Saturday, November 23, 2013

How Time Flies!

My goal was to post at least twice a month if not more often. Now seems like I am lucky if I can manage once a month. Here it is nearing the end of November and Thanksgiving is almost upon us. We cheated this year and Toralf has put out Christmas lights in the backyard already. (Usual rule is no Christmas until after Thanksgiving). In Montana the goal is to get them out on a warm sunny day and try to avoid frozen fingers in December. The lights are actually a work in progress this year. The trees have grown and we have needed to add more strands.

This weekend we are getting ready to head to California on Monday for Thanksgiving. The best Thanksgiving gift may be the birth of a new grandbaby. "She" (we really don't know for sure) is due Dec. 2. Gotta get started on baby quilt soon!

In the meantime here is what I have been up to

This is a little 8 inch wool block, the first of several in what will eventually be a wall quilt. It is a replica of a particular style of Mexican tiles that I have seen in Morelia and Guadalajara. I think I photographed these in a museum in Tlaquepaque in Guadalajara. Unfortunately I did not photograph the information that went with the pictures. If anyoone can tell me more about these I would be grateful.  I started this in May and just completed it a couple weeks ago - very time consuming and I only worked on it once a week.
This is the other project that I have been working on

I made the cowgirl bride in the top row and the 2 cowgirls sitting on a fence further down. This is a group quilt by the Woolies, a small handwork groupI belong to. It will be the member's only guild raffle quilt for our show in the spring. The theme of the Show will be Cowgirl Roundup. I am going to fill in the 2 missing blocks and sew it together, hopefully between now and Christmas. I am planning to set up the 2 missing blocks and take them on the road with me to work on as we drive to California.

Thanksgiving Blessings to everyone.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September Adventures

Now I'm 2
Hard to believe it has been two years since this little guy came into the world. We Just got back from helping him celebrate.
I love this scene -- my guys at the end of  the day watching bedtime videos.
"Wheels on the Bus" seems to be the current favorite though Max doesn't seem as interested.

Managed to sneak in a bit of quilting time. This is a small quilt made from blocks from the Woolies first block exchange in, I believe, 2004 - fun to revisit these blocks. While I don't enjoy machine quilting it was an expedient way to finish a quilt and it is fun to have it ready to drape over my knees this winter. Why am I saying winter? Here it is the first day of autumn and we have snow forecast for Thursday! 
Travel project for trip to California
I have unfairly been referring to this quilt as "Little Ugly." It may actually have some potential.  Each side began as a border on another quilt that had grown too big. When I removed the borders I simply could not let all those hexagons go to waste. I unsewed each border at the halfway mark and put the two halves together to make each side of the quilt. Then I took some of the leftover 4 patch units that I had not used in the original quilt to fill in here and there where needed. I expanded the quilt by adding the flower units down the center. Since the quilt looked so dark I decided to add the scrappy border all the way around -- just a few units of that left to sew and then I will make a row of purple all the way around that will be trimmed straight. Binding will be purple to match that.
This has turned out to be a rather fun project to put together. I used almost every scrap of the black fabric I had and will come pretty close to using all the purple as well. It has been rather satisfying to make "a silk purse from a sow's ear." I'm looking forward to big stitch quilting it. The photograph has helped me see design possibilities for the quilting more easily but first there are 3-4 others ahead of it in the quilting cue. Oh my! I had better get busy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

More Travels, a Quilt and a Deer

Just got back from an 8 day camping trip at Lake Louise in Canada. Hard to choose a picture to adequately describe the area. The mountains seem vast and stark with their many glaciers and ice fields. The lakes are an incredible emerald green from the "glacial milk" and the skies quite dramatic.

Lake Moraine In Banff National Park, Canada
It seemed quite odd to have to need a passport to visit Canada since as kids we were back and forth over the border all the time. When I lived in International falls, Minnesota we went there for hockey games and shopping.  Strange too because it seemed like the bulk of the tourists were oriental rather than Canadians. 
Since returning home I have been trying to finish up some of the projects that have been in progress for awhile. This is Cynthia Spethman's quilt that I big stitch quilted for her. Actually I made the blocks as well. They were my "Stitcher in the Dark blocks for 2005 that I made for Cynthia. She wanted something in red and green and baskets as I recall. I took a few liberties!
Now she is going to long arm quilt something for me in exchange. It has been fun to revisit these blocks and I'm excited to have her quilt a quilt for me.

