Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cabin Fever

This winter, as I'm slogging through January and facing the idea of February still to come, a certain kind of torpor has settled in. I tell myself that I'm a mammal after all - why shouldn't every ounce of me be fairly begging to hibernate? When the window between feeling fully awake and feeling ready to put my pajamas back on is a mere few hours, really any excuse will do.

But now the unexpected unfolding of an idea, the taking shape of a plan, steps taken in the direction of a move - a move! - have me feeling a spark of energy. It's the best kind of cabin fever. Like the gardener poring over seed catalogs in winter and dreaming of spring, I'm studying real estate listings and imagining new places and spaces. I have the fever and it feels good.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sparkle and Shine - The Reveal!

It was time! We gathered at the Soup Spoon, arrayed in varied sparkling attire, a group of five quilting friends (temporarily down by two), old and new, young and um, over 40...  sharing experiences, laughter, stories, tears, drinks - and quilts. Ahh, life!

Ahh, quilts :)

A nice start is Jean's lovely winter scene. Her inspiration began with some sparkly blue "Frozen" fabric that a student's mother brought to school. The quilt is wonderfully textural - beaded wire branches that stand out from the surface and soft furry binding you just want to pet.

Jean is enjoying trying new things with each challenge :)

Shimmery blue fabric, silver thread, sparkling jewels 

...and lustrous beaded branches 

Candy brought two quilts to the reveal. After completing the first one, she just wasn't feeling it. It wasn't her aesthetic... she might have even said, "It's pretty - but is it art?!"
(an inside joke - of course it is ;) )

Magpies are attracted to shiny things. Shimmery organza, glittering beads, reflective paper and gold flecked fabric.

Straight edge/serrated edge... it's all in the details!

With the second quilt, Candy was back in her element. Surface design, unusual materials, a little grittier vibe. 

Silver paint, stenciled through a remnant left after sequins were punched out of it.

Purple, gray and black metallic thread

Brenda gets props for coming to the reveal when an MSU basketball game (that went into double overtime!) was in full swing. Hours later she and her husband were on a plane headed to the Cotton Bowl for some green and white football action. When I asked what she might like to say about her quilt, she had just one word "BEDAZZLED!"

This Laurel Burch fabric and Brenda's Bedazzler were a match made in heaven :)

A rainbow of crystals

Liz knew right away that she wanted to make a star for this challenge. A bible verse provided inspiration for the idea of reflecting back the brightness of each person who looks at her quilt. She  gathered fabric, glue and mirrors and got to work.

Love the hand quilting... and btw, it's hard to take a photo of mirrors and not be in it :)

Getting into the spirit of the quilt!

 My quilt - OY! All those tiny triangles. UFF DA! I still like the concept of the value gradation but, man oh man, there's got to be an easier way! I feel better just moving on from this one.

You might notice that my edging looks like one of the materials in Candy's Magpie quilt. It is :)

Iridescent button, metallic thread, glittered fabric

Alison also made two quilts for this challenge. I hope to feature both hers and Cath's quilt in a future post. After all, it's nice to show off the results of so much effort!

Moving forward, here's to a New Year of challenges, both in quilting and life. May we all face each challenge that comes our way with resolve and grace... and the support of friends :)

Join us here again in two months as we reveal our interpretations of...

The Soup Spoon Challenge!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December Mash Up

I'm just home from our latest quilt challenge reveal party (next post!) and feeling revitalized by the shared energy of the wonderful, funny, unique, and strong women I get to call my friends. Good food, a little wine, sharing of hearts and quilts - the best!

Before getting to the reveal I thought I'd mention that while December has been a quiet place here on the blog, it's been anything but that in my sewing studio. The room currently looks like a tornado blew through it.

Last year I was nearly undone by wedding napkins, this year I had the crazy idea to make a coat as a gift. Since the last garment I made was my sister's prom dress in 1981 it would not be a stretch to surmise that I might be a little rusty in the apparel construction department. And let me just mention that I bought plaid wool... and since it was a gift there was no fitting it to the recipient.

Thank goodness for Candy, who came over to get me started, told me I needed to steam shrink the wool, showed me the right kind of interfacing to buy, and helped with pattern sizing and layout.

Long story short - it's not perfect (I'll never tell where the mistakes are) and wasn't entirely finished by Christmas, but the coat fit and my daughter loved it!

I'm a little proud... of both daughter and coat.

After the coat I still had to finish my challenge quilt - or more accurately, I had to make it. Flashback to nursing school and staying up into the wee hours working on care plans. I was still sewing on it one hour before heading off to the reveal! 

As a last note I thought I'd share photos of my quilts hanging in the Grove Gallery holiday show and one of Bodhi and I in our matching sweaters. I'm shameless that way :)

Wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous 2015!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In A Quiet Place

Grandma's handmade ornaments, circa 1969.
It's that hustle and bustle time of year and in true introvert form, my heart and mind retreat to quiet places. A favorite is my darkened living room, steaming cup of tea in hand, with only the twinkling glow from the Christmas tree for light. In that place my thoughts will often fill with memories from holidays past, so joyful and sweet.
Time spent in internal quiet space renews and restores me. So if things have seemed a little quiet here, know that it's only temporary. I'm working on some special and sparkly things (soon to be revealed :) ... and feeling the stirrings of anticipation for all the special memories just waiting to be made this season.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

To Thine Own Self...

Taking classes at big quilt shows has been a mixed bag for me - mostly good experiences but not all. Along the way, one of my favorite insights has been these wise words from an instructor, "Sometimes all you get from a class is the knowledge that you never want to do that again!"

