Thursday, July 25, 2013

Whew . . . Summer Craziness is Winding Down

I like being busy, but sometimes it gets out of control. I know I shouldn't expect sympathy because the busy-ness was all of my own doing and was all fun stuff. But still all this much fun has made me crazy!

First there were two weeks in Playa del Carmen, Mexico - studying Spanish and having fun in the sun (well, fun in the rain actually). Out of class activities included gazing in awesome wonder at the beautiful colors of the ocean, taking pictures of the colorful flowering trees, and learning about the interesting Mayan culture. I have three quilts in the incubator from this trip - one seascape with blues and greens of the water and waves, one with bright colors to represent the trees and flowers, and one with the symbology of the Mayan culture.

The second trip was to visit my BFF Bobbie in Seattle and then heading off together with another friend to Sisters Oregon for quilt classes and the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

 Bobbie's SUV was stuffed to the top with 3 sewing machines, 3 suitcases, 2 tables, 3 chairs, fabric and supplies for 10 quilting projects, and of course food and snacks. The weather was beautiful the whole time we were there - sunny and warm during the day and cool at night. It was so wonderful to be in a dry warmth instead of the humidity here in Kansas. 

We transformed our hotel suite into a sewing studio so we could work on all our projects. The machines were working every day. We took 2 classes (more in another post), did some mega shopping in several quilt shops in Sisters and Bend, attended the Sister's Outdoor Quilt Show (1300 quilts on display), sewed on new projects as well as works in progress, watched classic movies (I was introduced to The Thin Man), chatted, drank wine and snacked. It was a wonderful week!

The SUV was even more packed heading back to Seattle. After a day to do laundry, repacking and haircuts for both me and Bobbie, it was time to come home. It's nice to be away -- I don't worry about all the millions of small and large items on my getting ready to sell the house to-do list.  But it was wonderful to be home with my sweetie and get back into my routines.

But I was only home 4 days before I headed to North Carolina and Tennessee for CQL work. I love these trips because the people are so inspiring in their work on behalf of people with disabilities. there is also the added benefit of visiting quilt shops in different parts of the country!

So, tomorrow I am finally home for a while.  I'm bringing new fabric, patterns, rulers, ideas, and inspiration for new quilts. I won't be able to play with any of my new stuff because the get-the-house-ready-to sell to-do list kicks in. But I do get to get back into my routines, which of course includes some studio play time! I also have to catch up on all my blocks of the month!
Home at last!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Help! I Think I'm a Block of the Month Addict

They make it sound so simple - just one block a month. I'd be finished in no time. It's sounds so simple, so enticing, so do-able!

At least until you sign up for one after another, after another, and then another. Then it becomes not so simple and do-able. But still enticing.

My name is Denise and I am a Block of the Month addict.
(Hi Denise)

It started innocently several years ago when I started doing an internet BOM from Beth Ferrier called Moondance. I couldn't wait for the next month's instructions to be posted.  I finally finished that quilt last year - about 5 years after I started it.

My second BOM, offered in 2012 by The Quilt Show, is a beautiful medallion quilt called Sedona Star by Sarah Vedeler.  I was on track in January, but lost it in February when my finished center medallion was 16.75 inches and it was supposed to by 17.5 inches. I got stuck on how I was going to fix it. So, it's still sitting there, waiting for inspiration on a repair strategy.  In my "stuckness" I neglected to download the remained months' instructions. Now, if I want to finish this quilt (which I think I do) I have to buy the pattern for $60.

The KVQG traditionally offers a BOM to it's members. Since I joined, there have been 2 different BOM quilts. I faithfully download and save the pattern every month, intending some day to complete them. This year's patterns are urban critters so I have started collecting corduroy, wool, and other textured fabric that will be great for critters.

Shabby Fabrics had a really cute BOM last year featuring cottages decked out to represent each month.  Again, every month I dutifully downloaded and saved the pattern for "someday".

I am actively participating 3 more BOM at the moment. One is a mystery quilt by Linda Hahn made of beautiful blue, green, purple and pink batiks. Month 1 was a breeze - but I had to make 4 blocks. This flew in the face of my ideas that BOM consisted of a single block. But I got it done, so sweat. Month 2 was a different story - I had to make 28 blocks! I'm about half way through, and month 3 has already been released.  I can catch up, but I've got to work at it.

The second BOM is the Buck-a-Block at Mea Bernina. This is a series of traditional blocks using Thangles for half square triangles. On track!

Number three is Toes in the Sand by Jay Bird Quilts. This is a series of cute triangle blocks using the Hex N More Ruler. It comes every month in the mail from Fons and Porter. On track (if one month constitutes a track)!

I bet if I looked into my stash, I could probably find a few other old BOM that I stalled out on. I distinctly remember a needle-turn applique batik botanical series. I wonder what else I might find.

Perhaps my next challenge should be to get and stay current on my BOM and then next year to be a little more judicious about taking on new BOM. Or not . . . . .

Curious by the month,

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Great Program at KVQG - Peg Parnell

KVQG monthly meeting was earlier this week. With each speaker comes new insights, experiences and techniques. Peg Pennell was no exception. Coming to us from near Omaha Nebraska, Peg described her history with quilt challenges - in fact she admits to being a "challenge junkie". It really resonates with me when people have a focus or something they return to again and again. I think I like it because that's not me.

Peg took up the gauntlet from the many (6?) guilds she belongs to and completed the challenges with flair - sometimes challenging the challengers with unusual shapes and other rule bending. For each challenge she set herself a personal challenge to learn and practice some new technique. This is way cool in my book. I also loved how she collected fabric, embellishments, sayings and doo-dads that related to the quilt she was working on.

