Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remembering Martina

I am thinking often about my friend Martina these days. She was an art therapist that I worked with for many years as my co-therapist in an art therapy group in a psychiatric hospital. She taught me so much about the creative process, especially how to start a piece and to trust that I would be intuitively directed by my own inner creativity.

I am thinking about her now because it was two years ago that we celebrated her last birthday. She was diagnosed with cancer and suffered for 1 1/2 years after her diagnosis throughout various conventional and some unusual treatments. Here is a photo of her 45th birthday..I am on the left behind the cake and Martina is on the right, wearing her "Susan Saradon wig". Behind us are friends Wendi and Hope. This was a happy day of celebration and we had no idea that 5 months later she would die.
I am also thinking about her now because I am working on a beaded quilt and am relearning/remembering some of the things I learned from Martina. In May I signed up to participate in the "Bead Journal Project" (BJP) which you can read about here. It is not as easy as I thought it would be and I am struggling to complete the first month's piece, which is why I have not written about it until now...and notice there are no photos to be seen!!
This is what I said in Martina's eulogy: "Martina taught me that the process, not the outcome, was the most important thing. And I would watch her as she painted or quilted, not following any plan. She would work and re-work the piece – adding on to it until she felt it was finished. I would say to her… “but I liked it best when it was two layers underneath” and I knew it would be different the next time I visited. And I tried to learn not to be attached to outcome but enjoy the transformative journey."
Earlier this month I was given a book called "The Book Of Angels" that was found among Martina's belongings and in the book was tucked this beaded fabric card that I made for her last birthday. I had given it to her with a Quilting Arts magazine. I don't know how this card found its way into the angel book, but I was honoured to receive this gift.
If Martina was here now, I would show my bead mess to her and she would give me some good advice, not about what to do next to fix it, but about how to get out of my own way. Maybe she would direct me to focus on the process of my beaded project for the BJP and why I am struggling so much with the outcome. Hmmm....thanks Martina!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

President's Challenge & Family Challenges

In any spare moments, I have been working away on my President's Mystery Quilt Challenge. You can click here to read about this challenge. I have all of the 56 blocks sewn together into rows and have been sewing the rows together. On the right are two rows finished, which involves matching 20 seams accurately. It has been tricky and I have been debating what variances I can live with. For example...here is one such decision on the left. The seam is not quite matching...it is out about 1/16th". That bugs me because by the end of the row, everything is way out. And to add insult to injury, in sewing the last two rows together, I put the wrong edges together and have to unsew that entire seam, which had matched up really well!! Borders are optional, so now I am trying to decide about how to stitch together the scraps to make a border, plus a binding and backing.
In other creative pursuits this weekend, we have been preparing for my son's grade 6 graduation, which requires him to have a nice haircut and clean presentable clothing... I gave up on any kind of formal outfit/suit long ago! We have been "in negotiations" for days and have accomplished the haircut, which I love and he can live with, and a tentative plan for clothing...the rules are no skateboard shorts, nothing with holes, rips or grass stains, and no slogan tshirts (like "Football is everything" or "Live free or die").
Also this weekend my daughter had a pool party invitation and she wanted to make a fruit tray. I said "why can't you take some chips/junk food like all the other kids are"?? But she insisted that she wanted to make something, so we went shopping on friday after she finished writing her exams. Then we spent most of saturday morning washing, cutting and arranging the fruit. And here is the fruit tray which evolved into a tray plus a carved watermelon bowl. She was delighted and we had lots of fun together.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Tesselating Stars!

Today was the last class for the monthly miniatures and as usual, these quilts were amazing! Really, these quilters consistently produce the most wonderful quilts injected with their own unique touches. I love to watch at the beginning of each class when they pull out their fabrics and see what colour combinations they come up with. Sometimes I can see a fabric combination and guess which quilter probably brought it, but then sometimes they totally surprise me with a whole new colourway! It is so much fun to see what they will come up with each month. And then they add their own creative ideas with different border treatments, quilting designs, and embellishments.
Below is the quilt of a student from last month who brought her project to show at guild meeting, and as I wrote in a previous blog entry, I was a little overwhelmed at that meeting with so many exciting things going on, and so I apologize for the poor quality photograph. However you can see yet another colour combination for this design.
I sure will miss these classes and these quilters over the summer break!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tesselating Sunshine Stars

