Sunday, February 26, 2006

A special afternoon

The 60th birthday tea for my friend Kathi was wonderful. She's a very sharp lady, and in the past has caught on to almost any surprise someone plans for her. This time we pulled it off. She didn't have a clue. When she walked toward the end of the tea room, we opened the door to our private room and shouted "Surprise!", followed by a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday". She was overwhelmed. She put her hands over her mouth and started to cry. As each of us hugged her the tears streamed down her face. As it turns out she'd started feeling very "down" about being 60, and this definitely made it better.

The tea was wonderful. I can't remember what kind they said it was - I know there was a flower as one of the ingredients - very unusual but very tasty. We ate a salad made from the freshest greens you can imagine, garnished beautifully with cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, and colorful little "crunches" in gold and red. A small cluster of green grapes set in one corner, and two slices of the most marvelous sweet tea bread. My friend Liz, one of our gourmet cooks, said she thought it was Sally Lunn bread. After the salad came the cake - the most incredible cake I've ever had. Slices big enough for a whole meal. It was "Red Velvet" cake, obviously made with the best chocolate available. Just a hint of coffee in the mocha frosting. As they placed each huge slice on the plate they covered the bottom part of the slice - we thought that was VERY clever - with whipped cream flavored with white chocolate, then garnished with a huge, perfect strawberry. I can close my eyes and picture it now - oops! - I'm in danger of drooling all over the keyboard. I've never tasted cake so incredibly rich and moist. I came home and searched through my cookbooks for a recipe, but was unsuccessful. Time for a web hunt I think.

Special times with special friends are the best!

Confession is good for the soul

I admit it. I am a ruler junkie. I love rotary rulers. All kinds of rotary rulers. I have no idea how many I have. They are hanging all over my sewing room wall - two deep in a couple places. I have three slotted ruler holders too. One sits on the end of my cutting table, and two smaller ones sit on one of my storage carts. I need to toss some of them because the corners are nicked from dropping and reckless driving with my cutter, but that would be like tossing an old friend. I used to use Omnigrid rulers because I could see the yellow and black markings so well, but now I'm gradually replacing them with Creative Grid rulers. I'm in love with these rulers because they have little "sticky dots" built right onto the back of the ruler to prevent it from slipping. As the arthritis in my hands developed I found it harder and harder to hold onto a ruler while cutting, and these rulers have solved the problem. It was just like Christmas this week - I got three new ones! Three squares - a 2 1/2", a 3 1/2", and a 16 1/2". (Don't you love 30% off sales?) I firmly believe that "the right tool makes the job easy", and "good tools will last a lifetime". I like to use a ruler that's just the right size for what I'm cutting, so I don't have to try to hold down any extra ruler. I figure if I'm going to spend much of my leisure time quilting I might as well have the best tools I can afford, right?

Any other ruler junkies out there? Time to confess. What's your favorite ruler?

I've been doing mostly appliqué for months now, but the urge to piece has been getting stronger and stronger. Both the Heirloom Stitches and the new Jan Patek mystery are perfect projects for me this year, because they have some of both. I spent yesterday piecing the first three blocks of Heirloom Stitches, and it was so enjoyable! There's just something about hanging a new, beautiful block on my design wall that fills my heart with joy. I keep ducking back into the room for another look. I love the way the colors and designs of the fabric play off each other - sometimes subtle and sometimes with much contrast. Many of you will think I'm nuts, but I love to piece complicated blocks. Sure, I love to piece simple ones too, but there's something very satisfying about getting dozens of little triangles, squares and other shapes to fit together into an aesthetically pleasing whole. These three blocks certainly gave me that. The simplest of the blocks has 28 pieces, and the most complicated has 87 pieces. They aren't big blocks either - two 9" and one 6". It took most of the day to cut them out and put them together, but that hardly matters. As Patty says in her Morning Ramble, many of us are rushing through life at too fast a pace anyway. It's so rewarding to savor each step of the block construction - the way the fabrics feel, the way they play off each other, and feel the joy of seeing all the smaller parts slowly come together to make a beautiful whole.

