Monday, June 29, 2009

I've been busy....

I haven't posted anything for a few days. I have been working, though. I will post some pictures soon. It's another silly bird, but a more elaborate one.

We went to another blueberry farm Saturday, and picked some delicious blueberries. Also got freshly dug potatoes, sweet plums, and a beautiful purple basil plant to plant.

I will post some pictures soon of my current project.

I am also getting ready to take a class this Thursday with Juanita Yeager. I haven't had any classes from her for almost ten years, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's a class on  "Color" and should be fun.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Just what I needed - another quilting magazine!

While I was waiting to pick someone up from an appointment today, I decided to look at the magazines in the nearby bookstore.

I found this new magazine - Art Quilting Studio.

When I saw that it was published by the people responsible for Belle Armoire and Somerset Studio, I knew it would be good.

When I checked out, I was shocked that it cost $15.99, but after I looked at it, I feel that it is worth every penny.

Every article is interesting, and there are ideas for creative uses of common household fiber products, as well as unusual applications of things we find (and often throw away) in our sewing rooms.

There's a wonderful article about the healing power of sewing (Amen to that!) and other articles about using found objects, vintage remnants, and many others. Well worth the price!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another "scrappy" quilt

Here's another little mini-quilt using the scraps from my quilt group challenge. They are fun to do, and give me a perfect, "no-pressure" opportunity to practice machine quilting and thread painting. It's more interesting to practice on a real piece than just on a piece of fabric. 

This design is based on a print that a friend has in her kitchen. I love the primitive animal images.

Well, I think I have "played" enough. Back to work!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's About Food...

Bob made these buckwheat blueberry pancakes, and they were delicious!

We have lots of blueberries; we gave some away yesterday, but still have enough to enjoy. They are the best I've ever had. Hope to go back to the E-Z Pick farm in a few days, while they are ripe and still plentiful.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blueberry Heaven

We left at sunrise today to go to Bryant's Blueberry farm in New Salisbury, Indiana, to pick blueberries.

But I left my camera at home and missed some wonderful photo-ops. These photos are from the Farm's website; they said I could use them in my blog.

The farm is about 30 miles west of  Louisville; the overnight storms had moved east, and it was a beautiful clear breezy morning.

It is a huge farm, with hundreds of bushes with many varieties of blueberries, perfect for picking. I'm glad we got there early, because by the time we left, there were lots of cars.

 We picked "Patriot" berries, a tart variety, and some other varieties that are a little more mild, but delicious. They taste like blueberries are supposed to taste, with a wonderful texture.

It was my first time at picking blueberries. They are beautiful in all stages of ripeness, and the clusters of berries look good enough to eat!

The drive there and back was beautiful, but by the time we got back, it was already hot and muggy.

We went to our neighborhood farmer's market, and there were more photo-ops, but no camera.
It's always fun to see friends there, and to get ultra-fresh produce and farm-raised beef, lamb and bison. 

All that, and back home by 10:30. I'm thinking of making blueberry muffins, and, of course, blueberry pancakes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Did, I Saw a Purple Cow

The challenge from our quilt shop quilt group this month is to create a small quilt, any size, any shape, from a handful of scraps that we drew from a scrap box.

My handful included several fragments of purple fabric, along with some green, a little sky fabric, and
a few gold and rust pieces wide enough for a narrow border and binding.

So I had no choice but to make a purple cow!

It was a perfect project for fusing, and I added a tree on the left, and a few beaded flowers on the right.

Projects like this are perfect for me to practice my machine quilting and thread painting; what's the worst thing that can happen? I just start over if I mess it up.

From my leftover Scrabble letter tiles, I found enough letters for a whimsical label, and it's finished.

I have some more scraps, and may make another farm themed mini-quilt before our next meeting. These little projects are good for a little relaxation between bigger projects.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just What I need...More Books

These are the two books that I ordered at my quilt group Monday night. This Art Quilt book has some wonderful ideas and photos. 

One reason I bought it is that it has several sections discussing group activities.

One activity that our group is going to do later this summer is what the book calls  "Exquisite Corpse."  I call it "Fractured Photos." 

You take a photo that is not too complicated, such as a landscape, and cut it into three or four vertical slices, horizontal slices, or into four "quarters."

Then give a section to each person, and they create a quilt part for that section. You have to have some agreement about size and colors, but the fabrics each person uses will be different. Then you bring the pieces back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

I have seen it done, and I have wanted to do it for years. So as a group, we are looking at photos from catalogs, travel pictures people have taken, anything that is not copyrighted. It should be a lot of fun. 

