Friday, August 26, 2011

The Most Nagging UFO

Did you see the Ask Bonnie! post yesterday where, among other things, Bonnie turned the tables and asked the question, "What is the one big UFO that you would like to work on?"  
Well, this is mine.

The book doesn't come with the
templates (there are pages of
instructions), but I think it is
worth the extra cost.

Most of the "football" shapes made by the two arcs and little narrow slivers are sewn together, but the big center pieces are unattached. There are two more rows to go, and I have all of the pieces cut and the arcs all sewn. I've never had it out since I got my design wall earlier this summer, so this is the first time I have put it up here. I learned something in the process. My background print is directional--I had never noticed before. I will have to be careful when I sew it all together. 
Templates come in a variety
of sizes--see package top.
 Double wedding ring has been on   my quilt bucket list since before I knew what a bucket list was. My husband's aunt had made a few and I was often suggesting that she teach a class in our community--she was already doing a BOM in her home. When she decided to do it she suggested we just come with the fabrics to make a table topper and learn the technique. Then we could apply what we had learned to make a larger quilt later. (I followed that suggestion, though many chose to bring fabric for a whole quilt.) She has made the Double Wedding Ring quilt using a variety of techniques and her favorite is the John Flynn template method, so that is what we used. I went through my stash and chose fabrics that would match my living room so I could use the table topper on an end table there. I only had to buy one fat quarter to complete my color palette! I was pleased.
There were about 10 of us in her home that day learning this method to make the rings. I admit, it was pretty slick, but I think that day I also realized how slow I am. The BOM I had been attending in her home was mostly frequented by relatively new quilters. I was often last to finish, but only because I took so long to decide which fabrics to use, not because of my sewing speed. When this day was over I know there was at least one woman who had completed a full-size quilt top before going home. (Eleanor Burns didn't lie, you can make a quilt in a day!) I still hadn't finished my table topper. I sat among those women thinking some of their machines sounded more like race cars revving up, than sewing machines. 
This was a few years ago. So why haven't I finished it by now?
I discovered it was going to be too big for the intended table, so I decided to make it bigger and drape it across the back of the sofa. After all, I had chosen colors specifically to match the living room. But did I have enough of the fabrics? I unearthed what was left of them and it looked like I was good to go, except for the fat quarter I had purchased. Though I had just purchased it the week before, the LQS was out of it and wouldn't be getting more in. They did give me the name of the fabric line and designer. I found it online and got it ordered. 
Upon its arrival I got everything cut and started sewing. When I had decided to go bigger I had also chosen to use a variety of background fabrics in the ecru/cream range. For one thing, I like scrappy, and for another, I didn't have enough of a matching background to do the whole thing and was too cheap to buy more. After getting a few "footballs" made from the arcs and background fabrics, I laid them out with the center background pieces. I didn't like it. Discouraged, I put it away. Months later, with renewed interest, I unpicked the few background pieces I had already sewn to the arcs. I broke down and bought a new background fabric. I laid it out in a sunny spot and placed the sewn arcs upon it. I didn't like it. Packed it all away again.
It took two more tries before I found a match that passed the "sunny spot" test. 
By that time I had lost my steam on the whole thing and it had sunk to the bottom of the list. It just never seems to have risen to the top again. You know how that goes. You need this quilt finished for the new baby, that one for a graduation gift, and another one for Christmas giving. But when do the ones you want to make just to keep become your top priority? So far I don't have an answer for that.

