Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Flaunt - Candied Hexagons

This is an unfinished flaunt, but a milestone nonetheless. All the hexies for my traveling Candied Hexagon quilt (from an out-of-print 2005 issue of Australian Quilters Companion, designed by Kerry Dear) are pieced... by hand, I might add. Mind you, they're not yet sewn to one another, but this is the intended layout, following the pattern diagram.
I'm not sure I like it very much. But I'm hopeful that after adding the small inset pieces that fit along the edge, and a restful border, its appearance will improve.

So it's much more hand piecing, and much more traveling before there's much more progress!

In the meantime, to keep the rows in the arrangement I settled on, I needed something to separate the rows. I came across an old Quilt Art calendar that I thought to throw away, but decided to put the pages to use.
I labeled each row of hexies, layering them between calendar pages, and stacked all 11 rows in a shoebox...
...with clearly marked instructions for the next step.
So, the traveling hexies are at a rest stop for now..
Photo taken in Victoria, Australia, 2009

...until my next trip, wherever that may be.

Each Friday, bloggers who belong to Quilting Down Under chat group post a flaunt of their productivity. Visit Cinzia's blog to find links to all 24 Friday Flaunt-ers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Of course, I'd never want to appear boastful about my two irresistable grandchildren... but you can surely understand, with them living in Australia, a half world away from me, how precious it is to receive this video.

Eleven year-old Celina is a wonderful big sister. Can you believe Tay is not quite four months old!? I think they'll make you smile, if not outright chuckle.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Flaunt - First Ten in '10 Finished!

When I selected projects to include in my Ten in '10 list, I tried to be reasonable, looking ahead to life's possibilities during the upcoming 12 months. It caused me to select a few projects that were relatively do-able, and several that are more intensely demanding.

From the "do-able" side, I'm pleased to share my first completed project! It's grandson Tay's 32" X 32" Noah's Ark wall hanging. What a wonderful learning experience it was! Not only is it the first piece of stitchery I've completed in years (much of it sewn while in Sydney), but it's my first stitchery ever that has been colored with pencils. It was a delight to make and I'm looking forward to seeing it hung in his bedroom.

There was a bit of learning curve free-motion machine quilting it. I knew to straight stitch along the sashings to secure the layers, but it was a difficult to know where to quilt the rest of it. I settled for giving the animals a bit of "ground" to walk upon, and quilted close to some of the backstitches around the ark and animals on-board. You might also see where I added quilted ocean waves, and a few extra clouds in the sky.

Ever aware that I won't be around forever, I add a label to all of my quilted pieces. If you're wondering... names have been blurred "to protect the innocent."

Another big effort this week was playing catch-up on the "Season of Grace" Christmas stocking BOM hosted by author Emilie Richards and quilter Pat Sloan.

Since I was out of the country for five weeks last fall, and then traveled to Florida for nearly three weeks, it was long past time to complete November, December, and January BOMs. If you recall, I'm making two identical stockings for each month, swapping one of them with my friend Mary.

November: Gingerbread Girl
Mary will make the gingerbread boy.

December: Selvage Stocking
Mary's stockings will be green selvages.

January: Going Dotty

I'm pumped with accomplishment! Now I've begun a donation quilt. This is one I will stitch and make into a quilted wall hanging to be auctioned in July at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp's (Story City, Iowa) annual quilt auction. It's the camp's largest fundraiser that annually raises around $50,000 for the camp.

This design is called "Northwood Memories" and comes from Wellington House Designs in Minnesota. The original pattern makes into a 7" X 9" block, but a friend enlarged it to about 10" X 12" so I can use it for the center medallion of my wall quilt. I'm planning to stitch it with DMC #8 perle cotton.
All this on top of spending many hours email-interviewing and working to write an article for the June/July issue of Quilters Newsletter magazine. It's such a blessing to write about something I love, and know a little about. In this instance, the article is about Australian stitcheries, and Australians and an American who stitch them. Hopefully it will give non-bloggers a look into the world of possibilities with stitchery.

