Déjà vu

Currently I am in between customer quilts and have pictures of quilts that I cannot post due to the fact that they will be raffle quilts.  The customers prefer that they are not “revealed” until the official reveal, if you get my meaning.  Anyhow, I figured I’d show you something I’ve been trying to finish for myself.  This was part of a quilt guild challenge to make something from our charm square exchange.  This quilt has been on and off my quilting machine’s frame more times than I care to think about (in between customer quilts).  I’ve decided to name it “Jewels of the Valley.”  All I have left to do is finish the binding on it, and clean it up (trim threads, etc.).

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In other news, remember this quilt?  It was in another one of my blog posts a long time ago.  You can read that post here.

Tree of Life full view

You can also find it at the bottom right of this page, listed under NQA’s 2013 show winners.  It won 1st place in the Scrappy Quilt Division.  Right now it is in a traveling exhibit for International Quilt Association.  If you go to IQA’s Quilt Festival in Chicago, you will be able to see it in person in their Timeless Treasures exhibit.  It will be in the same exhibit at the Quilt Festival in Houston this fall as well.  So, please look for it at either place.  I don’t know if it will be at Market or not.  The show in Chicago will be towards the end of June.  If you can’t make it to either the Chicago or the Houston show, here are some close-up shots so you can get a better look at what I snuck into the quilting.

Fairy smelling the flower…

Tree of Life detail  of fairy

Better?

tree of life quilt fairy stitching detail

Elf sitting on a mushroom…

Tree of Life quilting mushroom and elf

And with light “exposing” it…

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Troll under a bridge

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Embellished with button berries and vines made from couched yarns

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Some shots of the borders and down below with “light on the subject”…

tree of life 040         Tree of Life border quilting

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And, finally the label…inside and the cover.  You lift up the cover to find the label of all the contributors to the fabric in this quilt.

Tree of Life label outside  Tree of Life label underside

Tree of Life was from a HST (Half Square Triangle) fabric exchange done through The Quilt Show’s forum.  After watching Edyta Sitar on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, quilters from all over the world sent in HSTs to exchange with each other.  With the help of several others, more specifically from Clara Lawrence, Debbie Wolf collected and ran a “sort” for the more than 600 people who participated in the exchange and then mailed them back to everyone.  I couldn’t just “not” make a statement with my quilt of triangles from many lands.  So, figuring the quilt grew from a seed that had been planted with many hands of many friends, I decided it had to be a Tree of Life.  Then, I quilted in fairies, elves, gnomes, trolls, bees, and other creatures as helpers in creating this quilt.  There is a lot of symbolism all over in this quilt; I had a great time putting it together and watching it come to life.  What triangles I could not fit onto the front of the quilt went onto the back of the quilt to cover the label.  I just couldn’t leave anyone out.  As for the design, well… I took one of my old dishes and traced the design and then took it to Kinko’s and had them enlarge it for the 36″ center medallion.  Overall, it’s about 75″ square.  I do hope you get a chance to see it in person.  Who knows?  Maybe I have one of your triangles in this quilt.  You can ask the White Gloved person/helper at the show to let you peek at the label to see if your name is on there!

Best Laid Plans… to be continued

The past 2 weeks have been crazy.  I even checked this past week to see if there was a full moon, but it’s not until Valentine’s Day.  Two weeks ago I was working on a client’s quilt and also working on a pattern to make a purse.  I was asked to teach how to make a quilted purse, so I came up with a pattern and then needed to make it up so I could tell how easy or difficult it would be for the students.

Then, one of my husband’s 2 favorite aunts died.  My husband was to be a Pall Bearer, so we needed to drive to Ft. Worth, Texas for the funeral… a 10 hour trip on a good day.  We hurriedly packed up and drove down to temperatures in the 70s.  I thought weather changes were pretty dramatic in Kansas City and Denver, but we found that it is so much more dramatic in northern Texas and Oklahoma.  We came back home Sunday.  We knew the drive home would be “iffy” when it came to the weather, but we figured we had it planned between snow and ice fronts.  Well, we were wrong – that was between 2 weather fronts in the Kansas City area.  Sunday morning before we headed back home, we checked the weather and the road conditions and chose the highway that looked like it was in better weather and traffic conditions.  What a long day that turned out to be!  There were cars, buses, and trucks off in the ditch and paralyzed on the highway pretty much the whole way through Oklahoma.   I guess they don’t “expect” snow and ice???  Because they sure weren’t prepared for it!

