Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coming Soon - could it be Tomorrow?

Tomorrow is the start of the fun.  Tomorrow is the first day of PETS ON Quilts.

I hope to get pictures made and a post up in time.  Minnie is ready for her close-up.  I know because she told me in her best Norma Desmond voice.

You know, I have never seen this movie - maybe tonight I can watch it!  Have you seen it?  Should I watch it? Come back tomorrow and see Minnie on her very own quilt!  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Song

Last Sunday I sang a duet with my pastor's wife.  I think we did really well (other than one blip I made) so I wanted to share it with you. (if I can get the player to work.)

For the time being, here is a link  Savior Again

Okay, the player is working but you may need to allow QuickTime to run.
I hope you enjoy this.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Playing on the Seesaw

This edition of the Beginner's Quilt Along (block 8) is playfully titled,  Playing on the Seesaw.  You may know this as a Spool Block.  I made two versions, a warm version in brown, gold and red; and a bright version with my purple, aqua and white (with pin dots.)
 The bright one, I made first.  I thought I would be clever and cut the white strips at 12.5 by 5 and cut triangles to sew on the corners; you know, like making HSTs with two squares.  There is a reason no one does this.  It doesn't exactly work.  You may see that this doesn't match up perfectly on my bright one.

Then I made the warm one.
I did it by following the directions.  It came out much better.  Sadly it wasn't laying quite flat so, the lower right corner looks funny in the picture.  Trust me that it is really just fine.

That makes eight blocks out of twelve for each quilt.  I am moving right along with this quilt along.

If you wonder what a spool quilt would look like, I made one in EQ7 for you.  The Spool Block is in the EQ7  block library,  I didn't even have to draft it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ah finally!

Minnie Monkey is so happy this evening.  You see she has been wondering if I was ever going to quilt the half quilt that I  basted way back on the 14th.   I started quilting it last night and finished it tonight.   Minnie immediately had to get in the middle of the quilt.  She even made me pull out the camera and take a picture.
She likes the front of the quilt, but she wanted the back of the quilt for her picture.  She has also asked that I make her a mini quilt just for her.    You see, Minnie wants to "star" in the Pets on Quilts show that starts in August.  She also hopes you will vote for her.

I suppose I had better get her quilt made in a HURRY.  Let me see there are one, two, three, (oh yikes!) FOUR days left in the month.  Thanks goodness she is a mini monkey, Minnie Monkey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Goodies in the Box

Lately I got a some of NICE things in the mail.  Last week I got this lovely charm pack that I won from Quilt Taffy.
It came with this sweet note AND a nice little coaster from Quilt Taffy.  How cool is that. I love Sandy Gervais designs, so I will do something fun with this charm pack.

Then today, I got this envelope in the mail:
Hmm... what could be in there? I looked at the return address and made ooooh noises. Why? It said...well you will see in the picture
Can you see that? it says "Quilting Lodge"  I won these lovely fat quarters. They were tied with what I thought was a thin ribbon, but is actually tiny fabric trimmings. (an idea to remember!)  The one on top absolutely sings to me.  The giveaway was from the Quilting Lodge but it was hosted by Quilting by the River.  Two great things that go great together (the Lodge and the River. )

Then there was a box that I was totally not expecting.  It had several things in it but the thing that made me dance and go SQEEEEEE was this:
 A Fat Quarter bundle (and two larger pieces.)  The label says 27 piece.  There are 25 FQs and two other pieces that I think are a half yard.

I am not going to name the person since this was done as a surprise and I don't know how she would feel about the disclosure.   What I can tell you is that this was a thank you for something I did.  I really didn't think it was a big deal. I was just helping a friend out. (and it didn't cost me anything except a few minutes of my time)   I did not expect any thing more than a thank you email.  (which I had already gotten and it made me smile.)
I guess my Mom was right. No, I know she was right.  It is always worth it to be nice.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More Blocks for the BQA

Saturday late afternoon and evening I managed to get the other three blocks from the Beginner's Quilt Along finished in my second colorway.   I really love the play of these colors. The aqua blue batik along with the pink/red leaf fabric make a great counterpoint for the  rich purple leaf fabric. The white with aqua pin dots plays a quiet but necessary supporting role. Although in the 4 pointed star block it gets the lead and plays it well.  

