Friday, June 29, 2007

The final episode in Wednesday in the Midwest - A Trilogy.
When the shopping was done, QuiltGranny Sharon turned the car toward home. But there was a brief stop for cold drinks at Sonic Burger (car hop service is such fun.) We dropped Carolyn at her home to pick up the 'little girl brownies*' we would have for dessert later. Sharon's home is set on acreage property that has been lovingly tended and landscaped. A second trip is needed just to explore her gardens.
Once inside we were met by 2 more Amazing Quilt Babes - the others joined us later - and the delicious smells of the crust-less quiches Sharon's hubby prepared for our dinner while we shopped. After all the introductions, we had the quiche, green salad, fresh fruit and those brownies. Sharon's hubby took care of clean up ( what a great guy) while we were treated to a Quilt Babe show-and-tell in the living room.
Judy and I had been asked to bring a sharp pair of scissors to work on a surprise project that evening. We moved into Sharon's quilt studio for a demonstration of The 6 Minute Circle by Dale Fleming. What a fun technique! Below is the circle I made - who would've thunk it?

Turns out that I have an idea to give these circles a home in a quilt. On my flight, I noticed the farms with square plots of land but crops growing in circles. A funny sight - made me think that they were farming polka dots. I was told that farming in western Kansas requires irrigation for the crops to survive. The most effective means of irrigation is to water the crops in circles. While I don't have a picture of the Polka Dot Farms - I can certainly create a quilt that will be a wonderful memory of what I saw and the new friendships I made in Kansas on a Wednesday in June.
After our good bye's were said with hugs all around and promises to keep in touch. Sharon and her Hubby returned two very tired gals back to the Missouri side of Kansas City. I was so excited to be attending the quilt retreat that I had no idea what wonderful things were in store for me with new quilting friends.
This is a picture of my watermelon quilt. I promised to share it on my blog. It was made VERY early in my quilting career from a pattern by Cheri Payne that was meant to be a wall hanging. It has some questionable fabric choices and very poor machine quilting, but I think it makes a nice welcome on my front porch in the summer.
Last is a picture of a project I started yesterday afternoon. I need a new project like a hole-in-the-head, but here it is anyway. It was a class offered at Primitives that I was unable to fit into my schedule. I was able to pick up the pattern at Quilter's Station - thinking I would just add it to my pattern collection and get to it . . . eventually. Once it was home, it began calling my name. There is no piecing involved - just an applique border. I plan to hand quilt it so I can say it was not touched by machine. I think that has such a nice sound.
Thanks for sticking with me on The Wednesday Trilogy. I promise the next two days, while filled with special classes and teachers, are not nearly as long and involved.

