Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Friendship in the Blogosphere

I did the senior thing. Went on a day-long bus trip to Jacksonville (Florida) and found that, disappointingly, I fit right in. I wasn't too young, as much as I hoped otherwise. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Barb who lives in a retirement community about an hour from The Villages, so during our five hours of travel time (2-1/2 hours each way) we had plenty of time to get to know each other. 

In Jacksonville, I went to the quilt show - QuiltFest - an annual collaboration among seven area quilt guilds. Photo-taking is permitted, but publicly posting pictures of quilts (as on a blog) without the quiltmakers' permission, isn't. It was a nice show.

The quilt award ribbons were right up my alley. Someone sure spent a lot of time making these. Every one was well-constructed, and even embellished with beads. 

The palm tree theme (Such a refreshing change to see palms wherever I go - even at quilt shows!) carried over to tables in the eating area. Again, it looked like lots of work went into the making of them.

Possibly the most enjoyable part of the whole day was spending time with Lora, a blogger-friend from near Ocala (DragonflyQuiltworks.com) who I had the pleasure of meeting in person. How is it that we feel comfortable hugging someone we're meeting for the first time?! Lora and I had a wonderful time hanging out together, looking at and critiquing quilts, as well as stopping at all the vendor booths. It was even more fun to look for fabrics when it turns out we like the same ones.

Here we're standing in front of a pretty batik quilt made by Pauline Williams-Banta (shown with permission). Lora and I might meet up again when I visit a Gainesville MQG meeting.

Though the vendors weren't stocking much in the way of modern fabrics, I managed to buy 9-1/2 yards of it! Now washed, pressed, and ready to be sewn, you wouldn't know from looking that I shopped with the intention of reloading my stash with orange. Note the two aqua pieces on the right. I am totally smitten with this print called "painter's canvas," by Laura Gunn. Since the show I learned it comes in other colors, including orange.

At home, these fabrics arrived by mail from Marie-Madeline Studio. Great sales going on there last week - 40 percent off. It was definitely stash-building time.

Sewing-wise, here's a glimpse of what I've been working on the past few days. This is one of eight beach cabanas that will appear on a beach-themed wall hanging that's now on my design wall. Each cabana is made from a different fabric given to me in April by Iowa girlfriends - and with the challenge to use all eight prints in a quilt.

When it's finished, one might also see a palm tree in this project. Linda

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Been Three Months

Three months ago today, on June 23, we moved into our new house. I challenged myself to set up my sewing/quilting room on a $2,000 budget. Though I'm not completely finished with the room, I thought it would be fun to recap its progress.

The closet went from this...

...to this. Thank goodness for that closet! It holds a lot of valuable stuff!

When we moved in, the front bedroom looked like this.

Then it looked like this.

For a while it looked like this.

Now it looks like this. I'll stick with this layout for a while.

Only the wire racks of fabric (on the left wall) remain to be stored out of sight. I'm continually watching Craigslist, local ads, and visiting three area resale furniture stores to find a white armoire - or one that I could paint white... but really don't want to! The dark wood on the left edge of the photo are the hollow core doors I use for basting and free motion-quilting. Someday I'll store them behind the armoire.

In case you're interested, here's where the dollars went:

1) ironing table - two, white, adjustable height (multi-purpose!) trestle legs from Ikea - $130
2) ironing table surface - wood, batting, duck cloth - $58
3) design wall - insulation, batting, flannel - $66
3) Gidget II sewing machine table with acrylic insert (for Bernina 440) - $225
4) sewing machine chair - $175
5) eight-cube white cabinet from Home Depot - $32
6) eight, lagoon-colored canvas bins from Home Decorators - $50
7) customized closet - $313
8) aqua folding step stool from T.J. Maxx - $14 - Isn't it cute? And so handy!
9) dog: NFS, priceless

Total spent = $1,018. I feel pretty comfortable about finding an armoire that fits into the balance of $982. It just depends how much sweat equity I end up putting into it.

