Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Where did the summer go?

Me trying to not wheeze because of all of the smoke
It is amazing that three months have gone by in a blink of an eye. Summer is at an end and thankfully, we have begun to receive well-needed rain in Oregon. It has been so dry and the fires have really been bad. We were at a Level 1 evacuation level for two weeks and it was a long two weeks. When you are told to get ready to evacuate and you look around your home at what has taken you a lifetime to accumulate, it is an emotional experience. We gathered pictures, papers, quilts, and short-term clothing and stacked them by the door. I took pictures of everything inside of closets and rooms so that I would have something to see to remind me of items just in case. We were lucky because we didn't have to leave. Others were not as lucky and were homeless for many weeks and some lost their homes even through the heroic efforts of the men and women firefighters working endlessly trying to contain the fire and save as much as they could.

I have been trying so hard to catch up on some long overdo projects. 2017 has been a wonderful year with working on the World Quilting Travel Adventure but it did consume a lot of time in designing and creating the souvenirs and writing patterns and instructions. I realized that I was not getting any closer to finishing older projects. So after designing Australia, I stopped and finished piecing my Christmas quilt. The top is now done and is resting on the second bed waiting its turn to be quilted.

Next I pulled out The Lady that really has languished for years with its top being done but me not feeling up to the level to quilt it myself. I realized that I may never feel comfortable in quilting her so I bit the bullet and have been quilting her. It's been hard and I don't feel like I am getting anywhere near close to being finished, but I am plugging away at her.

Quilting on The Lady's hair
To give myself a break on quilting, I have been making a toothbrush rug for my kitchen. It is a perfect mindless activity after machine quilting for too long. So far, it is about 27 inches in diameter and I hope to finish it at least 45 to 60 inches in diameter.
Toothbrush rug in progress
My finished Israel souvenir was accepted in a local quilt show. I look forward to seeing it hanging next weekend. I was so nervous on whether it would be accepted. Isn't that silly? In the big scheme of life, that is really not even on a measurable level.

Other projects on my to-do list is to make a baby quilt for a neighbor's daughter who is expecting next year. She is such a sweetie and I so rarely get to do baby things. And speaking of baby things! I learned of an organization that makes NICU-friendly diaper shirts for babies, no matter how small! I immediately offered my sewing services and have my flannel all washed and prepped. I still need to locate a special soft Velcro and then I can start cutting and sewing. When you see how small the pattern is for a 1 pound or less infant, it is difficult to wrap your brain around a baby being that tiny. I received 7 patterns for babies from 1 pound to 7 pounds, 8 ounces and you get to choose the ones you want to make. If you are interested in using up a little of your cotton and flannel, please go to Twenty-Five and Four to learn more. I'm thinking this would make a great reason to gather several friends together for an afternoon party of sewing and fellowship while sewing these tiny shirts for such precious babies.

And before you think we have stopped travelling, we have not. Just taken a pause. I assure you that all this activity has not stopped me from contemplating Australia's souvenir and the different techniques to use for it. Honestly, I have gone from one end to another and still have not nailed down which techniques to use. It may end up an everything including the kitchen sink souvenir! The cooler weather is spurring me on to a decision and then I will start transferring the design to templates. I have my fabric chosen so at least that part is decided.

And as a famous person once said, "give your loved ones a daily hug and never let the sun go down with sourness on your lips. It'll leak out of other body parts!"  LOL

Monday, June 19, 2017

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

I'm taking a break from starting on the next souvenir to finish this quilt. The next souvenir is finished design-wise and the next step is to start working on it, but my design wall is overflowing with this quilt that has been years in the making. I've tried to make a few of these swag units each week but lately I've been on a mission to get them DONE! All 28 units are now made and the next step is to sew 4 strips together of 7 swags each. I'm going to sew them this week and join the cornerstone blocks that I designed and finished a long time ago. Once I get these borders sewn, I get to measure the quilt and the borders to determine my borders that get sandwiched between the quilt and the swags. There are 4 very narrow borders so while I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm not there yet..... But seeing the light has given me a fire in my tummy to reach it. Maybe by July 1 the top will be completed and ready to be basted together for quilting. Hey, a girl can wish!  LOL

This quilt is called Ruffled Roses and was a 2011 block of the month designed by the famous Sue Garman for The Quilt Show. I redesigned many of the sections to fit within my Christmas theme, but the main layout is all Sue's, and she was a master at designing beautiful, intricately pieced quilts. This one is no exception. It has stretched me in a good way. I am a better piecer because of Sue.

