Saturday, June 25, 2011

Twelve blocks done

It is always a good day when you finish something.  I have not really finished my Baltimore's Country Cousins quilt, but I have finished another phase of the project.  After I finished the hand applique stage, for the blocks that is... I moved on to the "quilt-as-you-go" stage.  My finished quilt will be 3 blocks wide by 4 blocks and then the border, which will also be hand appliqued.  I have finished the quilting stage of those 12 blocks.  I had never used a quilt-as-you-go method before and I'm thinking it is really cool.  I would get three blocks done, then join those blocks and each set of three after that, I was getting more excited.  I like the minimal sashing.  It doesn't take away from the blocks.  I also could have used the same color as the background, but I think it needed something to break between the blocks.  I probably should have hand sewn the blocks together, but I decided it would be sturdier sewn on the machine, so my hand applique/hand quilted quilt has the blocks sewn together on my machine.  I don't think it will take away from the "awe" factor though.  I still have to figure out how I will do the "quilt-as-you-go" technique on the borders after I get those hand appliqued.

I was reading a fellow quilter's blog the other day and she had described a "jelly roll race".  If you go to her site, it was an older post, so you'd have to scroll down.  I thought it was a pretty cool idea and told my quilting ladies about it and they thought it would be fun, but they weren't too sure about the racing part.  I decided to give it a try here at home so when I go in there on Monday I can give them a pep talk.  It would be a fun project to create some quilts to donate.  I had this jelly roll on hand and from start to finish it was just about 2 hours.  I'm not so impressed with the beauty of this quilt, but it sure went together quickly. Of course I have to quilt it, but considering the busy-ness of the quilt, I won't have to do anything too fancy to get it done.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First day of summer

Have you ever been on a trip where you know it is a good idea to take a couple days to come home, but when you get past half way you start chomping at the bit to get home.  Well, we were not expected back home until Monday, so there really was no need to "push it", but as we were driving along, home kept calling.  We pushed on and made it home Sunday evening... or actually 12:30 is technically Monday morning.  We were a little tired on Monday, but when you take turns driving, it really wasn't that bad to make the trip in one day. 

I mentioned that I had found a quilt shop out in the desert and didn't post a picture.  I was a little surprised when we found the place, and I totally understand why my DIL had never given a thought that it was an actual quilt shop.  This was the sign she saw as she would drive by.  There is actually a deserted trailer right there behind the sign.  Even I would not have thought it was a current sign.  The ad was in the Quilters' Travel Companion and we called first, so we knew this was the place.
When you drive around the corner and turn into the driveway, it still doesn't look too inviting... but there was a car there and we could see the door was open, so we ventured in and found a gold mine... well almost anyway.  There was wall to wall fabric in varying price ranges, from $3.99 and up.  A big notions wall and lots of extras.  They even had a trailer outside that had more fabric.  We just kept saying Wow!  It was because it was so unexpected, but there really was alot of really nice fabric there, including the Arizona centennial fabric that was brand new and available in all of the area quilt shops.

On Saturday we were out on the road with the guys and I noticed that we went by a sign that said Green Valley was up ahead and I remembered that one of the ads in the QTC book was from Green Valley.  So of course I asked them if they could find it in their hearts to stop... just for a couple minutes.  Once we found the shop, they dropped us off and went back to WalMart, so we could spend a little more than a couple minutes.  It was worth finding this little shop Heart & Hands. Lots of area specific fabric and patterns.  I enjoyed this shop lots.  I figure this is one I would go back to on another trip.

My DIL wanted to know what we were gong to make while I was there.  I always bring some kind of project with me, and usually get her involved.  She wants to learn, but it is really hard to teach someone when you only see them a couple times a year.  Anyhow the handiwork I had brought was my hand quilting which really wasn't something she could get into, so we picked up a few fat quarters and we made froggies.  Grandson said he didn't want a bean bag... until we finished his mother's... then he wanted one.  I didn't have a pattern with me, so I winged it and made my own pattern and this is what I came up with.

Our trip home went pretty smooth, but we did find some really smoky areas.  In New Mexico it looked like early morning fog... but you could smell the smoke, and you knew it wasn't fog.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Arizona in June

June is always a busy time of year.  Both of my daughter-in-laws have birthdays, then right after those birthdays comes my husband's, then a few days later mine comes along, and a week later is my brother's.  Today is my mother-in-law's birthday and two weeks ago was their anniversary.  I'm really bad about doing birthday cards.  It's not that I'm opposed to sending them out, but time seems to slip away and it gets to be too late. 

My husband and I do not make a big deal about birthdays or any other designated day when you typically give each other gifts.  We buy each other gifts whenever... we don't have to wait for a reason.  Two months ago my husband decided to buy himself the Corvette he had wanted for a long time.  It was kind of one of those things you think you'd like to have one of these days... and he decided that the day had arrived.  We are both enjoying it very much.  I always thought they were pretty cars, but I had heard that the ride was not very comfortable for any long distance driving.  Well, I want to tell you that it is very comfortable, with lots of leg room.... of course I'm comparing it to the Miata we had just prior to the Corvette.  Unlike the Miata's limited storage space, we have plenty of room for whatever luggage we want to take along for a trip.  We plan on doing lots of cruising in this awesome car. This week was our first real trip in the Corvette.  We are currently in Arizona visiting family.  Our grandson really thinks the Corvette is cool.  Our son got to take his wife for a ride in it last night and the stories he had to tell when he got back to the house of their experiences in the car were quite entertaining.

