In The Studio

Usually I only show you pictures of the studio after I’ve cleaned it up a bit. Right now I’m in the middle of SO. MUCH. FUN. and creativity, I don’t want to stop to clean. In between the rug hooking frenzy, I’ve allowed myself to play with a box of leftover pre-cut fabric strips.

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I’m enjoying this project quite a bit. Its tempting to add more fabrics in, but I’m making myself stick with the strips that are already cut in that box. The only fabric I added is that blue and green print. I think it adds a lot of focus to the piece.

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And, at the other end of the room–rug hooking central! Oh, and you can see in this picture that I got a large cutting mat that I cut to fit the entire desk top! Super good purchase–got it at Joann’s with a 60% off coupon! Before now, I’ve only worked with a 15X20 cutting mat!

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I am so enjoying working on this big rug. Its hard to stop!

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Close-ups. I added white “coral” on one side, and coral colored coral on the other side.

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I took a break from quilting to concentrate on the rug hooking, but of course, I never completely stop stitching! These are two “travel projects. I started this one when I went to PIQF last October. Just an excuse for obsessive stitching. And as you can see, its not finished yet. I’m trying to think of some creative way to finish off all those bendy borders.

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Close-ups: I had a little french knot obsession going on!

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And of course, had to add a few words:

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This next was my travel project for the recent rug hooking trip to Anaheim. I hook all day at these retreats, and I like to have a project to hand stitch on in the evening in my hotel room. I saw something that made me think of making circles that weren’t circles, and that appealed to me. I didn’t have anything  in mind except adding one big off-center circle. Then I took some of the leftover pieces and added them on to one side. And then I thought, well, it would be more balanced if there was a third element added. By then I realized that it was starting to look like tide pools.

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I stitched obsessively on the motifs. But before I was very far, I knew I wanted to experiment with adding a second layer of stitching to indicate water ripples.

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And then I thought about adding “barnacles” using yo yos. Now it has a dimensional element, so I am feeling like I need to add another dimensional element. NOT an octopus :) Maybe a starfish. And a lot of beading. But before I can do any beading, I will have to clean my studio. So for now, it will stay on the design wall awaiting inspiration.

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Rug Hooking at the California Getaway!

Last week I headed to Southern California with my rug hooking buddy, Mary Lynn. This is our second year to attend this getaway at Gene Shepherd’s studio, and it is just a delightful experience all around. I wrote a little more about it on my other blog. Mary Lynn and I go a day ahead of time to go to Crystal Cove and visit the tide pools (and eat beignets by the shore :) )

This year, I wanted to take a break from the intensive detailed work on the rug I’d been working on. I had the idea to do an “improv” rug–not drawing a design ahead of time, but having a rough idea of what I wanted to do. I simply wanted to use the “dull” primitive wool that I had been collecting as the background, and add splashes and lines of the bright colors that I like so much. I had knitted a couple of scrap rugs like this, and I liked the way they looked.

I had the idea to make a larger rug than I had ever worked on, so I laid the linen backing out on the living room floor. I decided to try to make it 4’X6′.

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When we got to Gene’s studio, the first item was to get a brief consult on this rug. I needed a color for the background below the elephants (that bird won’t be there,) and it had to contrast well enough with the lion, the cross, and the green leaves. Right away, Gene came up with the idea of purple. Perfect! I have some dull gray-purples that will work well.

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As I started work on my “improv rug,” Gene mentioned that my ring and my bracelet were great design sources. Hmmm. I liked that idea. Already I was growing a little bored with the wonderful straight line hooking that I had envisioned. I had also had an idea the night before of adding a big spiral to the rug.

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So that night I went back to the hotel and added some circle patches and three big spirals to my sketch (that previously had only had blotches and lines to indicate the colors I would add.)

The next day, someone came up with the idea of adding “seaweed” and I added the triangles, because I like triangles, and also because one of my favorite shells is triangle-shaped. So I added these to the sketch.

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Then it was time to put pen to rug, and I drew in all these motifs. I really like it. Its funny, because before I left, I spent a lot of time drawing a “tide pool” design. Mary Lynn really wanted me to hook the tide pools, but I did not want to hook something that “complex.” So this has turned out to be an improv, stylized tide pool rug. I am very happy with it, and have had a lot of fun hooking it so far.

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Recycling

Its pretty popular nowadays to recyle and repurpose things. And textile art is a great medium for doing that. I still can’t resist a good wool jacket at the thrift store, even though I know a good part of it has been faced, and not useful for rug hooking. I have a bin full of linen and silk clothing that I have picked up at the thrifts. I hope to use it in a quilt one day. Maybe this will be the year.

