Sunday, March 26, 2017

Krazy Horse Quilters

Woo hoo,,, or should I saw Yee Haw! I’ve been selected to be the featured quilter for the Krazy Horse Quilters in Pendleton, Oregon at their May 6-7 show. I’ll also be teaching a Grandma’s Surprise class from 9-1 on Friday, May 5.  Here’s a link to their website to get more information: Krazy Horse Quilters.

They don’t know it yet, but I’m planning to have five new patterns available and will introduce them at their event. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Just Choose Three -- February

I thought it might be fun to update this list on the first of every month. I'll be in Iowa, so will post a little early. Not as many changes as I'd like, but I'm okay with my quilting and knitting progress.

1. Quilt tree – I really need some focused time for this, and that is not happening right now. I'm keeping it on the list, though, because it is a high priority. 

 2. Bending the Rules still needs my attention. 

3. Make one quilt for Camp Erin. Camp Erin is a bereavement camp for kids who have lost a family member. Each camper receives a quilt and teddy bear when they arrive. I'm going to use the Tiles pattern by Kim Brackett, found in her Scrap Basket Strips and Squares book.

1. Diamondback Socks have become a TOAD – trashed object abandoned in disgust. My troubleshooting skills for knitting are just not that great and I don't love them enough to start over, so I've got another skein of yarn to add to the stash. This year is all about enjoying the process. That didn't happen with these socks.

2. Oblique Scarf – finished and needs blocking.

3.  Hitofude sweater. I've decided to postpone this one until a little later in the year. It looks complicated enough that I will need to pay attention and not just knit. Can you say lesson learned with socks? J 

So, for now I'm choosing to knit:

2. Tilted Texture shawl. My plan is to save this for knitting on the plane. 

3.  Continue knitting hats for charity. I'm using up sock yarn much faster than I do when making socks, that's for sure!

Update: After writing this post, I realized I needed to take a day and just get something d-o-n-e! One Camp Erin quilt is cut out and ready to go and Bending the Rules is cut out as well. It's beginning to look like my February is going to involve more travel than sewing, but I'll be ready for March.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Design Wall -- Organizing!

I've got so many projects and irons in the fire (pun intended) that I needed to take some time to organize. On my design wall today is the Stars Upon Stars block of the month. I knew when I started this that it would have to go on a back burner. What I've learned, however, is that some projects don't work nearly as well if you don't keep up somewhat. That is the case with this project.

I originally kept everything together by month. While that would normally make sense, it just furthered my state of confusion every time I tried to start over. New plan. There aren't that many "blocks" to this quilt – 7 to be exact, so now I'm grouping each unfinished item in its own little bag. For example, last month I needed to complete a whole star block and three sashings. I've cut the 1'' strips I need to make star points, sewn them together into 1-2-3-4-5 and 5-6-7-8-9 order to keep them straight, and set them aside for when I have more time.

Next I've cut all the small stars that go in the blocks and all of the background.

Into a bag it goes with a label. Once I finish it, it can go in the box with the other finished parts (of which there is ONE!).  I'm still on the fence about the outer edges of my sashings... whether I want a variety of light grey, one shirting print, or a variety of lights that include greys. I've decided not to decide until more blocks are complete and I can lay them all out. For now, I'm just cutting the pink center and the dark that frames it.

I really wanted to get this project finished in time for our guild show in October. I talked to the shop owner about sending me two months at a time, but with the current delays in getting one month sent to me, I just don't see that happening. That's okay, it will certainly be finished for the October 2019 show.  J  My other option, of course, is to just use my own fabric and add the monthly BOM fabric to my stash as it arrives. Not quite as appealing. Or, option #3 is to use my own fabric and design a quilt that would use the fabric sent every month. Now that one has some merit!  

Here's my bit of cutting and sewing for today. This is the next star to get cut and ready. Wish me luck.

To see more design wall goodness, head over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Just Choose Three!

