Thursday, May 31, 2007

Awards and Rewards

Photos of the winners of this year's Ontario Juried Show have been posted online and you can see one of my favorites called "Elephant Walk" by clicking here. It won the best large quilt award. The photo really doesn't do this quilt justice. The entire quilt top, including each of the 24 elephants, is made of 1" squares and along the bars of the central design are lines of quilted elephants in a beautiful varigated (I think) thread. And the piecing is absolutely accurate!

Today I picked up my quilts that were hanging in the Waterloo show and received a lovely thank you note and this certificate.
I have 4 more quilts to pick up next week and then they will be returned to their rightful owners. My quilts are happy to have an outing, but I am happy when they are safely at home!
If you want to read an uplifting story that eloquently describes how I feel about my quilting (and life in general) click here and read Tanya's story about the value of the gift of time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Making progress...

I have been really busy with family life now that soccer and baseball have started for the kids...with all the practises and games I am really just providing a taxi service most days! I have been working away on some quilting projects but not much to show for it. I have finished the machine quilting on this quilt , which was tricky since it was being used as a practise piece for new quilters to gain experience. I had to do some creative stretching and pulling to get some of the ripples out but I think it came out okay considering how many people worked on it...from the block makers, quilt piecers, and then machine quilters! I have sewn on the binding and just need something good on TV to listen to while I sit and hand sew it on the back. I have 2 other scrap quilts from the guild that need to be finished before the June meeting...will I make it?!?!
This is a mini 9 patch quilt that I am getting ready to machine quilt. It was made with a 5"swatch pack from the Moda Sonnet collection. I plan to quilt a little design in each of the 9 patches using a different colour of thread. That's my idea at the moment and I have been auditioning threads, but we'll see what happens when I start working on it if this idea will work or not. The oranges really jump out in the photo don't they...maybe I should go more to pink/salmon threads? Selecting threads is a fun part of quiltmaking for me, so I take my time and enjoy this step!
I have also been SLOWLY piecing together these blocks for my mystery quilt (for the President's Challenge) and finding that there are so many seams to match that it is really slow sewing. Some seams I have sewn three times, and since I am not really one to be fussy and unsew much...that gives you an idea of how challenging this has been. I also don't use pins very often when sewing but they have had a real workout with this quilt and I am pinning everything. It is 7 blocks across and 8 blocks down, so sewing a horizontal seam means 20 seams to match, and a vertical seam has 23 seams to match! I am only doing a few seams at a time since it gets frustrating and then I work on something else.
I also need to take some time to get caught up on my 365 quilt. I will post an updated photo when I get a few more pieces together.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Scrap Challenge

Last September the president of my guild issued a "President's Challenge" to the members. Each month in the newsletter a new block pattern was published, with instructions on how many of each block should be made to construct a mystery quilt. Some months we made 2 blocks and some months we made as many as 14 blocks! I followed along each month making the required number of blocks, using the fabrics I had chosen. I challenged myself to only use fabrics from my stash of batiks, and to substitute other scraps if I ran out of fabric along the way. It was quite difficult, especially since the pattern instructions required us to select 12 fabrics to start, but I am proud to say that no fabric was purchased for this challenge! Here is a photo of all of my completed blocks...9 months of patterns, 9 piles of blocks labelled with the name of the block and how many I sewed. This month's newsletter will give the instructions of how to sew the blocks together and we have the summer to complete our quilts. At the September meeting, all the mystery quilts will be displayed and viewer's choice awards will be given. I still have to decide if I have enough fabric leftover for a border and to piece some type of scrappy backing and binding from the leftover bits. This will be one very busy looking quilt...don't you think!??!?!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quilt Festival

I attended the opening ceremonies of the Waterloo County International Quilt Festival and arrived too late to get in on any of the appetizers and treats! The doors opened at 6:45 pm and by the time I arrived at 7:15 pm, only honeydew melon remained! But I was there in plenty of time for the handing out of the awards for the Ontario Juried Show. I wish more recipients would have been there to receive their awards, but now that the competition is open to entries from across Canada, I'm guessing there will be less award winning quilters able to attend. After the ceremony, we viewed the quilts which is always fun for me. I like to see how my opinions gel with the judges (or not!). I appreciate that this show uses different judges every year and you never know who they are until the opening ceremonies.
If you get a chance to see these quilts at RIM, see if you can tell which OJS quilt was my favorite. Here is a big is a bed size quilt made of 1" squares...yes...the whole thing was 1" squares! And the machine quilting was exquisitely done and perfect for the theme of the quilt. It was a lovely quilt from far away, but up close it takes my breath away! When the award winning quilt photos are posted on line, I'll post the link to my favorite. You can see the winning quilts from other years here....scroll to the bottom of the page for each years winners. Click here to see the winning quilts from 2004 which was the year that I was a juror and judge for this show. It was a very exciting, rewarding and exhausting experience.
Similar to opening night this year!
I was initially very excited to be in my first invitational quilt show called "Glitz Embellished Pieces" but on opening night, I must say that it was intimidating for me. Again most of the artists were not in attendance at the opening ceremonies since they are not from this area (or the province). Here is a photo of me beside my miniature embellished quilts. They do seem a bit lost in that huge arena full of bed size masterpieces, however I do take some pride in the fact that my quilts were the smallest ones in all of RIM park!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Quilt Festival

