Artful Log Cabins at Empty Spools

Well, here goes! Empty Spools Seminars started on Sunday afternoon. I checked into my room, unpacked my suitcases quickly, and then walked over to check into the Seminar (they have a beautiful huge hall (Merrill Hall) that is headquarters for all the goings on all week.) And then I drove straight over to Katie Pasquini Masopust’s classroom because we were supposed to have an hour and a half intro to the class. And indeed, it was an intro Plus! Katie shared with us quite a few of her artful log cabin quilts along with the inspiration photo for each of them.  Then Katie had each of us (there were 18 in our class) show our inspiration pictures (here’s the blog where I shared the pictures I had chosen.) I did discuss the little waterfall picture with her, and she agreed that there wasn’t enough contrast in it to do this technique. So I did use the same picture that I had chosen. The finished quilts are supposed to be more abstract than representational.

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And then Katie had us take out our tracing paper and draw several grids over the inspiration photo! That was more than I had thought we would do on this  first afternoon! But I had been thinking about how I would do this particular photo, and I liked the very first grid I drew. Katie approved.

And then it was on to dinner and after dinner back to Merrill Hall for  a presentation by the  Artist in Residence. Empty Spools has been running for 30 years, and pretty much everything about it was very well organized. I appreciated that each evening session started exactly on time, and usually lasted about 45 minutes. It was fun having the evening sessions, because at Asilomar, there are no TV’s in the rooms!

And the next morning, bright and early, we were back at work. Katie had us finalize our grids, and then trace them onto acetate. Then we taped the acetate to a white paper backing so that she could take them and have them enlarged at Kinko’s.

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Each person decided how large they wanted their final quilt to be. So my grid, which was based on my 8X10 photograph, was enlarged 400%, which made my quilt about 36X40″. Katie had two enlargements made–one for your placement grid, and the second so that you could cut each piece out and use it as a template. I think that this is the first time I have used this method, and I do think that it could be very useful in other applications.

When Katie returned with our full size grids, we were ready to start our log cabin blocks. Each block was started with the original little block from the 8X10 drawing (we used the tracing paper pattern and cut each of fabric from that pattern, including a 1/4″ edge.)

We put the acetate back over the photograph, and used that for color placement in constructing each block. I forgot to tell you that Katie had instructed us to pre-cut our strips before we came. I was VERY happy that I had done that, as it saved a lot of time in the workshop.

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And even with saving that time, I still did not finish my quilt. Katie had instructed us to bring batting and backing with us, and several women got to that point, and completely quilted their pieces. Here is my piece so far:

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One of the most interesting things I learned from Katie was that even though she does most of these quilts with intense grid quilting, she quilts each block separately. Which seems so much easier than running long grid lines the entire length of the quilt! If you are interested in seeing more of the workshop photos, you can visit Katie’s FB page.

A little more about Asilomar and the whole Empty Spools experience. The food was very good, served cafeteria style. There were always several selections for each meal. And there were always vegetables and salad available at each meal. There was an evening program each night except Wednesday (which I was very grateful to have that night off.) But I enjoyed all the programs. Each evening there was show and tell from the students. Most of the students were showing work that they had completed a previous year at Empty Spools. Each teacher spoke, about 3 or 4 each night. Some of them had a slide show, and others showed real quilts. Katie was on her way (after Empty Spools) to do a one-woman show in Spain, and so she brought all thirty of the quilts for that show with her. It was a real privilege to be able to see her work so close-up and  to hear about the way she constructs her quilts.

Another thing that was very nice was that the quilt shop in Pacific Grove (Back Porch Fabrics) provided a shuttle van from 4-6pm each night, so you didn’t even have to drive into town and find a parking space! There was also a tour of the 17-Mile Drive. I did not do that, but heard about it from one of my table mates. And of course, there were miles of beautiful walking paths and the ocean, and they even had bikes to rent, which I would have loved, except all my energies were focused on quilting!

