Monday, April 25, 2011

in Just spring...mud-liscious...puddle wonderful

Spring has sprung and the week is supposed to get increasingly "puddle wonderful" so I took the opportunity to take out the newish camera and see what it could do with my backyard wildflowers on a cloudy day -- it passed! Here are a group of trout lilies growing up close to a towering maple tree right behind the house.

Here is one of the many white trillium growing behind my neighbor's and our house.

Here is the first of the bright crimson trillium. They will turn pink as they age. They are smaller than the white trillium which are probably 5 inches across.

A closeup of one of the bunches of trout lilies. Looks like they have made major inroads in our front lawn as well!

Seeing the first of our fiddlehead ferns is always great fun as well!

Of course our star magnolias are starting to bloom as well with the saucer magnolias not far behind.

Our hyacinths inevitably are up for Easter and this year was no exception.

Warren planted these bulbs many years ago after we saw some lawns just covered with blue flowers and we wanted to be the same. This is the first year that they have filled in enough to really give the illusion of a bright blue lawn in front. Like the trout lilies, it is the back of the flower that you see. I have no idea what these are called! They come out after the last of the crocus have died back so we move from a yellow and purple lawn to a blue one. The forget-me-nots are next!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Whew....Lions Marching On but Almost Didn't

This is my most recent incarnation of the lions! Our lioness now has her legs pieced (although still not sewn altogether) and the top part of her head is in place. On the male lion, you can begin to see the mane below his mouth. Below you will see the progress through the day.

Here is a little less done.

Now I'm not the world's worst housekeeper but my sewing room could give the title a run for the money, especially when I am madly working on a large project that requires boxes of different fabrics! I have been going back and forth to Marcia's with my two bags and a box of fabric as well as the master pattern. I was getting ready to go to her house yesterday and I realized I was missing two of the pattern envelopes I had been working on!

I then came to the realization that I was missing all the gradated fabrics that I had dyed and was using for the lioness (I had not kept records of the gradations either)!!! I tore the car and sewing room apart and no luck. I figured I must have left them at Marcia's and unfortunately, that was not the case!!! Luckily I had some projects I could still do so went forward with that an determined that I would move everything out of my sewing room when I got home. I was hoping that I hadn't stupidly left it on the top of the car or something equally as "seniorish" (I can say that).

Finally when I got home and was ready to tear the sewing room apart, I tripped on something and looked down with a glance into my hallway. There covered by two boxes of fat quarters (part of the sale last week) was the offending missing box with the paper patterns in them!!! What a relief!!

I am modifying my process almost daily and really need to take some serious notes so I won't forget for the next time! My newest improvementwas to only cut out the freezer paper templates as I identify the fabric. This is determined from the master pattern which I have labelled using my transparency over the colored picture. Because I am working on something so large, I have a duplicate master pattern for each section so I can put the sections together at my sewing machine rather than getting up and walking across the room to places pieces so small I can't see them up on the wall!!.

There is no way I could audition all the fabrics the way Ruth McDowell does, as I am working with smaller pieces in many instances. I don't use as much pattern fabric as she does and like to piece my backgrounds separately for the most part (although not always). However, piecing in sections does have its pitfalls and I do have to undo some pieces when I put them together and occasionally have to applique a piece to adjust the color. You will notice on the above piece that I have some pinned pieces on the ears and one down under the mane of the lion as I got the color wrong and it was important. I am sure there are others that I will have to adjust once I get it all together and I find something that really annoys me!

Here, just the legs are done. The one at the top of the page has three more sections completed! I made a lot of progress and it is beginning to feel more manageable!
Priscilla has finished machine quilting the bright side of her leaves piece -- I think you can see the quilting if you double click. It is looking just wonderful and she plans on entering it into some shows in the fall. She will have to take a brief hiatus as a knee is being replaced this week and despite what she says, I am sure this will require some rest!

