Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New addiction - free motion quilting

This is the mini quilt I'll be donating to our Guild's fund-raising auction for the Children's Craniofacial Foundation.  I'm calling it "Love Birds." It's my first effort at free motion quilting, and after the first hour of frustration in dealing with breaking thread, tension wrong, etc., I started to get the hang of it.  (I have a Pfaff quilt expressions 4.0).  I finally switched to an Aurifil top thread, and followed some advice to change the stitch length to zero, and last night I had much less thread breakage.  This is very, very random free motion quilting, in that these swirls are not in neat and tidy rows but just fitted into the spaces very randomly.   It was hard at first not to want to turn the fabric with each change in direction, as if I were stitching with a pressure foot, and each time I stopped and started again, it took awhile to get into the "zone."  But when I get going it is hard to stop!  I still need to bind this thing and do a little more stitching on the birds and the hearts so the density is somewhat more uniform.
I ran across an on-line tutorial for free motion quilting (kind of a pattern a week) that I may have to sign up for (the tutorials are free, but she has a kit with directions and patterns that can be ordered).  I'm hooked.  (all I need - a new addiction!).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

mod mod quilt along

Here are my tentative fabrics for the quilt along.  My son and daughter in law like fairly neutral fabrics.  I may need an accent color; if so I thinking something in gold.  The darkest colors are deep navies/dark greys; not blacks. the photo doesn't really capture the colors.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Four Seasons Sampler

At our Guild's quilt retreat this weekend, I finally got this project completed and took it to the long-arm quilter today.  This is based on Lori Holt's book, "Quilty Fun," but the birds are designs from the Block Lotto, and the hearts were reverse-engineered from a block I received in a swap.  I started this last May or so. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

My best books of 2013

This is a very arbitrary list, as what I read includes books I've acquired over the years, as well as new releases, and classics I've revisited.
I read 50 books in 2013, including 19 audiobooks. 
My quantity was down slightly from 2012, but I read or listened to several really long books (24 cds!)

Here are the memorable ones:
Classics:
The Great Gatsby
The Quiet American, Graham Greene
Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

top 10 (no particular order):
The Round House, Louise Erdrich
Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
Fall of Giants, Ken Follett
Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
What is the What? Dave Eggers
Where Have you Gone, Bernadette? Semple
The Son, P Meyer
Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson
Transatlantic, Colum McCann

also memorable:
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
Just Kids, Patti Smith
The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
Dear Life, Alice Munro

Several of these books this year seemed to have plots and subject matter that spanned the first 3/4 of the twentieth century, particularly Fall of Giants, Transatlantic, Life after Life, The Son, even the Round House, and seem to explore linkages and causation from one generation to the next, call it karma, or reincarnation, or causation.  Worthy themes, and beautifully written explorations.


Another book that tried this, to less effect, was Paris, by Edward Rutherford, which I do not recommend.

I really liked Where Have You Gone Bernadette, because it was an artful comedy of contemporary manners, written as an epistolary novel (through emails and reports), with deft send-ups of the Microsoft & private school mom world. My book group will read this in March, so I hope they like it!
My thriller and spy reading including John Sandford, Lee Child, Carl Hiassen--always enjoyable bon bons!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Quilting goals

Sophie challenged us on the Block Lotto to set some quilting goals for 2014, so here goes:
1.  Complete the Rowalong quilt, which I have entitled "Four Seasons Sampler."  It is based on Lori Holt's rowalong that she conducted last year on her website, Bee in My Bonnet, with specific directions now in her book, Quilty Fun.
I substituted two blocks I got from Sophie: One is the birds we did in Block Lotto earlier in 2013, and the other is a heart that was embedded in one of the "terms of endearment" blocks I won in 2011.  The original was probably paper pieced, but lacking the pattern, I traced the block to create templates and then created the row of hearts reflected below. 
I now have all the rows complete, so I just need to add horizontal sashing, and two borders.  I've entered this in the Dallas quilt show, so I have a good bit of work to do to get it ready for my longarm quilter.  I am puzzling over the color of the borders.  Lori Holt used aqua as the inner border and a lime gingham as the outer colored border (white background falls in between the colored borders). 
I have enough fabric of the green polka dot and red polka dot, as well as one of the aquas.  I'm thinking of the aqua as the medium border, but wondering whether the red or green are too dark and whether I should use a lighter value for the outer border (maybe a mixed colored and white print).  But I'd like to use one of the fabrics already in the quilt.... a puzzle.
 This picture is upside down, and I don't know how to rotate it.  Sorry 
 
