Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life on the windy, wet and wild Coast

The winter storms hit last week - and of course, I HAD to go to Portland and then to Philomath for a quilt class. The weather had been so-o mild and wonderful before that. Oh well - life on the coast isn't for the meek!!

I did delay my departure a day - Wednesday, last week, there were 108 mph winds on the coast!! So I left Thursday, which looked promising. I stopped 2 hours up the coast to check in at the Bandon quilt store. Thank goodness I did. She immediately looked up and advised me on my route to avoid all the road closings due to mud and rock slides thru the mountains![3 of the 5 passes!] If I had checked that site before leaving - I probably would have chickened out!! But going across the mountains on 42 got me to the interstate easily. I did have to backtrack - the road goes generally south, but I made it without problems.

Got the royal welcome from Mr M and Miss P - "Nana, Nana!! [big hugs] Where's Papa???" LOL! As long as I get big hugs - who cares if I'm second best!! I got to take J's volunteer shift at the co-op preschool on Friday. Preschools are very loud these days!! But, of course, I loved it - especially the parachute games. There was drawing in our 'journals' and Miss P drew me along with her - I had gun-metal grey marker hair!! It was obvious who was pictured!! We came home happy and all took long naps!

Saturday I was off to the quilt class. New technique for me - textile coloring and painting from a photo. Our teacher was wonderful - very calm, very informative and answered all questions easily and fully. I was going to withhold this project until I was done .... but figured I'd forget all the details by then!

We started with a picture.

She photo-shopped them for us and printed them on fabric - backed it with freezer paper. That helped it print AND kept it in good shape for our coloring. Here's the class's fabric portraits and then mine.

While holding the phtoto, we carefully colored the fabric. Changing any colors we wanted to - she showed us an example with a baby in a stark white bow. The fabric picture's bow was a soft pink. Shading the faces especially to let them come to life. Once I got over being afraid to screw something up - it was kind-of a mixture of coloring in coloring books and the colored pencils class I took in Newport.

After coloring everything, we painted the whole project with a 50/50 mixture of textile medium and water. The colors blended together and brightened. As you can see in Mr M's hair as I was painting. Sometimes exactly what you'd hoped, sometimes not!! My grandkids don't have red hair - but they'd look good if they did!! LOL! (PS - the fabric portrait's hair is not that red in person!!)

Now we need to add borders and quilt. I'm trying out some batiks here. I'll let you see the finished project - when it happens! It's hanging on the design wall here - I just have to decide on the quilting - to quilt the faces heavily or not!!

If you want to see the other portraits in the class - and they are all wonderful - here is the link. Enjoy!!

My plans after the class changed. Hiway 20 was open, but oh-so-slow, so I didn't stay with a friend in Newport. I headed down the I-5 and stayed in Eugene at Holiday Inn Express. I explored Eugene's shopping center and even went to a movie Saturday night. I saw "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo". Very good. Granted the violence is extremely violent - but it's a small percent of the movie!?! You can pretty much close your eyes if you need to! - I'm getting wimpier in my old age.

The movie ticket was only $6 for stadium seating at 7 pm on a Saturday night!! I thought that was really cheap. Then I thought I'd have popcorn for dinner - couldn't do it - medium popcorn and medium drink was $9.75!! Is that really expensive? I sat thru the movie and then picked up a chicken nugget happy meal on the way back to the motel! Just the right size for a late, late dinner!! AND I got a hot wheels car!!! LOL! Yep, second childhoods are underrated!!

Sunday morning after checking - I started off. Our usual route was now open - so went home along 38. The worse part of that was the tunnel. It's a long tunnel with a curve - AND all the lights were off in it! It was like heading into the bowels of the earth!! Pitch-black and scary! And even though my headlights were already on - it felt like they were only parking-lights - the light was quickly sucked away!!

When I got to the coast it was windy but the rivers had gone back into their banks and weren't 'leaking' onto the highway any more!! Home again, home again felt so good!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My First UFO Finish!! Hooray!

I finished my first UFO for the year and I'm happy to be done with it.

This basket quilt was the New Year's Day Mystery at Planet Patchwork 2011. There were some problems with the directions and I ended up with twice as many basket feet as needed - an odd little unit standing by itself!!

I don't like mysteries - for me the mystery is "Why do I have so many UFOs and WIPs!!" I love to come to the sew-in day and work on one of my own projects. If I really like the mystery's end result - I can always do it on my own later. But, come to think about it - I don't!! I guess I just collect mysteries and BOMs!! Sorry Bonnie Hunter!! I love her mystery quilts - just never take the time to make them!

I'm bound and determined to learn FMQ this year. I've dabbled with 'loop de loop - star' on the LA machine. But that's pretty much all I do. And nothing even that organized on my DSM. So Leah Day's FMQ Wednesday is tempting me to follow thru. I've never stippled - so I followed her tutorial and stippled the center of this quilt.

There's so many variables - foot pedal speed; hand motion; keeping the pattern in your head ... let's just say I can't chew gum at the same time!! The stippling is too close on this little quilt - but it washed up well. Thank the Lord those stitches tighten up after washing - I needed some help.

