Monday, April 30, 2007

Building Our Little Cabin

Our dream of a little mountain home is getting close to reality. We are building a garage apartment in Laurel Springs, NC, which some day will be attached to a larger log cabin home. When that happens, the room over the garage will be my sewing studio! You can bet I have asked for lots of built-in storage and electrical outlets. Last week the builders finished framing the windows and adding doors and hardwood floors. On Saturday, a crew of family and friends hung the sheet rock in the garage, led by able master carpenter Jason Hall, my sister's son. Our volunteer electrician got stuck with the duty of installing the screws with the electric drill, since at 6'9" he can reach the ceiling without standing on a ladder! Thanks, guys! My father came over for lunch on Saturday. He lives in a retirement center in Boone, about 45 minutes away. It is so great that he will be close by when we are visiting the mountains. Until a couple years ago, I had always lived close to home, but he finally sold the family house in Cary and moved to Boone, where two of my brothers live. The picture above shows my sister Katy with my father in front of the cabin.

The mountains are definitely showing signs of the spring season with ferns, trillium, may apples, and even dogwood blooms. The dogwoods look like the frost got them, because all the white petals had a brownish tinge. But, it is nice to see new leaves on the trees and a little sign of greenery! The beavers have started work on this year's beaver dam, just below our lot, which will provide us once again with a swimming hole once the weather warms enough to brave the mountain waters. Last year we had fun throwing tubes in the creek and floating around on hot days.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fayetteville Quilt Show

I had a nice afternoon in Fayetteville yesterday at the Dogwood Splendor quilt show. The quilts were all hung and judged, and all we had to do was look at the ones displaying signs that they had been quilted on a longarm. There was a nice variety of quilts of all sizes, and some lovely work. I wish I had been assigned a quilt show prior to the Machine Quilters Expo, because those quilts had a completely different standard of machine quilting. But we eventually selected a favorite, which is now wearing the huge Carolina Machine Quilters ribbon, sometimes mistaken for a sunbonnet. Congratulations to Iris Noitalay for winning the longarm award! Ironically, both of my favorite quilts in the show were hand-quilted. One was a lovely mosaic tile design, which won Best of Show, and the other used hand-dyed or batik fabrics in floral applique on black background, with gold embroidery. Stunning!

Now, off to the mountains to work on our little cabin some more.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Here Comes the Judge...Me!

Today I am off to a new adventure in quilting. I have been asked to be part of a team to award the Best Longarm Quilting ribbon at the Tarheel Quilters Guild Show in Fayetteville! It will definitely be a new experience to be on the "other side" of quilt show awards. Tess and I are driving down to Fayetteville today and will meet Judy there. The three of us will fill out evaluation forms and pick the lucky winner of the beautiful, humongous ribbon sponsored by the Carolina Machine Quilters. I hope that we will get to see most of the quilts in the show, but don't know how that will play out since the show is probably not hung yet.

The show, titled "Dogwood Splendor," will be at the Honeycutt Recreation Center on Devers St. and Ft. Bragg Road in Fayetteville on Friday and Saturday. It is their twentieth bi-annual show. I am looking forward to it!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Techno-son creates ATQ banner

Thanks to my son Dave, also known as WufPirate on blogger, for making a new and improved top banner for All Things Quilty. The quilt picture is actually one block from my friend Carolyn's quilt named Cecilia, which I had the honor of quilting. It looks good up there, doesn't it!

This weekend was so gorgeous weather-wise. My grandchildren and both sons were here for the weekend. What a great time to sit out in the yard! Lily tried to navigate through the grass without putting her feet or knees down, and Avery methodically committed azalea murder. He also discovered the creek behind the house, so his new favorite thing besides deflowering my shrubs is throwing twigs in the creek.

I actually finished quilting the second of Debbie's grandmother's quilt tops- the one with all the puckers and pleats. I am pleased to say that it looks pretty darn good. It happily went into the washing machine the second I got it off the machine. Those old quilts pick up a lot of must and mildew after forty-some years in a plastic bag. I had a hard time deciding on a binding fabric, finally choosing something from my stash in a navy that gives a good contrast to the pale green sashing. Here are a couple pictures of the quilt, which I hope to finish binding this week.

Friday, April 20, 2007

MQX Purchases

When I was at the Machine Quilters Expo, I did not purchase anything except food and drink until my last day. I had a half day available with no classes, and really enjoyed browsing the vendor mall. Check out the fabulous fused glass buttons I purchased from Penny Finch of We Got the Buttons! I plan to use some of them to replace the mundane buttons on a couple of my jackets. The fibers will likely go into the next shawl for daughter-in-law Emily. I found yummy silks and other lovelies. Superior Threads got a little of my $$$ as I purchased some large spools of So Fine and some more Super Bobs of Bottom Line Thread. I only purchased one piece of fabric, a very colorful FQ print. I found a treat to give to members of my bee, but won't post that photo until they have received them!

Back to the round robin project: Look what Michelle sent me yesterday!

