Monday, August 27, 2012

Success and .... delayed success

Exciting weekend!  We went to a small (and very specialized) fabric store this past Saturday: Batiks Galore.  is their website - check it out! They specialize in batiks, obviously.  :) 

It's a fabulous place, out in the middle of... well, not nowhere, but on county roads south of our area.  We spent lots of time hoping they had signs!  (They did).  The store is on the owner's ranch, just a little building a little distance from the house.  They have a quilt retreat location too, for those who are interested....  They could not have been nicer to us, let us roam, touch, fondle and pull fabrics left and right!  And I took pictures of their alpacas (yup, they raise alpacas, too!), but those didn't turn out very well.  I admit, I've never been to a quilt store with alpacas... cats?  yes.  dogs?  sure!  But alpacas are new for me!  There were other beasties out there - a mule (donkey? ugh.  I never remember the difference), a couple of horses... but alpaca!  Now I have an urge to make an alpaca quilt.  Or something.  I'll have to think about that.

Sea Glass block - my test piece

It was a great place, with fabulous fabric, so of course I got all the fabric I needed for my next quilt - which is currently going under the name "Sea Glass."  It MIGHT wind up being a stained glass quilt... we'll see.  I haven't decided yet. 

Sunday I got up late, turned my eyes and scissors to Sea Glass, got all the pieces cut out, and started piecing.  For once, I remembered chaining, and managed to get almost all the pieces put together on only 1 bobbin of thread!  I am halfway done with piecing the last seam on the blocks, and after that... sew the blocks together and I will have a completed top!  I bought enough extra fabric that I can piece together a back for it, and then worry about finishing it up....

I would like to get this one done so I have a nice finished quilt to show at the next class.  Hopefully I can teach the students this block and chaining and all sorts of interesting things.  (I may do another sample block in polka dots... just because).

On the delayed success front.... I fought Sugar Skulls to a standstill.  We were getting along fine.  And then the backing freaked out on me, bunched up, and didn't want to co-operate with quilting.  So... looks like I will be picking the stitching out and starting over with the quilting.  It upset me, because I honestly thought all the trials were over with that one!  (But, I haven't given up... it's just currently a UFO.  I'll go back to it soon-ish.... after I finish Little Moo... or something). 

But really, Sea Glass makes up for the delayed success of Sugar Skulls, so it was a good weekend!  (Not to mention we got rain, I got chores done, and even got to sleep in some!).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday already?!

Work has been ridiculously busy as of late!  Hopefully it will calm down some... however, that's no excuse for not working in the forge.  So last night I did!

Tackled Sugar Skulls last night, trying to get it to co-operate.  It's still fighting, but I think I might have it mostly tamed.  (Not quite saddle-broken yet, but willing to work with me?  Don't ask me where all these westerny metaphors are coming from....)  I've jazzed up Sugar Skulls with some flowers, because decorating altars and graves with flowers is also part of the Day of the Dead.  Each flower is appliqued using a different decorative stitch - just because I could.

From here, it's a matter of putting on the borders - for which I've chosen purple.  I stitched the flowers down with a variegated purple thread to help tie them all together.  Hopefully tonight I can get in the forge again and get the borders on, and then... then... start quilting?  Wow.  I'm going with a high loft batting this time, mostly so the skulls stand out in sharp relief.  Since this is pretty much a test piece, I'm not TERRIBLY concerned.  I will be doing a Sugar Skulls 2.0 sometime after... but there's already a line of quilts waiting in the wings.

Tomorrow, a trip to a store that specializes in batiks (squee!) to get fabric for a stained glass quilt, and then... home for measuring and cutting and so on and so forth....

For now, work, and measuring and cutting and planning... oh, the planning.

D and I are taking a trip soon-ish, to Mena, Arkansas.  Why?  Because there's a gorgeous little cabin there, and we have never been!  I can't think of a better reason, really!  There will be pictures, and quilt shops, and all sorts of things.  And D's parents checking on the house, forge, and cats while we're gone.

In random other insect observations... I know there's a lot of news about West Nile.  I know people have died from it, and that stinks.  D gets eaten up by mosquitos... they don't seem to like my taste much, though.  I hope that West Nile goes off soon - its peak, I believe I heard, was August and September, so we'll see.  I go out and water the little fruit trees right now, since the moquitos hang out in that part of the yard.  In the meantime, it's actually cooled down enough for the cicadas to start their mating songs.  The yellow jackets are still building nests, no matter how many times we knock them down!  Does anyone know what yellow jackets eat?  Are they actually GOOD for anything?  (I know they've got to be, but...)


Monday, August 20, 2012

Too Long Between Posts!

It's been a week already?!  Wow....