I guess that being housebound - due to this week's ice storm - does have its benefits, but those are wearing thin! We're ready for some thawing around here!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ice, Ice Baby

Our Iowa weather has been a predominant feature of the winter of '09-'10. The latest blast arrived Wednesday morning in the form of rain. While rain in itself isn't necessarily bad, it is when it lands on things with a temperature of less than 32 F (0 C). Such is the case, and the reason there's no school today.

As if it isn't difficult enough for the postal carrier to reach our mailbox, with snow piled along the entire length of its four foot (1.2 meter) pole, the box itself is now frozen shut and dripping with icicles.

Tree branches are drooping nearly to the ground. Several have already broken off.
Sigh. Yard clean-up yet to come.

The snow crab tree that blooms so prettily in the spring with white blossoms that look like popcorn, have berries crusted with at least 1/8 inch (2cm) of ice. And note how much snow we still have!

All I can say is that if anyone must be out today, pretty much the only way anyone can get around on two feet - and remain upright! - is to wear Yak Trax.

Someone surely has to be getting rich from this ingenious invention! I understand that postal employees, police and fire departments are wearing them these days.
I'm not certain why it is they work so well, but those metal spirals dig right into ice.
So well you might be able to guess who's had the "pleasure" of walking the dog today!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Flaunt - One Joseph's Coat Block

Free time this week involved dabbling a little bit in four different projects! Just enough effort on each to make a little progress, but not enough to deem any of it flaunt-worthy.

During last weekend's Hope Quilters retreat (see post below), Kim, Michelle and I spent time fine-tuning our Quilt-Along projects. Kellie Wulfson who's leading this through her blog, makes it look so easy! I can't say that's been my experience thus far, but the three of us are determined to persevere. We compared the shapes of our plastic templates; compared how we're cutting petals pieces from Floriani Stitch N Wash Fusible; inspected one anothers' applique stitches, and decided we're on the right track.

My first, imperfect, Joseph's Coat block is appliqued. It was a good warm-up for getting the hang of gluing the fabric over the petal-shaped Floriani, and learning how to create sharp points.
After trying several glue sticks, I've decided the Elmers Washable School Glue Stick works best for me. The next dozen petals ready to be appliqued have sharper points than my first effort. Practice, and lots of rejected petals, makes perfect.
I hope you'll forgive this long-distance Nana's grandson flaunt. Tay is 3-1/2 months old now. After spending five weeks with him in Sydney, Australia, beginning when he was just three weeks old, now whenever I see him via Skype I yearn to pick him up. He looks so huggable!

Instead I sing and motion "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" song to him. We're also learning sign language together. Tay seems intent as he watches me on the computer screen. We're learning "Nana," "big boy," and "see you."

How ever did we communicate with our children 30 years ago!?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Remember when I entered Iowa author Kimberly Stuart's contest? The one where readers were challenged to creatively give away two copies of her book, Stretch Marks? And I took two books with me to Sydney, Australia, and gave them to Aussie mums who happened to be near the Sydney Opera House so I took pictures?
And, I won.
I found my prizes on my front porch, in a cute gift bag. Thank you, Kimberly!

The gifts are: a certificate for lunch at a favorite Chinese restaurant; some chocolates from the Chocolate Storybook in West Des Moines, Iowa; and an autographed copy of Act Two.
I've read Act Two, but will definitely enjoy chuckling through it again. Of Kimberly's four books, this is my favorite. It's a story about Sadie, an aging, New York classical music singer whose agent finds her a teaching gig at a rural college in Iowa. To Sadie's horror, she learns she must live on a hog farm. What a hoot. I recommend this book to all my buds.