Her quilt was the one with the peacock theme, and she included a real peacock feather on the thank-you post card she created! It is so pretty. The first fabric post card I have received! She enclosed the feather in tulle and added iridescent beads. Beautiful!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Treasure Worth Waiting For

Today was a special day..."Coming Home Day" for my round robin quilt project that began more than a year ago. Look what happened to my humble little center posies! I could not have imagined anything more charming, innovative, colorful, or perfect. Everyone says this quilt "looks like me!" It helps to work with a group that has been together for ten years. Let me first of all thank the ladies who participated in this project. You are all Shining Stars of the Quilt World in my opinion!

Alice used the software program Electric Quilt to design the triangle border. A fortunate choice, because it was repeated twice more in Holly's and Janice's narrow borders. And it made the white applique border zig zag! How cool is that!

Jenny framed the center medallion with even more log cabin blocks than I made, and then appliqued the yellow curved pieces. A fabulous decision which brought out the white background and added new design elements. Lots and lots of stitches!

Mary must be some kind of quilting engineer to have figured out the gorgeous strippy border with the yellow squares as a perfect accent. So many seams! She brought the rich colors back out from the center, which Holly continued in her round.

I have always wanted a quilt with a floral applique border, and was secretly hoping that someone would do that for this quilt. Bless her heart, Tess not only appliqued these fabulous flowers, leaves, and stems...she created crazy-patch squares to form the background! She thought that would more closely match the log cabin backgrounds of the first applique. She now rises to the official ranks of Over-Achievers in this group. Thank you, Tess!

Michelle was responsible for the embellishment round. She is becoming quite a mixed-media artist, using paints and fibers of all sorts in her gorgeous pieces. (See her blog.) She added beads to the applique flowers and leaves, and also added stunning silk ribbon embroidery to the curved areas in Jenny's row. And- she left plenty of room for me to machine quilt around it!

Finally, Janice added more luscious deep color to the final triangle border, and a narrow purple outer border to stabilize the edges. Perfect finish to a perfect project! Can you tell I am thrilled?

If you would like to see the other quilts in this round robin, please visit Holly Sweet's Webshots album. She has included all the centers and the finished quilt tops. I am so proud to be part of this group of quilt artists.

MQX Overload

The 2007 Machine Quilters Expo is now history... and I am home with so much to remember and process! I feel very fortunate that I was able to participate this year. It was a bit overwhelming to take in all the new information in class, see all the new products available, and study all the fabulous quilts on display in the shows, exhibits, and even the vendor booths. My favorite quilt was Janet Fogg's Kitty Corner, a showstopper at all venues at which it appears.

On Wednesday, the show and vendors were not open until evening, so I took two afternoon classes. The first was with fabulous quilt artist Jamie Wallen. What a nice person! He shared many freehand designs with us, which he drew on a whiteboard that was also projected on TV. Since I had previously taken a workshop with Nichole Webb, many of the designs from their shared book were familiar to me. But, I really had never perfected his "Flurry of Angels" technique. Can't wait to try it! He also brought a few quilts to show us. The green one is on his Internet site. How can he get such beautiful stitches with metallic threads? I am going to try.

After that I added the Sally Terry class called "Hooked on Feathers." This one was lots of fun, and I am looking forward to using these designs as well.

Wednesday night we got a "Sneak Peek" at the Quilt Shows. I was immediately humbled to see the incredible work that today's quilters are creating. In addition to the regular show, the $100,000 Quilt Challenge winners for 2006 were on display. What a treat!

Thursday I got up early for a session on machine tension with a Gammill dealer. Just about every class I have taken gives you different information about how to set the tension. Now I have more notes to refer to when I can't get it right.

After that, it was an all day class with fabulous quilt artist Sharon Schamber. I learned some great techniques for preparing applique with various types of glue. There was not a prayer of finishing the project in class, especially after we blew the electric circuits in the room when the irons fired up! Sharon provided a DVD that should guide me to finish the project at home when I get around to it. The best part was seeing the trunk show of her quilts, which she generously allowed us to photograph, touch, and ogle. What a talented lady!

Thursday night we were supposed to go to the fashion show, but roommate Bev and I were both exhausted, so we opted for Appleby's and a bottle of chardonnay that we took back to our room.

Friday I had an early class with Kimmy Brunner, who taught her method of making feathers. Kimmy is not only funny and talented, but she is a wonderful teacher! We drew, drew, and drew some more. I hope to be able to quilt like Kimmy some day!

I volunteered to be the assistant at the next class session. Lucky for me, I was assigned to a class with Dawn Cavanaugh. It was supposed to be a "HodgePodge" of tips for newbies. Well, I have been quilting for four years, and most of her advice was new information for me! Dawn was able to explain so many things that I have never tried. What a great help!

Friday night was the banquet. Let me just say that my roommate Bev and I were staying at The Comfort Inn, just a couple miles from the Radisson but too far to walk. There was a free shuttle available to take quilters from all the surrounding motels to the convention site. However, there were far too many people waiting for it to accommodate. My group did not get to the banquet until there were no seats left in the room. Kindly, JL arranged for a table to be set up for us...right in the front of the room, one of the best seats in the house! I got to see my original quilt teacher, Linda Taylor, win Teacher of the Year! What a wonderful honor for her. Linda is such a special person. She is a SuperStar of Quilting with her own TV show, books, patterns, instructional videos, fabulous award-winning quilts, quilting retreats and classes. But as she says herself, she is about as normal as they come! She is so willing to share her knowledge and talents. Congratulations, Linda!