And then I came home and started working on and finishing projects that I had left off before I left for Empty Spools. I am planning to get back to my Log Cabin project tomorrow!

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Empty Spools!

Empty Spools Seminars has been running for 30 years! It is a well-oiled machine, but still has a nice informal atmosphere. I have looked at their brochures and online offerings for years, and was very excited to attend this year. I chose Katie Pasquini Masopust’s Artful Log Cabins for two reasons–I admire Katie’s work as an artist, and second…log cabins. It just sounded fun.

But first, I have to tell you about my excellent adventure on my way to Pacific Grove, where  Empty Spools is held. I had read about a new quilt shop, Bay Quilts, somewhere on some blog. It sounded like a great shop, plus it was very near to two places I had enjoyed on a previous trip–Philz Coffee, and Farm Burger.

I drove across the delta–a beautiful drive, and not bad traffic, and started with an early lunch at Farm Burger. Excellent food, and I actually received a burger that was cooked they way I ordered it–medium rare! Then I got a cup of hand-crafted coffee at Philz, and I was on my way to Bay Quilts.

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See that blue cart? They provide those so you can put all the bolts of fabric in there as you walk around!

This is my new favorite quilt store! My pictures don’t do it justice. The owner told me that very soon they plan to have a virtual tour on their website and FB page, so check there if you are interested. But I can just tell you that they have a FULL line of about every solid fabric you can think of, as well as some hand dyes and specialty fabrics, and a good assortment of newer prints. And the service was just the way I like it. They greeted me, but allowed me to wander as long as I wanted, and then when I needed help, they were friendly and quick. Also, the prices were very reasonable.

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The shop owner owned this beautiful Hollis Chatelaine quilt, and very generously hung it at the shop for others to enjoy. It was a privilege to see it up close.

And then it was time to head south to Pacific Grove. Empty Spools is held at Asilomar, an historic campground. It is huge and spread out. I stayed in a group of rooms that had been there since 1913! Very nice and solid, simple but comfortable. Of course, being huge and spread out, there was a LOT of walking. I was so tired, but proud of myself for walking everywhere.

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Yes, this is as close as I got to the ocean…

This post is getting too long, and I want to tell you about my discovery on the way home, so I think I’ll do a separate post about my workshop and the Empty Spools experience. Fast forward to Friday, and I was anxious to get “over the hill” before the commute traffic started. I decided to skip the last lunch, and get started on my journey home.

I had picked up a brochure in the main meeting room for a shop that said they had lots of thread, Madonna Needleworks in Morgan Hill. That was pretty much right on the way home. What can I say? I texted several friends, saying that this shop was “thread heaven.” The owner claims that they carry every single needlepoint thread available. Honestly, it looked like it. Not all, but many of those threads can be used in quilting and embellishing quilts.

Views of the shop:

I ended up choosing a lot of threads from the same line.

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That larger skein of pink is a DMC specialty thread that is equal to two strands of their regular embroidery floss.

And then also chose some pink silks for a new little pink project that I have started.

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I will be back soon. I have so much to write about that it is hard to know where to start!

 

Inspiration

In just a week I am heading to Pacific Grove to attend Empty Spools! I love Pacific Grove (my favorite knitting and quilting shops just a block away from each other) and I have toyed with the idea of attending Empty Spools for a long time. When I saw Katie Pasquini Masopust was going to be teaching, and her topic was Artful Log Cabins, I decided to go for it.

You’re supposed to pick an inspiration picture, and I thought I’d share my inspiration with you. I went back through the millions of photos on my computer, looking for ones that I loved, and that I thought might work for this class.

Summer garden:

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My house (notice the smoky background? this is when I returned home after evacuating during the big Butte fire.)

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My favorite flowering almond bush:

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Flowering cherry tree:

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The “secret garden” at Belknap Hot Springs in central Oregon–one of my favorite places on earth!

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Just a rose at a traffic stop:

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Lantana, another of my favorite flowers:

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The summer garden. Ultimately, I chose this picture, because I thought it had a little more contrast than some of the other pictures, and also because when I saw a thumbprint of it, I thought the light shining on the tree trunk looked like a cathedral window in the middle of a garden.