I love Peg's sense of color - "Lime green in my go-to neutral", and her technique for stretching small pieces of fabric by slashing and inserting another fabric.

So, here is what I'm taking away from Peg's presentation - challenge yourself to learn and try new things, dont be afraid to "break the rules" and embellishments sometimes make the quilt.
 Keep up the Curiosity!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Borders - Decisions, Decisions!

For the 4th project in my color and design class, I made a Ricky Tims' Convergence Quilt with Kaffe Fassett fabrics in the analogous complementary colors of  red, red-orange, orange and blue-green. Now comes the borders and I am stymied. Ricky's book offers several ideas, but I am having trouble visualizing how the borders will either complement or detract from the quilt.

I tried pinning fabric swatches to my design wall, but I just couln't seem to get a good visual. I just got EQ7 and I should be able to mock up my quilts using this software, but I'm just learning how to use it and I'm not there yet. So, I decided to try something I am very comfortable with - PowerPoint!

I really didn't want to spend time scanning in fabrics, so I just filled blocks with colors that approximate my fabrics.   Ricky's book shows blocks of fabrics used for the convergence center used again in the borders - so I tired it with 2 different rotations:
opposites                                  and                         like on like

Then I used tried and true black with some stripes of my fabrics and I loved it. So, this is what my Complex Complementary Convergence Quilt will look like!

Next I'll play with binding.

Curious about color!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Color and Design Class Project #3 - Complementary Colors

I love the 3rd Saturday of the month, because that's when I get to go to Stitching Traditions in Topeka and take the Color and Design class from Kathy Pflaum. What a treat! My mind is all a-whirl when I leave there with all sorts of colors, designs, various media options. Kathy and my classmates are amazing!

This month our assignment was to use complementary colors from the color wheel.  Since I had so many red-violet fabrics from last month, I decided to to stay with that color and add its complement yellow-green.

One of the techniques on my bucket list is to add some prairie points a-la Susan Cleveland. It was really easy using Susan's prairie pointer tool.  The hardest part was getting the points all lined up in the seams.

Since we discussed implied texture and actual texture in our last class, I decided to add shell beads to the tips of the points, giving the prairie points even more texture. The quilting seemed obvious to me - just follow the lines of the prairie points.

Son Jim takes a look and pronounces that my wall hanging looks like a dragon's back or tail - so now I have a cool name for the quilt - "Dragon's Tail".

This wall hanging will go into the mini quilt auction to benefit local Lawrence charities at our annual quilt show on April 6-7.

Always curious in class!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Studio That Works - Plastic or Personality?

When I think about my studio, the first word that comes to mind is organization. That's always been a favorite word as well as concept - I like things organized. I tend to evaluate things based on how well organized they are - events, people, rooms, patterns, etc.  
Yesterday and Monday I was lucky to have presented (with Jerry V. and Becky M - Thanks!) the program for the Kaw Valley Quilters' Guild - a program on Studio Organization - or more precisely - Studios: Where Women Create.  Based on some comments from guild members, I think it went over well.  I was so inspired by the women and their spaces we visited to prepare for the program. 

I went into this process leaning mostly toward organization - tidiness, a place for everything, functionality. I still think that stuff is important. In the presentation I acknowledged the importance of inspiration, creativity, the soul-full aspect of a creative space. I mean I understand these elements, but I'm not sure MY studio has these elements.  Have I sacrificed inspiration for organization? Has plastic triumphed over passion? Or do I need simplicity, empty walls, containerized and covered storage so that I don't get overwhelmed? 

I've really tried in the last few years to get rid of extraneous "stuff" so that the space I have can be home to the things I really love.  In my studio I need tools and  room to design, plan, cut, sew, and press my work in progress. And I need space to store my fabric, notions, and patterns.
I feel I have done that - OK, but not spectacularly.  Part of me thinks I would like to have jars of threads arranged by color - oh so beautiful. Instead I have plastic stack-ables keeping thread together by thread weight and purpose. Not so pretty but it works better for me. 

So I guess I am having some Studio Angst. Do I want a studio out of the pages of a magazine, or do I want a studio that works for ME? 
Both? OK, if I have to choose, I will choose one that works for me. At this point, it mostly works for me.

 There is a desk to sit and think/work at; an adequate cutting table with drawers for storage.

My over-sized pressing table allows ample room for pressing as well as fabric lay-out.  The book shelf and large filing cabinet in the closet hold patterns, instructions, inspiration and ideas.

Thankfully, I have an extra closet where my fabric lives in plastic stack-ables and tubs to protect them from light and dust.  

I have a portable and adequate design wall that works, but is not exactly what I want. The traffic flow (and possibly even feng shui) is not great. I would like new paint and carpet. The lighting could be better too.  I have a lot of beading supplies that I am not ready to part with, but that is taking up prime real estate in my studio - I should probably find a better home for them.  I also have a beautiful chest that my Dad (who passed away 5 years ago today) made to hold my cross stitch supplies and patterns.

    So, my studio is functional with room for improvement. Goals for this year: (1) make the improvements needed for functionality, (2) add a few personal, inspirational touches that proclaim my personality, (3) and remember it's not so much the space that's as important as what happens there!
Curious in my studio,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Electric Quilt 7 Program - So Excited!

    Today my Christmas present - EQ7 arrived. I have installed it, viewed all the tutorial videos and am now going to get down to business learning how to use it. I already have a list of quilts that I want to make; a task made easier with the features in this program.
    I am so excited! I think I will start designing a quilt with blocks named for Kansas. I've done a quick copy and paste with photos I found on the net, but now I can really design it in a way that it can actually be sewn together and fit!
  Gotta go play with my new toy!
Curious about EQ7,