People who don't quilt just don't know what they are missing, do they?

Friday, February 24, 2006

What an incredible experience!

In a couple of earlier posts I've alluded to a class I signed up to take. It's because of this class that I had to iron the fabrics my dear husband gave me for Christmas, including the Jane Austen fabrics made in England. The first class was last night, so it's time to tell you all about it.

My instructor is Eileen Jahnke Trestain. Eileen is an internationally known textile expert and AQS certified quilt appraiser. She is the author of two books on dating fabrics. We are lucky enough to have her living in our town, where she serves as the textile expert for the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Currently she is directing the construction of new costumes for the dozens of volunteers at the park so they will be much more period correct as to colors and fabrics than they've been in the past. The class I'm taking is called "The Early American Medallion - Pre-1830 Reproduction. We will be meeting once a month for a year, and during this time we will each create a pre-1830 medallion quilt top for ourselves. Three of my friends in the North Star Quilt Guild took the class last year, and their quilt tops are spectacular.

Last night we became "close up and personal" with at least 6-8 quilts and quilt tops from this time period, as well as many authentic antique fabrics from Eileen's collection. I got to hold and examine a French toile de jouy made in the late 1700's. We got to examine "mosaic piecing" - blocks with a center hexagon and two rings of hexagons around the center that were pieced about 1810. These were constructed using English paper piecing, and the paper was still basted to the blocks. The most interesting thing about these blocks was the paper - it was made from linen. Making paper from wood pulp was invented later in the 1800's. Because it was linen the paper was as soft and flexible as the cloth. It was non-acidic so there was no deterioration of the fabrics. The stitches were so tiny it was truly unbelievable. I thought my stitches were tiny - anyone who looks at my applique comments on how very tiny my stitches are - but they would look huge compared to these stitches. I didn't have a ruler with me so I couldn't measure, but I estimate there were at least 30+ stitches to the inch. Their needles must have been really tiny! Another amazing thing about these fabrics is how bright and colorful they were! We tend to think of antique quilts as dull. These were anything but dull! Yes, the purple had faded to brown, and some pinks had faded to brown, and everywhere black dye occurred the fabric was disintegrating because the dye was caustic, but the reds, golds, yellows, and blues were very bright. We were so in awe of what we were seeing! Examining the construction techniques, the fabrics, the threads, the designs - what an incredible learning experience! We learned about various dying and printing techniques from the period - first block printing, then roller printing - about plant dyes like indigo and madder, about cochineal dye made from tiny mites, how fabrics were staked out in the sun to bleach for months, how designs were created using mordants and so much more. I had read about all this in her book before going to class, but hearing it again while actually examining the fabrics and quilts was an incredible experience.

At the end of the 3-hour class we each got our first "kit". These were wrapped in brown paper and tied with cotton string - much like packages might have been wrapped in that era - so no one could tell what they were getting as the kits were passed out. Every "kit" was different with different fabric. Each contained a letter from the person who is "sending" us the fabric. Mine is a four page letter from a husband to his wife, written in a flowing script. It was enclosed in a cream colored envelope sealed with red sealing wax that was stamped with a quill design. It begins "To My Beloved Wife". My "husband" has gone north to Boston to see some land near where my sister and her husband live. He relates the family news and talks about how much he likes the land and how much he hopes the owner will sell. He is unsure, however, because the owner has been "most unreliable" ever since his only son died at Valley Forge. He closes by telling me of his visit to the mercantile owned by a family friend, a Mr. Hobbs. There he saw some beautiful chintz which Mr. Hobbs sold him at a discount, though the cost was still "dear". He thought I could use it in the quilt I talked about making for our own bed. So he has sent the chintz along with the letter and another piece of fabric that I can use with the chintz.

Here is a picture of the contents of my "kit". Also included is a 9-page syllabus to get us started on our way. Next month our "kit" will include more reproduction fabrics - including more chintz - created from designs of that era. The two kits together will be used to make our center. We will receive several possible center designs - both pieced and appliqued, as well as a few templates to use if we decide to create a "tree of life" broiderie perse center. Between now and then I'm going to pour over the pictures in my quilt history and quilt search books to get ideas for my center. I'd like to piece and appliqué the entire quilt by hand, as the sewing machine - as we know it - wasn't invented until after 1840.

