Sunshine and Yard Art

It was a beautiful day today. I needed to drop off a package at the post office this morning. Today was supposed to be a swimming day, but with the weather so lovely, I decided to save swimming for wet weather. Instead, I took a walk in downtown Newberg after I dropped off my package. It was a good choice. Along the way I stopped in at a little deli (new to me) and got myself a sandwich to go for lunch. It was a nice way to spend the morning.

When I got home, I went to work finishing up the Yard Art blocks on my to-do list.

The associated palm trees take forever to cut. Then they take two times forever to top-stitch. All those ins and outs on the trunk and the fronds mean there's a deceptive amount of mileage around each one. I got them done, but not without nearly taking off the tip of my left index finger. I was removing one of the blocks from beneath the needle while simultaneously rotating my chair around to get up when my foot hit the foot pedal and brought down the needle. Another split second and I'd have sewn through my finger for the first time ever. Ouch. It hurt enough as it was, and I spent the rest of my sewing time applying pressure to avoid bleeding on my blocks as I finished stitching them. Note to self: Flamingos will bite.

That took up all of my time in the sewing room today, but I'm still making progress on the latest Vintage Tin block. I've stitched the entire center portion now. That is the area where the three pieces of Sticky Fabri-Solvy overlap, and I stitched those first to avoid slippage. 

With that portion finished, I moved to the right hand side, and I'll stitch all of that before moving to the left. This one is going faster than expected. It appears complicated, but really, there isn't a lot to stitch in comparison to the next block. Let's just agree not to talk about that right now.

Right now I'm getting ready to move onto the project that gives me bonus points on my to-do list, the fourth block of Wind in the Whiskers.

The next one is called "The Local Branch". I'll just point out that if the cat in that image were Smitty, he'd be preparing to chow down on that chipmunk. (Tastes like chicken!)

But I've done enough sewing for today. Time to start thinking about dinner. 

I'll admit to feeling a little guilty at having such lovely weather at the end of January when I know some of you back east are dealing with a mountain of snow and ice. Just know that I'm sending you warm and sunny thoughts while you dig out.


Some Blocks

It was an easy-going day at home yesterday. I got some embroidery done and I did some housework. Also, I tackled Mt. Laundry...a mountain I climb with a fair amount of regularity. Did you happen to see those guys who climbed El Capitan recently? Why do they get all the credit when women (and men) all around the country climb Mt. Laundry week after week. I'm telling you, we don't get no respect around here. Hmph.

In addition to all of that, I finished the first block of the retirement quilt I'm making for my friend, Lisa. You can read all about it in my post from yesterday.

Here's the original block submitted by Lisa's daughter and four of her granddaughters:

Here it is rendered into fabric.

I neglected to reverse the applique, and so I had to make a mirror image of the block. Also, I'm realizing I need to trim the applique and apply some fray check. Some of those little areas are quite narrow, and so I zigzag stitched all around it. Still, I'm thinking a little fray check will give it a cleaner edge.

So, I didn't really expect to finish that block in one sitting, but it went together faster than I expected.

With that finished, I got to work on the next set of blocks for the Mumm's the Word quilt I've been working on since I was 12 years old. Not really. It only seems that way. I started this project way back in August of 2012. It feels good to be getting some work done on some of the oldest of the old projects. The two blocks I did yesterday were the cat blocks:

This was a six-installment year-long free project from Debbie Mumm in 2012. It was created to celebrate her 25th year in business. Hopefully, I'll finish the quilt before she's been in business for another 25 years, because I don't think I'll live that long. Anyway, here's how the whole quilt will look when its finished:

You can see the cat blocks in the bottom row. With these finished I've completed the blocks from January through June. July's installment contains the four-patches and stars around the border, and that's where I'll pick up next time I work on this project.

Today is a swimming day, and I need to run a few errands. (Don't you hate those errand-running-around days?) I have a couple of small housework chores today, and then I'm hoping I'll have some time left to make two more sets of blocks for the Yard Art quilt...a quilt I've been working almost as long as Debbie Mumm. If I'm to meet my goal for the month, I'll need to make two more sets just like this:

When those are finished, I'll have six out of ten block sets completed. When the quilt is finished, it'll look like this:

I started this project in November of 2012. It's another whose time to be finished up has come.

So that's a tall order for one day, but you know me: Determined. Off I go.


A Finish and a Start

Late yesterday afternoon, I finished stitching the binding onto the Shoot for the Moon quilt. It's completely finished now.

