A brief interlude….deer!

May 6th, 2016

Yes, it is spring.  And we’ve had more deer this spring than ever before.  One day, we counted NINE in the big meadow…along with a passel of wild turkeys who are preening and displaying in hopes of a mate to make more little turkeys.  Anyway, one day I came home and spotted many of the deer on the neighbor’s back 40, which is just beyond the stone wall that marks the boundary of our property. If you look through the woods, you can just see one of the does looking at me before she decided it was time to go elsewhere.  There were at least five of them up there!

Deer and sunny skies

Deer and sunny skies.  If you look in between the second and third trees from the left, you can see her.  There is another peeking through that sliver in the next gap, and couple closer to center, but you can’t tell from this photo that they are deer!

What I can’t show you….

May 4th, 2016

So, I’m working on a new quilt.  But we can’t publicize photos until after jurying.  But I figured I can show you one bit of it–the fabric that I am dyeing, because this isn’t what it’s going to look like.  I’d be surprised if anyone will be able to see this then realize that my entry is the one attached to this photo.  I hope.

My fabric dyeing space exists, which is a joy in itself.  However, it is in the "utilities" room with the 330 gallon heating oil tank (on the left), the water purification system (to remove arsenic which occurs naturally in the water table here...at the end of this work surface), the boiler (house heat), and the hot water tank.  Can you say barely enough room to slide sideways along the 4x8 foot melamine-glued-to-rigid-insulation work "table"?

My fabric dyeing space exists, which is a joy in itself. However, it is in the “utilities” room with the 330 gallon heating oil tank (on the left), the water purification system (to remove arsenic which occurs naturally in the water table here…at the end of this work surface), the boiler (house heat), and the hot water tank. Can you say barely enough room to slide sideways along the 4×8 foot melamine-glued-to-rigid-insulation work “table”?

I wanted a very exact color.  Thanks to my classes with Carol Soderlund, achieving this is possible, but sometimes I need to overdye.  My biggest challenge is that I haven’t dyed enough fabric to have a good grasp of how much the color will change once washed and dried–it lightens up a lot.  And in this case, the blue I wanted ended up being a mix of two blues, which I haven’t done in any of the classes I’ve taken.  So I was winging it.  I ended up using ProChem’s Intense Blue and a tiny bit of turquoise.   To get the shade I need, I used 0.9 gram (which is a ridiculously small weight) of Intense blue and…get this…. 0.1 gram of Turquoise.   On my first attempt, I used a very pale wash of the Turquoise over the solid blue I had dyed with Intense Blue.  And it was too turquoise.  So I started over.  The second attempt is the one that is on the table above, on its second round adding more of the combination (with a lot less turquoise) to get it a bit darker.  It worked!

And that’s all I can show you until about June.  Gotta get to work!   More anon!

Painting…the house

May 1st, 2016

So I have been hideously absent from blogging.  Basically, lots of life happening.  One of the things I’ve been doing is painting the house.  In particular, I needed to get two walls done when the temperatures were at or above 40 degrees, but the perennial beds were still low enough that I could get the ladder in without damaging the plants.  Luckily, we haven’t had a super rainy spring or I’d be out of luck.

The house is brown.  Dark brown.  That may be fine on some houses in the right setting, but on a ranch house in the middle of a big open space it looks like a dark  hulk.  So we decided on a medium-light gray with white trim when we built the garage.  Now it is time to do the house, which has "solid stain" on it (the dark brown).  The stain holds up a LOT better than paint, but along the bottom was peeling, so it was time.  In this image, I'm testing various mixes to see what best matches the siding on the garage (resting on the ground).  The answer was none of these!

The house is brown. Dark brown. That may be fine on some houses in the right setting, but on a ranch house in the middle of a big open space it looks like a dark hulk. So we decided on a medium-light gray with white trim when we built the garage. Now it is time to do the house, which has “solid stain” on it (the dark brown). The stain holds up a LOT better than paint, but along the bottom was peeling, so it was time. In this image, I’m testing various mixes to see what best matches the siding on the garage (resting on the ground). The answer was none of these!