This weekend I was a traveling quilter - I went to see family on the other side of the state.  Much enjoyment was had, we had really tasty Tex-Mex food, and so forth.  And I got to do some open road driving. 

I love open road driving.  I like to drive.  I am a much better driver than passenger!  (I get bored easily).  So a trip that gets me out and away is a wonderful thing.

Apparently there are other people who feel the same way!  I saw this trailer out on the open road, somewhere in the middle of Texas.  It was brightly painted on all sides, but this is the only clear picture I could get safely.  What you don't see is the semi behind this trailer, next to me!

The other reason I like driving?  Going through the Texas Hill Country.  It's so beautifully wide open, with so much sky.  Not that there isn't sky in the city, but it's different.  More space, fewer people...  It's such a beautiful sight.  And very inspiring - my goal for myself - catch that spirit and that feeling in a quilt.  I don't know that I can do it, but I sure intend to try!  It's not just the color and the space - it's in the air, really.

So that was MY weekend.  D stayed home and worked on her quilt.  She's a lot further ahead now!  I can't wait to see the finished topper.

My sister handed over a quilt top she made several years ago for me to quilt.  Fortunately, there's no time limit, although I do want to get it back to her in a timely manner.  It feels wrong not to!  She is my sister, after all! 

My Sugar Skulls quilt is fighting me - it isn't coming together the way I want it to.  But I am not giving up.  I will defeat it!!  :) 


Monday, August 13, 2012


Had our first basic basic quilting class this weekend.  It was small, but fabulous!  Everyone got something out of it - from new skills to inspiration to go back to a quilt with renewed enthusiasm!  Everyone had a highly successful day, and much laughter was had.  Measuring, cutting, and sewing skills were worked out, and quilting and binding!

We started with a simple Nine Patch - since most of the students had never quilted before, we started with the true basics.  Oh, the joys in fabric selection, in making a quilt that was entirely theirs!  And oh the delight in watching them!

As it should be, every single one of them was different - all wonderful, all very much successful!  It made me proud of each one of them, and made each one of them proud of their own skills.  (and afterwards we took one of the students to a local quilt store and taught her about the addictive delights of fabric shopping!)  She'll never be the same!

We're already plotting more classes, and some all-skate come and quilt as you are sessions.

Here are some of the finished samples - a red and Mary Englebrite, a coffee-and-tea (now doing very nice duty as a K-Cup coffee rug!) and the lovely turquoise and black.  Three very pretty successes!  One had a binding method new to the stitcher, one is self-bound, and one is narrow bound.  All three stitched in the ditch, and gorgeous! 

I could not be more proud of our students!

And as an added bonus, I got more energy out of this class than I could ever hope for - I finished a mini quilt project, binding and all, and am half-way through Sugar Skulls (the piecing for it, anyway), AND managed to get the top done on an AAQI quilt.  More days like this and I MIGHT catch up to my quilt list!

Friday, August 10, 2012

AAQI - Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

First, the link:

Check it out.  Honestly.  Really.  Check it out.  Art quilts, small in size, buy them.  The money is used to raise money for Alzheimer's research.

I was just introduced to this organization, and have decided to throw my hat into the ring.  Or, rather, throw quilts into the ring.  They are small - no larger than 9" x 12".  Small.

This weekend I will make quilts to send.  I'll post pics of them here, hopefully, once they are done.  See if I can get the other members of the Anvil to participate as well. 

Why?  I don't have any family members with Alzheimer's.  It's not that.  It isn't really that personal.  But at the same time it is.  My favorite author is Terry Pratchett, who is dealing with Early Onset Alzheimer's.  I devour his books.  So in a way, that makes it personal.  Not Immediate, but nevertheless Personal, because he has made a difference in my life. 

Even if you don't buy MY quilts, buy a quilt. 

I'm off to make quilts.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quilting, old style

I have a handful of quilts made by other members of my family.  My sister made me one, my great-aunt made me one, and so forth... Quilting has been a hobby for female family members for generations - and more than a hobby before that. It was  a way of making nice looking, warm bed covers.  These quilts were and are beautiful.  And exceedingly utile.  They had a purpose, and that purpose was to be used.  They were used.  Loved, used, stained, washed, hung up to dry, used in grass as picnic blankets... it in no way denigrates their beauty.

The quilt made by my great-aunt is not made in colors I care for.  But it was made with love, with Gingher scissors and an old sewing machine that was so well-used that it flat out wore out.  It was in a cabinet, but the hinges that held it in place broke.  Instead of getting it fixed, she 'fixed' it herself with two knives wedged into the back to support the machine.  Neither knife is in great shape now, but they still support that old machine!

And the quilt she made for me is still in a place of pride.  It will be shown to the class at the beginning quilter class at the Anvil on Saturday.   It wasn't made with all the fancy tools I have at my disposal.  It was made with an old machine (not even a vintage Singer, oh the horror! [whatever]), with scissors, not a rotary cutter, with any old thread she had lying around.  It was made to be used.