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Anyhow, to make a long story short, this was the beginning of the “wrench” put into my best laid plans of getting customer quilts done.  And, that’s the way it seems to go for me – my life is either feast or famine (crazy busy or nothing going on).  Aside from our Snowmagedden here in Kansas City this week, and my husband being home from work because of it until Thursday, the phone’s been ringing off the wall this week.  Everyone seems to have an issue that needs my help.

But, enough about that…  I was determined to put a big dent in this quilt yesterday – it’s been on my quilting frame for almost 2 weeks now.  I am almost done.  I just need to do some work on the borders and then go back and do a once over check.  I will take another picture of it full length after I finish it and will post it later.

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Oh… one more thing.  My friend, Trisch Price has a new book that just   came out through My Stars, the modern division of the Kansas City Star Quilts books.

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If you go to this site http://mystarsblog.com/2014/02/06/qa-and-book-giveaway-accentuate-the-negative/ you can see one of her quilts that I quilted for her.  It’s one of 18 quilts that are in her book.

String of Pearls

Also, they are having a give away.  If you leave a comment on their blog, you just might win her book!  So, please go check it out!

Decorating with Fabric

Since I haven’t had any quilts to work on lately, I’ve been busy with other fabric-related things…  My Mother-in-Law passed away in October, and we have been very busy clearing out her house.  My husband doesn’t “get” my knack for feeling sorry for left-outs, which includes inanimate objects.  This was one such object.  I didn’t think to take a “before” picture, so in this photo, I put the old fabric on it and took a picture.

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After I stripped it of the fabric, I was surprised to find caning in the back of the chair.  It was obvious to me that the wood used for the back of the chair was Quarter-Sawn (or Tiger Eye) Oak, which was popular back in the Victorian Era.  When I took the fabric off, I also noticed a sticker that reads “Murphy Chair Company – Detroit, Michigan.”  I googled it and found that it was a company in Detroit around 1900.  Woah!  Anyhow, after looking at several chairs like this, I imagine it had a needlepoint seat covering.  I was giving this to our daughter, though, and I already had fabric to go with her decorating taste, so I used that.

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We also inherited 3 rocking chairs.  One of them was covered with orange fabric, which is great for Autumn when we inherited it, but didn’t go with any body’s home decor.

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I have always wanted to reupholster a chair, so I got the opportunity to do just that with this chair.  Here’s what it looks like now.  I don’t normally like to paint over wood unless it is butt ugly.  This wood did nothing for the chair, so I painted it black and then distressed it to expose parts of the wood.

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Keeping the tradition of showing the back of a quilt, here is the back of the chair.

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This, too, is going to my daughter’s house.  We already had 1 rocking chair inside and 2 on the porch, so now with the other 2 rocking chairs that we inherited, we have 5 rocking chairs.  We do not need this to make it 6.

I found that I really liked re-covering these chairs and can imagine them with lots of colorful fabrics and even covered with patchwork blocks – I can see myself reupholstering more chairs in my future.

I have a list of goals for 2014, but I find that my ADD interferes a lot and my mind is constantly dreaming up something new that needs to get done right now!  That’s how this next project happened.  I knew I was going to get a customer quilt on Friday, so I cleaned my studio on Tuesday when our guild meeting was cancelled.  Cleaning my studio led to me taking everything off my wooden counter for a good wipe-down.  When I originally built this counter, I had planned on covering it with laminate or staining the wood or doing something to cover the wood.  Cleaning it reminded me that I’d never gotten around to “finishing” that project.  You can see a “before” picture in a post I wrote here.  I pulled some fabric out of my stash (a bolt that had never been opened!)  that looked like rocks.  Imagine my surprise when I opened up the bolt of fabric and laid it out on the counter top.  I smiled and thought this was kismet.  Rays of light shown down from the heavens and the angels sang… and my smile “sang” too!

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Doesn’t it look like granite?  I Mod-Podged it down and cut off the excess fabric with an Exacto knife.  This shot was taken while it was fresh on the counter top and still wet, so that’s why you see streaks or cloudiness in areas.  The Mod Podge dries clear.  Here’s a close-up.

