Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day link

This photo isn't mine, but I can share this photo of brother Roger wearing a Civil War vet's uniform via the link. This picture would have been taken last year, but he has done this for a few years now, singing Civil War songs. He'd be about the right age now for a vet of the era. (in his day job, he is a Forest Preserve Commissioner.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blockade - week 22

It was suggested we use a mix of shirting fabrics for the light colored triangles that make the square, to represent the women making do with what they had when new goods were not coming in to Southern ports and stations. I used four fabrics I had already designated for these blocks, which did not include shirtings. To get the faint blue color I wanted for one of these, I used the reverse side of a print I used the same way in the Lincoln's Platform, week 10 block.

The block was easy to piece - though I should have thought through my pressing a little better so as to wind up with opposing seam allowances when piecing the four quarters together. This is one of those instances when consistently pressing toward the dark is not necessarily the wisest choice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


When I made the border for Kason's quilt from the University of Kansas Jayhawk fabric, I was left with a piece just the right width for an Apron, suitable for a competitive Barbecuer, and one of the World's Die-Hard Jayhawk fans, brother in law Marvin!

Here he is showing the lined, double stitched pockets. I used a pattern for a lined apron I found on line for the basic apron design, and a chef's style apron Norris uses for cooking to get the size and placement of the pockets.

Norris went to the "other" state university in Kansas, so he would not be my model. Thankfully, Marla took these for me after the apron arrived for Marvin to use at their backyard barbecue set up.

If you were thinking there's something about that blue checkerboard pattern - there is. The best match for the KU blue that I had on hand is a gradated fabric - I made sure I laid out the squares to keep some of that fade from lighter to darker blue. The pocket is invisible in my photo because I made the prints line up perfectly.

We'll gladly feast on leftovers from Marvin's cooking and now he can protect his clothes with leftovers from Kason's fire-engines quilt.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Civil War Week 21

Ms. Brackman calls this week's block "Underground Railroad" --

She said it is known by many names, including Jacob's Ladder. The Jacob's Ladder block has special significance for me. You might think that's because it was the very first quilt block I ever pieced - here it is, somewhat the worse for wear -

It was my very first quilt, a sampler I made in 1994 - here's an old photo of that quilt when it was in better shape. My mother always said she liked this quilt best of all the quilts I made. (I was trying to do fancy quilting even then - though it I were quilting it today, it would be done much differently.)

But the Jacob's Ladder block really became special to me when family members put this next quilt together in 2007 -

It is a comfort quilt we made for my brother Jeff and his wife Joanna after they lost their beautiful daughter Elizabeth and her 15-month old son Jacob in a terrible car accident.

We chose the Jacob's Ladder block to surround a compass that represented Elizabeth. We decorated his blocks with teddy bears, and sweet little animals on clouds that had been on a quilt his Great Aunt Karen made for him. The little mice also represent his mother, who was called Mala Misya - Polish for "Little Mouse" - by her mother's family.

When I made the block today I started with the teal paisley fabric leftover from the back of my first quilt, because it is similar to the main color we used for Jacob and Elizabeth's quilt.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another quilt in need of a name

Earlier this week, I finished the quilting on the Charming Australian Charms quilt and got it bound.

I solved my dilemma on how to quilt it by taking inspiration from the Aboriginal Art-inspired fabrics that came in the set. The one highlighted below is an example -

If you are having trouble seeing the dark green thread on dark green fabric in the close up above, perhaps you can see the dark green thread on the back, in the straight(ish) lines between the light colored thread squiggle threads.. I used the idea of lines of dots to stay with my idea of straight lines to keep the focus on the little charm squares. The quilted circles are very tiny - I could probably put four of them on my little fingernail.

I took this photo at an angle in an attempt to show how the quilting makes the featured squares pop up from the background.

The fabric with the cockatoo (second photo up from here) is going to be the label and was provided by International Round Robin Friend Heather who gave me the charm squares. But I need to name the quilt-- it's always harder to find a name for the quilt than to make it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fastest thing I ever knit

.... fastest, that is, if you don't count anything I may have made for my nieces' Barbie dolls. I started this project on April 22nd and finished weaving in the loose ends this morning. I love the drape of this yarn (Classic Elite Firefly) and the subtle shaping at the sides of this Vogue Knitting pattern.

Front -

The lower part was knitted in the round.

Back -

The upper part was knitted side-to-side from one shoulder to the other.
closer -

I like the subtle design made with reverse stockinette and garter stitches on the contrast yoke. I was not so sure about the lace at the lower edge, but made it anyway.
Detail of the lace trim.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New England Block

Happily, Ms. Brackman modified the design of the block to make it easier to cut and piece at 8 inches. Makes a nice block this way, too.

The layout of this one is straightforward and should have been easy. For unknown reasons, I managed to change the orientation of some of the triangles, sewed the pink end of a blue-pink strip to the center square... I seemed to come up with a lot of ways to make this wrong. But it's pretty now that it's done, with the double pink and dark brown.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Charming but how to quilt it?

