Thursday, March 31, 2011

Layered Waves

I have been so inspired by my workshop with Karen Eckmeier, that I have been working on my class project on my days off.  Her technique is so freeing!  I am feeling very arty working in my sewing room!  I finally got it the size that I wanted, and have put on borders, in her layered waves way.  I did have to go and purchase fabric for the outer border.  I was wanting a deep, dark turquoise to accent the turquoise within the quilt.  I took this photo last night, put it on the computer, and immediately went "UGH"!  Something was amiss.  And I was sure that quilting and or embellishments weren't going to make it better.  So I slept on it.  It is looking better this morning.  But I think it needs more value contrast in the left upper corner.  The beauty of this technique is that it is very forgiving.  I think I am going to make up another flight of geese.  I think that will give it the spark that I think it needs.

This will be my last blog post for at least a week. Tomorrow I leave for my trip to Paris, France.  In case people wonder why I feel the need to add the France,  I live not far from a town named Paris.  My aunt and uncle used to live there.  There is a terrific quilt shop there, also! 

So I may be posting some updates on Facebook occasionally.  WiFi is generally not free in Europe, but I do need to get online daily to check in with my hubby (Verizon doesn't have cell coverage in France, isn't that odd!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Karen Eckmeier workshops

I am so blessed to be a member of Illini Country Stitchers, our local quilt guild here in Champaign-Urbana!  One of the many benefits is that our program committee tries to bring in "big name" quilters for lectures and workshops at least 3 times a year.  I have taken workshops with Ami Simms, Carol Doak, Pat Speth, Becky Goldsmith, Toby Lischko, Jody Barrows, Kimberly Einmo, just to name a few!  This past week it was a joy to take workshops with Karen Eckmeier!

I already had her Accidental Landscapes book from my landscapes phase...who am I kidding, I still am in a landscapes phase!

I purchased her Layered Waves knowing she was coming, but didn't look at it until the day before!  Good grief!  I didn't know what I was missing!

One of Karen's mantra's is that she doesn't wish to contribute to the UFOs of the quilting world!  (Where have I heard this before, Mickey Depre!)  Everybody in the landscape class left with at least their landscape done.  I had my borders on and was ready for quilting by the time I left.  I did get it quilted at home that evening (after a nap and a little knitting).  One of the ladies had her's quilted AND bound by the end of class!  I had taken my little box of embelishments with me, and embroidered the sea grass in the lower right hand corner.

Karen is a fantastic teacher, and gave great explanations.  This is the second day when we were working on our layered waves.  She demonstrated on one of the students fabric choices.  We were told to bring 6 fat quarters.  We could choose a color family, or go wild.  The student here chose greens.  She also ended the day with a glorious tote bag!  She was also the one who had her landscape done!  And they call me an over achiever!  LOL!

Going through my stash to find fat quarters, I came across the fat quarters that I had purchased when I was in Tuscon, Fall of 2009.  Perfect!  I added the turquoise Moda Marbles.  I got inspired to add a flight of curving flying geese ala Caryl Bryer Fallert.  So I drafted my first set and made them.  One benefit of looking at things through a pictures is that I know see that I need to rearrange a few things!  Watch this post for further developments!
I am sure you were all wondering what I was going to be doing to fill my time now that Circle of Life was done!  Not to worry!  I am so inspired by this new technique in my tool box! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Circle of Life is done!

I finally completed Circle of Life!  Today I sewed down the hanging sleeve and the label.  I went to Threads of Time in Danville, IL to utilize their big design walls in the retreat center to facilitate the photography.  It is now residing in the Spiritual Life Center of the Cunningham Children's Home as an entry in their quilt show, Festival of Quilts.  The FOQ will be April 8 and 9.

As part of the entry form, they asked if there was any history about the quilt that could be shared with the viewers.  This is what I wrote:

Circle of Life came about as a search for a quilt pattern.  I was asked to make a quilt to donate to the East Central Illinois Refuge Center for their annual fundraising event.  I knew in my mind what I wanted, and finally found the perfect pattern at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  The pattern is by Jacqueline de Jonge, who is from the Netherlands.  As I was stitching, I thought of how this American daughter, of immigrant stock from many nations, was working on a pattern by a Dutch woman, to make a quilt to assist people who have come to America to find the dream.  The dream that my ancestors had cpme to America to also find.  At the end, I couldn't bear to part with it, yet!  So another quilt will be donated, this year.  Perhaps by next year, I will be able to part with it!

Close up of large New York Beauty arch.

Close up of small New York Beauty arch.

Close up of stitching in the large dark blue areas.  When trying to decide what I would do, I let my quilterly voice out.  Circle of Life was speaking to me of convergence and radiation.  So like the ephemeral waves of heat off a hot desert highway, so I quilted away from the NYB arches.