Here is an example of the style quilt we will be making. Ours will be 89" square without a final chintz border. If we decide to add a final border it will add about 14-16" in both width and length to the quilt. This picture is from "The American Quilt" by Roderick Kiracofe - a fabulous quilt history book that was hard to find for a long time but has recently been reprinted. This quilt, on page 54, is a circa 1800 quilt made with wood block and roller printed cottons. The center panel is from Hewson Printworks. The quilt is in the collection of America Hurrah.

I can hardly wait to get started!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words

At lunch I reread my post from this morning. Probably didn't make a bit of sense without a picture - especially for those folks who don't applique. So here is a close-up of the banner that's giving me fits. It's a wee bit blurry

Already the three pieces don't look like they connect. The spot I left for the middle part of the banner is too low on the eagle's neck. Argh! I guess I'll be doing some "unsewing".

Friends and Milestones

Every Tuesday night I get together with my special Tangled Threads quilting friends. There are seven of us, though we don't see Peggy very often because she spends much of her time at home in Black Butte, Oregon. We get together to stitch, gab, and eat. (What is it about quilters - they seem to eat as much as they quilt!) Last night we were all together except for my friend Kathi. Kathi turned 60 yesterday, and she and her husband are celebrating with a trip to Vancouver Island, Canada. They will be back Friday night. On Saturday afternoon her husband has arranged for a surprise birthday tea. There will be 17 of us - the Tangled Threads and the women of Kathi's family. What a sweet husband! Tangled Thread Kim pieced little signature star blocks for us all to sign last night, and has pieced enough more for everyone else at the party to sign. Tangled Thread Sue will take a picture of the group on Saturday which she'll print on fabric. The little star blocks will surround the picture of the group in a memory quilt for Kathi. I consider myself so very blessed to have such wonderful friends as these!

Last night I continued working on the appliqué eagle block for my Heirloom Stitches quilt. (I should have taken a picture of it but I didn't think of it - I'll post one later.) This eagle has a cloth banner in its beak. Part of the banner goes behind the eagle's head and another part behind the eagle's body, but the center part goes on top of the bottom part of the eagle's beak. I've been struggling to position the banner correctly so it looks like all the pieces are connected, and struggling to get it under the top part of the beak but on top of the bottom part of the beak. This center section is very small, and my fingers are just too large to position it just right. I finally put it away, figuring I could do better with a pair of tweezers to when I got home. As I was driving home I had one of those "Aha!" moments! An easy solution occurred to me - so easy I actually said "Well, duh!" out loud to myself in the car. The problem is that I didn't figure it out sooner - it's too late now. Why oh why when I traced that banner did I trace it in three separate pieces? Why didn't I just trace it as one piece? That way I wouldn't have had to worry about positioning the pieces so they looked attached! And I wouldn't be trying to hang onto this tiny middle piece! It would have been so easy! But now, with both ends of the banner already appliquéd into place it's too late. I need to make sure to tuck this "lesson learned" somewhere in this brain so I can pull it out again when needed. That's the scary part of getting older - I tuck things like this into my brain that never again see the light of day!

Monday, February 20, 2006

UFT to the finished top stage!

Finished sewing together the 2005 Jan Patek mystery quilt. I really wanted to get this one together before my next installment of the 2006 mystery quilt comes in the mail. What a good feeling to add another finished top to my stack of tops to quilt. It would be better of course if they were all quilted, but this is still making progress. It's going to be so much fun to mark that one off my list!

I'm posting pictures of both the finished top and some of the blocks I really like. I particularly like the pinwheel block. Not sure why - I usually don't care for asymmetrical things - but I really like it. I want to do a whole scrappy quilt of pinwheel blocks like this one. I also like the pieced basket. I like the fact that the basket is made of three different prints. I think it would make a great quilt also.

Now on to piecing some of my Heirloom Stitches blocks. Both January and February mailings are here - and I really want to have those six blocks finished before the next one gets here!

