Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Many Thanks & My Design Wall Audition

First of all I must send out a big "Thank You" to Bonnie Hunter for the link to my blog. I am meeting some great new people, and as a relatively new blogger, that is fun. Her book, pictured here, gave me new enthusiasm for finishing some projects that had seemed like they would never get done. I had to send her some of my handcrafted herbal soap as a thank-you. In an earlier post I said that when I had enough people reading this blog I would do some kind of soap give away, so if you stay tuned you may have a chance at a similar package.

Well, the design wall finally went up last night and I am so excited to use it. The only problem is that my current project is still mostly on the design boards, not ready for the wall. One block on the wall is not that inspiring, don't you think?

But I had to try it out, so I pulled out a set of blocks that I made using a pattern I picked up at a shop hop 5 years ago. They have been simmering, waiting for a great setting idea. I think I finally found one when I got Sharyn Craig's book referenced in a previous post, but I won't be working on this for a little while. The baby quilt, t-shirt quilt, and another one I have yet to post about have to take priority. But hey, they sure look good on the new design wall.

Each block contains 16 different fabrics in the center. It was fun collecting the fabrics from remnants, fat quarters and other quilters' scraps. The orange and purple colors were the most challenging to find in large variety. Hopefully next time you see the design wall it will contain something that I am really working on. Thank you DH, for making this a reality.

"Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows (and where it DID NOT snow today!),
Janet O.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dashing Through the Snow! Oops, Wrong Holiday.

The view from our front deck this morning.
My extended family has a longstanding tradition of visiting ancestor's graves in the valley on this holiday. Then we gather at a park for a picnic lunch. As new generations have come along they have joined in. We visit three of the many cemeteries in the valley and this year two of them had at least three inches of heavy, wet snow. That has never happened as far back as my father's 87 years can recall. We built snowmen on some of the graves we were visiting and felt like maybe we should have sung some Christmas carols. Then we skipped the park and gathered at our house for lunch--it was raining and windy by that time. We had 30 loved ones visiting and munching. It was a wonderful time.
My Great-Great Grandma Rebecca's grave. She died just a couple of weeks after coming west from Tennessee.

My nephew is helping me add features to the snowman on my Great-great grandpa Henry's grave.
 Due to my friend's passing and funeral I haven't had time to sew the past few days. I visited her grave this afternoon. I didn't get to go after the funeral because I was in charge of the lunch for the family after the graveside service, so I stayed at the church to get that set up. I was also an honorary pall bearer. My friend said she wanted those who had born her up in this life to bear her out of it. Her daughters and nieces were the pall bearers and her friends were honorary pall bearers.

DH and I did finish creating my design wall this evening. I need to get quilting now and have something to show on it soon.
'Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo...

...my mother told me to choose... (actually, I wish my mother would tell me which one to choose!). There are currently two quilts I am working on that I had wanted quilted ASAP. Neither one of them is to the flimsy stage yet, but knowing that my two local longarm quilters usually have a few weeks lead time I got my name on their lists a couple of weeks ago and then went to work on the tops, secure in the knowledge that I would be ready by the time they could squeeze me in. So it was a complete surprise when I received a phone call from one of them yesterday saying she was ready for my quilt. At first I told her to skip over me and go to the next one on her list and then I thought, "why not get something out of that pile of flimsy stage quilts and put her right to work for you?" Now the question is, which one (and this doesn't include the three I have draped over my loft banister made of vintage blocks)? Some of these tops have been floating around here since the late 1990s--and they look it.
And the winner is... this Chinese Coins that I made in a class a couple of years ago , learning free-form foundation piecing. A real stretch for me--although I make scrap quilts, I usually plan the scraps a bit. This was a "kitchen sink" approach--though I tried to limit it to warm undertones (emphasis on tried).