*'little girl brownies' - no nuts

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ready for the second installment of day 1? Here we go . . . . we purposely chose to take a class that was only half-day to give us some time to explore and possibly shop hop a little. That turned out to be the perfect decision. Judy knows QuiltGrannySharon through the Quilt Maverick Ring and she graciously offered to be our personal tour guides for the day. It couldn't have been better. It was really a treat.
When class ended at noon, we hurried back to our hotel where we were met by Sharon and her friend Carolyn - both members of the Amazing Quilt Babes. They whisked us off for lunch at Jason's Deli where the choices were abundant and everything tasted great. Refueled we were ready to get down to business - shopping!
We crossed the state line into Kansas - a first for me. Our first stop was in Eudora, Kansas to shop at Quilting Bits and Pieces. Eudora was a darling little town. The streets lined with homes displaying flags from wide porches, lots of tall shady trees, a policeman carefully watching for speeders and Jasmin - a Chinese Mexican eatery. Now that is a combo that I would have never dreamed. Wouldn't you love to get a peek at that menu?
Quilting Bits and Pieces was a bright shop with a large selection of 30's prints, lots of florals, books and patterns galore. The ladies working the shop were right in the middle of moving fabrics. They were so friendly and helpful - directing us to where we might find a particular piece. I quickly found the clearance fabrics and finished the bolt on both of these red brushed cottons. After we all made our purchases, it was back in the car to head on down the road a little more.
Next stop was Lawrence, Kansas. A bustling college town with a real, good old-fashioned downtown - the kind where you can park on the street, pop into a store, or just stroll along to window shop. Some of the buildings were just so beautiful to look at. They were built of sandstone that is quarried locally. I hope to return for the chance to explore a bit more, but there was fabric to buy.
Into Sarah's Fabrics we went. Before I could even get all the way in the door, I was taken in by the wood floors and had to wonder about all the shoes and boots that have trod them before me. A quick look up, I saw the tall ceilings covered in painted tin. Oh my - but then the fabric pulled me in and I had to shop. Specifically I was looking for a large, florally print to use in a Serendipity quilt. Here is what I found along with some pieces to go along with it.
While I was chatting with the gal cutting my fabric, I looked up to see Barbara Brackman walking toward me! She had come to the shop to pick up a quilt that was hanging on display. She stood next to me and we struck up a conversation. She asked about the fabrics I was purchasing and my plans for them. Proof that all quilters are very tactile, she was stroking the red fabric just to get the feel. It was such a surreal moment for me. It's not every day you get to discuss your fabric selections with Barbara Brackman!
Across the street in Stitch on Needleworks, I made a quick purchase of some wools and a sunflower Christmas ornament - how can you not get a sunflower in Kansas? While the others finished their shopping, I took a rest on the steps and just tried to take it all in.
Wow - this day really was full. There was even more fun and activity at Sharon's home that evening. Join me next time when I get to become an Honorary Quilt Babe - oh so fun!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Okay - here it is: The first installment of my fantastic trip to Primitives of the Midwest. While I am still no where near caught up with myself, I just couldn't stand to not share all that I saw, did . . . and bought in Missouri and Kansas last week.
After a pretty easy (but late flight) and a short drive in from the airport, I was ready for the fun to begin. On Wednesday evening Quilter's Station hosted an event kick-off at the shop. Judy and I arrived a touch early in order to complete our registration, pick up our 'goody box' and shop. The box held our name tags and lanyard, the book - Cranberry Collection, a journal, pen and chocolates. There was barely enough time to run that out to the car, make a quick perusal of the shop before it was time to take a seat.
Each of the teachers had been asked to bring the first quilt they made and give a little description of their quilting journey. It was very entertaining - to say the least. And so good to know that everyone has struggles with techniques along the way. Then we were treated to a viewing of samples for every class that would held over the four days.** Wow - if only there had been time to be in each class . . . not a clinker in the bunch. Next was trunk show of hooked rugs by two ladies - Marilyn and Minerva (last names I can't recall) Such beautiful work - the detail in each piece was mind boggling yet they all had a wonderful primitive, folk-art flair.
This is a picture of some of the things from the goody box and parts of the purchases I made during my stay - a couple of patterns, two make-it and take-it kits made especially for the retreat. I picked up a book on Missouri Civil War stories as a souvenir for Hubby and an ABC book specific to the area (we collect these as we travel,) a jar filled with buttons, a painted metal box and a couple of new dish towels. There there was the wool. Wool, wool, wool - in such beautiful colors, in such large sizes. I think I picked up at least a small piece everywhere I stopped. I'll share my fabric purchases in another post.
Finally - Thursday morning arrived - the first day of classes. Iwas signed up for a class with Cherie Ralston. The project is a sewing kit. Now I have to admit here that while I had seen a photo of the project, photos can be deceiving. I had in my mind a little wool needle case - and I was very happy with that. This is a real sewing kit! With three inserts to hold all sorts of quilting necessaries. Once it is done, I will be able to travel far and wide with what I can hold inside this piece.
Cherie is a delightful teacher. She put up with me and my limited wool knowledge - did you know that wool can be torn? After a quick demo to get me up to speed, she quickly saw I was anxious to try it out myself. The piece went together very easily. In just a 3 hour class I had the construction complete and all the applique pieces ready to stitch down. A great way to feel successful right out of the chute.
Here is my piece - almost complete. I have only the berries to applique in place. The beading embellishments are my first try at that also. I never fancied myself as one who would embellish anything (I'm A Simple Girl - remember) but that was fun.
On the inside I'm adding my initials and the year. Guess what? I cut the letters and numbers free-hand. I'm may be getting quite full of myself, but the retreat was so inspiring that I really feel like I have to try to stretch myself just a little.
Okay - this takes us only until noon of the first day. Stay tuned - there's so much more fun to tell about.