Triangle border and outer border.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Indianapolis bus trip

Our local quilt guild, Illini Country Stitchers, had a bus trip to Indianapolis this past Saturday!  Okay, I forgot to use my camera (it was tucked in my purse).  But I am happy to report that we all had a great time!  Our fearless trips committee insured that we were more that adequately entertained during our bus ride.  We each received a goody bag with a homemade muffin, a granola bar, and some candies to help sustain us on the arduous journey.  And a cooler of water bottles to keep us from becoming dehydrated. We each received a numbered ticket, and there were a number of great door prizes that were given out.  I didn't win one, but my seat mate did!  Our trips committee had pre-warned notified the three shops to expect us and at what times, so the shops were ready with extra staff to help with cutting and checking out.  We went to The Back Door, Quilts Plus, and Quilt Quarters.  Each shop gave us a little treat, and one even gave us a 10% discount.  Lunch was at The Cheesecake Factory.  This was my first time eating at one.  Thankfully, I had the soup and salad, which left me plenty of room to have cheesecake.  I had the Mango Key Lime with coconut macaroon crust.  YUMMMY!!  On the way home we ate at McDonald's in Crawfordsville. 

Here is my haul for the day.  I was really very restrained.  That means I came home with money in my pocket, and didn't use my debit or credit cards.

As I am typing, Circle of Life is blocked and drying on my living room floor.  I will get decent pictures later this week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend retreat projects

This past Friday and Saturday my small group, the Material Girls, was invited to a weekend retreat with the Loose Threads at the Beds and Threads retreat center at Threads of Time in Danville, IL.  I can't go for the overnight fun, but I did go both days for lots of fun sewing.  I loaded up my gear and projects to work on.

One of the projects of my local quilt guild is a mystery round robin.  Instead of passing around the project, we are working on each step ourselves.  We have had a great participation.  A lot of people have reservations about having other people work on their projects, so this way that reservation was eliminated.  There is to be another step, but I think that I am going stop at this point.  There is a lot of opportunities for quilting that will enhance this piece!

I made this bag using jelly roll strips from StoneHenge fabrics.

The pattern is easy-peasy.  I am going to make several others for our quilt guild's quilt show boutique. 

We ended Saturday evening at O'Leary's in Danville where I enjoyed a delish crab cake sandwich, sweet potato fries, and a pint of Guiness!  Brilliant!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My First Sock!

I feel like a big girl knitter now!  I have completed my first sock!  Our instructor, Kara, at Needleworks in Champaign, has been absolutely awesome in helping us understand sock knitting and getting the technique down.  I have learned that I tend to be a tight knitter, which is a good thing for socks! 

There are a few oops, and a lot of split yarns.  But I got to tell you, this sock feels pretty good on!

Never fear, I will have a pair!  I started the second sock yesterday at work.  I discovered I had dropped a stitch three rows beyond.  Thus the paper clip was employed as a stitch holder until I can unknit down to it!  Another repurposed tool!

Those needles are size 2!  It is like knitting with bamboo skewers!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Frog sewing and repurposed tools

I am still quilting on Circle of Life.  I got a lot done on my two days off.  But unfortunately, I did not like the quilting on a couple parts.  So out came the seam ripper and a couple of repurposed tools from my nursing job, and I set off "froggin"!  We call it "frog" sewing, because what we are doing is "rip it, rip it!"  Dreaded words to a sewers ears, but sometimes it just has to be done.  I have worked too hard on this quilt to settle for so so quilting.  I can and will do better!

The most important tool to have when you are frog quilting is a sharp seam ripper.  I have several different types of seam rippers, but I used Alex Anderson's 4-in-1 tool for this job.

It has a tiny sharp point that allows me to get under the stitch without gouging the fabric below.  And the handle is hefty enough to make it ergonomic, so I didn't get a cramp in my hand from using it.

Being a nurse practitioner, one of the skills I have is suturing.  You know, I love to sew, whether it is on cloth or people! LOL!  Most of the instruments that we use are one time use only, and they get sent to medical waste management.  Seems such a waste.  So when possible, I will sanitize the better tools (some of the instruments aren't even worth using the first time) and give them a new life in my sewing room.  The scissors come from a suture removal kit.  They are perfect on a lanyard around my neck for making a quick snip when hand sewing or at the machine.  The forceps is actually a needle holder.  I use it for pulling threads, tying knots before burying them.  The business end does not have the ridges (striations) of a Kelly forcep, so it doesn't shred the thread.  And sometimes I do use it as a sewing needle holder when I am trying to pull a stubborn needle through some fabric.