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I had 8X10’s made of each of these pictures, and I have to say I am enjoying looking at them. I plan to take them with me to get Katie’s input on whether they will work for this technique.

Time Away

I just returned from a week-long trip to the little town of La Veta, Colorado! My BF decided that she wanted to take an intensive workshop with Judith Baker Montano, and I said, “want some company?” I have done “self-retreats” before, and find it very profitable to spend concentrated time working on projects at a location other than my studio. Plus, Colorado? That sounded fun!

All the other times I’ve done this, I traveled by car, so I could bring all the supplies I wanted. This time we would be flying, and so I had to carefully choose what I would bring. My friend Ricky Tims also lives in La Veta, and he very graciously loaned us two of his sewing machines! So all I needed was to pare down the raw materials I would bring. I ended up bringing my bags of Cherrywood fabrics, a quilt blanket “blank” for embroidering on, and then cut out 8 squares of hand-dyes for a new quilt idea I wanted to try starting on. I also brought some muslin and batting “just in case.” And of course, a big supply of perle cotton thread, scissors, rotary cutter, pins, etc. LOL, both Robin and I forgot machine sewing thread! Fortunately, Ricky had some nice thread for sale in his studio 🙂

We found a great place to rent, with plenty of room to spread out all our quilting supplies. In between visits and “touristing” I managed to get quite a few bits and pieces done.

I admire piecers who work with small bits so very much. One of my current favorites is Maria Shell–check out her work in this blog post! So the first thing I wanted to do was to do some piecing with my bags of Cherrywood fabric. I also had a scrap of Ricky Tims’ multi-color fabric, and I decided that I would cut the center squares out of that, and then use the cherrywood bits to make some abstract log cabin blocks. Nothing was cut straight, but as I finished each piece, I squared it up to 4 1/2 inches. At the end I made three 6 1/2 inch blocks.

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Now, although I admire the work of others who work with small bits, this is about my limit. I get bored. So I will sit and think, and eventually these pieces will work their way into one or more projects. I did this a couple of years ago, and I used all those little blocks to make the “what they said” series, as well as several other pieces.

Next, that big blank canvas for embroidering on. I also admire the work of Judy Martin, Penny Berens, and others who work on daily “scratchings.” Once again, I don’t think I really want to spend the time doing this EVERY DAY. But I love the idea of it. So that was in my mind when I took this big (for me) blank  quilt sandwich to embroider on.

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The first day I took it out and stared at that big empty space, it started to rain. Evidently, this is “monsoon season” in Colorado, and the afternoon rains are very welcome. They don’t last long, and they cool things down nicely. So I embroidered that.

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Ricky and Justin took Robin and I out to their property (45 minutes from town!) and on the way there was an old church, the last remaining building of what had once been a small town.

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I was fascinated by it, and took several pictures of it. I decided that I wanted to try embroidering it.

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You can see with both of these that I started by cutting out simple shapes and using blanket stitch to embroider them to the blank. Hand dyes work very well for this–practically no raveling at all. I really enjoyed the “grass” stitching. Very quick and simple. I hope to do more of this.

So these embroideries were a little departure from most of my work–more representational than abstract. I enjoyed doing them, and I wonder what it will lead to. Right now I think I will keep this blank as a true travel project, and will take it with me on my travels, and add a bit to it with each new location.

The last day I got out those squares of hand-dyes that I had carefully packed. I spent a lot of time staring at my journal, making notes and thinking, and finally started two of the squares. They are for a quilt of Genesis. My brother suggested it, and I think it will be a very interesting project. Of course, some of the blocks will be on creation, but there are other interesting stories in Genesis that I am challenged to try to represent in cloth.

And now home, and I reverted right back to working on my Hallelujah Chorus quilt. I have three word panels done, and one and a half circle panels. I am motivated to work consistently on this quilt. Not only is it enjoyable to work on, I would like to finish it by November for several different display possibilities.