So, the quilting room isn't completely finished, but neither is the rest of the house! We're anticipating delivery of two, master bedroom, night stand lamps; and two, armless, upholstered chairs for the "chat room" (previously referred to as the conversation corner). Then we'll be shopping to finish the chat room with a table, rug and floor lamp. After that, we'll start furnishing the lanai which we hope to be using more when the weather cools and we can open sliders to the screened-in lanai. Goodness. Three months ago, I never would have guessed we'd still be shopping to furnish this house. But we're blessed to be living here - lovin' the weather, lovin' the activities, lovin' The Villages lifestyle. Linda

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Great Granny Along Finish

I borrowed a neighbor's newly landscaped yard to take pictures of my finished Great Granny Quilt. One of these days, our yard will have a palm tree or two, so I won't have to go far to take outdoor photos. 
58-1/2" X 72-1/2"
Do you remember to make labels for your quilts? Along with basic information, the Great Granny Along badge was the perfect addition to my label. What's not so perfect is the photo my camera produced. That splotch in the middle, over the word "September" is a permanent mar that no amount of lense-cleaning can remove. Guess that's what happens when one has a seven year old 6.1 megapixel camera that has taken thousands of photos, in four countries.

A new I-Phone 5 is in my future! An I-Phone camera has 8 megapixels. I couldn't be more excited about getting it since this will be my very first smartphone. (Yes, I've been living in the 20th century.) Unlimited US talk and text, with Internet capabilities?! Being able to call friends during the week?! The phone comes at a high price, and I don't mean the cost of the phone, service and data plan. T-Mobile is charging $200 to be released from my contract. Not a happy camper about that!

Making progress on my UFO list, here's a quilt top finish.
55" X 70"
It's made from blocks I requested from quilters who were in the 2011 One Block Over group. Here's where to find my block tutorial. I'm feeling pleased that last September was my month, and I've got the top put together just (ha!) one year later. I anticipate doing some creative quilting in the gray background, and already have a couple designs in mind.

On Friday I'm going to QuiltFest Jacksonville. I think it will be a good time, hanging out with quilters, and seeing the kinds of quilts Floridians make. What I'm having a difficult time admitting is that I'm going on a "Senior Adventures" bus trip! (Who? Me?!) Linda

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blocks and Blocks

With only 34 commenters, the odds were definitely in your favor if you commented to win my giveaway. In a rare occurrence, Random Number Generator picked the first commenter!

Shannon said:
If I had enough money to purchase one thing to improve my sewing/quilting room, I would buy... a bathroom so i didn't have to go upstairs 20 plus times a day :)
Shortly after I emailed Shannon about her win, she was already shopping with her $25 Pink Castle Fabrics gift certificate.

Thanks to all of you who entered, and have been following my blog these past three-and-a-half years!

Recently, I invited eight women to my house to discuss modern quilting, and the possibility of organizing a Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) chapter. I'm excited about our conversations! We discussed "What is modern quilting?" according to MQG, and on our 50" TV, watched a slide show of many wonderful MQG online examples of modern quilts.

Though these quilters are very excited about modern designs, quite a few of them hadn't yet sewn "modern." So for our next get-together our challenge is to make a modern quilt block. It can be any size, and must include at least one solid fabric. I chose to make this 17-1/4" (unfinished) Octagonal Orb quilt block, by Elizabeth Hartman. Eventually, I'll sew this into a pillow. Do you know how much I'm lovin' aqua these days?! I can't wait to get the aqua swirl glass lamps I ordered for the guest room!
17-1/4" unfinished block
Speaking of MQG, lots and lots of blocks have been submitted to Quiltcon for the organization's first convention in Austin, Texas, next February. Blocks will be used in quilts donated to the Austin Children's Center. Recent Quiltcon blog posts have been reviews of various categories of blocks submitted. Though I won't be going to Quiltcon, a block I made will be in one of the donation quilts. In this photo of "pictoral" blocks, mine's the skyscraper block, lower right.

Catching up with the Blogger's BOM, I've completed July (top row) and August blocks - I'm making two of each.
8-1/2" unfinished blocks
For nearly a year I've been sewing 1-1/2" squares as leaders and enders. During that time, and in spite of several months of no sewing activities due to our move, I have made more than sixty 16-patch blocks. It will take several more months of "leadering and endering" to have enough 4" blocks to make a quilt of any size, even with sashing around each block, but I bet it will be pretty.

My least favorite design, in fabric or embroidery, is hearts. You'll never find a heart in anything I create for myself. However, I'll gladly make hearts when they're requested by a dear friend, Di. This 6-1/2" unfinished pink "healing heart" block is already on its way to Australia as a remembrance of her husband's sudden passing. I would happily make stacks and stacks of heart blocks for her if it would help give some small measure of comfort. She's having a rough time, and who wouldn't after 40 years of marriage? 

Unexpected life challenges such as Di's remind me of why we moved to Florida - to enjoy life and retirement while we're young. (And yes, 59-1/2 is still young!) We never know when life will toss us overboard and upset our otherwise steady way of living. Life can change in an instant.

