Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Hello from the northwoods!  And Happy Winter Solstice.  It has been snowing all day, very quiet and beautiful.  No quilting today.  This is always a day I mark and enjoy.  I'm not totally sure why;  it's the shortest day and the longest night of the year and the first day of winter.  Maybe I just like the word "solstice."  

I've been thinking about the concept of time all day.  When meeting other quilters and sharing my work, I often hear comments like:  "Where do you find the time?"  of " You must have a lot of time."  Things like that.  Another question I often get is "How long did it take you to make that?"  

Do I have a lot of "time" to do my quilting?  Well, OK, I'm retired at the moment, but the bulk of my quilting life has been shared with raising two daughters, maintaining a couple of homes and work.  So, that's not it.  The time to quilt finds me I guess.  It's not like a task or chore I have to fit into my day.  I've never felt:  "Gee, if I had more time I could do more!"  I often marvel at what other people accomplish, but don't think of it in terms of the time they have.

And how long does it take to make a quilt?  Some quilters use a stop watch and record every minute they spend on a quilt - it's an impressive figure usually.  But I don't keep track and can only say I finish one big quilt every year - not mentioning other small projects I also finish.  

I wonder if these swans think about time....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Applique Group

A couple of months ago, I volunteered to start an Applique group at the Your Arts Program in Manitowish Waters.  It's been going very well.  7 ladies have already joined in - some with no applique experience who are already doing applique!  At the first group meeting, I proposed at some point making a quilt to donate to the Alzheimer's Study Quilt Project.  Lap size quilts are given to volunteers in the study who suffer from Alzheimer's as appreciation for participating.  The group said "let's do it right away." So, we got to work and are well on our way to finishing.  The Grosbeak block is a favorite of mine and we will have 9 bordered blocks to complete the quilt.  The group decided to use batik fabrics which are just beautiful.  Each member chose their own fabric colors and the results are just lovely!  Each one is a different color theme. 

The Applique group meets the first Wednesday of each month at Your Arts Center in Manitowish Waters from 6 to 8 pm.  No sign up or committment is needed.  Just a love of applique or desire to try it!  You don't need to be a quilter either.  Applique is used in many different fiber art projects.

The Alzheimer's Study email is:  adcs-quilts@ucsd.edu

Your Arts Program website:  http://www.yourartsprogram.org/

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crossing the border(s)

I took a break from working on my mandala quilt borders and got out Christmas stockings.  Quilter's Newsletter is looking for photos of handmade stockings and will have a drawing on Friday (randomly) for some sort of prize, so I entered and thought I'd share them with you. 

These are some of my handmade wool felt stockings.  The designs are mine and I also hand dyed most of  the wools for the appliques. They are hand stitched with wool floss using a buttonhole stitch.  Very enjoyable to do.

Oh, those borders:  I've completed one border and am well into the second.  The weekend winter storm had me grounded and put me to work.  There will be 300+ "logs" of varying widths between 1 and 2 inches, pieced together to make the borders.  It does look like wood - I saw a split tree stump in the woods snowshoeing yesterday - oooh, wish I had my camera because I won't find it again. 

If you've ever sewn strips together like this, you know the finished strip will be way way off in terms of a nice straight piece.  So.... I had an idea to piece them to graph paper using the lines and the paper to keep things straight.  It works.  I planned on 8 1/2" wide borders - and well, paper is 8 1/2 x 11" - but wait!  If you really measure a sheet of paper, it's only 8 3/8" not 8 1/2".  Doesn't matter.  This is a very putzy process and not my favorite (that would be applique)!  I plan to add some applique to surround the mandala blocks too.  And determined to have the top finished by early January. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The top is done - not!

Here is the center block to my mandala quilt.   Chickadee look-a-likes are comprised of yin yangs and so is the very center.  (Birds make their nests in circles).  The outer leaves and buds are an unknow plant I had collected and dried.  I think this block is awfully cute if I do say so myself.

This is the last block:  Wild blueberries.  I do love blueberries (my second quilt lately that features them) - but I also wanted to bring  some blues into this quilt. 

I sewed all the blocks together yesterday and pinned the top to the wall.  I had not anticipated adding borders or any other applique.... until I looked at the whole top.  It obviously needs borders and I think some vines and leaves throughout the brown fabric borders.  This means it's back to the drawing board as I'm not just going to slap some border fabric on and call it a day.  I have to come up with something to frame the quilt without taking away from the mandala designs.  No doubt it will be pieced - but probably not more applique in that outer border. 

For most of my quilts, I never plan the border until the top is done.  Then I just need to keep looking at it until something just hits me.  Even then, it's a lot of redoing until I get it right.  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, throw them my way! 

Back to work....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oak leaf and Acorn

Block #7 of my mandala quilt, the oak leaf and acorn is a traditional block and another one of my favorites.  There are many variations to this block;  this one is mine.  I redrew oak leaves in a swirly pattern and you get the idea of falling and flying autumn leaves.  I made this block just a couple of months ago too, when the fall colors were at their best.  Of course, some oak leaves stay on the tree - a beautiful contrast to snow covered pines. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Forever Wreath

I used to buy 2 or 3 fresh pine Christmas wreaths every year, but then got the idea to make 2 permanent "wreaths" to hang - they grace the outside of the garage (shown is one of them). 

As you can see, it is actually a quilt block.  I searched my Electric Quilt program for a Christmasy looking pine, found a block and sized it to fit some boards I had cut to fit the space.

I glued 2 same size wood pieces together to make a thick, sturdy base.  I printed the templates for the block, traced them on the wood then used acrylic paints to paint - or "piece" the block.  Finally, I used a spray sealer to cover.

They are impervious to wind and wet - give it a try sometime!  I have done another block which hangs all year near the door to the house.  Photo another time...