Sunday, March 30, 2008

Center Finished!

Just wanted to share that I've finished putting together the center of Aster Blast! [Woohoo ... doing the quilty dance of joy.] The center was a killer ... it's far from perfect, so don't look too closely ... :-)
Now, gotta take the dogs for a walk ... here's Pip asking to go ...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Signs of Spring

There is something so exciting about starting a new project! And, although I enjoy involved projects, there is something to be said for the instant gratification of an easy project.

I started a class today at Pickering Farm called Signs of Spring. It is a sheep with a checkerboard on it's back. I'm using 1930's reproduction fabrics and it is bright and Springy and cheerful! Very helpful because it still looks like this outside:
Here's the checkerboard on the background:
Here's the pattern for the sheep with the checkerboard:
I'm loving it! Next week we're doing the embroidery on the sheep. I'm so glad that embroidery seems to be making a resurgence! It was one of the first things I learned and one of the things that made me fall in love with sewing and needle crafts.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Want to join on the Pay it Forward Challenge? I've joined over at Jacquie's site Tallgrass Prairie Studio and am excited to participate.

I need three folks to join in though ... here are the rules:

The first three people to join the challenge on my blog will receive a gift handmade by me. I will have 365 days to make and send your gift. It might take me just that long! Well, maybe not. You must then do a post on your blog inviting 3 more people to join in and receive a handmade gift from you.

If you would like to join, please specifically say so in your comment. Let's spread some random acts of kindness together.

Truthfully, I'm a little bit nervous about doing this, but I think it'll be fun!! And am already planning what I will make.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Confessions of a magazine addict ...

Thanks for your input on the fabric choices for Aster Blast! I decided to stay with my second choice and have started to applique the centers and baskets. In the end, it came down to laziness ... I didn't want to take apart all of those stems, even though some are a little crooked, but, in keeping with my "it doesn't have to be perfect" philosophy, I didn't correct all of them (okay some were ridiculously crooked, so I had to fix them ... I admit to being a closet perfectionist).

More confessions ... I am addicted to quilting magazines. I receive two by mail and buy anywhere from 4 to 6 additional magazines every month or so. Sometimes it an "or so" because magazines just don't fit in the budget that month, but they are one of my favorite indulgences.

So yesterday we went off to the Borders in Keene, NH and with great delight, I went down the aisle where the quilt magazines are stashed. There is a bench at the end of the aisle and I usually sit there and look them all over, but some woman was in my spot and wouldn't give an inch, so I just stood in front of her and looked at the magazines. Really, how can someone not recognize when one of their fellow human beings is in desperate need of a magazine fix? How inconsiderate! Hmmmm ... maybe she was in the same position as me ... although she was looking at cooking magazines, couldn't be the same thing.

Anyway, I came away with my two treasures and with the next one planned ... here are the two I bought yesterday:
I'm loving Mark Lipinski's Quilter's Home. Not your average quilting magazine, you can count on an unconventional view of the quilting world. Mark has a talent for saying like it is and not mincing words about taboo quilting subjects. I love that ... we "quilters" tend to take ourselves so seriously ... what's the point? I enjoy Mark's writing style and for some reason, being called somebody's little "poodle" or "chicken" is endearing to me.

Then I bought the BH&G American Patchwork & Quilting. I'm always attracted to their magazine ... it's candy for the eyes. And they have lots of do-able projects that don't look too scary (and I can be a scardy-cat ... more on that later). I like the AllPeopleQuilt website ... lots of great information, free patterns and stuff. I get their e-newsletter and generally find a few interesting things there. It's very commercial, but what can you say? It's BH&G?

So then at home. I get the following:
I have gotten, Quilters Newsletter, off and on, since I first started quilting (late '80's). I love looking at the magazine. But honestly, some of the projects scare the heck out of me ... there are a bunch of sewing geniuses out there in the world and the thought of measuring up to that ... eek! However, now that I have my new "it doesn't have to be perfect" attitude, I'm not so scared ... I do love this magazine, the articles are good and I like learning about the history of quilts, etc. The magazine, on the whole is pretty "serious" ... probably it's only downside.

Then I also get Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting ... they generally have easy to accomplish projects (not that I'm always looking for easy, but something that could be completed in my lifetime would be good) ... more do-able like the BH&G magazines. My only complaint about this magazine is that they are constantly plugging the F&P products. Not that I dislike the products, but, enough already!

So if Quilters Newsletter is for the serious quilter, F&P's Love of Quilting is for the the more down to earth, "get 'er done," kind of quilter. I like them both, so maybe I'm a little bit of both.

And, oh goody, this just arrived today ... the latest edition of QNM:
I'm in magazine addicts heaven! I'm off to read ... Shatzie and Bailey just came in to join me ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Color Woes

I've struggled with the color selections from the first with Aster Blast (pattern from Quilter's Newsletter Magazine).

I purchased some of the fabric, the pink, blue and white with a different project in mind. But that project turned into something else and I soon decided to use these colors because I loved this pattern so much. I later picked up the brown for the stars and stems and the reddish-brown for the baskets. I was never easy about the color combo, but after putting together the star points, I was feeling better about it.

