Monday, April 14, 2014

A Class With Katie Pedersen, author of "Quilting Modern"

My block
This past Saturday, 8 April, our guild offered a class with Katie Pedersen, and 13 of us had a fun day learning Katie's "insertion" techniques. Katie is one of the authors of one of my favorite "modern" quilting books. Aptly enough, her book is called "Quilting Modern". I have had the book for some time, but now I have it autographed! Very nice!
Katie's book
This block, in soothing grays,
 was made by a lovely woman whose name I don't know!

My focus, most unfortunately, was not on taking photos during this class. I had forgotten to pack my camera and these less than perfect images were taken with my older model IPhone's camera. Also, I did not walk about much so this is a VERY limited idea of what was happening in the class. My apologies to my friends who work is not on this page!
Nurse extraordinaire (recently retired),
Nancy Best, was sailing through this class! I expect, she has a quilt finished by now!
I love these colors!
This 'insertion' technique is taken right from Katie's book. It's not complicated and it IS a lot of fun! It's no stress quilter's play time. Your color choices really does the work for you. The options for using this color insertion technique are numerous, and I'm looking forward to playing further. I will be using my sample block to make a purse perhaps. Some folks were going to make theirs into table runners, quilts, pillows etc. I think that a lot of people were surprised at how easy this technique is and at how quickly a quilt can be made by using this method! You can leave a lot or a little space for quilting - which can become a big feature of these blocks!
This bright block is from the 'queen of brights', Barb Snider
Katie herself is an unassuming delight. Katie is no diva, and is just she is down-to-earth. I found that to be very refreshing!  Her blog is fresh and fun! Have a look.
Another cheerful block whose maker I am forgetting!
A quilt artist from Lopez Island was working
 on these blocks in gray and dark blue.

The color is off on this image, but you get the idea how fun this simple technique can be.
I have a pile of terrific new book titles to share with you - and a give-a-way for one of them too! I have a wee stomach bug right now, but new posts about these great new craft and art titles will be posted in the coming days!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Note Worthy New Books From Search Press

I believe that I have mentioned in the past that one of my favorite craft book publishers is Search Press. The books that they publish are always premium quality and I find that their new titles always manage to entice me. The following two have done just that! Thanks to the great people at Search Press I have been able to take a peek at two of their upcoming releases. Have a look. I bet you will want to add them to your pre-order list!

Jenny Dean is one of my favorite authors who writes about all things natural dye. The first book of Jenny's that I fell in love with and use consistently is called "Wild Color". I love this book. The photography is perfect, the directions are all wonderfully written for ease of comprehension - and they are easy to follow. Nature affords us so many beautiful options for colors of dye!

This new little gem of a book, "A Heritage of Color" covers the colors that are possible to obtain from 50 rather ordinary plants. Plants that have provided our world with color for more than 2000 years. Different ways of processing, using a variety of mordants and "eco-dying" are covered. This little 160 page gem offers a lot. It will have its permanent place on my bookshelf next to "Wild Color" and, I know, it will be an often used, much dog eared book! The release date in June 10, 2014, but this title is available for pre-order now! Get yours reserved!

I have heard the word 'Zakka'  a lot recently, but really wasn't sure just what it meant - or what the style was. In all honesty, I had not been interested enough to find out more about it. That is, until I saw the cover of this book. I had been looking for a pattern similar to the one on the cover for some time. I am so glad that I got to have a look at this book and learn more about Zakka!

According to author Cecelia Hanselmann, the word Zakka "...originates from a Japanese word which originally meant 'household items', ... In recent years, it has increasingly been used to mean home made everyday items...". 

The 'everyday items' in "Zakka Style Gifts" include (a partial list ) the 'Sakura Box Bag' (on the cover), a camera pouch, a tissue holder, an owl paperweight, a mug wrap, a coin purse, table baskets and more. If you like to sew and also like to make and gift handmade items, then this book would be a perfect addition to your library! 

This very modestly priced book seems to be available for purchase now, although the official release date is May 13, 2014.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Quilt Retreat 2014 at Camp Burton, Vashon Island, Washington

My friend Janet and I went to our annual quilt retreat at Camp Burton on Vashon Island this past weekend. We left home on Thursday and returned yesterday (Sunday). My photos are very limited this year, partially because it rained a lot (after the image above that is) and partially because traveling gets more and more difficult for me. The exhaustion of fibromyalgia and the pain of my back issues and body wide arthritis can really become a challenge quite quickly when I travel.  I should have gone back and taken photos of these wonderful quilts as they progressed. Also, I never did manage to take photos of Janet's wonderful work, nor of our room-mate, Sydney's, nor of my own for that matter! Apologies - especially to Janet who helps me so much!