If you are still with me, you are amazingly patient, but I beg your indulgence a little longer because I want your opinion. Unless this is your first visit here, you are no doubt familiar with the Tree of Life quilt I am making my youngest son. It is a memory quilt representing his two years as a missionary in Brazil. I am using the colors of the Brazilian flag, combined with more earthy tones, and each block has significance to his experiences there. As I have said before, it is not an attempt to win any design awards. But I am stumped as to the outer border(s). I don't like to make bed quilts square, so in an attempt to avoid that, I only put the "cobblestone" blocks around the sides and bottom. They are not sewn on yet, but I'm pretty sure they will stay this way. I had to do some partial blocks as filler, since the Ocean Waves are 16" blocks and the Cobblestones are 12" blocks. I wanted to finish with a few inch wide border around the whole quilt. I tried a brown, but thought it wasn't a good finish.
I know many of you have commented that when you see something on the design wall it is a totally different effect than when you see it in a photo. Not until I saw this photo did I realize how much the Ocean Waves blocks stand out from the dullness of the other colors. 
Anyway, my next attempt was to add a narrow blue border between the Cobblestones and the outer brown strip.
I liked it better. But still, when I saw it in the photo I wasn't sure. Next I replaced the inner blue strip with a green.
Hmmm, not so sure about that one. Now, my boldest move was to put the yellow in its place.
Better than I expected. Maybe this is what it needs to bring some of the brightness of the center out to the duller edge. Do I need to change that dark blue middle border to a green for a less abrupt transition? What would you do? (Starting over may be what you would do, but it is not an option for me.)
Well, we are in the midst of a thunderstorm and the power has already gone out once during this process. That was probably a hint that I should have quit a long time ago. But this storm is nothing compared to what some of you are facing. 
Prayers go out to those in the path of Irene. Stay safe! 
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.
p.s. The soap is cured, packaged and sent. You winners should be seeing it soon!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Lost is Found

The source for the "Granny Squares" quilt from my last post was located and identified by a few of you--thanks for the help! And best of all, Charity, who was the maker of the quilt I photographed, (and is shown  here again with it in my blurry photo)  found the link to the pattern for us. If you have the Oct. 2010 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting, then you already have the pattern, just go find it. If not, click on "pattern" above and download it.
This link takes you to the free, downloadable Granny Squares pattern on the American Patchwork and Quilting website. If you are already a member you can go ahead and download. If you aren't, it just takes a minute to sign up and then you are good to go. They give you the pattern for a table topper in a different colorway, but you can just keep making more of the squares to create the full-size quilt as Charity made and as they featured on the cover of their Oct. 2010 issue, shown here (in the colorway Charity used).
By the way, Charity has started her own blog. She is a talented quilter and I think there will be much to like as she gets rolling. In the post linked here she is sitting with her Grandma and the quilt each of them made from this pattern. Check it out.
Speaking of patterns, there was a 25% off coupon in the latest email from the new LQS. I wasn't going to go in, but there is this pattern that has been catching my eye every time I am there. And 25% off! And I was going to be in that neighborhood anyway--and there was parking right by the door! How many more excuses do I need to give? Though who knows when I will ever attempt it. There are way too many WIP stacking up as it is and I have already told several of you I am on a "new project" diet. I brought the pattern home and put it away (after the photo to post here). See how strong I am?  I know, if I was really strong I would never have purchased it.
So, until next time, from the little mountain valley where the tree frogs and crickets are currently chirping away,
Janet O.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Drum Roll, Please...

The winner is ... (suspenseful pause) ... Maureen, of "Pursuit of Quilts" who is having a great give away of her own to celebrate the 50 follower benchmark. Drop on over and sign up--you have until noon a week from today! Maureen will be receiving the Lori Smith pattern and the Comfort charm pack.
And the runner-up ... (more suspense) ... Kathie of INSPIRED BY ANTIQUE QUILTS. She will also receive a charm pack. I laughed when I saw who the random number generated had selected as runner-up. It seems like poetic justice since it is through her post about this fabric line that I learned of it.
Congrats to the winners. If you will email your snail mail addresses to me I will get your winnings mailed right out! And to those who won soap in the last giveaway--don't despair. The soap will be ready and mailed before the end of the month. Thank you for your patience (I feel like a recording you hear when you have been on hold on the phone for tooooo long).
Now for a visit to the county fair. I mentioned in my last post that the sweepstakes winning quilt was a "Dear Jane". I also said it was kind of hard to get good photos because the quilts were displayed in glass cases. Here is the best I could do for Jane while she was on display. These cases line the walls of the home arts building.
Dear Jane under glass.
So as the quilters came to pick up their quilts today I pounced on a few of them and asked permission to get a photo and post it on my blog with their name. You have to understand that my "post" at the home arts building has been the sewing/knitting/crocheting table for the past few years. This is not because I do those things, but because no one else will take that position. So I am across a large room from where the quilts are and I had to rely on peripheral vision to see when someone picked up a quilt that I wanted to photograph--it didn't always work, but I'll show you what I have. First I'll explain that our county fair gives three sweepstakes ribbons in the quilt department--one for the best machine-quilted piece, one for the best hand-quilted piece and one for the best wall hanging, whether machine or hand-quilted. This doesn't necessarily mean that the hand-quilted winner will have the best hand-quilting of those entries, but that of all the hand-quilted entries, it was the best overall, etc. Got it? I'm not sure I do.
So here is Dear Jane once she was released from her encasement.