Have a blessed week enjoying loving, creating, and using those hands God gave you. I plan to do so as well.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle

We love to recycle items. Normally, that means that we go through the house and garage and at least yearly look for items that have outgrown their usefulness to us. We throw away anything that we ourselves wouldn't want. Being that it is just the two of us adults, most of our items are in very good condition so we donate to our local Salvation Army. We used to donate to Goodwill but after learning about their policies in place, we changed to other centers that have proven to provide more of the dollars to really helping others.

So with a mini bathroom remodel upcoming that requires a hole in the closet, I started looking at everything that I have to haul out of the closet in order to give the workers the room they need to work and keep the clothes clean. Wow....I have a love/hate relationship with closets. Why are there so many items that never get worn inside of closets? In this case, hubby had several pair of very nice jeans that he never wore anymore. Styles change and some that were comfortable years ago lose their comfy-ness so get relegated to the back of the closet. Newer items push them further and further to the back until getting another clothes hanger in is a struggle. Have you ever tried to carry 7 pair of jeans hanging on a hanger. They are heavy, heavy!

So, I stacked his jeans on the bed that would be heading to the center and added a couple of mine. I love colored jeans and my white and orange jeans sadly no longer fit me anymore. So, I'm staring at this monster stack of jeans and hubby innocently says "well can't we do something with them." Oh NO....the challenge flag has been thrown on the floor. Should I pick it up, run away, or simply ignore that I even heard the statement.

This was on a Friday before Memorial Day. I started thinking and thinking and thought to myself: I'll just make a 'quick' throw out of the jeans! How fun that will be to have our jeans sewn together. Now, let me preface it that we do not need a throw....let alone a jeans one, but hey I couldn't stop my brain from jumping ahead of me. So I started deconstructing jeans via old fashioned scissors. I decided to not use anything with seams or pockets to reduce the bulk. Over the course of 2 days, I cut out 140 circles out of those jeans. Then I went shopping in my stash for all those 5 inch square that I had been hording for no apparent reason. Seriously, they never get used. I must stop buying them! I ignored colors of the charm squares and just grabbed one and used a tiny bit of glue to hold it centered on the jean circle. This took me I don't know how many hours to finish and then I started sewing them together in rows...then the rows into longer rows. and finally a half to a half. Now I have one monster of a pair of jeans and cotton squares sewn together. It is pretty darn heavy but so stinking cool looking. To finish the quilt, I sewed each of the flaps down 1/4 inch from the outside edge so that when washed and dried, they would fray. Okay, this took me two days to complete sewing of the flaps for a total of four days of work, but I seriously love it and hubby and the Dillman love it. AND, it is DONE!

Now that this minor intermission is done, I must get back to my other projects that are waiting for me. LOL

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Australia Bound in my mind

It is halt time on my Israel souvenir. I've finished it except for the facing. I'm not happy with the sampling I've done for nice, sharp corners for facings so until I can figure it out, I must move on. A traditional binding just isn't going to do it for this one.

I've been drawing and drawing and drawing and erasing, removing and redoing Australia until I think I've nearly got it where I want it. Now, the hardest part is to print my drawing life size and see if what I've drawn is going to work, what needs refinement, enlarging, reducing, or removing. It's the part that shows me what is and isn't going to work. I sure hope everything works on this one because I'm really loving how it looks in print. On this souvenir, I'm throwing in everything including the kitchen sink! There will be a lot of painting, applique, and lots of hand embroidery embellishment. I spied a new-to-me cotton fabric that you must get some if you haven't already done so. It is going to be perfect for Australia because you only need small pieces so buying a 10 inch square package that includes all of the colors will do the trick. It's made by Maywood Studio and is called Glitz. It's 100 percent cotton with a foil face. It's incredibly luscious in rich, wonderful colors.

I so want to share my conceptual drawing with you, but until I know whether it is doable, I think I'd better wait. Thank you for continuing to travel with me!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tsukineko Ink Sampling

A few weeks ago, hubby asked me if there was anything I'd been wanting and initially, I said no to which he then said 'nothing.' I thought about it for a while and then said that I'd love to get some more paints/inks. I really like the Tsukineko inks and had a few bottles from a class that I'd taken years ago. These inks never go bad and it only takes a tiny amount so the bottle never seems to empty. Isn't that cool! Well, hubby gave me the entire collection! Our 35th Anniversary is in July and this present is a wonderful present. Thank you honey!

I thought I'd do something I've never done with any of my paints and that is make a sample showing all of the colors. My goal was to show full saturation of the inks on one half and a light shading on the other half. This sample aided me in learning just how much pressure I needed in order to get a light shading. The fabric I used was an inexpensive white, bleached cotton called Roc-Lon. I think the results would have been even nicer on a nicer fabric. I could feel the ridges of the fabric pulling and in many cases causing a streaking of the ink when shading.

