Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Read in Bed [Not!]

Here are the black and white fabrics I ordered from eQuilter. They arrived on Wednesday, and were waiting for me when I got home from Quilt Shop Hopping.
I love black and white together. (Every cat I have ever owned has been black and white.) I wanted to use these black and white fabrics in my version of the Reading in Bed Quilt.Last night I laid out these pieces to see what it might look like. I am really liking this.

Anyway, after the terrific black and white fabrics arrived, my son called and asked if he could take me out to dinner. I said, "Yes!" He took me out for sushi!

An aside here...
Now, if you think sushi is just raw fish and you don't like it, I don't want to hear about it. Firstly you would be wrong, and secondly I bet you never even tried it! Don't tell me you don't like it if you never bothered to try it. My son got me to try it a few years ago when I visited him at college. "Mom, you always tell me to try new things... you should try this..." He was right, I had been telling him that all his life. I had to put my money where my mouth was. Sushi can be absolutely divine!

When your dear son takes you out to dinner, opens every door, holds out your chair, helps you with your coat, and pays the bill... well, then you have a wonderful evening. I had to do a few errands afterward. I needed to buy some blue painter's tape and a dowel to hang a quilt, some cat food for Millie and I wanted to find the newest Quiltmaker magazine, so we went to the big box hardware store, then the pet store and then to the local Barnes and Noble, where we split a Red Velvet Cupcake. We always have fun together, and this was no exception.

He brought me home, saw me safely indoors, gave me a big hug and a kiss and then left.

I'm telling you, it was a -perfect- day!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Quilt Shop Hopping

My sister and I had a great time on Wednesday. We only made it to one of the three shops on our list, but we found three others, and we had a great time.

The first shop didn't have much in the way of fabric yardage off the bolt, but looked like it did a lot of teaching and custom longarm quilting. I bought a few fat quarters (after checking to make sure they all had selvage dots.) The proprietor suggested we visit a quilt shop about 40 minutes away. It wasn't on our list, and we hadn't planned to drive that far north, but it was a nice day, and we had nothing better to do, so off we went.

Our sons were spending the day skiing with their grandfather, and we talked about the two boys (17 years apart) getting up and getting ready in the morning. Mine has never been a "morning" person, hers, once awake, is "On" at top speed.

We visited quilt shop # 2. It was a nice shop, very bright, with a nice selection of fabrics. I bought more fat quarters, and a nice Asian print. Then we went to find a good place to have lunch.

What we found was a complete surprise in every sense of the word. We found an internet cafe, with terrific food, that was also a quilt shop! No kidding! This place had terrific fabrics, and my sister and I spent more than an hour there, eating and choosing fabrics. I bought the terrific Rowan print and some wild batiks and some more fat quarters.

Then we drove toward home, determined to visit Quilted Threads in Henniker. As soon as we walked in the door, we knew we had found "It." This shop has it all, great batiks, new designers, Amy Butler, Mark Lipinski, great kid fabrics, great traditionals, several spacious classrooms, every book you could imagine and lots more. We spent another hour just looking around. In the end I bought about 17 fat quarters (almost all of them with selvage dots) and 8 more half yard cuts which my sister I later divided into fat quarters. We'll be visiting this shop on a regular basis.

Here is a photo of most (but not all) of the day's catch. I didn't go shopping with much in mind. I wanted fat quarters with selvage dots in a variety of colors and patterns. Mostly we were looking to scope out the various quilt shops in the area.

When I got home, there was a package of black and whites from eQuilter waiting for me, and the great day wasn't even over! More tomorrow!

OH! I'm looking for a copy of the new Quiltmaker magazine. The one with Tonya's wonky houses in it. I couldn't find it anywhere. Would anybody be willing to get me one? I'd be happy to pay for it or trade for fabric.... let me know in the comments, or email me! Thanks!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shop Hop Update - Delayed

I had THE BEST DAY yesterday. It was the best day I have had in a long time. It was terrific. There was no part of it that wasn't any good. It was great from start to finish, and it just kept getting better.

I don't have enough time to tell you about it right now. Suffice it to say that my sister and I found a few terrific quilt shops and bought some great fabric. I bought 38 fat quarters, and I checked each and every one of them for selvage dots and designs. I bought this Rowan designer fabric (aren't the selvages here awesome?) for the backing of my Reading in Bed variation quilt.

You'll just have to stop by tomorrow for all the details.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quilt Shop Hopping

For Christmas last year, my sister gave me a "coupon" for a day of Quilt Shop Hopping. Today is the day. Our sons are going skiing with their granddad, so we will have a day all to ourselves.

