Thursday, April 30, 2009

It all started with a substitute teacher I had for one day in World History in high school. We had been slogging our way through British history, finally reaching Henry VIII with Mr. Lautenschlager, who I think had been using the same lecture notes and tired jokes since he had started teaching back in the middle ages sometime. That day, though, Mr. L. was not there, and instead we had a young substitute who started in on the lesson.

She definitely knew her history. After making an attempt to go on with the lesson and seeing our growing boredom, she stopped and started talking about Henry VIII and his personal life. Now, that was interesting. Very interesting. (This was, of course, before the series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII.)

Just casually, she mentioned that Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was the daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, who most of us knew as the ones who had sent Columbus on his way to the New World.

Suddenly, I realized that these distant, dusty personages were real people. For a moment, the history of that period became alive for me. The next time I went to the library I found a biography of Catherine of Aragon to read. I continued to read biographies from time to time when I heard about someone or something that seemed interesting. I even co-wrote and co-produced a marionette show about the Russian revolution with a friend in high school, but that's definitely a story for another day.

Anyway, if you've read all this, there is a reward. The New York Times has a blog called Times Traveler. Each day they pick out several news stories that were published 100 years ago on that day. Roosevelt hunting in Africa, a new hotel to be built in Manhattan, a disappearing teenager, car accidents, the Panama Canal, sports stories. It's all there. There is even a link to view selected back issues of the Times. It's definitely worth checking out.

And let me send out a thanks to that substitute teacher from long ago. She opened up a whole world for me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I'm Working on Wednesday

I'm just playing around with this. For some reason I kept seeing this design, but couldn't remember where or when I saw it. After some prodigious digging through old quilting magazines I found it in an old copy of Love of Quilting (May/June 2008). Since I still had all the reds, browns, and golds sitting out on the cutting table I just cut some strips to give it a try.

I've worked with hexagons and 60 degree diamonds before, but these 45 degree diamonds are a bit more fiddly. It took me a couple of tries before I had the feel for the piecing.

Of course, it didn't help that I ignored the very nice directions from the magazine article at first.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, or even if I'm planning to go anywhere, but I really, really like this design. It might be fun to try it with some of my Kaffe Fassett stash, but we'll see.

I also got another indigo and white block done, which brings the count up to 23. That means I only need 4 more whole blocks and 6 half blocks before I can start putting the top together. My indigo fabric stash is getting a little thin, but a friend gave me a couple more fat quarters from her stash and a couple of Japanese indigos, so I'll have plenty to finish with.

For some reason for the past couple of days I've woken up with Lynrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" rolling around in my head. Is that weird, or what? Where in the world would that come from?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Round Robin Finish and a Couple of Other Things

This past month was the final round for the guild round robin. Our big reveal was at the meeting this past Thursday. I just love what I got back! The picture is a little askew, but you can get the general idea. The colors are pretty accurate, at least. I'm always amazed at the creativity of my quilting friends. This has bumped itself up to the top of my hand quilting queue.

Since I'm taking a Blooming Ninepatch class next Saturday, I thought I'd better go ahead and buy the fabrics so I wouldn't have to worry about rushing out to the LQS after work. As if I needed to talk myself into a fabric shopping trip. Ahem. It took a little bit of time to pick out these beautiful fabrics, but I'm really pleased with what I got.

And last, I have planned to make one of these little fabric baskets from Pink Penguin's tutorial for months. This afternoon I had a couple of hours and I finally got it together. The directions were clear and the whole thing went together very easily. It's just the thing to hold seam rippers, stilettos, and clippers on my sewing table. It was so easy I think I may be making a few more as gifts for sewing friends.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Thursday Already

This sweet little square is the round robin I've been working on. My contribution is the pale green vine applique around the outside edge. This picture isn't the greatest, but the sun decided to disappear when I got the camera out this afternoon.

I procrastinated on this all month since I don't enjoy doing applique. I finally sucked it up Monday night and got started. Turned out that getting started was the hardest part. Once I got going I was fine.

The stems are bias strips which I hand appliqued--I didn't trust myself to use the machine with my less than stellar skills. The leaves are fused on, then embroidered with a simple running stitch around the outside edges. I popped a couple of buttons on the flowers and called it done. The owner seemed really pleased with it, so I was happy about that.

Lots of people are heading down to Paducah for the quilt show this weekend. I'm not going (wish I could!), but a friend sent me the next best thing. Here is the link for the winners. These are some really amazing quilts.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Finish!

Well, a finished top.

It began as a way to use up scraps and leftovers after I read an article in Quilters Newsletter (February/March 2009) about making scrap quilts. When I looked through my stash I found a lot of bits and pieces of reds which I had used mainly as accent pieces for other quilts. I decided to use the reds as the main color, and accent them with golds and cheddars which are also leftovers from other projects. I didn't try to match colors, so there are barn reds, cherry reds, orangy reds, all kinds of reds in here. (Colors I would never have put together in one quilt before!)