I have enjoyed perusing through a few quilt shops in the last several days.  I have not made any major purchases, but I did find lots of fat quarters.    I used my Quilters' Travel Companion as my guide to find some of the shops along the way.  Cowgirl Up in Benson Arizona was a real treat with lots of western-centric fabric.  We are staying in a little town just outside of Tucson, so I have had the opportunity to visit a couple more shops in the greater Tucson area.  I don't have a picture of the first one we found.  I forgot my camera back at the house... but it was quite a find.  It had more fabric than I have seen in one place in a very long time.  My DIL has driven by the place numerous times and never dreamed it was a real quilt shop.  It is kind of out of town and in the desert. Of course she is not a quilter, so it had not even crossed her mind to go check it out.
She did help me find two other shops yesterday.  The Quilter's Market had a really nice baby room as well as lots of area specific fabric.  I was on the lookout for a specific piece of fabric for a friend and the lady at Bella Quiltworks was more than willing to advise me of other places to try.

I'm really enjoying the time here with our grandson.  He is 7 and quite the young man.  I went to VBS with him yesterday... his mother was a volunteer so she invited me to share in their last day.  Several people came up to me and told me how happy they were to see that I had arrived safely.  It seems that he had asked everyone more than once to pray for the safe arrival of his grandma and grandpa from Texas.

I know they say it is hot in Arizona, but it is a "dry" heat.  I can't see any significant difference from the hot we experience back in Texas.  If it is hot, it is just plain hot.  When you live in a hot environment, you know how to deal with it, so it really isn't a big deal.... but it is still HOT.  Oh yes, fires and smoke is a big topic lately with all the wildfires in Arizona.  We saw some smoke on our trip coming in, but mostly in New Mexico.  We saw some hazy skylines in various places along the way... but nothing significantly close.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Complete with binding...

A few months ago Ron asked me when I was going to finish a quilt for our bed.  I quilt alot of quilts for friends, but when it comes to mine, I can't make up my mind how I am going to design my quilting, so I put off doing them.  Well, I decided to bite the bullet and put my Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt on the frame and get it done. 
I put it on the frame last week, thinking it would go quickly.  I had put so much time in the piecing of the quilt that I didn't want to short change on the quilting.  I added some special touches here and there.  We were gone for a couple days and lots of things going on, so it wasn't until today that I finally got it done. Boston was the first one to try it out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Colorado in June

Although our trip was very short, we did enjoy a few moments to take in the beauty that was around us.  We drove in one day, loaded up our truck, and headed back to Texas the next day.  No time to just hang around.  Ron is so good about stopping when I want to take a picture or two or three.  

Keep in mind that this in June and there is still a lot of snow on the mountains.  The pass we normally come in through was supposedly open, but we were advised that it was not really stable enough to know an avalanche could not be triggered.  We chose to go the safer route.

On our trip back home, we made a stop in Alamosa with the intent to visit one of my favorite Colorado quilt shops.  I didn’t have anything particular I wanted to purchase, but I had hoped to take a look around.  It happened that we arrived before the store was open.  It was not a wasted stop, I got to take a picture of the store front, which will become my first picture in my “Quilt shops I have visited” album.  I may modify the name of the album/journal, but I figure I have visited a lot of quilt shops and quilt related events that will just all blend together if I don’t have something to help me remember each one.

Second on my quilt agenda for this trip was to at least drive through Laveta, Colorado to see if I could find Ricky Tims gallery.  We go through part of Laveta on Hwy 160 when we go to the cabin.  It didn’t take much coaxing to get my husband to take a slight detour to drive down into town to scope it out.  Laveta is a neat little town I never would have known was there if I wasn’t on a mission.  I did find Tims Art Quilt Retreat Center, but it was not what I expected.  I at least thought there might be a little gift shop or something.  I walked up to the front door and it was locked.  Justin was walking by and never offered any information… he kind of ignored me.  I walked over to the side door that Justin went in and asked him if the place through the main door was open.  He said no, and it is just a retreat center and nothing is going on right now.  I didn’t want anything from him, just a simple answer to a simple question. His tone was less than cordial…

I could have walked away with a nice warm fuzzy… “Boy this would be a neat place to come for a retreat, the setting is so awesome”.   Well, that did not happen.  I’m glad I got a couple pictures. There was a neat train station across the park that dated back to 1876…. and there were some really pretty poppies.  A kitty cat was crossing the park at the same time I did.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Change of direction

I have completed the applique stage for my 12 blocks, now as I prepare the blocks for the next step, I make the decision whether there needs to be any embellishment.  This block required a couple revisions.  My husband did not like that the bird was swooping down... he said it just didn't look right.  It had to be turned around to be swooping up out of the garden.  Once I made the change he was happy.

Next change was to fix how the center blended in too much with the flower.  I did a chain stitch around the edge, and added some pollen (beads) to the middle.

Overall I think the block looks much better now.

I got busy this afternoon prepping blocks for "quilt-as-you-go".  I had 7 more that needed to be basted before Monday and ready to go with us when we head to Colorado.  Gotta keep my hands busy on the road. I'm really liking this "quilt as you go" thing.  I'm able to be productive while sitting in the living room.  I put my Willcox & Gibbs to work.  This is my treadle machine that is very old and mostly just sitting for looks in my living room.  My husband suggested I use its loop/chain stitch to make my basting easy to remove.  Of course the loop/chain stitch is the only thing it does, but it does it very nicely.  I now have my hand work ready to go on Monday.