Friday, October 31, 2008

Let Me Eat Cake!

Today, at 12:35 PM East Coast Time, I will officially be "in my 50s". That doesn't sound too bad. Yes, this is a cake...or at least, that's what this website claims. For a treat, take a look at the other very creative cakes shown there.

Please join me in having a piece of "virtual birthday cake"!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Square and Triangles

Many of these blocks are starting to look alike...a center square with 4 triangle corners...I'm amazed at the number of variations that Jane Stickle came up with. This is "L-11 Caitlin's Rose", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. It wasn't very hard at all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One Week To Go and I Still Get on My Soapbox Once in a While

One week from Election Day 2008, I have to remind myself that for every American who believes in this message...

There are LOTS more who believe in this message...


...even Pennsylvanians!

So please, when you go and vote on November 4th, vote for your candidate (whoever that may be) because of the issues that are important to you and your country's future, not because of rumors or lies or blind hatred or fear. Vote because you are informed, vote because you care about ALL of your fellow Americans.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Y-Seams Bugged Me

This is "E-4 Buffalo Tree Hopper", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. This block requires more attention and care than the previous block I made, yet both are labeled intermediate. I wouldn't agree, but then, I didn't write the book/software... Although the pieces are not small, there are several set-in seams (also known as Y-seams) that take a little time to handle correctly. Mine are far from perfect, but I'm pleased with the results. I usually try to avoid set-in seams if at all possible. (see my post about this block).

Apparently, the buffalo tree hopper does exist in Pennsylvania. I made the block before I looked up what a buffalo tree hopper is; I should have reversed the colors on this one...
P.S. Sorry about the pun in the title...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Did A Bomb Go Off In Here?

This is what my basement quilting studio looked like for most of this weekend as I was deciding on fabric to use for a backing on a child's quilt. I have a lot of odd-shaped pieces that are not quite big enough to use alone as a backing, so I spent way too much valuable time trying to decide on whether I should piece a backing with some of the odd-shaped pieces. Nothing was working right and after deciding that the time that I would need to spend piecing was not worth it, I just picked another fabric that was big enough, even though it was a bit boring. By boring I mean that it was not as kid-friendly as some of the smaller pieces. The front of the quilt is very kid-friendly and I will quilt it with a fun quilting design that will show up on the back.

Now I have to put this fabric away....

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Easy One

I thought I had already done all the easy paper-pieced blocks, but found this one yesterday. It only took me about half an hour, and that includes selecting the fabrics and ripping the paper off of the back. I'm not sure why the software labels it as an intermediate-level block. The name of the block is "L-7 Town Square". My adopted town of Wellsboro has a lovely square which is called The Green with a statue of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (see the photo on the sidebar to my blog). The poem by Eugene Field is one of my favorites.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 't was a dream they 'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea---
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Birds Of A Feather

Several years ago, I found a pattern for this quilt in Quiltmaker magazine. The bird blocks look like they are paper-pieced, but they are actually made out of squares and triangles with a few odd-shaped pieces thrown in. I made templates out of template plastic for those.
I raided my stash to find fabrics that I could use to make the blocks look like birds that come to our feeders here in north-central Pennsylvania. It won a ribbon in our small county fair, but I was a bit disappointed to see it hanging vertically rather than horizontally, so the birds looked quite strange. They weren't even recognizable as birds unless you tilted your head sideways! I guess the fair organizers were trying to save valuable hanging space...

I had initially made the quilt in the above picture for my own house (my husband is an avid birder), but decided to sell it (with my husband's OK) during my guild's exhibit in 2004. Someone else saw the quilt and asked if I could make them one as well. So, in the early spring of 2005 I completed my first (and I think only) commission quilt.

The birds are a Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Eastern Bluebird, Tufted Titmouse, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, and Blue Jay.
The quilt below was actually the first one that I had made from the pattern back in late 2002 for my college roommate and dear friend Holly. The photo was taken with an old digital camera, so the quality is so-so.
Someday I hope to get around to making another one that we will keep!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Winter Is Coming

The forecast is for snow showers and very chilly temperatures today, so I guess the days of cabin fever are approaching.

