Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Desktop Calendar

This month, as we celebrate the 238th birthday of our nation, we should all reflect on this statement made by one of our Founding Fathers:

"My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!"Thomas Jefferson

Remember how our nation came to be and at what cost and know that it can all be gone in a generation if we don't pass on its truths to our children and grandchildren.


May God Bless America

Thursday, June 5, 2014

CabinQuilter - a Decade Later

I just realized that today is June 5, 2014 - ten years to the day of two memorable happenings:
The death of my hero
1911-2004
Rest in Peace, Mr. President, and thank you.

And that was also the day my Nolting Pro 24 longarm was delivered. I didn't really feel like dealing with it, but I had to. After it was set up, and with about 30 minutes of introductions, we got acquainted with each other. And one of my first practice pieces that day was an homage to President Reagan. I stitched his name, birthdate, death date, his years as president - everything I could think of. I threw that practice piece away many years ago, but not before I cut out that section. I looked for it today, and found all kinds of stuff I haven't seen in years, but alas, that piece wasn't one of them. It'll pop up tomorrow, I'm sure.
I spent the next month quilting about 10 hours every day - when I decide to do something, I do it! I quilted up all my quilt tops that had been patiently waiting their turn, and this was the first one:
I ditched the border and freehanded it. Don't remember what I quilted in the body of the quilt, and it's in South Carolina right now, so I can't take a peek. The photo quality is pretty poor, too. But that's because I'm a quilter, not a photographer!
A month later, right after I finished up my own tops, I had my first customer. Peggy and I knew each other from an online quilting group, and were surprised that we lived so close to each other. (Only in Texas is 1+ hrs away "close.") She brought me one of her quilts and trusted it to me. I was petrified of working on someone else's quilt, but Peggy trusted me and I turned out this:
I used variegated thread and a panto called Wildflower. We both breathed a sigh of relief when it was finished without any disasters. Well, I don't know if Peggy was worried, but I sure was!
Peggy and I have both grown in our quilt-related expertise, and she now owns Connect the Blocks an online quilt shop based in Ohio. (Yes, she left Texas about 4 years ago :sniff:)

Since then, I've quilted hundreds of quilts, broken a dozen or so needles, thrown my machine out of time twice, soldered a new switch and adjusted the motor myself, gone through miles and miles of thread, cleaned out enough lint to stuff a mattress, ripped out yards of stitching that took 5 minutes to put in (and 13 hours to take out), pulled many an all-nighter, and stormed out of my studio in disgust too many times to remember. Some days you're dancing with a best friend, and some days you're fighting with the devil.
And sometimes, when you think you've done a decent job with a new border idea for a Texas A&M grad's quilt, your 10 year old comes in and says, "Momma, did you mean to make it say that??"
Note to self: a Greek Key design needs to have three legs not two. Otherwise it ends up saying FU FU FU. That one took many long, angry, tearful hours to rip out. 
Since that time, I've done work for several famous quilters and been featured in a few books! The first one was Broken Rainbows, made for a special exhibit during the International Quilt Festival in 2001.
The exhibit was in response to the attacks of September 11th - we only had a few weeks to get our quilts made and delivered to the Quilts, Inc offices in Houston. Later, the quilts were the basis of the book, "America: From the Heart" by Karey Bresenham.
I've done several quilts for two of RaNae Merrill's books, "Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts" and "Magnificent Mandala Spiral Quilts." Both of these were on the covers, with more inside.

I would have to say that the most fun I've had quilting for a book would have to be the two quilts I did from start to finish for Irena Bluhm's book, "Quilts of a Different Color." 
"Bluhm Where You Are Planted"
"Shades of Tiffany"
"Tiffany" was quilted on white sateen (same for back) and has an inner layer of a very bright multicolored batik fabric that shows when the quilt is back lit. It's awesomely gorgeous, if I do say so myself!
The quilt really is square, but the wind was blowing and I took what I could get. See the dead grass at the bottom? It's all about priorities!
From the first quilt to the most recent:
"Strawberry Baskets" won 1st Place, Applique in our guild's show, and was also chosen for the Judge's Choice award. I was going to see if I could get it juried into Houston this year, but I missed the deadline. That's me - a day late and a dollar short. :^/