Ultimately, isn't that the origin of quilts?  They are made to be used and loved.  I have no objection to wall quilts, or art quilts, or any of the other kinds of quilts that don't lay on the bed.  But somehow the heart of quilting still beats in those who worked with the simple tools - the things that everyone who sews have: scissors, thread, machine (or their own hands!).  Of the bed quilts I have made, none have used a rotary cutter.  I've never mastered that particular skill.  My machine is newer, but it's still nothing super fancy - I don't need fancy!  And thread.  Fabric from whatever doesn't run away fast enough to escape.  They aren't necessarily traditional quilts, the quilts I make, but neither are they wild and crazy multi-media quilts.  They are just... quilts.   Made to be used, and loved, and dragged around.  Old style, I guess.  Not vintage.  Not antique.  Just old-style.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Texas Bluejay Summer

Here it is - Texas Bluejay Summer!  The bluejays,. courtesy of D., survived the washing machine well, and  the 'heat wave' quilting came out nicely.  Overall, I am pleased with it - a lot more pleased than I am with the ACTUAL summer here!  Hot hot hot!  But the bluejays are still outside in the trees yelling at us for not putting out more peanuts, and everywhere there is green.  I know Texas isn't really well known for green, but we have our fair share.  Sometimes.  In that vague period we call spring.  I will probably do a spring version of this quilt someday, but I do want to do an autumn version first.  So, it's off to think about what says Texas in autumn to me.   Well, after a few updates on other things!  I am also considering doing a tutorial on my little trees.  They are certainly not difficult, but people seem to like them!  So there's that to consider, as well as what makes a Texas autumn...  I will say that this quilt fought me all the way - it didn't want to be quilted, the marks didn't want to stay, and then they didn't want to go away... and one of the trees tried to escape in the wash.  Overall, I am content, though, now that the battles with it are over!

But no resting on my laurels (or my bluejays!).  We're gearing up for this Saturday's quilting basics class.  I've got syllabus, handouts, and my ever-growing list of things to have prepped.  Two quilts in progress are waiting on me, D. has got two she's working on now, oh, and the little sample I am working on.  I started a miniature Disappearing 9 Patch last night.  The entire thing should measure out to about 6" x 8" and have 12 blocks total.  I should be able to get most of it done tonight - I cut out all the strips and got the layout down like I want it.  More pics on that one tonight, hopefully!

I'm not very good about taking pictures, I know... it's a hurdle I have to overcome.  I don't like taking pictures all that much, and I certainly don't like pictures of me!  So that's my next big non-quilting project - get better at pictures.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday on the Anvil

Hey, look at that!  Stuff actually done - totally completed and all!   Here's a hopefully halfway decent shot of Isaac's Storm, complete, bound, and hanging out with a quilt my Great-Aunt made for me years ago.  Hooray done! 

Managed to finish it late last night, but too lazy to find good light and take pics.  I need a better camera, quite frankly!  And to get my picture-taking set up finished.  Maybe this weekend, in the ridiculous Texas heat!

However, the Texas heat has also let me get this done:  here's a relative close-up of one of the two bluejay appliques for Texas Bluejay Summer.  He's pretty, isn't he? (Excsue the weird color on the background fabric... that's not so good...)  I'm remarkably proud of the duo of birdies, and can't wait to get this one on Middie Frank so I can quilt some heat waves into it and bind it and - hooray! - have another one done! 

 I spent a few minutes this afternoon after the day job piecing the back of the quilt - because I'm just like that, so it's all ready to go.  Just have to load up Frankie, and away we'll go!  Oh, yeah, and here's a shot of the whole top I took this afternoon, too.  Yeah, I need a better camera!

At any rate, there's the Thursday on the Anvil update!  It's nice and steamy, like a forge should be.  So, back to hammering out the next quilt.

Oh, but before I go.  I got to thinking while I was pressing seams (like I tend to do... my brain wanders).  Why do I quilt?  It's a question I want to ask the people who attend the first quilting class, so I should have an answer.  I have several, and have heard several in various areas... all of which are valid.  For me, it boils down to this: I can't paint, nor can I draw.  I CAN, however, get images from my head onto a quilt correctly.  It is the only medium I have discovered where the finished product IS what I see in my head.  Plus, I just can't seem to stop!

In the process of following this train of thought, my brain said "Oh, and besides... it's a useful skill to have come the zombie apocalypse.  People will still need bedding, and it would be a handy skill to barter!"  ... ...  Sometimes my brain makes me wonder. 

And now I am planning out a zombie apocalypse quilt....


Eh.  Back to the forge!