Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Too busy practising

12Feb17bughunt1 I’ve been sewing as much as ever this past week, but it doesn’t feel like I’m accomplishing much. Guess we al go through spells like that. I’ve been working on my Mexican Star quilt, my Christmas tree skirt and a tote bag, but nothing terribly photogenic or exciting. I’ve also been practising my Free Motion Quilting feathers and stippling. Definitely look better now than they did at the start of the month.

Rusty and Ginger are way more fun to watch. Spring is inching its way along, because the occasional house fly is showing up in the house. And Rusty and Ginger go into hunting mode. They do the same with spiders, but small flying insects make them go insane. One showed up last week. Ginger almost had her paw on it as she stood on my ironing board, but it got away from her. Being the female, 12Feb17bughunt2 Ginger is normally the initiator, the hunter. Rusty follows along and usually ends up being the one who gets into trouble for the mischief that his sister started. But he's somewhat of an opportunist, taking advantage of whatever Ginger gets into. Or whatever insect she flushes out. It tastes the same, whether you were the one who found it or just happened to be in its path as it tried to get out of the way.

I think they must have taken care of it eventually as I didn't see it again after this little episode. Either that or some day I'm going to move these boxes over the kitchen cupboards (the boxes I put up there to keep the cats from going up there) and find a desiccated fly carcass or two.


 12Feb17bughunt4 I think we’re all dealing with cabin fever as this winter weather keeps stretching on, day after day. Pretty soon the winter will be just another memory.

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Furballs and fabric

12Feb21rusty See what I mean. Put some fabric down and watch the furballs accumulate! Last night I finally got everything I needed together to try some scrappy strings, as described by scrappy quilter Bonnie Hunter for her Orca Bay mystery quilt. No pattern needed, just some squares to guide you, cut out of newsprint or some other thin paper-like substance. I have to say, they were fun to make, and they take care of those little bits and scraps of fabric that are too big (or pretty) to toss out, but just a fraction too small to really do anything with. Bonnie’s a genius! And she makes beautiful quilts too. I made a few 3.5-inch practice samples yesterday. Depending on how fussy you want to be (or how extremely talented you are), you can either piece them together the way they come out of the bag, or you can trim them to different widths. I think I’d rather make them a bit more consistent in their widths, which might mean a little extra trimming. That’s just me.

We nave a New Moon arriving today – around 3:30 pm Pacific Standard Time – at 3 Pisces. Haul out those beautiful purples you’ve been saving – purples, indigos and whites. Pisces is generally a spiritual, introspective sign. Pisces sits quietly contemplating its existence in the background until its services are needed, then it is happy to help in any way it can. We feel its influence for the next four weeks. This New Moon is also coupled with Neptune and in good aspect to Jupiter. Both planets highly complement Pisces and add to its ethereal beauty. A word of caution, however: Mercury is in bad aspect to Mars today, which could give rise to hand injuries if you aren’t paying attention to those needles and scissors!

Until next time,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The perils of a Design Floor

12Feb18ginger are that furballs tend to instantly appear on any scrap of fabric you place on one! Don’t mind Ginger. I finished the corners for the Mexican Star and was wondering how they would look by themselves. Not bad. (They make a square, of course, even if it doesn’t look that way in the picture.)  I might make an extra lap quilt out of these to send along with the queen-size, since I’ve got lots extra now of the yellow. But Ginger stays here.

12Feb18noborder Got the corners finished – almost. I have to fix one of them – the one with the two triangles that I cut too small. Funny how important a quarter inch is. After that’s done, I can attach the inner borders. It’s too bad that the strips aren’t long enough to reach from end to end. I’m going to have to add on to them and cross my fingers that it 12Feb18border doesn’t show too much. I could just abandon the whole idea and try something else, but we’ll see how this works out first. I’m just figuring this out as I go along, taking ideas from here and there and hoping that it won’t look too bad by the time I’m done. If nothing else, I guess it will be unique!

Until next time,

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sorrento (BC) 2012

I’m a bad blogger. I readily admit it. Work takes precedence, and unfortunately, my work has nothing to do with quilting. And this week I actually took a day off work so I could celebrate my 25th anniversary with my partner. It was sweet, but now I’m playing catch up.

Not much time at the sewing machine, but I hope to make up for that this weekend. Until then, I’ve been asked to pass along some information about the upcoming annual Quilt Week (Apr. 15-20) in beautiful Sorrento - I’ve been there so I know! (My picture below, taken from my cousin-in-law’s backyard in Blind Bay, just outside of Sorrento.)

12Feb16blindbay The Pleasures of Quilting and Fibre

In April each year there is a gathering of enthusiastic quilters and fibre artists at Sorrento Centre, where they meet to work on a new project or technique and share their love of textiles. This year there are three workshops for the participants to choose from:

Lynn Knox from Vernon will be teaching "Stars by the Lake", a beautiful traditional quilt in four fabrics. Lynn is well-known throughout the Okanagan as an engaging teacher who will delight you with her good humour and great quilting tips ... and who is also known for her great desserts!

Dianne Jansson will be leading a workshop where the participants will arrive knowing only that they need to bring certain fabrics . . . Dianne has created a "Mystery Quilt" called "Summer Gardens" which will be unveiled as the quilters work from one step to the next in the construction, without knowing exactly what it will look like until its completion at the end of the week. Dianne Jansson is a very experienced and beloved quilting instructor whose warm encouragement and attention to detail is appreciated by all who have taken her courses.

