Monday, October 26, 2009

Beauty in Nature

I am becoming a compulsive blogger. I can't wait to get home to read my blog news and when I tear myself away it's to run to the sewing room to try out something new.

Well, yesterday I managed to drag my kids away from screens of any kind (except the digital camera, of course) into the great outdoors. We took a walk in a nearby state park late in the afternoon. It was a little cloudy, but I was glad it was not raining. I also included a picture of a colorful tray of stones from the rock show. The pic was on my mind and I wanted to include it today.

I stopped into my LQS today and found this cool ruler that I saw demonstrated at a recent club meeting. It's the perfect solution to my raffle basket table runner. You can take any border fabric and make a neat table runner in no time at all. I didn't have time for pictures today, but i put together a sample and it's fantastic.

Gotta go. I'm getting tired and brain dead.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New project list

I haven't gotten back to my goals for sewing and quilting. Let's see what I had on my list:

1) "new fabric" backpack -- Well, that was to be the practice piece for my FMQ goal and the backpack pattern I hadn't done yet. I have finished the quilting on that block of fabric. But I went back to an earlier panel of beautiful orange/brown/red fabrics that I had created to make into a backpack. I quilted this panel in no time using the techniques I have been practicing on the "new fabric" piece. I plunged right into finishing the backpack and, voila!, it is done.

Here's the picture of my beautiful new backpack in my signature color, orange. I was waiting for a project that would put this fabric in the spotlight and I think it was a good choice. It goes with everything I'm wearing this season. I will finish the "new fabric" one sometime, but there are other projects looming.

Here's the back:

And a close-up of the FMQ:

I love the button on the front, too.

2) snowman table runner -- That piece kind of fell to the side while I worked on my practice piece. I'd better pick it up again and just get it quilted. I have a lot of projects that are mostly waiting to be pin basted. I just need the space and time to get it done. Piecing is easier because you don't have to do it all in one sitting.

3) casserole carrier -- I don't even have a pattern yet. This one may not happen.

4) hexagon rosettes for the Australian challenge -- I brought this up at my quilt club and now I am scheduled to do a demonstration on this technique at the November meeting. I have a lot of prep work to do to get ready.

Well, that's the update on my previous list. Now I need to list the newer projects I've been working on.

1) Venetian dream -- I saw this neat pattern in a recent Fons and Porter "Easy Quilts" issue and decided I would just pull fabrics from my older blues and greens just to move some of my fabrics off the shelf. I cut out the pieces in no time. Now it's a great little project to just piece on when I need to fondle fabric for my mental well-being.

I also picked out fabrics to do a Christmas version. Sometimes the planning bogs me down, especially when I don't have the right fabrics on hand. I'll do the sashing in white again, too.

2) Christmas panel quilt -- I picked up this cute snowman panel by Deb Strain at my LQS along with some coordinating fabrics. They had a cute little lap quilt someone from the shop had created to showcase the fabrics, so I decided to try to recreate it. This week I cut out the blocks and sewed strips log cabin style around them. Now I'm ready for sashing and whatever I want to do with the borders. It will work up quick.

3) "Ray of Sunshine" quilt -- This was originally a quilt intended for someone else. It's kind of a large baby quilt. The colors weren't right for the original recipient (my decision), so I've substituted another quilt. This was from a pattern in Quiltmaker, I think, that I wanted to get some of my quilt club members to use for a charity quilt pattern. It uses 2 1/2 " strips and would be perfect for a jelly roll quilt, even though the pattern was written before they introduced jelly rolls.

4) We're having a basket raffle in November at my work. Each of our 5 departments will make up a themed basket. I thought I'd get another Christmas panel and make some placemats or a table runner to put in. They should work up quick.
That's a pretty big list. I haven't even mentioned the piles of WIP's and tops waiting for quilting. It took a lot of work, but I'm pretty pleased with this list. I've had a pretty productive week for a person with limited free time. But my DH has been patient with my burst of creativity. Well, I guess I better get back to the laundry, etc. Got to get ready for Monday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is one of the views I see on my way home from work. It doesn't do the scene justice, partly because it was overcast today, but the leaves in this wooded area are breathtaking. I have been travelling that way home, even though it's a little out of the way, just to feed my soul a little. It's good to make beautiful mental pictures to hold onto like little secret treasures.

