Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lazy Sunday is Finished!

Lazy Sunday is a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt as published in Quiltmaker magazine over four issues in 2013. Sandi Wagner quilted it with a fun swirly panto. 

I am working on a modern Christmas quilt top from "Simply Retro" by Camille Roskelley. The pattern is Simple Life and I am using a variety of modern Christmas prints. Photo coming soon.

This evening was spent cutting out fabric for a workshop next week given by the Piece and Plenty Quilt Guild in Rolla, MO. The workshop is Buffalo Bubblegum from the book "New York Beauty Diversified" by Linda Hahn. My fabrics are batiks from Batiks Plus.

I signed up for my first Craftsy Class. It's "Quilting with Your Walking Foot" by Jacquie Gehring. She is an excellent teacher, a fact I know from firsthand experience with her last summer when she gave a workshop on improvisational piecing in our area. You can see some of her work at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. This idea really appeals to me as my experience with free motion quilting (FMQ) has been frankly underwhelming. It exhausts me and the results are not that stellar.This type of quilting seems doable to me. Only two lessons into the class and already my head is swimming with ideas. The first quilt I will try this out on is my Quilt of Valor finished awhile back.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Last of the Peonies

Not very artfully arranged, but one of the cats tipped the vase over once and I just stuffed them back in without arranging. The light pinks ones are so frothy. They look like the tissue paper flowers we made as children. The rain and wind has pretty well beaten them down, so these are the last decent ones.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May Hexie Block

Just in the nick of time, the May hexie block is finished. I will probably embroider antennae on it at some point, but I am counting this finished for now.

I have two other projects to show, but not just yet. Lazy Sunday, a Quiltmaker 2013  mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter, just came home from the longarm quilter, but is not yet bound. Soon. I am dithering over the binding. Purple would be a good choice, but if so, a fabric purchase is in the offing.The other project is in the final stages of piecing, so it will be ready for a photo op soon.

Today, however, more pressing matters are at hand. The washing machine crapped out last night. It needs a new belt as it's not spinning and it made an ominous noise yesterday just as the spin cycle began. But it has other issues, too, not the least of which is the incredibly slow rate at which the tub fills with water. We have very good water pressure here and have taken off the hoses to see if the small filters in the hoses were clogged. Negative on that idea. So off to the appliance store this morning. I have a new LG high efficiency top loader picked out. Not a big fan of the front loaders as they are too tall and I like to fold clothes across the tops of the washer and dryer. But definitely up for a new one as the old washer is 21+ years old! It doesn't have a delicate cycle, the ability to automatically add bleach or fabric softener, or to select a really small wash load size, so those are definitely on the wish list. Must be old age when a new washing machine makes you giddy.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Home Again!

I have been in the California Bay Area helping my brother pack for a move to San Diego. After over 30 years in the same house, there was a lot to do. I turned into a packing machine. Give me a box and a tape gun and I will fill it! The time was productive and nearly everything that could be packed, was packed. Some necessary items in the kitchen as well as personal items such as clothing and toiletries, were left for when the house is sold and the final move is made. Next week the house will be staged and most of the remaining furniture removed. The staging company will bring in furniture that will maximize the space and depersonalize the house. A quick sale is anticipated given the shortage of housing stock in the area.

Every morning I went for a walk in the surrounding neighborhoods. My focus was documenting my favorite plants. Since I have not sewn in two weeks, today's posting will have nothing whatsoever to do with quilting. There were roses everywhere as this is an ideal climate for growing them. When I lived in California I had 30+ rose bushes in a garden next to the driveway in the front yard. Since the humidity is very low, the plants do not suffer from all the humidity related diseases that plague them here in the Midwest and which led me to the conclusion not to grow them here. To be successful, species roses (not landscaping shrubs commonly referred to as "Knock Out" roses) must be spayed with anti-fungal chemicals every ten days. I have no inclination to do that, not wanting to add to the environmental burden of growing roses and because I am lazy and would never keep up with that schedule.

