Saturday, April 28, 2012

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!

I'm back!!  And the sun is here to greet me - at least for today!!  I had so-o much fun on all of my travels.

First up, my daughter and I went to "OVO" a traveling Cirque du Soleil production in Portland.  Bugs - it was delightful.  I've now seen three Cirques - Kooza, Dralion and now Ovo.

Kooza, my first, is still my favorite!  It was so unlike anything we'd ever seen before - but it reminded us of so many other things!!  [How do they do that???] Ovo is now a close second.  And I think the only problem with Dralion was our seats ... we were below stage level so didn't get the full visuals Cirque creates. 

It was a wonderful spring day and Ovo was in a tent ... perfect all around.  I love spending time with my daughter - we rarely get uninterrupted time to talk, she has Mr M - 3 yrs old; and Miss P - 5 yrs old.  Need I say more! LOL!

Then off to Nebraska for Mom's birthday.  A great time was had by all!  I arrived Easter Sunday - unlike other holiday travel experiences, the flights were full.  In fact, we apparently had a 'baby' section that I was sitting in - and after the dirty diaper incident ... well, we would have loved to have the air masks drop!!  LOL!

I was soon at Mom's apartment visiting until it was time to go to my sister's for dinner and the birthday party.  So much fun to fly in and see all the family first thing!  The party was fun, fun, fun and getting caught up with my nieces, sisters, great nephews and nieces ... lots of news.  I gave my great-nephew his college graduation quilt.  Double slice done in homespuns - he liked it and so did everyone else who saw it.  I was an Indian giver - and took it back for the week to take for show and tell at guild.  I rarely get to show anything - I barely make it under the suitcase wt limit as it is!!  He graciously allowed it - seeing how he hasn't really graduated yet!  Thank you, J!

Monday [and every day I was there] was filled with 'honey-dos' for mom.  There's a list.  We start it about one week after I've left the year before!!  I whip thru it pretty fast and we visit throughout the week.  Chores go fast when you have time to visit too.

Monday night was guild.  I love the Lincoln Quilters Guild.  So active and energetic!  I miss them and always love to visit and make the rounds!  I had a visitor's nametag.  One gal said, "Since when are you a visitor?"  I answered, "Well, since I moved to Oregon four years ago!"  "Oh," she replied, "I was wondering why I didn't see you much!!"  LOL!  I hear my name is still mentioned regularly!  Especially when talking about quilt backs that are - shall we say - unusual!!  I showed the double slice and lots of members came up afterwards to get the details.

The rest of the week flew by - I visited the Intl Quilt Study Center and Museum and loved the AQSG challenge quilts along with the Jean Ray Laury exhibit and the signature quilts exhibit.  If ever you're in Lincoln ... don't miss the Museum - even if you only have a little time to enjoy it!

Then there was the 'Doni's Here' Shop Hop!!!  We started out early on Friday [my day off from mom duties] and drove to Omaha and Gretna.  First stop: Country Sampler. Apparently my DH called while we were driving to Omaha, I returned his call from the store ... 'you're sleeping late,' he said. "Nope, I'm in the Omaha quilt store." "Oh, no!! Get out of there fast!!" he begged!! LOL! Too late, dear - my hands were already filled with goodies!!

Then we found a new favorite shop - "More Sew for You" in Omaha.  All reproductions and wool - do I really need to say more??? 

I took my "Pies and Tarts" finished top that I've been working on for the last year.  They promote English Paper Piecing and even have Sue Daley coming in May to their shop.  [She created the Pies and Tarts BOM in Australia]  Oh, they loved it, oohed and ahhed and took my picture.  Until ... I told them I paperless-paper-pieced it!  You would have thought that I killed their puppy!! LOL!  "Oh, don't tell anyone THAT!!" they said! 

So-o, of course, I'm telling everyone!!  I think it creates a bigger market for their kits - not all of us do English Paper Piecing - nice to know there's another successful way to do it!  I still bought lots of stuff there, so I'm sure all is forgiven!!

Last stop was Quilted Moose in Gretna.  Unfortunately, Deb the owner was out and about; so I didn't get to show her my "Pies and Tarts".  But the gals working that day liked it too.