My friend M, in Lincoln, quilted my Halloween Round Robin on her LA for me last April and quilted a really cute border design - she called it olives! So I attempted 'olives' in the sashings.

By now I was really tired of the whole process and rewarded myself by going back to walking foot quilting and did the outer borders with that fast and furiously!! Machine bound it and it's ready for the Brookings Baby Shower in March.

It's all from stash and I did a happy dance when this back fit!!! Isn't it cute? It's been in my stash forever. It was just the right size and now it's not languishing in my stash! LOL!

I'm on the tail end of finishing the pies and tarts blocks. Of course, I had to make new freezer paper templates - and they are so sticky the first few times! I have 9 pies pinned to the background blocks - ready for a few nights of TV.

I hope to sew the next 9 wheel sets today and then there's only 7 more sets left from wedges already cut. Then I have to decide if it's big enough or if I need to cut more Civil War fabrics for more blocks. That will be a mess - I'm not sure I've bought many more fabrics that are suitable? Oh, I probably have, but laying it out and discovering what's new/what's already in there is a big pain for me.

I also have to trim the blocks - first decide how big. I think I've cut 3 different sizes of background squares. I'll just take the littlest and see what size it is and go from there.

IF I was just starting this project again. I would make a no-shrink plastic round template for the pies and tarts. Then I could poke a hole in the center; pin the fabric pie to it and drawstring it up around the template and press. I think this would result in better circles.

My method now is to iron against the freezer paper to make the sewing line. They're pretty good - but there's little points and bumps on the pies and tarts. There are on the original too, they show up in close-up pictures. So I'm in good company, but I'm pretty insecure about my applique anyway and I think this method would have given me better lines to start with!!

DH and I were ornery last weekend! The neighbors here have a cast-iron pig bank in their entryway. They are Green Bay fans and the pig looked cold! They were gone and we brought the pig in, measured it and made it a GB kerchief on Saturday. DH looked thru my stash to find the perfect color fabrics and we found the logo online. It's so cute and the neighbors loved it when they came home ... if only it wasn't the 'kerchief of defeat'!! Oh well, there's always next year!!

Our new community college campus opened - it's basically across the highway from us and I'm taking a digital scrapbook class. Mainly to learn Photoshop - but I can see this could be as addictive as quilting!! Oh, no!!

If you 'digital scrapbook', I'd love any hints or tips and any free resources you like!! The first class was last night and I came home overwhelmed!!

I'm trying not to take our winter storm today personally!! I'm supposed to be on my way to Portland for a visit with Miss P and Mr M and then take a quilt class in Philomath Saturday. We're expecting 100 mph winds on the coast, snow up in Portland and I'm a big chicken!! So I'll stay home, sew today and hope tomorrow it all blows over!! [get it???] I'm telling you, if we lived on the East Coast - these storms would have names!!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is January going by really fast for you too??

Nothing says "Happy New Year" like a happy baby!

The weather here has been gorgeous - mostly. When it rains, it really rains, but when it doesn't - like today - we tend to forget all about those rainy days!! Is it denial or just old age memory?? Whatever - it works!

Today was wonderful, around 60 and no wind on the beach. Very unusual - we walk south when we walk and usually have to fight a head-wind coming back. But not today! No sand in our eyes; it was glorious!

I finally got the Christmas photos on the computer. My DD accidently kept my connector cable, so I had to build up the courage to transfer via my memory card. Wow - that was easy and fast!! LOL! Isn't that always the way - what you think is going to be a big problem turns out so easy. However, that last few pounds - turns out to be an obstacle! And it brings back it's friends!!

Good thing we kept the wonderful moments in our hearts because the photos were somewhat a disappointment. Someone, who shall remain anonymous,(DH) should be called 'shadow man'!! He was taking the photos and honestly - how CAN you get flash on 1/2 the picture [usually where the people are NOT] and dark shadow on the other half [where the people are]?? Oh well, next year ... there are a few that turned out, including Mr D at the top.

What are you doing to improve your quilting this year? I'm not calling it a resolution - this year resolutions are getting a bad rap! As if failing at bettering yourself is worse than not trying at all??? I'm sure they will cycle back into favor again!

This year I'm going to work at FMQ. I do some; but don't experiment 'outside my box'. And this year I'm going to!! Leah Day is having a FMQ challenge and SewCalGal is too. I've viewed both - and tomorrow I'm setting up the machine to experiment. You read it here first!!

I'm also going to participate in 'Take a Stitch Tuesday'. I've come to love embroidery. Years and years ago I taught a sampler class for Community Education in NJ - yep, 30 years ago??!! It will be nice to work with stitches again.

Stay Robin progress: We're in the 3rd month - halfway thru the challenge. Do you remember? We started with a center square - any size or shape. [Mariner's Compass] The first technique was applique;[lighthouse on the right] 2nd was paper piecing [sailboat and star] and the third was 'words.' Here is the progress - before I add the words - still working on those.