Below:  This quilt, whose maker's name escapes me at the moment (if anyone remembers please let me know), was started many years ago. She made remarkable progress as the days went by!
Below: This God's Eye quilt was made by Merilee. She set it in black and it's wonderful. It's now on my list of quilts to make. I have always been a fan of log cabin derivative quilts. Merilee made this so darn cheerful and happy!
Below:  This quilt, made Barbara E., is a Boston Common that she is making for her son. He specifically requested these colors. He lives in, ta dah!, Boston! She managed to keep her diagonal strip remarkably straight. Most of those of us who made this quilt ended up with a lot of line distortion while Janet has somehow managed to keep it spot on!
Below: This absolutely stunning "Stormy Seas" quilt was made by Julia. She, like me, has recently returned to the quilting group, but it's obvious that she has been quilting all along! I love what she did with this pattern. It is truly a knock-out! I think it is one of the best of this pattern that I have ever seen!
Below: The beginning of a wonderful quilt that will lend itself to some amazing hand quilting! It's made by Joyce who is a wool applique like no-one else I've seen! I am a sucker for thirties prints - and this quilt really makes fine use of them in a wonderful, traditional, way!
 Below: The next four (4) photos:  

I have never used any machine for embroidery. My Bernina 180 had the embroidery unit but I never even opened it, and my beloved Janome 8900 doesn't do embroidery. Truth be told I have never had any interest in machine embroidery, and in the past, I have thought of most of it as a wee bit 'tacky. I should say, that was my thinking until I met Carol, and got to see what high quality machine embroidery really is all about. She teaches (you can see why) for a local sewing store and she uses her Pfaff embroidery machine to do things that are truly remarkable. The machine and embroidery attachment walked into and out of the retreat in impressive suitcases. I somehow doubt that I could lift the machine, which is why I travel with my Featherweights whenever possible.

Her work is truly amazing, and she has changed my perspective about machine embroidery. If I wanted another obsession, and had the money for one of these machines, I can see where, in the past, I might have jumped right on board the  'embroidery ship' !
 The image above and below are parts of a Christmas wall hanging that she was working on
 This is the block that Carol made that really changed my point of view about embroidery machines. 
This is a machine done wool applique on a cotton backing. Isn't is wonderful?  
Below: Another wool applique on cotton. 
This charming Christmas quilt, replete with its mini 4 patches is one of Joyce's 
- the same maker of the thirties quilt above. I'm sure that it will become a family heirloom.
I feel so badly that I did not get up off my butt and take pictures of everyone's work. I ended up requiring naps each day. Two hours the first full day there and an hour the next day. I never anticipated having this sort of an exhaustion issue at my age. All in all I feel lucky, but it surely crimps my style a lot of time! To my friends whose work is not displayed here, I apologize. Next year I hope I will have a bit more pep! 

I have some amazingly talented friends and their works always inspire me! A quick shout out to our group leader, Barb Snider. She is one of the most energetic, organized women that I know. She makes it all seem so easy. I want to thank her for all of her hard work on our behalf. 

Camp Burton is located right on Quartermaster Harbor, so the views are amazing. The food is fresh and healthy - more like gourmet than 'camp' fare. One of the best things about this retreat is being able to enjoy Vashon island itself - it's just a great town, and one of the things about the town is Island Quilter. Shop owners John and Anya are the best, most accommodating people ever, and the staggering selection in their shop is almost overwhelming. In addition to a plethora of 'regular', super high quality, fabric lines, Island Quilter is the premier vendor of Kaffe Fasset fabrics. If it's Kaffe - Island Quilter has it, and they are happy to ship things right to your door for a nominal shipping charge. They also feature a gallery venue that always features a wonderful show. They have a yearly show of "man made quilts" that never ceases to please. Yes, I am an Island Quilter fan!

Since I have not taken any photos of the quilt blocks that I am working on - below is an idea of what it will look like.

The pattern is called "Fractured Quilt" and it is designed by Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession (a great place down under that I would love to see one day!). This pattern is from her book "Making Quilts with Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession".

PLEASE NOTE: This image is NOT my version of the quilt.  I copied it from one of  Kathy's blog posts (this is the link). Have a look!  I am sure that this post would inspire you!

I used my existing stash, and I just out pulled out reproduction fabrics in bright reds, bright yellows, some oranges and some blacks to work with. It's quite amazing how contemporary and 'modern' reproduction prints can look when used in an unanticipated way. I'll post some images soon. Fun pattern no?!!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

How Friendship Can Make You Tearful

Today was a mail day that made me a wee bit weepy. I am, on occasion, astounded and humbled by the generosity and thoughtfulness of some of my cyber friends. I have several special cyber friends. I have said it before and I will say it again, my friends are the ones who teach me about generosity of spirit and thoughtfulness. As a non-spoiled, but only child, I sometimes think that I passed too lightly through God's 'share' line. It's not that I don't want to, or that I never think to share, it's just that I need to remember how meaningful it is at times.