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I have more projects in the works telling me I need to add them to my never-ending list  swimming around in my head, but first I need to work on that customer quilt.  I am so looking forward to being back at my quilting machine!

A Fresh Start

I don’t know about you, but I feel a fresh start coming in 2014.  I’ve put together 13 “intentions” for 2014 which include a lot of different things that I want to do for myself.  But,  I’ve also put together a list of quilting goals.  I took Angela Walter’s advice and looked at what I wanted to do with my life in the next decade, the next year, and the next month.  You will be amazed at how “level headed” you will feel after doing this.  Well… I have to admit that organizing things helps clear my head, too, and I’ll get to that in a minute…  I did the organizing before I wrote down my list of goals.
You have to understand (before reading this list) that I have so many ideas jumping around in my head that I cannot keep up with them.  I have a drawing notebook for my quilting ideas – it’s a great idea for any kind of artistic career.  I take it with me to doctor’s appointments and other places where I know I will be sitting for awhile, bored.  When I get discouraged in life, it’s a great thing to come back to for a creative reprieve.  I also think I have ADD, because I will start one thing and quickly find myself headed in a gazillion different directions.  It makes me crazy, but I can’t seem to keep focused long enough to get my “goal” of whatever I was doing completed.  So, I hope having this list written out and in front of me, where I can cross the accomplishments off as I reach that particular goal, will be helpful.  It is typical for me to get started on a project and get side-tracked because I forgot to check on something else, which then leads to something else, which leads to another idea totally unrelated to the former idea and what started it all.  Are all artists like this?  Or, is it just the minds of women???  I also do that when I’m having a conversation with others.  I’m a great listener, but it will make me think of something totally unrelated that I must share.

The thing about me and lists, though, is that I am a finisher and if I have something on a list, I will finish it sooner or later.  It can be a great thing, but it can also be bad, because that list is like a nagging spouse with a “to do” list.  I don’t like starting a project unless I plan on and know I can finish it within a time frame.  Given that, here are my quilting goals, both the far-fetched and the realistic ones.

Quilting Goals

In the next decade…

  • ·        Create quilting designs and patterns for pantographs and digital format
  • ·        Start making and publishing quilt patterns?
  • ·        Teach at quilting venues (includes guild meetings)

In the next year or more…

  1. Start drawing and doodling every day.
  2. Finish the New Orleans quilt (this is a quilt that I started almost 3 years ago, with every intention of finishing it within a year – FEAR has held me back; fear of my abilities or lack thereof and fear of it not turning out as wonderful as I envision in my head).
  3.  Finish the Migraine quilt (it’s a joint quilt with my daughter).
  4.  Draw out the cartoon that is in my head from IQF Houston of Carol and her cousin and create a pattern and quilt from it.
  5. Make a quilt for the BVQG Challenge due in April, 2014.
  6. Make up some embroidery samples for use in quilts (will be teaching this at April mtg.)
  7.   Enter Hoffman Fabric Challenge, 2014 (must be received by July 18, 2014).
  8.  Finish the Jennifer Jangles appliqué quilt that I have been working on.
  9.  Make a white, queen-sized whole cloth quilt.
  10.  Make a king-sized whole cloth quilt from the light blue fabric.
  11.  Make a 9-patch red and white quilt.
  12.  Make a 4-patch blue and white quilt.
  13.  Make a scrappy Pineapple block quilt.
  14.  Make memory quilts out of Bob’s T-shirts.
  15.  Get the Buffalo quilt pattern done.

In the next month…

  • ·        Draw and doodle every day.
  • ·        Draw out cartoon of the Houston quilt.
  • ·        Start on New Orleans Quilt.
  • ·        Quilt customer, raffle, and charity quilts.

Do you think I’ve set myself up?  Or, do you think I can accomplish at least some of them?

Okay, back to the organization part of this story…  My life story seems to be either “feast or famine” in all areas.  I’m either really busy or not busy at all and my ADD will kick in overdrive then, sending me back into the “busy” part of my life.  Anyhow, by nature, I am an organizer.  You’d never know it, though, if you had looked into my closet a week ago.  I have a lot of shoes.  The way I “organized” my shoes was to just toss them into the closet.  They were all over the floor in there – I would trip on them every time I’d go into the closet.

