Friday, January 29, 2010

Good news and bad news

It's cold, it's snowing and the heater in the studio is dead as a doornail. The repairman can't even look at it until next Tuesday and will have to order parts. The bad news - it may not be working for another two weeks or so. So much for staying on top of my customer quilting! But the good news is - the darn thing is still under warranty. Usually things we buy die the day after the warranty is up so that really is good news.

So I got to stay in the house and sew my wild and crazy applique blocks together. If I only had the fabric for the border I could get the whole top done. Here is Elsie the cat modeling the finished blocks. I think she knows how pretty she looks on those bright colors.

I have more to keep me busy, maybe I will even reorganize the kitchen cupboards and start on the taxes!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big quilts

I just finished two big quilts for Eddie -really big. The kind that won't even fit on my design wall. After a while when I advance the quilt on the longarm machine I wonder, is this the last row? - nope, is THIS the last row? - NOPE, is THIS the last row? NOPE! You get the idea. But they turned out well and Eddie was pleased. The first one she called Flock of Geese but I don't know the designer. I used mostly a kind of selective continuous curve for the quilting design. I wanted to avoid stitch in the ditch which would have taken forever.

The second one is even bigger than the first. Eddie called it Heart and again I have no idea of the pattern designer. This was for her daughter and it was fun doing lots of feathers and hearts and girly stuff.

The colors are a little off in the pictures, but it is very pink.

I have been exiled from my studio - the heater died. Of course it is now snowing and turning really cold so I have had to move in to the dining room to work. I brought my sewing machine in and figured I might as well use my time in exile to get some of my own projects done. Poor Arabella the Longarm machine is shivering out there by her lonesome. I hope they get the heater fixed soon because I really don't want to get behind.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mini Road Trip

On Monday Peter and I drove to Manhattan for a quilt appraisal. That's Manhattan, Kansas, the Little Apple. It's a pretty drive through the Flint Hills although winter is not the most colorful time of the year to enjoy the scenery. The only AQS Certified Quilt Appraiser in Kansas, Carol Elmore, lives in Manhattan. We visit her several times a year to have her appraise the quilts that I ship to shows for replacement value. We always enjoy the trip and visiting Carol, she has been appraising my quilts for the past four or five years. Here she is at work on our Prairie Quilt Guild Opportunity Quilt:

One of our favorite parts of visiting Carol is eating lunch afterward at Harry's in downtown Manhattan. It is a wonderful restaurant in an old hotel with really yummy food, a little expensive for us, but a real treat. I love the old plasterwork on the ceiling and have thought it would make a great quilting design. This time I had my camera with me and got this picture.

Here is one last picture of one of our feral kittens, crazy Rorschach, sprawled out asleep in the sun. He has white feet with black toe-pads - quite cute!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lots of Pictures

I have been waiting for permission from several customers to post pictures of their quilts. Today they both said okay, so I have lots of pictures. The first is another quilt from Ann, this time a huge pieced one, I think it is a Thimbleberries design. I used a Hobbs wool batt and it really makes the quilting show - I LOVE that wool batting.

The next quilt I did for Charlotte of my LQS, Charlotte's Sew Natural in Newton, KS. The pattern is by Lori Smith and it's being done in three versions for their Second Saturday program. If you want to see the other two versions you can look here: Charlotte requested a traditional look, with white thread. She also supplied a cotton batt; I know she likes to not prewash her fabric and then wash her quilt after it is quilted and bound for that nice pruney old-fashioned look.

It was exciting to find this book in my mailbox recently.

On page 391 is a picture of my quilt It's Turtles All the Way Down, how cool is that? I sent the picture to the publisher so long ago, but I guess things move slowly in the publishing world. It's a beautiful book and I am honored to have my quilt appear in it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good News

First a weather report. After days of single digits we had a tropical heat wave and made it up to over 40 degrees. It's amazing how warm it felt! Today we woke up to freezing fog - cold but beautiful.