I have recycled quite a few sweaters. I used to dye the fiber, spin the yarn, and knit my own sweaters. And I used to wear a different size. So when I lost a lot of weight, I unraveled some of those sweaters. That was a lot of really nice wool and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

Once I knit a sweater for my dad. Poor dad. It wasn’t really a very masculine sweater. But to be honest, it wasn’t very feminine either. I brought it home with me when we cleared his house out. That was a lot of really nice yarn.

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Its been four years now. I found it when I was looking for something else in the storage shed. I unraveled the parts of the sweater that  I could. The front was constructed the way they used to make fair isle sweaters–knitted in one piece, and then cut and hemmed. So that made it useless to unravel. But a good part of the sleeves and part of the back were in good shape.

 

Of course, when something has been knitted for a long time, the yarn is  kind of crinkly. So you need to skein it and re-wash it. In the end I have quite a bit of this beautiful blend of angora, silk, and merino wool. I will make something nice and cozy that will remind me of my dad. It won’t be as much a memory of him wearing this sweater as it will be a memory of how kind he was and how much he supported all my creative endeavors.

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First Finish of the New Year!

I was looking for something else, and I found this older quilt that I had started hand quilting quite a long time ago. It seemed like just the project for my evening stitching during the holiday season. And then, when I got sick, I had even more time to just sit and stitch endlessly. Once I got started, I didn’t really want to stop, because I knew it might end up back in that pile of never-to-be-finished projects. And I really liked this quilt. I had had fun picking out the colors I would use, and how I would place them on the quilt.

I believe it is a pattern from Debbie Caffrey’s “Open a Can of Worms.” And originally, I think it was meant to be a signature quilt, where you could have friends put their signatures or best wishes in those white spaces. LOL. I don’t have that many friends. I just liked the pattern way back when.

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I took this picture so you could see the hand quilting I did on the colored parts of the quilt. After that was all finished, I decided that I would outline quilt each white section with perle cotton the same color as the blocks nearest to that section.

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And then I put the binding on it, and I even finished that by hand, because I didn’t feel like sitting at the sewing machine for that long. And then I threw it in the washing machine, and now I have a new quilt to use on my bed. A very cheery quilt :)

The last two days I’ve finally gotten back out into the studio, to work on my rug. Once I take such a long break from a project, it is hard for me to get back to it. I get intimidated, and feel like I just won’t know what to do next. So today, when I finished all the grassy area around the horse, it was a great victory. And it even still looks like a horse :) Now more decisions need to be made. But now I feel a little more confident about my next step.

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I am attending a rug hooking retreat at the end of January, and I am going to try doing an “improv” rug. The idea being, that it won’t be as fussy to work on as this rug, and will go a lot faster. I think it will be fun, and also it will be a way to use some of the wool that I’ve been gathering!

2015 Year in Review

Here are the quilts I completed in 2015. There were a number of quilt tops that I finished, and techniques that I explored, but in the end I decided that I would only include completely finished projects.

In February of 2015 I exhibited a number of my quilts at Oak Hills Church gallery–quilts from the two series “The Signature of Jesus,” and “The Psalsm.” I made several of these small crosses at the beginning of the year.

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And this was also a last minute finish for the exhibition:

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I made this small piece for special friends who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.

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I really like this next quilt–made using my “zig zag technique.” I’m using it on the foot of my bed right now.

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Another in The Psalms series, finished after the above mentioned exhibition. This is one of the few quilts where I have done the kantha style stitching across the complete background of the quilt. It is very time consuming, but effective, I think.

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The nine patch quilt. I worked a long time on this one, and finally finished it last year. But I don’t actually like it that much–its a little too jarring for me.

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I started a series called “What They Said,” and only got as far as finishing these next two pieces. There are another 15 just waiting to be finished! Hoping to get to that soon.

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A little experimental stitching:

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And I finished the Kandinski inspired quilt that I had started the previous fall with Rosalie Dace.

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I was inspired to try a new method of using the kantha stitching.

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“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature.”

 

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“Every good thing given comes down to us from God our Father who created all the lights in the heavens.”

And I finished a little lap quilt that is one of my all time favorites!

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I couldn’t help myself. I made several of these rag rugs.

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I found and finished this little project.

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“Be Filled with Joy.” Another experiment with stitching on a quilt.DSCN3337

Finished a quilt top for my gardener’s new granddaughter.

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And the Fire Quilt. Inspired by a worship service at our church held while the Butte Fire was still burning in our community.

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“A Closer Look.” Just fun fun fun. Using my little box of two inch squares, my zig zag technique, my baggie of Cherrywood fabrics, and a lot of perle cotton embroidery thread!