I left my Pies and Tarts in Lincoln with a friend's "Altar Society Quilting group" to be hand quilted for me.  I'm so excited that I don't have to do it myself!!  And I have a goal - by the time I get P&Ts back for me to bind - I'm going to have the dreaded "Birds of a Feather" finished quilted too.  That's my plan - not that I've added a stitch to it since I vowed that!  ... any time now I'll restart, I'm [almost] sure!

While in Lincoln, my sister wanted to commission 3 twin size quilts for 3 of her grand kids.  We went shopping at the Cosmic Cow in Lincoln and she bought the fabrics - lots of fabric.  I pieced the backs while there and handed them off to a friend.  I pieced the tops [mostly done] at my retreat last week here and will mail them back to Lincoln for that same friend there to machine quilt them for her.  Then they will be handed off to J&D to bind and monogram and then presented to my sister to give at Christmas. 

Seems overly complicated, doesn't it!?!?  But I'm hoping it will run like a well-oiled machine.  Why am I not finishing them ... time and postage!  I'm hoping the tops all fit in a flat-rate box.  But I'm glad to make the tops for her - she does so much for mom - just my little way of paying her back.

So I used retreat here as an excuse to get them done.  Newport gals do A LOT of charity quilts and are always looking for a quick pattern to vary their donations.  Double slice is one of the quickest methods I have ever done!  Google "double slice - layer cake" and the Missouri Star You-tube demo will come up on top.

I had to clean my sewing space before I left - because we brought the kiddos back with us.  I blame that action on why I couldn't find my YBR pattern!  But, I did find the "Wicked Easy" pattern I saved years and years ago, never got around to making!  I have to say - excellent pattern!  It's even still available free on the web as linked above.

I decided to cut the selvedges off in a usable size for my selvedge projects. So-o I didn't get many of the border pieces cut the right size.  The good news is I didn't need them!  The 20 blocks created were big enough to stand alone!  And another 'go to' pattern for kids quilts!  I'll show the three tops next week - when I hope to have them done.

The last day of retreat I pulled out another project that I had been putting off - scared to work on.  Yep, we all have them!  The portrait created in LuAnn Kessi's class at the Philomath "Jannilou" quilt store.  I took the class last January - traveling thru all the aftermath of that tremendous winter storm we had.  I loved the process - LuAnn is such a great teacher!  But was scared I would 'ruin it' with the quilting.  I KNEW that darling face was too big to stand alone without surface quilting!

So, with the Newport gals encouragement, I 'got'r dun'!!  Presenting "Best Buds".

I used wool batting and boy - is it fluffy!  I had to quilt it to death!  but it worked out well.  Stipple, stars, lines and "Jill's waffle" quilting in the center. I did my 'signature' frame quilting - using the walking foot and just following the lines around the center, one 'frame' after another until to the edge.  But boy, was the border really wavy!!  Now what?? So I went to the ironing board and steamed that border into submission!  We were all surprised how well it flattened for me!

And one more project got done this month - "It's a bird, It's a plane ... it's the flying challenge". 

A challenge piece for our guild.  "Flying" was the theme.  I love to use cancelled postage stamps in fabric post cards.  So I simply 'super-sized' it!  Using the 'stack and slash' piecing method I made a pond, a tree and lots of sky in 3" blocks.  I added postage stamps from my little collection - then found pictures of stamps I'd like to have, cut them out and put them on.  Well, then, it just got silly!!  Miss P and I brain- stormed about what flies and added everything we could think of.  Superman, Mary Poppins, kites, balloons, hot air balloons, the house in UP, pigs??!!  All sewed to the quilt. 

Oh, oh!  How am I going to block it?  Can't wet it - so I laid it on the table, laid a cutting mat over the top of it, piled milk crates of books on it and left for NE!  Nicely flat as a pancake when I got back!!  No prizes at the guild 'reveal' - but it will be in the show Memorial Day weekend.

Whoo hooo - you're now all up to date in all things 'doni'!  Here are a few pictures of our fun with the kids on the beach and Mr D's first birthday party too! 

3 yr old Mr M discovered the coolest thing ever - throwing rocks into the ocean!  Let me tell you, that stretch of coast was BARE of any throw-able rocks!!

A magical picture - really, you should see the un-magical ones before and after this one on the camera!!  Don't you just love those little faces???