That is Sue Baddley, the maker, smiling from behind the quilt. I would
be smiling, too, if this was my quilt.

Click to get a better view.
Look at this great documentation--on the front, for all to see! I like this. You can see that she pieced this a few years ago, but she just barely got it quilted in time for the fair. Just squeaked under the wire.
And this dedication.

The maker, Sue Baddley, has made more of this pattern than just this one. She told me specifically about one that is all red, white and blue. I'd like to see that. She did her own machine quilting and it is beautiful.

The quilting in the border.

The corner quilting.
She said the quilting in each block has a story behind it--but we didn't have time to go through them. : )

The sweepstakes winner in the hand-quilting category was picked up while I wasn't looking so I only have photos of it in the case, and I didn't get the makers permission to share her name. I want to give credit to the makers, so I will save her quilt for another post after I can talk to her. You will want to see it. It is an amazing quilt of appliqued Native American images. I believe it was a BOM quilt from a shop in Southern Utah, but I will try to have more info when I post it.

This is the sweepstakes winner in the wall hanging category. The maker okayed posting it, but I only got a photo while it was in the case. Very pretty little double wedding ring by Maylyn Knoppel. As I recall, it was hand-quilted. Hard  to be certain from the photo, but it looks like it.

I took these photos without flash (indoors--what was I thinking), so the pictures are a bit fuzzy. But I love this quilt. It was on a magazine cover a while back and it was one I was POSITIVE I had purchased, so I didn't bother getting the details from the maker. And do you think I can find it now? NO!

I'll have to call the maker, Charity Bates, and get the info from her. I can see the cover in my mind, but after an extensive internet search and search of my sewing stuff, I can't come up with it. I wish I had used a flash on the above photos. They would have been sharper images and not as yellow. I loved this scrappy "Many Trips Around the World" and the  border is even scrappier!

This last quilt is just cute and fun, using yo-yos as cherries--and yes, we have the quilt upside down in the photo. Cherries don't grow straight up--at least not the varieties I have picked. Why didn't I notice this while taking the photo?
The smiling maker shown above is LuAnn Rickson. She said this had been a kit offered at a now closed LQS. Love the pink and brown even when they aren't in a Civil War reproduction quilt!

It was fun to make some new quilting friends and share their creations with you. I have two more to share when I can contact the quilters. Stay tuned.

Congrats, again, to the winners. Hope you'll share what you do with the charm squares--even if it takes years. : )

Until next time, from the little mountain valley where the days are still hot, but the nights are starting to have that nip of fall.
Janet O.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Giveaway, Cobblestones, and Recipes

I love this little quilt. It is on display, finished and framed, at the LQS. The pattern for this is from one of the two sets I just got in the mail on Monday. I haven't had much sewing time but I have managed to get everything cut for this quilt and ready to sew. I don't plan on framing mine--just quilting and binding.