The idea of memory as a key element of personality is a theme that has been on my mind lately. "What you leave in, what you leave out." The key is in the editing. No one remembers things with 100% accuracy. The way we remember things, the things that stick with us, the things that we believe are important to remember, these shape the decisions we make in our lives. Without memory, we cannot interact with our world in a meaningful way.

I love to hear stories that people tell about their lives. I love to tell stories about my life. When I was growing up, I loved to hear my parents tell stories about themselves before they were married. Now that we have kids, they love to hear our stories. It holds their attention longer than anything else I can think of.

Last night I went out with several friends from work who share October birthdays with me. Dr. Tang, our favorite physiatrist, started the tradition. She was a fantastic doctor to work with, the best any of us can remember working for. She listened to us and to her patients and she still kept her authority. Anyway, she took us all out to dinner and we've been doing it for five or six years now. I'm the oldest, so I'm the first one to be looking 50 square in the face. I haven't come up with a plan for my 50th birthday, so that will be one big task for me this year.

I'm kind of losing my narrative thread here, though. I started out thinking about pretty views and now we've veered into memories and the passing of time. Actually, even though it's been kind of a wet fall, I have enjoyed the changing leaves more this year than in the past several years. Sometimes I see autumn as just the lead-in to winter, which I don't enjoy at all. But this year it doesn't seem to bother me as much. In fact, I'm just amazed at every little vignette I see--a cluster of colorful leaves against a curb, a mass of mixed foliage colors around the road, a stand of bright red trees in a median at the mall. They're everywhere I look.

This year I'm bravely taking on tasks in my sewing room. This has not been possible the last few years. Right now, I'm itching to finish this and post it so I can go sew a little. So stay with me as I venture into the uncharted waters of another winter!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rock Show

This is the weekend of the annual Three Rivers Rock, Mineral and Gem club show. My older son loves rocks and we joined the club after visiting this show a few years ago. I just want you to know, people are nuts about rocks. And the people in this club are very dedicated to educating themselves about the subject. I like gems and minerals because of the beautiful colors. My son loves fossils and "cool stuff" like dinosaur bones and meteorites and mammoth hair, all of which could be bought at the show. He also got to sell some neat specimens from our field trips this year.

My "Rays of Sunshine" top is together, and I thought I would put a white border on it, but I'm not loving it as I thought I would. I may not border it at all. My backpack is officially in use now, as I took it to the rock show yesterday. I haven't got the drawcord the way I like it yet, but it's functional and I love it.

I got a chance to visit with more of the club members yesterday. Marie Z. teaches a technique for making little gem trees with twisted wire and bits of gemstones glued on as "leaves". But she is a true artist and draws and does all kinds of creative things. Her husband makes cabochons and bits of polished stone. I think I would love to do that too, but how many things can a woman do and still have a house and home?

Here is a closeup of one of her trees:

It was a fun event and educational for the kids as well.

This morning I decided I would just cut fabric because I have orange thread in the bobbin and I didn't feel like changing it out today. I'm doing a Christmas quilt with a set of panels I bought recently. I also am doing a quilt called Venetian Tile from the most recent issue of F&P's Easy Quilts with fabrics from my stash in light blue and greens. Originally, I was going to do it as a scrappy quilt with as many fabrics as I could find from my stash. But when I realized I could do it with only 6 fabrics, and hardly make a dent in my pile of fabric, I decided it would be good enough. The pattern would be a good one to whip up in several colors. It uses squares in sizes from 2 1/2" to 9 1/2 " so I can just save bits as I go along and cut the squares as I go to make a scrappy version.

Well, this post is my first one with pics, which I've been promising for some time now. I'll get a few more taken to bring everyone up to speed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It's a good day in Kris's world. Even though it was rainy and gloomy out and my heater on my car is still not fixed, and so on and so on. I actually got into my sewing room and got something done. Of course I don't have pictures yet (it's that or sew), but I got my lively orange batik backpack done. Well, except for the drawstring because I don't have the right kind of cord to use. It looks fabulous!

You have to understand that I rarely get things finished and I was very slow to get this project started. I knew it would be a great project to practice my quilting skills on. I had the main panel sewed back in July before the kids got back from camp. I was supposed to take the machine quilting class on Aug 1 and this would be my first project. Then the kids came back and my life was no longer my own. Then the sad events of September came along and it's only in the last few weeks that I'm getting some time for myself.

