Merry Christmas to one and all!

December 25th, 2015

Happy Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwaanza, New Year’s, Winter and just plain old happy day to one and all!   Just a quick note to say hello, as I will be otherwise happily busy with family, cooking, family, and more family on Christmas day.  I thought I’d share the year in pictures–the page of photos I share in our annual Christmas Newsletter that I send out to friends from long ago and far away.

Some of the photos are ones I have taken during my yearlong workshop with Ricky Tims. I've worked hard to make the most of the class and am thrilled with how much I have learned. If you're interested, put Foto Friday or Ricky Tims in the search box to see related blogposts. But wait until Christmas is over! Enjoy family and whatever you are doing today. Life is short, so remember to enjoy your blessings and the beauty of the day.

Some of the photos are ones I have taken during my yearlong workshop with Ricky Tims. I’ve worked hard to make the most of the class and am thrilled with how much I have learned. If you’re interested, put Foto Friday or Ricky Tims in the search box to see related blogposts. But wait until Christmas is over! Enjoy family and whatever you are doing today. Life is short, so remember to enjoy your blessings and the beauty of the day. (You can click the photo to see it a bit larger if you’d like.)

Hot off the press: Descended is in MQU

December 24th, 2015

I am absolutely THRILLED with how my article for Machine Quilting Unlimited’s January/February 2016 issue turned out! I don’t think I’ve been this thrilled since the first time I was published, so thank you editor Kit Robinson and MQU Magazine!

The opening spread on my article about creating Descended From the Stars

The opening spread on my article about creating Descended From the Stars

 

IMG_6582

Cover of the January/February 2016 Machine Quilting Unlimited (MQU) magazine with the article on the making of Descended From the Stars

In my last article for MQU about The Fourth Layer, Stabilizing the Quilt Sandwich (when doing intense quilting and/or threadwork), published in the  issue, I mused at the end that I might try to use my preferred choice, cotton duck, as the backing (the third layer) instead of as a fourth layer.  When I did just that in my quilt Descended From the Stars, I wrote editor Kit Robinson to share the results, thinking that readers might enjoy a quick update to the article.  Instead, she asked if I would write an article for their “Challenging Quilts” series!  You betcha I would, and now it is just published.

The quilt was made for the current Dinner@8 exhibit Affinity, and you can read the call for entry in the photo above, just to the right of the full-page image (and wow am I thrilled my photography looks so good and accurate on the page!).  At the top right of the right hand page you can read the quote written on the quilt, but I’ll also close this post with the quote which is fitting at this time of year.

The article takes you from the initial seed of an idea, to the call for entry, and through the creation process:  developing the working sketch, ideas abandoned, dyeing fabric (sometimes twice on the same cloth to get it right) and more.   I hope you will enjoy reading it; I certainly enjoyed making it and look forward to having it home.  And maybe entering it into shows or even selling it!  Yes, it would be hard to part with it, but a girl’s gotta make a living.

Squee!  On the first page of the Table of Contents!

Squee! On the first page of the Table of Contents!

As soon as I get the pie, cranberries and stuffing made today, I’m going to treat myself to a good sit-down and cuppa tea with this issue.  I always love Margaret’s articles and her posts on FB–she is simply a brilliant quilter.  She can take an already-outstanding client top and make it over-the-moon fantastic.  And I am REALLY looking forward to (and trying out) my friend Lisa Walton’s article on painting on your quilt after doing the quilting.  I wanted to win her donation quilt in the last SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) auction, but missed out to someone with a larger budget than mine.  Good for SAQA, but sad for me.

And here’s that inspiring quote from Mirza Khan, the Religious Studies Director at my old High School, San Domenico:

We have descended from the stars.  We have risen through the forms of thousands of animals.  We have passed through the lives of our ancestors, our grandparents, and our parents.  And now we have been born into the moment of our supreme existence.  We have a life.  What will we do with it? –Mirza Khan (used with permission, and with great thanks)

Welcome back to the light now that solstice is passed (and I’ll get caught up on my Foto Fridays that have been missing since the demise of the old laptop) and on to the peace and joy of the season, and a long winter for making art!

Merry Mistletoe, a new free project

December 16th, 2015

Hi all!   At long last the new laptop has arrived, the nearly-deceased one is retired, and I’m scrambling to catch up.  So first things first!  Janome has published my freebie table runner pattern on their website and blog as part of the holiday celebrations. As always, thanks to Janome America for having me in their Artist and Teacher program for lo these many happy and productive years.

A table runner I made to feature the Janome 15000's beautiful embroidery

A table runner I made to feature the Janome 15000’s beautiful embroidery.  And no, my table is NEVER this tidy.  My laptop lives where the lower left corner is and there is always a pile of “to do” stuff!