This is "A-9 Cabin Fever", an advanced-level paper-pieced block. Yes, some of the pieces are quite small, but it wasn't all that difficult because the center block is done as one section. The only seams to match are on the outer strips.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall

I think I've finally gotten myself into the habit of making sure I mirror the patterns for the blocks which require it. Pinwheel blocks (at least in the DJ software) are notorious for spinning the wrong way when paper pieced as set in the software's default setting. I now try to check the "mirror" option even if the block doesn't require it because it does no harm to the "normal" blocks.

This is "M-9 Fan Dance" an intermediate paper-pieced block. The pieces aren't that small, but I think the reason it's labeled as intermediate is because of the fairly large number of seams to be matched. Otherwise, it's fairly easy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Musical Break

This is Cathy Miller, the Singing Quilter. Our guild was fortunate to have her perform for us in person in 2007. What a treat.

Just click the arrow on the video above -- the first 10 seconds are a bit messed up, but it clears up quickly.

Enjoy!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Coffee Break

At this month's meeting of my guild's DJ group, I "won" this great mug. My thanks to my quilting friend Dori who picked this up while seeing Jane Stickle's original quilt at the Bennington Museum just a couple of weeks ago. I'm envious that Dori got to see the quilt in person...maybe someday she'll organize a group trip up there (hint, hint, Dori...I know you're reading...) This mug is from Needles, the local fabric shop in Wellsboro. The owners, Katie and Mary, are great people to know and are always very supportive of our guild's activities. Thank you's go to them for always having a smile when a customer comes in (even if we don't always buy something).
This is my afternoon tea mug. It reminds me of the old sewing machine that I inherited from my maternal grandmother (mentioned in this post). My grandmother, like many Russians, loved her tea.
This is another favorite coffee mug of mine...I bought it while attending the 2007 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. That was an unforgettable trip.
And lastly, this is one of my travel coffee mugs...also bought in Sisters.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Honor... (Warning...Politics Involved)

I need to keep busy sewing in order to keep my mind off of the fact that our country still has people who see nothing wrong with saying things like the following -- (taken from a transcript of some comments made about Senator Obama by some of those attending a Governor Palin rally on Oct 12, 2008 in rural Ohio) :

"I'm afraid if he wins, the black [sic] will take over. He's not a Christian! This is a Christian nation! What is our country gonna end up like?"

"When you got a Negro running for president, you need a first stringer. He's definitely a second stringer."

"He seems like a sheep - or a wolf in sheep's clothing to be honest with you. And I believe Palin - she's filled with the Holy Spirit, and I believe she's gonna bring honesty and integrity to the White House."

"He's related to a known terrorist, for one."

"He is friends with a terrorist of this country!"

"He must support terrorists! You know, uh, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. And that to me is Obama."

"Just the whole, Muslim thing, and everything, and everybody's still kinda - a lot of people have forgotten about 9/11, but... I dunno, it's just kinda... a little unnerving."

"Obama and his wife, I'm concerned that they could be anti-white. That he might hide that."

I cannot believe that I am hearing this in 2008 in the USA at a sanctioned event of one of our VP candidates! It's not being said in the middle of the night in the deep South of the 1950s by some in white robes and masks while burning crosses, but by Americans attending an official political rally in the 21st century! And they don't mind being videotaped while they say it! And it angers me that the candidates don't come right out and explain to their supporters that these kinds of comments and beliefs do not do our country any good.

How the heck do I explain this to my 16-year-old son?

So, in order to remind myself that there are still some honorable people in this country, (on both sides of the political divide, I might add), I made "K-9 Scout's Honor", a beginner-level paper-pieced block.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rainy Day Blues

Yesterday was a glorious fall day here in north-central PA, but I spent most of the day indoors with several of my quilting friends working on charity quilts. The house where we sew, however, lets us enjoy the sunshine and sew at the same time. Showers have arrived today, so the colors in the photo seem appropriate. By the end of the day, we had finished several tops that will be turned into finished Project Linus quilts in memory of a young local toddler who passed away recently and whose mother coordinates the local county Project Linus program. The picture shows 3 of the tops ready to go with batting and backing to volunteers from our guild who will quilt and bind them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Disease Is Spreading

I have quite a few other projects that I really should be working on, but the DJ blocks keep calling my name. This is starting to become a disease -- I think it's spreading from next door...my neighbor is also a member of the Laurel Janes and she will probably be the first of our group to be a Dear Jane Goddess. Her work is amazing.