In an effort to keep my quilting and knitting projects moving forward, I've decided to choose just three of each to complete or start. I've written their names on the whiteboard next to my sewing machine to help me focus. My quilts are easy – I need to quilt my tree quilt soon, cut out my pineapple quilt, and cut out my newest pattern, Bending the Rules. This list is separate from my UFO list as these are projects that have more urgency.

 Triangle tree quilt aka My Roots Run Deep -- each triangle finishes at 1-1/2''

Pineapple quilt all cut -- the design is a surprise!

Bending the rules -- sneak peek from my computer

For knitting, I want to finish my Diamondback Socks, my Oblique Scarf, and start on my Hitofude Cardigan. I put off making this pattern because I wanted to wait until I lost more weight, but it is so flowy I think it will be just fine to make now. It doesn’t use standard measurements for fit, so I should be okay.

Now, just because I put these up as the first three of each doesn’t mean that’s where they’ll stay. For example, once I cut out the pineapple blocks, I don’t really intend to just stop and sew all 80 blocks. I want these to be my “travel project” for when I’m at retreat, or Sewing Saturday events, etc. They’re pretty mindless, so chaining these while sewing with friends is perfect. Once I get these cut, I’ll put a line through them and add another project to the list.
Pattern writing doesn’t stay on this list, it stays downstairs next to my computer.  J  The knitting list stays upstairs to remind me of my evening knitting.  I’m going to work hard in 2017 to stop my “work” by 7 pm and starting in on knitting instead. I don’t have any gift knitting planned for 2017 with the exception of two teddy bear outfits to go with Camp Erin quilts and charity hat making.

When you work from home, it’s easy to stop and do laundry, cooking, and taking care of other obligations. Unfortunately, it’s also a distraction from getting my quilt business work completed.  Thus, the sometimes late evenings and no real relaxation. That’s going to change!

I think about how much I accomplished when I was working full time and raising kids and feel a bit like a slacker sometimes.  J I think a bit more structure will help this year. How do you get your work accomplished, your home life taken care of, and some relaxation thrown in?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Parade of Pretties Part Two

Woo hoo, the storm has passed and we're back to our usual rain. Our last two winters truly haven't been bad at all, so I really can't complain about this one being so rainy. That east wind we've had the last couple of days just served to prepare us for our trip to Iowa later in the month. On to the quilts!

First up today is What's Up. Check out the C&T display at Quilt Market last month. My quilt is center stage with some pretty great company! 
This is such a fun quilt. When I originally designed it, I chose four shades of blue because I wanted a quilt that radiates. My color choices, unfortunately, didn't work nearly as well as they did when just stacked up together. Such a good lesson in strong contrasts. Off to the store I went. As soon as I saw the striped binding fabric, I knew I found my quilt colors.

The controlled colorway of this quilt is just two Civil War era reproduction fabrics. It feels like an optical illusion made out of very traditional fabric. 
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The second quilt for today is Snowbirds. Many of us have family members that live part-time in two locations. This quilt was made to represent the frozen north and warm south... with our hearts somewhere in between.
The alternate colorway, College Bound, celebrates schools and sports teams (Go Ducks, Go Packers!).  So many possibilities.  How about using wedding colors as a gift?
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Quilt #3 for today is Safe Travels. This quilt is shaping up to be a fan favorite. When people thumb through the book, this is where they stop.   This quilt was originally designed as a two-color quilt (that's actually the name of it in my EQ7 file). Red and white, that was it. It looked kind of plain, so I started coloring. That's when all the magic happened. Those grey units reminded me of the Wright Brothers airplanes and that's why I named it Safe Travels.

