Friday, March 30, 2007

Dogwoods in bloom

After a few record-breaking warm spring days with highs in the upper eighties, yesterday turned cold and dreary. But look what happened! The dogwoods in my yard popped into bloom overnight. There is nothing prettier than North Carolina in the spring when the dogwoods and azaleas are flowering. The dogwoods are a little early this year- I remember them being in bloom when my first baby was born on April 14. Wow, that baby will be thirty in a couple of weeks!

Back to quilting...I have finished about two thirds of the scrappy quilt and I think I have dealt successfully with all the pleats and puckers. I will post pictures when I finish.

Quilting for other people allows me to meet the nicest people. Yesterday a new client came over to bring me a quilt top that she will hang in her church's entry hall. It is the cover photo of Kaye England's book, Graceful Journey. She would like Biblical symbols included in the quilting, but unfortunately, the fabrics are so busy it would be difficult for the quilting motifs to show. I will think about this one while I am finishing my current project.

Meanwhile, today it is off to the mountains again to see what progress we can make on our little mountain cabin project. It now has paneling upstairs, and we may get some more wiring done with my nephew and his electrician friend joining us. I know there will not be any dogwoods in bloom up there because their seasons are several weeks behind us. But- I will be on the lookout for fiddle head ferns, and maybe some black cherries will be flowering.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Power of Blog

I received a wonderful surprise a few days ago from a quilter in Greensboro, NC, who enjoyed reading my blog. Apparently, she is in charge of programs for her quilt guild, and invited me to do a program and trunk show next year! I am so excited about this opportunity. Thanks to my sister Katy who referred her friend Barbara to my blog and Webshots sites.

Yesterday, I started work on the second of the quilt tops that my sister-in-law inherited from her late grandmother. As was the case with the basket quilt, there were probably very good reasons why the top was abandoned before quilting. This one has fabrics that appear to be cut from sheets, kitchen curtains, nightgowns and ??? The very colorful blocks are hand-pieced in a pattern with diamond stars, which are then machine-stitched to a light green (faded?) sashing material. I spent several hours trimming threads, pressing and turning seam allowances, and ironing. This quilt is not going to win any awards, but hopefully will be a cherished memory of a loved one. How much nicer it will be to have this quilt to snuggle with or display, rather than keep it in a plastic bag in the attic. Kudos to Debbie for getting these made into finished quilts. So, here we go to make a 40-year old UFO (Un-Finished Object) into something to be loved. I will try to make it as pretty as I can.
Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, but this middle-aged quilter thinks of getting outside and enjoying the beautiful warm weather with family and friends. That's right, no quilting for over a week- but who can stay inside when the weather is in the 80's and it's still March! "Sorry about that" for those of you in more northern latitudes, but one of the advantages to living in the south is an early spring. It kind of makes up for our miserable, long, hot, humid summers--- but I love this time of year. My favorite season---at least until October, when the weather cools again. The dogwoods and azaleas are not in bloom as yet, but the flowering pears and cherries, all the flowering bulbs, and lots more garden beauties are in their glory. When we moved into our house thirteen years ago, the front yard was bare soil with not one thing green. It makes me proud to see our line of Japanese Yoshino cherries and all our pretty blooming plants. This weekend our son Bryson is here with our three-year old grandson Avery. Three of his friends from Virginia are here as well, and tonight we will be joined by our other son Dave and wife Emily. How nice when we can sit out in the yard and enjoy the deck, cook out, and let Avery play in the yard. I hope the weather will not turn cold again, but we are enjoying it while it lasts!