**I'm afraid that I won't be sharing photos from the evening because I don't want to infringe on the work of these outstanding designers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I got home yesterday afternoon from The Primitives of the Midwest retreat in Missouri. What a wonderful retreat it was. It will take me several days to organize my thoughts, my pictures, my projects and my purchases but I will share them all over the next few days. I got to meet people that I had only known via the internet, take classes with some terrific teachers, and with the help of some new friends see parts of the country I had never seen before. Please bear with me as I catch up on blog reading. It will take some time to read the more than 150 posts that accumulated in just a few days away. I'll be reading every word but probably flaking out on leaving lots of comments.
Imagine my surprise when I looked out into the yard when I got home - I spied this glorious bloom to remind me of the friendship and fun I experienced in Missouri and Kansas last week. I didn't plant any sunflowers this year, but I have about a dozen that came up as volunteers from last year's crop and this little beauty opened up just in time to greet me.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I sure am a lucky girl. Look at the special little treat that landed in my mailbox over the weekend. This darling little chickadee was sent to my by TheQuilter. Check out her posts of May 20 and June 5. Imagine - I have a prize winner here. Not only am I lucky, but I feel pretty doggoned special, too. I am told this little birdy on the branch is her morning view - and now I can have the same view.
I may just have to try my hand at a postcard or two. Not only do they look fun to make, but what fun it must be to drop one in the mail box.
Wondering what these little goody bags are out for? They are filled with fabrics and supplies to help get me started at Primitives of the Midwest.
I have longed to attend this retreat since it started 3 years ago. This is the year. I hope I have everything I need . . . but if I have forgotten something, I can shop. Everything will fit in one suitcase, but I'm packing a duffel in there also. I need a place to pack everything I pick up while I'm there. Three days of classes, trunk shows, show and tell with the primitive and folk art designers that I love the most. For me it will be like Quilters Heaven.
As if that weren't enough - I'm going to be meeting a fellow blogger. Judy of Quilting with Ragdolls is going to be there, too. The emails have been pretty fast and furious for the last couple of days. I'm sure there will be lots of pictures and stories when I get back.

Friday, June 15, 2007

More fun than a barrel of monkeys. I have never really been convinced that a barrel of monkeys would be a whole lot of fun. I've been to the zoo - I know what monkeys do. Now a basket full of puppies. That would be a whole bunch of fun. I guess it's all relative to your particular way of thinking. Anyway - I digress . . .
The fun I have been having with these triangles seems to be endless. First I made them wrong and worked out a solution so I didn't have to throw them away. Then I went back and did them again - to prove to myself that I could follow the instructions. I was really starting to feel like I could maneuver my ruler around that 60 degree line and didn't want to stop.
So I pulled out a couple of fabrics and tried it again - this time with smaller strips (you can just barely see that version under the cutting mat.) It worked! I reduced the strip size by 1". I thought that maybe the math would get fouled up but it didn't. And the little tops that I got were just so darned cute. What would happen if I made the strips smaller?
I dug through a box of 1 1/2" strips for a selection that I liked, then pulled out some scraps of a neutral and cut 1 1/4" strips and went at it again. It worked! I even figured out the right size for the side setting pieces - it felt like a triumph.
Here's the first little one with borders added.And the layout of the pieces for the pinwheel version.
Off to sew. Wheeeeee . . . . .

