Friday, May 31, 2013

More Favorites from Albuquerque

If this group of quilts have a theme, it's the spectacular stitching.  First up is A Trip Around New Mexico by Ardith Alumbaugh, Albuquerque.  It was quilted by Leona Van Leeuwen.    As you might guess from the dates at the bottom, last year was New Mexico's centennial.

Trip Around New Mexico

There's a lot to like about this quilt, but it was the quilting around the silouttes that made it one of my favorites.

Trip Around New Mexico - Detail Trip Around New Mexico - Detail
Trip Around New Mexico - Detail Detail from Trip Around New Mexico

For me one of the best things about seeing quilts alive and in person is noticing all the small details.  Speaking of small, this was the winner in the Miniature category, Cherry Blossoms by Barbara Deshler, of Albuquerque.

Cherry Blossoms

Inside those perfectly stitched sashiko stitches sections, there are machine quilted feathers.

Cherry Blossoms - Detail

This quilt, It's Spring by Norma Jean Koelm of Albuquerque, won the hand quilting award and the stitching is lovely ...

It's Spring

... but it's the use of color that made it special for me. 

It's Spring - Detail

I think the thread painting in the next quilt, Boomer  by Jodi Scaltreto of Hillsboro, NH, is some of the best I've seen.


This technique is on my list of things to try  ... one day.   The detail on this dog was amazing. 

Boomer - Detail

In honor of Hexie Friday and my own new-found fascination with English paper piecing, I'll finish with this interesting arrangement of hexies, Union Jack Quilt by Cindy L. Kurey of Albuquerque.

Union Jack Quilt

I thought it was a clever arrangement and one I haven't seen before. As a lover of scrap quilts, I enjoyed a close look at all the different fabrics that the quilter used in her hexies.

Union Back Quilt - Detail

You can see all my photos of the quilt (and weaving, knitting, hooking, etc) from Fiber Arts Fiesta 2013 here.

I'm adding this post to the linky party for Weekend Update on the Block Lotto.  Join me! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One of my Favorite Quilts from Fiber Fiesta

Two blog posts on the same day from this occasional blogger?  Even I am a little surprised.

I wanted to post a few of my favorite quilts from the Fiber Arts Fiesta last weekend, beginning with this one–Echinacea by Nancy Steidle of Santa Fe.


I love the contrast between the flowers and pieced background.  The wonderful detail in the centers of the flowers is exquisite.

Echinacea - Detail

I love how the flowers and leaf designs are also quilted into the background–maybe because that's my plan for a flower quilt of mine–and how she added the beaded detail of the centers on the quilted blooms.

Echinacea- Detail

It's no surprise that this quilt had three ribbons hanging from it, for best in category (Pictorial- Large), for Hand Appliqué and for ???

Echinacea - Label/Ribbons

A New Playmate for Johnny?

Yesterday evening, while I was sitting at my desk at one end of the studio, doing something on the computer, Johnny be Good was energetically playing around with something at the other end.  This wasn't unusual activity.  Even though Johnny and his sister, Grace, are 7 years old, they still play like kittens and continue the tradition of seeing everything as a toy.

At some point, Johnny came over to the desk ... a long tail hanging out of his mouth.  I thought he was bringing me a (dead) gift, but it was clear when he dropped the lizard and started playing with it at my feet, he just wanted to introduce me to his new friend. 

Johnny and the LizardAbout the time I was figuring out what was going on, he picked up his new friend, carried her through the kitchen and into the living/dining room and resumed their game of catch and release on the sisal rug.

This New Mexico Whiptail Lizard (I think) must have followed me inside when I was carrying in groceries earlier in the day.

While I was thinking up a plan to separate cat from new lizard friend and lizard from my house, they played on.  At the point I grabbed the camera and took these photos, I think the lizard was stunning ... and perhaps thinking up a plan of her own to get away from that cat.

Playing Under-OverI knew it was strictly play for Johnny when he picked up an edge of the rug so that the lizard could run underneath.  He was teaching her how to play over/under like he and Grace play with rugs (and quilts on beds).

The lizard clearly didn't understand how the game was played and never popped out from under the rug to attack the cat.  (Imagine that).

Play (and the lizard) slowed enough that I was able to capture him under a plastic storage cup.  While I went into the studio to grab some thin cardboard to slide underneath so I could pick up cup and lizard and carry her back outside ... Johnny continued to play with her and slide her (inside) the cup) around on the floor.

Lizard caught and ready to be released outside

This morning, after breakfast, I found him sitting on the rug and looking around as if expecting to find his new "friend."

