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
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!
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. 
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!