So now for the giveaway. You are maybe thinking, "What, again already?" I know that went through my head. After all, since I had missed the 50 follower giveaway opportunity, and went with 75--it wasn't so long ago. In fact, the soap for those winners is still curing. Well, when I got home from a long day at the fairgrounds and a visit to my grandchildren Tuesday night, this is what I found when I did my blog check.
Woo-Hoo! The big 100 follower mark! I needed to celebrate that somehow. I have really enjoyed the exchanges I have had with so many of you. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. I have met so many gracious, kind, creative, inspiring, funny and giving quilters. This is how I want to say "Thanks!" Part one of the giveaway is the Lori Smith pattern set shown here. It includes the little quilt featured at the beginning of this post.
The other part of the giveaway is thanks to a link on Kathie Holland's blog "Inspired By Antique Quilts." She posted the link to a new line of fabric from the Collection For a Cause, named Comfort. I fell for it. Take a look at these fabrics!

So along with the pattern set, there goes a  charm pack of this fabric collection. Show how good a "follower" you are by following these directions to have a chance to win--just leave a comment on this post by midnight Monday and on Tuesday I will post a winner and runner-up. The runner-up will also receive a charm pack (but no pattern).

Can you just feel the cobblestones underfoot? No, huh?
Though, as I said earlier, it has been a busy week and I haven't been able to do very much sewing, I have put together a few of the cobblestone blocks for the Tree of Life quilt.

I'm not sure if these will surround the whole quilt, or just the sides and bottom, or if they will end up in the corners with something else filling the spaces between. I'm still trying to figure out how to keep this quilt from being square. I did decide that there needed to be another blue border between the Ocean Waves and the Cobblestones. Who knows where it will go from here?

By the way, at the county fair my pear pie won a blue ribbon. Let me know if you'd like the recipe and I will email it to you. I received it in a class taught by the executive pastry chef at the Deer Valley ski resort near Park City, Utah. It quickly became my new favorite pie. I had another entry in the baking department--Smurtles. This is a scrumptious bar cookie developed by Christine Boren of Provo, Utah. The link takes you to the recipe on the Nestle website. This cookie has an oatmeal crust on top and bottom with a layer of caramel and a layer of chocolate in between. Easy to make and sooooo good!  The Smurtles got a blue ribbon, too--and several recipe requests. Also, my Mom's quilt got a blue ribbon! I had planned on photographing some of the quilts, but they are all displayed in glass cases and I'd forgotten how hard it is to get good photos. Just know that the sweepstakes winning quilt was a beautifully made, machine quilted Dear Jane quilt in the traditional style. Very deserving.

So, don't forget to leave your comment, and until next time, from the little mountain valley where the county fair is in full swing,
Janet Olsen

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Quilty Day--With No Quilting

First quilty thing--the quilt featured in my header found its home. My daughter and I joined forces to make this for her neighbor. This woman has been amazing in all of the help and support she has offered my daughter  ever since my daughter's family moved in next door to her a few years ago. We are so glad the quilt has a good home.

The next quilty thing happened without being planned. I was in town for a brief stop to get pears and cream (needed to make the pear pie I want to enter in the county fair tomorrow). The first store didn't have pears that were ripe enough, so I moved on. I found what I needed in the next store, but I also found that I was within 1/2 mile of the newest quilt shop in town. You have to understand that I was under time a constraint and should have gone straight home to get ready to help take entries at the county fair home arts building. But recently my blogging friend, Mary, had reminded me that this new LQS was having a trunk show and visit from pattern and fabric designer, Lori Holt, of Bee In My Bonnet Company.

Today was the day. As much as I am in awe of her work, I hadn't planned on going. #1--didn't have time, #2--her quilts are mostly applique and I am not on that page yet, #3--her fabrics are more bright and modern than I tend to lean toward. But there I was--so close--surely I could spare 10 minutes to drop in. (Yeah, right!) When I got near the shop and saw every available parking space within a couple of blocks was taken I decided to drive on by. As I did so I saw one parking space right by the shop's back door. Could it really be? Must be reserved or something. I backed up and pulled in--no reserved sign in sight. I was good to go. I caught the tail end of her presentation, got the pattern to make this cute little bottle apron for party favors, table decorations, etc. (along with the 2 10" squares of fabric to make  some), watched as 3 patterns and 6 fat quarter bundles went to other lucky people in a drawing, met Lori and took pictures of many of her quilts, buzzed past the cheesecake being served (only grabbing a glass of lemon water) and bought a few fat quarters on my way out the door.