A Quilty Weekend

Where did the time go? I see I've not posted since last Wednesday. I know I've been focused on quilting - guess I just didn't have much to report until now. After all, a post is much better with pictures, right?

Thursday evening found me with no commitments - the first time since Monday. So I went back to ironing fabric. The same for Friday, on which day I finally found the bottom of the pile. What a relief - now I can go back to stitching! First I needed to get ready for North Star Quilters' (my small guild) sew in on Saturday. Since Saturday was the national Make a Blanket Day for Project Linus we all got together to make baby and child quilts for charity. I did a fast quilt-as-you-go with novelty and brights from my stash, and by the end of the day it was finished except for sewing on part of the binding. Busted stash for the back also - but discovered one strip off of 15 or so half yards and yards does not make a visible depletion to the stash! I need to find time to make a bunch more of these as they are fast and a great way to give to charity.

Sunday I focused on getting the 2005 Jan Patek mystery quilt sewn together. I cut out the sashing more than a week ago but got distracted by pretreating fabrics. I did a marathon watching of all three Lord of the Rings movies (extended versions) while I sewed, then appliquéd six of the final 11 stars onto the sashing. I was saving the final applique to do this morning, so spent the evening stitching the first three blocks (January's mailing) for the 2006 mystery quilts. Here are the three Cat's Cradle blocks. February's block is an appliqué - it's shown on Jan's website - but I don't have that mailing yet.

This morning I appliqued the last 5 stars while I watched a bunch of Simply Quilts and Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting. We got a new DVR cable box for Christmas, so I'm able to record all of them by registering for a season's pass. I think there were about 12 episodes in all, but I only watched the ones that really interested me. Several were on art quilts - I deleted those. Now I'm ready to stitch the rest of it together. I really like this quilt - I wasn't sure if I would. I'll post a picture as soon as I finish - and that will mean I can cross off one of the UFT's and put it into the stack of finished tops waiting to be quilted.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rats and double rats!

They've removed the "S" word from our weather forecast. Now Friday is supposed to be windy and sunny with a high of 32 degrees. Apparently something is either holding the warm moist air off the coast of causing it to go to the north or south of us.

They promise me snow at least 2-3 times a winter but it hardly ever happens. Rats and double rats!

I guess the plants will be happier. :-)

Another UFO

Today I'll share another one of my UFO's. This one has no problem or challenge associated with it - it's just a UFO I've not gotten to yet.

This was a 4" block exchange with the same group of online friends that did the fall Around the Block. One of our group members has worked on 4" exchange blocks at two of the retreats that she got in a couple different swaps. We liked hers so well we wanted to do a similar exchange so we'd have little blocks to play with too. I just need to figure out what to do with mine. You can tell I did the tiny green star blocks because there is more than one of them.. I like how my friend Robin used hers as block centers for the large double sawtooth star blocks. I'm hoping to do something similar by finding a different block with a 4" square in the middle of it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The "S" word

Here in the Pacific Northwest we hardly ever hear the "S" word - at least along the west side of the mountains. Being in Vancouver we can get very cold east winds through the Columbia River gorge, but they are usually accompanied by crisp blue skies and cold temperatures. If by any chance they meet a moist low pressure system coming in from the ocean the precipitation almost always falls as freezing rain. Every winter I have "snow envy" of all my friends around the country who see the beautiful white stuff every winter. I can almost count on one hand the times we've had a good snow that lasted more than a couple hours in the almost 32 years we've lived in this house.

A couple January's ago we got such a snowfall - so bad that they even closed the credit union where I work for two days. We got 8-10
inches of snow, which was immediately followed by freezing rain. Of course my hubby always gets it off - as soon as the bad weather starts school is cancelled. I've posted a few pictures of that time. It's so rare I run around like a idiot snapping pictures to save for posterity. The bushes and trees were all covered with a thick layer of ice, and we had icicles 8-10" long hanging all around our roofline.

