Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Colorful November

Well, it's been another busy couple of weeks!  I finished my shabby-chic quilt, gifted to my mother's sister who just turned 80.  I bought several packets of precut triangles when we went to Keepsake Quilting this summer, and added a few more from my stash.
And a niece has just given birth to a baby boy:  hooray, an excuse to finally use those Oceanica panels!  I found this blue bubbly batik in my LQS and practically swooned; I'm so glad it came out as I'd imagined!
The front:
The back:
And because older siblings shouldn't be left out when a new kid arrives, a puppy for Big Sister: 
You've seen this before: every year I go to Gozzi's and take the same photos!  Here's my favorite colored turkey from the farm this year: 


And a group shot!

Some folks have a good steady hand, others do not.  I always start with grand intentions - in this case Hungry Happenings' adorable pie turkey - and end up feeling like I have the artistic ability of a third grader.  Oh well, it tasted good!  
Hope your days are colorful too!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sandy's a Big-Ole Meanie

She knocked us out for a while!  We were Powerless for several days, and for several more we had no telephone or Net access.  But the house and my humans are intact and we lost no major trees so we are among the very fortunate. 
The upside of having power but no communication is, time to craft!  I finished a mess of crochet and quilting projects - word to the wise, it's MUCH easier to crochet than to sew when working by candlelight. 
Here is one of my finishes.  Are any of you playing with Konda's latest quilt along?  It's my first foray into mini quilts and I've got to tell you, I love it!  Here's my Mini Number 3 from her book - I chose to make it a Halloween quilt, another first!
OK, I hear you - but if you squint a bit you'll see a pumpkin, several bats and some ghosts!  This is her "Flying Around in Circles" pattern, finishing at 16" square.  It was a total blast!  Easy and satisfying. 
When I left you last time I offered up my bag-o-selvages as an incentive to back Threadbias on Kickstarter.  Alas, the project did not get the backing it needed to be Kickstarted.  Hope is not lost however:  the community is very much still in place and they're going to try to fund the software directly through the site.  So you can still back them and be a beta tester if you wish!  And - the selvages go to Jyllybean!  Jylly, I'm emailing you now; look to your inbox so you can send me your snailmail!
Just for fun, here is number one from the quiltalong, "Mosaic:"


And number two, "Fire and Rain:"  I need to re-bind this because it popped - eek!  Every quiltalong is a learning experience and this one is no exception.  But Konda's schedule has a built-in get-it-done break so I have time to do it and keep on schedule for the rest of the quiltalong! 



Monday, October 22, 2012

Threadbias Giveaway

Note:  I'm piggybacking on Katy's post, hoping to snag a few more supporters for Threadbias' Kickstarter campaign. 

Have you heard about ThreadBias yet?  It's a free community for quilting and sewing enthusiasts with sharing of projects, forums and groups, shops for fabric and for patterns (with freebies, yay!), a personal corkboard and more.

Now, the community is great and I've signed up but I've not posted much yet.  I'm really in it for the software.  One of the founders, Alex, is a coder by trade who, with his wife and sister, found a huge gap in the tools available to quilters and decided to create their own.  It'll be a Cloud-based (that means you don't have to download it to your computer) application you can use to design your quilts: you can upload pics of your own fabrics and with a click here and a click there, insert your own fabrics into your own design.

Do other programs exist that will do this for you?  Sure they do - if you're willing to spend lots of money for the install disks and store everything on a single workstation and then get a PhD in Geekology to learn the software.  To my knowledge there is exactly one product intended specifically for quilters; there are other apps, meant for other primary uses, that you can use for designing your quilts but the learning curve is STEEP and there will be huge pieces you don't use because they don't apply to quilting so much.  With the Threadbias tool you'll pay a subscription fee for access to the software - easy to use, easy to pay for, sounds like a great deal to me!

I grilled Alex pretty heavily at Sewing Summit and he knows his stuff, both in terms of programming and quilting.  We discussed some of the really geeky bits (architecture, platform) but also how a user would change all of their triangles from fabric A to fabric B, for instance, and I can honestly say there was no "Oh, yuck" moment while he was showing me the tools.  It's going to be drag-and-drop friendly, very intuitive, so you can think about your quilt instead of which axis goes where and which filters apply and all that nastiness.

The Threadbias team has an open campaign on KickStarter to fund this new quilt design tool.  You can read all about it HERE - and like Katy, I really want you to.  Please don't make me learn CADD, it's scary.