On the last square at the bottom, I used the green, #10 ink but before inking the box, I spritz the square with the #9 potion to see how it would react. I love how it looks but it will take some practice to know how to control the spreading of the ink. I inked the center and it immediately spread out and gave a beautiful watercolor effect.

I finished quilting my Hoopoe and am ready to cut, bind, label, and put the sleeve on it. I can't wait to post a finished picture.

I've been working on and off on my drawing for Australia as well. It's not quite where I want it yet so I'll keep working on it until it tells me it's done and to get stitching!

Enjoy your weekend! We had 2 full days of summer this week and it nearly killed me. Seriously, we've had 50 to 55 degree days and 40 to 45 degree nights. And then just this week, we had 2 days of over 80. My body did not react well to such a sudden change, but I will adjust if the temps stay put and quit varying in 30 degree increments.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ordinary or Extraordinary? Part 1

This past year my focus has shifted into making more fiber art and fewer traditional quilts. I still love to work on traditional, usable quilts but I find myself being pulled more into making art in ways that allow my soul to sing and embracing the itch that is scratching from within myself to be let out. My World Quilting Travel Adventure was my own test to explore myself from within. To my surprise, I overcame my fear of writing and designing, and most importantly gained an inner strength to do things in unconventional ways not caring or thinking/worrying how it would be perceived by anyone other than me. It is a freeing experience and one I encourage you to do as well.

My next push is to create good art consistently. I'm no Picasso or Mozart, but I can become good at my art and occasionally I may just create great art. Finding yourself and your own work is a process and it's hard work. Trust me when I say it is completely worth the effort if, you are in the same place as me, and want to make art because it is simply what you must do even when your work has become hard and you are unsure of where the next step will take you. You must push yourself.

Or as Gene Fowler stated: "Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead."

If we were able to speak with some of the famous artists throughout the generations, I would imagine them telling us that we must push through our uncertainties and actually make art to get better at making art. Crazy sounding I'm sure but think about it. How many unfinished projects do you have hanging around? Okay, I won't disclose mine and you don't have to disclose yours, but if you think about it, if you are serious about your art, you must finish your art so that you can move on to the next piece. Thus, the World Quilting Travel Adventure began and I began creating. It has helped me by starting the adventure because it has pushed me to finish so that I can share it with you and so that I can begin the next piece. My next goal is to proceed at the speed that I want. However, I also own a small business that demands normal business hours and spending time with my family is very important to me. So, I've begun carving out slices of time and actually scheduling it on my calendar so that I make sure to get in studio time. I may not be able to delve in with abandon yet, but carving out appointments with myself allows me to have time I would not have otherwise have had.

This will be an ongoing discussion with myself and you as I learn. I hope you will share your journey with me and others so together we can all grow.

Last but not least, please enter your art into as many shows as possible. Also, please think about other places where you can share yourself that is outside the quilt show venue.

Extraordinary Art is made by Ordinary People like you and me. 

I entered two of my souvenirs "View from my Window" and "England's Tea Room" into our local quilt show. I was delighted to see ribbons hanging on both of them. A big thanks to Terry Knott for her wonderful lesson on properly making a hanging sleeve.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are you enjoying our travels? Australia anyone?

World Quilting Travel Adventure
These past many months, we have really racked up the airline miles with our World Quilting Travel Adventure. We have visited Oregon, Hawaii, Canada, England, and Israel and had absolutely no jet lag whatsoever!

I've had a great time designing and creating each of the souvenirs for you. Sadly, I've heard from only a few of the 28 original folks who signed on to travel with me, but I am happy that a few of you continue to let me know that you are making the souvenirs and are enjoying our visits throughout the world. I  may cut our travels short but for now, I am planning to continue our journey as planned.

I'm on the homestretch of machine quilting my Israel souvenir. I always underestimate just how long it takes me to machine quilt. I did finish quilting the hoopoe yesterday but it took me days to do him. Yep, I'm definitely a turtle quilter. I have the branch left to quilt and then I'm ready to square it up and put the facing on. This one will not have a traditional binding because I don't want the binding to detract from the piece.

However, I have been thinking about our next destination and ideas have been bouncing around in my head like crazy. I have to make myself stop thinking about it or I would never finish this souvenir! When you get close to finishing a project, does your mind start to drift onto the next project before it should? Come on....I can't be the only one....can I?

It will be a while before you get to see anything or receive the pattern, but I've decided that we must ALL go to Australia! This country is so diverse that it was hard for me to narrow down just one area to study, but I found it and you are going to love, love, love it or let's be Australian and say this next souvenir is going to be fully sick! LOL I am loving learning some Australian English Phrases.

Let's go sew!