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“His Kingdom Will Never End.” The last quilt I finished, and probably the one I think is my best composition.

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I finished the year as I do many times. Quietly hand quilting on an older quilt top. Dreaming of all the new projects and techniques that I want to try in the coming year. Wishing all the best for you and your families in 2016!

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I Can’t Draw

I can’t draw! That’s what I’ve told myself ever since I was a little girl, and I still say it to myself today. Especially when I go to try and draw something that I see so clearly in my mind, and it comes out stupid and simplistic when I put it down on paper.

I have switched to rug hooking mode, and one of the things I need to do is to decide on a rug for the retreat I am going to at the end of January. I had the idea to do something using all the many duller, “primitive” wools that I have gathered, along with some of the brights that I love. I also wanted it to be fairly simple to stitch. The “cross” rug that I am working on is very fussy, and sometimes painfully slow to stitch. I wanted to go fast!

So I started drawing a geometric. Come on. Shouldn’t somebody with that big box of colored pencils be able to do better than that?

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The other idea I had was a more organic “layered” look. I was influenced by the quilt on the right, and then I realized that that was because of some of the photos I had taken at Crystal Cove when we were on this retreat last winter (Picture on left.)

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Aaargh. Not what I was seeing in my mind. I talked to my best friend, and she confirmed what I kind of already knew in my mind. I just need to practice drawing consistently. She quoted a well-known quilt artist, who said that she just spent 15 minutes a day drawing bad art.

 

Then I went back to working on the cross rug. I was debating putting a lion in there, and so I found a picture of a lion (love google images) and I drew it on there. And then I remembered that I had drawn all of the animals and plants on this rug.

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I guess I can draw. I just need to practice a little more consistently.

Here are some great links to artists that I have enjoyed in the past few weeks. Laura Gaskin, was featured on The Quilt Show, and I was fascinated by her work. Beautiful! And Mary Fons, yes, daughter of the famous Fons of Fons and Porter, is just plain funny. And a good writer. Its a plus that she also speaks quilting.

Entering a Quilt Show

When last I wrote I was working on finishing a couple of quilts, in hopes of entering them in the Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon show. Oh, I just checked, and I didn’t mention that I was planning on entering them. I seldom enter quilt shows, for several reasons. First and foremost is because I am not organized enough to plan ahead for deadlines. Secondly, they are expensive to enter! And third, I don’t actually agree with how some quilt shows seem to be judged. Rather than looking at the quilt as a whole artistic piece, the quilts are sometimes eliminated for technical details, like a less-than-perfect binding. (don’t kill me for this statement–its commonly written about by judges and entrants alike.) I used to show dogs, and sometimes the same thing would happen. Dogs were eliminated for certain small faults, and so in the end sometimes a common-looking dog would win, and the most beautiful outstanding dogs would be dismissed from the ring. So, the fourth reason I don’t enter is because I know that my quilts have some of these common technical “faults,” and I am unwilling or unable to change those things.

Back to the Modern Quilt Guild. It is having Quilt Con here in my state next February. I was quite excited about this, and joined so that I could have a chance to get into some of the classes, and I decided to splurge and plan to spend all four days at the show. So then I thought about trying to enter a few of my quilts. I’m not sure if they are modern, but I know that they are different, and I would like to share them with other people.

The deadline was November 30, and right on time, there I was on November 30, filling out the online entry forms, and taking pictures of my quilts with the right amount of pixels per side. In the end I entered six quilts. I told my BF that it was my version of playing the lottery. Maybe if I entered more, one would make it? Most of me knows that there is very little chance that they will make it into the show. The other part of me actually enjoys my own work and knows that it is worth being seen by other people.

Here are the last two that I showed you almost finished, and that I entered. The other four you have already seen elsewhere on the blog.

His Kingdom Will Never End

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And close-ups:

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A Closer Look

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And close-ups:

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(Both of these quilts were made with Cherrywood fabrics. All I had was their bags of 8X10 pieces, I think they call them Grab Bags for Crazies.)

One thing I do enjoy doing is exhibiting my quilts at various churches. My hope is that people will see words of Scripture in a new and different way and that that will make them stop and think about the meaning. Lately I have been displaying some of my quilts at my own church. Here’s a view of that:

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After getting all those quilts entered on November 30, I followed my plan to “switch gears,” and I have been working on my rug hooking since then. I’ll write about that later in the week.

Moving Along

It seems like progress has been slow lately, but if you just keep plugging along, eventually stuff gets accomplished.

