Friday, January 12, 2018

A Rainy Night in South Carolina....and Progress

This is the third — or maybe the fourth? — year I’ve been able to go to the Pieceful Hearts Quilters retreat at Hickory Knob State Park in McCormick SC. It’s an accepted (by me) fact of nature that every time I rent a car, the weather is either rainy, snowy or both. Today Nature decided that there would be no suspense, it would rain like crazy the whole 170 mile drive from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to the park. As in full on windshield wipers more than half the drive.

Checked into my room and carted in all my luggage (can’t leave any possible projects behind, right? Lots of choices?). The heater was blasting and when I checked it was set at 84 degrees. I’m one of those people who rarely heats her house and sets the thermostat to 65 degrees immediately upon walking into a hotel room. So — YIKES! Turned off the heat, flung open the door and...

...isn’t this pretty? I LOVE rain! I’ll be here for a few days, mostly piecing quilt backings. I  also brought one project where the blocks are all complete and just need to be sewn together. Catch up stuff rather than starting something new.

I have three major goals this month: getting the quilt that Destiny pieced quilted, putting the binding on Rhonda’s quilt and designing the workshop for the new Westalee ruler set called “Continuum” that I’ll be teaching in May for Nuttall’s BERNINA & Fabric Center in Riverton UT in May.

I’ve been working on Des’ quilt for about a week; I started with big swoopy curves and decided that wasn’t enough quilting, so now I’m going back and filling them in. I’m about half done. It’s 105”x117, so is taking some time!


Here’s Destiny practicing; she even did some stitching on the quilt!

 And there’s a big smile — this was her first time to try out the Q-20....I think she likes it!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Reading List

How do you define an “avid” reader? Because I tend to hang out on planes and in hotel rooms, I always have a few books on the Kindle (which, thanks to the free Kindle apps, I can read on my phone and IPad as well as that handy little e-reader) and maybe a physical book in hand. When I’m home, I tend to go the other way – more books, less electronics. I always have several in progress as well as in the queue and as an average read between 10 and 20 books each month, more when travelling, less when home.

Several of my friends are involved in various book clubs and we often discuss what we are reading. I wrapped up the year by reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson – even though it weighed a ton when I took it to Cabo San Lucas on vacation last month, it was totally worth buying it in hardback for the beauty of the illustrations and artwork. I sort of justify buying a hardback/paperback because I pass them on to at least one person before dropping them off at a local used book store.

This is my “for now” stack – Dan and I are doing the Whole 30 this month (not an easy dietary task as those of you who have tried it know!) It’s a detox after all the excesses of the holidays. No dairy, no grains, no sugar, no alcohol (I miss my wine!), just real foods for a month. I can do this! So Whole 30 Day by Day is a chapter a day encouragement, recognition of the difficulties and coaching to get you through this. The concept behind a Whole 30 is to pare it down to only real foods, then after a month reintroduce food groups gradually so you can see how your body responds to them and pinpoint trouble areas. So, every day I read a bit .

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – my friend Andrea facilitates a book club that meets monthly at her Corrective Chiropractic office in Calabasas CA and this is the book she has chosen for next week’s meeting. I raced through it, gave it to Dan to read and plan to read it again so that I can mark it up. I tend to highlight and dog ear pages in this type of book and I didn’t want to call Dan’s attention to what resonated with me. I wanted him to approach the book through his own life filter. There is, obviously, language, so if you are offended by four letter words, you might want to skip this one.

The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory is my “bathtub” book. After a long day, I love a soak in a hot bath with something fictiony and a little on the light side; I know some people take their Kindle into the bath, but dropping it would be an expensive oops, so I don’t. Plus there is a lot of info around that one sleeps better without electronica at the end of the day. Gregory is known for her historical fiction, most of it centered on the Tudors. The Other Boleyn Girl was probably the first of her books that I read, and I’ve read a few since because I really like her writing style. This one focuses on the reigns of Henry VIII’s children, most notably Mary, the daughter of Catherine, Henry’s first wife. These novels are written from the point of view of an observer of the court and are quite engaging.

What’s on my Kindle?

I usually have one book on my Kindle and another on an app that I can read interchangeably (and seamlessly – thank you, Amazon!) on my phone and IPad when I have down time somewhere.  On my Kindle right now, I am reading Ashes Reborn – it’s a “junk” novel of no value whatsoever except enjoyment! Great series where the central characters are Phoenixes (think rebirth amid many flames) – there are also Fae, vampires, werewolves and a bunch of other supernaturals.  Fun series!

This is what I’m reading on my phone. It’s an autobiographical romp by Shonda Rhimes – this is what the book description says: “The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.” She has a great sense of humor and it is a fun read!

I’m always looking for new things to read, so what are you reading? What have you read and loved and recommend? Do tell!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Back to Work!

I pretty much took the month of December off from the sewing room. We took a much needed vacation and I caught up on some organizing and reading goals.

On to the quilting goals: 

My first goal is to finish Rhonda’s quilt so I can give it to her in February when I see her. The last three steps are to quilt the 30 blocks, quilt the border and do the binding. Yesterday I started working on the blocks.