BQA Block 6 Take 2

BQA Block 7 take 2

The main trick to this color scheme is simple color theory.  You mix red and blue to get purple.  If you look on a color wheel,  you will see that all three of these colors are on the same side of the wheel. 
They are not all touching, but they are close. This would be an analogous, or more correctly, split-analogous color scheme.   So many times I am asked how I pick fabrics.  Honestly it has become instinct but it is always based on color theory I learned in art.  I am not formally trained, but I was fortunate to take an amazing art workshop soon after I started painting. That teacher taught a lot of things and I was like a sponge soaking them up.  
Another trick in picking colors is to look at nature.  If three colors are together in nature, it is a safe bet that when you put them together it will work.  I did some quilt blocks  in purple, fuschia and green. When I posted them, several commented that they would have put those colors together.  Ha, I had seen a lovely orchid in those colors, so I knew it would work.

I believe in using color fearlessly.  But I also use some common sense.  I always stack the fabrics first and see if I like the combination.  You can even do that with bolts at the fabric store if you are mixing up your own fabric palette for a quilt - it will make your quilt different from everyone else's.  And variety is the spice of life isn't it? 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making Blocks in MY style

One of my dear friends and blogger buddies, Teresa, mentioned that My Beginner's Quilt Along blocks do not seem to be in my style.
 Teresa said... 
You did a great job on this block, Gene. To be honest, the fabric does not look like you, or something you would use.  
I totally agree, but I make quilts to sell as well as to keep or give.  So that quilt is going in the "for sale" pile. In fact that was the original plan.
I was planning to make a second version anyway, but just wasn't motivated. Teresa's comment was the catalyst for my motivation.  This morning, I made 4 of the seven blocks.

They are not trimmed to size yet, but they are far more my color style, don't you think?  I am planning to use just these four colors for the entire quilt.  Although I may have to add in a yellow just for a little extra SPARK.  We will see what I decide later.

There was one block in the other set that didn't seem to work when I laid all the blocks together:
This one will go in a backing, so it is not wasted.
I made a replacement for it:

Way better if you ask me!  It matches up with the fabrics in the other blocks a lot better.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Block 7 BQA

Block 7 BQA by GeneBlack
Block 7 BQA, a photo by GeneBlack on Flickr.
Just a little sewing. I made the block for the quilt along. I am so happy that ALL of the brown fabrics face the same direction...well with the exception of the appliqu├ęd circle.

In other news, 5 more jars of preserves canned tonight. These five jars are raspberry flavored fig preserves. Hey, figs are all I have so I am making them different flavors so I have some variety.

The little applique circle was done using machine embroidery files I got from Marjorie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ah that sound!

I am wondering how to adequately describe that sound.  It isn't quite a ping and it isn't quite a pop...but it is a sound I love. Us there a more satisfying sound than canning jars sealing?
Today after work, I went to Mom's -she had figs on the table and was saying she would probably have to throw them out.  YIKES!  How could you do that?  So I said, "Are there more on the tree?"  She said "Oh yeah a lot more."  So we went out and picked them.  Mom asked if I had jars and lids and rings.  I said I was pretty sure I had enough left.  Ha.  She insisted that I take what she had on hand (rings and lids, but not jars. I knew I had enough jars.   As I was getting in the car I thought out loud "I hope I have enough sugar." Mom said "Let me give you some!" so she brought out a partial bag with about two pounds in it.
I decided to stop by the store anyway.  So I got a box of lids, more sugar, some limes and orange jello.