Luckily, I had purchased only sample amounts.  Finally, we got a match that is as good as you can get.  Here it is in progress:

These two walls and the trim are now almost done (one more coat of white on the wood just under the roof shingles).  Then I'll take a break to work on a new piece!

These two walls and the trim are now almost done (one more coat of white on the wood just under the roof shingles). Then I’ll take a break to work on a new piece!

Temperatures have dropped again, with mornings in the 30s (just above freezing), so I am working inside a couple days.  Once it warms up, I’ll be distracted outside finishing this area and the porch (on the right in the photo above).  Then I’ll get back to the house once the quilt is done and submitted by the deadline.  Phew!  I’m tired!

Insalata in Australia!

April 29th, 2016

Thanks to Bill Reker, the Traveling Exhibit Coordinator, for forwarding these images of the SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) exhibit Food for Thought on display in Australia, and thanks to the person who sent him the pictures.  The exhibit was on display in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  The AQC, Australian Quilt Convention (Conference?) is held in a building of breathtaking beauty.  I’ve decided that whenever I finally in this life ever get to Australia, I have to go during AQC just so I can see this building!

My "tomatoes" quilt, Insalata, on display at the AQC.  LOVE that it is facing the center in a prime spot, and love the black walls on which the works are displayed.

My “tomatoes” quilt, Insalata, on display at the AQC. LOVE that it is facing the center in a prime spot, and love the black walls on which the works are displayed.

Here’s another shot of the overall exhibit:

Don't you just want to BE in this space?  Insalata and other works in the Food for Thought exhibit are visible at the far end.

Don’t you just want to BE in this space? Insalata and other works in the Food for Thought exhibit are visible at the far end.

And one more…some day I really must get to Australia and New Zealand!

The best shots, for me, of my quilts when traveling are "neighborhood" shots--not just *my* quilt, since I already know what it looks like, but ones that show the context.  Even better, when someone likes my work enough to get up and look at it closely--like the lady taking a detail photo!  Woot!

The best shots, for me, of my quilts when traveling are “neighborhood” shots–not just *my* quilt, since I already know what it looks like, but ones that show the context. Even better, when someone likes my work enough to get up and look at it closely–like the lady taking a detail photo! Woot!

A labor of love–a quilt from A grandmother’s wardrobe

March 2nd, 2016
A snuggle quilt

A snuggle quilt

I honestly don’t know how long I had the fabric for the two lap quilts I just made.  Maybe 18 months ago (?) Joshua’s sweetie Ashley asked if I could make a lap quilt from some of her Grandmother’s clothes.  Of course I said yes!   Her gramma had died recently, and Ashley’s mom, Sue, was really missing her.  I looked up some quilts on the internet, hoping for a pieced pattern that would work for a scrappy quilt, look good, yet not take a ton of time to assemble.

When Thanksgiving rolled around and her mom came up to Maine for the holiday, she brought with her….gulp…three white kitchen garbage bags FULL of clothes:  turtlenecks, sweatshirts, fleece tops, a fleece bathrobe and a couple of nighties.   Oh.  My.  Not a single woven anything.  Wish I had taken pictures before I began the deconstruction process!

These are just a few of the leftovers!!!! Yes, that is one of those huge IKEA bags. I started with the equivalent of three of those!

These are just a few of the leftovers!!!! Yes, that is one of those huge IKEA bags. I started with the equivalent of three of those!

And Sue asked if I could make two quilts, not one–one for her and one for her brother.  Sure!   I showed Sue the images of quilts I’d found and she picked the square in a square design you see above.   The original was quite scrappy, and went from lights in the center to mediums to darks, with a half-drop on the columns.  Alas, I seem to have deleted the original photo, plus I don’t know where I saw it anyway!