First, a drawing, then I did a sample stitchout on one of the quilt sandwiches piled on the back of the table. The prettiest fabrics in this collection have peacock feathers on them, so freehand feathers seemed like they would be fun to stitch and would look cool!

I like to be able to look up at the sketch to refresh my memory while I’m sewing.

Sewed a feather in each of the blocks, then figured that I was on a major roll, so started on the border. Same idea — a feather in each corner and then the wavy frond-like things going in the same direction that the border fabric goes. Got half the border done yesterday and the rest today.

Now all that’s left is the binding! I cut and sewed it this afternoon, but still need to get it pressed so that I can do the machine work on it. I may take it with me so that I’ll have some hand work when I go to the Pieceful Hearts Quilters retreat in South Carolina next week — from what I hear it is going to be C-O-L-D!!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

One Monthly Goal

My sewing, like my sewing room, tends to be “all over the place”! I work a little bit on one project, then sew on another, maybe put together a quilt back – in other words, things slowly move to completion, but in a scattershot sort of way. I finished four quilts last year, which was better than I have done in probably 8 or 9 years, so I was happy with that. But – and there’s always a but – I could have been more organized about the whole thing and aimed to get more quilts done.

So I was pretty happy to see this on the Elm Street Quilts blog...

The “rules” are pretty simple; here they are in Patty’s words:

The basics for One Monthly Goal are as follows - 
Select ONE of your quilt-related goals for the month.  This could be to make a few blocks. cutting fabric for a project, sewing on a binding, or finish a quilt top.  Any goal that involves a step in the process of making with thread, fabric or yarn is a valid goal.

Describe your goal in a:
·         blog post complete with a photo(s) of your project and a link back to One Monthly Goal.
·         via Instagram your photo and description of your goal along with the social tag #onemonthlygoal and @elmstreetquilts 
·         via Flickr complete with a photo(s) of your project and a link back to One Monthly Goal. (link to this main event page or to the actual linkup page)

Add your project to the link-up at the goal setting link-up.  (Each month, the goal-setting link-up will be open from the 1st through the 7th, closing at 11:55 pm ET.)

Then come post again at the end of the month to share your accomplishment in the One Monthly Goal Finish Party.  The finish party will run for 7 days at the end of the month.

Each time you join the linkup you earn an entry into the Grand Finale prize drawing!  Link up in the goal setting and the finish linkup each month of the year earns 24 entries into the Grand Finale prize drawing. Link up goals one month but never quite got to the finish?  You still earn an entry for participating in the goal link up!

There are prizes donated by the Fat Quarter Shop, Make Modern and others – doesn’t this sound like fun? I already signed up!

May all of you have a happy, healthy, quilty New Year!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Just a Normal Starbucks Run

I’m teaching in Salt Lake for a few days and after class sometimes like to run in to Starbucks for a venti iced sugar free vanilla latte with whole milk — I tell myself it’s for the calcium!

This was a back window sticker on a car parked right in front — had to get this picture!
My last day of teaching was today so I’m headed home tomorrow for a couple of weeks to get some sewing done — I’ll keep you posted!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Glad I Changed My Mind!

I’ve been to Market and back — it was super to touch bases with so many friends! — and have been home catching up on some projects.

Finished the Circuit blocks and am thinking about the next Block of the Day, put the inner and outer borders on the Squares Plus quilt I’m making for Rhonda (pics later in the week when I take it to her in Salt Lake so she can see it and decide on batting and binding fabric) and am now putting the final border on the minions quilt.

The pic above is of the quilt with the fabric I had bought for the border. Delayed, hemmed and hawed, and basically decided it looked blah against the dark sashing.


Decided on the orange print in the same line and am much happier with the outcome! The new fabric brings out the orange dots in the navy sashing print and just brightens up the whole thing.

Going to put all that first border print on the back; thinking one of the yellow dotty prints for binding. What do you think?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Patches & Scraps, Midland TX

This is either my third or fourth visit to Patches & Scraps; owner Lisa Graham and I were trying to figure it out the other day and didn’t come up with an answer. The store has been open for four years and I came to them for the first time shortly after their opening and almost every year since. Every year they have even more merchandise and since pushing the walls of the building out is impractical, the aisles just get narrower!

This is the view to the left of the front door....

...and this is the view to the right! Lots of fabric and thoughtfully arranged groupings of notions make this a really fun store to shop. Lisa has six daughters and a son and all of the daughters work in the business, five of them in the store. So since there is Mom and five daughters all fabric shopping at Market and with the vendors who call on the store, you can imaging that there is a LOT of fabric being bought!

Nice Judy Niemeyer and other larger format patterns display right in front of the door along with some shopping totes to fill up — easy to do here!

I said “Smile” to Grace and Tara, two of Lisa’s daughters — Grace looked directly at me and smiled; Tara said “oh, no” and looked the other way.

This quilt is right outside the classroom door and I love it! It’s got that whole modern vibe going on. It takes over 5 yards of background fabric and we had a lively discussion at dinner last night about how many bolts a store had to buy of good backgrounds like this one. A 15 yard bolt may only be enough for 2 or 3 customers, so Lisa and April (store manager daughter) have found that they can go through a 4 bolt order very quickly. It was a very interesting insight about inventory management and the things a store has to think about when placing orders.