It's pretty...but the process is not for me.
Which is exactly what I was saying to myself in Houston after spending a day learning to paint on fabric with dyes. Oy! It took me back to my college art class days where we were expected to paint with oils and clean up with turpentine - um, no thank you! I'm a soap and water, quick clean up kind of gal. (I got that art degree but we weren't a good fit, the University and me).
So, now I know that I never want to paint fabric with dye... and I'll add that to the list that includes never wanting to dye my own fabric, either.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing :)


Monday, November 3, 2014

My Houston Sampler

I'm fresh from a trip to the International Quilt Festival in Houston and wanting to share a few of my favorite quilts from the show - but first a few thoughts...

It really was international. Brenda, Candy, and I took a bus tour on our first full day there and every inhabited continent was represented on the bus. Brazil, Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Hungary... melodious accents and friendly people all!

The show, like Texas, is BIG. Approximately 60,000 quilters descended on downtown Houston and it's convention center. We joined the throngs who were taking classes, appreciating beautiful quilts on display, and shopping through vendor stalls too numerous to count (we didn't even make it through them all!).

Tuesday night, while I enjoyed the big award show, Brenda and Candy were off on a Mezcal drinking, grasshopper and larvae eating adventure. Can you believe that on their way back to the hotel, these two radicals were asked by a Houston police officer (assisting in an arrest at the time, no less), if they knew where he might be able to find a quilt? As my lovely, subversively minded friend Candy observed, "What? Do we have quilter tattooed on our foreheads?!" ;)

Ha ha! I think I'm the only one of our group who actually does have a tattoo - and (surprise) it's a daisy :)  Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy these photos of some of our fun and a sampling of my favorite quilts from the show.

The Red and White Quilt Exhibit was stunning.
So many beautiful quilts.

Home Sweet Home by Klara Schafler-Landesberg
Home Sweet Home (detail) by Klara Schafler-Landesberg
Prairie Gold by Marianne Williamson
Chasing Bubbles by Hiroko Miyama

Dutch Morning by Vicki Bohnhoff

Colorado 4x4 (detail) by Stephanie Ruyle

Bella Camellia by Sally Wright

Los Perros de Panama by Kathleen Kennedy-Dennis

Radius by Susan Carlson

Log Cabin Spiral (detail) by Mary Cannizzaro

Schwedagon Reflections (detail) by Elizabeth Bren

Gewitterhimmel (Thunderstorm) by Brigitte Morgenroth (detail)

Margaritas, Mohitos, and Tex-Mex food make a great day ending combo

Angel and devil ;)

Candy, Brenda, and Ellen

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Classic Lit Challenge - The Reveal!

I couldn't wait to get to this reveal! Our group has been infused with new energy that brings even more fun to the reveal party. When we met this week at the usual spot our waitress took a group photo - not the best lighting but at least it's nice to have a face to match with the name and quilt being shown.

Cath, Ellen, Brenda, Candace, Alison, Jean, and Liz

So here we go...
I'm going to jump right in with my own salute to Jane Austen. With this quilt I wanted to reference the 'form' of a book, with the sense of a cover and binding. I was pleased that this quilt, more than any of my other challenge efforts so far, came closest to the original vision I began with. It's feminine, with a 'period' feel, and the quote speaks to me. My daughter asked if I felt the quote was describing me... she's perceptive that way :)
"But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine..." Aren't we all?

Liz has now been fully baptized into the challenge culture - by starting and then having to scrap her first effort this time around. It happens to all of us! She rallied with an homage to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the 'Little House On The Prairie' books. A rustic, homey feel was achieved through her design and color choices. Well done :)

Alison gave consideration to 'Anne of Green Gables' and 'The Secret Garden' before being inspired by her daughter to choose an Alfred Tennyson poem. The words of "Flower In The Cranny Wall" are embroidered on this wonderfully textural piece.

"It's all about love" - Jean

Could this quilt be a tribute to anything but that beautiful children's book, 'The Velveteen Rabbit'? Jean, who works in an elementary school and has a heart for children, knew she wanted to reference the text in a heart shape. Her use of upholstery fabric perfectly suited the well-worn and loved character of the rabbit.

Candy's quilt was inspired by 'The Canterbury Tales', in which the characters journey on Christian pilgrimages to Canterbury. Along the way they carry "pilgrim badges" - much like the quilt pins collected by today's quilters as they journey to distant shows... Paducah, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Houston (!).
Walking the labyrinth was an alternative for those unable to travel.

'A Tree Grows In Brooklyn' is one of Cath's favorite books. By using perspective and bringing brighter colors forward, she wanted to show that the heroine finds joy, even in the darkness of her life in the city. Each of the leaves is individually stitched :)

Brenda was a member of the J.R. Tolkien fan club while in college at Northern Michigan University, so she naturally felt the call of  'The Hobbit'. She says hobbits all live in round holes in the ground, in places that are pretty and special. Her hobbit hole is decorated with embroidered flowers.

A little angle to help fully appreciate the pebbled path :) 

Another challenge complete! Lots of ideas are percolating for future challenges but for our December reveal we've chosen a theme appropriate to the season - The Sparkle and Shine Challenge :)  Hmm... I might have a few ideas but I know Brenda has a bedazzler! I'm already anticipating!

A few final words as Brenda, Candy, and I prepare to head to Houston for the International Quilt Festival (woo hoo!) - while on vacation I'll be thinking of a special little boy in the NICU (and his Mom!). Positive thoughts for growing!