Saturday, September 24, 2016

Molly's Undersea Playground

Molly's Undersea Playground - NZ Quilter pattern
I know at least a few of you were anxious to see that second baby quilt in its entirety and now I can share it. I didn't put a sleeve on it because I envisioned it over or under the baby I made it for, but to my surprise, her parents think they will hang it at the end of her crib so she can stare at it. Apparently it has captured her attention and I can surely understand that after living with it on my design wall for many weeks.

I stitched in the vertical ditches, then added wavy lines between the vertical sashings before taking off the walking foot and free motion quilting in the swirls and bubbles.

I chose this Aurifil variegated thread as it had all the colors that are in the quilt. It is a spool I inherited from my mother-in-law when she passed on her few quilting supplies to me. Frankly, I looked at it and couldn't imagine ever using it, knowing I would have never bought it had I seen it while shopping for threads. However, it has come in handy more than once, and I used it in both the top and bobbin as I stitched away on this quilt.

Remember me tracing out all the swirls and curves on quilting paper for Kavi's quilt? Although I was a little nervous as I started out to do the same swirls and some bubbles here, I immediately sensed that all that practice paid off. The swirls were pretty easy now.

And I even took a big breath and quilted Molly's name without marking too!

When I started cutting the narrow strips from the fun fish fabric, I was a little worried that the motifs in it would not be recognizable once pieced in with only one inch showing. I was quite delighted to see a crab or two peaking out around a colorful rectangle.

And many fish were easily recognizable too. I have to say, my color and fabric choices give off a totally different vibe from those in the Modern Tiles quilt pattern I used out of the New Zealand Quilter magazine. (You can just see the magazine opened to show the quilt in this picture.) Theirs was calm and soothing (which I planned to somewhat copy), mine turned into more of a riot. I surprise myself sometimes.

When it came time for the binding, I decided to try something different. With the Thinsulate batting, the edges didn't seem very firm and I worried about stretching and wobbling as I sewed. I remembered that Fons and Porter recommended sewing the binding on before cutting away the excess so that is what I did here. If your quilt is relatively square (or as in this one, the squareness isn't a big issue), this actually works quite well. You can then trim away that extra and leave a perfect quarter inch seam allowance to turn your binding over.

So you remember me mentioning that the backing I chose was just big enough? I had extra in one direction but exactly the length of the quilt in the other. Actually, a smidgen short but I decided I'd chance it. There was selvage along those edges and although I normally wouldn't leave a selvage in a seam, this time it would prevent raveling and failure of a seam made with one side too narrow. It was tricky getting the backing and top lined up when layering but I was only off in a few places like the one in the picture. Another reason to wait to trim off the extra batting and backing until the binding was sewn on.

And here's that wild backing I knew the mother of this child would love, a fabric from my late friend's stash. Judi Judi Judi, what WERE you thinking? And yet, it has the colors of the top of the quilt and is so fun to pair with it.

Like with Kavi's quilt, I did not want to make a separate label that would have to be handsewn on. So I hunted down a spot where I could ink my info directly on the backing with a Micron Pigma pen. Have fun, Molly, with your undersea playground!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Freezing Up

How can one go from confident one day to timid the next? This is what is happening as I look at the prepared padfolio covers and ponder what designs to stitch on them. These hand-dyes have few visual clues to follow. Even the colors are throwing me a bit. I decided the red ones could get the maple leaf treatment like this one, and dug out the freezer paper templates I'd used before. It felt like it needed more, so I pulled my file of pressed leaves and traced some slightly larger ones to fill in. As for the rest, I was drawing a blank as I so often do. I don't want to keep doing the same thing so I pulled my ridiculously fat file of quilting designs started back when I was hand quilting. It holds patterns pulled from magazines as well as pictures from catalogs that could be turned into quilting designs and a few templates I've made. Bear in mind, I also have quilting designs in my many books as well as books that only have quilting designs in them. Somewhere in all that reference material must be an idea I can use or adapt, something that will trigger my foggy brain.