The second quit, on my sewing table. It is about 60x66 inches finished.

The second quit, on my sewing table. It is about 60×66 inches finished.

Well, let me tell you–the lesson is to make sure FIRST what the fabrics are.   Then see if you can ask (I didn’t) if you could buy and use something woven for the back.   I didn’t fully realize how much time it was going to take to prepare the fabrics.  First I had to cut apart the shirts and sweatshirts and nighties.   Then I figured out how I could maximize the fabric in the body and sleeves.   I cut those bits a bit oversized and, having made a trip to Joann’s Fabrics with a fifty percent off coupon to buy a bolt of tricot interfacing, I starting fusing the interfacing to the stretchy turtleneck fabric. Then I made another trip to Joann’s and bought another bolt (almost used up).

FINALLY, I could start cutting out the pieces.  I decided given the fabric, it would be best if I used a 3/8″ seam (from needle to edge of walking foot) and pressed the seams open.  And I decided to use only turtlenecks and nighties for the top, leaving the sweatshirts I had deconstructed for the backs.   I sorted and stacked.  I sewed blocks, trying not to duplicate any pairing of fabric.   I realized that I had lights and darks, but no mediums.  OK, the point of this quilt is love and family, not duplicating a picture from the internet.  Mental adjustment.

Once I got to sewing, it went fairly quickly:  sewing the blocks for and assembling the two tops took less time (by quite a bit) than prepping the fabric!   I divided the blocks into two pretty equal piles and started plopping them on the design wall.  Turned out I had enough for two very similar quilt tops six by seven blocks (they are about 9.5 inches finished).

Next:  backing.  I laid out the sweatshirt fabric:  enough for one backing.  So I also cut apart the fleece tops.  I decided to make one quilt with only sweatshirt fabric, the other with only fleece, to avoid “bad behavior” on the part of the fabrics.

Laying out the fleece for the second backing

Laying out the fleece for the second backing

I cut batting (poly needle punched from Quilters Dream) a little larger than I needed.  Then I sewed the larger squares to the batting batting by overlapping the edges and using a zigzag to join the “seam” and attach it to the more stable batting.  Regular seams would have been ridiculously bulky and stiff.  I didn’t interface the backing as the quilt was going to weigh a ton already, plus I didn’t think the interfacing would stay stuck long enough to do any good.

I used the walking foot (thank heavens) on my Janome 15000 (thank you again to Janome America for their support and the loan of this phenomenal machine) to quilt a spiral from the center out, then switching to straight lines in the dark border.  I used a variegated light color for the center, and a purplish variegated for the outside (Superior Threads).

Quilting in progress....it was a workout

Quilting in progress….it was a workout

The two lap quilts, the one with the sweatshirts on the back is on the right, back side up. Can I just say it weighs a flipping TON!

The two lap quilts, the one with the sweatshirts on the back is on the right, back side up. Can I just say it weighs a flipping TON!

The two quilts, the one with fleece on the back folded and on top of the other one.

The two quilts, the one with fleece on the back folded and on top of the other one.

The only thing from those three big bags I did not use was the green fleece bathrobe!  I have a few sorta larger pieces of fleece left, and then stuff like the cuffs and top of shirts left.  And oh….I used a dark blue solid for the binding.   Done!

The slivery bits too small to use for anything else

The slivery bits too small to use for anything else–yes, my garbage in my studio is one of those big garden tubs!

I’m so glad they are done, and so glad I was able to make them.   It will be a while, though, until I do another something like this–I may need to lift weights to be ready for the quilting process!  Eli may want a t-shirt quilt for college, but I’ve already told him, it must have woven cotton sashing on the front and a regular quilting cotton on the back!   I’m really looking forward to being able to give these to Sue (or have the kids take them down to Connecticut to her) and really, really hope she and her brother like them and enjoy being snuggled in a “hug” from their mom / mom’s quilt!