I had enough sugar - using Mom's and what I had before the trip by the store.  I had enough jello - I didn't use the orange.   And I had a LOT of lids.  Oh well!  I washed and cut up all the figs,  I don't peel them, that is perfectly good fiber in there.
I decided to make Lemon Ginger first and I measured the three cups of figs, three cups of sugar and two packs of lemon jello into the pan. While that was getting hot I reamed two limes into it for the extra citric acid and a little flavor punch.  I love my wooden citrus reamer, it does a great job.
Then as it started to boil, I added some ground ginger...between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. LOL.  I just kinda dumped it in.  After it was cooking nicely I took my stick blender and pulverized all the pieces. So it is a nice smooth consistency.   After they were cooked to perfection, I put them in jars and water bathed them in boiling water for 15 minutes or better.
Then I did the grape version.  It is the same but using grape jello instead of lemon and no ginger is added.  I couldn't think what would spice up grape flavor so I went plain with it.

So, can you guess what is under this towel on my kitchen table?

Sure you can!    I know I "can"

Eleven 8-ounce jars of fig perserve goodness.  I made 5 jars of Lemon Ginger flavored and 6 jars of grape flavored fig preserves. I know the lemon ginger was wonderful last year. I hope the grape is good too.

While I was writing this post I think every jar that wasn't already sealed made that pop/ping sound.  Ahhh....pure delight in eleven little jars.

I have more figs in the freezer.....so I will be canning again sometime soon, I hope.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nice Squishy Surprise

On June 29th, I was reading my some of the blogs I visit.  I came to the one from Heather at A Cherished Life.   I was pleasantly surprised to see my name listed as a winner.  It seems some of the winners didn't respond - but I was playing nice (like we learned in kindergarten - okay I didn't go, but I learned it from my Mom)  So I posted a Congrats to the winners.  She decided to reward those who posted again with a second chance.   See, mom was right, it pays to play nice!
Here is my lovely prize:

Each of those is a Fat Quarter.  And there was a full bag of Werther's Originals in with it. 
Hey wait!  Someone has been in that bag.  

Hmmm...Now you know why my mouth is feeling so happy! 

A big thanks to Heather!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Another Project and Some Handwork

You know I rarely finish one project without at least thinking about another one.  Does that happen to you too?  I sometimes think I have too many ideas. I will probably never make them all.
So anyway, I decided to use some pre-cut 5" squares to make simple four-patch blocks to use in a rag quilt.  I want to try a pieced rag quilt.  This seems like the easiest way.  Saturday I sewed 28 four-patch blocks.
Yes there really are 28 in this stack.
That will be half of the front of my next rag quilt. I will alternate them with blocks that are not pieced.  The back will all be non-pieced squares.  Stay tuned to see how that works out.

Then in the afternoon/evening I pulled out my latest hand work piece.  I showed it with just machine work at the end of June.
I did a little more machine work in a moment of inspiration. I was winding some perle cotton on a bobbin to make it more handy to carry with me. A friend who was sitting with me said "Can you use that in your machine?"  That triggered a memory.  I read somewhere that you can use a thicker thread in the bobbin and bypass the bobbin tension to do a form of bobbin work.  So, I said, "Hmmm...let me try it and see!"  I did a test on a scrap piece of cloth. Then I did several strands on the piece. Here is an example:
The blue, purple, and green threads were done with the piece face down and the perle cotton in the bobbin. I just love the organic lines it created.
Here is the whole thing in its current state:

Yes I did some fusible applique circles. Then I stitched through them. I want to do some smaller circles with a satin stitch (by hand) to add more variety. I will probably do a blue one. (I love blue!)
Here are a few detail shots.
Nice - hand dyed fabric adds more dimension.

At the end of the running stitches I tried a Brazilian Crewel stitch.  I like it but it is time consuming

A couple of different circle treatments

I did a spiral in this circle. 