In the meantime, I have set aside my sons college t-shirt quilt, which is to the sashing and cornerstone stage, to get my grandson's birthday quilt made. I had hoped to be farther along than this by now, but the friend I mentioned in my previous post passed away Tuesday morning and I have spent a lot of time on the phone coordinating the meal for the family to follow the funeral.
These are not pieced yet--just trying it out. If you don't have a design wall, design boards are the next best thing. Foamcore board, spray adhesive and cotton batting--holds block pieces in place as you move them from the cutting table to the sewing machine--or stand them up to get a good view.
Everything is cut and ready. I'm thinking this needs some depth and I may audition a dark blue to border some of the blocks. You can see some in the fussy cut Dr. Seuss print, if I can just find the right color.
My current leader/ender project is something I saw at our local shop hop last year. It is called "EYE FOOLER" from Spruce Creek Designs. It is made of a lot of little pieces, so it is fun to see it happening between the lines--as Bonnie says.
This is the one hanging in the store.
Leader/ender progress. All the 4-patch units are made. Now I start on the tri-recs units.
Last exciting news--I am getting a design wall! No more crawling around on the floor to lay out and rearrange blocks! Since we are empty nesters (again) I decided to quit moping about how quiet the house is and try to find something positive in the situation. Our boys moved into an apartment with friends the day after Mother's Day. So I am taking a nice long wall in the main floor bedroom and DH is doing this up right. He has trimmed one of the two 4x8' panels of foam insulation so that they will fit perfectly between floor and ceiling. He is screwing them into the wall and then I will cover it with a king size cotton batting. I can't wait!
Design wall in the making!
'Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Melancholy Day

This will not be the most cheerful of posts, but it's the mood I'm in. Last night I drove with a friend to a hospital about an hour away to visit a mutual dear friend in hospice care. She had gone in for an emergency surgery a week ago and things had gone downhill ever since. She was barely able to open her eyes long enough to recognize we were there and attempt to mouth a few sentences. We just sat at her bedside, holding her hands and sharing our favorite memories of our times together. It was a special time with a very peaceful spirit. She leaves behind 7 adult children, a loving husband and I've lost count of the grandchildren.

This is a picture of the quilt I made for her way back when. Many years ago her family moved to our little farming community. She quickly endeared herself to all and I referred to her as our cruise director. She loved to gather a variety of people together and feed them and have fun together. "Entertaining" is too fancy a word for what she did--it was just good old down home hospitality. Wherever she went she was loved and cherished. After more than a decade with us she decided they needed to move to Canada to help care for her aging parents. At that point I was in the process of my second "block-of-the-month" quilt and decided it would be her going away present. But the house wouldn't sell and her health was not great. After a couple of years of trying, they took their house off the market. I had finished the quilt blocks, but without the impending move, I set them aside and didn't finish the top. Lo and behold, out of the blue, someone came to them a couple of years later and made an offer on the house. The move was swift and I didn't get the top finished and quilted in time. Later that year a daughter of hers who still lived here was flying up to visit at Christmas, so we rolled the quilt up tightly and she took it in her luggage. I don't know how well it recovered after being so compressed for so long, but she always made me feel she loved it.

When I was making the quilt I wondered what made me choose those fabrics (you can tell I chose them back in the day when the calico prints were rampant), but when I was helping my friend pack for her move I was surprised to discover that these were her bedroom colors--cool blues and greens with a salmony pink. Her bedroom was upstairs at the back of the house and I had never been in it before, so I had no clue. I love the look of cool colors, but usually choose to work with warm undertoned fabrics.

From Canada my friend had sent me the Mitford Series of books by Jan Karon. Upon purchasing "More Nickel Quilts" and seeing the quilt titled "Stars Over Mitford" I had planned on making it for her someday. I waited too long.

She moved back to the States a little over a year ago, but was an hour away in a city where her only son and his family live. We'd had a few good visits together since her return, but not nearly enough. I am so grateful that I had the privilege of being her friend and learning from her gracious, loving ways. Go in peace, Gail.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One woman's trash ...

...is another woman's treasure. If you are a scrapquilter you already live by that mantra. This quilt illustrates the point. My mother and I attended a yard sale over a year ago that was held by a woman who used to work in the LQS. Her ad said there would be patterns, books, fabric, UFOs and even finished tops. There were--in abundance! There were also grab bags of fabric. These were large, clear plastic bags, so you had an idea of what was in them, but there was no full disclosure until you got them home. Mine was all fabric pieces, some of them were even 1/4 yard. Mom's however, had a buried treasure within--at least I thought so. Nestled in among the fabrics were 50 finished, scrappy 4-patch blocks. Mom does not like to finish someone else's discarded project. I seem to thrive on the challenge, so these blocks became mine. One evening, when I wasn't in the mood to work on any of my current projects, I pulled out these blocks and thought it should be pretty easy to come up with a quick way to use them. I started thumbing through my favorite "scrap quilt" books and came across this one called Montana Scrappy that I had marked in Lynn Roddy Brown's Simple Strategies for Block-Swap Quilts. (I love that book!) All I had to do was make 150 more 4-patch blocks and 200 HST. Sure, pretty easy.