I used a Lonni Rossi embroidery design built in on the Janome 15000 I am currently using.  I altered the colors of the built-in design to a wintry, holiday palette of red, green and golden tan.  Honestly, I never thought I’d like machine embroidery (the wanting to do my own thing stuff), but this design is so gorgeous and even *I*, a soul who doesn’t like uber-computerized machines, was able to stitch this out nearly perfectly the first try!

To see the project on the Janome site, go here and scroll down to December 14, 2015 or go here.   To download a PDF including full color photos with some neat tips for getting those skinny red strips to be perfect, go here.

The plain old vanilla photo of the table runner.

The plain old vanilla photo of the table runner.

Here’s what the project looks like in the original color selection on my 15000.  Quite a difference, eh?  And here is the boring, straight-on view of the table runner.

The Janome 15000 open to the Lonni Rossi block in the original colors.

The Janome 15000 open to the Lonni Rossi block in the original colors.

Close up of the original color way on the machine.

Close up of the original color way on the machine.

I’ve got one more version/colorway, but it is a gift (as yet unfinished) for Christmas, so I’ll just have to share it and add it in here later!

If you don’t have this machine, never fear–you can just insert your favorite embroidery or fabric instead of doing this beautiful design.

 

 

Hullooo Out There

December 8th, 2015

No, I have not dropped off the face of the Earth.  My rather abrupt departure from regular blogging was due to a crashing and dying laptop.  I am happy to say that Apple tech support went so far above and beyond the call of duty it is amazing!  I did have to buy a new (kaCHING) laptop, but it is up and running.  So as soon as I get caught up on everything, I’ll make up with a multi-week Foto Friday and some other regular blogging, too!

And just because blogposts need pictures,

Minor adjustments in LR.  Cropped in PS, contrast increased, then a major tweak (100 percent) to highlights.  Love the surreal effect.

Here’s a fun photo I took this past week that I didn’t submit as my class photo, but I liked anyway.  Thanks to the DH (Hubby) for driving me around for half an hour so I could take “drive panning shots.”  Minor adjustments in LR. Cropped in PS, contrast increased, then a major tweak (100 percent) to highlights. Love the surreal effect.

Photography in 2016–the new Ricky Tims 52-Week Challenge

November 15th, 2015

Hi all: the best news first:  you can now sign up for this class in its 2016 version at Ricky’s new website https://www.photoclassforyou.com/

Anyway, for about the past half the year, I’ve been sharing each week’s lesson results with you here on my blog. My photography education this year began this way:

In December of last year, I saw Ricky’s post on Facebook announcing a photography challenge for 2015.   I promptly signed up, knowing that I needed the push to learn more about my DSLR and really USE it, since it is heavier and more complicated than my Panasonic SuperZoom.   I’ve always loved photography, and the class also included learning to use Photoshop (PS).  I was a bit leery, since PS used to cost a fortune–like $300+.  But now Adobe sells it as a subscription of $10.54 per month with a free trial month (or is it two?).  So I figured over three years that cost equals each edition of PS but in manageable monthly payments.  Now that I have used it, I wouldn’t be without it.

These mushrooms/toadstools in the yard are HUGE—at least 6 inches across when opened.  They seem to scream “ do NOT eat me!”  Smart sharpen, slight adjust to brighten.

One of my better recent shots.  Right click to see larger. These mushrooms/toadstools in the yard are HUGE—at least 6 inches across when opened. They seem to scream “ do NOT eat me!” Smart sharpen, slight adjust to brighten.

Now you can sign up for NEXT year [2016 R. Tims photo challenge part 1 sign up and info] to take a similar version of this course (Ricky has re-formatted it from 52 weeks in one swoop into a 26 week and two 13 week segments).  He asked for blurbs, I was happy to provide, and I’m so pleased he included my testimonial on his new website for teaching photography.

Right click to see larger.

Right click to see larger.  Here’s that hotlink again to take you to the page pictured above.

Your photography skills—composition, knowing your camera, and processing—will grow exponentially over the course.  Best of all, each lesson’s scope is a do-able “bite-size.”  If you have more time, you can go deeper, learning from fellow students’ work.  Recently, I took my son’s Senior (HS) portrait and the comments were “looks professional!”  That’s thanks to how much I have learned this year.

Here are a couple more of my recent photos that I think represent what I’ve learned.

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine. The usual edits:  smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

More autumn decay with blueberry barrens, decaying stone wall and birches in autumn in Maine.
The usual edits: smart sharpen, tiny bit of vibrance, crunching levels.

 

Eli's choice for his yearbook photo.  They also do something utterly cool...see next photo....

Eli’s choice for his yearbook photo. They also do something utterly cool…see next photo….