Tree roses are especially prevalent. You almost never see them in a climate where the winters are cold as it is here as there are two bud unions - one at the bottom of the treelike stem and the other at the top. Both must be protected in winter, which involves digging up the plants each fall and heeling them in - digging a trench and covering them with dirt and mulch so that the bud unions don't freeze. Labor intensive to say the least. If you look closely, you can spy the drip irrigation emitter in the lower right hand side of the photo. That's one of the secrets to growing roses successfully in such a dry climate. Because of the extreme drought conditions in California and restrictions on watering lawns and shrubs, the future of this type of gardening is not optimistic.

This is Angel Face, a lovely lavender rose (although it looks pink in the photo) with a ruffled edge that I had in my California rose garden years ago. Still like it. Here's another view

Mounds of jasmine are everywhere. You can smell them if you can't see them. A lovely fragrance if outdoors, but they quickly become cloying if not downright nauseating indoors.

The tall flowers are agapanthus, commonly called Lily of the Nile. They can also be white, but the purple ones are particularly lovely. I just learned that these plants are hardy to zone 6, so they can be grown here. Never knew that. I may try to find a source for them. Next to them are pink hydrangeas.

This part of California is considered a Mediterranean climate and this large clump of lavender proves it. While we can grow lavender here in the Midwest, it never seems to be as lovely and full.

Bottle brush (fothergilla) is often seen in California and other semi-arid climates. It is drought tolerant but needs a water source. Humminbirds love this plant, which can grow quite large, as this specimen had. It reached way past a six foot tall privacy fence. My estimate is that it was 12 feet tall.

Opuntia cactus, growing in a pot in my brother's backyard, was in bloom. Stunning. All the paddles had flower buds on them and the next day there were two more open.

Many of the houses had porches or verandas. This was one of the loveliest I saw. It's hard to believe, but there was not so much as a footstool on this balcony. If this were my house, there would be comfortable wicker furniture where I could sit and read or hand sew. The river birches framing the house are typical of what you see in the area, as they grow quite tall and are apparently rather old. I had thought that these trees were relatively short-lived, but not here.

Having been away, there are a lot of little things to attend to here at home before I can get back to sewing and quilting. More about quilting coming soon.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Outback Stars

After a long time in the time out box, Outback Stars is finished. The pattern is by Fons & Porter and was printed in their magazine many moons ago. I had completed approximately half the blocks, but the tedium of dealing with all the small pieces, my inexpert cutting and sewing skills, and my dissatisfaction with the results, practically made time out inevitable. My husband asked if I was ever going to finish his quilt. So, out of the closet it came. I started this it at least 6 to 8 years ago and am happy to say that my skills have progressed since then. That's the good news. The bad news is that the old blocks were not square, were not the proper size, and were just not very good. The new blocks - while not perfect - were at least the correct size more or less. That made the process of putting it all together more difficult that it should have been. There are places where the seams don't align. I am okay with that. It is busy enough that it is not immediately apparent.

Sandi Wagner longarm quilted it for me with orange thread in an all-over organic pattern of leaves and twigs. I am very pleased with it. It goes with me to guild tonight for show and tell. The name derives from the focus fabric which is Australian with aboriginal motifs.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Oldie But a Goodie

This is a 1930-1940 vintage quilt top that I purchased from eBay eight to ten years ago. It consisted only of the field of bowties - no blue inner border and no white final border. It was filthy, filthy, filthy. No stains, just 70 years of grime. I soaked it in the laundry tub with Orvis and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed until the water ran clean.

The top is entirely hand pieced. The fabrics were in very good condition with one exception. There was one patch that was badly shredded. I appliqued a patch of similar fabric over it. I had read an article once about repairing old quilts and the advice was to do nothing irreversible if at all possible. Therefore, I opted to cover over the torn spot rather than remove the patch entirely and replace it with another. I added the small blue inner border using a 30s print from my stash.A final border of plain white bleached muslin finished the top. Then it languished in the time out box for years. It seemed to need hand quilting and my skills were not up to the task, never mind the time involved. Then a new friend joined our small group of quilting ladies. She said her 89 year old mother would hand quilt it for me. She lives in a senior apartment and finished the top in record time. It is beautifully and consistently quilted - a testament to a life time of practice. A final blue binding and label and this is one done. I will gift it to my 91 year old mother for Mother's Day after showing it off at guild on Friday evening.

Here are a couple of closeups of the fun old fabrics and Nellie's lovely hand quilting.