'Words' was absolutely perfect for me! I wanted to incorporate a poem into this quilt from the beginning and in the middle works. So I edited the poem and picked two verses that will fit around my piece so far. I love the alphabet by Art to Heart. It's in "The Night Before Christmas" book. So I set up some freezer paper with guildlines. I traced out the poem onto the freezer paper; then using my lightbox I traced it again onto the fabric. Now I'm not saying my eyes are getting bad; but - I traced it onto the reverse side of the fabric! AND I embroidered about 15 inches of the poem before I even noticed!! YIKES!

Needless to say - I'm going with it! It will be the same but different?!?! And Lord knows, my eyes won't notice it!!

Happy New Year again!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

2012 kind-of snuck up on us! I remember hearing my grandmother say how the year was going so fast and I thought, "This woman has lost her mind!!!" Sorry, Grandma - I get it now!!

It's time for the yearly review! Don't know if anyone else does this ... but I enjoy looking back - since I'm such a listmaker - it's pretty easy!

I made/finished 14 quilts, mostly baby quilts or larger! 5 were UFOs (hooray!!) 1 was a PIG [project in grocery bag] just waiting it's turn for years(!), 1 sweatshirt jacket, 2 challenges and 5 new quilts finished in the same year!!! I also made 2 sewing kits for friends; 12 pair of pj pants [for grandkids and my beautician's daughter]!! 2 new Christmas stockings and repaired/added buttons to 3 old ones.

Learning to long-arm quilt and renting the local quilt shop's long arm really upped my production! I actually started a double bed quilt and finished it in just one week this fall! That's a first and I've been quilting 36 years! It was fun - I'll try to do that every year! Focus, Nana, Focus!!

I didn't finish all I had planned to finish - of course! My list seems to be getting longer - how does that happen??? But, I shouldn't be surprised - it does happen every year!

I read 71 books and really liked 28 of them! I gave those my highest rating. 4stars! I went back and read favorite authors - the books that I missed somehow.

  • Thomas Perry - Jane Whitefield series - the one woman witness protection agency
  • Nevada Barr - Anna Pidgeon series - I love how she places the stories in our National Parks
  • Dana Stabenow - Kate Shugak - the real reason I'm anxious to travel to Alaska! All those descriptions of Alaska amidst the adventures
  • Douglas Preston - his adventure books are so engaging from my couch!
  • John Barnes - the scifi I love to read, not too techie!
  • Janet Evanovich - who doesn't love Stephanie Plum? and Ranger, Joe and Grandma???

I added some new favorites too!

  • John Larison - an Oregon writer I discovered this year - "Northwest of Normal" describes Oregonians dead-on!!
  • Jack McDevitt - I started with "The Engines of God" and am anxious to continue that series

My DH gave me Stephen King's newest 11/22/63 and it's slighly mellower than Stephen King's usual - so far! I'm only half-way through it, but loving it! Looking forward to finishing it, but not as much as A is - looking forward to me finishing it, he's next on the list to read it!!

I spent yesterday at the Quilt Shop at a sew-in. They have it every year for those of us who like to avoid all the bowl games. Hmmm, we didn't realize that college doesn't play on Sundays. Oops!! But we managed to have a really good time while avoiding NFL games!! We're on our own today!

The shop is set up to give out the Planet Patchwork New Year's Day mystery. The clues are delivered every hour ... But I don't really like quilt mysteries. There I said it! I've done a few - okay 2-3 and always wish I'd made other fabric choices ... and Lord knows I have quite a few projects (LOL!)that are just waiting for me to finish them. Seems like a better use of time to work on them!

So - I worked on last year's NYD mystery!! I started it at this gathering on NYD 2011 - there was an error and I miscut ... so at the end of the day - into the bag it went. It did come out for the design wall once or twice, but nothing was done on it ALL YEAR! The pattern, the pieces, the fabrics were still gathered in the bag - ready to go again. So I took it - made two more 'stamp basket' blocks to make it bigger; added a border and started making 1/2 square triangles for another border.

It's light yellow and soft blues - but still kind of girl-y for a boy-quilt. At this point, I'm just hoping to finish it and donate it for the city-wide baby shower in March.

Off my list is my goal!! If I hadn't taken it yesterday ... well, it probably would still be in the bag by my estate sale!! Of course, it's not done-done yet! [sigh!]

I'm participating in the FMQ challenge this year - over here - I'm always saying I want to improve my FMQ; but rarely actually work on it or get out of my 'box'.

So this year - I'll at least think about it every month!! But hope to sew along. The blue baskets will be my first FMQ project for 2012!

They advised us to practice alot and I bought Christmas fabrics on sale last week up in Portland. My goal is to make fabric gift bags with all the techniques. I think machine quilting will make them heavy enough you won't be able to determine the shape of the present. I'll let you know how it goes!!

Wishing you the best in 2012. May the year be filled with friends, family, laughter, good books and sunshine! Oh, and LOTS of time to QUILT!! Definitely!!