Eventually I pulled it all together and was very pleased with the results. I gave this to a friend for her birthday last month.

For some reason I have a need to complete other people's abandoned projects (as I will verify in a future post someday). Why can't I just stick to my own UFOs?

'Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


What has me floored is this T-shirt quilt spread on the family room floor. I have just laid the finished blocks (so far) out on the piece of fabric I will be using for the sashing to get a feel for the effect. What I'm getting a feel for is the size! There are 12 blocks here and I have 18 more to go. Yikes!! This is for my son who just graduated from college earlier this month. He was involved in so many organizations on campus and they all have their own t-shirts and usually get a new design each year. He has done his own laundry for years, so though I knew he had an excess of t-shirts, I had no idea of the masses that would be delivered to me when I innocently asked if he would like a t-shirt quilt to remember all of his campus participation.

As you can see I have pieced all of these blocks and about half of the ones yet to come are also pieced. I should have left out the sashing on the pieced blocks to help cut down the size. The finished blocks are 16"!. Although I used the fusible interfacing on the backs of the designs I felt the narrow sashing between the pieces would help further stabilize things. It probably wasn't necessary, but I'm not going to unpick these now.  Even if I use very narrow sashing (I hope the plaid isn't lost in the process--it wasn't easy to find) this will be a king-size quilt, for sure! He'd better get a bigger bed. But I need to set this aside for now.

My youngest grandson turns 2 in a couple of weeks and I have the fabric waiting to make him a quilt. It is based on one of the Robert Kaufman "Celebrate Seuss" prints.  I need to decide on a pattern pronto. I just fell in love with the print and bought it without knowing how I was going to use it. Story of my life.
The fabric was over $11 a yard, so I found my own coordinating prints, rather than use theirs.

I wanted to be able to post some major progress on the Mariner's Compass today. After yesterday's class I worked late into the night to get a part of the radiating checkerboard completed. Now I'm not sure if I  like my color choices around the compass. My original idea had been to use a variety of tonal reds and the blue. For some reason I chose to incorporate all of the colors and now I think they may overpower the compass and look too busy. And it was no easy task to work out the color placement! Anybody want to weigh in with their opinion? The strips are not sewn together, so if I'm going to change it it will be easier now than later.

I'll leave you with a photo of one of my other passions. I make herbal soap and here are the trays of cured soap ready to use from my soap making session of last month. This is a small offering--before Christmas I fill about 20 or more trays with the stuff in a wide range of scents, shapes and colors. I use all vegetable oils as my base, essential oils for my scents, and herbs and spices for my colors. I have been doing this for 15 years. It is all we ever use. Maybe if this blog ever gets enough readers for a give-away I will send some out. It is delicious stuff!
Cured soap, ready to go.
'Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.
This is the view this morning out my back window. I have hiked those mountains a few times--when the snow is gone! It is a pretty view even through the dirty window from all the rain we have had in the valley this week.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Remnant Rehab and Perforated Paper Piecing.

 What an alliterative title. Don't expect it on a regular basis.

How many LQSs that you know of still have remnant baskets, tables or bins? With the advent of the fat quarter, and now the fat eighth, it seems that most every little bit of fabric can be cut from a bolt, folded neatly with a printed paper wrapper and displayed in color coordinated rows--and actually cost more than the yardage price for the convenience. Nearly gone are the days when a fraction of a yard of fabric was rolled tightly and banded with a hand scrawled note of the measurement for a fraction of the original price. Happily, my LQS still offers a basket or two of these gems--though the table that used to hold a bounty of them has disappeared. Sadly, I am addicted. Wonderful, quality fabrics at 40% off and the fun of a treasure hunt in the bargain. I am a sucker for a bargain. So no matter what material need may take me into the shop, feeding the habit will always eventually find me sitting on the floor in the back corner surrounded by little fabric bundles before I finally make my way to the checkout counter.

Case in point: I have been taking a two-part class at the shop, learning to make the Mariner's Compass using the perforated paper method.  It is based on Judy Mathieson's book pictured here. May I just say that I love this method and I never dreamed a Mariner's Compass could be so easy!

Our class and homework assignments were to complete three parts that we would bring to the next class. 
The three parts I made are shown here. (No the compass points won't be cut off. The center circle, compass, and ring of flying geese are each separate and we will be attaching them in class, so they are just overlapping each other in the photo.)

My first Mariner's Compass attempt, unassembled. There will definitely be more in the future. This was fun.