12Feb16sorrento For those who like to think outside the box, Blind Bay quilter Kathy Kinsella will be teaching "Swatch, Stitch & Stash" a workshop focusing on a variety of fibre art techniques. Participants will learn to make their own unique fabric, create machine wrapped cords and sticks, fibre art beads, silk fusion, needle felting and thread lace. There will be flexibility in the samples created ... and they will be made in a format that will allow them to be compiled into a delightful journal that will be enjoyed for its esthetics as well as its value as a reference tool. This workshop will appeal to those who are itching to dip their toes in the fibre art pond as well as those who are already paddling. Kathy excels in encouraging her students to "let go and have fun" creating unique art quilts.

This year the Quilt Week participants will check-in on April 15 and depart on April 20th, after experiencing four days of instruction and creativity. This fun-filled event is a retreat format with delicious meals, comfortable private rooms and lots of space to spread out to create a masterpiece. Registration is limited in each workshop so you are encouraged to register as soon as possible by phone (250-675-2421) or by checking out the course information and registration at www.sorrento-centre.bc.ca.

Until next time,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Seeing double

12May9pair That’s enough of the FMQ for a few days! After I finished these two blocks for this week's Free Motion Challenge over at Leah Day’s blog, I took the free motion gadgets off the sewing machine and put my piecing foot back on. Back to work on the Mexican Star and maybe a practice tote bag or two. Too much of that up close and personal Free Motion Quilting might leave me with my eyes permanently crossed.

12Feb9top Last week’s challenge was another step in stippling – using it to fill in the shapes we had outlined. It was much harder to use the row technique on this one since there really wasn’t much room to get into the row routine. My stippling looks pretty rough as I kept forgetting which direction I was heading in. Not a consistent size, but not too far off. What was really bothering me about this was the variegated thread I used. The thread itself was fine, but the variegation 12Feb9single was distracting me. Whenever the dark thread would show up, it would sort of throw me off track. A good lesson for me in when not to use a variegated thread.

The overall effect of the pattern is interesting – watching the thread add colour to the plain material. I think my stitches are becoming more even as my hands and feet are working together more and more. Knock wood, I haven’t had the tension issues that others have been having. I had them constantly with my old mechanical Janome, but my new gal is doing just fine.

So many possibilities now on how to quilt that Mexican Star. I’d better hurry up and get it done.

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Best of the best

12Feb7all It’s easier to find a few minutes to sew once or twice a day than it is to find time to blog! I’ve tried to write this three times in the past two days, but there just hasn’t been enough time. Twelve more years before I can retire. :-(

The good news is that I’ve been practising my FMQ Challenge feathers.There are a lot of things to remember – using a curve that’s gentle enough to keep the individual “quills” nice and even, keeping them plump and even, etc. I made several practice attempts and finally found one 12Feb7feather that I was willing to post, even though I’m still not at the point where I’d try this on a good quilt. I’m having a hard time getting the echo lines really close and parallel. Just when I thought I was doing well, I’d have to move my hands and… oooops.

But, I know I’m improving. I can regulate the speed of my sewing machine much better now, just by listening to it, and my hands and feet are getting more co-ordinated with the sewing machine. I may not be ready to put feathers on a quilt, but I can see how much better it’s looking. Even my partner said today that the feathers really looked good – at least, from a distance.

I’m still practising my stippling and my all-over leaves. Now I can add feathers to that. I’m already feeling a lot more confident about quilting my next quilt.

12Feb7practice I made a mistake in my last post when I was trying to identify the pattern I was FMQing for Leah Day's 4th challenge . I couldn’t remember the name of Gwen Marston’s book, so I just left it blank, expecting to add it before I posted it to my blog. I forgot. Anyway, the design was from Quilting with Style: Principles for Great Pattern Design by Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham. It’s an older book that I picked up with some other quilt books at the Kamloops Library’s used book sale last summer. I chose the pattern because of it’s use of both straight and curved lines.

Time for bed now. Until next time,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why can’t we just start out perfect?

12Feb4Ginger Ginger by the light of my Janome! She and Rusty have been real little pests lately! Sitting on my quilt sandwiches while I’m trying to practice, or trying to snag them as I move them around through the sewing machine. They’re behaving more like gremlins than assistants.I guess they’re behaving like the adolescents that they are. Well, that’s a habit that needs to be stopped.

I found the yellow Northcott fabric that I was looking for in Kamloops. It was a lot pricier than it was online in Toronto, but the store had a sale on – buy one meter, get one free. So, the price dropped drastically. Darn. I was sort of looking forward to a little more on line shopping. It’s not like I don’t have enough fabric, but… but… So I satisfied my need by buying more needles and thread and just a little bit more fabric.

I haven’t been on my blog a lot this week, but I have been at my sewing machine, keeping the Free Motion momentum going with my first feathers a la Diane Gaudynski over at SewCalGal’s blog. Oh, are mine ever bad, and I’m not brave enough to show them. I have a day off tomorrow, so I’ll be Practising some more.

12Feb4leah Last week, Leah Day challenged us to Free Motion along straight lines. At first I thought she was nuts! I have a walking foot that does that for me! But she gave several excellent reasons for learning how to straight stitch with FM. Everything looks easy when the experts do it. As soon as you try it yourself, you realize they’ve been doing it for a long time. Of course, it was early in the morning when I did these, and I wasn’t in a very good mood. I copied the pattern out of a book by Gwen Marston and … and then copied it onto the fabric of my quilt sandwich. Changed the needle and thread and away we went – weaving back and forth over the lines like a drunk driver, taking the turns too widely, and doing a poor job at keeping the speed consistent. The second practice wasn’t much better. I improved on my first mistakes and made others. I picked this variegated thread because it was a nice, thin Aurifil, but the dark bits really show up my mistakes. Oooops. Practise, practise, practise. I can hear my music teacher’s baton hitting the metal music stand.

Until next time,