I am linking this to Quilty Embellishment Day. 
I guess I made a liar of myself.   I said I would never do handwork as long as I had a perfectly good machine.   There is certainly a lot of work in it. But honestly, I really enjoy it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

UFO -Not for long

There once was a quilt that was started last year or was it the year before? No, it was last year.  But it seems like forever ago.  One part of it is already quilted and ready to have the other half joined.  So this week I finished piecing the other part of the front and the back. I was planning on quilting it during my weekend "retreat" but I didn't bring the other part with me -and honestly I don't remember how I quilted it.  I do want the halves to look like the same quilt, so it will wait.  But here is a peek at it layered and basted!
What you see is mostly the back with just a peek at the front.  I think I like the back better! 

So now I will start some four patches made from 5"squares that will then later be cut with my rag quilt die cutter for another rag quilt. I thought some pieced rag squares would be fun.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Block 6

The Beginner's Quilt along is already on block number six.  It was posted today and I actually got it made the same day.  Yaay me!
Here is my block (it is more square than it looks in the picture. )
I fussy cut the hibiscus print for the center of the block. Since none of the fabrics in the fat quarters I chose for this quilt along had a print that made a great fussy cut, I added a little of this I had in yardage.  I can fussy cut a few more pieces from it I think.  If not, there is the rest of the yard.  Ha ha.  Plus I need three more with embroidery or applique on them.  This quilt along is going so fast that I am thinking I may need to make a second version of every block and make a second sampler quilt.  I am really loving the blocks in this quilt along.
There is a nice button/link to the quilt along on my left sidebar - jut in case you are tempted!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Prize and a Surprise

A week or so ago I found out that I won a terrific prize in the Quilts of Valor Blog Hop.  I won an Aurifil thread pack.  Specifically it is the Mark Lipinski Basics Aurifil Thread Collection.  I was thrilled when I read this on Marjorie's post.   These are the BIG spools of Aurifil 50 weight thread.  I can do a lot of piecing with that.  When I got the package it was a surprise again.  I opened it and found this:
Yes, not only is it great thread, but it is in a wonderful case for storage too.  But then I opened the case:

Twelve different colors of neutrals.  How cool is that?  They are also individually wrapped.  I confess I rearranged them in the case.  I had to handle and admire them all.

Then yesterday I had a surprise visit at work from the lady who used to work in the cubicle next to the one I was in.  She also taught the paper piecing class that I took that got me started quilting. (and the only class on quilting I have taken!)
She came in with a little paper bag and said "I brought you something."   I started looking at the bag and reading it.  (yes I am a bit strange -ha ha)  She immediately started apologizing for the bag. "Oh, don't pay any attention to the bag, I just grabbed something. "
Not likely!   You see the bag had "Little Boy Blue" on it. You know, that good old nursery rhyme.  I had to explain why I looked at it so intently. "I love the bag.  The very first book I remember owning was "Little Boy Blue and other Nursery Rhymes.  So the bag itself is a sweet reminder."  But then I had to look inside the bag.   I pulled out the something and looked at it askance.

Finally the light bulb went on.  "Oh, it is a pin cushion!"   The "pins" in it are PC Sitters.  (Pin cushion sitters) You don't use them; they just sit there and make your pin cushion look pretty.
the picture doesn't really show it, but the fabric is a brocade satin.  The bottom is a candle votive.  It was heavy which is why I didn't "get it" right away.  I was just thrilled to get this sweet handmade gift.  I will probably use it instead of just letting it sit and look pretty.  

I have this theory that you should use your "good stuff" - the good china, the crystal glasses etc.   You see, one time I bought this expensive outfit that looked great on me.  It was a perfect fit right off the rack.  I think I wore it twice because I was saving it for something special.   I know you won't be surprised to find out that something special came along and it didn't fit anymore.  I had gained weight. So now, I use the good stuff. After all, I am worth it, and so are you,  my dear friend -and don't forget it. 
PS, that means use the stuff in your stash you are "saving" -  you are worthy of using it NOW.  There will be more amazing fabric.  I promise!