Well . . . the weather forecasters are using the "S" word now. Biggest chance is for Friday. I'll believe it when I see it. Often when snow is promised us nothing happens. But I've got my fingers crossed. You'll know if it actually happens - you'll be able to hear me singing and doing a happy dance. Unfortunately there will be plant damage if it gets really cold and stays for awhile, but it's highly unlikely that will happen. Our forsythia is bursting into bloom and the early crocus and snowdrops by the front walk have been blooming for a week. Most everyone around here hates snow - no one knows how to drive in it and with lots and lots of hills it makes getting around difficult. But I don't care - I'll shout it to the rooftops - I LOVE SNOW!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Just checking in to wish everyone a happy day filled with love and caring.

Tonight my little Tangled Threads quilt group is holding it's third annual "Valentine's Bunco Party" for our spouses. I need to come up with an appetizer. This is a group filled with gourmet cooks so we eat really, really well. I'm not at all creative in that department, and since I must work all day I think I'm going to fall back on spinach dip and chips. I'll let the others bring the baked brie in fillo dough, the roasted elephant garlic, and the lobster dip. See what I mean by eating well?

Still ironing fabrics. I need to get all the new Jo Morton fabrics ready for making the Little Women's Club quilts, as I got the first club installment in the mail on Saturday. It's a cute little flying geese doll-sized quilt with starts in the corner. And my Jane Austen fabrics need to be ready for the 19th century medallion class I'm staring on February 23. I'll say one thing - this has certainly cured me of buying fabrics for awhile!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Just a nice day

I had a nice productive Saturday quilt-wise, even though I didn't do any sewing.

Meet Gandalf, my Proto Stitch Wizard.

After getting my hair cut I drove about 80 miles north on I-5 to the SW Washington longarm group meeting in Centralia. Due to my schedule I'd not been to a meeting since early August. I spent part of August, all of September and most of October quilting a king size customer quilt that was giving me fits. I was tired of quilting when I finally got that monster done, as I spent more time ripping out my errors than actually quilting (I'm still new at this and constantly learning). I did a couple charity quilts but hadn't touched the machine since early December. It needed some maintenance done, and I'm still not at all comfortable with the mechanical demands of a longarm. I needed something to get me excited about quilting again, and hoped the meeting would do that. I'm happy to say "mission accomplished". I came back with renewed enthusiasm. The maintenance that needed doing turned out to be very easy to do. Now I'm all ready to tackle the customer quilt that's been half pinned on the machine since early December (thank goodness my friend Sue is in no hurry at all to get that quilt back).

After dinner I went back to pressing more of the fabrics I pretreated Friday night. This is always a very sobering experience - it makes it VERY easy to swear off shopping for awhile - especially when I'm trying to find room on the shelves for the new additions. Unfortunately the feeling never lasts nearly long enough! I told my husband the next time I tell him I'm ordering fabrics for him to give me for my birthday or Christmas he needs to tell me "No!"

I'm trying to keep some of them separate this time, with the new Jo Morton fabrics in one stack and the Jane Austen fabrics in another. I'll share why in another post.
I shook out all the fabrics still waiting for washing - they were still in neat piles (more or less) from the shops - and separated them by color. When spread over the floor of the hall it looks like they've been multiplying when we were asleep. I couldn't possibly have this many new fabrics, could I? While I was pressing them my husband said "someone has made a nest here". I turned around and there was Shadow, nestled in the middle of the stack. It's impossible to be mad at him when he's so darn cute!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ideas, anyone?

I'd like to pick your brains for ideas for my first UFT. This is the autumn Around the Block - #3 on my list. This project involved several Internet friends from around the Pacific Northwest. We first met on Pat Sloan's list, but soon formed our own group. We meet somewhere the twice a year for a 4 day retreat, and have done quite a few block exchanges, etc. together.

Here's how an Around the Block -a type of round robin - works. Each person makes a starting block and bastes it onto a grid wherever they want it. The project is circulated among the group, with each person responsible for "filling" a certain number of squares in the grid. Blocks are basted on as the project circulates, and each participant must choose from the squares left when deciding what blocks to make. Already made blocks can't be moved, so sometimes one is doing something long and skinny, sometimes a lot of little blocks, but rarely a nice large square block after the first few rounds.