White tailed deer at the top of our yard in mid-August.
This is the first white tail we have had visit. Mostly they are mule deer. This guy seemed rather magnificent and wise.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

July Travels & New Projects

Spent most of July traveling, then came home and spent a weekend with friends in Phillipsburg. Net result - lots of good times with friends Jo's broken wrist aside (that's anothe story). Saw lots of hexagons and started several new projects. I have also finally almost finished the top for Las Casas.

Joan's Hexagons - 5 sets of 6

Jo's hexagons - totally scrappy

Peggy's hexagons - appliqued to center

Chris batik hexagons

Las Casas - Still need to finish the corner applique
And last but not least a few more pics of Oliver.Here he is all dolled up for our neice's wedding and looking quite serious.
Nothing like a new toy from Uncle Jim and Aunt Jolene to bring joy and a sparkle to the eye.
Good times, good friends.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rag Quilt

Just finished this quilt yesterday.

Added black buttons to center of raw edge applique flowers after I washed and dried the quilt to fluff up the seams. Now I just need to sew on the label and it will be truly done. I really have gotten to love this technique. I think I pretty much had it finished in 4 days including the cutting and quilting.  Besides being so quick and easy they make such a cozy quilt.  I make mine with flannel on the back and cotton on the front. I sandwich some kind of cotton batting (whatever I have on hand) in between the same size as the top and bottom block. The batting shows in the seam allowance and just makes it fuller.  Flower design is Jo Fifield's. Quilt design is adapted from a picture I saw somewhere.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Glacier in the Spring

June 7, Hiking, biking, animals and incredible scenery

 The 3 Bears


They weren't real interested in sharing the road -- neither were we! We watched for 5-10 minutes before they ambled back into the woods and we could pass. We were biking on Road to the Sun which hadn't opened yet due to snow near Logan Pass. We only were able to bike about 7 of the 16 miles -- those darn knees!

This  was near Polebridge on West side of the park. Don't the clouds look like snow covered mountains. Polebridge isn't much more than a mercantile store 25 miles north of Apgar on a gravel road but what a bakery inside! This is a real hidden treasure.
Burn area from fire in the 80's. Trees take a long time to grow back this far north. On the other hand it opens up incredible views and there is a surprising amount of undergrowth and wild flowers.
Deer were more interested in sharing the road and we passed amicably.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mini Quilt Retreat May 2013

We complained when there was snow on May Day never dreaming we would get snow Memorial Day Weekend! This is what greeted 12 of us when we arrived in Deer Lodge, Montana, May 23. It was very wet heavy snow that fortunately, melted fast. Deer Lodge is about 80 miles east of Missoula and sits at a bit higher altitude. It could have been worse -- the next town east had 12"of snow!
 Rest of retreat was fairly balmy outside and we could walk along the river every day. There were some power walkers in our group determined to get their 10,000 steps every day. It was nice to join them and get a break from sitting stitching.
Here is what I accomplished at retreat. Put the binding on this quilt. I call it my Doctor Seuss quilt because of the lovely Sr. Seuss minke on the back. Front was supposed to coordinate but in reality it is much more teal than turquoise but it works. Haven't decided where to put it. I slept under it the other night but I think it might become my car quilt.

This is my simple "go to" pattern when I need something quick and easy. It is just sashed squared. By using 2 colors for sashing it forms pinwheels. Here the red pinwheel kind of gets lost.
T A friend talked me into buying the Dr. Seuss panel at our quilt show. It is only 22 inches wide so I need to find a coordinating minke fabric. Fortunatley another quilt shop had the polka dots to flesh out the back. Minke makes such a lovely cozy back. Both Oliver and Grandpa have Pokey puppy quilts with minkee backs. I decided Grandma need one too!
The following quilt will be a rag quilt for a special friend. It is based on a similar quilt I made for a friend in Mexico (That's you, Hilda). Hers is bright scrappy batiks and fossil fern fabric. This one is all black and while and red with a nice red flannel on the back to make it cozy. I still have the top border to piece together, a bunch of hand clipping and then I need to sew all the sections together and it will be done. I'm getting to be a real fan of rag quilts. I like the idea of having them done when the "top"is done. A new Christmas rag quilt may be my next one for me.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Odds and Ends

Jim's Quilt

This is the quilt I made for my brother Jim when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He got it the day after he got home from the hospital -- probably one of the fastest quilts I have ever quilted.
Blocks are flannel as is the back. There is a 1"black button in the center of each large block and a 1/2" button in each smaller block on each end. Fabric is from a line that came out in 2004 or 5. It kind of looks like corduroy. I made the top to be a TV quilt for me and then decided I liked the smaller quilt I made from the scraps better so this one sat basted and ready to quilt waiting for the right moment.
This was it! Back has hunting dogs on it and Jim and Jolene have a similar dog "river" so it seemed fitting. The quilting design is called hibiscus and is actually an applique design. In this quilt it looks more meandering than floral.
Jim is home from the hospital now and still has a bit of recovering to do but so far the news has been good. 