Take a look at these quilts. She does needle-turned applique using a straw needle, which she replaces every 3 or 4 blocks. Her 11-year-old daughter embroiders the sayings, scriptures and poems on the blocks. I really did stare in wonder at her quilts. If my camera battery hadn't been dying and I hadn't been in such a hurry I would have taken some detail shots, but you can click to enlarge them and get a pretty good view. This is just a handful of the quilts lining every inch of wall space in the classroom that contained about 80 women. I realized I mostly got pictures of the warm-toned fabric quilts. There were plenty of other "bright & white" quilts--I guess I just wasn't drawn to those. : )

Lori is coming back, I believe in September, to teach and introduce a new pattern, if you are going to be in Northern Utah. : )

After seeing all the bright, fun fabrics she has designed and worked with, what went home with me? What do you think? This is just who I am.

Third quilty thing today--while helping take entries at the county fair I got to see some beautiful quilts. Didn't take any photos (even though I had my camera in my purse today thinking I might get photos of quilts at the fairgrounds) but there are many inspiring designs. It is always interesting to see what the judges decide. I don't always agree with their choices, but I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. My Mom has entered a quilt again. I'll let you know the outcome there.

Fourth quilty thing-- When I got home this evening there were two squishies in the mail. Fun times!
I have been so taken by the little quilts on Dawn and Kathie's blogs. Samples from these "Fit to Frame" patterns by Lori Smith were calling to me the last time I was in the new LQS (prior to today). They were out of stock, but I came home and ordered a couple of them online. She has so many great patterns, it was hard to decide. There is free shipping within the US--that was a nice surprise.
I'm looking forward to making some of these little gems, and to getting at least one more set of patterns.

The other package was the book I ordered from Bonnie's website. Yes, if you order it from Amazon along with anything else you can get free shipping, but I think the shipping charge is worth it to have Bonnie sign and personalize the book. There are several quilts in here that are going on my bucket list. They will make great leader/enders!
So it was quite a quilty day and I didn't even thread a needle!
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Before, During, and After

If you've been with me through the past month or so, you have seen the Tree of Life quilt. You may recall that I was not happy with the border around the center medallion.

It also didn't totally fill the gap between the Tree block and the Ocean Waves blocks. So it was dismissed.

I tried a few other things, among them, these leftover HSTs. It didn't cut it, but it stimulated some suggestions from some of you.
 I couldn't find a striped fabric that matched. I tried the solid dark blue and it seemed too overpowering, but I liked blue there. So I went with two shades of blue.
Initially I put in dark blue cornerstones, but then I pulled out a few of those leftover HSTs and thought it might work. What do you think? The Ocean Waves blocks aren't stitched on yet, so if it still needs changing, now is the time!
At least the Ocean Waves blocks are finished--Yay!! There is another round of blocks that I haven't started yet. This block comes from a Fons & Porter bonus pattern, "Celtic Cobblestones." 
I've mentioned that this quilt is a commemorative quilt for my youngest son's two years as a missionary in Brazil. He spent most of those two years traversing cobblestone streets. So I am taking the cobblestone block from the Fons & Porter pattern. It isn't sized to match my Ocean Waves blocks, so I'm not sure yet if I will sash them or adapt them or resize them, but somehow I am going to get those cobblestones on this quilt! Maybe I need another blue border between the Ocean Waves and Cobblestone blocks. I'm just thinking out loud here.
I picked up these batiks and textures today to make these blocks. I wanted to imply the look of stones without actually going the route of the stony print fabrics. And this will pull colors from the center of the quilt through the "waves"--I hope. Oh, when will I quit using the design-as-you-go technique?
Just in case there are thoughts running through your head like, "This isn't very pretty," or "This needs more color," remember that this is for a 22-year-old young man--his interest in pretty doesn't extend to quilts.
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where we are in the midst of a thunderstorm and the power has already gone out on me once as I tried to post this,

Janet O.