I finished the binding today on another Tesselating Stars quilt. This one was made with a pack of "Sunshine" moda 5" charm squares. I love these little packages that Moda makes...I get to play with a whole new line of fabric and make a little quilt without spending huge amounts of money. I think this package had approximately 40 squares and I only have 2 left over, plus tiny scraps. I pieced together 9 charms for the backing, cut up scraps for the border and only had to purchase a piece of fabric for the binding. The stars are 3" and the finished quilt size is 12 1/2" square.
I love this pattern and have made it several times. You can see two of my previous quilts here.
Not only did I enjoy sewing this design again, I had a blast with the machine quilting! I quilted a swirly pinwheel in each star and a freemotion feather in the border. I used one of my favorite threads - Sulky blendables (which is a varigated thread) in a colour called "Butter & Sky".
When my friend Judy saw my blog post on May 18th, she deconstructed the design and figured out how to make the quilt herself using a 5" block! She brought it over to quilt at my studio last week and here is her version. What a great idea she had to use the black for the outside partial stars!
Tomorrow is my last miniature quilt class for the season and I will get to see the projects from last month's star class. This was the class where I copied the handouts in reverse, so I wonder what their stars will look like!! Check back tomorrow night to see what they did!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

365 progress

I spent some time today working on my 365 quilt. This was an idea that was started by Leanne Beasley on her blog. (Click here to read her description of the project.) On the left are my fabrics...I am only using neutrals, even though I have already been told that it is "boring to look at" (by someone who shall remain nameless)! Well, it is interesting to me and I really think that my children will appreciate this effort in the future. Every day I write an entry on strips of fabric ironed to freezer paper - shown on the right. I try to alternate fabrics so that they will be spread evenly throughout the quilt. When I have time, I cut the entries apart and sew them together in chronological order. I plan to insert pieced mini blocks (4" wide) and embroidered month labels. I enjoy the process...thinking about what went on each day that I'd like to remember - where we went and what we did. Here are some of my entries sewn together into long strips.
It was a good project to work on after spending most of the weekend with my extended family. It was wonderful to see my siblings and their families. We stayed up too late into the wee hours of the morning, playing games and laughing until our bellies hurt! And as always, it was a blessing to be able to spend time with my brother and my father this weekend, both of whom have had such serious health issues that we never know how long we will have with them. We treasure every memory...that is what I wrote for my 365 block today.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Beads ( and a new phone)

My husband bribed me into getting a new cell phone yesterday. He said he would take the day off work (I should have been suspicious about that!) and we would go out for brunch and then shopping at whatever quilt and/or bead stores I wanted to visit. I was so excited and spent lots of time this week thinking about which new stores I wanted to see and what route to take. I had my selections carefully balanced with 2 new (to me) quilt stores and 3 bead stores. But when friday morning came, he said we first were going to buy me a new cell phone. I protested in vain, as I quickly realized what he was up to!
My family has been after me for a long time to get a new cell phone, but I liked my old one. I didn't mind that it couldn't hold a charge for more than 1 or 2 calls, or that it didn't get good reception outside of my town, and I really didn't care that it was a little larger than most cell phones these days, or that it was costing me as much as 2 modern cell phones! The children called it "Mom's Flintstone Phone" and begged me not to take it out in public to make phone calls! So after making hundreds of decisions about which phone company to use, and comparing prices and service bundles, and selecting options ....which was exactly the reason I didn't want to waste my time thinking about all of this technobabble in the first place, we finally picked 2 phones, a plan (the family plan with unlimited calling between my phone and the kids' phone), the accessories (here is a whole new genre of products I never knew existed!), the options (no, I really don't need another camera, blue teeth or texting options), and...well, you can probably guess that there were went my morning of shopping at quilts stores! Here are my old and new phones...can you tell which is which?!?!
Anyway, I did finally get to shop in the afternoon, so I had to pare down my shopping list considerably and was able to find a couple of shops that were new to me. One of them was Beads of Colour which was a little shop that we drove by twice, but once we found the shop and some parking, discovered that this store had lots of character and a wonderful selection of unusual beads. This was WAY more fun than shopping for a cell phone!! Here are some of the beads I bought. I bought many other things for a new project that I will tell you about another time, but they didn't photograph very well...too shiny.
So...my list of other stores to visit will have to wait for another day, but now I can easily call ahead to get directions - using my new cell phone - which actually works!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Guild Meeting