And, since Lily still has bronchitis and did not get to come to Wake Forest this time, here are some pictures of her from last weekend. She is nine months old and cute as a button:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Emily gets her quilt, and two more postcards

After the quilt enjoyed an outing at the Capital Quilters Guild show, I finished up the label for Dave and Emily's wedding quilt. Ever since I took the embellishment workshop with Melody Crust, I have been spending a little more time making special labels. I used a crazy-quilt format with a wedding picture of the couple in the center. I also used the photo transfer fabric in my computer printer to add a poem from their wedding program and the text of the label. I also found a picture of a full-blown rose, made it smaller, and changed the color to match the roses in their wedding flowers. A little embroidery, some beads, lace, and crystals, and it was done. We were heading south to visit our other son and his family, so stopped off in Cary at Emily's office to deliver the finished product. I have to admit it is gratifying to hear oohs and aahs when people see my work!

In my previous post, I mentioned having to make more fabric postcards for the guild since they sold two of mine while I had all that stuff out in my studio, I made two St. Patrick's Day cards. I sent one to my dad, and the other to my uncle, Jerry Donovan, who celebrates our Irish heritage and is currently recovering from cardiac bypass surgery.

Silk shamrock, Angelina fibers, Tsukineko inks, Swarovski crystals, metallic silver and green threads

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My "Trouble" quilt wins first place at CQG show

I guess persistence pays off sometimes. This little pink quilt named Something Girly got a first place ribbon in the Small Wall Hanging- Mixed/Other category! This year the first place quilts received gift certificates from sponsors, and all the ribbon winners won gifts of fabric. Many thanks to my sponsor, Wish Upon A Quilt in Raleigh, for sponsoring a lovely $50 gift certificate for my category! I also was delighted to receive a third place ribbon for Dave and Emily's White Wedding Quilt. Also, two of my "customer" quilts received special ribbons, which made me very happy.

So, what went wrong during the making of Something Girly? Just about everything. The instructions for this cutaway/shadow trapunto technique are from Karen McTavish's book The Secrets of Elemental Quilting, as are the center and corner trapunto designs. I somehow made an error in marking the outer border of the quilt, which I did not realize until it was on the machine. I drew part of the outer border in by hand without tracing. If you look at the outer border, you can tell that it is not exactly lined up right. Then, I snipped the top when I was trimming the batting from the white trapuntoed areas. I had already successfully trimmed the hearts and corner sections with nary a snip. But I got a cut of about an inch when doing the last side border. I thought I had successfully fixed this before proceeding, but while doing my tight quilting around the trapunto, it split apart again. After finishing my quilting, I rinsed the quilt in the bathtub to remove the markings and water-soluble thread, and laid it out to dry overnight. The next day, there were mysterious yellow marks all over the white trapunto area! What in the world? Either the markings, the red felt under layer, or the backing fabric must have bled. I tried four times to get the yellow out, even resorting to scrubbing with a toothbrush using Clorox bleach pen. Still there. At this point, I knew that I couldn't put the quilt in the show as it was. And you know what? I really did not like the quilt. It was so sweet in its pink and white state that I felt like sticking my finger down my throat when I looked at it.

So....time to embellish! I had previously done this with some trapunto samples, and they looked pretty good.

Here is a picture of a twelve-inch sample named "Spring Greens." It was made with a sheer batiste top, white batting trimmed away for the center flower, lime green felt and regular batting and backing. On this one I had a problem with the cotton batting leaking out of the center trapunto area after washing. I had not followed Karen McTavish's directions to use Quilters Dream Poly for the trapunto. So, I stitched around the edges of the center flower, then used Tsukineko inks and colored pencils to color in the quilted motifs. Since I was fooling around with new techniques on this little sample, I got out my Angelina fibers for sparkle and also played with my Bejeweler and added Swarovski crystals. The binding is just a ribbon trim over a white organza ribbon.

So, I spent three days coloring in the flowers, vines, and swirls I had quilted into the areas around the trapunto on Something Girly. To disguise the yellow marks on the trapunto, I added a wash of lavender over it, then started inking in the rows of flowers between the trapunto. It was looking so pretty! Then, the wash from the white areas started bleeding into the pink areas, making my ink spread out into big bright blobs. Not good! I went out and purchased some acrylic paint in pale pinks and ivory, and painted around the edge of the flowers to hide the ink bleed. Finally, I added Swarovski crystals to the centers of the flowers. I used both Prismacolor and Crayola colored pencils to color in the quilted areas that I wanted to be paler than the Tsukineko inks.