What a nice surprise! I was surfing around on the Quilt Festival website and discovered a photo of one of my quilts. If you click here and find "The Gathering: Contemporary & Traditional Quilts", the blue/purple quilt on the right is mine! When I sign papers giving permission for my quilt images to be used for Quilt Festival, I am never sure where and when the images will show up! There it is!
Today I dropped off my quilts for the Arts Centre exhibit and couldn't remember which quilts I had promised to loan for this show. So I just picked a couple of my favorites and which ever ones jumped out of the cupboard, will be the ones at the show! Very logical methods that I use, eh?!?! Here is one for sure...
It is an abstract challenge piece called "Almost Van Gogh". I painted the background fabric using Setacolor paints, and then free motion machine stitched by machine and by hand, trying to create movement similar to Van Gogh's painting called Starry Night . Then I hand beaded the swirls and added a dove bead in the centre to represent Van Gogh's brother Theo, who loved and supported him emotionally and financially his whole life.
I better get a move on...I have to get supper on the table and then get ready to attend the Quilt Festival opening ceremonies! Come by tomorrow to read all about it!

Victoria Day Weekend

Every Victoria Day weekend for the last 10 years we have gone camping with four other families from our neighbourhood (3 of which live on the same street). We all have children around the same age and they have a great time playing together. We are just back from this years trip and I am doing mountains of laundry. In one of their many adventures, my son got stuck in mud up to his knees and the other kids spent the next hour trying to dig out his shoes! Their clothes were caked with mud! In addition to the mud incident, it was generally miserable weather and I spent four days trying to stay warm. I had taken handwork to do, but it was too cold to even contemplate taking my mittens off. It rained on Saturday night and there was frost on Sunday night...did I mention I was COLD?!?! I had a brief respite at the local quilt store - Quilters By The Square where it was warm and friendly as always. I bought a few more fabrics for my 365 quilt and enjoyed seeing the customer's mystery quilts that were hanging in the store. It never ceases to amaze me how a dozen quilters can take the same pattern and make such different looking quilts.
Anyway, I am finally getting warm and of course the sun is shiny brightly so I can hang the laundry outside to dry. Here is a smile from my UFO friend Bev...I don't know why she gave me a copy of this cartoon?!?!?!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tesselating Stars

I have been so busy this week that I haven't had much time for quilting. However I have
organized some hand work projects to take along to all the outdoor activities I will be forced to do this weekend!!! I have an embroidery pattern to work on, which I am looking forward to since I haven't done this type of stitching in a long time.
If you are interested in making a tesselating star quilt in a lap size, I am teaching this class at Reichards on May 31st. I promise not to copy the layout design in reverse!! ( See this post for details on that mistake!)
The quilt on the right is the full size quilt that I made for my one of my nephews. It has a 12" star block. The quilt on the left is the miniature size block, which you could also make in this class on May 31st if you want to, and it has a 3" star block. This design is by Cindy Thury Smith and I have her permission to teach this class. It is the perfect project for using up scraps! If you want to join us for a fun day of turning your scraps into a great quilt, call Leslie at Reichards to register and get the supply list.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Miniature Tulip Quilts

Ever have one of the those weeks where everything goes wrong?!?
I'm having one of those!
Yesterday I made printed the instructions/work sheets for the miniature quilt class in reverse! read that REVERSE! I'm still shaking my head over that one, and hope to get some time to open up my EQ (Electric Quilt computer program) and figure out how I did that and didn't notice! And as if that wasn't bad was the most difficult design we have tackled so far (tesselating stars) so giving them instructions in reverse was the icing on the cake! Maybe next month I'll print them in italian or spanish just for fun!! I ran out to Staples and mirror printed the layout and when I came back, everyone was still there sewing away. I thought they might have run for the hills while they had the chance!
Next month I'll post a photo of the reverse design quilts that they come up with! Anyway, here are the tulip projects the students brought back from last month's class. (Click here to see tulip quilts from another miniature class) Check out all the different layouts they have created. Anne was the only brave soul who tried the tiny blocks - she made 4 blocks for the corners (top left quilt).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