I've selected a few quilt shops to visit within a 50 mile radius. We'll visit a couple we know about, like Peggy Anne's and The Quilt Patch, but the day is really about discovering new ones, like the Pine Tree Quilt Shop, Quilted Threads, and Stitched in Stone.

I always have a great time with my sister, and I am quite looking forward to the day. I hope to have a full report for you tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Alphabet Samper Quilt - finished

It's all finished. I finished hand sewing the binding and the sleeve in a marathon sewing session on Saturday.

It's in my dining room, the largest room in my apartment, so it's really center stage. This is the wall the quilt was designed for. It is a wall that will never get direct sunlight, thank goodness, yet the quilting shows up very well in all lighting situations

It's 44-1/2" x 62"

All it needs is a label. My mom has a color bubble jet printer, but she was sick all weekend, and I don't want to get sick, so I will print the label next weekend. I can't bring myself to write on the back of the quilt with a permanent marker.

btw, the quilt is taller than I am!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here! It's here!

The day after I bought Gwen Marston & Freddy Moran's book, Collaborative Quilting, I broke down and ordered a used copy of Gwen's book Liberated Quiltmaking from an Amazon bookseller. The bookseller I selected was in Maine, and I reasoned the book would arrive quickly.It did. I ordered it on Sunday and yesterday, when I opened my door, the box fell into my apartment. The book was said to be in "Used, very good" condition, and it is actually in excellent condition. (Since you are all going to want to know, I paid $60 + shipping)

Tonya had warned me not to expect the same vibrant color as Collaborative Quilting, but this book more than makes up for it. Gwen describes in detail how to make wonky designs, the little things to think about, like how using a larger triangle to sew to a square for a star allows you more flexibility in the "wonkiness" department. (I always have problems with those.)

I haven't had much time to read, but so far my favorite description is of a "black sheep block," (a block you think is terrible). Gwen writes: don't have to accept it. If your eye is continually drawn to what your mind insists is a serious flaw which will irrevocably damage the overall effect of your quilt, then get rid of that particular block... and make a replacement.

She offers a familiar suggestion... "You can send it to me..."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Liberated Log Cabins

Here are a few more liberated log cabin blocks. I am having -so- much fun with these, trying to select color combinations I might otherwise never use. I'm deliberately making the inner squares asymmetrical and off-center.

Last night I attended a meeting of the local quilters guild. I had never attended a meeting before, and I landed at a table with a nice group of women, one of whom looked vaguely familiar.

"Did you go to UNH," she asked? Yes. "What year did you graduate?" 1977. "You were in my class with Dan Valenza. You made a sculpture that was a loaf of bread."


Yes, yes and yes! The assignment had been to create something using an additive form of sculpture. I created a walnut half in bread. Professor Valenza loved things that were functional, so at the end of my talk about the piece, I pulled out a tub of butter and a knife, tore off a hunk of bread and demonstrated my sculpture's "functionality" by eating some. I can see why that would have been memorable.

The last part of the meeting was show and tell, and I was prepared. I brought Jasmine's Quilt and my little selvage bag with me.

Next time I'll bring the Alphabet Sampler Quilt (which I should finish tomorrow.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

So far, so good...

I'm almost halfway through sewing the binding on my Alphabet Sampler Quilt. I set it down on the coffee table tonight when I needed something in another room. When I got back, Millie had made herself comfortable.

Glad she approves.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Liberated Log Cabin Blocks

I got home from work last night, and went right into the sewing room where I made these five Liberated Log Cabin blocks. These are going to be fun. It was -so- liberating to sew complementary colors together (blue & orange). I had great fun using temperature contrast (cool blue and warm red), and I finally to to use that crazy black and white swirl fabric, and that multicolored one on the upper right...

I'd say I was in trouble, but I have too many other things to make before I can devote myself to this project.

To wit: the next time I decide to use a white-0n-white fabric on the binding of a quilt, and to do the hand sewing on the front, because I like to show off my blindstitching (yeah, I know, it's an ego thing,) will somebody please whack me upside the head and slap me silly?

It's bad enough I wear bifocals and can't thread a needle without help. I had to move a Very Bright Light near my chair so I could -see- what I am trying to sew. (Let's get real here, I can barely see what I am doing clearly.) The thread wears out quickly and breaks where I least expect it, so I can't sew more than about 16" at a time. The white on white is so THICK that it's really slow going. Add that to the fact that I have arthritis in my right thumb and holding a -pen- makes my hand hurt, and now I am trying to hold a needle... which means I can't work on this more than 30 minutes at a time...