Results: a very different quilt, leaving viewers wondering how I did it, and getting high marks for innovation at the show! One friend thought that I had used a batik for the background fabric.

Congratulations to the Capital Quilters Guild for a great show.

On a side note, all nine of my fabric postcards were sold for the Breast Cancer fund... and two of them were sold twice! The cards were to be displayed thoughout the show, with a viewer's choice vote at the end. People who purchased the cards would have them mailed after the show. Somehow there was a mixup, and show chairman Brenda called me Tuesday to ask if I would duplicate two of my postcards. So, I looked at my pictures and tried my best to make something similar. I really hate doing the same thing twice, so they are not quite the same. One of them was made at the Melody Crust workshop using her stencil, so I had to make a stencil out of freezer paper. Here are the originals and the duplicates:

Monday, March 5, 2007

Windy Wedding and Snowy Ride home

The weather was sunny and beautiful for my niece Rachel's wedding, but it was cool and windy. I sure was glad I had my new shawl! Everyone asked me how I made it, and Emily wants me to make one for her in browns, teals, and purples. Her birthday is in April, so maybe I should make it now while the technique is fresh in my mind.

Here is a picture of my father, my sister, my five brothers, my aunt Billie, and me at the wedding. It is not often that we are all together, especially with Jeff living in Florida.

The wedding was lovely, with natural greenery and wildflowers

adorning the altar and pews. Rachel married a young man of middle eastern descent, and his mother and sister were able to attend the wedding. The wedding was a traditional Southern Christian wedding, but at the reception there was a beautiful wedding cake with Arabic writing on the layers. It was translated as a verse from the Song of Solomon.

During the night, it started to snow, and the next day we rode home through a country mountain road while it was still snowing. I took a few pictures along the way. Of note to quilters: the arts council in Ashe County is decorating some of the barn walls with large painted quilt blocks! Here are two along the way:

The second picture was recently installed on the barn at the NC State University research farm, just below Big Peak Creek Road. That is near where we are building a mountain cabin. They must have heard I was coming!'

Beautiful scenery in the mountains of North Carolina!

These are buffalo lying down under a tree while it snowed.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Capital Quilters Guild Show March 9-11

I have been busy getting my quilts ready to turn in today for the Capital Quilters Guild show at Peace College in Raleigh the weekend of March 9-11. I am entering Dave and Emily's wedding quilt, the basket quilt I finished for my sister-in-law Debbie, and a wall-hanging quilt that I trapuntoed, painted, and embellished with crystals and iridescent Angelina fibers for sparkle. I almost pulled the wall quilt out of the show because I have had so many problems with it. I will devote a post to it when I get back next week after the wedding. For a preview, visit my Webshots album 2007 Longarm Quilting , pages two and three. Here is one picture of the finished quilt. I will turn my quilts in at Quilts Like Crazy shop in Wake Forest, and then we are heading to Boone tonight for my niece Rachel's wedding. Hope we don't get snowed in!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Hairy Shower Curtain is now a Shawl

It's done!
Yesterday I finished the rest of the stitching to make my shawl on my Gammill long-arm machine. Instead of doing straight horizontal lines, I made wavy ones. At that point, the thing started to look like a big shiny fish with its plastic covering and scaly looking stitching. After practically getting "Gammill elbow" from pushing the machine around, I finally did a small meander all over the surface. After a soak in the bathtub, which turned the water kind of purply, and drying overnight on towels,the shawl was ready to get a little more fringe. I think it's pretty, but now I'm not sure about wearing it to the wedding. Boone NC is supposed to have snow flurries on Saturday. Maybe I'll wear a parka instead!
The directions for creating the fabric can be found on HGTV's website, Simply Quilts, Episode QLT 1110. See the article