Friday, May 22, 2015

Taking a Break

It's time for a blogging break. Too much going on for the next week or two and other things need my concentration.
My low-volume log cabin quilt still in the hoop
I'm sure there will be lots of stitching going on in my hoop{s} and I'll probably still be lurking here and there. Till next time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Working Through the Emotion

Okay, here's the quilt that has been consuming all my time. It's the quilt about the fire that happened in our town approximately 10 months ago, all the fraught emotion for free. There's a lot of layers and subtleties to this quilt and honestly, I just don't have the time or heart to walk you through every detail right now. And after this is done, let me tell you, it's back to quilting just for fun around here!
The day it started for us....
Plus, I'm still wondering if I'll actually hit 'publish' on this post. It's just one of those quilts that seems kind of intensely crazy for people that weren't actually here. Ahh... so dramatic. It's not like the town was bombed or people died.
Some feelings and emotion...
No, but we lost things. Like our innocence that bad things never happen in our small town, USA. We lost our confidence that when it comes to structures and towns with a low profile, that state fire crews actually care. You think this would have been allowed to happen to a large tourist town? I think not.
So much love and support....
I get upset at the uselessness of it all. Yeah, yeah, nature was doing its thing at a whole new level. I do get that. Wow, do I get that. But there was definitely some communication problems and some mismanagement. We saw soooooo many firemen just standing and watching. Not local firefighters. They were killing themselves off trying to save everything. It was insane.

The whole event was just unreal and it will always stay with us in one way or another. I didn't actually lose my home, but I will never forget those 20-30 minutes of running through the house grabbing up the 'important items', trying to find my youngest son, driving forever to get somewhere safe, and then laying awake during the night thinking about what I wasn't able to take, and even more, worried about everything and everyone. Going back to the house the next day and seeing things fallen on the floor that I was sure were in the suburban and safe. Being on evacuation notice for days after where we were staying with friends. Wondering if a random spark would go ahead and catch fire on our house the next day like it did our cousins house. Should I be taking more out of the house and if so, where would be safe to store it? Worrying about my parents and all they were dealing with, what they were going to do.
Something I'll never forget....
My mom, dad, sister, mother-in-law, cousins, and so many people we knew didn't have the opportunity to go back into their houses because theirs was already in ashes and smoldering. Not just burnt a little, but practically incinerated. It was so unreal. What and how to take care of that, especially the uninsured? Driving through town and seeing friends and neighbors looking in shock and grief at the home they'd lived in all their life. All the tears. All the devastation and trauma. It felt like a bad movie, but instead, they've had to wake up to their new reality every day since. Second guess why they were worried about clearing the table instead of grabbing their pictures.
The whole quilt minus another little flame in the right corner...
So yes, 'Things will never be the same'. And they might be better someday. You never know. To some it is already better in a few ways. My mom and dad moved into their new home a couple weeks ago and it's nicer than anything they've ever lived in. Pretty fantastic actually, if you think losing 40 yrs. worth of stuff you've worked hard for is a good trade off. I'm thinking not as the stress has aged them tremendously and there are things that can never be replaced. We feel very blessed that nobody died. Extremely thankful as it could have happened so easily. There's just so many little stories winding their way through this quilt, but as you can see, I get all emotional just thinking about it. A little angry and maybe even a bit bitter. I need to work on that obviously.

We'll never forget the outpouring of love from people everywhere. The donations and the help. It was simply incredible and very touching. Our lives have been changed since this event and hopefully this quilt has helped me work through the worst of the feelings. It's all pin basted and ready to start stitching now although I'm shaking my head at what to do and where to start. It's been like that all along with this quilt. 'What do I do now?' The quilt show is the day after the first anniversary of the fire. That's my goal. Better get something figured out soon.*wink