The book on embellishment has lots of good ideas, and details about how to make felt beads, Angelina beads, and all sorts of other creative embellishments.

I am not interested in painting on quilts. I learned long ago that God did not mean for me ever to hold a paintbrush in my hand. But there are lots of other great embellishment ideas in here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quilt Group

Our quilt group at my favorite quilt shop met last night, and it was really enjoyable!

First, we had "Show and Tell" with the projects we made for the "Ugly Fabric" challenge. It is so much fun to see all the different designs. Even though the challenge is the same for everyone, the varied results are really interesting, everything from whimsical to artistic.

Our challenge for next time should be fun, too. We each donated some scraps to the box of scraps at the shop. Then each person drew out a handful of scraps. We weren't supposed to look, but people did,  and put some back if they didn't like them.

I was fortunate to grab a handful which included some purples, and a little gold and green, and black and white.

I feel a  purple cow coming into my future. We have a month to complete the project.

I really like the people in the group. Each time one or two more people join, so it is reaching critical mass, and each person has something to add. There are two men in the group, and another one is going to join next time. That's also a nice perspective to add to the group. Right now, at the shop, they are having their second annual show by men quilters, with some beautiful quilts.

I think having the group meet at the shop is good business for the shop, too. The owner attends our group and contributes. Also, when a topic comes up, she pulls out books that are relevant.  And of course, people want to buy them. 

This group is much more fun than a similar group there last year. I think it is partly because it is less structured, and partly because it is just a really nice group of compatible people with similar interests. One of the member is having a pot luck picnic in a couple of weeks for quilty friends, so that should be fun, too...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Finishing some bargellos...

Since I've been sewing (about 11 years)  I've made more bargellos than I can count. They have been popular with people who commissioned me to do work for their walls, I think because they can be very traditional or very contemporary, depending upon the design and the fabric choices.

For years, I usually made them witha selection of  12 fabric choices, because that's the way I learned it, and when I designed my own, I just stuck with that magic number; it allows for several repeats, and gives me a chance to get the fabric blend I wanted.

But a couple of years ago, I branched out to design several bargellos  with more fabrics - 18 to be exact.

This little bargello I just finished is one of four from the same fabric mix.

The advantage of using 18 fabrics is that, well, more is better. But the disadvantage could be that it elongates the quilt vertically, or reduces the number of repeats.

In this little quilt, I just used one repeat of the fabric set from top to bottom.

I really love these fabrics, and it is a luxury to get to make four bargellos with the same fabrics.
In this one, I experimented with inserting four vertical strips of a hand-dyed fabric that I also used in the quilt.

I have always felt that, for my bargellos, the quilting that simply follows the curves of the quilt's design enhances the quilt in the best way. I have seen photos of other quilting choices, but this is just my personal preference. 

On this one, I love the way the Japanese ladies' faces are fussy-cut to peek out of the larger strips.

I also added one appliqued face, too, in the corner.

This last photo is the first quilt of the four. I finished it last winter, and was bought right away by a couple who have a lot of Oriental furniture and art in their home.

It is my favorite, and it was hard to give up. It has two repeats of the fabrics, and the appliqued  faces appear in it, too.

The third quilt is almost finished, and the fourth is yet to be designed...

I will say more about bargellos in later posts.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another finished UFO

Here's a little foundation pieced  Carolina wren, based on a pattern by Brenda Groelz. I love her bird patterns. 

This is a wedding present for a very dear friend who moved to Clemson,  SC to coach the women's rowing team, and met and married a South Carolina girl shortly after he started his new job there.

The Carolina wren, the State Bird of South Carolina, is a darling little bird to sew, and  I also used it as an opportunity to practice thread painting. It adds extra dimension to the piece, especially on the bird's breast.

I love the colors in the hand-dyed background.

The inner border is Nancy Crow fabric, and I have never met a Nancy Crow fabric that I didn't love. The outer border is a piece I bought on my recent trip to Franklin TN, from Stitcher's Garden fabric store.

I'm ready now to move on to my next UFOs, two small bargellos that just need binding.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

a "FO" (finished object)

Now that I have finished my two big projects that I've been working on for months, I am tackling my summer plan to finish some of my many UFOs.