I’d been meaning to take that shelving unit in my closet and transform it into a shoe rack of sorts.  I’ve been avoiding it, though, because I thought it was going to be too much work to add shelves to it.  I even broke down and bought myself one of those plastic organizers with pockets for shoes that hang from a door but never got around to putting shoes in it  Well, after building a computer armoire, my confidence level shot up and I figured out a way to (in my mind) easily add shelves.  I have a Kreg shelf pin jig that I used to drill holes into the sides of the existing shelves.  I added shelf pins after that along with MDF boards the width of the shelves.  Voila!

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I feel like one of those rich movie stars who has a shoe closet – LOL!  Creating this “shoe space” has been a goal of mine since we moved into this house in 2009.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to finally have this done – the clutter in my closet was “cluttering” my mind – literally!

My point is that you, too, can accomplish a lot IF you know what you want.  Start by organizing your ideas and/or your space and then writing down what you want to accomplish.  If you don’t know, start with just a few items.  They might be goals that you know you can accomplish.  Or, they might be far-fetched goals.  But, if you take that first step, you at least know where you are headed and are farther on your life’s journey than you were yesterday.  Here’s to new beginnings and fresh starts!

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas… aka Karma

How were your holidays in 2013?  I’ve had a lot of time to think, probably too much time.  Forgive me if this post gets too philosophical.  Every year I end up having a melt down around Christmas, either before or after.  I know what it is.  I am waaaaay too tired and way too stressed out to have a level head.  I used to think it was just me, but this year I saw it in so many others.  I vowed to myself that this Christmas was going to be different, that I wasn’t going to over do myself and that I was going to just enjoy the holidays, no matter how much does or does not get done.  If it doesn’t get done, I figure, what’s the worst that can happen?  With this attitude, it was easy for me to see how taxing the holidays can be on each of us – it’s not just me!  😀

I coined a new term… the holiday hag… how easy it is for me to fall into that description, and how easy it is for others as well.  I do have to admit that I did try to get too much done.  I set myself up for this all the time, and even though this year I didn’t try to get as much of the usual holiday stuff done, I still worked on other stuff that just added fuel to my inner hag.  How many of you do most or all of the shopping, wrapping of gifts, decorating, making food, cleaning, etc.?  And we wonder why we get so exhausted when we add that to our “regular routine.”  Beware of the Grinch (short temper) that steals your holiday cheer… the angry customers, the aggressive drivers, and the other rude people who don’t normally behave that way but are just as stressed and tired as the screaming kids waiting for Santa.

So, this year I put most of the gifts in bags, saving time on wrapping.  I only made 1 pie and 1 batch of cookies.  I did all the shopping online.  But… my daughter was coming in for the holidays and I wanted to finish a woodworking project before she got here.  In my last post, I promised I’d share pictures, so here they are.  This is the computer armoire that I built all by myself.  I got the plans from ana-white.com here and adapted them to make an “office” for my quilting business.  I needed a place for my computer, printer, forms, my quilting samples, etc.  And, I wanted to be able to close the doors.

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Here it is open, before I put the doors on.  See the green bag down on the lower right?  That has my quilting samples.  Since I live out from the city, I tend to go TO my customers instead of them coming to me.  The blue “storage clip board” has my forms, prices, etc. in it as well as my mileage page.  You can see that the backing of this is made of pegboard.  I wanted the electronics to have ventilation, and I also thought I might use it for hanging stuff from it in the future.  There are 2 drawers and a slide-out for my keyboard.  I ran out of paint while working on this, so it doesn’t look finished, but it’s as finished as it’s getting for now (until I’ve had a GOOD LONG WINTER’S NAP!!!).

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Anyhow, I am happy enough with how it turned out, especially since this was my first furniture project from scratch.  And, no, I can’t just ask my husband to make it for me, because he hates (and fears, I think) any kind of “handyman” work.  The reason I HAD to finish this before Christmas (by the way, “HAD” is a figment of my imagination) was because I was rearranging rooms to accommodate the Christmas tree in its new place.  I’ve been wanting to move the stereo into the dining room, which is where the tree has been in the past, and put my new “office” where the stereo was in the living room.  This would also leave a nice space for the Christmas tree, where it “should” have been all along… in the living room.  Ah… perfect!