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Squash Update . . . There is still no concrete answer on what the squash is. I think I will call it a zucorn - a zucchini /acorn hybrid. The bread turned out yummy. I took it with me to my quilt class last night and it's all gone. I did eat a slice hours before I shared it with others - so don't think I was trying to do them harm. I have picked a couple more and tonight I will steam them and serve with dinner.Today is Flag Day in the States. Not an official holiday - but a good reason to display your flag. I saw the pattern for this little wall hanging at a show and couldn't wait to get home and get it started. It hangs year round in our home office.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wow - thank you for all the wonderful comments on the last post. You all just make me *smile* Now I need a little help! Can anyone identify this vegetable? It is the what is growing on plants that were purported to be zucchini. This does not look at all like what I expected. I had plans for summer dinners with steamed zucchini, salads with fresh zucchini, loaf after loaf of zucchini bread in my freezer for holiday gift giving . . . then my very healthy looking plants produced THIS. This is the largest I have let it grow - about softball size but there is an abundance of golf ball to tennis ball sizes on the plant now. Should I harvest? Can I use it the same as zucchini? Oh, I am puzzled.
**Update** Armed with some fresh ideas for names and searches, I re-Googled and came up with this piece of squash info. Maybe it is some new zucchini/acorn hybrid - a zucorn, if you will. I'm going to go make a test loaf of bread. Stay tuned.
Here is the baby quilt that I worked on over the weekend. Last stitch went into the binding just before bed last night and it's freshly out of the dryer now. It is going to one of Hubby's co-workers. I knew I wanted to make her a quilt and thought I had plenty of time - at least until next month. On Friday, Hubby announced that she is going out on maternity leave at the end of this week. YIKES!
We made a quick trip to the quilt shop Saturday morning to pick fabrics. It's hard to see in the photo, but the small squares have blue and creamy tan-yellow dots. To me very reminiscent of a 50's fabric. It doesn't scream baby - but that's okay with me. It's 60" square - a great size to put on the floor for 'tummy time' and will last all the way through the napping years.

Monday, June 11, 2007

With summer quickly approaching, today felt like a good day for some blog-keeping. First like the song says, 'I know it's been said many times, many ways . . .' but if you haven't already, please consider changing your Blogger Profile to allow email. I love to reply to comments. I don't reply to every single comment but I do try to touch base with each of you regularly. If you are set to no-reply it's impossible to answer questions you have asked or just drop by with a quick little howdy-do.
Next up is a series of quilts that I have shared as I was working on them but haven't revealed once they were complete.
First the triangle quilts that I struggled with because I tried to make them 'Libby-style.' They are now quilted, bound and headed for the washing machine today. Then they will be all crinkly soft. Just they way I love 'em.

This little one I have not shared yet. I went back to that pattern and tried again . . . this time following all the instructions. Guess what? It works. Now I have this nice little patriotic pinwheel to put on my picnic table for 4th of July.
Also I finished the Holly and Berries quilt. You all gave me the right advice to put some quilt stitches in the leaf applique. I went with a vein curving down the middle of each leaf. I think it adds just the right touch. Yippee! A Christmas quilt finished in June. I wonder where I'll display it this year. (Don't you love the volunteer sunflower? Talk about a clash of seasons.)

Recently Patti asked about this quilt. It is used as a tablecloth on our dinner table and has cropped up in more than one picture on my blog. The red inner border is not crooked or wobbly - as it appears in the photo. It is a wide flat piping and not secured - leaving it to fold around at will. I had taken taken a class with Terry Thompson just before I made this quilt. As you can see I was anxious to put to use my new skills on making piping and the Vine Line Tool. Stay tuned . . . I made this top again over the weekend for a baby gift.
Finally, here's a quick shot of where you will soon find me in the heat of summer afternoons. A cold glass of lemonade and some hand work will be just what I need to cool off. There's a second chair and ottoman on the patio and plenty of shade under the umbrella if you wanna come on over and stitch.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Today Quilting Bebbs shared a photo of gingham check fabric she had just purchased. Her picture brought back a flood of memories to me.
When I was a little girl, I would spend time during holiday and summer breaks at my grandma's house. During those visits, I would fill my time with all the pursuits of Grandma's day. We would often walk to the neighborhood dime store where Grandma would purchase yards of gingham check fabric in a variety of colors.
The purpose of the purchase was to make aprons with the sewing circle at her church. They donated the items to the church bazaar held each November as their fundraiser. The ladies met every Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to work on a variety of projects and then sit together and enjoy their sack lunch.
Oh those ladies with such exotic sounding names - Beatrice, Juanita, Eunice, Bertha, Stella, Frieda. Nothing like the Patty's, Susie's and Nancy's that I went to school with. Each lady seemed to have a particular specialty that she brought to the group. Grandma's was the gingham aprons and flour sack dish towels embroidery or applique and bound in store-bought bias tape.
I never once saw a pattern for the apron. Armed with one yard of 36" wide gingham, Grandma would count out a specified number of squares and RIP - there's the waist band. Another count, another RIP - pockets. Next the ties - leaving the skirt of the apron. No fuss, no muss, no scissors.
She used 3 strands of DMC floss for the cross stitch. (To this day, when I split floss I put the portion not threaded in my needle around my neck - it never gets lost.) Sometimes a plain 'x' in rows all across the hem, the pockets and waistband was stitched. Other times the fancier 'chicken scratch' pattern was done. Then the apron was sewn together on the sewing machine and finally starched within an inch of it's life.
You can see this apron, even today after many washings, can still practically stand on it's own like a little soldier.A close-up of the 'chicken scratch' stitch.
Much to the deep disappointment of Grandma and Mom, I could never be enticed to wear an apron (it is just more girly than I want to be) I treasure this piece - made by Grandma and worn by Mom and forever loved by me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