The first was this little Japanese quilt, made from a very pleasant pattern in East Quilts West, by Kumiko Sudo, one of my favorite books. Years ago, I made quite a few little pieces from that book.  It was basically finished, but I had never done any quilting, so I just did "stitch in the  ditch" and I liked the effect without any additional quilting.

I find the simplicity of those Japanese patterns very appealing. This pattern is called "Kanzashi".

Although I often use Japanese fabrics, for this one I  just grabbed fabrics that appealed to me, including some scraps.

After I finished the piecing, I found the color combination so pleasing, and didn't really know why.

I have done a lot of reading about color theory, and I really enjoy just thinking about color combinations. 

My friend Mary Jane had given me a very nice color wheel years ago, and when I consulted these colors on the wheel, it turns out that I had chosen a "split complementary", with the violet, the yellow-green, and the yellow orange arranged in an isosceles triangle on the wheel.

(To get more technical,  yellow and violet are complements opposite each other on the wheel, and the yellow-green and yellow-orange are on either side of the yellow.)

The reason I am thinking about this again now, after  all these years, is that I am getting ready to take a class on color from Juanita Yeager, and one assignment is to bring a quilt that "works" and a quilt that doesn't "work."  This is the quilt that "works", so it is homework.

 Hope my dog doesn't eat it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finally finished!!!

A year and a half ago, a friend asked me to make a quilt from some of his discarded suits. I've made three wool quilts before for him, and I was not very enthusiastic about taking on another one. But I said "Yes" anyway.

The wools are great, and you can get a surprising amount of fabric from men's clothing, especially the trousers.

I started cutting immediately, while I pondered what kind of design to use that would be interesting to me, and acceptable to him.

Since he is a federal judge, and will probably put this quilt in his chambers, I decided on the "Courthouse Steps" pattern. I do not generally do traditional squares, but there are a few I have wanted to try.

Ever since I saw the latest Gees Bend show, with the architectural theme, I have been in love with the courthouse steps pattern. I had enough fabrics to have the light and dark contrast. But I just couldn't face a big study in black and gray!

 My friend Emma, whose husband owns the contemporary design shop, Scorpio, has given me an array of wonderful Ultrasuede scraps, that had been discarded from various design projects that Scorpio had completed. 

They are in so many delicious colors, and also a few designs, like leopard and other animal skins.

So I decided to make the centers of the squares from these Ultrasuede scraps. I was able to make it a sort of "charm" quilt, because no two centers are the same color. 

Making the centers was the fun part.  After that, I managed  to drag this project out for months and months.

When it came time to decide what to use for a backing, Tom made that part easy for me. He took the quilt top to Hancock's of Paducah, and Mr. Hancock himself declared "This quilt needs a silk backing! "

 So Tom chose a beautiful dusty rose Dupioni silk for the backing. It is a sturdy silk that looks and feels wonderful, and was much easier to work with than other silks I have used in the past. 

Getting 2 mm. silk ribbon to tie the quilt with proved to be quite a challenge, now that Baer's has closed, but I finally did find enough to tie it with. Then I needed an appropriate binding, something that would go with both the wool and the silk. Black grosgrain ribbon is the perfect transition, and it made a very neat and attractive binding.

This afternoon I printed the label on a piece of leftover silk, and sewed it on. All I have to do now is deliver it, and then I can get on to some other things! I am very happy with the way it turned out, and I think it will be a good heirloom for his children in years to come.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Keeping Your Ducks in a Row, Row, Row...

On Saturdays, while I am at my aqua fitness class, Bob has been helping out with the Adaptive Rowing program on the river. It is a wonderful program that encourages and enables people with physical or mental limitations  to get out on the river and row. 

Rowing is an excellent form of exercise; for the people in this program, there is a physical therapist who  assesses their ability to use their arms and/or legs, and the boat is then fitted for that person with a special seat or harness or whatever is needed.

 A second person usually rows along with the person, just to help out, and to make it safer.

Beth, the woman Bob was rowing with today, is fairly new to rowing, but has taken to it very quickly.

They row in a narrow chute beside an island in the river. That provides some protection from the wake from barges and pleasure boats.

Occasionally, the person with special needs will go out in a "single," a boat for just one person. The young man in the wheelchair was waiting for a single, and was flirting with a girl out in a boat while he was waiting. 

As Bob pushed Beth back up the ramp, he observed that gravity was not his friend today; but he also said it was harder going down the ramp than it was going up. 

WOW!  Talk about trusting someone.