 
2. Complete sewing together my eclipse blocks into a complete quilt.
3. complete the tall red stars quilt, from the stars I won in 2013.
I think this will be a Christmas oriented quilt, using green vertical sashing to pull them together.
4. Complete two quilts from classes I took this year.
One was a Bonnie Hunter class using string piecing, and I also used Christmas fabrics for this.
The other was an advanced quilt making class using paper piecing to do a mariner's compass, and some applique (which is new to me), along with mitered borders, so definitely new techniques.  Unfortunately, I misplaced the corner applique pieces I had made and fused, so I need to recut those, apply the leaves to the vine, and then I'll be ready to make the quilt sandwich, and quilt/applique the thing together.
5. Finish the border and add whiskers to my Millions of CAts quilt.
6. Make two more "I Spy" quilts for a great niece and great nephew.  I just finished and delivered this I Spy quilt to my great niece Stella who lives in Arkansas:
 
 
7. Decide on sashings and settings for some vintage appliqued blocks that my daughter found at an antique store in Indiana and gave me as a super Christmas present.  The fabric seems 40s-50s vintage, and the applique is needle-turned.  Some of the accents are still drawn in ink, so some embroidery may need to be added either before or after quilting.  I haven't had time to play with these yet.  Most of the figures are animals, cats, dogs, penguin, chickens, monkeys, etc. 

8. I'd also like to make a mini quilt to donate to the Guild's mini quilt auction that benefits this year, the Children's Craniofacial Foundation.  Great cause!
Too many goals already!
 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thoughts on the Beatles and the Psalms

My church had an evening of the arts last week and invited people to share creative works that somehow related to the Psalms, which we have been studying and using in worship during the last 3 months.  I thought people might enjoy my Beatles quilt, and then tried to figure how that could ever relate to the Psalms, especially since the Beatles were not traditionally Christian (or Jewish). 
So after some thought, I wrote the following to go with my quilt:

Thoughts on the Psalms and the Beatles

It seems completely contradictory to put these ideas together, as the Beatles said some outrageous things about the church and even Jesus during their heyday. So what do they have to do with the Psalms?

But first, consider this question:

1.       How many Psalms have you memorized?  For most of us, probably the 23rd Psalm, and maybe Psalm 1, or 91 (eagle’s wings)?

2.       How many Beatles songs do you know the words to? 

Unless you’re very young, or very old, probably 5 or 6 or even more that you know the whole song (there are a lot of repeats), and many more that you know the first couple of lines just from hearing the song title.

 

As English evangelist George Whitefield said in the early 19th century, “Why should the devil get all the good tunes?”

 

Our handicap with the Psalms is that we don’t have the tunes they were sung to.  We have some good hymn tunes  based on the Psalms, so we probably actually have more of those memorized than just the Psalm text.

 

But getting back to the Beatles, I think not only the tunes but the words reflect some of the same yearnings of the human heart that are reflected in the Psalms, even though Paul or John or George didn’t necessarily think they were talking about or to God. (Whereas the Psalmist clearly has a conversation with God in mind).

 

So here are some thoughts on similarities in themes and, perhaps more important, emotions,  in certain Beatles songs:

 

Psalm of Lament:  The Long and Winding Road, Eleanor Rigby

Wisdom Psalm:  the Fool on the Hill (compare Psalm 1)

Historical Psalm – Yesterday, In My Life

Psalm of Deliverance – Help!

Psalm of Comfort – Let it Be

Imprecatory  Psalm - Revolution

 

And a new testament theme :   Love is All You Need

 

French philosopher Blaise Pascal said:   “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
- Blaise Pascal, Pensees

 

I think the Psalms and the great secular songs that touch our hearts come from that hole crying out for God, even when the singer doesn’t even know God.

 

--Linda Newman

Saturday, August 24, 2013

end of summer



It's been a busy summer, with a lot of business travel, so not a lot of time for quilting, but I finished a couple of quilts that started last year.  The quilt above is from a block of the month from my local quilt shop, called "Tisket a Tasket."  I pretty much followed the directions, but had to adjust the setting instructions for the on point border blocks; the math was just off.  Local Longarmer Maria Hall did a fabulous job on the quilting; I can't get enough of the quilting feathers.  I hope you can see it in the photos. 
The other quicky quilt I finished was a donation quilt for our Guild's Covers for Kids.  Our friendship group did jumbo disappearing 9-patch quilts, and I did mine with large I-spy fabrics, with this quilt geared for an elementary age boy.   My friend Donna King did a great job with the quilting.  This one has already been delivered to the Guild for donation.  This makes 5 I-spys that I have made so far, and I'm working on another one for my niece.

My other current project is the Row Along from Lori Holt's Row along, and I'm on the 7th row.  (I'm substituting Sophie's birds for the mugs that were suggested.  I also have my eclipse blocks to cut to size and assemble, and putting the border on my Millions of Cats quilt.  So progress is underway!