If you are curious about the NM Whiptail lizard–the New Mexico State Lizard–I found her (they are always female and reproduce parthenogenetically, without a man) on this state symbols site.

Johnny's sister, Grace Hopper somehow missed all the excitement–she was upstairs napping through the commotion and didn't come down until it was time for her to come into the studio and remind me to grab some handwork and head upstairs to the den to hang out with her.   I don't think the little lizard would have lasted long had both cats been part of the "game." 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Surprise! That Was Easy!

I mentioned the oopsy in the placement of some of the diamonds in my red-blue-cream lone star the other day. Here's a closer look.

Oops - One strip reversed

I wasn't all that confident about my ability to remove a strip of 4 diamonds from the middle of the piece, flip it around and put it back correctly, but ripping it out was easy.

Bad Strip removed

(Sorry, this photo was taken at a different angle)

And it went back together surprisingly fast ... and (almost) lining things up and re-sewing the inset seams was pretty easy, too.

All Better

Looking at all those OLD seams in the old UFO gave me some insight into why the lone star is not flat ... which may be a good argument for finishing projects when you start them so you never have the opportunity to see those old not-exactly-a-quarter-inch seams ;-)

I'm joining Esther for WOW (WIPS on Wednesday) and Leah's WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fiber Arts Fiesta!

Art Makes My World Go RoundSaturday, I drove to Albuquerque to check out the Fiber Arts Fiesta, a show created by 16 guilds and groups across the fiber spectrum... and many vendors to supply your every fiber need (an desire).

For many of the exhibiting artists and visitors, the sentiment on this mixed media piece by Judith Roderick is true: Art Makes My World Go Round.

I will blog about some of my favorites this week, but here's a taste of some of the  knits, rugs, weaving, lace, crochet, polymer clay, beadwork, and quilts that caught my eye.

Use the links under the mosaic to go to the original photos on Flickr and read the credits.

You can see all my snaps from the day in my Flickr set: Fiber Arts Fiesta 2013.


1. Detail from REDheArts, 2. Sew, What Do you Think?, 3. Forest Mink, 4. Sweater Cardigan, 5. Sweater Cardigan, 6. Dad and His Model A Ford - Detail, 7. My Raven: A Healing Rug, 8. Octagonal Floral/Hit-or-Miss - Detail, 9. Detail from Window Box Challenge, 10. Dia de los Muertos, 11. Audra's Star, 12. Cracked Ice, 13. Made with Love - Detail, 14. Night Flowers 2, 15. Trip Around New Mexico, 16. Paper Shredder Quilt, 17. Complementary Colors, 18. Storm at Sea - Dance of the Gulls - Detail, 19. Draggon Blossom - Detail, 20. The Value of Water, 21. Music in the Canyon, 22. Dandelions - Detail, 23. African Aviary Tryptych - Detail, 24. Cherry Blossoms, 25. Mariner's Sunrise - Detail, 26. Thanks, Friends, 27. Sculptured Peanut Can, 28. Dot Drake Display, 29. Long Beach Sand & Sea, 30. Flor Da Corda, 31. Study in Red & White - Detail, 32. Red-Fire of the South-Recognition - Fengshui Series, 33. Skyscape, 34. Black Neon Square - Fractured Square Series, 35. Bobbin Lace Lizard, 36. Firebird

Monday, May 27, 2013

"It Will Quilt Out" ... or Will It?

I've been looking ahead a little and thinking about a project to focus on for a Lovely June Finish.  Here's what's on my design wall:

Design Wall - May 27

This is an old UFO with some challenges.  It was made from individual diamonds as part of a fabric swap/challenge. It isn't flat.  I put it together during a quilting day with friends and was assured by more experienced quilters that, "it will quilt out."  I guess I'm finally going to find out if that's true :-) 

One four-diamond strip was flipped the wrong way around. Oops. 

I've already blogged about the challenge of those flower-like appliqué pieces that I've since decided to replace with English paper pieced star-flower shapes. 

It seems like a good time to work on a red, white and blue project ... it could become June's lovely finish and a patriotic quilt to have around the house for the Fourth of July.

Updated to add a link to the June Goal Setting Party for A Lovely Year of Finishes.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Taking things apart ... so I can put them back together again

Here's my completed test version of the Little Daisy, adapted to English Paper Piecing and appliqué.

Friends suggested how I could use these templates to make something that looked more like the original plan ... or how I could use EPP to prepare those original flower-ish diamond shapes for appliqué, which were both excellent ideas.  But, in the end, I decided to take the original shapes apart and reuse the red diamonds to make more of these. I think the octagon centers make them a little more flower-like while maintaining the diamond petals.

