Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bloggerversary Giveaway!

Before November is over (just barely before) I want to take this opportunity to say I'm glad I've become acquainted with you all. November marks 6 months for me on Blogger and though I admit I was not prepared for the time this involves, I have thoroughly enjoyed making a slew of quilting friends who don't care if I am still in my jammies or if my dishes are done. I have learned so many things I would not otherwise have known and met wonderful people from around the world. I have laughed with many over silly things and cried with some when times were hard. I am strengthened by your examples of courage and touched by your generosity and goodness. To say "thank you" I am giving away the items pictured. There is the book "Country Threads Goes to Charm School." Many of you have been to Country Threads--I have not. But I was "charmed" by this book with its patterns for little quilts (which have recently captivated me) made from charm packs. The quilts are all named with "rules" of etiquette--some are familiar, some I've never heard of before. I have included a charm pack of a fabric line that has been catching my eye in the LQS, "Together" by Brannock and Patek. (Click here to see the fabrics). To round things out I threw in a 16" remnant piece of Kona Bone for some background. (The cutting tables were busy, so I dug through the remnants for something I thought would work. I was in a hurry! Besides, you know I can't go in the LQS without a dig through the remnants.)

Look at some of these fun quilts inside.
Sorry for the less than stellar photos. I was trying to hold the book open with one hand without cracking the spine while taking the photo with the other hand. Not so good. This is just a small sampling of the 19 little quilts.

If you want in on a chance to win this please leave a comment on this post by noon Saturday MST.

Currently on my design wall is my red and green version of Bonnie's Smokey Mountain Stars. I had asked for advice earlier on whether to plan the layout or let the chips fall where they may. The latter option definitely won the vote, and I tried--I really did. I know I have this control issue and I ended up alternating the red and green star centers and I'm trying to let the star points fall where they may. Every now and then the dark green star points totally surround a red center. I tried to tell myself that it was okay for that star to be so defined, but it wasn't really, to me. I haven't had to move very many star points, though. : )
Yep, I see the square in the upper right corner that is turned wrong.
But I didn't see it before I took the photo. When I chose the khaki
tan shirts for the background I didn't realize how dark they would
make the overall appearance of the quilt, though I do think the
photo makes the whole thing look darker than it really is.. I hope
 I like the final effect. I'm not changing it now!
I am calling this one Rocky Mountain Christmas. I had originally been shooting for this Christmas to have it finished, but I want to machine quilt it myself. I definitely need more practice and time, so it looks like this will be part of next year's celebration.

Then on my design board is something that should look familiar, unless you have never been here before. That's right, I am in the process of making a duplicate table topper to the one I gave my sister as a hostess gift at Thanksgiving. The center pinwheels are finished and now I just need to cut the borders to length and sew them on. I have a much different quilting design in mind for the outer border and if it goes as planned I will be swapping this for the one I gave away.
That does it for now--don't forget to leave a comment if you'd like to participate in the giveaway.
(ETA--I've decided to throw in a gift bag of my handcrafted holiday soap to a second winner. Just so you know.)
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush is frozen,
Janet O.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First FMQ Piece and ... My First Quilt (Yikes)

I posted my FMQ sampler last time around. Now for the reveal on the first "pieced" item. I must say--it is a whole different ball game. The photo of this little table topper doesn't show the stippled center and curlicue border well, and they are the parts about which I feel the best. The part that really shows is the awkward leaf border that didn't turn out anything like I hoped. This was a hostess gift for my sister who hosted our family Thanksgiving celebration. I was up very late the night before finishing it and was so tempted not to even give it to her, but I swallowed my pride and gifted it. I am tempted to make another one, do a better quilting job, and trade her.

Okay, I broke down and dug out the "quilt journal" for a photo of my first quilt. I'm joining Bonnie's "share your first quilt" post, and here it is. I didn't have a digital camera when I took this and this is the best shot I could get of the quilt journal page. If you click on the photo you can probably read the story behind it. I did the quilt on the top, and my Mom pretty much did the bottom one. The next two quilts I made actually got worse so I guess I should be grateful they aren't on the same page. These two were true scrap quilts. I made most of my daughter's and my own clothing, and some of my boys' clothing. The wild, tropical prints were very popular among the girls and these quilts were made from scraps from the many outfits I had made my daughters. They were tied, not quilted, so maybe they don't count, but this was my beginning. I had hand quilted on my Mom's quilts and those of my church quilt group for years, but had not pieced a top until this. I wasn't sure I would ever do another one!

There you have it. After these photos I may never be able to show my face in blogland again. Hope all you brave souls who ventured out on Black Friday were not a part of any of the violence I saw on the evening news. I stayed home and sewed.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FMQ Sampler Completed! (sort of)

First off I want to say "thanks" to Belinda of Brown Dirt Cottage blog, for this package of "coal" she sent me. She had a contest on her blog recently to see who could guess the number of QUIPS (quilts in progress) she has. I was the first to comment and I guessed 22. I was right! Belinda had said there may even be something for the winner and after telling me I won she told me it would be a lump or two of coal. We used to have a coal burning heating system and coal was a precious commodity. I told her I'd take it for the long winter ahead. It arrived on Saturday and I have already cut some of it up for a small project I am throwing together to use in practicing my FMQ. Hopefully I will like it as much as I think I will.  Anyway--thanks, Belinda, for the package of coal scraps. Nothing says you care like sharing your  hard earned scraps with other quilters. There is something in this package for most anything I might choose to make--from an "I SPY" quilt, to a 30s projects and everything in between--including lots of my favorite "dark and dirty" fabrics!