Then, I started working on the applique and ugh! Nothing was working anymore!

First of all, I had picked a lighter background fabric and when I put it next to the star points, the white fabric got lost ... so that had to go. I picked up the darker fabric and the star points "popped" better and I was happy. However, I didn't think about what this would do with the flowers ...

So, the other day, I put it all together and this is what I got:
UGH!!! Could it be any uglier? The basket fabric overwhelmed everything and had to go and then the flower centers overshadowed the flowers rather than blending in. So then I started thinking ... maybe pink or green for the baskets? Maybe the brown for the flower centers, but, no that would over power the flowers too ... such color woes!

So, I ended up at Pickering Farm yesterday to look for alternatives ... with Diana's help, this is what I ended up with:

Okay, better ... the sage green picks up on the green in the blue and white fabrics and the brown centers don't totally overwhelm the flowers ...

Something about it still bugs me though, but I'm charging ahead with this color scheme. It'll probably all look different by the time I get it together and put the border on anyway.

I have to say that I've struggled with color on this project more than any other ... I usually just pick the colors and charge forward and it works out. Do you ever struggle with the color like this? How do you solve your problems??

Well, back to it!

Happy Easter to those that celebrate the holiday!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy First Day of Spring!!

Spring is here!!! We're very excited to see it finally come to New England ... on the calendar at least!

I'm posting a picture that I took the first year we were back in New Hampshire. After only a year in California, a Spring snow was a novelty ...

This a photo of an early morning Spring snow on a beautiful huge forsythia bush here in town ... we'll probably see a very similar scene in about a month.

Hope it's been a great day for all ... more on the weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

True Confessions

I have an obsession to confess ... it's seasonally appropriate kitchen curtains. The other rooms, not so much, but in the kitchen ... they must be changed each season.

Part of the problem with this obsession is that even though I have curtains for each season, when it gets time to change them, I decide I'm sick of the ones that I have and start to plan something new.

The plan becomes more and more elaborate until I get to the point where I've run out of time, the season has started and I still have last seasons curtains up.

Here are pictures of this year's winter curtains. Nothing elaborate or fancy. But I dreamed about these FOREVER! Don't you just love that fabric?? Look at those trees? And the fences? To me, the wintery scene is evocative of a warm and cozy fire in the stove; sitting and quietly sipping hot chocolate. Much like right now, except I sit in the glow of the computer and I'm drinking tea.

So, my latest curtain obsession? Birdhouse curtains ... not just any birdhouse, but paper foundation pieced birdhouses made from 1930's fabrics (won at an auction last year), with little appliqued birds and flowers ... how cute! And, they'll go with the wall hanging for the class that starts in a week and half ...

Have I started the birdhouses? Have a planned out every detail? Well, no! There are still two days until Spring starts and there is still snow on the ground, after all! Good grief!

I have the fabric, I have a rough sketch ... we'll see where it goes from here. I'll be sure to let you know if the Winter curtains are still hanging in June!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Trip to Pickering Farm Quilt Shop

Let's go to Pickering Farm Quilt Shop. It's a gray and gloomy day, but once we're there we'll feel warm, welcomed and experience a touch of Spring! The shop is located in an old house and barn in Richmond, New Hampshire. Here is the welcoming entrance ...
Let me introduce you to the owners, Steve and Diana Gallagher. Diana creates tons of fun, folk art designs with an emphasis on penny rug quilt kits. You can see some of her designs on their website. The welcome here is always friendly and helpful ... any problems you are facing be solved ... well, quilting problems anyway. Actually, it's likely that you can get some advice on other problems too!
One of the things I love about coming here is that is so much to look at with a focus on the current and upcoming season ... right now, it feels like Spring! Ahhhh! That'll be a welcome sight! Let's step inside the door and take a look ... take your time and look carefully, because there is lots to see ....

That's Bonnie hiding behind the display in the first picture ...

Fabric are grouped by types and collections ... here's the 1930's reproduction fabric corner ... such delightful eye candy!
A view into the shop ...
and around the corner ...
Here's Stephanie cutting fabric in the primitive room ...
A partial view of the wool for penny rug projects in the primitive room and view into the main part of the shop ...
Well, mission accomplished ... we've gathered some happiness from being around friends and that wonderful fabric and caught a glimpse of Spring. Oh, and I exchanged the class I had signed up for to a different one. More on that in the future.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of the shop ...

Time to go, our traveling companion is waiting for us out in the car ....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Angels in my Garden

I promised more on Aster Blast, but I don’t have much to say at the moment. I confess that I am a very slow quilter … it takes me forever to do anything. Since I mentioned it the other day, I have started basting the flowers to appliqué them and cut the background pieces for the appliqué. These flowers will sit between the points of the star. I promise I will show more when I have something worth showing.

I do want to tell you about the block of the month I’m working on. This is a class I’m taking at Pickering Farm Quilt Shop in Richmond, NH. The quilt was designed by the owner Diana Gallagher (we will visit Diana at her shop sometime very soon). We started this project nearly a year ago and this is where we are today.
One of the wonderful things about meeting as a class is seeing the differences in each person’s work. Each person has picked such different colors and fabrics … they are all beautiful! I will do my best to convince the members of the class to allow me to take pictures of their work next month.