Here is the block I started with. I asked for warm, autumn colors and an autumn theme.

Here is what it looks like after everyone's contribution. Every single one a wonderful addition, but what in heavens name was my one friend thinking about when she used the blue batik background? It's a wonderful fabric and a wonderful contribution, but that blue doesn't "go" at all. Her's was the second addition, so she obviously could tell the color was very different. When I got it back at our retreat last fall she apologetically said "I probably shouldn't have used the blue but it was such a beautiful piece of fabric that I decided to use it anyway." I just smiled and said I agreed - it was a beautiful piece of fabric.

Here is a close-up of her contribution. I wish all the people who added blocks after hers would have recognized the problem and added some bright blue touches, but that didn't happen.

They must all think I need an additional challenge too - you can see three places where I'll need to do a set-in seam. That doesn't bother me, but I've never seen an Around the Block come back to someone that way!

I need to make more additions that contain a similar blue that can be spread throughout the piece to balance out this block. I thought I'd separate the two strips of wonky flying geese and put them in two different places. I can also separate the bear paw blocks and spread them out. Then I can either do some new applique blocks that include the blue, piece more filled blocks that include the blue, or both. This was supposed to be at least a finished top by the next retreat - which is the last weekend of next month. That isn't going to happen!

Ideas anyone?

Thursday, February 9, 2006

UFO's and UFT's

I called 2003 the "Year of UFO's". I put all my UFO's on a spreadsheet. There were 76! I'd known it was bad, but that bad? So I sorted through things. One finished top was sold and three were given away for charity. Six tops were finished, and three different sets of orphan blocks were made into drawstring laundry bags and pajama bags and given as gifts.

The beginning of 2004 I started with 63 UFO's - much better but still too many. I needed to do something more drastic. I sorted again - this time more ruthlessly. I packaged up three sets of blocks and put them in the quilt show bazaar - they sold right away. Two class projects that consisted of a partially finished block each were discarded. Nine sets of blocks and finished tops were donated to charity. Eleven tops were finished, including seven that I sent to a longarmer in order to get them done. Of course I started projects that year also - eleven of them! Two of those I also finished, but nine of them remained UFO's at the end of 2004.

So the beginning of 2005 I was the proud possessor of 51 UFO's. Still not good, but a definite improvement. I went through everything again, but wanted to keep all of these. I started only two new projects in 2005, and those were online group projects being completed month to month. You've seen them - Friendship Garden and Primitive Primer. I was becoming more comfortable with my longarm, but already had customer tops to do so had a hard time doing my own. I finished only five UFO's that year, and ended the year with 46.

Now in 2006 I've decided I'm tired of calling each year the "Year of the UFO's". I know my finished tops will eventually get done - I've done my best to put a stop to customer quilts for the time being so I can do my own. Instead I'm going to call 2006 the "Year of the UFT's". That's unfinished tops in English. All but 17 of my UFO's are finished tops, so I'm going to focus on the ones that aren't. I want to complete tops with at least 4 different sets of friendship and exchange blocks, and finish other tops that need only a border to complete. One project is a single block - Sunbonnet Sue Around the Year - which is a cute quilt but will also make a cute finished pillow! So to help me focus I've listed my UFT's on my side bar.

This year I did succumb to temptation and began four new projects - all with an online group that are being done like BOM's. These are all the new ones I'm starting (with the exception of what I'll do in a wonderful class I start on February 23rd - I'll fill you in after the first class). I listed these four on my side bar also.

I want to play with strings and scrap things too - but until I actually start that I won't put them on the list. And I don't know whether I'll consider them to be true UFO's because I'll be using orphan things from my scrap boxes of strips, squares, half square triangle squares and strings. Because - all work and no play makes Patti a dull girl!

And all of this was probably WAY more than you ever wanted to know!

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Back to our regularly scheduled program ....

of sharing my quiltmaking.