Let's just say I've been dealt a huge piece of Humble Pie.

And I'm eating it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Freddy and Gwen

For Valentine's Day, I bought myself a copy of Gwen Marston & Freddy Moran's book, Collaborative Quilting.

Oh. My. Goodness!


I love color, and I love black and white, but even I never thought about going THAT bold with color. I love the book, and those quilts. My favorite was "Reading in Bed," which is made up of Liberated Log Cabin Variations, set on point with giant black and white polka-dot sashing and a border made up of three rows of long, skinny, irregular color blocks.

I want to make a quilt like this. I don't know if my stash has enough powerhouse brights, but it's a scrappy quilt, and I am sure if I start making blocks, eventually I will have enough for a quilt.

Some of my other favorites were Stars over Orinda, Little House in the Big Woods, and Oh My Stars.

In my family, we put the quilts on top of our top sheets, but underneath our blankets. Yeah, I know, it's weird, but that's the way we do it. (Remember these quilts aren't quilted.) In the summer, you don't need the blanket. I think a quilt like "Reading in Bed" would make a wonderful eye-popping surprise!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Mending Duck

I keep all my hand sewing, or "mending," tools in this little duck-shaped box I call the "Mending Duck."
Inside the box are my tiny little Gingher scissors, my thimbles, needles, a box of pins, a tiny seam ripper and, alas, some needle threaders, because I just can't seem to thread a needle as quickly as I used to.If a button falls off a piece of clothing, I put it in the box too, so I will won't lose it. (of course, then I forget what it belongs to...)

I bought this little box over 25 years ago in California. It is paper-mache and I think it was made in Thailand. The head broke off, and I glued it back on, but otherwise it's in pretty good shape. Strangely, though, this little box lives in my bedroom, rather than my sewing studio.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Alphabet Sampler Quilt - Quilted

I have to add the binding (it will be the white of the edges) and a sleeve on the back for hanging, and a label, and then it will be really finished. Chris asked if I was going to wash it, and I think she was a bit startled when I said no. It will hang in my dining room.

I had always wanted this quilt to be reminiscent of an antique needlework sampler, and it incorporates many of the same elements: the upper and lower case letters, numbers, a house, some decorative stitching separating the elements, the maker's name and location as well as the year of completion. Many of these samplers also included the maker's age, an element I decided not to include.

The house is modeled after the house I live in. The letters and hearts are from Tonya of Lazy Gal Quilting, the little asterisk-flowers are from Sarah. The little wonky stars are from Belinda. The hand is my own hand, and I designed the butterflies. The quilt was quilted by the wonderful and talented Chris Ballard and photographed by Julie Sefton.

Aside from the hand, which is pieced in traditional patchwork, the quilt is entirely free-pieced, and made without templates, patterns or foundation paper piecing.

You can click the photo to enlarge.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Home

My quilt is home. And it isn't just mine. Chris did an awesome job.

The quilt is truly a collaboration. I'm still trying to take it all in.
I don't make lots of quilts, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. I make quilts for a specific person or occasion. Each one is unique. This one was intended as a sort of "art quilt" right from the beginning. I made it for myself, and I already know where it will hang when it is finished.

Tomorrow, a picture of the -entire- quilt.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alphabet Quilt Fairy Godmothers

These are my quilt's Fairy Godmothers. On the left is Julie, the QuiltDivaJulie of the Flying Monkeys fame. Julie is holding Angel, who performed the Quality Assurance inspection of the magnificent quilting done by Chris (on the right) who, along with her trusty longarm machine, Iris, quilted my sampler quilt. Julie's husband Larry, a fabulous artist in wood, helped take photos.

You can see more of Chris' work here, at her Picasa album, and in a few days, you'll be able to see more pictures of Chris' quilting on the Alphabet Sampler. (I am still waiting for it to fly back home to me!)

It was Julie who recommended Chris to quilt my quilt. I am so happy she did. When I first talked to Chris on the telephone, I knew she was the one to quilt my quilt when she said, "The quilt will tell me how it wants to be quilted."

I think all my future quilts will take a side trip to Tennessee...

(you can should click the picture to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Red Butterfly

This is the red butterfly that is part of my name panel on the Alphabet Sampler Quilt. You can see Chris' awesome quilting.