Pieces and Parts of an Old UFO

I'm not sure yet, but I think the left-over blue diamonds could become leaves for my new red daisies ... or blue star cornerstones for the border.

This afternoon, I'm feeling scattered and find myself jumping between some spring-cleaning chores and a couple projects, unable to settle into any one thing and make some real progress.  I figure that deciding to move forward on this idea for Slow Stitch Sunday will give me something focused and meditative with which to end my day.

Bloggers Quilt Festival

I was happily surprised when the mechanic finished up the work on my car Friday afternoon, because it meant I could drive to Albuquerque for the Fiber Arts Fiesta yesterday and spend the day with quilts, rugs, weaving, lace, knitting ... and vendors.  While I'm fighting with the new version of Flickr to upload my photos from that amazing event, I'm checking out the quilts in the online Bloggers Quilt Festival.

AmysCreativeSide.comIf you haven't been following along, this weekend is a good time to discover all the great quilts.  Voting is open through May 30, so you can also vote for your favorites in each category.   

The Main Page has general information and links to each of the category pages. 

I've blogged about the two quilts that contributed: 

Grace offers moral support
Small Comfort is #16 in Group or Bee Quilts.  

You can see more of the quilt (and less of Grace Hopper the cat) in my blog post about the quilt I made from comfort blocks sent to me after my dad died  here.

Quilting on the Singer 301
Cock-a-Doodle Tea Towel is #26 in Wall Hanging Quilts.

This quilt was my first attempt at free motion quilting on my old Singer 301.  It's not perfect, but I love it and enjoy it everyday hanging at one end of my kitchen.  You can see more photos in this post.

This is the first time I've joined the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, though I have always enjoyed the eye candy.  What a great tradition it has become.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Problem Solving in Quilting

One of the things that I absolutely love about quilting is that there are usually multiple ways to accomplish a design ... and no one right answer.  Last night, I pulled out an old unfinished project with a few challenges–we won't call them problems ... yet.  One of the challenges that had held me back was my vision of some abstract flower shapes, made from diamonds that would be appliquéd to a pieced background. Appliquéing all those edges straight and keeping the points pointy intimidated me.

Pieces and Parts of an Old UFO

LittleDaisyBlockIn the way that one project can inform another, I wondered if I could use English paper piecing as an appliqué preparation technique and keep all those edges straight, points, pointed and flowers looking all the same.

I wanted to maintain the same basic diamond shape–the diamonds are used in another part of the quilt.  I remembered this Little Daisy block that I had made earlier this year and thought it would work.  I used the petal and center octagon templates for this block, which were intended for hand-piecing, to create paper shapes for EPP for my test.

If you are interested, you can download the Little Daisy templates from my Freebies page.

Here's my EPP test in progress, beside the original plan. As you can see, I'm also thinking the petals would look better scrappy and that the blue petals at the base (inspired by the traditional Carolina Lily block) don't work in the new shape.  The stems and leaves will be blue on this red-blue-cream quilt.

A New Approach

I'm joining the linky party for Angie and Billie's Hexie Friday  ... and hoping that those with experience with appliqué of EPP shapes will offer me some tips and/or advice about my idea.

I'm also joining the Weekend Update on the Block Lotto.  (It's worth the click over, just to see what Linda's making from some colorful lotto blocks she won.)

Teapot and cozy - close upIf you came by as part of Hexie Friday to check on my progress on the tea coozy made from Regina's Star Flowers,  I finished it earlier this week (yay!) and you can read more about it here:

Star Flower Tea Cozy - Done (but Far from Perfect)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Currently Parked on the Design Wall

Today, my design wall looks like this.

Design Wall - Monday 5/20

A piece of selvage fabric, layered, pin-basted and waiting for me to decide how to quilt it–the stencil next to it is one possibility; a piece of batik with three giraffes that I may be ready to use as part of a design for a new project, and a flock of 10 scrappy geese blocks for this month's Block Lotto.  Nine of them were made seven fabrics, ranging from light to dark to prove that it was possible to make 9 unique blocks (the maximum number to enter into the drawing) from only 7 fabrics.

I am experiencing that pause in the flow that comes with finishing up some projects and beginning others.  Since finishing the checkerboard picnic quilt and the English paper pieced tea cozy over the weekend, I haven't decided if the next thing will be one of these or something else.

To see more design walls, check out the link list on Judy's Design Wall Monday 

Star Flower Tea Cozy - Done (but far from Perfect)

Teapot and cozy - close up My first English Paper Piecing project is finished--a tea cozy made using Regina's Starflower templates.