I find it hard to believe that anyone could enjoy a guild meeting more than I do! I get so excited to see my quilting friends and all their amazing work that sometimes I get a post-guild headache! And always, as happened last night, I can't settle down and go to sleep when I get home. Last night I didn't get home from the meeting until 10:30 pm and even though I was exhausted, I couldn't fall asleep. So today I have a "guild meeting hangover"!
It was the last guild meeting of the season and the deadline for submitting quilts for the Pediatric Sexual Assault Unit. Last week I photographed all the quilts received, and at guild meeting last night, I photographed more quilts, so we have exceeded the original goal of 50 quilts by having almost 70 quilts donated!
Here are the two quilts I finished for the meeting. Both quilts were Blocks of the Month, where the pattern is printed in the monthly newsletter and guild members make blocks to donate to this charity project. The quilt on the right is the disappearing 9 patch block and you can view a tutorial on how to make this pattern by clicking here. Thanks to Kim for this link - you can click here to see her quilt made with this idea! I did not make any of the blocks in these quilts. Joan Hett pieced the blocks together for the quilt on the left and Barb Jordan and I pieced together the blocks on the right. Then we used these quilts at our guild newbie day to demonstrate adding borders, pin basting and machine quilting. So the quilt on the left was a practise piece for 5 or 6 new quilters. It is stitched in the ditch and straight line stitched on the diagonals. I free motion quilted the quilt on the right. I used a hand quilting thread that I wanted to use up, and it gave me tension trouble but I didn't give up and made it work! This is a photo of some of the quilts that were donated. I can't tell you how wonderful these quilts are! So much work has gone into this pile and all of the time and materials were donated by the wonderful women in the guild who want to donate a symbol of comfort to victims of abuse in our community. And here is a photo of some of the quilts and the project coordinator Joan Hett, who is a tireless volunteer. She organized the project, got funding to buy batting and other supplies. She collected donated fabrics, organized block/quilt kits for quilters to sew, and then collected the finished quilts. Her basement has been taken over by this project! She is one of the most generous, wonderful women I know...thanks for all you have done Joan!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blog Milestone

Can you believe that this is my 100th post?!? As with most bloggers, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this activity or if I would have anything to write about. I started blogging last September to try it out and find that I still really enjoy writing about my quilting activities and also reading the quilting blogs I have discovered since then. A big thank you to all of you out there in blogland who read these posts and send me messages full of encouragement and ideas!
I had a fun time at a meeting of the "Sew 'n Sews" on friday. This is a group of 4 quilters who get together whenever we can, to chat and sew. We worked on a plan to make a quilt to donate to the New Hamburg Mennonite Quilt Auction next year. We agreed that we will not purchase any new fabric for this quilt since we all have "stash overflow" problems. This is a test block - a butterfly block pattern by Camille Remme. We figured out that if we alternate a charm block with a butterfly block we each have to make 20 blocks. I spent most of the time cutting scraps for these blocks. One quilter was sewing an Elinor Peace Bailey bag, one made pillowcases with firefighter fabrics for her grandson, and the other quilter worked on piecing her Paris Flea Market quilt. We will all check our stashes and pull out fabrics for the butterflies, any colours for the wings/body and light background fabrics for our next meeting.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Summer is finally here

It has been strange weather lately - wearing coats one day and sweating in shorts and tshirts the next. However, I enjoyed watching my daughter's soccer game yesterday while sitting in the warm sun...summer must be finally coming! My peonies have bloomed and are just beautiful this year, so I have to show you a picture to brag about that - even though I have nothing to do with it! They don't usually last very long after a few good rains that smoosh them but I sure adore them while they last.
Don't look at the next photo if you are planning to sew the Paper Panache mystery block and don't want to ruin your surprise. I took a few minutes away from machine quilting to finish piecing the mystery block and here it is.
I always enjoy piecing Linda's mystery block and this is one happy looking sun block! I made my usual mistakes that I make every time I have a paper piecing session: 1) sew on the wrong line or out of sequence, and 2) cut a piece of fabric just a bit too small. I eliminated my usual third mistake (I sew a piece of fabric wrong side up) by using all batik fabrics on this block. I don't know what I will do with Mr. Sun - maybe make a little wallhanging for my front door for summer.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Threadworks Show

