Thursday, December 27, 2012


I had no idea how important the sound and look and feel of flowing water would be to my emotional health during my stint with my friend at Mayo Clinic. But fountains were everywhere and I spent a lot of time by them, finding healing and escape. Since returning home, I've been thinking about how I could depict the movement of water in my quilts.

I was particularly fascinated by the flow of water down the rock-face of the fountain at the Charlton Building - barely visible except for one spot where it rippled right to left over one of the stones. I've played around a bit with various configurations of lines in my sketchbook and think I may have hit upon a quilting design to mimic the effect.

I worked a bit on more organization of the studio the last few days. One side of the closet had two of those multi-peg hangers that I decided were the perfect place for my silk ties (looping them over a hanger has not been the best solution). As I sorted through and hung them up, I ran across these two which remind me of that right to left rippling of water. Do you see it or is it just me? No matter, these two have been set aside for my first water quilt.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Modern Christmas

Sending you holiday greetings via a drawing app on my Kindle Fire, itself backed by a fake (projection) fire. Ahhh, the wonders of the modern age. Not the Christmas day I grew up with but pretty nice all the same. Hope yours is peaceful and blessed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Looking for the Magic

While the majority of you are probably hustling with last minute holiday preparations, I finished what little I'd decided to do and went back to work on my half-square triangle quilt top. That required setting up the second banquet table as I needed more width on which to rest the top while I pinned the borders. However, I did not put the table on the bed risers yet - I kind of liked the stepped version for this part. As anticipated, I am liking the versatility of the two worktables rather than just one big one. However, I may have created yet another problem for myself: these tables are too thick for the clamps I use when layering quilts for basting. Suggestions anyone?

As for the quilt, isn't it beautiful? As much as I admire scrap quilts, especially the antique ones of which I own a few, I myself have made surprisingly few true scrap quilts. Must be that part of me demanding order and control. At any rate, I am very pleased with the way the many fabrics work together in this simple design. And if you think the borders are not the same size, your eyes do not deceive you. I should have figured a row or two more of the triangles to make this quilt come out a little closer to a conventional size. Instead, I just made the top and bottom borders 2 inches wider, which is not an unheard of solution in the antique quilt world. I'm still pondering the quilting.

As I was pressing the final seams, I suddenly remembered I hadn't thought much about backing fabric, and oh dear, I still have not fully unpacked the studio. My brain has not been the best at retrieving information lately but still, I started a mental search of my inventory of larger lengths of suitable fabric. Of course, I could always go with muslin, but I'm not altogether sure I even have that much muslin around. I do have a small stack of reproduction fabrics that had made it onto a shelf; I casually flipped through them for ideas. Not sure what exactly jogged this memory but suddenly I was pretty sure of a perfect solution and where to find it. I'd bought lots of yardage of a particular line that was the basis of St Hilary's Star, including a pink one that might go along with the pink in the piecing. I got that print in several colorways and you can see two of them laid out on the table in the forefront of the picture. Either would work well - I just have to decide which one to go with.

And in the process of finding them, I found my longer lengths of batiks, neatly stacked in the top of the large bin of totally unrelated fabrics and ufo's. That's them on the ironing board. I'd been wondering where I'd packed them and this might have been the last place I would have looked.

I guess this is where the "looking for magic" part comes in. I've been resisting both organizing as I unpack the studio as well as working in what's set up. I think it partly overwhelms and depresses me at the same time - still so much stuff and I have no clear plan of organization yet. I think I'm waiting for Tinkerbell or Cinderella's helpers to magically put everything in place for me. What I am discovering is that until I actually start working in the space, I won't find those solutions that will turn this into an efficient workspace. I had the same issues with the kitchen, but once I started really cooking in it, I could take a cue from where I automatically reached for something, and try out other configurations until I hit upon solutions that worked. Yesterday's session helped me see that one storage unit may need to be moved and that where I'd temporarily parked my basket of cutters and marking tools was in exactly the right spot. Guess I have to make my own magic.    

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pondering the Quilting

Save for a good pressing, the half-square triangle quilt is ready for borders which will be cut from the brown fabric. It may be some of the first reproduction fabrics that came on the market back in the 1990's. Do you remember Smithsonian's "Copp Family" antique quilt and the fabric line based on it? This brown floral is from that RJR Fashion Fabrics line.

In my experience, solving one technical problem in a quilt is just likely to lead to other problems later on. I decided early on to press all the seams open on this top to avoid the bulk that would otherwise crop up at these multi-seam intersections. I remember those kinds of seams causing problems during quilting. However, my default quilting strategy for an antique reproduction like this would be to stitch in the ditch. Oops - when you press seams open, you no long have a ditch to stitch in.

So as I stitched the rows together, I pondered just how I would machine quilt this top. And then I wondered how my readers might approach this problem. Do send me your ideas in the comment section. If I decide to use your suggestion, I'll send you a little something based on the leftovers from this project (which you may have to wait a bit to receive). Bear in mind that this is not a show quilt, nor an heirloom quilt, but a quilt I plan to use like a utility quilt so I'm thinking fairly basic quilting here. The squares are 3 inches and the border will probably be 8 inches wide. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012


This is what it looked like standing on my back deck Friday - our first real snow.