I'll start with Sunday's purchases. My list said "plaids and stripes for borders and backgrounds" and that was it. I had two quilts in particular that I was buying for, but I'm always on the lookout for good plaids and stripes to add to the stash. As you can see in the picture I found lots of them. I did cave in and get one fat quarter bundle - a collection of old Brannock and Patek jacquard weave fabrics. (Did I spell that correctly? I don't think so!) I'm a sucker for fabrics tied up with ribbon - but it was 50% off so I figured that made it OK, right?

Notice to all you bright color lovers - you're going to think my purchases are UGLY - but I love them!I couldn't get Shadow the dog to move so I just took the picture with him in it. These fabrics were added to the stuff already waiting to be washed, ironed and put into the stash - fabrics that dear hubby gave me for Christmas plus other things I couldn't resist. Discovering Z&S Fabrics online played havoc with my resolution to buy no more "I know I'll need this someday" fabrics. I used to be safe as long as I stayed away from quilt shops - not any more. These days for Christmas and my birthday I just order what I want, hand him the unopened box to him to wrap, and then wait until the special day to see the fabrics in person. He loves it because he doesn't have to shop, and I love it because I can justify getting the fabrics want that way. (I'm SO bad!) So here are two more pictures of "stash additions waiting to be washed".

My current project is finishing my Jan Patek mystery quilt. I have all the blocks done - you can see them waiting to be set together. I like to put finished blocks on a skirt hanger in the closet as it keeps them from getting wrinkled and lost.Currently I'm cutting out all the stashing strips, which are many different lengths and widths because the blocks are many different sizes. Three of the sashing strips need stars appliquéd onto them, which is the last appliqué I need to do for this quilt. These are setting on my big board. I don't know how I ever managed without the big board. My very sweet son-in-law made it for me for Christmas a couple years ago.

I still have lots of sashing strips to cut, but have my little quilt group meeting tonight so will be appliquéing stars instead. Thought you might like to see my makeshift cutting table. It's the closet door sitting on top of two crudely made (by me) wooden risers, which in turn sit on top of a bunch of plastic cubes that I've had for over 30 years. It's tall enough so I don't ever have a backache from cutting, and it's big enough for a big project. I love it!

This is my third post for today - I think that's probably more than enough!

Still more

There have been so many positive comments about Jo's little quilts that I thought you'd like to see more.

Kathie, Jo's already recreated that little star quilt you want to do with the poison green background. Isn't it great?Four patch on point - so very simple yet so very effective.

We saw many of Jo's log cabins - here is one of them. I like the way she did the border on this one.

Just a simple nine patch on point, but doesn't it look terrific with that star block in the middle? What a great way to use an "orphan" block!

Another four patch, but it looks so different with the strippy setting. And I LOVE the cheddar background!

I'm having a love affair with cheddars, poison greens and chrome yellows right now. Used like this they can make a new quilt look really old.

More by Jo Morton

Kathie, I can see you drooling all over your screen! So I'll just taunt you some more and post more pictures of Jo's quilts.

Just in case I wasn't clear about this yesterday - these are all Jo Morton's quilts. She does a wonderful lecture on decorating a home with little quilts that is illustrated by many slides of her home. Then she shows all her wonderful little quilts. I think I took a picture of every single one of them.

This is Emma's Quilt. This was the other class I took from Jo. Her new quilt Emma's Courtyard is based on this design.

I just love little basket quilts, and this one is no exception. I think this block is actually called "Cake Stand", and is one of the simplest basket blocks to do.

Birds in the Air. Another great one for using up extra half square triangle squares.

The humble nine patch is still one of my favorites - especially when set in the double nine patch setting.Album Cross, another fabulous little scrappy quilt.

At the shop I went to on Sunday they had at least 20 or more little 16" x 20" quilts hanging. They were all Lori Smith patterns - she's come out with several more patterns with 12 little quilts in each one. I'm so eager to do some of these. Even with the arthritis in my hands I can still handquilt something this small.

One of these days - in the meantime it's "back to the salt mines" for me!