I made my little quilt from the Australian charms very simple in order to highlight each tiny square. Finally, I have it mounted on the machine for quilting. The quilt is so small I could baste the entire quilt on in minutes, and, unconventionally started quilting from the bottom with some dense quilting in the 1/4 inch frames around each charm.

This initial quilting makes the individual squares pop forward, even with the thinner batting I chose in keeping with the small size of the quilt. I took this photo so you get to see the kangaroo I used for the first time. I was quite surprised to find the quilt shop in nearby Waynesville had a collection of Australian fabrics.

I keep changing my mind about how to quilt the dark green sashing between the charms - leaves? a suggestion of a landscape? straight lines? Although straight lines may seem plain, they take longer and are more difficult to execute than other choices. But they may make the best background as they contrast in their simplicity with the variety of prints in the charm collection I wish to highlight.

I hope to figure it out today!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Missouri Star - Civil War Week 19

Although this block would seem to be only an enhanced version of Week 2's North Star, it was quite a bit peskier. It is a pretty star and I do like the way these particular fabrics worked together.

You have those places where the points of the center square on point meet the large background flying goose triangles - after all, you can only be looking at one side at a time while you're sewing. Then, there's that the intersection of the background corner squares with two sets of the paired small triangles to be careful of. Most of this went together fine for me, using my triangle rulers designed for half square and flying geese triangles, but I did baste the last two long seams before sewing and will admit to pulling out parts of one of those last seams more than once.

It turns out pressing is as important as accurate seams in making all the lines match up where I wanted them to. One pair of points that doesn't line up in the photo actually does when held flat. All I can say is, it's a good thing I'm my own quilter.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Spy Thoughtful, Generous Friends

With Norris' arrival this afternoon came a great, big, very special treat for me! This is the I Spy quilt I talked about last week -

looking even prettier than I imagined or could tell from the photos I saw of it a couple of weeks ago. My fellow Robins took my odd highly original request and gave me exactly what I was hoping for-- and then some. Unlike my previous quilts from the Robin endeavors, it is obvious that this quilt came from people all over the globe. I won't describe all the personal images and meaningful fabrics they included, but each block is a delight, beautifully pieced in gorgeous pale-toned fabrics with a small token or two that stands out like a glittering jewel. I don't think my photos are doing the top justice, but I'll post them.

All the blocks a bit closer - first, the top row, two at a time - you should recognize the Pukeko by now.

The Canadian flag, flying for the homeland of one Robin, will also make this quilt meaningful for Norris.

I was excited to see that my fellow Robins experimented with some non-traditional weaves and fibers. With some pieces of fabric come information about the maker's youth and heritage.

Others include reminders of prior joint projects.

Some of the blocks Dorry made have little nine patches made of the fabrics we used in everyone else's quilt over the last two years, making this a Robin-Memory quilt.

Many of the blocks are symbols of our interests and loves both in quilting and in our lives.

If you're counting, it should be obvious that several members of the 7 person group made more than 1 block. Appropriately, each member of the group signed a square that Dorry used for the setting cornerstones.

And of course, Lu had to show how he, like Mr. Purrsy (whose left eye is visible in the lower right of the photo above), could be part of a quilt. I was able to take the other photos without Lu's assistance only because there was a very active lizard commanding his attention outside the front door.

The quilt, as assembled by Dorry with special attention to the wash of colors, gives me a wonderful canvas for quilting to highlight each individual "I Spy"- it seems like a big responsibility all of a sudden!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Brown Eyes

Brown Eyes is what I call Dorry's latest quilt, made for a guild challenge. She was to create a quilt based on the song, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."

(be sure to click these photos to see details!)

Dorry had several requirements to meet for the challenge - mine was not to spoil the magical effect of her work. I don't know if the quilt was casting a spell, or if I was just in a better frame of mind to do this kind of thing than I ever have before. Perhaps it was looking at all the Zentangles, which I had been studying before I took the class a couple of weeks back, reported here.

Dorry's beautiful gardens have flowers and a bird house just like she has portrayed in her quilt. Her birdhouse has yet to attract a bluebird, but I gave her one for the quilted version, visible to the left of the coneflower.

I used more different quilting motifs for the background fill than I have ever done on one quilt before: feathers, leaves, swirls, wavy crosshatching, clamshells, fans, and shamrocks are the ones I can think of. The three diagonally oriented curved echoed lines in the center of this next photo are loosely based on a Zentangle design I had not previously attempted in pen and ink. The quilting in the light triangles is related to the echo and fill border I gave all the appliqued flowers.

The backing Dorry chose affords a different view of the quilting.

This last photo shows the extensive fill quilting I did on the shamrock border I posted here back in early April.

Dorry plans to add crystals to the quilt in honor of the song's recording artist. She has about a month to do that and get the quilt bound for the Quilter's Unlimited show where it will be hung with other quilts from the challenge.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Union Square

My Week 18 block, a few days later than planned.

I probably would never have used that brown and tan print in this block, except for the way the repro Union fabric was used in Barbara Brackman's illustration of this block on her blog. Using these prints is expanding my quilting vocabulary.