As I was was stitching down the binding around the bottom, It struck me how much the shape looks like nothing so much as a quilty ski hat (I even slid it onto my head last night ... and no, I did not take a photo)   The shape was actually inspired by this little tea pot and it's upright bamboo handle.

I'm not especially happy with the free motion quilting in the blue background–I probably should have stopped and waiting until I was better rested, but I was motivated to finish it last night.  I'm hoping that after it has been washed and dried, the crinkles will hide some of those imperfections.  Here it is, covering the tea pot, from both sides

  Tea Cozy - one side  Tea Cozy - the other side

Teapot and Star Flower Cozy
And one last look of the pot that inspired the project.   

The next time I feel like making a little pot of tea and heading up to the den for some TV and hand-stitching, I'm ready. 

I made one more flower.  I'm thinking of using some of the dark blue scraps with the flower for a mug rug.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hand Work for Slow Stitch Sunday

Stitching down the #quilt binding with a #cat on my lap for #alyof May finishI mentioned on the Weekend Update blog post on the Block Lotto site that I was dangerously close to finishing a couple of things.  Now, I'm even closer :-)

I thought I'd be stitching down the binding of the checkerboard picnic quilt tonight, but with the moral support of the cats–first Johnny Be Good, pictured here, then Grace Hopper, then both of them at once on my lap–I finished last night.

I've added the rest of the diamond shapes needed to fill in the background for my English Paper Piecing project and have begun machine quilting the piece.   If I can finish today, my new plan for Slow Stitch Sunday will be to spend the evening binding the seams for a clean finish.

The timing is good–the weather has cooled off enough, that a hot pot of tea appeals this afternoon.

Quilting the Star Flower Tea Cozy

And then I need to decide on my next handwork project ... more EPP? Hand quilting? Maybe some needle-turn appliqué? Pick up some knitting? As usual, the possibilities are endless ...

Ready for a Picnic - My Lovely Finish for May

Ready for a Picnic 

 I'm not sure that a picnic on a quilt spread on the ground makes as much sense around here, where the ground is covered with rocks and sand, pinon trees, cactus, chamisa and yucca, instead of soft green grass makes any sense, or why I started thinking of this checkerboard quilt as a picnic quilt, but with this Lovely Finish, I'm ready for a picnic.

The quilt is 66 inches square, made of twenty-five 12-inch 16-patch blocks, with a 3 inch triangle square border and a narrow binding.

Checkerboard Picnic Quilt

Quilting DetailThe quilting design was quite simple: diagonal lines through the colored squares; flowers with echo quilting in the cream squares; and pointy leaves and echo quilting in the cream triangles in the border. I liked the look of alternately densely quilted/lightly quilted areas and after a wash, it's another soft, crinkly scrap quilt.

Scrappy binding
Despite the landscape, I intended to spread out the quilt under the pinon tree in my back "yard" ... but the high winds today just wouldn't cooperate.

Not exactly a good spot

It probably would have been a funny looking picnic on the sand and rocks, anyway ... 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bloggers Quilt Festival :: Spring 2013 :: Group Quilt

Here's another quilt for Amy's Bloggers Quilt Festival, in the Group or Bee category. I call it Small Comfort.   

  Small Comfort - A Scrap Quilt

After my father died, just before Christmas some years ago, some members of an online group sent 6 inch snowball and 9-patch blocks.  Because of the holiday and a very short deadline set by the organizer, I didn't receive many blocks and thought that if I'd made a quilt only from the blocks I'd received, it wouldn't be large enough to provide any comfort to anyone.  

On the Studio ChaiseI added some large orphan blocks, and small 9-patches.  I made more snowball blocks and the scrappy flying geese border to make it large enough to curl up in ... and I do. 

The basics: 

  • The quilt measures 66 inches square.
  • While it was pieced soon after the blocks were received more than 10 years ago, I quilted and finished it in February, 2013.
  • It is made from traditionally pieced blocks. 
  • It is free motion quilted by me, on a little Bernina 153, using feathers, spirals, pebbles, and flower motifs. (Detail photos below). 
  • As usual, both my cats helped in the making of this quilt–here, Grace Hopper perches on the work-in-progress on the sewing table and offers moral support while I am free motion quilting. 
Grace offers moral support
I had such fun quilting this ... once I finally got started :-)

Here are some detail, showing blocks, fabrics, free motion quilting motifs and scrappy binding in this happy, scrappy, very comforting quilt.

Quilting Detail Large Star Block

Quilting Detail - Large 9-patch blocks Quilting Detail - Snowball Quilting Detail - Small 9-patch blocks Scrappy green binding
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