt comes from the book of the same name about the hurricane.  It's a good read, if disturbing, and I highly recommend it. 

There will be a pattern of this one for sale - along with another colorway or three....  :)  We're getting all the pesky details finalized right now.

Here is Texas Daycare.  Moo!  A little longhorn in his field, keeping company with the tree and the prickly pear.  To me, this is a good part of Texas, despite the fact that I grew up in San Antonio, where the nearest longhorns were a ways north in the Hill Country.  His pattern, too, is almost complete. 

Texas Daycare will be the first in the Texas series of quilts.  Mind, none of them are flag-waving, look-it's-the-Alamo, God-bless-Texas kinds of quilts.  They are each an aspect of Texas, a special small slice that covers PART of the Lone Star State.

Sugar Skulls is going to be second in that series, and it's to that end that I am working so hard to get all the skulls cut out and pieced back together. 

So there's the newest designs on the anvil.  For a Thursday update, not too shabby!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yardage and Pincushions

I'm working on several quilts at once, of course: Texas Daycare, Isaac's Storm (both have completed tops and just need quilting and binding), Boston Molasses Flood (in process of quilting), Crazy Diamonds (now with 16 squares done), and the newest one: Sugar Skulls.

Sugar Skulls is a tesselated pattern I am working on: it requires 400 skulls cut out of black, white, cream, and novelty skull fabrics.  It's to be a king-sized quilt, and buy does the yardage show that!  Planning out the yardage on something like this is by FAR my least favorite part of the whole quilting process.  If I am figuring correctly, I need about 12 yards of material.  I understand that I am making a king-sized quilt, but still.... that's a decent amount of material!  (Fortunately, we have that much I can use for this quilt.  I MIGHT supplement with a few fat quarters, just to add a little more variety, but we'll see).  At any rate, the cutting process is fairly slow, but I'll get it done.  One the piecing is done, I will applique a few details, and so on....

In the meantime, Crazy Diamonds is creeping along.  We did more cutting than anything last night, and picture taking of quilt tops.  It's a shame I forgot to load them on the computer so I could post them!  (Tonight, I promise!) 

D. has two quilt tops finished as well, and might be able to start quilting one of them tonight.  There are always chores to do and things that have to take precendence.  But it's a stitch in the ditch quilting job, so it shouldn't take too long. 

We're going to build a new design board tonight, which calls for a trip to the local ReStore (and Home Depot if we can't find what we're looking for at ReStore).  Once we get it made, we'll be able to have several quilts up on the board at once, instead of taking turns!  We are both looking forward to it. 

There are a couple of estate sales we'll hit this weekend, too - a couple that say they have craft supplies and fabric.  There are usually a few pieces that we can use in quilts, and we can find interesting fabrics!  We're also getting prepped for a class in the quilt forge: a basic quilting class.

 Well, back to work on yardage calculations!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hard at Work in the Forge

Back into the forge! 
Moo, y'all!
This time, it's to work on a couple of things - still working on the Crazy Diamonds.  I have 12 squares done - only 88 left to do! 

And on Texas Daycare... well, we'll just let it speak for itself.  I finally got the tree worked out - I was shooting for too much realistic detail.  Clashed with the rest of the quilt.  Once I realized that, I was good to go!  So here's the little longhorn, hanging out with the prickly pear and the tree.  He doesn't look bad!

The border is going to be fence posts and bluebonnets.  When I quilt it, I will run heavier lines along the fence lines to act as barbed wire to keep the little guy in his field.  The outer border is yet to be determined.  We'll just have to see when we get there!

The other pieced top that is done is one of D's.  She finished it up and is apparently quite glad to be done with it!  It's someone else's pattern, and she was going to do it for a break - something easy to burn a little time. 

So here it is!  Pieced and ready for quilting. 

And, since I promised a few pics of the outside of the studio, I took a few.  They may not be fabulous, but here's the best!  This one should give at least a taste of the area around the forge.

This is looking into the back corner.  Lots of green, lots of shade.  We're eventually going to put a bench or something back here, maybe a little table so we can sit out here when the weather isn't excruciating.  The little bit of black on the left side is the very edge of a former pond.  We're in the process of converting it into a planter - we've got some rosemary to put in it, and if that works, we'll add more stuff as we go.

We've got some lovely space around the forge, and now it's just a matter of getting it all neat and tidy and prettied up.  I look forward to sharing more pictures with you as we get more done!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Back to Work...