The only thing I bought for this was a couple of fat quarters of golds and cheddars, since I didn't have too many of those in the stash. I also bought the brown I used as sashing. I actually found a whole (!) yard of that red border fabric socked away in a tub I use for larger pieces.

I appreciate everybody who took the time to comment on my last post about trying to choose the fabric for the borders. I wish I felt more confident about my color choices, but in this case I just went with what looked right to me.

I am very pleased with how this turned out, especially as it is a step outside of the colors I usually work with.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What I'm Working on Wednesday

Um, nothing. This week the kids have done me in. Done. Me. In.

Somehow I don't think that kids stoked up on an ocean of Easter candy have the right mind-set for learning.

Monday after school I fell asleep sitting upright in a chair reading my e-mail.

Last night I made it through dinner and sat down to watch Rachel Maddow. I woke up an hour later, and even that after-dinner nap didn't keep me from sleeping soundly all the rest of the night.

Oooh, boy. This is turning into a short week!

I have cut more pieces for the blue and white quilt. They are all kitted up and waiting for me to stay awake long enough to sew them together. Maybe tonight?

* * * * * *
If I can stay awake long enough to crow about my daughter, will you indulge me?

My daughter is a runner. For a couple of years now she has been working toward qualifying for the Boston Marathon. As you can imagine this is no easy feat. To qualify she had to finish a qualifying marathon in three hours and 40 minutes. That's 26.2 miles. In 3 hour and 40 minutes.

Saturday she was able to achieve this goal! She has pushed through lousy weather, a couple of injuries, and some adversity which could have sent a less determined woman over the edge.

I am so immensely proud of her.

If you would like to see what it's like to run a marathon from the inside, check out her latest blog post.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Color Decisions

Sometimes I wish I understood color more. Not so much the color wheel stuff, but why and how colors work with each other. Case in point, this little quilt. Plan A was what you see to the above. Actually, this is Plan A1. Originally I was going to use the red you see in the border below for the inner border and the gold in the outer border.

Then I had the idea of using up the red scraps to make a scrappy inner border. So far, so good. But when I put the gold around it, I was...underwhelmed. It's okay, but not quite right. The idea was to pull out the golds and cheddars in the blocks. The red
happened to be still up on my design wall and
I suddenly thought, hmmm, what if?

So then I tried the red as the outer border and the golds as the scrappy inner border. I like this much better, but I can't figure out why. It's trial and error on colors with me when I really would like a deeper understanding of why this second choice seems to work better. Is it just a matter of personal taste? Other people seem to talk so confidently about one color choice over another, but I always feel that I'm missing out on some basic understanding that others seem to have.

Color confusion aside, I'm pretty please with how this came out. I was determined to make this a totally scrappy quilt. Everything except for the lattice strips and two of the golds came from my stash. I wouldn't have thought that I owned that many reds, but when I started pulling out fabric, I found that I could have made many more blocks and not repeated any reds. Yikes! My stash is getting out of control.

I'm headed up to the sewing room to put this all together.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Going Scrappy

I haven't been able to do much sewing this week. Last weekend was the first time in a long time that I haven't even gotten up to my sewing room to work for at least a little while. I ran up to visit my daughter Saturday, and then on Sunday, I couldn't seem to get myself in gear.

Like just about everyone else in the Midwest we had a beautiful weekend that ended abruptly on Sunday night with storms, and since then we have been treated to a gray drizzle with a threat of snow. In fact, I did see a tiny bit of snow at lunch time today, but it didn't amount to anything. It's a little depressing after the promise of spring we had.

Anyway, this afternoon after school I decided that I needed to do something quilty, so I started working on these. A while back I found these directions on making nine patches from two squares. I promised to do a demonstration for this month's guild meeting, so I thought I'd better get started. They are fun, mindless sewing and I am using up lots and lots of scraps.

Since I already have two other scrappy projects going, I'm hoping that I will finally be able to use up a lot of fabric that's been sitting around here too long. See that blue with the red flowers? I bought that at least ten years ago and I still have bits and pieces of it sitting around. I, er, tend to over estimate the amount of fabric I'll need for a project.

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with all these squares. I'm thinking just a lap quilt, since I certainly don't need another big long-term project.

But aren't they cute?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What I'm Working on Wednesday and A Special Package

A week or so ago I posted about Marisa's ways to improve photography for blogs on Quilt Otaku.
Well, I actually won a fat quarter from her! Thanks so much, Marisa! I just love this fabric. If you look closely, one of the little trees is smiling. Me, too!

Recently, a group of us have begun attending the monthly knitting night at the LYS. Last time, Anne declared a 30% off sale on yarn. What could I do but bring this home with me? I'm not too sure about this pattern, however. I usually gravitate toward self-striping yarn and then kick myself later when I want to try a more complicated pattern than just ribbing. I might just pull this back and try something else a little more exciting.

Our guild got a nice write-up in the paper for Quilter's Day Out. You can read the article here. We had good attendance and lots of nice comments from the people who came. It was a lot of fun to see so many quilters from all over the area come together for a day of sewing and chatting. We're already looking forward to next year.