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Just What I Needed

I had a wonderful week at Cambria Pines Rug Hooking Camp! First of all, Cambria itself is a wonderful place. Cambria is near the sea, with moderate temperatures, and is a quaint little town. Cambria Pines Lodge is a wonderful place to stay. Its a huge complex, with wonderful gardens surrounding the lodge, comfortable rooms, and delicious food. I had Gene Shepherd as my teacher, and since he had worked with me on this rug when I started it, he gave me just the right amount of guidance. One of my main questions was, do you think I need to add more “creation”, that is, more plants and/or animals?

As you can see from this picture taken before I left, my drawing skills are minimal. I get very intimidated when I think about drawing animals. But I have to tell you, Google Image is the way to go! It was just amazing. I took my Kindle Fire with me, and thank goodness they had WiFi there. I would type in “crocodile images” and there would pop up the perfect crocodile. Many times the first image that came up was just what I wanted. So I got the crocodile and the turtle done the first day.

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I added a tree to the left border (tree trunk visible here) and I knew I wanted to add some chickens. Trouble was, I wanted to put them right where that stick horse was. Gene suggested drawing them on paper, and then tracing that over the horse image. That worked just fine. I got the chickens added in the second day.

The horse was a major topic of conversation, as American Pharaoh had just won the Triple Crown, and also my table-mate was a horse lover. And also, I did not think I could draw a horse at all! Google images to the rescue! I found an image of a horse grazing, and I liked that. I am pretty proud that I was able to draw a horse this well!

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Here you can see the whole rug, and all the images I added to it. I actually drew the elephants in the first day, as I was pretty certain of my elephant drawing skills 🙂 When I googled “chicken images,” they had a little bar that said “you might be interested in these images,” and they showed a bald eagle and a hummingbird. Why yes, I was VERY interested in those images. I drew in a dead branch coming in from the right side for the bald eagle to sit on, and added some trumpet flowers to the vine, so the hummingbird would have something to drink from.  The butterfly will be eliminated.

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One of the things that is the most difficult for me is getting the right contrast. The color I had chosen for the “sand” was too close in value to the croc and the turtle, so I had to find a different sand color. Also, although I want the cross to stay in the background (like a watermark,) I do want it to be visible, so I will have to be aware of that as I continue to hook .

All this thinking is very tiring to me. I remind myself that this is an important part of the creative process. I hooked and drew and pondered value each day during the class hours, from 9-12, and after lunch from 1-3:30. I did not stay after class or hook into the evening hours like many of my classmates. And that made the entire trip very enjoyable for me.

 

 

I returned home refreshed, and to be honest, anxious to return to my quilting!

SO. MUCH. FUN!!

Ricky and Alex get ready for taping

Ricky and Alex get ready for taping

 

Today was the day my episode launched on The Quilt Show! It was so much fun to watch. They did such an excellent job of filming and keeping it natural. As far as I could tell, there was no editing. The day we shot the episode, I remember once or twice starting a segment over because it wasn’t flowing the way they wanted it to, but once they got it down, it seems like it stayed that way. If you watch, you will see the natural “errors” like when I said “the opposite of contrasting” because I couldn’t think of the word “matching.” Egads. We talked about a lot besides quilting–my blogging, weight loss, dogs, the construction of the studio, and at the end (you have to wait for the After Set) Ricky and I talk about our ancient history in the world of dog shows. As far as what I demo’d, I showed how I cut out circles free hand, and zig zag appliqué by machine without fusible, and then talked about fabric and thread choices, and demo’d a few simple embroidery stitches. It all seems like pretty simple stuff to me. But put it all together, and it makes some pretty art 🙂 Remember, if you are not a member of the quilt show, you will be able to see it on Dec. 15th. I will have a password for you to use to watch the show.