I don't know Kimberly very well, but she must surely be a woman on the go. She has a husband and three young children, a household to manage, book-signings and publicity gigs, shoes to buy, and prize bags to drop off to loyal fans... Gosh, maybe someone needs to chain her to a computer to write! I can't wait to read her next book.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Retreat

What happens when you put together:
  • a room of 12 quilters who know one another, and a few who don't;
  • oodles of quilting gadgets and rotary supplies;
  • quilting books and stashed fabric;
  • dozens of unfinished blocks;
  • a few irons and ironing boards;
  • nine sewing machines;
  • bedding, clothes, and personal items;
  • food and drinks;
  • and chocolate?
The makin's for a quilting retreat you might find pretty much any place in the world!
Err. Well. Almost any place in the world.
To say it's been cold in Iowa is an understatement.
(But doesn't she look happy about it!?)

Old man winter been beating us, almost relentlessly. In fact, our Hope Quilters group took an eleventh hour vote Friday afternoon as to whether or not we should brave the elements to travel to Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp retreat center for our long-planned, one-night quilt retreat. The vote was for "bravery," so in spite of Saturday morning's -7 F (-22C) temperature, we retreated. We're all glad we did!
Linda, Erika, Linda, Crystal, Lorna, Jeri, Linda, Laura, Susan, Michelle, Norma, and Kim (Did I miss any of the Lindas?) had a fabulous time together, sharing lots of chatter and laughs as we stayed snuggly warm in our sewing cocoon.

After a long Saturday of nearly non-stop sewing, and waking to more of the same on Sunday, we gave thanks with a favorite Bible verse:

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and sew in it!
Psalm 118:24 (NIV, and revised by Hope Quilters).

May you too rejoice and be glad, for every day, no matter what you're doing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

P.S. Friday Flaunt

In my previous blog post I mentioned this weekend's church quilting group retreat at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp. Well, I couldn't flaunt the item below on Friday because I didn't want to give away my secret before Saturday's retreat.

Retreat-goers will each get a kit to make this travel tray.

It's a very special travel tray because it's made from a custom-printed fabric. The round design is part of our church logo, a circle of four quadrants representing aspects of life in Christ.

The fabric was ordered from Spoonflower. It's an on-line company that allows you to create your own designs, upload them to their website, and order them as fabric. Check it out!

Since I don't have, and am not familiar with graphic design software, a very generous Minnesota graphic artist, Tammy, offered to create what I wanted.

You should see the other beautiful fabrics she's created. You can order her fabrics, and those of other designers, through Spoonflower. How cool is that!?

See more of Tammy's great stuff on her blog
Thanks, Tammy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Flaunt - A "Hole-y" Flimsy

This week has mostly been spent making plans for Stitchin' Mission #20 that begins next Tuesday, and this weekend's church quilting group retreat (I'm a co-chair) at Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp in Story City, Iowa.

But, I've managed a little sewing to piece Noah's Ark stitchery blocks for a wall hanging, for baby Tay's bedroom. Thanks to Skype (I couldn't live without it!), I was able to show my daughter a couple block layout possibilities. Between us we worked out this one.
Now it's an almost-complete flimsy (I love using that Aussie word!). Do you like the sashing/border fabric? It's a sort of after-the-storm print with a few weak light rays shining through. I think it nicely compliments the Noah's Ark theme and is a good boy color.

Perhaps you noticed the hole? That blank space right above the lambs and camels? That's where I'll stitch and insert one last block, a rectangle piece with Tay's full name, his date of birth, weight, and place of birth. Then, when the last bits of sashing and borders are sewn, the flimsy will measure 33" X 33".

I like it! That pencil-coloring made all the difference in the looks of this stitchery. I can't imagine how plain it would be without it. Learning how to color and set the color is all thanks to Helen Stubbings whose Colourque technique was the feature of a DVD in issue #39 of .Australian Quilters Companion Good stuff!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Full Disclosure

Where I Went on My Christmas Vacation
Christmas and New Years were spent in Florida. While it wasn't exactly warm - never warm enough for me to wear shorts - we did miss some of Central Iowa's 27 inches (68.5 cm) of December snow.
It was so nice to take Hogan for a walk with no ice or snow underfoot.
But, I couldn't quite adjust to the sight of palm trees sporting Christmas decorations!
We stayed at Village Sands, a condo complex in Indian Shores.