What a wonderful mother's day! It was a sunny warm day here. I started the day with coffee, cinnamon buns, and chocolate covered strawberries, in bed! I know...I am very lucky! My children gave me incredible cards that they made and a new book I have wanted to read called "Eat, Pray, Love" . I also received a new Rose of Sharon bush and here it is snuggled in between my two dead looking bushes, which the rabbits apparently chewed on to get them through the winter. We didn't dig the old bushes out, since I am still hoping they will survive...eternal optimist that I am!
I also received the gift of time to quilt. My husband did all the work today and I was able to have some sewing time. Which is very generous considering he also did all the work yesterday while I was at a guild newbie day teaching machine quilting. Here I am finishing up a Block of the Month quilt, where guild members make and donate blocks of the same pattern made from their stash, and then someone else (Joan) sews them together. Yesterday our new members learned how to prepare a quilt for quilting, how to pin baste and then how to "stitch in the ditch" on this quilt. I just have to finish the unstitched ditches and put the binding on.
I must say that am a very happy mother today and I enjoyed everything about my quilty mother's day weekend!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Family memories - 365 Challenge

I am very interested in creating positive family memories and stories, and spend much energy documenting our extended family's development, our adventures and our challenges, in many different, scrapbooking, quilting, etc. Here is a quilt I made in 2001 called "Ten of my mothers". I made this quilt for a guild challenge in which we were to make a quilt with "10 of something", celebrating the guild's 10th anniversary. I chose to honour several of the women who were guiding and nurturing forces when I was growing up, including my aunts, grandmothers, and one greatgrandmother. My mom worked full time and went to night/summer school to get her university degree, so we were often in the care of other women. Lucky for us, at that time, all of the other women in the family were homemakers and were available to help out. I wanted to make an antique looking quilt, and used only neutral fabrics for the quilt. On the right is a photo of my favorite aunt, who was a marvelous baker, knitter, and nurturer. My brother and I went to visit her grave today and give thanks for all the love and care we received from our Aunt Lottie. On the left is the quilt label. Today this quilt hangs right next to my Mom's bed and is one of her favorites! We look forward to visiting her tomorrow to wish her Happy Mother's Day!
I have started a new family memory quilt and you can read more from the woman who has started this great idea at her website called Leanne's on the top right "365 challenge tutorial". I started the quilt on May 1st and have been documenting the life of our family...quilts I am working on, places we go, ordinary family details, and activities...anything I think I might like to remember from all the ordinary days we enjoy together! I have the fabric strips cut out, and similar to the memory quilt above, I am using only neutral fabrics to look like pages from my journal. I plan to do some embroidery stitching but am still deciding at which stage I will do that. If this sounds like fun to you, it's never to late to start your own family journal 365 challenge quilt!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Flora and Fauna

Today's blog entry has little to do with quilting! I will mention in passing that my friend Louise and I went on the shop hop called "Goose on the Loose". We now have a chance to win some prizes in a draw, but there were no fabric/pattern giveaways like the last shop hop I went on. Never mind...we had great conversation and lots of fun!
On the way to Louise's house, I spotted this turtle and screeched the car to a stop. Isn't it so interesting? Look at the spikes on it's tail. I gave him/her a little lecture about the dangers of walking on the highway and I think he/she listened because I was delighted to note that there was no dead turtle on the highway on the way home!
And I admired so many other things on my drive. These are the daffodils (on the left) in full bloom at Louise's farm. She has many beautiful flower gardens.
And just look at these wild trilliums! The trillium is the provincial flower for Ontario, Canada and they are only found in deciduous forests in early May. Apparently the white petals change to pink as they age, and I was so excited today to have found my first one!

And now you know what it is like to go on a road trip with me...I am easily distracted by beautiful and intesting sites!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Quilted Vase Class with Christine Ford