I went on a little road trip today to see the Threadworks "Passions" show. It was a very good show with a wide variety of needlework pieces. There were many pieces that didn't appear to have anything to do with the theme of the show (which was "Passion") but they were interesting to look at just the same. One of the things I really loved about this show is that they provided a colour program with small photos of all the pieces in the show...for FREE!! It is a great souvenir to bring home to read and reflect on all the techniques and ideas you saw.
After reading Carol Clasper's blog about sketchbooks I had decided to treat myself to a new one. My old books do not lay flat open and are just not interesting to me. I wanted one that has good quality paper with a spiral binding and I found one today that I am happy with at Wyndham Art Supplies (at a very good price!). Hopefully the combination of a brand new sketchbook, and all the wonderful quilts I have seen in the last month will inspire me to fill it up!
I have been working away at finishing up the charity quilts for the June guild meeting. I will go over to Joan's house on Thursday and photograph all the donated quilts, which at this time total over 50! I finished the quilting on two of the quilts, finished the binding on one and passed one project back to Donna for binding. This is the one remaining quilt that I must finish. It was a 9 patch block BOM that I worked on at the retreat in the winter. Here it is finally all pin basted and ready to machine quilt. I have everything ready...just need the time to get over to the studio and "get 'er done"!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Quilt Labels

The stashbuster topic of the week is quilt labels. I label all my quilts and don't consider them "finished" until that is done. Sometimes, if the quilt is really small, or if I am really busy and know that I won't have a chance (or the interest) to make a "proper" label, I just write on the back of the quilt with a Pigma pen like this label on the left.
I do prefer to have a "proper" label on all my quilts and it is my goal to make one for each quilt. The photo on the right shows the way I most often make my labels. I fold a square of light coloured fabric on the diagonal, write the quilt name, my name and the year on the triangle of fabric, and pin it to the bottom corner before I sew down the binding. Then I hand stitch the diagonal fold and stitch the label right into the binding.
Sometimes if the quilt is going to be submitted to a challenge or show, or if I really like the quilt and want to make the extra effort, I make a label to applique on the back of the quilt like the one on the left.
But my favorite method is a photo transfer label. You can see a label I made for a photo transfer quilt that I wrote about last month, by clicking here.
I have made a lap size quilt for my 11 nieces and nephews. For those quilt labels I made a transfer of a photo of myself and the baby/child and appliqued it to the back of the quilt. My sister once told me that when my niece Ellen was a preschooler, every night at bedtime she would look at the photo transfer on her quilt's label and say "Goodnight Aunt Kathy". I loved that story and have made the same kind of label ever since! Here is the one on the back of my nephew Matthew's flannel dog quilt.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Miniature Quilt Classes

I taught the last two classes in a series of miniature quilt classes today. It was warm in the quilt store today, but the quilters worked away and didn't seem to mind the summer weather. The morning class worked with miniature strip sets today and here are two quilts from the class last month, made by Susan and Sylvia. You can see my sample quilt here made from blocks which are 1 1/2" by 3/4".
And I learned a new word this morning ... "wookety"... meaning wonky or wobbley. If you make a strip set that is uneven and problematic, you could call it wookety!
The afternoon class was learning paper piecing and here is Kathy S's wallhanging which she finished last month for a gift for her mother. For today's class everyone brought a paper pieced pattern of their choice to challenge the skills which they had learned in the 3 previous classes. The patterns they brought represented all my favorite paper piecing pattern designers including Linda Worland, Linda Hibbert , Mary Herschleb and of course Carol Doak. They did a great job tackling these complex patterns with multiple pattern pieces and difficult seam joins.
After a wonderful day at the quilt shop, I arrived home to find that my wonderful husband had come home early and made us a steak dinner with pasta, tomato and snap pea salad (my favorite)! Now really...does life get any better than this?!?!