Friday, December 30, 2016

The Great Christmas Reveal

I make things for folks -- no surprise there!

But that means that through out the year I take pictures and file them away so that I can show them to you after the gifting is over

So here is the haul for 2016:

for several years I have done knit toys for the Christmas socks -- this year Mr Cute got BB8 and the son in law got Yoda

for my daughter's sock I did a cup cozy that was not wool -- so she can carry her cup without having to wear gloves to keep her hands from itching!

the sweater knitting for this year was the lovely "eggplant" cardigan for my daughter and a hoodie with Ninja colored stripes for Mr Cute


not that there was any lack of sewing machine work going on for all that knitting!

the Christmas Eve pjs for instance

 the custom aprons for my mother and my sister

 and a little something warm for the two "grand dogs"

now that Christmas is over I can reveal this piece too

this commission piece was done from agreement to delivery in less than 2 months 

it is not a real big piece (measures about 11" by 15"), but along the way I had problems with my sewing machine and at one point I was not sure I would get it done in time

even with all that work and the two Christmas gatherings hosted at my house two weeks in a row, I have continued to work on this piece too --- the silos are just pinned down so I can be sure to fill in all of the grasses that are the base of this --- which means this piece will soon be heading to the sewing machine for quilting

which means I'm thinking about what the next pieces on the design wall will be

we'll see who gets to go first

Sunday, December 11, 2016

counting down to Christmas

the stockings are hung by the chimney with care

these, of course, are just "decorator" stockings -- the ones we have used for years for the "real thing" won't come out of the bag until Christmas Eve
many of the pieces that are out there on the newly built mantel haven't seen the light of day for quite a few years -- for at least 5 years we had not been at home for Christmas, so we had done much less decorating, and even last year (when we went all out) they didn't come out because we didn't have a mantel to put them on

I think this may be one of my favorite bits in the whole house this year

work on other things continues

the fusing work on the commission piece is complete, and I have started doing the quilting -- I hope to have this done in the next few days

the third silo is complete and ready for the next step

and I have started working on the rail road tracks

and of course at this time of the year there are a good number of sewing projects in process that I can't show you right now!

from time to time someone asks me where do I get the ideas for my art quilts

these three photos (and quite a few more) were taken from my front porch this morning

there is something about that thin line of blue below the gray clouds above the housetops that caught my eye, and has me wondering if I could create this look in fiber

time to get to work!

Sunday, December 04, 2016


when I last posted, I had just started quilting on this piece and I had about a week before the deadline to get it entered for a call for entries

I was feeling good -- figured I had plenty of time because I had a clear plan

uh, well, the machine had other plans

mid way through the quilting, the top tension on my machine simply would not hold -- it was like it was always in "baste" mode --- ARRRGH!!!

a day later, and after several text conversations with my cousin and another quilter nearby, I very carefully took apart the whole bobbin compartment of my machine and cleaned in as many areas as I could and tried again (there is very little that a Viking machine is designed to have done by the owner -- it is mostly designed for the [expensive!] authorized shop to work on)


I was able to finish the quilting, get the facing done and get it entered -- but much too close to comfort for me.  I hope to not go there again.

and now the waiting begins for notification

some work is still being done on the silos -- this is the third and final one in process

I'm working on a lot of other things just now, but I can't show you any pictures because Christmas is coming!

this time of year there is a lot of on line chatting about the Elf on the Shelf

these two little cuties are my version of that -- handmade by me back in the 90s -- one of them still has her hang tag from when she made a trip to a craft fair or two

wish I could get them to do some of the more mundane work around the house -- but no, they are going to just sit here on the couch and look cute

time to get back to the studio and get that commission finished!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

much to be grateful for

I was reminded last night that it has been over two weeks since I have posted out here when my sister called at my mother's request to check up on me

yes, I'm okay --

in fact, it could be said that I am afflicted by an embarrassment of riches!

that said, here's a bit of what has been going on since November 7 when I last posted
Shortly after the opening reception for the Contemporary Fiber show, I was notified that this piece (which is actually two separate pieces designed to hang together) was accepted in a show titled Evolutions which will be held in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum beginning in January.

This show will include pieces from all over the world, and I feel privileged to have been chosen to be one of them.

One of the nice things about living so close to my daughter's family is that we can help each other.

While my son in law was away on a business trip, she asked me if I could pick up Mr Cute because she was in a late meeting at work.

I was happy to do it, and as I was driving him to our house, he and I were having a conversation about how pretty the sunset was.

As I turned off of the highway, he said "Gramma, you should pull over and take some pictures"

So we did -- the child already has an artist's eye -- and I think this photo has potential to become part of an art quilt in the future!