I enjoyed a great class today with Christine Ford learning how to make a quilted vessel/vase. Besides being lots of fun, it was the first class in a long time that I have taken that really stretched me. I tried some new (to me) techniques and products, and for the second time this year, my machine did not co-operate with my desire to free motion quilt! I tried several different needle and thread combinations until for some unknown reason, a universal needle worked! All the fancy, expensive needles that I tried either broke the thread or made the free motion foot make a loud banging sound. add insult to injury, the change that made the machine work well is something that I would never tell someone to do. My free motion quilting worked best with the feed dogs UP! Unbelievable!
Anyway, my machine started to quilt, but again it was a reminder about how frustrating this skill can sometimes be, even when you have had hundreds of hours of practise! I think my machine didn't really enjoy the fast-2-fuse product, but I thought it worked great! Me and my machine don't always see eye-to-eye!!
Here is Christine (on the right) helping us with fabric selection. Not only did we learn about vessel construction, but she taught us about balancing colour theory with what you love!
After working all day, I only successfully finished one of the five panels. One panel got totally wrecked on the thread/needle production, so I have four more to make. Anyway, I really enjoyed the class and hope to finish my panels on the weekend. Here is our class with some of our finished panels. Some of us (the over achievers!) not only finished quilting their panels, but they started constructing their vase! Sheesh...what did I do with all my time?!?!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Something new

We are finally getting some sunny warmer weather here, so the tree buds are popping out and we even have some flowers in the garden! That was one long winter!
I went to quilt guild meeting tonight, and was told by 3 different "Judy"s that they check my blog every day and are disappointed when there isn't anything new posted! Imagine the pressure :)
Hi Judy T. and Judy E. and Judy R.!!! Here is something new to read while you drink your morning tea!

I have been trying to get situated in my new studio space and figuring out how to
make this work for me. My son is worried that he won't see me anymore, knowing how much I like to quilt! I have made an extra effort to be at home every day after school, so he knows that I haven't abandoned him!! My quilting friends have suggested the idea of making a little space for him at the studio, so I can bring him along. Isn't that a great idea?!?!
Lighting is my biggest problem as there are no overhead lights. Any suggestions?!?!?
I have been working on using up my scraps in a quilt-as-you-go project, but the bin isn't emptying very fast! You can see some of the beginning blocks here which I started at quilt retreat. And I am trying to get some quilt tops finished for a guild newbie class on Saturday. I will be teaching machine quilting, so it is forcing me to get the borders on some almost finished tops so I have something they can experiment with.
Tomorrow I am taking a quilted vessel class with Christine Ford. You can read about Christine here and see her with one of her quilts here. So I better get going and get some supplies together. Of course I can't figure out what fabric to take, so I am taking a big bag of batiks and hopefully Christine will help me sort myself out! I haven't ever sewn anything like this before, so I am excited about learning something new!
And yes Judy, Judy and Judy, I will post something new for you to read after the class!!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Miniature Quilt Classes

Yesterday I taught two quilting classes at Reichard's quilt shop in Elmira. Both classes are held once a month and in each class the students bring back the project from the month before, in whatever state of completion they have been able to accomplish. In the mini quilt class last month we made tulips, which is a fun block that sews up fast and easy, unless you make the really small size, which is harder! On the right are my sample quilts. On the left are some of the projects the students are working on. This is one of my favorite blocks to play with, and I like it so much that I taught it to two miniature quilt classes last look for more tulip quilt photos in about 10 days!

In the afternoon class, the students are learning paper piecing skills, and last month they tackled sewing houses which have pieced joins on the roofs. Here are some of their neighbourhoods on the right.
In another area of creativity, I want to show you my daughter's latest birthday party card. She has many friends turning 16 years old this year and she makes each of them a different card. This one has "sweet" made from chocolate kisses and "16" is made from chocolate loonies. Although she is not the least bit interested in quilting, my daughter shows her creativity in so many other interesting ways!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

New Studio Space

It was my turn to host the UFO (unfinished objects) group meeting this month. We have been together as a group, meeting monthly for 3 years now and we have a lot of fun together, talking about quilting, encouraging each other to finish UFO's, consulting about problem quilts, laughing, sharing books, and of course, eating! So they were the perfect people to invite to be my first visitors in my new studio space.
If you have read some of my older blogs, you will know that my quilting area in my basement at home is way less than can read about it here. So I am jumping at a serendipidous opportunity to have a studio space away from home. The only things in the room this week are tables and borrowed chairs, so I haven't really started to move in yet. But we met there this week and everyone shared their ideas on how to improve the lighting and how to use the space. Here are some of the group members standing with our recently finished charity quilt. We all made blocks for this quilt, which Joan (on the left) organized and cut out for us, using a pattern from the Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. In spite of our lovable Cindy hiding her blocks on herself, which she later found in her liquor cabinet (don't ask!), Joan had enough blocks to sew the quilt together. Now the quilt is ready to be donated to the Pediatric Sexual Assault Unit at our hospital. After our meeting we headed off for some shopping at my favorite local bead store and here are some of the ladies admiring the beads. It was a fun afternoon, as it always is with this group of quilters!