Hey Thanks! Don't mind if I do!

As anyone knows, no quilt is complete without a full complement of cat fuzz. Especially the black ones.

Here's the quilt, completely finished.

Just for grins, here are some details of my favorite blocks.

This morning I added some tiny crystals for windows on the rocket ship in the block below.

And I put some crystals for the cat's face on "Meow Minor" below.

They're all the same color, but that nose picked up the glare of the flash more than the others.

Thanks, Mom. This is a nice cozy place for my nap, and I was just thinking about (yawn) snzzzzzzzzz....

When I was finished with that, I printed out my quilt label.

I'm trying a different product for this one to see how it works. It ran through the printer great, even though it was on a roll, which caused it to curl up some. I just flattened it out with my hands as much as possible by curling it back the other direction.

So this is the product, available from Amazon.com. I was going to tell you that it appears as twill, but when I went to find the link, I discovered that it's actually identified as "twill". Duh. There's also a cotton poplin variety. Here's the front packaging label.

And part of the back label.

These instructions didn't photograph very well, but what you want to know is that it needs to be allowed to dry for 15 minutes. Then I'm supposed to rinse it under water for 30 seconds or until the water runs clear. This is where we may part ways because if it isn't relatively color fast, then it's of no use to me for this application.

Here's a close-up of the unprinted fabric so you can get a sense of what it looks like. It comes on a roll, and I just cut mine down to 4 x 6 inches (photo sized). Actually, it ended up at 4.25 x 6. The roll is 8.5 inches wide, and so I just cut off a 6-inch hunk, and then cut that in half. It's the most efficient use of the roll for my purposes.

As I'm writing this, I'm waiting the requisite 15 minutes for it to dry, and then I'll finish telling you about it.

* * * * *Tick Tock Tick Tock (time passes)* * * * *

Okay, so I've rinsed my label under cold water. I didn't notice any running, and the image is still crystal clear. Nice. However, when I blotted on an old towel to get the excess water from it, it did leave a smudge of ink on my towel. As a warning, don't use your nice white guest towels for this purpose. Otherwise, I'm very happy with it.

Some of you probably use Printed Treasures, and I have too. I've quit using it, however, because it's been such a bugger to get the paper from the back. I've had to resort to dousing mine in lighter fluid to get the blasted paper to let loose. Obviously, that's not a good solution. Also, I don't like the quality of fabric Printed Treasures uses. 

So I'll still need to iron some fusible backing to this once it's completely dry, and then I'll apply it to the back of my quilt. Unless I tell you otherwise, I'm giving this product two thumbs up for now.

Back to quilting: In addition to cat fuzz, no quilt finish is complete without a new project to take it's place. Am I right about that? So here's what's up. Last spring when I was at the Northwest Quilter's Guild quilt show, I saw this quilt:

with this attached tag:

My good friend Lisa is in her last year of teaching after a career spanning more than 25 years. I loved this quilt, and so I offered to make one for Lisa when she retires (this coming May). 

It took a little convincing at first...I'm not entirely sure she understood the project at first...but eventually, she started sending me blocks. Oh my, the blocks did come. 

In preparation for writing this post, I asked Lisa to give me a little information about her career, and this is what she told me (edited slightly for brevity).
I was 35 years old when I began and it was actually fun for both the teacher AND the students:  no scripts, state tests were given, but the pressure wasn’t huge.  We learned the basics, and then learned from each other during projects like writing newspapers.  When I subbed for junior high or high school, the kids thought I was a student, so I realized elementary was the place for me.  Even so, every year the 5th graders would gauge their height against mine, and I had to creatively remind them that height did not equal authority!  I’ve taught at 3 schools for Hemet Unified:  Winchester, where I taught 4th and 5th grades, Ramona, where I taught 4th and 5th grades, plus 2nd, and my last year there was spent as a “reading specialist.”
That brief stint as reading specialist, combined with student teaching kindergarten many, many years ago, landed me as the kindergarten teacher at Idyllwild School, after 3 years back at 4th grade.  Teaching kindergarten has been the most challenging, AND the most rewarding.  
During my tenure at Ramona School, I was approached by a member of the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars with the request to  represent their chapter by applying for Teacher of the Year.  I don’t generally go for that stuff as I have worked with fabulous teachers at every site, and feel each one should be recognized, not  singled out. However, I allowed myself to be talked into it, and since I had agreed, I put together the best portfolio I could, submitted it, then forgot about it.  A few months later I received a phone call from the VFW commander to announce I had been proclaimed Teacher of the Year for Riverside County as well as for the State of California, 2006! 
I am now ready for retirement, but I am enjoying every single minute of my last year of teaching as my dream was "to go out with a smile!"