To help out I'm offering up a giveaway.  I have a large pile of SELVAGES ready to be mailed to your home;  I may be able to find another little goodie or two to throw in the box as well.  Make a pledge on Threadbias's Kickstarter campaign and come back here to let me know you did.  Giveaway is open to all backers of this project and will end when the funding campaign ends.
p.s. - I am not affiliated with the Threadbias team and know them only through Kickstarter and Sewing Summit.  The only profit I will gain from their success will be the chance to have a great tool for getting my quilting ya ya's out.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bailey Island Hobo - pattern review

You all know Aunties Two and their fabulous patterns, right?  Well, I finally broke down and drank the Bailey Island Kool-Aid!  I had a roll of Tonga batik pretties purchased just for this project; I finished the bag yesterday. 
I'm a novice-to-not-quite-intermediate bag maker so my ignorance may shine here; you are warned.  I'm writing this  because I found so few maker reviews; I was unsure and procrastinated a "stoopid" long time over starting the bag.
Ain't it purty?!?  It made its debut yesterday and I received many compliments.
The pattern itself:
I'd call this an intermediate bag:  the sewing is simple enough, but the first gather nearly brought me to tears - ugh my wrists!  The strips can feel tedious; I broke it up into a few sessions and that helped.  And I did not figure out a graceful way to sew the buttons over the magnet snaps.  I got them in place but it was ugly.  The resulting bag is very, very pretty, feels like it will hold up nicely to abuse, the handles are a good length for my average-height body, and it's a great spot for that monstrous-huge-but-lovely set of buttons you couldn't resist that time. 
Where I did not follow the pattern:
The pattern for the small bag has you join 12 tubes (a little like the clothesline Bali Bag but with batting inside) and then cut the resulting quilted piece in half and join the halves to make your main piece.  I joined 24 and cut that in half, leaving me with a large piece I can use to make another bag with different binding and accoutrements or put to another use.  I also added a half-inch to the binding strip to make the handle channel easier to contend with.  The pattern doesn't specify thread type but I used quilting thread, a bright variegated King Tut. You'll need your walking foot.
What I would do differently next time and why:
I would cut my batting to 2.25 instead of 2.5, to make the foldovers neater.  I would pull the old Visetti out of the attic for the assembly - it's a LOT of layers and even my reliable Pfaff choked a couple of times (and I broke a needle.) 
I would make the pockets a little taller: I shove all kinds of stuff in my bag and these feel a mite small.
I'm not thrilled with the magnet/button placement.  I think I would try putting the magnet right at the top, in the binding/handle channel next time.  In theory you could put the magnets in there, cover them up with the binding strip and still place your buttons wherever you wanted them.  I like a bag that's roomy, and I can't fit a good-size paperback in this one and still snap it shut.  The bag has a lot of body and it wants to open if you don't snap it shut - so either carry a big book (always a good idea anyhow) or put your gallon of milk right atop your wallet.  (If you're the kind of gal who thinks putting a gallon of milk in your handbag is a crime, I apologize; in my world a really good bag has to free up my hands.)
Other thoughts:
The big version is very, very huge: don't jump in to make that one unless you're carrying a LOT of stuff. The strips when assembled would make a fabulous small area rug and I'm thinking of putting my made-on-purpose leftovers to this use.
I emailed Aunties Two with a question at one point; their response was fast and courteous.  So they get extra stars for great customer service.
And just for fun, here it is with a creepy lawn elf:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bombers and Blankets

Things With Wings was an unqualified success!  We had a wide variety of new quilts, a gorgeous collection of WWII quilts courtesy of noted quilt historian Sue Reich, lectures by both Sue and quilt designer and novelist Marie Bostwick,
raffles, origami for the kids, hands-on demonstrations, and vendors.  And all of this was set in the New England Air Museum among the planes!  This was the brainchild of our good friend Jackie Kunkel of Canton Village Quiltworks; she certainly outdid herself!  The planes were incredibly cool, the venue provided a cross-population appeal that showed in ticket sales for the Museum, the lighting was terrific and we had a wide variety of quilts offered up.  Here's a fraction of the fun for your enjoyment:
The super-duper-fantabulous B-29 (was I impressed?  you bet!) with some of Sue's WWII beauties:
Even the back yard at the Museum is cool!  If you're anywhere near Bradley International Airport it's well worth a drive past the runways to see this facility.