What's particularly fun for me about this quilt is that the alternate version is sooo different. When I printed out a blank coloring page so students could color their own design, I immediately saw flowers. Flower Garden was born (grown?). Yep, they are the exact same pattern!
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Last but not least is Wishing Rings. This sweet quilt is perfect for gifts--a great snuggler size. It's a quick sew with diagonal corners that give it a uniqueness not found in many patterns. Need quilts for a set of twins? This pattern is perfect for that. It goes together quickly, but looks much more complicated. 

I named the alternate version of this quilt Gears as it reminds me of a bicycle chain. The colors change it from a sweet quilt to one suited for the bicycling enthusiast in your life. 

I hope you enjoyed this little parade of pretties. Remember, if you need a book for Christmas, I can make that happen!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Parade of Pretties Part One

The weather in Oregon is frightful, so I thought it would be a great time to host a parade of pretties... quilts, that is. These are all in my new book Fantastic Stash Quilts! The book has eight projects, each made two ways -- a scrappy and a controlled version. 

First up is Betsy's Quilt. Truly, this quilt named itself.  My friend Betsy tested this pattern for me before it was even written because she loved the design so much. She had a chart with cutting instructions, some very general sewing instructions, and off she went. Betsy's longarmer loved the quilt so much she posted it on her website with the title, "Betsy's quilt."  Unfortunately for me, the longarmer is local and I had planned to use this pattern as a mystery quilt for my local guild. I ended up waiting nearly three years to use this as the mystery class in case anyone had seen it online!

Here's a link to the original sighting at Murdock Manor:

When I made this quilt, I loved it for its simplicity. I didn't think any changes could make me love it more. Boy, was I wrong! The scrappy version is now my favorite. 
The second quilt in the book is Spinning Triangles. I had tons of leftover fabrics from Betsy's Quilt and a couple of other projects and this quilt pattern was born. I originally designed it in buttercream yellow and a snow background. I even made that quilt. Unfortunately, when the longarmer did exactly what I asked, I didn't think the triangles would photograph well. The curves distracted me. So, I called my editor and asked if I could have a couple of days to make a new quilt and get it quilted and shipped off. Thankfully, she said yes and the new quilt even made the cover! 

This alternate colorway uses just two prints. Lucky for me that it did because I made the quilt in a day and a half, sent it to the longarmer and she turned it around immediately for me. I am very blessed to have such good friends. I had it shipped off to C&T in four days from start to finish!

Here's a picture of part of the yellow quilt. The colors show as much more vibrant than they really are. You can see what I mean about the curves. 

I've had students make this quilt in all blues, lots of scraps, and 30s reproduction fabrics. They were all fantastic!
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Quilt #3 in the book is Chain and Bar. This quilt was inspired by a presentation on Pendleton Woolen Mills given by Susan Beal to the Westside Modern Quilt Club. My mother worked at one of their factories as a seamstress when I was young and I've always appreciated their saturated colors and quality products. 

The alternate colorway shows what happens when you color your quilts with a diagonal design in mind. My birthday is Christmas Day, so it was a good enough excuse for me to make another holiday inspired quilt!

The fourth, and final, quilt for today is Confetti. This is one of my all-time favorite quilts and sews up surprisingly quickly... at least that's how it feels after hours (okay, maybe days) of cutting! 
This quilt was designed after moving my sewing room and discovering I had all these 30's prints... I woke up with a new design in my head the next morning. I've seen this made in red, orange and purple batiks and it was fabulous. I've also seen it made in Halloween prints and just love it.
The blue version of this quilt was one of my personal challenges. If one print is good, 40 is better, but in this case I limited myself to six blue fabrics. A friend made this quilt in only six prints one time, so I knew it could be done and look good. 
I love this quilt so much that I decided to make a modern version and supersize the quilt. What's not to love about a grey quilt with turquoise and apple green pops of color? The quilt is so heavy (it's 96" square) that I left it folded and put it on the carpet to photograph one quarter! I was really working on using scraps last year and this is a perfect example. I didn't have enough of either the green or turquoise to make the quilt, so I used a combo strategy. Cornerstones and binding in one color, cobblestones and stars in another. Works great!