This morning I took some time going through them and counting them, and there are 56 blocks in all, including two t-shirts. Of course, I didn't photograph all of them for this post, but here is a small sampling of what I have to work with.

With 56 blocks, I've decided to set them seven blocks across and eight rows down. I'll have to keep them relatively small, and so I've settled on making each block 6-1/2 inches (6 inches finished), and I'm going to try to do one per week so that I can actually live long enough to finish the project! I'm going to start with this one created by Lisa's daughter, Keely and four of her granddaughters to commemorate their helping her get her classroom ready at the beginning of each new school year.

This one will be relatively easy to do. Some of the blocks will, of course, be more difficult and require more time for me to stare at them to decide on a strategy. I expect a combination of piecing, applique, and embroidery, and we'll just see how it goes.

Today is a day at home. If I can finish this block, I'll start working on some blocks for my other projects.


Two Finishes

Today I'm showing you two finishes: the finished quilting on Shoot for the Moon and the finish of the Stitches in Bloom quilt show. I'll start with Shoot for the Moon.

This quilt fought me every step of the way. I made the mistake of using two very different weight threads on top and bobbin, and it caused me no end of grief where my tension was concerned. I think at least 50% of it was picked out and quilted again. Toward the end, I reached my frustration tolerance and switched to a different bobbin thread. My problems vanished. Oy. I was hesitant to make a switch half way through my quilt, but I reasoned it couldn't be any worse than continuing the way it was going. Anyway...it still needs binding, but there you go:

Here's how it looks from the back:

And don't you know that black fabric picks up all the cat fuzz from anywhere in the house, including that from two floors down. I've noticed it just whooshing through the door of any room where the quilt happens to be at any given time. It's a veritable fuzz magnet. You might also guess that it is the favorite of all the quilts in the house for cat napping. I swear I've seen Smitty and Gracie looking at it and discussing its merits as a place for lying about.

This morning I've read all my email, checked in on Facebook, done my embroidery allotment for the day, and now I've finished quilting my quilt. I'm telling you, there are no flies on me today.

With that in mind, I finished sorting through the pictures from the quilt show. Here is the last batch. Today's quilts have some fabulous art quilts included, so here goes:

My friend Sue was the first to notice these were pencils. This quilt is called Pencil Box, and it was so much more delightful upon that realization.

This next one was instantly recognizable as the garb worn by the female inmates at the Oregon Department of Corrections. When I was considering volunteering for the Coffee Creek Quilters, I grew familiar with the uniforms the women wore. As I recall, this quilt was called "I'm Never Wearing Blue Again."

The title of the next one was "Who Is She?" It came along with a note that said, "What do we really know about these women wearing burqas? Not much." 

This one was inspired by a photograph of a Great Blue Heron.

This next one was interesting for its name. Quilt show etiquette meant that I couldn't really lift up the covers to read the notes. Still, I enjoyed it for its color and dimension.

Nothing to say about this one...I just liked it.

Mike and I being stargazers, this one was one of my favorites of the show.

This next one was fabulously elaborate in its embellishment and dimension. It was almost like looking at a sculpture in cloth.

I loved this next one.

Here's an interesting way to do raw-edge applique.

I loved the quilting in this next one. I have in mind to do something similar on my Aspen Tree wallhanging.

The curved piecing on this next one was very impressive.

This one called "Just Dance" was just plain fun.

The next one was called Menopausal Trees. I don't know about the "menopause", but I loved this quilt.

These next quilts were in a separate building marked "Special Exhibits". The quilts all seemed to be about reclaimed and repurposed "junk". By this time, my eyes were getting full and I was getting tired of looking, and so I only photographed a couple of them.

Here's one more, including a couple of shots of the detail.

So those are all the pictures I wanted to share from the quilt show. I was curious about the large number of quilts submitted by a group calling themselves "High Fiber Diet", and so I looked them up online. They appear to be a very active group of quilters associated with the Columbia Fiber Arts Guild of Portland. You can see their blog and some more of their quilts on exhibit at the Portland Airport and one of the municipal buildings in Canby, Oregon if you click right here.

Today is a swimming day. I kind of fell off the swimming wagon, and so I'm going to try to get myself going again. I'm hoping also to get the binding sewn on the Shoot for the Moon quilt today so that I can finish it off.