My life has become more complicated these past few years and I've had to cut way back on my customer quilts, but I still manage to hammer a few out a year. I do want to thank my family for their love, support, and patience with me over the years, and to my friends for their encouragement when I was tearing my hair out over a glass (or two) of wine. And to my customers who've entrusted their precious creations to me.
Thank you all for an incredible ten years!
(I'll have yours!)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Desktop Calendar

I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, and I hate to be the one to tell you: 2014 is half over! Have you made half the progress on your UFO's that you thought you would? Well, I have! I learned early on to set very modest goals. Then, when you meet them (or even exceed them!) it's a pleasant surprise! And that's exactly what I did this year! I aimed for 4 personal quilts done and I'm halfway there! (No, Carla, I'm NOT lying!)
Ok, I'm almost there...but legally I have til the end of June, so if you're going to get technical, I may have jumped the gun on the bragging aspect...

I've had an awesome May, though, with lots of traveling. I drove up to Lubbock with Stephen to pack up Jill and bring her home from Texas Tech for the summer. Smart girl made the Dean's List again, so our homeschooling career has been officially vindicated!
Laura, Holly, Morgan and my JillyBean

Then, a week later, Jill and I flew to South Carolina to A) see Megan, Alex and the grandkiddos, and B) pick up my new Mini Cooper! This is how I spent my time on the flight:
Those are ultra-tiny 1/4" hexies that I'm English paper-piecing, and as you can see, they've already driven me to drink. The entire (mini)quilt will be the size of a piece of printer paper, and I'm hoping to have it done by the guild's 2016 quilt show. But since I only seem to work on it on the plane, I may have to schedule monthly trips to SC - in the interest of my art, of course!
While my girls spent one afternoon shopping, I got to babysit the kiddos. That's Jack, Sofie & Owen. Had all three of them happy and smiling at the same time.  Short-lived though. After the requisite four bedtime stories, as I was tucking Sofie into the bottom bunk in Jack's room (we were all going to camp out), Jack leaned over the top bunk to make sure I was doing it right, and thunk-thunk-thunk - scream!
Head met ceiling fan. Just like his uncle Merritt did about 16 years ago. To the day.
Then Jack wanted to sleep on the bottom and Sofie wouldn't sleep on the top, so she ran out crying, and when I took Jack down to find his Mr. Bump coldpack, I found Jill at her wits end with Owen, who wouldn't stop crying cuz Mommy wasn't there to put him to bed. All 3 hysterical at once. Haven't hit that trifecta since my own kids were little. My work here is finished.

The saving grace for me was my new car! Alex is the Sales Manager at Century Mini in Greenville, SC, and he ordered me my new 2014 Clubman. Got it all decked out for me, too. He's the best son-in-law ever!

 CabinQuilter!
Runs like a dream, handles like a sports car, and hits 90 with no effort whatsoever!
(Not that I have any actual personal knowledge of that.)
Which brings me to the point of this post: the June calendar! Unfortunately for you, it doesn't bring us to the point just yet. First, I have to tell you how I came up with this month's quilt calendar. A few weeks ago I took a workshop with Elsie Campbell who taught us the meaning of "precision piecing."

The little 24" project took me almost 4 weeks to finish. Well, not finished exactly, but it's all in one piece, anyway, waiting for 2 more borders to bring it up to about 32" sq. Anyway - I do like how it's turning out. And I won't mention anything about mis-cutting the mitered bordered sections six (6) times. Don't ask. 
Really. 
Don't ask.
Anyway - I brought the photo into EQ7/Stitch and played with some borders and while I was doing that, I thought, "Shoot - I'm halfway to a calendar! I can kill two birds with one stone!" So here's the calendar, as well as the soon-to-be-finished wallhanging. Assuming I can find a Jinny Beyer border print that'll work with it...

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!





Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Desktop Calendar

While working on this month's desktop calendar, I was rudely interrupted by another herd of wild hogs in the back yard. I don't mind if they stay in the woods, but for crying out loud, what's so great about St. Augustine grass, Cannas and weeds?! They've dug up about 400 sq ft of my backyard about 20' from the porch. So it's pitch black, and Stephen grabbed the .22, Merritt was on the shotgun, and I took my favorite - the snake charmer. We snuck out the front door, hoping to sneak up on them, when it occurred to me that we never did clean up the tons of crunchy dead leaves on the side of the house. Terrific alarm system for the hogs - they took off as we circled around back. I was hoping I'd at least have an exciting picture of tomorrow's BBQ to show you, but no luck. They'll be back...
The joys of living in the country!

Back to the calendar, 6 minutes early! And Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there - they deserve it! Except for those sows in my backyard - they deserve something else entirely!


Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Desktop Calendar

Spring has sprung in Texas! On March 4th, we woke up to an ice storm, with branches and limbs bending and cracking under the weight.



Then, 10 days later, ol' man winter departed for good and left us with the first azaleas of spring! What gorgeous color!

This past weekend my friend Darleena was lucky enough to go in search of, and find, the first bluebonnets of the all-too-short season! Don't tell her I stole this picture off her FB page...but it's so picture perfect!
And with Easter coming in a couple of weeks, here's a desktop calendar to cheer you up if you're in the part of the country where spring doesn't show up til June.


Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Piece ~ Love ~ Sew

Report

I'd intended to get on this as soon as the show ended (cuz I'd have so much free time, LOL) but I probably need to look up the definition of "free time" first - I obviously don't have a clue. I was one of the three chairs and we put so much time and effort into the show over the past two years, I'm not sure what we'll do now! Ok, I can't speak for them, but I'm going to clean my studio, get caught up on my quilting and watch Game of Thrones from the beginning before the new season starts.

Back to the show!
It was held on February 28th - March 1st at the Berry Center in Cypress, TX - a fabulous venue and our second time there. We booked the next 3 shows there (even numbered years) so we can be sure to have it around the same time. A big thanks to Beth, the Berry Center's venue coordinator, for helping us produce a terrific show, with no hitches! We even gave her a ribbon!

First things first: how about some quilts?!
Here's our Best in Show - machine appliqued and quilted by Valerie Jolly - it also won Viewer's Choice. It's a big-un, so the bottom had to be pinned up so it wouldn't drag on the floor. It was stunning, but you may have to take my word for it as the photo doesn't do it justice.
"Stop Wishing & Start"

So many beautiful and creative quilts were in the show that I can't show them all here. But I do have a couple of ribbon-winners from the Sew-Hos!
Charmaine's quilt, "Charm's Star" won 1st Place, Paper-Pieced, Large. It was quilted by Karen Shively and was in contention for Best of Show right up to the last.
Charm's "Midnight Madness" 2nd Place, Mixed Technique
  And her "Fairyland Delights" won a 3rd Place in the Other Techniques Category.
It was quilted by Shirley Barter

This is Susi's  "Brain Freeze" which won an Honorable Mention in Art Quilts
along with her "Food Bowl" which won 2nd in the Challenge Category.

Speaking of which - the Challenge Category was called "Prints Charming" - along with a size limitation, the challenge was to use only print fabrics (no solids, hand dyes, or batiks) and you could only use each fabric one time. Here's my entry:
"Still Charming" - the backstory: back around the turn of the century (good Lord that sounds old!) I participated in a worldwide swap of 3" charms and sigs. I made HST's out of mine by sandwiching 2 charms together & sewing a seam on each side of the center line. When I cut them apart, I had 2 identical HST's but I could only use one in the quilt, since you weren't supposed to use a fabric more than once. Being optimistic (and cheap) I saved all of those other half-HST's. Wanna see that Y2K quilt just for fun? It hung in a special exhibit at Houston that year. And it's handquilted!
Fast forward 14 years to this year's challenge. I thought, "What a snap! I've got teensy HST's already made! I can knock this baby out in no time!" And guess what? A week before the quilts were to be turned in, my friend Richard pointed out that one of my fabrics was duplicated. 
What? NO!
Yes, dammit! Crap.
You know what that means, don't you?? There's a duplicate in my Y2K quilt! %#&*!!!!
I couldn't bring myself to rip everything out just to replace that one little floral triangle so I appliqued another HST from my Y2K stash over it. I was pretty sure I wouldn't win a ribbon anyway... and I was right.
So am I going to change out the duplicated fabric in my Y2K? Not on your life. I'm not even going to look for it. It's hanging up at the Cabin Too if you want to, though.
One more quilt from the Challenge Category: Sew-Ho Deb's! 
"Logomaniac" features words printed on fabric and won an Honorable Mention and Judge's Choice!