The pastor at a new Evangelical Free church we've been attending likes to say that as Christians here in The Villages we should: "Play hard! Pray hard! Finish well!"

Finishing well means using our remaining days to do good. Serve others. Bear fruit. Psalm 92:14 says:

They (the righteous) will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,

Okay. I'll admit it. 59-1/2 is old, but I'm clinging to that "fresh and green." Linda 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Too Much Fun

Though Austin and his parents returned home last week, I just had to share one more picture of him. We got out the John Deere toys our son had played with when he was little. So glad we hung onto them. 

Returning to my sewing room after they left, I went back to quilting my Great Granny Along.

The white spaces are filled in with an all over sort of triple "C" design. I'm pretty sure I saw it online someplace and after doing some drawing, came up with my own version of it.

Each of the Great Granny blocks are quilted with feathers along a double vein, and a spiral (snail-type) top. That quilting shows up best from the back.

The quilting is "half-and-half" - half quilted entirely free-motion and the other half quilted with the aid of the BSR (Bernina stitch regulator). I'm still uncertain as to what I think about the BSR. On one hand without it: 1) I like the way I'm able to make my own pretty stitches, particularly when starting to stitch, and 2) the machine sounds smoother when the regulator isn't on. On the other hand, using the BSR: 1) stitches are definitely of a more uniform length, but the very first stitch (after a stop) doesn't want to "launch" - it's usually longer than subsequent stitches - and, 2) the machine definitely sounds different. It sounds like a longarm machine.

Last Tuesday The Villages Daily Sun newspaper came to our house to interview me about "Snowflake Medallion" - where it's headed (to the AQS show in Des Moines, Iowa) and where it's been. A photographer took a half dozen photos of Snowflake and me, and a videographer recorded me free-motion quilting on the above-mentioned Great Granny quilt. The article appeared in the Friday, September 7 issue of the newspaper, and on the same day, was local "news" on The Villages cable TV channel. Pretty fun stuff for me. By the way, that's my Supernova quilt, Lee's quilt-along from 2011, on the wall behind me.
The article went on, to page three.
Now if you've stuck with me through this post, I want to mention that I'm celebrating 500 blog posts! That's since January, 2009. And I've just noticed that my followers now top 200. Don't you agree these numbers are worthy of a giveaway? The prize is out of my own pocket - a $25 gift certificate to Pink Castle Fabrics, because fabric is my favorite online thing to try to win.


Make sure you're a follower. Then comment to complete this sentence:

If I had enough money to purchase one thing to improve my sewing/quilting room, I would buy...

Have fun dreaming! A winner will be drawn on (my) Friday evening. Linda

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wondering About a Quilt

Recently I've been moving around my older quilts. They're stored in pillow cases and tucked away safely on the top shelves of the master bedroom closet. But as I looked through these quilts, I wondered at how my tastes have changed. 

This Plaid Spools quilt is an "oldie but a goodie." It's my first on-line quilt project. 
Plaid Spools 59" X 83"
The quilt came about through women who "met" through a chat room (Koffee Klatch). Anyone who wanted to participate would agree to make and swap blocks through the mail. It was an amazing concept in 1996!

Through the mail, each of us received a copy of a magazine pattern of pieced spools. We were instructed to sew blocks with plaid fabrics for the spools, and muslin for the background.

We were told to sign our blocks with our names and city/state. A few women added their email address. If I recall rightly, we returned our blocks to the swap coordinator who sorted and then mailed blocks back to each of us.
Carolyn Bohot, Austin, TX
Where are these women are now? 
Sally O'Callaghan, Whitesboro, NY
Do they live in the same cities?
Nancy Adreae, Ely, MN
Are they still sewing quilt blocks and making quilts, 16 years later?
Laurel Vaccaro Needles, Burke, VA
Lisa McQueen, San Jose, CA
Do they still have the same email address?
Rhonda Coler, Bremerton, WA
Lyn Kruss, Bettendorf, IA
At the time, many of us quilters, including me, worked in higher education (dot edu) which is where we were exposed to the Internet.
Janet Rogers, Stillwater, OK
Lyn Blansett, Searcy, AR
Bonnie Wilson, Juneau, AK
Tina Johnson, Mason, OH
Even though this quilt isn't a particular favorite (it's also one of my first free-motion quilted quilts) it's representative of how technology was beginning to impact our quilting lives. When you compare this small, but amazing (at the time), block swap to what we do today in the blogosphere and through social media - only 16 years later! - the advances downright boggle the mind.

I wonder if someone reading this post might know one of these quilters. Through the wonders of our mind-boggling technology, it could happen! Linda


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