Monday, February 6, 2006

Little Quilts

I was chatting with Lucy about her little quilts, and told her that I'd been lucky enough to take two days of classes with Jo Morton. Jo gets her inspiration from small antique quilts - doll and baby size - and reproduces them in today's fabrics. She is a wonderful teacher, and I spent two wonderful days with her. Lucy made me promise to post a few pictures of Jo's quilts. I tried last Friday but blogger kept eating the pictures, so I saved the post as a draft to post to on Saturday, and blogger ate the draft also.

This is "Rebecca's Baskets" - one of the classes I took from Jo. This one is all hand pieced, appliqued and quilted.

I loved this little postage stamp quilt. The border fabric gives such wonderful movement to the quilt.

This Eagle Medallion was one of my favorites. The border does go all the way around - I just managed to cut it off in my picture. Broken dishes is a scrap pattern than I will definitely do one of these days. I figure it is a great way to use up left over half square triangle squares. Another wonderful eagle medallion.

She showed at least 40 marvelous little quilts in her lecture. I'll post more pictures tomorrow. Lucy, these are especially for you!

Checking In

Thought I'd better check in to let everyone know I survived Friday. My back sure ached when I got home. This body is too old for 8.5 hours on my feet with just one short break for lunch. Don't' know why I thought it would be slow - it was Friday after all. I worked drive up, and the stream of cars hardly let up all day. I did balance however - whoopee! I'm sure glad I don't do that every day anymore - even though I really enjoyed the chance to talk to members again.

I wrote a post on Friday night but saved it as a draft because blogger was "eating" my pictures again. When I got up on Saturday I discovered it "ate" my post also, because my draft was no longer there. I meant to post again but got wrapped up with reading blogs until I decided I'd better get into the quilt room and get to work.

I went to the Super Bowl sale at my favorite shop yesterday morning and really didn't do badly. Most everything I bought was a "B" - background and borders. I couldn't pass up packs of Moda 6" squares and a few little rolls of fat quarters at half off, but otherwise was very good. It still came to about $130, but that's low for me when I shop there - especially since I've not been there since last August.

I did get the last of the blocks finished for my Jan Patek mystery quilt - now to set it all together. I must check the math on her sashing measurements first, because I've learned the hard way that math isn't her strong point. It helps when all the measurements add up correctly across all areas of the quilt! Hopefully I can get that set together this week - I'll post a picture when I'm done.

And now back to reality - it's really Monday morning and I MUST get ready for work.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Scary day today

Working from 9:00 to 6:00 today - very different from my usual 7:00-4:00. I manage staff development and training at a large local credit union, but today I'm going to be a teller. We have a branch closing so most of the staff has moved on to other positions inside and outside the organization. They are down to only one employee - the branch manager. People from other branches have been filing, but all branches are short today because of training my assistant is doing. So I'm going to be behind teller row helping members. I've not done that for over 8 years! A lot has changed, and I've kept up with most things since I'm responsible for seeing that all new staff are properly trained, but it's still going to be a huge challenge. I sure hope I balance at the end of the night - wish me luck!

I think I must be at least partly insane. Last night I committed to leading a round robin for my little guild. About 12 want to participate but only one has ever done this before. It's all new to the others. As leader I figure I should participate also. I hope I can find a suitable orphan to be the center of mine so I don't have to make something else!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

A red and white month?

I can't believe Valentine's Day is in less than two weeks. Where is 2006 flying to? The older I get the faster time flies.

I have two quilts I put out for Valentine's Day. The first one is a class sample that seems so boring to me now because the fabrics are so limited. But it works for the holiday so I hang it up until I get around the make something better.
The second quilt is a nine patch with hearts appliquéd in the alternate blocks. I guess I'll need to take a picture of that one.

I fell in love with a red and white quilt at our guild's 2004 quilt show. I've been collecting red and white fabrics ever since so I could make one for myself. I have a big basket full now - maybe this month would be a good time to start it. I think I'll choose a different block - if I do baskets I know there are blocks I like better than this one. I think I'd set them on point also so the baskets aren't "tilted". I just love how fresh and crisp this looks - like redwork. It'll be a perfect Valentine's quilt someday.

It's late - I need to get to bed. 5:00 a.m. comes early!