So, in order to control my disease, I made "A-4 Courtney's Stethoscope", another intermediate-level paper-pieced block.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No Snow Yet

Although this is "L-2 Stephanie's Snowflake", it certainly didn't feel like snow when I was working on it. I think the temperature was in the low 70s yesterday and today is supposed to be warm as well. The fall colors in this part of Pennsylvania are especially brilliant this year due to the great weather we've had -- bright sunny days with cool nights. We do need some more rain, so I hope we'll get it once the leaves come down.

If you look closely, you'll see that I sewed the outside triangle sections in the wrong order -- that's why the strips are a tad too short in the center of all four edges. That will easily be taken care of once I sew the block to the sashing.

The software labeled this as an advanced-level block, but I didn't think it was too hard. So far I think I've finished 7 of the 26 advanced-level center blocks. I suspect a good number of the rest are applique blocks...bummer.
P.S. I want to thank quilt designer Patrick Lose for leaving a comment on yesterday's post. It's nice to see that designers are interested in how quilters use their patterns.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fun Baby Quilt

I made this quilt in mid-2002 for the arrival of my husband's first granddaughter. The hearts and stars are applied with raw-edge machine applique and the rest of the machine quilting varies from block to block. In some places I quilted rays, in others wavy lines, and hearts in some others. Again, I used monofilament thread (I was getting quite predictable).
The pattern is from a book called Patrick Lose's Special Delivery Quilts.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friends and Fabric...What Could Be Better?

I think everyone who attended yesterday's mini-retreat agrees that it was a great way to spend a Saturday. Many projects were either completed or well on the way to being completed. We had tablerunners, baby quilts, bags, hot pads, and I managed to whip up 10 Christmas pillowcases for the young grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews on my husband's side of the family. I think you can tell by all the smiles that we really enjoyed ourselves, even with all the troubling things happening in our world. Some of us may be having financial or health issues and some may just be worried about the state of things, but yesterday gave us a chance to forget about the negatives and concentrate on the positives. Great weather, great friends, and great fabric!
I can't wait until we do this again...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gone For The Day

I'm off on a mini-retreat with 19 other quilt guild members today. We'll be sewing like mad from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. I suppose we will find time to eat the pot-luck lunch that's planned.

In the meantime, here is "G-2 Mohawk Trail", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. I don't really care for my fabric choices, but I can live with it. The block is really quite easy; just remember to print a mirror image if using the software. Otherwise, it won't look like Jane's.

Friday, October 10, 2008

As Promised...

This could be better, a lot better, but it will do. I used the "freezer paper on top" method for this block, which did make it a bit easier to turn the fabric under; however, I did find that it was a bit more difficult to place the pieces exactly where I wanted them to be. They are supposed to all meet in the center, but as you can tell, they don't.

Anyway, this is "E-1 Aunt Exie's Phlox", a beginner-level applique block.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Still No Applique

Although it is an advanced-level paper-pieced block, "F-2 Kaleidoscope" wasn't too difficult to make. However, because of the angles and some matching of seams, it is not for those who are just starting to paper piece. Be sure to cut your fabric pieces for the small triangles large enough -- the angles can fool the eye.

I did work on an applique block at Monday's meeting of the Laurel Janes, but it's not quite finished...maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Anniversary

"Love does not just consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."

--- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince

It's hard to believe, but it's been exactly 19 years since we said "I do". Happy Anniversary to me and my best friend. We're still on the same journey...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Month Has Flown By

I can't believe that it is time again for the monthly meeting of the Laurel Janes. I have a block ready for some applique work that I will take with me to the meeting. Maybe I'll finish it today, maybe not.

In the meantime, here is "K-10 Quandry" (yes, that is how it is spelled in the software), an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. I'm glad I found the Dear Baby Jane blog so I can get hints from someone who is actually making the blocks. That's where I was reminded to print out a mirror image for paper piecing if I wanted my block to look like Jane's. The author of this blog does a wonderful job showing the steps in how she makes her DJ blocks. She doesn't always follow the directions in the software, but finds what works best for her. I highly recommend the blog to anyone who is working on the DJ blocks.