Stay tuned, we'll have another parade tomorrow. If you want to add this book to your Christmas list, just show your loved one this blog post and the Shop Here tab... we'll get a wiggle on it! Of course, you could just buy one for yourself. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Guest Post

When C&T asked if I'd like to write a post for their blog, I wondered what on earth I could share. I remember a comment that a student made when I showed a class how I speed cut units. She said, "That alone was worth the price of admission." ( I love that my post is sandwiched between Bonnie Hunter and Angela Walters... another blessing to count on Thanksgiving!). Below is a copy of the post.

When I was young, my mother worked for Pendleton Woolen Mills sewing the plackets on shirt sleeves. The shirts were sewn production style, with each seamstress making one section and passing it along. Listening to her talk about this sewing method was my first introduction to efficient sewing methods.

Cut around the little triangle points on clothing patterns? Not me—I learned to clip into the seam allowance instead. I drove my home ec instructors just a bit crazy, but they were open to new ideas.
One of my favorite time-saving techniques is speed cutting strips and units for my quilts. The more time I can keep the fabric next to the cutting mat and not move it around, the better. Let me demonstrate by cutting 2" strips and 2" squares using a 6 1/2" x 12 1/2" ruler.
This picture shows a full width of fabric folded twice and aligned with a horizontal line on the cutting mat. First, I square up the fabric by trimming off the left edge. I love my OLFA Quick Change Rotary Cutter for this because it can be used by left- or right-handed people. I use my left hand to trim off that edge (cutting very slowly!), then align the 6" line of the ruler on that newly cut edge. Be sure the black line of the ruler is on the fabric.
Second, I use my right hand to make my first cut with the ruler.
Then I slide the ruler to the left, lining up the 4" mark along the left edge and making a second cut. Note that I never lifted the ruler off the fabric, I just slid it to the left.
The final cut is made after I position the 2" line of the ruler on the left edge of the fabric.
VoilĂ , three strips cut in no time! Let's move on to some squares. I like to lay all three strips of fabric next to each other, all lined up on a horizontal line of the cutting mat. Folds in the strips should be to the right side.
We're going to do exactly what we did for the strips. Square up the strips by trimming off the left edge. Leave the ruler in place. Cut through all three strips on the right side of the ruler.
Slide the ruler to the left, never lifting it off the fabric, and line up the 10" mark with the left edge. Cut through all three strips on the right side of the ruler. Leave the ruler in place and slide it so the 8" mark is lined up with the left edge.
Continue in this manner at the 6", 4", and 2" marks. You've cut 2" squares in record-breaking time!
Do you ever make strip-pieced nine-patches? This method works wonderfully for that! The picture below shows the strip set. I've already trimmed off the left edge, made the first cut at 12", and am moving the ruler to the left after each cut.
Make cuts at 12", 10", 8", 6", 4", and 2" and you have six nine-patch units ready to sew.
How about Lone Star quilt units? This technique works just as well when making strip-pieced units that are cut on a 45° angle. You start with strips that are offset on one end.
Line up the 45° mark on your ruler with the top edge of your strip set. Your first cut is on the left side of the ruler.
My strips were cut at 1" and sewn together, so my units need to be cut at 1" wide. I know, I'm a little crazy…but this method works with any size strips! Because I'm working with such small pieces, I'm only going to cut four of these at once.
Move your ruler so that the 45°-angle line is still across the top of the strip set and the 4" line is positioned on the left edge of the strip set. Cut along the right side of the ruler.
After you've made that cut, slide the ruler so the 3" line is positioned on the left edge of the strip set.
Repeat using the 2" line and 1" line. Woo-hoo! You've got four perfectly cut Lone Star units in record time.
I know it takes a little time to get used to this method, but I believe it's a skill that's worth practicing. I know that over the years it has saved me hours of cutting time, which gained me hours of sewing time!