Back from my great-aunt's funeral.  As expected, a very sad event.  She outlived most of her friends and family, so there were not many people there.  But she was ushered out in the dress and casket she wanted, under a blanket of flowers that she wanted - bright pink flowers and dress - and was buried next to her parents and grandparents.  The graveside ceremony was short and the old graveyard itself quiet and pretty. 

From her I inherited a love of crafting - it comes from all the older members of my family, really, but I remember making things every time I went to see her.  And so I brought home with me fabric and yarn and thread.  When I use them, I will be honoring her memory and the skills and love of crafting that she helped to instill in me.

And maybe in time there will be a quilt for her memory - something that can be shared with other people. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stitching and Pain

My great-aunt is dead.  She died at a nice old age, when she decided she was ready to go.  She was done, and she didn't want to be at a nursing home.  So she decided she was ready to go - got a chance to see her house again and make sure everything was fine, and then died.  On Saturday. 

The funeral is Wednesday and the interrment the next day in a town several hours' drive from the funeral.  She's being buried in the town she grew up in, not the town she lived in most of her life.  She'll be buried with family.

She was a crafter - she was ALWAYS making things.  She taught me how to sew by hand and encouraged my sister and I to craft.  And to think.  To be whoever we were - she never had kids of her own, but she was FUN.  We always got to do things when we went to see her.  If we weren't crafting, we'd go to the zoo, or ride the paddleboat on the Brazos River, or... any number of things.

She had my first quilt top quilted for me.   She made me a rail fence quilt in pinks and blues that I still own.  Embroidered her name and the date on the back of it in matching embroidery floss.

I've cried, and will cry more.  But the longest lasting impact is the same one she's always had: be me.  Think.  Be willing to try new things.  Keep learning.  And keep crafting.

So between crying jags, I am still working.  I've solved one quilting issue, and am mentally preparing for the next quilt top.  Because when she looks down from her heaven, she'd smile to see me crafting, and know she helped make me who I am.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hammering Out the Kinks

Crazy diamonds from the stash!  Colorful - no measuring!
Started two new quilts this week.  One won't be any sort of problem - it's as much a way to relax from my own designs (particularly when those designs fight back!)  It's a Crazy Diamonds quilt - simple and easy.  No measuring required once I got the base squares cut out.  100 muslin 12.5" squares.  Yay for stash of muslin!

Only 96 more to go!  It's a great way of using up the smaller scraps in our scrap bin.  We have so many scraps, I needed a way to clear some out.  Now I can make smaller scraps (in some cases).  For those really small pieces, I shred them and stick them in a mesh bag outside for the birds to make nests from.  I can only assume that we have some of the most colorful bird's nests in the area, based on the fabrics that go in that bag!

The other quilt I started is the one that's fighting back.  I shouldn't be surprised (and I'm not.  Not really).  It's an applique quilt - part of a series of Texas-themed quilts I've got planned.  At any rate, it SHOULD have been simple.  Except that it's applique, and my fusible stuff didn't want to fuse, and pieces fell everywhere... which is why I started on the Crazy Diamonds.  But.  I figure a picture of the quilt in progress - or at least a small section of it - is nevertheless called for.  So here it is.

This one is an unfinished applique - he still needs horns and his tail, and a little detail work.  Then he will need details to the field he stands in.  The quilt itself is to be called "Texas Daycare" (as a working title).  This little guy will be a longhorn baby hanging out in a field in Texas with prickly pear and mesquite, just like a lot of the cattle in the area I was born in.  (Yup, born and raised in Texas, just south of the Hill Country).  He's the first in a very diverse series of Texas-themed quilts.  None of them will be Texas flags, and none of them (at this time) are going to scream Texas, but to me, it's Texas that links them all together.  They are sights and scenes from the Texas that I know. 

 So, today I'll go back into the quilt forge and start working on this guy again, try to hammer out the kinks in the applique process.  There will be more pictures to follow!  I hope everyone had a fabulous Fourth of July, and came through it healthy and ready to head back into work.  (Yeah, right).  If I am really motivated, there might actually be pictures of the outside of the quilt forge: see the mesh bag for the birds, the bird baths, the bird feeders....  And maybe some of the stained glass-type designs we're working on for the quilt forge windows...  just to take some of the glare out of the evening sun! 

As ever, busily!