I got a kick out of Marcia up on a ladder starting another Jet Trails piece. Her pieces are large enough that a ladder is a necessary tool to their placement and completion!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Workin', Workin', and Workin'

Although I didn't do any additional sewing, I did manage to assemble (they are pinned) most of the legs of the lioness who is on the right! I am currently working on the mane of the lion king. I loved the original picture because of the family nature of the scene. When I was in Africa (40 years ago now), I never saw the male lions in the family grouping. It was always a group of lionesses with their combined cubs. My daughter Lisa took about 200 shots of this lion family. There were several cubs and many of the pictures show the playful nature of the grouping. This shot just looked so human to me -- of course you can't see it all yet!! (But you will, I promise!) I keep hoping that I will achieve the right mix of realistic and abstract. Too abstract and it will look cartoonish and I just don't want to do it too realistic which is why I chose to do all straight line piecing and no curves. I figure if I err to the too abstract side, I can add some thread painting for more detail. Lots and lots of decisions. I don't seem to tire of this brown/green pallette though. Priscilla tried to completely block herself from being pictured with her leaf quilt but my camera was quicker!! If you double click, you can see the detail of the quilting. She is making awesome progress and it is now official -- she is a quilter not just a wearable artist! Marcia was busily assembling another of her Jet Trails series. I realized that it was the first time I have actually seen her process -- usually I see them much further done -- she works very improvisationally, a style which I find very difficult! Soon she will be hard at work with her enormous vegetable garden and beautiful flower beds that dot their acreage! Hopefully I will have the lions done by summer!

Friday, April 15, 2011

April GVQC Meeting

This is the monthly parade of comfort quilts (made for charity). I turned in 14 today and here are some marching across the stage! This was all part of my cleanup of old fabric initiative!
A big part of the day for me was having a "sale" table at the back of the room where club members could buy some of my books and fat quarters. I sold almost everything and gave the rest away so I came home with a trunk full of empty boxes.
Priscilla had the table right next to me. She was smart and brought extra tables with her, one of which she kindly lent me so I could spread out a bit! She of course has all sorts of fantastic goodies and I had been whining that people were going to spend all their money at her table and not buy my books! She says I have to keep my mouth shut now as I had a constant stream of buyers although she had the ones with deeper pockets!!
Jenna showed off the two butterfly jackets she had made since Priscilla's March class. They are both gorgeous!
The back of the second jacket!
This was another of the class members modelling her jacket from the class -- class members had their choice of making one of two jackets.
This was a first quilt of a new quilter. It was from a Janet Root class and Janet had said to bring scraps from your stash which this lady didn't have. She did an excellent job and it looked beautiful!!
This was one of several quilts that our own Nancy L showed. Loved the bright colors!
This was a perfectly beautiful quilt but can't remember who made it. Lovely, lovely
This was another beautiful quilt which exquisite long arm machine quilting. The next shot is of the back. It really enhanced the quilt.

For the first time in years, I didn't go to Spring Fling because there wasn't the space that there usually is and I didn't sign up in time. Janet is always one of our experts and she shared how to do houses at this retreat. This is Nancy's version.
This was another version of the houses from the above retreat.
Our planned speaker and teacher had a sudden death in the family and cancelled at the very last minute. Coincidentally, our program chair also died suddenly last week. Our own RAFA member Pat Berardi stepped in at the very last minute and did a trunk show of her quilt journey over the past dozen years. It went extremely well and we got to see some of Pat's wonderful quilts again. This one was a prize winner two quilt shows ago. Pat pieced it over a long period and Teddy Ahern did an exquisite job of machine quilting it including trapunto!
This was a quilt that started as one thing and then Pat cut apart the squares she had made and cut them up and reassembled them. It really works!
This was an incredible machine embroidered quilt!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Race is On.....

Continuing progress is being made on the lions. Eventually I will get to a place where I will work every hour I can in the day to get it done but haven't gotten there yet. I have made several process improvements for myself which have made life far easier for me with this large very complex piece. As a large colored picture would be far too expensive to print, my only full color picture is 8 1/2 x 11. As the piece is 4 1/2 feet by about 6 1/2 feet, there was quite a bit of difficulty translating the places for the colors. My master is the same size as the final quilt and my piecing diagram is about 2 feet by 3 feet but is only the outlines. I finally took the outline I have been using and "Photo Shopped" it down to 8 1/2 x 11 and put it onto a transparency. It doesn't have any numbering on it but does have the lines, even though the areas are tiny in many places. It is enough to help me decide better on the shading and colors as I place it over the color photo I have. I had used an enlarged black and white picture originally to help me draft the pattern and set up the divisions between the areas.
After our preliminary discussions on the various dvds and tapes we exchanged this morning, Priscilla got down to work on the final quilting of her piece. Marcia has been relentless in her support of Priscilla getting this done by next Wednesday! I was forbidden to give her any excuses and Bill was only allowed to exchange a few comments before Marcia brought out the whip again. And just when we were getting plans together for the First Firth Film Festival -- date to be determined.