This amazing magical box arrived today from Jeannie. Jeannie has been a cyber pal for a long time now. We live in the state, and we also live on the same side of this "mountain divided" state.  Jeannie had read that I was becoming more interested in 'primitive' wool applique, but that wool was scarce. Voila! Jeannie sent this box full of surprises in so many wonderful colors. She even included a book by Janet Bolton that I seen and admired at a friend's house just last week. How does one say thank you for this sort of generosity and thoughtfulness? I am flummoxed.
Jeannie knows that I have 'a thing' for crows, and her magic box contained lots of 'crow worthy' darks as well brilliant colored, special, wool fabrics .
Below: What made me tear up are these two pieces. The black wool is from Jeannie's Grand Mom's coat c1950 and the bits of yellow are from her Mother's c1944 eighth grade coat. I feel as though she has shared a bit of her family with me. 

These fabrics are now special to me too. I never was able to get anything of my Mother's, or from my beloved Grandmother's, and so family fabrics are especially dear to me - causing bouts of tears today! Again, how does one thank a person for sharing family history so poignantly?
 This is the Janet Bolton book that intrigues me so much - and now I get to read it at my leisure!
 Jeannie even included some threads for me try out. They wer tucked into her butterfly card
The second treasure that arrived today is from a younger friend from Australia. Her name is Soki, and as you can see, she is the Queen of beautiful writing. I have never quite known anyone to write as beautifully as Soki does. Her letters are gifts in themselves as she displays her talents in a rainbow of inks that somehow don't look as lush and beautiful as when I write with them!  Ski is a fan of vintage flex pens. I love them too, but my available funds no longer allow for pen purchases. I met Soki through my favorite pen fetishist hang out (the Fountain Pen Network). I have used fountain pens almost exclusively since I was 16. I wish I had spent even a 100th of that time as well spent as Soki has. Enclosed with her gift of a letter was this lovely journal with Bamboo on the cover. Doesn't it match her green ink perfectly?!
I am blessed by my friends,from near and far alike. You all teach me the meaning of friendship and the meaning of selfless giving. I am indebted to you all. Thank you for the treasures that come my way so unexpectedly and with so much joy!

Blessings to you Jeannie, and Soki as well, for your kindness and thoughtfulness.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Boston Commons Done , Wool Applique, Aurifil Lana Thread and Polish de Jour, Humming Haven

This has been a good week! On Saturday night at about 9pm local time I finally finished my Boston Commons Quit Top. This image is truly poor, but my camera was not liking the dark room. It's 90" X 83". The backing will be turquoise fleece. I offered DH  a choice of a lovely cotton print, wide back, or fleece. He says he will always prefer fleece to any other option. Okay then!  I had been SO eager to get this project done. Because there was s little space to lay it out or hang it I had needed to set up another machine in the living room, making my mixed media supplies 'buried' for the duration. I wanted my table back! 
Mr. Crow is all felt applique pieces done on a flannel background
Wool applique is something that has interested me for along while, but it was 'just one of those things, that I had not gotten to. Hooay for a small sub-group of our Wednesday night quilting group. It's a small, beginning group of wool felt enthusiasts. I am a baby beginner, but we have some a very skilled , very gracious, woman who in the person tah was interested in getting this little group going. I could not wait to start, and so I did these two little patterns from the very talented Lisa Bongean. She is one of the owners of Primitive Gatherings - and oh what lovely things they offer!

Now I am in lust to find wool - it;s so expensive and there is no where local. My friend, Janet, graciously shared a bit of luxurious stash with me so that I could get started! Anyone of scraps that they want to donate?! Just kidding, but I would be interested in buying some if you have any!

Thanks to Janet I was also able to start Mr. Sheep. As the needle indicates this one has just been started.
I have thoroughly fallen in love with Aurifil's Lana 12/2 wool thread for this sort of applique. It feels like butter going through the needle and just looks so darn nice! It luscious! 
There will be more of it in my sewing basket in the future! 
It's SO much nicer than using cotton embroidery thread of Perle cotton!

Nail polish de Jour? OPI "Teal The Cows Come Home". It's not a teal color to my eyes, my at least it's a lovely shimmery blue. I am having a lot of fun with the cool new colors in nail polish land, and I have not nibbled a cuticle since I started using it ! One bad habit conquered - at least for now!
Our hummingbirds are back. They are back early, and there are far more of them than usual for this early in the year. One friend suggested it could be due to the draught in California. I added a third feeder, and they are draining all three in a day. Gradually, as more arrive, I will add another 2-3 quart sized feeders. By dusk there are about 20 hummers at each feeder. I have gone through nearly 20 pounds of sugar ALREADY! They tell me quite well when they need more food and when it is tie to add another feeder. Yes, I am a bit obsessed by these amazing, fierce little wonders of nature!
 The photos below were all taken through a window - so the quality is not too great. It's 7:45 pm here now and it sound like most of them have sought their nesty little beds. All of sudden the sound of their wings stop at  night, and I know that bedtime has arrived!