Also, we are going to be putting a radiating checkerboard around it, as shown in this photo from the book. My checkerboard will not have a light color--unless you count the gold. It will be the navy, gold, green and red colors, but more texture involved.

one lone fat quarter--all I needed

So I had cut up every bit of the two gold fabrics I had pulled to make the body of the quilt and nothing else in my stash matched the tone of gold I wanted. I had to have some because I don't want a plain border and I want to incorporate all of the colors in the border I finally choose. On a quick trip to town I dropped into the shop to get ONE FAT QUARTER of gold fabric.

I walked in the door and was disoriented by the fact that whole aisles of fabric had been moved. When I questioned the very helpful clerk behind the counter she said they had been cleaning up and cutting up bolts that only had a little left. Some had gone into fat quarters, but they had bundled a bunch of remnants as well. REMNANTS? At the mention of the word I know my ears pricked up, and I'm not sure, but I may have started salivating, too. My feet started moving toward the back of the shop under their own power. Sure enough, where there used to be 2 large, overflowing baskets of remnants there were now three. I didn't fight the urge. I plopped down and made myself comfortable. There must have been a couple of dozen fabric bundles around me after I had pawed my way through it all. Then began the painful process of elimination. I can't ever pass up background pieces, so those were keepers--many of these remnants were full yards or more. This was a banner day! There were some fun novelties and some beautiful, warm colors that just wouldn't stay in the baskets. This is what came home with me. Is there a 12-step program for this? I only needed one fat quarter!!
Each of these is at least 1/2 yard, up to a full yard!

I love to make pillowcases for special occasions and I thought with some bright trim the dots would make a great birthday pillowcase for the grandkids to use on their pillow during their birthday week

'Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,

Janet O.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Quilting Roots

Storm at Sea made by my Mom before rotary cutting!
 I grew up with a quilting mother, but as I have become more immersed in the world of quilting I realize how unique she is. She makes one quilt a year--machine pieced and hand quilted. She usually finds a pattern she likes and replicates it as nearly as possible. She doesn't save the scraps. She has a small fabric stash, but buys new for much of each quilt. She joined a guild briefly, but was happier doing her own thing on her own time. She has never taken a quilt class or gone to a quilt retreat. She has won sweepstakes at our county fair multiple times and one of her two entries at the state fair level netted her the sweepstakes there. That quilt went on to Houston--you know, the big quilt thing they do there. ; )

Mom's stitches are tiny and she taught me to hand quilt by leaving the knot off of my thread as I learned. When my stitches were finally small and even enough to be in her quilt she let me knot my thread. As I would help my Mom with her quilting I thought it was a tedious thing and I always swore I would never be a quilter. Since I have been quilting almost 25 years, I ate those words a long time ago!

Recently, as I have pondered the possibility of a quilt blog and what I would call it, the name "rogue quilter" came to mind. I apply the term in the sense of "one who behaves in an unpredictable way." I have never been a guild member and I've never been to a quilt retreat. I have never made a quilt from a kit and I have never made a quilt exactly as the pattern instructs. I have never purchased a jelly roll or charm squares. I've never attended a major quilt show or fest and I don't have a group of quilting friends. As I see the quilters around me doing all the things I've never done, I feel somewhat out of the loop. However, I am very traditional in my quilt style, so there is nothing rogue about my quilts. I am definitely a scrap quilter, though I occasionally step outside those boundaries and do something different.

It has only been the last few months that I have even followed any quilt blogs and I have Bonnie Hunter to thank for that. Upon purchasing her "Adventures with Leaders and Enders" (Feb. 2011) I was so interested in her methods that I looked up her website and started following her blog. That led me to read others that she followed and they led me to others, etc., etc., etc. I decided to start this blog primarily as a quilting journal, so it may just be for my own benefit, but if anyone else stumbles across it and takes the time to read, Welcome.
My first leader/ender project!
I absolutely love Bonnie's "leader/ender" way of quilting between the lines. The photo above shows  my latest project (which was my first leader/ender quilt) to go off to the longarm quilter. This double four-patch was a joint effort between my daughter and myself to gift to a neighbor of hers. I used the leftovers, along with inspiration from Sharyn Craig's book "Great Sets" to make the lap quilt below.
 After working to modify the x-block to get the desired result I realized I could have achieved the same thing with the hatchet block. Chalk it up to experience! 

I've rambled enough for now. More to come--there are plenty of projects in the works.
'Til next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows, 

Janet O.