Needless to say this armoire is very heavy, too heavy for me to be lifting and moving by myself.  But, I did.  And, I also moved the furniture around in the dining room, all by myself except for a couple of last moves that I just could not do.  My husband asked me how I was able to move stuff since he couldn’t (he’s had a herniated disk and has lost a lot of strength).  I used those furniture sliders and a lot of determination – this word will come back later in my philosophical “ramblings”…

So, here we are at Christmas Eve when both my daughters and one’s husband can be here for Christmas dinner and our gift exchange.  You may remember that my mother-in-law passed away in October.  We are still sorting through her stuff and trying to get her house sold.  I brought out some quilts for the girls to look at and my oldest says she gets dibs on anything purple.  I made the mistake of pointing out that the younger daughter likes purple as well.  That’s when the oldest said in what sounded to this mother like a 2-year-old’s voice, “She got first choice of the rings and took the one I wanted, so I get first choice now.”  Well, we didn’t know that at the time.  The younger one said that she could have the ring if she wanted, that she could have it all.  At this point, I just dropped what was in my hands and walked out of the room.  The Grinch was in the room with us and I left before the Grinch took hold of me, too.  My poor son-in-law just sat there, caught in the middle.  I think I felt worse for him than anyone.  All I wanted was for my family to get along and to enjoy the holidays together for once without the Grinch stealing our Christmas.

Is this how family holiday gatherings are everywhere?  My husband was crabby and being a jerk, my kids were jealous of each other and being crabby, and I was on the ragged edge of being sucked right into the “poison” with them.  We all ended up having a good time and a nice (enough) Christmas, but later in bed I thought about my own mother.  She had 5 kids.  How did she do it?  Wow!  Deja vu.  Karma jumped up and bit me in the butt!  I think all 5 of us kids were jealous of each other, each of us wanting to be Mom’s favorite.  My mom rarely ever got on to me, but I will never forget the time she chastised me for being snotty about my siblings.  I am sure I was painting a negative picture of them so that I would look like a shining light in her eyes.  I was stunned when she got on to me about it.  Good grief, here I was on the other end of this with my own kids.  Mom’s been gone for almost 5 years now, and I know she wanted all of us to get along and to be close.  Funny how we’ve all worked on that since she’s passed and how we all now see ourselves as having more similarities than we do differences.  We’ve all gone our separate ways, with 8 years between the oldest and the youngest of us, but our “roots” are the same.  And, we find so many quirky things that are unique to the 5 of us that we don’t see in any one else.  I know now that Mom loved each of us.. the same and, yet, differently, and with all her heart.  I feel the same way about my kids.

The point of this message?  My hope is that each of us will realize that life is short, too short.  My wish is that future Christmases for all of us will be magical, full of Christmas spirit, and that we remember that Christmas is not about things but about the moments of this holiday that we will take with us in memories.  Let’s aim for good and happy memories.  Don’t work too hard but DO play hard.  Don’t worry about perfection because we all have our own individual definitions of perfect, so when you’re trying to make it perfect for everyone, it won’t be, no matter what, and that’s okay!  And, above all, try to laugh.  It’s a great stress reliever.  Happy Belated Christmas to you!  I hope you have lots of fun memories of 2013!

Tip from Trisch

Back in June I posted about a quilt I had quilted for a friend… Trisch.  Well, on her blog, she offers some quick tips on Tuesdays.  I would like to share one with you today that I think is well worth the visit to her page.  If you’ve ever had trouble getting perfect circles for needle-turn applique and other hand-work, you’ve gotta check out how she does her circles on this Quick tip Tuesday page of hers.  You won’t regret it!

circle prep 10

Busy Quilter I Bee

Remember I said I’d show you how I refinished the stairs?  Well, I am sending you to a bunch of different places today so that you can see what you like.  First off, go here to see the pictures of how I re-did my stairs to the basement, which is also my quilting studio.  One of these days I will finish the basement, but it will likely be a little bit at a time.  If you are on Facebook and interested, take a look around there.  I am spreading my wings a bit and becoming somewhat of a DIYer.

Last week I went to the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  If you haven’t heard of it, just know that it is probably the biggest quilt show on earth.  It was my first time to go to this show or to visit Houston, so it was a bit overwhelming.  You can find plenty of pictures on my Flickr page.

I especially got a big kick out of the Cow Quilt Exhibit, named Moo-ston.  There were lots of amusing quilts.  Make sure you check out the close-up pictures of the udders and other details!  Hopefully it will bring a smile to your face.