I thoroughly enjoyed my quick trip to Santa Cruz for Maria Shell‘s workshop! I stopped at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and they had a brand new exhibit up–what a treat!

Maria’s workshop was great, and she had lots of ideas for us to try using solid fabrics to make prints.

I had this great grouping of fabrics in my tote bin, and right away I thought “wouldn’t those work together well?”

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So I used them to make these curved pieces. When I started working on them, I wasn’t quite so charmed with their colors. So I put them up on my design wall when I got home, and I am pondering the possibilities. Even if I don’t use these particular pieces, I love the technique that she taught, and I know I will use it again soon.

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My gardener was due for a visit, and so the pressure was on to finish the quilt for his first granddaughter. Do any of you have “issues” with charging for your work? I don’t ever want to do anything for free, but on the other hand, I would not pay what I charge for a baby quilt–I want to say “go to Marshall’s, you can get a great baby quilt there for a fraction of the cost.” Nonetheless, we traded work hours for the quilt. MLG has done a miracle in my yard–worth so much more than a quilt.

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Here is the finished quilt–I just quilted simply around the birds, put some radiating lines around the “frames,” and did simple wavy lines in the sashing. I ended up following the fabric pattern to quilt the border. I wanted it to be sturdy, but not too densely quilted for a quilt that I hope is used and loved for a long time.

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I had the idea to cut out one of the bird prints, and use that space for the baby name and info. I was really pleased with how this came out.

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In the meantime, mostly in the evenings, I kept plugging along at the little squares that I was embroidering. Last night I finished the 153rd square! Now I am going to quilt it, and add a backing fabric onto it. I had a muslin back on it, just for stability, but now for the first time I am going to try my idea of adding a second back so that the embroidery thread work won’t show on the back. I am only going to show you a few of the squares that I finished. You’ll have to wait until its finished to see the whole thing.

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(oops, I just noticed I didn’t finish the french knots on this one!)

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And now on to the studio!

A Quick Note

I am back from the Houston International Quilt Festival, and leaving tomorrow for a workshop with Maria Shell. Houston was absolutely fabulous in so many ways. Of course, in Texas everything is bigger, right? Well, the biggest surprise to me was the way the quilts were displayed. There was so much room between the aisles, and even more room between the separate displays. Not once did I feel that I was “fighting the crowds” to see the quilts. Even the big winners were never that crowded.

I got to attend the show with my best friend, Robin Fouquette the absolutely fabulous long arm quilter. Robin lives in Oregon, and so we don’t get to see each other quite as often as we’d like. This picture also gives you a little idea of how well spaced the displays are.

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Sometimes they have a lot of instructions about which quilts you can photograph, and how or when you are supposed to share those with others. So I just picked out a couple that I thought would be okay. I have a definite love for Japanese quilts. Their workmanship and composition and use of color–everything about them just inspires me. This quilt was made by a mother for her daughter, and when I went by one time, she was there with her daughter. I just caught this candid moment, and I love it.

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Here are a few details of her quilt–I think all hand done, if you can imagine.

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Here is the other quilt I will share, because as you see, the quilt maker has done a good job of giving himself photographic credit. Luke Haynes works with used clothing as his raw material. Its just astounding what he can do with it. Oh, and in this picture you can see that they used clear plastic tape to block off the quilts. I loved that, as it allowed you to get a better view of the quilt as a whole composition.

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close-up.

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Saturday night there was a bit of excitement at our hotel. We got on the shuttle to come home from the show and dinner out, and the driver announced that he would not be able to take us back to our hotel. Evidently there was a fire. Yikes! Fortunately, he was able to get us within a block of it, and by then most of the excitement had cleared up and they allowed us to come into the hotel. Some of the younger firemen were posing with quilters and other guests, but I enjoyed this group, who were just looking on and having some coffee. The fire was actually outside the hotel, in a manhole or something.

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Oh, so bad blogger that I am, I didn’t take pictures of any of the people I was able to meet up with. Thursday night Robin and I were able to have dinner with Ricky Tims and his partner Justin Shultz. So fun to have a little time to catch up with Ricky (we were friends over 30 years ago, when we used to show dogs together!! so weird to say “thirty years ago…”) I got to chat with Jenny Lyons, my SAQA friend. And I briefly met Maria Shell when she gave a free demo at the “Meet the Teachers” area of the show. This was a great feature–they had ongoing 30 minute demonstrations by various teachers. All were well done, and it was also a nice place to sit and take a short break :) Last but not least, I finally met up with long time friend and blogger, Kris from Australia! That is the fun of blogging–you meet people online that have similar interests, and then once in a while you are privileged to meet them in person. Kris had a beautiful quilt displayed at the show, and she won second prize in its category!!