Another of mine that won ZIP was in the 3D, Wearables & Home Dec category. It's a tablerunner made in my Scrap Therapy class. It looks good on my tiled kitchen table with some of my Fiesta ware on it. The 1st place ribbon winner was my friend Tina with this little beauty:
1/4" "Little Hexies" - it's a pincushion! And only about 4" across. Awesome!
Two of my customers won ribbons:
Carole's "Angel in my Cabin" won a 1st Place in Traditional Pieced, Small

and Pat's "Asian Stack n Whack" won an Honorable Mention.
Shelly's was my only other customer quilt done these past 2 years...no time, no desire. Hers didn't win a ribbon but I think it should have! To be fair, it was in a huge category...Personally, I love the background quilting! :wink wink:

Lastly, my third entry won a 1st Place in Applique, Small as well as the other Judge's Choice!
"Strawberry Baskets" That's me with two of my grandkiddos, Zach & Teaghan
I almost forgot the raffle quilt! Guess who scored the big win!
Not me.
CHARMAINE!!!
Go figure.
My favorite quilts were these two. I guess you can tell I'm still into my Brown Period. Like Picasso's Blue Period, but without the $$$.

Let's see...what else?

Oh! We had an educational exhibit! We had samples of all different types of quilts and quilting with a notecard on each explaining what it was. That redwork quilt in the hoop has been in the works for 13 years. Stop laughing. I only have 51 on my UFO spreadsheet. I'm aiming to get this one done by the 2016 show. LOL. maybe...


My favorite quilt in the educational exhibit was this one, by my friend, Debbie. Another Hexie Queen, like Tina. And oh, look. It's brown. Surprise!
I was in charge of the vendors and we had a great bunch this time. My favorite booth was YaYa's Sweet Shoppe - they went all out with their booth decor. So much so that Beth (from the Berry Center) came to me and asked if we had a vendor selling baked goods! We gave them a ribbon for Most Eye-Catching Booth.

Another of my favorite vendors was Nancy with WOWJF-23 - funny name, great pain relief product! So many of our quilters swear by this stuff! Nancy was also awarded a ribbon for Most Cheerful Vendor - I never caught her without a smile on her face! 
And what guild show would be complete without the Scissor Guy?! He shows up at Quilters Crossing in Tomball once a month to sharpen scissors, knives and whatever else you need sharpened.

And this vendor, Vickie Bartlett, of Texas 31 Bags, was a sweetheart! Contact her for your very own catalogue of all types of bags, totes, little zippy things, etc to hold/carry all your sewing/quilting supplies. I did!


Our featured artist was Richard Larson - Quilter Extraordinaire! Don't know what he was doing to get those Mardi Gras beads!

Had a couple of margaritas and gin & tonics with him. Terrific quilter, terrific human being!

He demo'd all kinds of techniques and rulers the whole two days! So generous with his knowledge, talent, and time - we absolutely loved having him!


And last, but not least...all the guild's volunteers that worked tirelessly for the past two years to bring this about. They did a fabulous job and are the reason the show was such an overwhelming success!




Guild Boutique & Emporium










Bargain-hunting quilter's dream come true!!


And Lisa's crib-quilts bed-turning show & tell was very popular!


All in all, it was a great weekend for a quilt show in Texas!
For more photos from the show, go to the Guild's Blog and click on Gallery! Carla has pictures of just about everything!