Now on to the good news: I heard today that my wholecloth quilt Indian Summer won 1st place for Traditional Large quilts at Road to California. Hurray! I wish I was there to see the show.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back to Work

I finished my first customer quilt of 2010 today. It was nice to start off with a really nice quilt top by my friend Ann, it's from the Birds of a Feather book by Barb Adams and Alma Allen. I love the pattern, but will never find the time to make it, so this way I get a kind of vicarious pleasure from quilting Ann's top. Her workmanship is really good: precise piecing and beautiful hand applique.

I ended up doing a lot of quilting in the applique blocks.

Luckily Ann likes that too!

I heard one of the hand quilters in our Guild say that all the heavy quilting she sees on machine quilted quilts makes her sick to her stomach. We are becoming used to seeing more quilting on machine quilted quilts so, if she sees this quilt, I will stand back.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brainless in Kansas

The other day I sat down to fill out the application for the IQA Chicago Show so I could enter my spring tulip quilt. (I posted pictures in an earlier post) To my disgust, I discovered that I had forgotten that the quilt needs to be a minimum of 40 inches on a side. My quilt is a few inches smaller than that. What an idiot I am! One thing I have learned about entering shows is to read the rules very carefully, and I know I did read the rules for this show. Somehow, I lost sight of that important fact in the midst of creating the quilt. Oh well, I will find another show to enter it in, but I am disappointed.

It's horribly cold and nasty outside so I decided to treat myself to a preview of my Hawaiian applique quilt even though I still have 3 blocks to go. I put the 27 finished blocks up on my design wall and played around finding a border fabric. Here is what I came up with:

Jeez it is bright, I feel like I need sun glasses to look at it under the lights! But it does kind of brighten things up on a dark winter day. I love the inside border fabric, it fades from yellow to orange to magenta - pretty wild. I've decided to call this quilt Wild Child. First I have to finish the final three blocks. I am so SICK of this block. Never again will I do the same block over and over again in a hand appliqued quilt - it just goes on forever.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Projects for the New Year

Now that I have resolved to make time for my own quilts in 2010 I decided to make a list of what I want to get done this year. Maybe putting it in writing will spur me on.
First, I want to quilt the top my Grandmother left unfinished. It has lived for 70-80 years in our family cedar chest, which is why it is now stained from the oils in the cedar. It is in sturdy shape and my Grandmother even left a muslin backing all sewn and ready to go. I always thought she hadn't finished it because of her arthritis but after studying the quilt top, I think she didn't finish it because it's a mess and wouldn't go together right! She just gave up and left a vintage UFO for her grandchildren to deal with.

This is the center of the top, there are also two side borders and an end border, none of which match the sides of the center part. I swear, I must have inherited my Grandmother's piecing skills, which is why I make applique quilts.

The blocks are all different sizes, the sashings are all different widths and the darn thing isn't square. I will have to take it apart, resize the blocks, redo the sashing and see if I can get any of the borders to work.

Ironically, it was this top that inspired me to learn to quilt nine years ago. Thank goodness I didn't try to quilt it back then, I would have given up on quilting altogether! But now I'm ready to try. I think my Grandmother would like to know that her Grandaughter finished up her UFO for her. And I did name my longarm Arabella in her memory.
I also have been working on some hand appliqued blocks. At a meeting of our local Applique Society chapter I learned how to make a Hawaiian applique block. Once I had finished my one little block I showed it to my friend Janet and she asked "What do all the other blocks look like?" Of course I hadn't planned any other blocks so I guiltily decided to make enough for a quilt. I am now on #27 of 30 blocks and would like to get that quilt finished this year. Thanks Janet.

And finally, I have a bed-sized quilt planned that I would love to at least get started on this year. The design is drawn, the fabric is chosen, washed and pressed and it has been sitting in a pile waiting for me to work on it since last January.

My work is cut out for me!