And yes there was. This is called "lovely leaf" - you can see it in the top photo and came from Quilters Newsletter Magazine, April 2003 issue. As I studied it, I noted how it was set up for continuous stitching and couldn't imagine myself being able to do it justice without markings to follow. As you can see, I traced it onto freezer paper and cut it out and have ironed it to the back portion of the padfolio cover. Perfect fit, and I will be using a dark blue variegated thread to stitch it. If all goes to plan, it will also go on the front cover and half of it on the flap such that when the padfolio is closed, the flap will perfectly complete the design.

So I'm moving slowly along, two stitched, two ready to go under the needle, one still undecided although I have picked fabric for its lining and pockets and possibilities for the others. Feels like I'm wasting too much time second guessing and holding back. So much for being warmed up!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Padfolios Again

The studio is up and running again after my major cleaning last week, and as much as I can't believe it, I'm working on padfolios again. After years of only selling one here and there, I suddenly can't keep them in stock. I've been out since mid May and hadn't planned to make more until later in the year - baby quilts and other things to work on, you know. But then I got a call from someone who had received a padfolio as a gift and wanted to buy some to give away as well. She was willing to wait until I cleared the decks a bit, and I decided to treat this more like a commission. She told me what colors she might like, I dug through my stash and cut a bunch of covers for her to choose from and we narrowed it down from there. Her favorites are on the right, the others on the left. She will probably purchase three but I wanted her to have a few more than that to choose from.

As successful as these made from the hand-dyed fabrics have been, I really wanted a break from making them (I think I made 15 or 18 of them between December and May). And yet, when I started going through my fabrics for likely candidates, I got excited all over again, and even pulled a few that were not in her color range. My thinking was that I may as well cut extras right now as long as I intended to make more this fall anyway. I haven't picked out linings and pocket fabric yet, but instead have started with fusing my customer's five fabrics to peltex so I can start on the stitching. After all, I'm all warmed up from those baby quilts.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Laboring Away

This is Labor Day in the U.S. and I have been laboring all weekend. The carpets were long overdue for a cleaning and I haven't been up to the task until now. Some people spring clean. I fall clean! But before I upended the studio to expose as much rug for cleaning as possible, I finished up the other baby quilt. I know I said I wouldn't post pics until it made it to the recipients but I couldn't resist sharing a peek at the quilting. All that quilting of marked swirls on Molly's cousin's quilt paid off. I took off the training wheels and quilted in swirls and bubbles totally freehand and it was fun! Just proves that the experts are right about practise and muscle memory.

I even added her name here and there, again without marking. I think it was easier here than on Kavi's quilt because I'm quilting in a smaller space and not having to center exactly. Oh freedom! Will post more about this will full views soon. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Making a Day Special

Ok, full disclosure: my birthday was this week and I've been doing little things to celebrate . . . well, I guess all month, but particularly this week. I often try to get out on a hike on the actual day, but this year it fell on the same day as my weekly yoga class, and I sure wasn't going to give that up! Besides, I was compelled to take advantage of that small window of perfect hiking conditions early in the week before the heat returned and the wind shifted to blow smoke from the wildfires around Spokane, WA back into the area. THE day proved to be pretty perfect weather-wise too and these flowers that arrived before I left for class really made my day!

Orchids, I'm told. Beautiful, softly scented, more buds to open.

I didn't have a desire for cake this year, have been fixated on pie for awhile. So after class, I stopped by The Pie Hut to check out their selection. If I were having cake, it would most likely be German Chocolate. Imagine my surprise to see a German Chocolate pie in the case! Box me up a slice please - I'm on my way to City Beach. Well, of course I'd spend time at the place I most enjoy spending time at and ate that rich rich slice of pie sitting on a bench enjoying the view of lake and mountains. Sorry - no picture of that pie.