Friday, May 15, 2015

Quarter Circles in Spring 2015 Bloggers Quilt Festival

Okay, this is one of my all-time favorite quilts that I've ever made! I just adore it, in spite of the slight fading it has from near disastrous bleeding issues. I'm entering it as my second quilt in Amy's Spring Bloggers Quilt Festival.
Quarter Circles
I'm being very, extremely brave and entering into the Hand Quilted category! Normally I would leave that for the much more talented hand quilters, but I'm having trouble figuring out where to place this particular quilt. It could go into large quilts, applique quilts, hand quilts and maybe even original design quilts.
Hanging on the railing....
Einie meinie mienie moe and hand quilting won out! This quilt started out being a pile of low volume prints that just sort of spoke to me. Some had been in my stash practically since day one, some were given to me {basically rejected fabrics} and others had been bought personally by me, but had never found a proper home.
Looking at the texture...
I have always loved the use of red mixed with cream and then combined with slightly floral prints--something those talented Netherland bloggers do so very well. It took me awhile to get up my nerve to try it out and then once I started, I just fell in love. And kept on falling.
A close-up of some stitching...
I started small and took it slow, beginning with a cream dotted fabric. Then I took some {freehand cut} printed fabric circles and needleturn appliqued them onto the cream. From there I cut those squares into four pieces {the quarter circles} and started working out how to make my sort of wonky looking sashing. That process certainly had its ups and downs but eventually I conquered all and built me a quilt to be proud of.*wink
The back side of the quilt...
And I thought it was wonderfully beautiful. Until I finished it all up and washed it for the first time. And sure, having the bleeding issues and getting-the-bleeding-issues taken care of, sort of out took the shine out of the brighter areas. But it also gave me a lovely, faded, antique look that I have always loved and admired. After having plenty of time to think about it, I still think it's wonderfully beautiful, just in a little bit different way than I intended. So I guess you could say it all worked out well in the end.
Almost looks like a postcard!
My Quarter Circles quilt is about 70" x 85", just perfect to lay on the foot of my bed and pull up over me on the colder nights. I have a second quilt entered into the large quilt category as well if you want to go have a look-see.

Vertical Baskets in Spring 2015 Bloggers Quilt Festival

Time for spring Bloggers Quilt Festival again over at Amy's Creative Side! Love this mammoth online quilt show to pieces. So many wonderful quilts to look at and admire!
Vertical Baskets
I've been dragging my heels a bit about getting the binding finished up and then remembered the quilt show. Sadly, extra motivation is always a good thing when it comes to the binding around here.
Looking at some of the texture...
This was a quilt I made after buying a yard of the brown fabric for my birthday one year. I think it was 2012? {Oh yes, I can work on my quilts for a very long time.} Then I went back to the store later and saw it in the clearance bin. Oh no! Not this great fabric! So I bought up enough to use as vertical panels in a quilt that quickly materialized in my brain.
Hanging on the railing....
Not that I had all the pieces figured out until much, much later, but somehow it all came together anyway. All the rest of the fabrics were straight out of my stash {I tried to use a lot of reproduction fabrics} and the pattern and different basket handles were sort of made up as I went along. I ended up using a lot of different fat quarters to make up the setting triangles and I love how the value change creates movement in the quilt.
And another view...
It could've been a very dark, somber looking quilt because of the colors I used, but somehow there's just enough lighter colors to generate a bit of energy. The different colored diamonds in the center panels were created when I decided to try inserting two other fabrics behind the panel and attempted some reverse applique. So easy to do and I think it completely changed the look of the quilt for the better. Just a little spark of color can go a very long way.
A close up of the stitching
It's hard to get a good picture of this quilt, but I wanted to show you the texture of the quilt too. I ended up hand quilting this one a little more than I meant to, but I think the effect is well worth the effort!

Taking it out of the dryer this afternoon was a really big highlight of my week. Why do I ever procrastinate on the binding anyway? There's just something about a freshly washed, crinkly quilt that always makes me have a great big ol' smile! So that's it. You finally get to see the whole, entire quilt finished and ready to start snuggling with.*sigh This 81 1/2" x 86" quilt is entered into the large quilt category of the quilt show. My other quilt is entered into the hand quilted section.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Loose Ends

Getting the bits and pieces figured out for all five panels on the fire quilt. I usually consider it 'cleaning up the loose ends', but sometimes it takes more time than others. I spent several hours with it laying on the floor, scratching my head and wondering how to get everything perfect. haha Like that ever happens. And hey, I'm the one always telling my family to think 'representational' not realistic. 
All five panels in my handwork bag, ready for detail work...
Better listen to myself and move on or it will never get done. Thinking seriously about taking a quick break from that pesky project and doing some final handwork on Vertical Baskets. Sometimes it's really not about wanting to do something, it's about not wanting to do something else!
A bit of binding work to do
My husband has been working a bit on our camp-trailer, getting things ready for Memorial Day. Wowsers is it coming up fast this year! I need to recover a couple couch cushions and think about doing a major cleanup in there. Guess I need to schedule a trip to JoAnnes for some sturdy fabric too. There can't be anything in that store to derail me from my current projects, right? Hmm... I wonder if they might have the 1718 Coverlet book? lol