Some of my favorites from the World War II quilts provided by Sue:
This quilt was made up entirely of sailors' arm patches.  Apparently the quilter sewed the patches onto uniforms for a living; she traded cigarettes for patches to make this unique quilt!  She made a companion quilt in wool blues.
A unique signature quilt:  love the center block!
A silk Victory quilt - stunning!
Another fabulous signature quilt:


There was plenty of non-WWII eye candy too!
Christmas tree skirt by Maria using a Judy Niemeyer pattern.  Judy even had her own work in the show!  Drool-mops will be on our must-provide list if we do this again!  

There were lots of airplane quilts, naturally.  This was my personal favorite for pieced plane blocks. 


Speaking of drool ....  I've done a lot of hexagon-watching over the past few years but I've never seen them done quite this way before.  Note the edging too.  I spent two full days walking the floors during the show and this one got more of my ogling time than any other!
Donald Gough's Snippets quilt, which won Viewer's Choice.  Over 3,000 pieces!  Donald and his wife Eunice are prolific quilters and had an impressive array of groupies by the end of Sunday!
 Jackie made this one for her husband; ain't he lucky??


Look Ma v.3.0:  My Orange You Glad bee quilt, hanging at a real show!
A terrific quilt based on a Laurie Shifrin pattern, Mango Tango. Note the edges of those curves - they're flanges!  If you get a chance to take a class with Laurie, leap at it!  She's a terrific teacher with loads of color management advice and cool technique tricks.


More mop-worthy fun: 

Look Ma v.4.0:  My One Block Wonder!  It took me a shameful long time to finish but I love it.  A pretty "before" fabric helps!  Fabric is Siena by P&B textiles.


Some of my favorites from the Things With Wings mini challenge:
Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Friday, September 14, 2012

September, September

Let’s see, where did I leave off?  Oh, yeah.  I was so thrilled at how my Orange You Glad bee quilt turned out that I sent an email to the block designer to show it to her; she suggested I send it on to Quiltmaker.  So I did!  The morning we left for vacation a plain envelope arrived in the mail containing the fall issue of Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.  Did I order this magazine?  I don't remember, but that's not conclusive!  When I finally pulled it out and read it, there was my OYG in the back!    Look Ma, v.2.0:


And I finally finished my One Block Wonder!  This one is called “Camping in the Back Forty” ‘cause it makes me think of a campfire in August surrounded by meadow flowers.  I know, I’m a dork.  Here's a peek:


Isn't it fun to chop up a whole bunch of flowers, put 'em back together and get ... flowers?  You'll get a full view later; it's reserved for Things With Wings attendees for now.

We went to Western New Hampshire this summer and rented a lovely little cottage on a lake.  It was fun to drive around the lake:  “We’re in Maine!”  “Now we’re not!”  “Back in Maine!”   Kayaking and canoeing and food and campfires and long drives, a lovely family vacation.
The cottage – loved those stairs!


The lake in the early morning



I also kept up the family tradition of Tyrant Mom Makes Us Hike Horrible Hills.  We went up the Frankenstein Cliffs trail, then to Arethusa Falls.  This is a trail?!?  Maybe for mountain goats!



I know you hardcore hikers will scoff at me – 5 miles, hah!  But this one, rated moderate, involves a serious rise:  something like 1200 feet in one mile!  There was genuine huffing and puffing.  And if I hadn’t “insulted” my arches, as my doctor put it, before then, I surely did with that walk! But the view from the top was totally worth it.


Arethusa Falls was lovely, a great end to the hike.  A little dry in August but they were still flowing:





We also saw the Madison Boulder.  Get ready for some real excitement, guys:  it’s a big rock.   Yup, one of the largest erratics (a rock moved by a glacier and unceremoniously dumped) in the world!  Notice that I am sparing you the dreaded Covered Bridge Photos.  I had to go through it as a kid, so my kids do too; that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


Other nowhere-else-to-be-seen sights:


















Things With Wings starts this Sunday!  If you’re in flying distance of Windsor Locks, CT, do make an effort to come!  There will be quilts hanging in the regular hangar right near the B-29!!  We’ll have lectures, a special exhibit of WWII quilts, vendors and an origami station for the kids!  If you haven’t seen the New England Air Museum this is a great time to do so; it’s very cool on its own but add quilts and it’s insanely cool!