It is officially spring here as the crocus are blooming all over our front lawn. We still could get snow but it is easy from here!!

I had a question about our Project Iron Quilter that will be part of our 2011 GVQC Quilt Show to be held the first weekend in June. Full details about the show and information can be found at The Project Iron Quilter information is there as well. It will be a contest to finish a quilt (three layers with some kind of binding) in about four hours. Contestants will be able to bring one piece of fabric they can use but the rest will be chosen from a large pile at the beginning of the competition. Contestants will be told the theme of the competition at that time as well. There will be many prizes with the main prize being a Bernina sewing machine. We have room for 20 quilters and 16 have signed up. The last day for signing up is April 15 but you can send a note to me or Priscilla Kibbee (her blog is on my sidebar) or Marcia DeCamp (ditto) if you want to participate. There is a $25 charge but that gets you free entry to the show on Saturday (but you will be busy). Genie Barnes has agreed to be our judge and our main goal is to have a lot of fun.

The finished quilts will be auctioned off by Pat Pauly and the money raised donated to charity.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday at RAFA

We had a great meeting of RAFA this month. There was a lot of show and tell including quite a bit of the snow dyes which will be the last of the season. Some of the group had quite a bit of snow last week!!
This is Elaine's piece. You can't see it but there is a lot of nice beading on this piece as well!
Patti (a new member) shared this lovely seascape with us.
Diane, fresh back from her travels, showed us an "instant art quilt" made from a technique she learned in an online course which she highly recommended. This was made out of most one piece of fabric (a half yard piece cut into rectangles).
Liz was very excited about this large pile of tshirts she had dyed out in the snow!!
Janet shared several jackets she has completed in anticipation of the Artistry in Threads show later this month at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

Beth (another one) shared a new top she has made. She is anxious to get some help in completing some of the wonderful tops she has made!

Here is Donna wearing one new jacket and showing a second one that she is still working on. These are made with both purchased and her own indigo dyed fabric!

With heavy hearts, we learned that one of the original RAFA members, Pat Faulkner, will be moving away this summer to be closer to her daughter and grandson. We will really miss her and her ready smile and encouragement. This is a completely hand pieced original quilt top inspired by one of her husband's photos. She has done the whole thing using English paper piecing, a technique I also love.

The next few pieces are some of the snow dyes that people bought to the meeting!
Janet and I were leading the afternoon program which was a quick exercise to do a black and white composition (using construction paper) which we would then critique using the style we both learned from Emily Richardson. It is really more of an exercise in observation and leaves out most of the value filled words that so many associate with critiques. It really forces you to look more closely at pieces in terms of where your eye is moving etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Lions are Starting to Sit Up and Take Notice!

Well, Priscilla pronounced this a giant white heart on background. More optimistically, I think I am making progress although I will have to redo a large section on the right hand side (not shown finished in the picture). The female lion is a lot lighter than the male but not as light as I had first pieced her. I really feel like it is beginning to come together. Once I reach a certain point, I become possessed but that hasn't come to pass yet!!

Priscilla has finished putting together her leaves and today she managed to get it basted with batting and backing so now ALL she has to do is the machine quilting. Marcia has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Priscilla to get it done by next Wednesday despite the fact that Priscilla won't be home a large part of the time between now and then!! Luckily Priscilla doesn't require a lot of sleep!!

It was a great day of fun at Marcia's where we determined many of the categories for prizes in our Iron Quilter challenge at the quilt show in June. We have 15 people signed up for it now and it looks to be a lot of fun. People are begging us for the theme which is a deep dark secret!