As a little side note, I experienced my second spring snowfall within a week! It started snowing Thursday about noon, and continued all day. So pretty! Luckily for Bev and me, Saturday was clear, and we flew home before the next big storm occurred on Sunday. I came down with a cold or virus right before our departure, so I have been laying low and going through my photographs since I got home. Nothing like the luxury of a day or two in your jammies when you don't feel up to par!

Today I am feeling much better- so I plan to collect my Round Robin quilt from Janice. Can't wait to see it!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Off to MQX

We spent Easter weekend in our favorite spot in the North Carolina mountains. Mother Nature treated us to bitter cold and a beautiful snowfall. Our little grandson from South Carolina enjoyed his first experience in the snow. This picture is of the dam and creek just below the cabin we are building.

Back home, it still looks like spring, and I almost hate to leave all the flowering dogwoods and azaleas to go to COLD New Hampshire tomorrow. But, I am really excited about going to the Machine Quilters Showcase. I am not carrying a laptop, so there will be no new blogs from me until at least next Sunday. But, look out then for an effusive outpouring of excited quilt expo experiences. Have a great week!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Round Robins Coming Back Around

Have you ever participated in a round robin quilt project? Round robins are group quilts that begin with each member creating a center block or medallion. Then the project is passed in rotation to the other members of the robin, each of whom adds another border. There may or may not be "rules" for each border's construction, either in block style or construction.

I belong to a fantastic group group of quilters called the Cyberbee, fifty members of the Capital Quilters Guild in Raleigh. We formed this group back when the Internet and e-mail were relatively new to most of us. We meet four times a year for show-and-tell, and to discuss or share ideas for swaps or exchanges. Over the years we have done row-by-rows, block exchanges, art challenges, a Sharyn Craig block challenge, and many other projects. I am always blown away by the creativity and skills of our Cyber-bee members.

Anyway, eight of us began our round robins over a year ago. These are the rules we followed for each border:
  1. Triangles

  2. Curves

  3. Squares

  4. 2-inch border

  5. Applique

  6. Embellish

  7. Anything Goes!
We are now completing the last borders, and the exchange of the completed tops will be on Thursday, April 12. And where will I be? Manchester, New Hampshire, at MQX! So far, that is the only thing that I will regret about going on my quilting excursion. In fact, my local bee is meeting tonight, and one of the members has MY Round-Robin quilt for the last row! I don't think I can cajole her into revealing it to me a week early.

My center block was based on a quilt published in a quilting calendar. The picture has been on my "inspiration wall" (i.e., pinned to the wall behind my sewing machine) for years. It is actually four log cabin blocks with bright, clear colors on the outside logs, and shades of white on the inside. In the white center, I appliqued some flowers using hand-dyed fabrics. Here is a picture of my center block, and a rather overexposed scan of the "inspiration" quilt.
I know my quilt top will not look like this one when I get it back, but I can't wait to see what my fellow quilt artists have done! I can't say anything else about the other projects until The Reveal, but let me tell you, they are truly incredible.

If you are planning to participate in a round robin exchange, here is one word to the wise: plan the applique round early in the exchanges so you don't have to spend so much time on that one!

All of us included a journal to pass around with the project, so you can read about the creative processes that inspired each border. The robin owners usually include fabric, a list of preferences for the quilt (must be washable, will be a wall quilt, etc.) and often include a little gift for each quilter to enjoy when she is working on the project.

When I get back from MQX, you can bet I will be blogging about my round robin quilt top as well as my experiences at the conference.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Ready, Set, Machine Quilters Expo!

Next week I am headed to New Hampshire for a great adventure in quilting...the Machine Quilters Exposition! I am getting so excited. I will be taking classes from leaders in the longarm world, viewing awesome quilts in the show, and shopping the vendors for new gadgets, threads, and quilty toys. I leave on Tuesday and return on Saturday. This is a very expensive little field trip! Well, once you buy a Gammill, you have already invested a small fortune. There are several big machine quilting shows in the US each year, including one in Kansas City and one in the Seattle area. I am flying up to Manchester with another quilter from Wilmington, NC, and we will share a room during the show. In addition to my four classes, I am going to be the "Teacher's Angel" for a class with Dawn Cavanaugh. Meaning, take attendance during the class. Not too hard for this former teacher! Almost like getting a free class! My classes are with fabulous quilt artists Jamie Wallen, Kimmy Brunner, Sharon Schamber, and a technician from Gammill Quilting Machines to discuss my biggest bugaboo, thread tension.

I decided not to enter any of my quilts in this show, mainly because the entry deadline fell at about the same time as the Capital Quilters Guild Show entries were due. Maybe next year. This time I am just going to be absorbing and learning everything I can, and hopefully getting majorly inspired.