Setting up my demo's

Setting up my demo’s

What was truly fun for me is that this show came out the same week as my 60th birthday–a rather momentous birthday. And the second segment on “my” show was about a woman quilter, Laurie Hill Gibb, who, for her 65th birthday, decided to travel the country for a whole year in her van. This is something I have truly thought about doing ever since I was in junior high school and read Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley.” Steinbeck had a standard poodle named Charley (I named one of my standard poodles Charlie) and he traveled around the country with Charley in his camper. I do think that 65 will be a goal for me to do something like this!

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The Little Trees

Making trees on quilts is not a new idea. Making these kinds of trees on quilts is not a new idea. Maybe appliquéing them with the zig zag stitch is a new idea? Probably not. Whatever, I had great great fun creating these little quilts on my Sisters quilting retreat with BF Robin.

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Brought them home, and of course, none of them were exactly square, or exactly the same size. Because that’s how I work. I like working that way, and there’s nothing wrong with it. However, USUALLY at some point, you do want to square a quilt up. In this case, after measuring all of them, I decided that I would make all of them 17 inches square. I had kept all the leftover scraps from that project in one place. I KNOW, how organized of me! Anyway, I looked at each, and decided on how I would like to frame each one. I do love how they came out. Each is different, but they are all slightly related, as I drew from the same group of fabrics as I worked on them, and then as I framed them.

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Next, the quilting!

A Quilty Vacation

I wrote all about my trip to Sisters here. Suffice it to say, I had two whole weeks in Sisters, and the main activity was quilting! I arrived on a Friday and set up shop on the dining room table of the house I had rented. That gave me a couple of days to fool around before the Rosalie Dace workshop started. I had brought a LOT of fabric with me, both for the workshop, and for use outside of the workshop. So I picked out a few colors and pieces that I wanted to play with–mostly blues and greens, and put together some little pieced blocks. Then I played around with putting them on a background. I left a lot of space on this one on purpose–so I can add some words, probably for the “What They Said” series. (that edging is just the backing pulled around to the front of the sandwich to keep the edges clean.)

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I had leftover pieces, and I liked that backing fabric, so I made another little composition just for fun. Got some blank space on this one for words too 🙂

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And then it was time for the workshop to start. This was a workshop taught by Rosalie Dace about the influence of Kandinsky in the world of art, and how that could be used/interpreted in quilting. Rosalie is such a talented artist, and she is also an excellent teacher. If you ever have a chance to take any of her workshops, I would really encourage you to do that. This workshop was held at the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop, and I highly recommend it as an excellent place to take a workshop! Plenty of workspace and wall space for each student, comfortable chairs, good lighting, and an excellent lunch was served each day. Plus, you get a coupon for 15% off of any purchase made during that week!

It was interesting to hear the various reasons that people had signed up for the class. Many of the people said “I don’t like Kandinsky, but I wanted to take a class with Rosalie.” That was sort of how I felt. But as the class went along, I found that there was a lot to learn from studying Kandinsky. Rosalie spent time every day discussing various interesting aspects of his work.

Remember this little piece? In the evenings, after the workshop, I would go home and relax and stitch on this little piece. I thought about how maybe my work has been influenced by Kandinsky after all–the curved lines, the straight intersecting lines, and of course the circles. The influence came second hand, though, since I had never looked at a Kandinsky painting before signing up for this workshop.

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Close-ups:

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Back to the workshop. Our first assignment was to draw a bunch of geometric designs using some of the things that Kandinsky used in his work. Okay, that was fun.

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Then we were to choose one of those, and interpret it in cloth. I think I chose this simple one  because I thought it would be fun to add my stitching to.

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Rosalie came along, and said, now try it with a different background.

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Ahhh, much better. You can see I added a few other little embellishments.

Next, we were to draw just some circle designs. LOL, nothing new for me. But I tried to challenge myself to do something different with the circles.

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In the afternoon, I stared at these four drawings, trying to decide what to do. Rosalie came by, and I pointed to the one with the most circles, and said, I like that one, but SO MANY circles to cut out. And her reply was “What else are you going to do this afternoon?” That was actually a good learning point for me.