Happy First Birthday, Mr. D.  May you always be as happy as you've been this year!!  He's all smiles most of the time!

Okay - see you next week!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pandora's Box

So-o everyone knows about Pandora Radio, right?

The greatest invention since the rotary cutter!! You join up [for free] and tell it the artists you like; they create a radio station with the artist and add in other artists they think are like them.

Really, they do all the work - you just sit and smile!! You can run it on your computer, or through your blue-ray player. Probably other electronics that we don't have too!

We discovered several new artists through them. Our favorite of the moment is Imelda May. Hard to say what kind of music she sings - jazz, rock, country??? She's a cross-over artist from England.

Also love Melody Gardot - a jazz singer!

I also have Stevie Ray Vaughn - good cleaning music!!; Patsy Cline; Regina Carter - jazz violinist.

Funny thing - sometime or another you're going to hear Johnny Cash!!! No matter what category of country; no matter which sex!!

Pandora Try it you'll like it!! And dial up Imelda May or Melody Gardot - they are great!

I'm on my way to Nebraska for Mom's 94th birthday. I'll let you know how it goes - keep your fingers crossed that the weather stays 'spring'!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April showers .... you have NO idea!!

Since we've been back from our vacation in sunny California, all it has done is rain, rain, rain!! Six inches in 3 days!! Seriously, rock and mud slides, tall trees falling across highways and even Hwy 101 closed!! The last two days it's at least slowed to a trickle and we see glimpses of the sun. A couple of walks have been done - but the ground is so saturated that it squishes when you step on it!! Even walking down a hill that's in the sun!

Mom's birthday present is done! Hooray! I talked to her about Selvedge Yard when I was making it. Who am I kidding - I talked about it with everyone I met!! But Mom said she'd love to see some selvedges in a quilt ... so I immediately volunteered to make her a wall quilt for her 'porch'. Then I made her other things for Christmas, so imagine my surprise when April 11 was sneaking up on me!! Don't you just love those little roses in the grass - bought them in a package!! Hand stitched them on through the little leaves sticking out! Just what I needed for this project!

I started sewing it at our guild's March fun day. [It had been in my head since last fall.] I took some cloud fabric for the sky; my plastic shoe box of selvedges and a vague idea of what I was going for! My table mate was a new quilter and was amazed that I just sewed, measured and cut - no pattern! Hey- it's folk art!!

First adjustment: the clouds were going the wrong way! But I had to put them up and down, I only had a FQ. Who would notice - other than you, dear reader, and of course, the 5,000 stashbusters I tell!?! I love pale yellow spiral suns now!! Must be the Oregon coast influence - there are times we can't remember what the sun looks like!?!

I pieced the birdhouse from selvedges, even folded a selvedge, clever-ly, and used it for the roof. Now where is that green fabric for the ground? Ooops! Forgot it. Plan B - I had some really wide green selvedges in the bottom of the box. They were the wrong size, if I cut a strip the size I wanted - there wouldn't be enough selvedge left to work with. So I just left it well enough alone. I built the ground with them and it turned out darling!! Much better than just one green fabric!

Added wool applique birds and flowers, stems and leaves. All hand appliqued in front of TV. Machine quilted.

My favorite technique for bird legs is to thread two yellow threads through the eye of the needle on top. One bobbin thread as usual. A satin stitch makes the bird legs more interesting with two colors. A varigated thread changes too drastically, but I love this look. Try it on a sample first - these two yellows blended too well, but I was 'full speed ahead' as usual!!

I use DMC machine embroidery thread, it's very fine, and I go slow, so far no problems. [knocking on wood here!] I made this type of bird legs on 'Birds of a Feather' too - hopefully, you'll get to see that quilt sometime this year - on the last stretch of hand quilting, but it's tough going over the applique pieces. I rip out more than I leave in! Afraid I'll ruin it before I'm done!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

As usual in April, I'm heading for Nebraska for 10 days for mom's birthday. Looking forward to spending time with family, staying in L&J's mighty fine B&B and sewing room(!), getting together with quilting friends in Lincoln, attending the guild meeting, and laughing with Scrap Happens, my small quilting group.

Hope the spring weather holds there. Anything NOT torrents of rain will be appreciated!!