On Sunday another blog friend picked me up and we got to spend a couple of days visiting–doing what we like best: talking, eating, stitching, and watching favorite TV shows. It was an absolutely great way to end this trip, with a day of relaxing before the long journey home. Shelley and I met because of our mutual interest in healthy living, and because we both have a Texas/California connection, we have been able to get together fairly often. One time we met at a frozen yogurt shop and I taught her to knit. One time she took me to her local quilt and knitting shops, and we had oh so much fun shopping, and then sewing together afterwards. This time I made a little quilt sandwich for Shelly to try the embroidery with perle cotton thread.

Shelley did some outstanding embroidery!

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She decided she wanted to make a sun in one of the circles. She did say that she might not be doing too much of that satin stitch in the future. But I love the way it looks!

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Before I left, I asked her to pick out some colors of perle cotton that she liked, and I picked out a few more to fill in light and dark values, and left her a little “kit” to continue working on her piece.

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While I was at PIQF and Houston, I was trying out a lot of long arm quilting machines. I have been thinking seriously about whether or not I “needed” one of these. At one booth at PIQF, they were using a frame under the sit-down long arm. I loved it, especially because of the knobs on the side. It seemed to keep my hands in a more ergonomically correct position. When I got home from PIQF, I investigated, and found out that this hoop/frame was made by Martelli. And then I realized that I could use it with my Janome sewing machine for free motion quilting. So when I went to Houston, I was on the lookout for this product, and with BF Robin’s approval, I bought a set (an 8″ and 11″ hoop.) When I got home, one of the very first things I did was to pull this out of my suitcase and give it a try. A very nice product, and one I think I will really use frequently.

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Oh, so as long as we’re talking long arms, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. I had tried just about every brand of sit-down long arm out there. I did not like them, and so I was definitely investigating traditional frame long arm machines. On Robin’s recommendation, I tried the Juki, and I LOVE that machine. I spent a lot of time at the Juki booth in Houston, talking to the reps and the educators about the machine and how it works. On the last day, when we were both getting a little tired, I said I’d like to go back to the Juki booth one more time. And when we walked over, I said, “I didn’t even try their sit down machine. Well…..!!! I sat down, gave it a try, and suddenly there were angels singing in the convention center. I LOVED it!! In addition to loving how it sewed, there were a lot of other factors that made it “perfect” for me. For one thing, it requires way less space than the frame machine. I like the way my studio is set up, and if I did get a frame, I would have to rearrange the whole studio, and it would be pretty crowded. In addition, I have knee and back problems, so even if I did get the frame, I would be looking for a stool that would work with it. And lastly, no learning curve. As much fun as it is to watch other people using their long arm, it is a different quilting motion, and there would be some time before I would be able to quilt as well as I do on my current machine. Oh, and if I did ever want a frame long arm, this machine could be easily converted to the frame type.

I came very close to buying the machine that day, but I am going to wait. I like to think about big decisions. And that is the end of my Houston report! My bin is packed with solid fabrics, and I am ready to leave for my workshop with Maria, “Making Prints Out of Solids.” 

Quilting and Stitching Along

Last weekend I went to the Pacific International Quilt Festival (fantastic!) and in less than a week I will be in Houston for the big show! Its my first time to go to Houston, and I am going with my BFF, so am totally excited about the experience.

In between I have been stitching away on the ‘many crosses’ quilt. I started out with some diagonal stitching on some of the crosses, and then didn’t know where to go with it. BFF suggested spirals, and I love those, so when I came home from PIQF, I found a leftover block from that quilt and did a few spirals on it, then tacked it up next to the real quilt on the design wall. I could see right away that that was too distracting, and the thought came into my head “you need to quilt each of these crosses individually.” And just as quick as that, I was off and quilting. It made me so happy to have a plan. Here’s a few shots of what I’ve been doing.

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In the late afternoon, and into the evening, I watch TV shows and stitch away on the little squares quilt that I put together just for the purpose of having something to hand stitch. At first, it was disconcerting to try to do any stitching on these little two inch squares. But the more I’ve done, the more I’ve gotten into it. Each one is a little composition on its own. Some I am following the print of the fabric and using that as a guideline for my stitching. Others I just do whatever I want to on top of the print. I think there are about 150 squares on this quilt, and last night I counted 75 of them already stitched. Its really amazing how much you can accomplish by hand when you just keep working at it.

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I probably won’t be back to blog until I return from Houston. Oh, and then I have only a few days at home before I leave for my workshop with Maria Shell! And then I’m never leaving home again :)