When I posted the last time, I thought this piece was just hours away from being complete

But something has happened this year in my work -- when I'm not happy with how something looks, I don't just press onward -- I go back and change whatever it is that is bothering me

These corners for example

My original plan for this piece was to face it, not bind it, but the corners were so thick (some areas about 8 or 9 layers of fabric/batting/stitching) that no amount of aggressive pressing or spritzing and pounding produced an acceptable result.

So I re-trimmed it and put on a very narrow black binding

NOW it's done

And after more than a year of working on this piece, it is finished too, and in this case I was able to face it which gives it that clean edge I wanted

The quilting on this piece has begun

This one is as big as the truck piece, just runs vertical instead of horizontal, so it will be as labor intensive to quilt

And I want to have it quilted, faced and photographed in the next week so I can enter it in a specific call for a show

So the race is on -- can I do it without an all nighter?  We'll see

Progress continues on the next piece in the Parched Earth series

The sky is all finished, and I'm working on the silo that will be on the far left of the piece

Work continues on the commission piece -- it is really coming right along even though the photos at this point don't look like much!

Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving -- we are looking forward to a fun day where we can enjoy each other and some good food

After that -- it's back to work!!

Monday, November 07, 2016

a very good week -- and returning to "reality"

Every year this time there is a big quilt show in Houston

It's sort of the grand daddy of quilt shows, having been around for quite a while and it has a reputation of being about as big as it gets -- at least in terms of real estate!

and it is a kind of "holy grail" for quilt makers -- it's a big deal to have one of your quilts be part of the show

I was fortunate this year to have my piece Tsa-la-gi: Cherokee Trail of Tears be on display as part of the Hands All Around show

Fortunate too that a friend of mine was going to the show, and she took a picture for me!

Very cool!!

on Thursday evening the Contemporary Fiber 2016 show opened at the Knoll Gallery in Denver

the DH and I made the journey so that I could actually be there for the opening reception

Parched Earth: Wilted Corn is on display there, and over the week end I got an email that the gallery owner has asked for the show to stay up an additional week, so instead of coming down on Dec 3, it will be up until Dec 12

that was an amazing experience

keeping my feet firmly on the ground is a good idea after all that last week

so I went right back into the studio and back to work

the quilting on this piece is now done -- I will be trimming it and putting on the facing this week

the stormy sky behind the silos is coming together nicely too

and I took a commission a couple of weeks ago for a piece that will be a Christmas gift for someone, so you only get little "snippet" pictures of that until after Christmas

on Friday the DH and I made a trip to the fabric store in the next town over (our only option for things like flannel now that the store in our town is closed) and came home with a bag full of flannel destined to become pjs for the clan this Christmas

lots of stitching to get done!!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

more going backwards to go forwards

until very recently, ripping anything out really annoyed me -- as in I would have rather just started over with something different entirely

but in the last few months the idea of going backward to go forward has gained a lot of "cred" with me

and this week was another good example

this piece, for example has been rolling right along

until I got to the place where I had to do the road that runs down the right hand side and across the bottom

my original idea was to quilt this part so it looked like dry, cracked open dirt

problem number one -- that meant either flipping this big piece (it's about 3 feet by 5 feet) around and around to create those shapes, or teaching myself how to free motion quilt in circles

so I spent several days working on free motion quilting those circles

and I broke a lot of sewing machine needles

and it brought me to problem number two -- I really hated the way it looked

not because my circles were kind of "clunky", but just because I didn't feel like it worked as the design element I thought it would be

after thinking about it for a couple of days while I worked on something else, I decided it made better sense to quilt that area in long curved lines that look like rutted road -- or disc marks in a field

so yesterday afternoon, I got out the exacto knife with a fresh blade and "skinned" that side of the quilt, separating the backing from the batting to cut out all of those quilted circles 

back to where I was at the beginning of the week, but I'm a lot happier about where I'm going now

I have started doing the quilting on this piece

beginning with the trees and structures with black rayon thread

I hope to have this piece finished by November 19 so I can take it with me when I give my artist talk in the gallery where the other part of what this began as is hanging

this design has done some morphing since last week

since I could never resolve the barn issue in the original idea, I decided to go with this plan instead

work on the first silo has begun

the windmill is ready to be quilted
there has been some other work going on here too

when we moved into this house there was really only one thing that didn't look "finished" to me

a fireplace -- even a gas log fireplace -- needs a mantle in my mind

so the DH recently built one for it, and it has now been installed and I finished painting it yesterday

we're ready to "hang the stockings with care" when the time comes

the coming week involves traveling to the gallery where my piece is in an art show for the opening reception on Thursday evening and more work on a lot of projects