Chucky the Chuker
This little guy has been my companion all week while Toralf is camping in Utah. Actually we think that's where he really belongs. We have seen these birds while camping in Kodachrome State Park and Bryce National Park. I think he must have gotten blown off course. He has been hanging around my deck and likes to look in my deck door window.

Last but not least our little guy Oliver at 1 1/2 years. He loves his books!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quilt Restoration

I have been learning about quilt restoration. Mandy asked me if I could "save" 4 old family quilts that she had. Actually there were 5 but we decided right up front that one of them was beyond restoration. She may use it for stuffed animals or some other memorabilia. The other 4 I brought home and have sat on for almost a year. I decided after Christmas that one of my goals for the year is to finish stuff. I don't normally make such lofty commitments but having these 4 quilts plus another for other people as well as a host of my own projects needing finishing spurred me on.
I tackled the hexagon quilt first, I suppose because I like hexagons. I wish I had taken before and after pictures so you could see the immensity of the task. One whole corner was torn away. My solution was to remove 5 blocks from one end and use those blocks to fill in the corner. This also had the effect of making the quilt more symetrical. I  made white and yellow hexagons to fill in the paths in some of the flowers.  I also replaced an additional dozen whole or part flowers where they were too frayed to be usable. Then I replaced some pieces of the backing that needed filling in and quilted the areas where I had added new pieces.

Last but not least I rebound the quilt in a pale green. Throughout the quilt I tried to use reproduction fabrics to maintain the flavor of the quilt. With Mandy's permission I trimmed all the sides so I had some straight areas rather than zig zagging the binding around each hexagon as in the original quilt. There were still plenty of points and corners! 

I was very pleased with the finished quilt. While it is still somewhat frail it is still a quilt that can be used with care and enjoyed for its beauty and memories. Finishing this quilt spurred me on to tackle the next one.
In researching the block a bit I was pleased to find it is called "Flying X".  It is a Kansas City Star newspaper pattern. This is fitting because the maker, Mandy's great aunt or grandmother is from the Kansas City area.

This quilt originally was comprised of 20 blocks width 4-5" sashing between them. Some of the blocks were badly faded or had damaged spots so I chose the best 12. The fabric used for the sashing was of much inferior quality and had deteriorated beyond the stage of saving. I cut out all the blocks with a 1/2"seam allowance all around and added 1" sashing front and back using a quilt-as-you-go style.

The original sashing was white but I replaced it with a reproduction blue fabric which gives a bit more life to the blocks. It is bound with the same color.

This makes a charming little quilt that with gentle care can be used and enjoyed.

My next 2 quilts to restore are a 6 point diamond quilt and a bow tie but I'm going to take a break and work on a couple other projects first.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

California Sunshine!

I see it has been awhile since I have posted. We've been traveling and I never seem to be able to do it as we go. We went in search of sun and found it in California (sun, son, grandson and daughter-in-law too).

We headed first to Joshua Tree National Park by way of Mojave Desert. Actually Joshua Tree is partially part of the Mojave Desert too. For some reason I always think of deserts as either flat or sand dunes. This was neither. We climbed 3 mountains while in the park.
It is a climbers park with lots of rock formations. Joshua trees are fascinating like something right out of Dr. Seuss. We first saw them near SAltillo in Mexico and had to find more. Weather was perfect for for hiking in the mid 60's with cool mornings and evenings and lots of sun.

We were surprised by the proximity of snow capped mountains.

pathEvery thing in the park is preserved. We ran across several old cars, foundations and gold mines, sadly, no gold.

This is what was referred to as a 10 stamp mill where the rock was crushed so the gold could be extracted. It was in a very remote area up what could barely be called much more than a path. All the equipment had to be brought in and the gold out along this path.
 Cholla --- were almost as Dr. Seussian as the Joshua trees!

We then traveled north along the coast highway and soaked in more sun with a taste of ocean. This I think was Morrow Bay. I just loved the plant -- it is real.

Of course no trip to CAlifornia would be complete without visiting the kids and Oliver.

I love his contemplative look
Of course he didn't sit still for long!