So here’s the little circle composition I did. You can see its not an exact copy of the drawing, but its the same feel. (BTW, these little compositions are only about 10-12″ square.)

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And then the next morning (I think) we finished up one of the little compositions. I really like this little piece.

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One thing I learned from my table-mate was to use the zig-zag satin stitch to make these narrowing lines. Very cool, I think. You just set your machine to satin stitch (zig zag set on the narrowest width) and then start at one size of stitch, and keep decreasing it gradually as you stitch along (like–5.0, 4.5, 4.0, etc.)

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One morning, Rosalie did a slide show that included several of Kandinsky’s works. I saw one that piqued my interest enough that I drew a quick sketch in my journal. It was of overlapping rectangles. I thought that might create an interesting background to put other shapes on. I liked that idea well enough that I decided that would be the composition I would choose to work on for the remainder of the workshop.

I chose one of my hand-dyed pieces that I liked the most, and then pulled out a bunch of browns for the rectangles. Here is the beginning of my piece.

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And this next picture is as far as I got by the final day of the workshop. One thought I had about creating in a workshop–you are working in a pressure cooker. I usually only work on “art” pieces when I am alone. When I get stuck, I stop and think about it for a day or two. You don’t have that luxury in a workshop. So, while I like this piece enough to finish it, I don’t have any illusions about it being a great piece.

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The last day of the workshop, my BF came to town. We were going to have our own private mini-quilting retreat!

I took a break from the workshop project, and started sewing the leftover blue and green strips from the beginning of my trip into nine patches. Then I didn’t quite know what to do.

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I remembered some little trees in the quilt store that had caught my eye. I started playing around with putting those on top of the nine patches. Ooh, how fun! So fun, that I made one for each season! I thought I would put these together into one quilt, but my friend suggested making each one into its own small quilt. I think they might work really nicely in my new kitchen, or in the dining room!

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After my friend left, I got the workshop quilt back out and tried to add a bit to it. I put in quite a few quilting lines, and then played around with adding the black lines on top. I added the three vertical lines and was pretty happy. My friend suggested something needed to be done at the bottom, so I am auditioning the horizontal lines. They are not sewn down yet.

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And so my excellent adventure in Sisters, Oregon came to an end. I came home to a HOUSE UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I have found that it is very difficult for me to settle down to the serious work of creating when all this other stuff is swirling through my mind. So I have been working on hand stitching a previous project in the evenings. That is progressing very nicely, and I will share that in a future post.

A Couple of Most Worthy Shops

I got the chance to visit a couple of really great shops on this last trip, and thought I would share those experiences here, just in case any of you might be in that area of Texas and looking for a fix! Lone Star Quiltworks is right in the town where my friend lives–College Station, TX. Their website says they have 5000 bolts of fabric, and I believe it. Best of all was the layout of the store. Open and airy, with really great lighting. You could see all the fabric easily. The sales ladies were helpful and friendly, but not overbearing. It made for a really nice shopping experience.

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Best of all, they had a full cabinet of my favorite perle cotton thread–Finca. It comes in a huge variety of colors, and they even had a good selection of size 5 and size 3 perle cotton. I mostly work with size 8, but its nice to have some thicker threads once in a while.

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The next day my friend took me over to a neighboring town, Navasota. W.C. Mercantile is a wonderful knitting and spinning shop. The young proprietress had a wonderful color sense, and she specialized in making wonderful multi-color batts that could be used for spinning or felting. She had gone to the Houston quilt show with the batts, showing quilters how they could incorporate this special felt into their quilting.

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After we had our fill of shopping at MC Mercantile, we headed about 5 miles out of town to a truly wonderful sandwich and pie shop, Love Pies.

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Honestly, that was one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever had, and followed up by one of their mini-pies, with a cup of really great coffee–what a wonderful experience.

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And now I’m home again, starting to get my studio into shape. I’ve sewed one whole seam since I’ve been home. Maybe tomorrow will be the day….