I was all excited about the fact that I had completed the sampler for my FMQ class, but as I was posting the photo I realized I had somehow missed a row in the cross-hatching. So it is finished, almost, but I am through sewing for the night! It isn't perfect--very far from it--but it is so much better than I ever imagined I could do when I first attempted FMQ last month. I have saved all of my practice sandwiches and this evening I placed my first one, found here, next to this completed sampler. What a difference. I have had two great teachers and have learned different things from each one. I think I can actually say I am enjoying it.
I dropped in on the newest of our LQSs today. The week of your birthday you get half your age in percentage off your purchase. One time it is nice to be old! I treated myself to another CW inspired pattern and the big pieces of fabric needed for borders and sashing. Who knows when I will make it, but I love it.
Hopefully now that the soap is all made and my FMQ class is over I can get back to actually piecing something and share the progress. I also have to bind the secret quilt, but I can't share that progress.
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where we may have a white Thanksgiving,
Janet O.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good, Clean Fun!

There has been a lot going on, but not much to show of a quilty nature. I attended another session of my FMQ class and have two assignments to complete before our last session is held next week--I'm hoping to get to them this weekend.
I also got my secret quilt back from the LAQ. Now I need to find the time to get the binding on.

I've spent every available minute for several days making soap and this isn't all of it. Still have a large batch in molds and a couple batches left to make.

Had a wonderful time Thursday evening, thanks to blogging friend Mary C., from Walla Walla, Washington. She was coming to Bountiful, Utah for Jennifer Chiaverini's last stop on her book signing tour for her latest release "The Wedding Quilt".  We met up, with our husbands, for dinner where we enjoyed a good visit and found we had an awful lot in common.
Our large, happy group.
We then went to the Davis South Branch library. Our husbands sat upstairs and visited while we went downstairs for the book signing. This was the 13th and last city of this tour and Jennifer told us that aside from her hometown, this was the largest and happiest group she had seen.
She told us a little bit about the book--reading a couple of sections. She told us of two books coming out next year--one for sure, the other one possibly.
She answered questions and then signed our books. Jennifer is very gracious, witty and real. I had only learned of her books earlier this year and have just read one so far, but I am interested in reading more (and now I am well stocked). Hearing about how she chooses her subjects, how thoroughly she researches historical settings and how much she doesn't care for cookie cutter book series' gives me  greater respect for her work. Now I just need to find more time for reading. It was so fun to meet up with a blog friend. This was my first experience with this. Thanks, Mary, I had a great time. Hope you did, too!

Mary and me. She was quite the
celebrity, having come the
farthest for the event.

Me and Jennifer

On a final note, suspense in blogland is palpable, don't you think? The buzz about Bonnie's first clues can't be missed. Almost makes me want to join in the fun--almost! Bonnie won't allow whining, so I'm pretty sure I'd get booted out before I got my first string block made. Good luck to all of you brave, non-whining souls.
I hope to have some actual quilting to show next time. Until then, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Debbie, of Stitchin' Therapy, had committed to make 50 doll/cradle quilts for Christmas gifts for kids in need. She was encouraged by Freda to ask for help and Freda's blog is where I read about it. I managed to pull together four quick little quilts yesterday before tackling my monthly budget.
I mostly worked with 4-patch blocks, but when it came to the purple
floral, I couldn't bear to cut it up. There was no way to fussy-cut the
flowers without cutting onto the ones next to them, so I left that
fabric piece intact and just put on a simple border. 
I wish I had time to do more--this was fun. I don't usually sew with bright colors, unless I'm quilting for my grandkids, so I don't have much fabric with which to work. But I am a scrap collector and I have a box into which I toss the "bright & bolds" that come my way. I sat down on the sofa to sort through this box and see what I could use. When the doorbell rang I stood up and put the box down where I had been sitting. Upon my return I looked at the sofa and thought it looked like there had been an explosion inside the box and the contents had just spewed out over the sofa.

The thing that keeps me from doing more is that it is time to lather up! Yup, it is soap making time. Since soap has to cure 3 or 4 weeks before use, if I want it ready for Christmas giving I need to get with it--it is time!! Time to break out the coconut oil, the olive oil, the essential oils, the bees wax, the Pyrex measuring cups, the instant read thermometers, the measuring spoons, the digital scale, the molds and--the lye, which, thanks to meth labs and homemade bomb-makers, is getting increasingly hard to buy.
Today my order of coconut oil and essential oils arrived by way of the friendly man in brown. Now I need to roll up my sleeves, put on my apron and goggles and go to work. When I am finished I will post the results. 