I knew Chris was the right person to quilt my quilt when she said to me, "I don't know what I am going to do. I will hang it up and look at it for a while. The quilt will tell me how it wants to be quilted."

I told Chris to do whatever the quilt told her to do. She created the allover quilting pattern and added the little antennae on the butterflies. It's a perfect little touch.

I am thrilled. I can't wait to see the quilt in real life.

Stay tuned.

You can click the photo to enlarge.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Alphabet Sampler - Teaser Preview

My Alphabet Sampler Quilt is all quilted, and will be flying back to me this week. Here is a teaser photo of the back.

If you look at the profile photo, you can get another hint.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Selvage Bag

After spending the last couple of evening scavenging selvages from my stash, I had to make something, but I didn't want to make a potholder. I wanted to make something neat. So this is what I started...

I started with selvage strips cut to 2" wide. This arrangement is no accident. The placement of each selvage was carefully planned.
Then I added these two zippers. They are supposed to be the same color. The packages said they were the same color. Oh well. This is one of those things where it doesn't matter.I'm making a variation of this bagfrom this magazine from last summer. I say "variation" because the instructions confused me to no end.Here it is, a tiny little shoulder bag with two separate zippered sections. The finished bag is about 7" wide by 10" tall. Here is the back:Notice the lower left corner... This is what the little bag is for. To carry my iPod around. This fits across my body, and the strap is long enough to swing out of the way if needed. The larger section is big enough for my wallet and a few other necessities. I like it a lot.

Now I can make myself some potholders.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Never Underestimate...

the power of your stash. There are a lot of nifty selvages hiding in there. I am officially selvage scavenging.

I want to make myself some potholders. The two I made back in September are now living at my son's house. Knowing his cooking habits (or lack thereof), I am sure they are living a life of leisure.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting on the Selvage Bandwagon

I have always liked the selvages of fabrics, with their rows of colored dots or boxes. There is a blog devoted to things made with selvages, called, appropriately enough, The Selvage Blog.

Then I saw these Selvage Pot Holders and I thought, I gotta make me some of those! (How strange they are going to another Lynne?)

So I am on the hunt for selvages through my stash. Just in case, I ordered two of these!

I must be insane....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

To Rip or Not to Rip

I get a lot of comments when I rip out something I don't like. Tonya has told me she is amazed at the amount of time I spend re-doing some things.

I'm surprised that it causes so much consternation. If it doesn't look good, it comes out, pure and simple. Which begs the question, I suppose, how do I decide it doesn't look good?

To explain this, I need to go back a little bit.

When I was in Art School, I'd be working on a drawing or painting, and I remember my professors would ask me, "What are you trying to say?" The question used to drive me crazy. I didn't have any idea what I was trying to say. I was just trying to draw or paint what was in front of me. It took me a long time before I knew what I was "trying to say" in a piece of artwork.

Now I know. When I was drawing professionally, I always knew what project I'd be working on next, but I never started a new piece until I knew in my head "what I wanted to say." So what does that mean? It means that although I don't necessarily have a complete concept in mind when I start (unlike, say, working from a pattern, where everything is determined ahead of time), I have a good idea of what I want the end result to look like. I have an image in my head. Sometimes I've drawn a basic plan.Free-piecing, by definition, is a lot like working without a net. It's make-it-up as you go, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. So there are bound to be missteps. Since there is no predetermined plan, I don't know how if something is going to work until I do it. This also means the idea I had in my head at the beginning is never what I end up with. It grows, and changes. But since a quilt is not always like a painting (in that I can simply overpaint a "bad" area) I often have to "work around" what I've already done. And the idea in my head has to change too. Sometimes, what I've got isn't "bad," but a new idea is simply better.When I am working, I look for elements that are balanced. I don't want areas to be too dark (or bright), or too visually "heavy." (Or "empty.") The goal of any artwork is to capture your attention, and to move your eye around inside the edges of the piece. If your eye stops and stays in one area, that's bad. If your eye slides right over the piece, and moves away, that's bad too (meaning: boring). So it's a constant balancing act, made all the more difficult by not being exactingly pre-planned.

My goal is for the entire piece to work together. I want the individual components to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. It's no different from making any other type of art.

One final note. There's "wonky", which is wonderful, fresh and vibrant; and then there's "sloppy workmanship, " which is completely unacceptable. If I sew something up (like the first two "hand" attempts, and it just looks terrible, and I know I can do a better job, then it comes out. Because everybody who looks at the piece will judge me by my work.Even if I'm the only one who'll ever see it.