Such fat fat flakes that stacked up to about 4 inches of the white stuff. Maybe now I can get serious about Christmas!

Progress continues but slowly on the unpacking and sewing front. My tables arrived Monday - two 6 footers that fold in the middle that are easy for me to carry, set up and move around. They should give me lots of flexibility.

I know there are products out there specifically to raise the level of tables like these, but I'd spotted these bed risers at a local store so decided to see if they would do the trick. They raise the table slightly higher than my old work surface which I think is a good thing. Have yet to actually get out the mat and cutter to see if indeed it is a good working height. If not, can anyone suggest alternatives and where I can find them?

I've stolen an hour here and there to continue work on the half-square triangle quilt. I've found the fabric set aside for the borders and have about half of the rows joined to each other. This is a much slower process than sewing the units into rows as I must pin every intersection. Had I not pressed all the seams open, I probably could have gotten away with "nesting" the intersections without the need to pin. Or maybe not. I think when I get to quilting I will be glad I don't have all that bulk at the joins. Or maybe not...

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Up and Running

When I fired up the old Viking, it hesitated, then took off in its usual reliable manner. I'd gotten all the half square triangle units arranged on the design wall and decided to set up a machine even though I still have much to unpack and arrange in the studio. Using the continuous piecing method of sewing down off the wall, I now have all the units into rows awaiting their seams to be pressed. I've ordered up some tables after all, realizing that my plan c of using a dining room table I already have would be insufficient for this very first project; need something longer for layout and cutting the borders that also has a surface not scratched by the safety pins I use for basting. I took a little time yesterday to move a few boxes out of the way and unpack two more to clear the way for their arrival on Monday. I'm surprisingly reluctant to make decisions about where to put the little things and a few storage units. I'm hoping that this space can be set up a little more logically and efficiently with things grouped better, but already I'm feeling a little defeated about that. Didn't want to just throw and toss but that's kind of what I'm doing with the hope I can better organize later. And I know how far off in the future "later" often is for a procrastination expert like me. I just divert to my happy place at the machine which hums along.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Lucky Girl

If you know or know of Dijanne Cevaal, you should immediately recognize that the above pic shows her work, one of her Sentinelle quilts as well as a panel printed with the same design. She was having a blog giveaway, not letting on what that giveaway would be, and although many people signed up for it, I decided to take a chance and sign up too. I really did not think I had a chance at having my name pulled out of the hat, but looky looky, luck was with me. How lucky is this to have, not only one of her quilts, but that panel so that I can make a companion piece? Very lucky! And how perfect is this to have as guardians for my new home?

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Assembly Required

I decided to treat myself to a new chair for the new studio. I'd been getting by with a straight-back chair from my dining room set when I worked at my new machine. The space was so tight that I didn't have room to push the chair back anyway when getting up from the machine. The comfy office chair I've used for years remained in use with the older machine which is set in a table allowing more movement. Trust me, I spend more time at the new machine, and even with a cushion, that dining room chair got very uncomfortable.

I guess I was still planning on using that chair, but as my office space got smaller, requiring a space saving computer table, the studio space got a little bigger, allowing for a rolling office chair. Still, I may not have thought to follow up on that so soon had I not sat in this chair at Staples while waiting for them to bring the new computer desk out from the storeroom. Oh my - so comfy, and those arms are adjustable. I've always disliked arms on office chairs but I could see how this might make my machine quilting easier on my shoulders and back. Add that it was on sale and, as the assembly instructions declared, "Behold!" - I now have an inviting place to park myself in front of the machine or the computer.  I could have had the Staples guy put it together for a few dollars more, but I'm pinching pennies these days. Besides, I actually enjoy getting out tools, studying instructions and tackling assembly.

As to how soon I'll actually use this chair in the studio, it may be pretty soon. I've finished arranging all 360 half-square triangle units on the design wall and can start sewing then into rows...once I unpack a machine. Yesterday I emptied another box, one with my lamps and irons, power strips and daylight bulbs for the overhead fixture (and lots of other things I'm not sure just where to put yet). I'd say I'm just about ready to begin, even if I don't have a work table set up yet.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Taking Shape

Packing is an art, I mused, as I filled box after box preparing for my move. And being an artist who enjoys challenges and puzzles not to mention organizing, I should be good at this. I'd saved some of the boxes from previous moves and was amused to find many labeled for the studio. Yes, I could pack very much as I had the last few moves in the very same boxes. The strategy included as much logic as possible so that things would be easier to locate on the other end, but as with any good puzzle, I found myself throwing out logic and organization to find odd pieces to fit odd spaces as the boxes filled up. And then my memory failed me as I struggled to remember what was in the bottom of the box once I was ready to close it up and label it. In many cases, my cryptic notations left me scratching my head as the movers asked where some of these boxes needed to go in the new place. So much for organization.