In the meantime I will leave you with this photo of the rising moon in the east as the sun was setting in the west last night. Most of the photos I share of the mountains are taken looking west, from the back of my home. This photo is taken looking east, from the front deck. 
Until next time, from the little mountain valley where the sagebrush grows,
Janet O.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall table quilts

This little quilt was made a few years ago from the scraps leftover from the table runner that is my new header.

It is interesting how the photos make the header look so much duller in color. This quilt is more true to the actual colors of the fabric and it is made from a pattern that was in a Country Woman magazine (Sept./Oct. 2006). By making 16 blocks, each made of 4 HSTs, you could arrange them to make one of three different layouts. The layout I used is called Autumn Star. It finishes at a 22" square. I hand quilted it rather sparingly and I bring it out each fall to top a table.

The table runner in my header is from another magazine. This pattern was in  the November/December 2004 Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. This was my first and only attempt so far at fusible applique. It was also my first use of Batiks. I did the blanket stitch by hand, and I have yet to add any quilting to it. Still, it graces my dining table after the Halloween decorations get put away, and before the Christmas stuff comes out.

I finally got my secret quilt off the design wall and to my LAQ today. I can't post a photo or someone will not be surprised come Christmas, but I can email a photo to you (well, most of you) if you are interested. It is a simple Primitive Gatherings pattern with great graphic appeal.

Are they already playing Christmas music on your local radio station? Today was the first day I've heard it here. Yikes!

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fun Mail, and Free Motion!

Halloween Day brought three large envelopes in the mail addressed to me. Love days like that! The first one I opened was totally unexpected. I recognized the name on the return address and knew it was from my good blogging friend Doniene, in Texas. It was totally unexpected and completely overwhelmed me. Look at this lovely little quilt she made. She had pinned a note to it saying she thought I could use it for family dinners--especially Thanksgiving. How sweet is that? It is beautifully hand quilted, which I couldn't seem to capture no matter how many photos I took. I love it, Doniene, and will use it and treasure it! Bless your heart!!
The next envelope was from another good blogging friend, Grace, in Maine. I knew this one was coming, but it was still great fun and I am enjoying it. Grace remembered that I don't subscribe to any quilt magazines and rarely buy any. She offered to send me some of hers that she was finished with. I hadn't seen any of these issues, in fact two of them are magazines of which I have never seen any issue.
I've been pacing myself and still have one I haven't cracked open yet. I am savoring them. Thanks for thinking of me, Grace!
The third envelope was a pattern I had ordered earlier this week. Sandra, at kwiltnkats, shared in a post some photos of the quilts she had on her walls for this time of year. The one of falling leaves particularly caught my eye. I checked the website for the magazine she said it was from and even though it was a few years ago, they actually had the pattern in stock--and on sale!! I know what fabric I will use for this. A couple of years ago DH and I took my parents with us on a trip to New England. It was peak fall color time and Mom and I collected fabrics in the Ivy Thimble quilt shop in Victor, New York that replicated the beautiful colors all around us as we drove through Ohio, New York, and Vermont. Mom's  quilt is finished--even hand quilted--and hanging on a quilt rack in her computer room. I, on the other hand, have changed my mind over which pattern to use about three times already, but I think this is finally it! Sandra told me she loved how it looks like the leaves are really fluttering down, and I agree.
That is all for the fun that came in the mail. Now for the free motion stuff.

You may recall that recently I took my first class in machine quilting. I posted my attempts from the two sessions of the class and received much encouragement from many of you, for which I am grateful. It is easy to think you will never master the techniques, but I was reassured that there was hope for me.

Yesterday I had my first session of a second machine quilting class. This class is taught by the woman from whom I learned the perforated paper piecing technique on the Mariner's compass in this post and this post. She is teaching three sessions and during this first one she had us doing stippling, echoing and pebbles.  We didn't do any of these in my first class, so this is new ground for me. As I tried the stipple I kept inadvertently making little loops or sharp turns. I definitely need work on smooth shapes--and everything else, for that matter. But I will admit it is becoming fun. Okay, don't snicker so loudly that I can hear, but this is the result of Tuesday's play.
I didn't use such contrasting thread this time. I also left my feed dogs up. Barbara concurred with what Leah Day says here on her website--that some machines have better tension on free motion quilting if the feed dogs are left in place. Mine seems to be one of those machines.
Finally, this quilt shop where I have taken these classes has a tradition of 30% off all of the bolt fabric on any fifth Saturdays, such as last Saturday. After a day like that you should always be sure and check out the remnant baskets--they are 40% off! Look what I found this week, following the sale. See all of those CW prints--and some fun fall Sandy Gervais prints with a matching orange? I'm not usually one to gush over designer lines of fabrics, but I must admit that when one catches my eye, it is more often than not hers. I have two charm packs of her Late Bloomers line to which I am itching to apply my rotary cutter!

Enough of my ramblings. Just want to close with something totally off the subject of quilting. This afternoon I heard Temple Grandin speak at the local university. She did two presentations--one dealing with her work with livestock, and the other dealing with living with autism. DH, my daughter and her husband and I attended the latter one. Fascinating! Now I want to see the movie of her life and read her book. If you know and love anyone diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, I highly recommend you check out her website.

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