Mechanical Pencil sketch
Another reason I'd come to this spot was to sketch. I simply don't make enough time for it, am always on a mission or short on time but taking note of what I'd like to come back and draw nearly everywhere I go. Today it was the lifeguard station on my agenda, which had to be drawn while standing - a bit more challenging than while sitting but I've done it before. Interesting angles, shadowing to add, finding myself using the trick of drawing the negative space shape in some areas, and wondering whether to add the lifeguard. I hedge when it comes to adding people to my sketches, but not much of the lifeguard was showing so I gave it a go. Dang, he fidgeted the whole time, changing leg positions and moving his head back and forth, then left altogether before I was quite done with him. So if he looks a bit funky, that's my excuse!

My favorite bench and view taken at a different time of year.

After I finished, I wandered towards the car, thinking my time here was through, but as so often happens, I found it hard to pull myself away. So I returned to a bench and just stared off into the distance for the longest time. My yoga teacher calls this 'just being" and the human race should surely do more of it. My attention eventually settled on the sailboats that had come out to play. They do this every Thursday evening, practice maneuvers and even take on board novices who would like to learn the ropes of sailing. I noted at one point that they all put out their spinnaker sails and were heading as a group toward one side of the lake. Then I spotted a red buoy as one after another changed direction rounding it. Off they went in the other direction, our little Pend Oreille armada.

Typical scene on the lake

It was only the cooling of the breeze as the sun dipped behind the mountain that sent me on my way home, with a quick sidetrip for a take out dinner from the best burger place in town. Since returning to Idaho, I'd searched for what I refer to as "the burger of my youth" and I've found it here! Nutrition Nazis need not comment. :-)

Hanna Flats Addendum

I do have a few thoughts and additional information to share about my brief time in the Hanna Flats Cedar Grove. I do love getting back into the woods, but then there comes a point when I am struck by the dead quiet, sometimes not even broken by a bird call or the chattering of a squirrel. I'm suddenly aware of my vulnerability, that the animals that call this home rule here and may have the upper hand. I was entering this grove late in the afternoon, about the time many woodland creatures are leaving wherever they spend the heat of the day and move towards water. As I made my way deeper into the towering trees spaced wide with little undergrowth between them, I remembered bears roam this area and I should be making noise so if one were close it would not be taken by surprise but move away. I usually whistle to announce my presence, so I let one off while looking around. It was like being in a cathedral, my usually weak whistle carrying clear and loud under the canopy of high-up branches. I hustled along.

The point where the trail loops back toward where it begins is the thickest with cedar trees, both young and old. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the scent of cedar at a strength I only remember experiencing at Christmas when dad would bring fresh cut boughs into the basement family room to arranged on either side of an exposed overhead beam and along the fireplace mantel. Always a surprise how scent can instantly trigger a place, a memory.

Cedar boughs with their needles are flat as opposed to other pines with needles that hang down in clumps like tassels or brush bristles. This has always fascinated me. The individual needles are also quite small, so the overall appearance is delicate, light, airy, almost lacy. For the woodsman, a stack of boughs can serve as a mattress under bedding or arranged to provide shelter overhead. I might not know this if not for my dad's tales of camping rough while out hunting.

Something else I learned from Dad - see that long wispy stuff hanging from the tree? That's a kind of moss, he informed me, that the deer and elk survive on throughout the winter when there's not much else to feed on. Packed with nutrition, he told me, while I looked high in the branches and wondered how they reached it. It does become dry and brown and blows off the trees, but then there's also the deep snow that, if it can be walked on without punching through, brings the hungry deer closer. 

Technically, I think it is a form of lichen, but this is softer, the strands finer, like tufts of hair, at least until it dries up. These strands can be 12 to 18 inches in length. Can't remember what my dad called it, except for the moss part.

And try as I might, I simply can't stop photographing tree trunks. As I zoomed in on one of the last ones, I realized I could take pictures of their textures all day!


Hanna Flats Cedar Grove Tour

This protected cedar grove was minutes away from my hike along Priest Lake's Beach Trail, so before heading home, I couldn't resist driving over to see it. I'll let the markers along the quarter mile interpretive trail and my photos tell the story.