Suffice it to say, I arrived in my new digs with the unsettling realization I literally knew not where to put my finger to locate many of my belongings. It's been one surprise after another as I've gone on searches or randomly opened boxes or drawers. Oh look! So THAT'S where I stashed my pincushions and more...I really have no recollection of doing that.

This week has seen a lot of shoving and shuffling of furniture, boxes and bins in the new studio as I try to get it to the point where I can start some work. And my brain could not remember just where I stashed the batiks I bought in Rochester, one of which I want to use as background to the first piece I thought I wanted to start on. Yesterday, I shifted a bin and look - I found the box in question quite by accident. Am blanking on what the "triangle cutoff's project" is, though.

But while I am supposed to be focused on setting up the studio and starting that new art piece, this is what I paused to do instead. You may remember the hundreds of half-square triangle units I've prepared off and on over the years (see this post and this one for the technique), finally reaching the total I needed to piece together a reproduction quilt top in, oh my...2010. The shoebox where those units reside was one of the first things to take up residence on a closet shelf. It has been shouting rather loudly at me ever since I got the flannel up for my design wall. Hey - you gotta start somewhere, and this has been a nice warm-up to getting back into designing and creating. Now, if I just get a machine set up...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The New View

I'm still settling in, hoping to finally get at least some of the studio unpacked and set up this weekend. Starting to itch...  In the meantime, I'm working on making peace with my more "urban" place for daily walks and the loss of my lake view, searching for fresh bits of inspiration. The new view out the back of my townhouse is an essential part of being ok with losing the old view. 

From my kitchen, I used to look across an expanse of open field to see deer feeding along a treeline of mostly firs and tamaracks. Now the trees are just yards away from my living room and dining room windows, and include those same tamaracks that turn color in the fall.

I'd seen a squirrel venturing out on the lawn and wondered if any deer lurked in those trees - the stand is not very deep and act as buffer between a railroad line and highway. The other day, I got my answer. Maybe in the spring, I'll get visited by a moose.

As for my daily walk, it takes me through my little development and past a Goodwill store (surprisingly tempting that store but I put blinders on and keep walking!). Between the sidewalk and street in front of the store is a ditch full of cattails.

And a little farther down, the ditch full of water and leaves provided this bit of beauty.

The street "t"s at a busy crossroad lined with a variety of business. It appears to be zoned for mixed use as I spotted a few houses as well. But it is not solid business, one gap showing me the stand of trees I'd spotted from my upstairs window when they turned golden a month ago.  Yes, my familiar inspiration backed by mountains.

Back home, that lawn out back sprouted some interesting mushrooms. Just goes to show that if you keep your eyes and mind open, beauty and inspiration can be found most anywhere.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

River Reflections

A lot can change in 3 months. While I was off in Minnesota over the summer, the bypass built to divert traffic around Sandpoint opened and with it, a new bike path. That was part of the deal with the state transportation department I guess. The bypass threads between the lake and Sand Creek, and eliminated age-old cottonwoods along the creek bank. In recompense, a beautiful landscaped bike path was created, running several miles along the creek. Since I am no longer living right across from a bike path, I suspect I'll be spending time here - alternating with the paths along the lake at nearby city beach.

This is one of Sandpoint's famous landmarks - what once was a wooden covered bridge connecting one side of Sandpoint with the other, it now houses retail shops and eateries.

Unlike the waters of the lake, the creek is usually very calm and mirror-like, perfect for capturing reflections such as these supporting pilings for the bridge.

If straight, one can't tell where they meet the water. If angled, the reflection angles back, breaking the illusion. Only a tiny bit of distortion from the slow movement of the water.

A little more abstract, a little more distorted, here is part of the bridge reflected in the creek below.

Looking back toward the beginning of the bike path, I caught the reflection of the bridge which allows cars access to city beach. Somehow, the railing and lamposts in reflection reminded me of pictures I've seen of Paris.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fascination with reflections

Since the rather dreary and shorter days of winter have set in, I thought I'd treat you to some pics I took shortly after returning from Rochester, back in September when the weather was still warm and sunny, and the lake levels were still up. I'd seen a post by Sherrie Loves Color and decided to take a page from her playbook down at my own marina. Yes, Sherrie, I have blatantly stolen your excellent idea!

Sherrie noted that while one could get nice pics of boats including their reflections, she rather likes zooming in to capture abstract effects.

Of course, if the water were calm, you would get a mirror image. The interest and excitement comes with how turbulent the surface of the water is. The more ripples, the more great imagery, the more I was put in mind of lightning bolts.

There was more than ship masts to photograph. This walkway caught my eye as giving an interesting reflection.

One could snap a dozen pictures of the same reflection and each would be slightly different as the moving water changes the reflection. Enjoy my indulgence, a few of the dozens of photos I took that afternoon. Any photo may be viewed larger by clicking on it.