Out of my sewing time has come 1) my backpack, 2) my quilting sampler panel that will be worked into another backpack which is made completely with scraps, and 3) my "Rays of Sunshine" top that is just waiting for a border. The pieces are cut, I just have to cut iron and measure the top again.

Tonight my son is working on another school project that he left to the last minute. I have an apple cake in the oven that I threw together while supervising his work. I have Project Runway to look forward to tonight. It's always Sunshine and Shadow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I was reading one of the older posts about the pioneer festival and the pouch or bag I was going to make with my son. I followed the advice of the woman we bought the rabbit pelt from. I used a gloving needle, which is this wicked sharp triangular needle that just cuts right through the leather. I used an old rotary cutting blade to cut the piece to the right size because using scissors messes up the fur. That was her advice also. Her third suggestion was to use dental floss instead of the synthetic sinew that you can buy. It all worked like a dream. I found some leather pieces in the craft section at JoAnn's that we worked into the design. I also had some Indian trade beads that I got at a powwow last year. The project was lots of fun for me and Adam really had a neat little bag to show his class. I'll post a pic when I can.

I'm Ready!

I am so excited. I have been able to (finally) get my big toe into the FMQ pool and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I finished my sampler, so I can go on and make it into the backpack as I planned. Then I took the panel I had originally planned to use in a backpack and quilted it up, just letting my imagination lead me where it would. Just like that. Two little projects about 16X26 with actual quilting done by ME.

I know I have a lot to learn and I want to try some new ideas and products, but Rome wasn't built in a day. So, I'm finishing up a WIP just so I can try to quilt it. And I have 3 more waiting to be finished. I want to be like crazymomquilts and have all these cool quilts flowing out of my hands. I can see it and it's finally within my grasp.

Of course, this is all pretty boring chatter without pics. That's my next goal. First I have to get the camera charged up and get my DH to help me get the pics loaded right....

But I am JUICED now. Tomorrow I put on the borders and Thursday I'll go to the library and pin baste it. They have such nice big spaces to lay everything out. I'm ready.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It's another weekend of football with the kids and catching up on sleep. We are all in various stages of head colds, so not a lot of energy. Adam has a project to complete for his Native American project at school which will involve sewing a rabbit pelt we bought recently into a pouch. I hope it goes smoothly.

I still haven't got a camera and my recent paltry efforts together for a photo shoot. Maybe that will happen this week. But I've been strolling through the Blogger's Quilt Show and studying quilting techniques I've found there. It's reassuring to see some of the same ideas I'm using in my filler sampler that I'm working on. Eventually the panel I'm making will be made into a backpack. I'm learning about the importance of space to give the batting room to breathe. My favorite filler is a feathered vine that I FMQ'd, similar to Leah's Fern and Stem.

I cam across a recipe for a One Bowl Apple Cake that I will make today and report on. It looks fantastic and just what I was looking for. Maybe I'll make one for work, too.

I have to escape to my sewing room while I can to do something before everyone is up and about. Not an exciting post, but something at least.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Colors in the rain

Two funerals in two weeks. My life has not had any room for creativity, just survival. Today is the coldest, rainiest day we've had in a long time. But when I looked out the front window, there was a beautiful color combination laid out in front of me. The grass next to the house is a bright kelly green, then a slash of the silver grey of the driveway; above this a mottled brown-gold of the fall meadow with its mix of plants and bushes. Finally, topping it all, that marvelous orange rust color of ripe soybeans in the field, a color I love. The rain made it all more intense. I bet you haven't heard anyone rhapsodize on the color of soybeans in the fall, but I could. The tableau was a gift to me on an otherwise drab, low-energy day.

One of my favorite quilt tops is one I made with solids in the center in a Churn Dash block, using orange as the background color. It's a signature piece for me. (I need to get it quilted.) I used a colorful batik that kind of had a lot of bubblegum colors in it, but it worked with the center. I call it Exploded Amish style.

Orange is my signature color. My friends from quilt club tease me and compliment my unique sense of combining color. I don't necessarily like things to match exactly. I never buy a whole group of fabrics from a line to make a quilt with. I believe that color is a language that we use to express our individual personalities. I love the nuances that can be seen in different color combinations and the ways that colors can change depending on what's in the mix. In a way, that's also true of the dynamics between people.

Enough musing, I need to go bathe myself in color in my sewing room and see if I can make any sense of things.