Monday, May 11, 2015

More Stitching

Gotta love Mothers Day. The one day I'm guaranteed not to have to cook! I had a nerve wracking experience with a big, hairy, jumpy spider while sitting in the back of our Suburban yesterday, but you know how that goes. {Husband driving, dad, mom and mother-in-law in the captain seats, guess who gets relegated to the very back bench?} Also, I am encouraged not to shriek while husband is driving as I've heard it can incur an accident.
Panel #4 on the Fire quilt--more stitching
Hmmm. Let's just say that the spider is now dead and I personally, will probably never ride in the very back of our truck again. My kids were smart to drive their own vehicle to the restaurant and I'm betting they didn't have any spider issues. {Or shrieking issues.} And the view from the back seat is definitely not like I remember. For one, my son seems to get better snacks than we ever did judging from the wrappers laying everywhere and for another, I was viewing it through the eyes of a 44 yr. old. On Mothers Day. Oh the irony....

In case you hadn't noticed, I've been very focused on getting the top done for my fire quilt. The top needs to be totally done by the end of May in order to have plenty of stress-free time to get it hand quilted by the third week in July. I usually prefer to have a solid two months to hand quilt something this size, but with big stitch quilting (my go-to for heavy applique), I don't need quite as long. So.... lots of stitching still  to be done. This quilt is shaping up to be the most detailed applique quilt I've ever done except my Worry Baskets quilt and that took me three years. Onward ho!
Panel #4 contemplations....
I cut out the applique shapes on this panel in a period of two days. Messy business when I'm thinking and deliberating! There are  a couple pieces from 'Red and White Favorites', a pattern Karen very kindly gave me several months ago, and the rest are free hand applique or shapes I cut with the help of clip-art silhouettes. Notice the dog? My daughter and sister have chocolate labs, so I went with that shape. Who knew it was even possible? It's such a fun, personal touch.

Originally I wanted a more 'folk arty' whimsical look, but after much thought, decided the pieces needed to be a little more instantly recognizable; thus the clip art route. So far, all of my kids and my husband have passed the 'what is this supposed to be?' test with flying colors. If they didn't guess spot on, they at least got in the ball park. That is really all I expect {or want} as this quilt should also readily spark thoughts in others about their own experiences with the fire.
Panel #5 on the fire quilt prepped and ready to go...
I also spent some time printing out the words for the last and final panel. Couldn't get the letters the exact shape I wanted {too skinny when they were tall enough}, so finally caved and dug out some graph paper. With the words directly in front of me, I drew each letter needed onto the graph paper and then finally roughed out something I could more easily use for applique. It's such a relief to have the prep work done on that panel and know I won't have to fuss with cutting, clipping etc. later when I'm ready to start stitching. Things are progressing, my goal is looking doable, and I really, really want to start in on a different project. Patience!!
Solids fabrics to play with!
And look at this very, very sweet bundle of fabric! It definitely didn't help me to stop dreaming of the new. It's the Rita Hodge Kona bundle, my winnings from the Marsala Challenge! I have been wanting to play with more solids for awhile now and this just looks super fun. Thanks so much to Intrepid Thread for their very generous sponsorship of the challenge! I already have loads of ideas. You have nooooo idea.*wink

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hand Quilting Away

I can't believe there are two different quilts in two different hoops and I'm okay with that. Wowsers, am I crazy or what? The flower quilt is not being very quilted very densely, unlike the log cabin quilt which is getting a line of stitching per 'log'. It makes it interesting to go back and forth. On different days of course!
Happy Flowers in the old hoop....
And well, I did leave off stitching those dark patches in the middle of the log cabin quilt. I'm pretty much ignoring them for now--kinda enjoying the way they puff up {a little} if you want to know the truth of the matter. Will have to deliberate more and see what I think later on! Still loving both of these quilts and enjoying every single stitch. It makes me very happy to be working on quilts that are very much 'me' quilts.
The log cabin quilt in the newer hoop.....
Wish I could just write up a formula and get it right every single time, but the process of getting there is never, ever a sure thing. I'm almost ready to launch into a brand new quilt project, or two or three or maybe even four of them. Yes, four.*wink  I can feel it sort of bubbling up inside me and all it's gonna take is the right piece of fabric or some random idea that finally clicks securely into place. I'm sure there are a few of you out there that are thinking, 'yep, been there, done that'. I'm starting to resign myself to the fact that my quilty bucket list never gets smaller. It only expands....
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