Today was  also "National Learn To Row Day", and I stopped by the river after my exercise.
People from the Louisville Rowing Club and the University of Louisville Rowing team were taking novices out to try to get converts to rowing.

It was also the day that mama ducks were out with their baby ducks, and there were some good Kodak moments. I also saw herons and Canada geese.

My own rowing is limited to using the rowing machine on my porch. It is a good workout, for arms, legs and back. I'm not sure I could get in and out of that narrow boat without losing my balance and landing in the water.  I'll stick to dry land!

But it was wonderful being outdoors on such a beautiful day. 

Friday, June 5, 2009


Last night, at sunset on Waterfront Park, there was a very special event - the unveiling and dedication of local sculptor Ed Hamilton's Abraham Lincoln Memorial.


It was scheduled at 8:45 p.m., to take advantage of sunset on the river, but it had been rainy and cloudy all day, until just a few minutes before the event started. 

Then the clouds moved east, revealing a beautiful sunset, reflected on the river.

The larger than life statue of Lincoln faces west, across the river, and is very beautiful.

I remember meeting Ed in his early days as a sculptor, working in Barney Bright's studio. 
Like Barney Bright, Ed designed this public art so that it is really accessible, and by the time the program began, there were about a dozen children, perched on the statue from top to bottom. When Ed gave his talk, he said "I knew this was a success when I saw all those children enjoying it." 

Bob and I both got some beautiful photos of the sunset reflected on the water. This Waterfront Park, many years in the planning and making, has been such a well-used public space, with concerts, festivals, bicycle paths, picnic areas, boat ramps etc.  

Of course, Jerry Abramson, Mayor for Life, was there, along with many local and State officials. Lots of schmoozing goin' on! Great people watching, one of my favorite hobbies!


The orchestra sounded wonderful in that outdoor setting. They played Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, another Aaron Copland trumpet piece,  and of course,  Battle Hymn of the Republic.  It was all very exciting!

There were hundreds of people there, enjoying a cool evening, wonderful music, and a beautiful view.

As if on cue, the Belle of Louisville, one of the few remaining steam-driven  paddlewheelers  came by, returning from its sunset cruise. It stopped for a while, so the people on board could hear the music. 

I love photos with reflections, and this isn't a bad night shot with my little camera. 

And one last shot as we walked back to the car. It was a very pleasant evening, and we are very fortunate to have an artist like Ed Hamilton. His works, like the Civil War Memorial in Washington D.C., his Amistad work, and many others, are well known nationally, and it is wonderful to have several right here in his home town.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Phase IV

I took a walk last night instead of finishing sewing the rows and columns together.

This morning, I sewed the last few columns, and  I am really happy with the way it "works."

The curves created by straight lines show up well, and the two-color effect is good. There is a lot of movement in this design. I like it!

I know it could be even more effective if the piece were bigger, but this satisfies my wish to sew a "Storm at Sea" pattern, and the size is good for a wall hanging.

 Now all I have to do is get all the papers off the back. I use a vellum type paper, and very small stitch, so usually it comes off easily.

I'm off to aqua fitness now, and then this afternoon, I will get the batting and backing together, and do a little quilting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Phase III

Well, I have all the rectangles and squares foundation pieced, and they are ready to assemble.

I've checked that any squares that have a directional subject like a face or planet with rings are facing the right side up.

I always love working on geometric patterns, maybe that's related to my days as a mathematics teacher. (Although geometry was not my favorite subject to teach. I loved teaching algebra and trigonometry and calculus.) 

In any case, I know that a lot of quilting, especially traditional piecing, involves geometry, and I do love working with the patterns and shapes.

Now the moment of truth arrives. I am ready to start sewing the pieces together.

 It doesn't look like I have made a lot of progress on this, but I did a lot of other things today.  I have been doing some research for another quilt, and choosing fabrics for it. It's the next one I'm going to tackle. No matter how many times I say I'm going to finish some unfinished projects, I can't resist trying out my new ideas.

In the meantime, the next time I post a photo of this, it should be all in one piece, and be ready for some quilting and beading.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Phase II

Here's Phase II of my Storm at Sea wall-hanging. I can see that I'll want to do some rearranging of some of the squares and rectangles, just to get some balance.

All it needs now is the little squares in between the rectangles. I can already begin to see how the curves will show up when it is all sewn together.

I haven't decided yet if I want a border on it, but I am happy with its appearance so far.