All you have to do is ask. I knew I would get great advice on what to do about quilting the applique pieces on my quilt. I kind of felt like it needed something and now I know just what to do. First I'll have to shop (oh, darn the bad luck) to find a good Perle cotton color to use. I'm not interested in trying to match each leaf, but want something that will go with them all . . . maybe variegated.

There were a couple of questions about quilting with Perle cotton. I believe the technique is generally referred to as 'big stitch' quilting. It's no different that regular hand quilting - the goal is to have an even stitch over the face of the quilt. The thread is just thicker and the stitches are bigger. The challenge for me was finding a needle that would accommodate the larger thread and still be able to do the rocking motion of the quilting stitch. I have landed on Richard Hemming Large Eye Betweens in size 7. Some people like to use a crewel needle. For me it was a little too long to handle. I still make a quilter's knot and pop it into the batting. If using the heavier with (#5) that may be a little more difficult to do. Because I tend to cut my thread too long, I don't pull the entire length through each time I fill my needle. Makes for less stress on the thread.
So there you have it. I don't believe there is any right or wrong way. Just find a needle that works for you and give it a try . . . it's fun.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Let me start today by thanking all for your kind comments on Hubby's official retirement. We did enjoy a celebratory dinner at one of our favorite places Friday night. Now it's back to business as usual.
There has been some quilting going on here. I have been hand quilting the Holly and Berries quilt in the afternoons. I noticed I was having a difficult time seeing my work at night - black thread on black fabric. Then I got a new (stronger) pair of reading glasses and my stitches came back into view again even after the sun goes down.
I have been doing a big stitch using Perle cotton. First echoing the applique pieces - then filling in the negative spaces. I'm left now with the outer edges and then the decision of whether or not to stitch on the holly leaves. I'm thinking they may need a little something. I know I will get plenty of advice *s*

Harper is doing her part. There's plenty of puppy hair on my project. It shows up particularly well on the black.
While wandering around in the yard, I found this little bee hard at work. These California poppies (and all the others that are nearby) have returned on their own from the plants that went to seed last year. I love the casual way things return year after year - some sprouting right in the exact same spot and others moving their way across the beds to a whole new place.
It makes the garden a surprise almost every time I go out to have a look.

Friday, June 01, 2007

This is a day for celebration in our home. Today Hubby is 'officially' retired from the USMC!
His active service ended in 1999, but his 30-year Marine Corps career is complete today.
He joined just after his 17th birthday in 1977. His parents had to sign the paperwork with him because he was a minor. His mom made him promise to never get a tattoo before she would sign - it's a promise he has kept.
The summer between his junior and senior year of high school was spent at boot camp . . . can you imagine the 'What I Did On Summer Vacation' paper he wrote? After basic training, he was assigned to the reserve unit near his hometown and completed his senior year of high school.
When I came on the scene and we married, he returned to active service. It was an adventure for everyone. I thought I was far away from home - but he was even farther. He spent 12 of the first 18 months in Okinawa - gone six, home six, gone six more. I love this picture - he used the band-aids from his first aid kit to display the latest photos of The Princess. They still have a little of the sticky residue on them.

We quickly learned to pack up and move on a moment's notice. We could unpack our whole house, hang pictures, install light fixtures, roll our our rugs and have a new place feeling like home in just a day. We moved 11 times in the first 15 years. During those years we all grew up. In this picture, The Princess is only one year younger than her dad was when he joined.

It wasn't always easy. Hubby says he remembers his first night at boot camp, laying in bed thinking to himself, 'What have I gotten myself into?' I don't know that he has ever fully answered that question, but he has seen places he would never have seen, had jobs that not every man would be willing to do, served his country with honor and made his family proud.