One resident annually hires a sand sculptor to make a Christmas creation for all beach-goers to enjoy.

Not many people spend Christmas at the beach. I found it quite nice, and quiet for a Christmas day walk.
We didn't have a typical Christmas (for example, no tree) instead focusing on the reason for Christmas (we attended a Baptist church for worship), and spending time with our son and DIL. The gift we received from our kids was very thoughtful: a Des Moines Civic Center gift certificate. And my gift was to get a treatment for toenail fungus. There's only one podiatrist in Iowa offering this new, PinPointe Laser treatment. Granted, it isn't fabric, but what girl doesn't want pretty toes so she can wear sandals in the summer?

Actually, it's a physical shock to be back in Iowa's snow and cold! There are lots of grumbles emanating from our house about the below zero (IE: -24 C) temperatures today and through this week. But I intend to make the best of staying indoors. After several weeks of doing only handwork - I got a lot of hexagons pieced - I'm looking forward to using my sewing machine again. Unfortunately though, for the fourth time, my eight year-old Bernina (model QE153) needs a major repair. I've already replaced the: 1) bobbin case base, 2) thread take-up mechanism, and 3) the body case. I know I use my machine a lot, but these repairs are frustrating, especially when an annual tune-up is $80+.

The newest problem is with the knee lift.
While pushing the knee lift to the right, to raise the presser foot, the presser foot dropped, making a ka-thunk sound. The internal knee lift assembly will likely need to be replaced. Servicing...again. (Sigh.) I've sewn on a Bernina since 1972. My old model 830 is a workhorse (though it's not suitable for non-stop free-motion quilting). Perhaps Bernina's quality isn't what it once was. Should my next machine be a different brand? What do you think?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tay's Tabbie

You may remember that on December 4 I showed you this Tabbie I made following Lettie's tutorial. I mailed the Tabbie to Sydney, (Australia) along with some other Christmas gifts.
Here's a photo of three-month old Tay enjoying his new toy. He's doing with it just what a baby is supposed to do, touch, feel, and chew.
Don't you just want to pick him up and give him a hug? This long-distance Nana sure does!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Friday Flaunt - Stitchery and 2009 Finished

Happy New Year 2010!

On track to keep my Ten in '10 resolution, this past week I spent every free moment on this Noah's Ark stitchery that I began in early October. It will become a quilt for Tay. Below is the finished large portion of the project, the largest, focal point stitchery. I finished the smaller stitcheries several weeks ago.
As you can see, I colored this piece in the same way I colored the smaller stitcheries. Using Derwent Coloursoft pencils to add depth, some places are fully colored-in, and other places (ark, clouds, and water) are just shaded. I really enjoyed doing this! I felt like a kid with a coloring book.
After coloring, I brush-painted those areas with FolkArt textile medium. It's a clear coat that will protect the colors, making the stitchery and the quilt it will become, washable.

If you're a devotee of anything related to a needle and thread, I hope you're on track for a quilting-filled, stitchery-filled, sewing-filled 2010. There isn't much that's more fun than spending time doing what you love to do - that God has blessed you to be good at and enjoy.

Ecclesiastes 9:7 tells us:
"Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, drink wine with a robust heart. Make quilts, make stitcheries, and sew for all you're worth. Oh yes - God takes pleasure in your pleasure!" (The Message) Italicized words my own.

Hogan adds, and demonstrates so well, "Keep your head down and nose to the grindstone."
Here's wishing you the most blessed, and most productive, 2010 possible. Go with God.

Each Friday, bloggers who belong to Quilting Down Under chat group post a flaunt of their productivity. Visit Cinzia's blog to find links to all 24 Friday Flaunt-ers.


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