This is the first time I’ve done a lot of detailed appliqué. In the past, I limited myself to big pieces and was scared of the little stuff. However, I’m loving working on this quilt and have looked forward to each step along the way. And, my appliqué skills have improved terrifically during the process.

Not only is there lots of appliqué, but there is piecing as well. I have paper foundation pieced most of these parts and have really started to enjoy this method of piecing. Some of those pieces are teeny-tiny, so they are tough to hand piece.

I am trying to pick a favorite block and am struggling with this. They each have their own character and their little individual things that I love about them … like … the stars …

the watering cans …

the carrots …

the flag …

the bird house …

all the little birds (aka chickens) …

the stenciled words ...

and each angel has such a sweet little face ...

Okay, so I guess I have no favorite and I like every little piece of it ... although I have to say the fingers on those gloves were pure evil to appliqué.

The next step is to add the border. This has more appliqué and piecing so you’re going to have to wait to see the progress. We met last week to get the instruction for how to do these … they are now underway.

I love this quilt so much that I keep it hanging on the wall in my sewing room … it adds a lot of life and fun to the room! I can’t wait to have some progress on the borders to share with you!

In honor of National Quilt Day, March 15th, I'll be taking a trip to Pickering Farm and you're coming with me! Stay tuned ...

Check out NQA's site by clicking the logo:

Hey! Check this out!

Dana at Old Red Barn Co is giving away a quilt to commemorate her 200th post! Congratulations Dana! (And don't forget that I would give that quilt a wonderful home … I would treat it well, give a wonderful place to live, let it send you cards and letters … :-)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daylight Savings Time

No quilting news today ... I'm working on Aster Blast and have many other projects to talk about, so look for those soon.

Today, it's all about DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!! WOOHOO!!

How can I tell you how happy I am that daylight savings time is here and that Spring will soon be here? I could tell you how desparate I am to not have the wear boots and coat, to not have to shovel snow, or chop ice or drive to work horrible weather or ...

Maybe it's better to focus on the positive ... I long for the smell of freshly mown grass, daffodils and tulips and crocuses, the warmth of the sun on my face ... Aahhhh ... I can feel it now.

In the meantime, it's late Winter here in New Hampshire a pretty dismal time of the year ... time for dirty snow banks (a view down our road):

Mountainous snow piles (the pile at the end of our driveway):

But, our little garden sculptures are starting to emerge, the angel was covered with snow not that long ago! And now she sits surrounded by bare ground! Did I say I was happy to see daylight savings time? A squirrel and yet another little dog ... completely encased in snow, but he'll break free soon!

Here's our greyhound, Jolene. She's longing for Spring too! Jo is our retiree that spends 95% of her time sleeping either on a pillow or in her crate, 3% of her time eating or chewing rawhides and then the balance of the time on personal hygiene. She is has the sweetest and most serene temperment of any dog I've ever known ... and above all, she puts up with the three little barky dogs. She also loves to lay in the grass in the back yard and soak up some rays ...

Last, but certainly not least ... here is our little "queen bee" Shatzie ... the doxie that started it all. As you can see, she is also a frequent visitor to the sewing room:

Well, enough longing for today ... back to Aster Blast ...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

My first post!

Hi Everyone! I love to quilt and want to share my quilting adventures with you. I love everything about quilts ... planning them, making them, reading about them, taking classes and going to quilt shops and shows. I spend a good deal of my non-quilting time dreaming about being at my sewing machine.

See, here it sits, calling my name, just a few feet away from me in my little guest/office/sewing room. Yikes, I guess some organization is needed! Didn't realize how messy it was until I took the picture (actually, this looks pretty good, you should've seen it a few months ago ... wasn't even enough space to sit down and do anything).

The closet in the room is dedicated to quilting and crafts too ... our poor guests have no room to hang clothes in there. Although, we don't get many overnight guests ... hmmm, I wonder why?

I was just about to post a picture of the sewing half of the room, but it's too ugly, so I'll spare you that ... but, you must meet my sewing buddy, Pip. He came running when I started taking pictures ... he's sleeps on the guest futon when I sew and helps me out when things get hard. You can see that he's exhausted by all the work he had to do on this day!

Here's one of my current projects. The pattern is from Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, Issue No. 391 - April 2007. It's called Aster Blast and I fell in love with it at first sight! My colors are very different from the ones in the magazine, but I'm loving this combo so far.

I started this project just about a year ago and struggled with the star points so much that I put it away for awhile. When February rolled around this year I decided that it was time to pull it out again and conquer those d*$@! triangles! I'm happy with it now, even though it's less than perfect and will likely remain that way ... I've given up on perfection ... I get more done that way. My plan is to finish this and enter it into the local county fair. I'm not much a fair goer, but always thought it would be so fun to enter a quilt and see it proudly hanging with all the others. I'll keep you updated!

Well, I've got work to do around the house, I'll be back soon! Oh, look! Another little visitor ... this is Bailey ...