One of the most fun things about traveling is learning from the shop owners!

For the first two days, I taught my Fluff & Stuff machine quilting class; my last class here before I fly to Houston for Quilt Market is a feathers class using the Westalee rulers. I’m also going to demonstrate circles on quilts in a Baptist fan design and a few other of the template sets so that students can see some of the variety available.

Even though it’s just short demonstrations, I get to sew — and any day we get to sew is a good day, right?

Friday, October 27, 2017

A Week at Home

It’s nice to have some time at home between teaching trips — to catch up on email that I saved but didn’t read, unpack, do some laundry, repack....

This time I was home almost a week, so I got a little bit of sewing done. Here are two of the reverse Circuit blocks...

...and two more (maybe 10 to go?) as well as a Matrix Block in what I think is Step 3.

It’s finally getting cool enough that I’m seriously thinking about quilting the tops that I pieced over the summer. This is the Weekend Candy quilt from the Sleep Tight collection by Cotton + Steel. Pinned it up with wool batting and got all the straight stitching done with Mettler’s Transfil monofilament in the top of the machine and 40 wt Mettler silk finish 100% cotton thread in a medium grey in the bobbin. I chose the heavier 40 wt. thread for the bobbin because I’m going to do the free motion quilting with an even thicker 28 wt thread in the top of the Q-20 sit down longarm machine.

I was doing some blog hopping the other day and found this picture — drawstring candy bags are all well and good, but I really liked the elegant spooky tree and the purple diamond background. Funny how I get drawn into the little detail things and totally ignore the main point of the post! All in what the eye is looking for, I guess!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Clemtine Charity Quilt Quilt Along

When it comes to charitable causes, quilters probably have among the biggest hearts! We make quilts for others less fortunate and contribute fabric and notions to people who want to make their own. 

Here is another way to contribute that Fat Quarter Shop has been doing for a couple of years now.
The Clementine Quilt Along benefits the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help advance cures and means of prevention for catastrophic pediatric diseases. Fat Quarter Shop is partnering with Moda Fabrics to match up to $20,000 of donations for this awesome cause. And, on top of that, they will auction the Clementine Quilt Along quilt at the end of the program, and 100% of the auction proceeds will go to the St. Jude campaign.

Read more about the program HERE.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Red Pines Quilt Shop, Detroit Lakes MN

This is the second time I’ve taught for Nate and Joy Fetting of Red Pines Quilt Shop in Detroit Lakes MN. Last year, I came in September and the fall colors were just starting to pop; this year, I was there from October 11–15 and caught them just about at peak. This picture was one that I took from the car on the way from the Fargo ND airport to Detroit Lakes. We don’t have a lot of fall changes in the Southern California high desert, so it’s always a treat to go somewhere and enjoy the seasons!

Sunset from my room at The Lodge at Detroit Lakes — definitely a room with a view! Every room at the lodge has a lake view and the common area has a beautiful fireplace. There was an Octoberfest celebration on one of the nights and we were presented with German food, beer and a very accomplished accordion player. I really didn’t know if I would like accordion music or not, but this guy had a really good repertoire of songs and was very personable. It was a fun night!

This is Nate and Joy on our first night at dinner....

We just ordered some appetizers and shared. The plate in the middle of the table is waffle cut sweet potato fries with a topping of corn, black beans, beef and a bunch of other things. It was sort of a nacho type topping without the tortilla chips. Really good!

I commented to Joy that the quilts on the wall were different from last year; she said “They’d better be!” Red Pines is a big shop with a lot of fabric — 150 colors of Mona’s Basic Grey Grunge? And there’s grunge polka dots now? I liked the shots of color in the grey and white background fabrics in the quilt above.

I had been looking at this pattern from Jaybird Quilts for a couple of weeks and Joy had it in the shop, either to purchase separately or in a kit with the fabrics shown in the photo above.

I bought the kit and then took a closeup because I really liked the quilting and don’t want to forget what it looked like.

And of course there had to be rain!

On the drive back to Fargo on Sunday morning, I asked Nate to stop at a church that I had seen on the initial drive Thursday afternoon. It was such a pretty setting — the church building itself and all of the threes around it.

Another one of the trees on the church property.

I thoroughly enjoyed my few days with Nate, Joy and the students as well as the staff of the Lodge at Detroit Lakes who did their best to spoil me. We’re already mulling over ideas for what I might teach next fall. This year, just like last, we did my two day machine quilting class and Ruler Play on a Domestic Machine. We’re thinking of more advanced classes for next year. There’s always great new things to learn!

Speaking of which, this week I’ll be in Midland TX and then going on to Houston for Quilt Market. Lots of new things for me to learn so that I can teach them to others. I’ll be in the Amann-Mettler booth with all the beautiful, colorful threads; if you’re going to be at Market, stop by! I’ll be doing demonstrations with Mettler’s 28 weight cotton thread and using the Westalee rulers — I’d love to see you! 

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