Uno, Dos, Tres...


It was a big night for Lane. 

First, Second Hand Kit won an Honorable Mention.  We were allowed to hang Linda's picture from the ribbon, so that made me very happy.  What a dedication to her and how proud she would be about her part in this beautiful quilt.  (and yes, it was up against some very stiff competition!) 

Half that and Radiate were competing against one another in the same category, small quilts made by one person. 

Half That won Third Place.

Radiate won First place and the Heritage award for a small quilt.  I had to go look up what the heritage award meant. 

The Heritage Award recognizes quilts that are influenced by quilting history. These quilts would be easily recognized as representing classic traditional quilts in style, workmanship and pattern.

 (I am ashamed that I don't know who won Second place.  But, I was so excited, I didn't look.  I'll get another chance on Saturday when we go back.)

Opening night was fun.  It was Rob's first time to attend opening night so he got to see all the awards presented and share in the applause.  Then, we got the chance to walk around the show with the quilt makers, congratulating one another as we went.  And, we got a chance to take good pictures without the crowds that will be there on Saturday.  It was fun to walk up and down the aisles and see people doing the same things I did; standing next to their quilts while their friends and family took their pictures.  Lots of friends won awards and it was a great chance to celebrate with members of the guild. 

I dreamed of quilt shows last night.  Rob did too.  We laughed about that this morning.  A shared dream of things that are important to us both. 

Everybody have a great Friday.  I'm walking on clouds.  But, still there is work.  Later, after people have had a chance to view the show, I'll share our favorites and the best of show quilt.  It was truly beautiful!  But, I've learned that the only way I'm going to win best of show is to make a full size quilt.  So, I shall be looking around for patterns.  Patterns with tiny pieces.  Because I'm proud of my accomplishments, but I'm still ambitious...and human.



And, then I stepped it up a notch

Yesterday, I helped hang quilts at the show for about 4 hours.  I worked in a team with an old friend, a new friend, and near the end, a brand new quilter.  There was an ongoing discussion about the direction of quilting and how quilting had changed from an emphasis on piecing accuracy to emphasize fancy, dense quilting and whether that's a good thing.  Of course, we were hanging in the two person, large size category, so we were looking at quilts pieced by one person and quilted by a professional, so it hardly seemed the place to be having this conversation because I'm not sure quilting has so much changed as the tools we quilt with have changed. 

My thought is that it is going to always cycle between the two.  One year, quilting will be the emphasis, but as more quilts end up being densely quilted, people will start to look for perfect piecing again.  So, in a few years, piecing is going to be all the rage.  And, when everybody is submitting perfectly pieced quilts, the emphasis will go back to quilting. 

I try to do both, so if I succeed at either one, I end up with a pretty darn nice quilt.  And, I predict that soon, the emphasis is going to be on one person quilts that don't involve the work of a professional. 

The conversation I'd like to have is this one...a kit quilt can't win best of show because the fabrics weren't chosen by the quilt maker.  If that stays true, then how can a professionally quilted quilt win best of show?  It wasn't quilted by the quilt maker.  Hardly seems fair, right?  And, that feedback is probably going to be submitted after the show to the quilt show committee. 

Okay, back to my early quilts.  We're up to about 2010.  My piecing is very precise.  And, I'm learning to do dense machine quilting.  So, I took my first class.  This is called Apple Pie because of the apple blossom fabric and the appliqued circles.  I took the class because I wanted to learn to piece the drunkards path blocks in the lower left corner. 

This quilt is densely quilted and I do wish I could show it to you.  I drew beautiful cornucopias of apples for the setting triangles and branches of densely packed  apples and leaves fill the borders.  But, I was so afraid that my mistakes would show up that I did it all in exactly matching color thread, green in the green, red in the red, brown in the brown, so you can't see any of the good stuff because I was afraid you'd see the errors.  I have to stop being so afraid of not being perfect. 

This next quilt came soon after.  This one is called Storm in my Garden.  This is me playing with color.  Could I use color to make a statement.  And, the answer is a resounding yes.  This one is also quilted very densely and it makes it heavy.

And, then I wanted to start working in whole cloth.  I love a beautifully quilted whole cloth quilt and at one time, thought I would give up piecing and only work in whole cloth.  I'm so glad I re-thought that. 

This is made of a plastic template that I bought in a fabric store.  I traced it on the fabric and then quilted it, and then filled in the areas around it. 

I love quilting and am looking forward to the show.  Someone else made Radiate in the same size and it's in the same category; one person small.  But, it's in darker civil war fabrics.  It's also beautiful and perfectly pieced.  I hope that the quilting gives Radiate an advantage. 

The judges are going through the show today.  Wish I was a fly on the wall.

Everybody have a great Wednesday!  Lane


How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, practice, practice.  (I think I might have used that blog title before)

And, while I still cannot play the piano, I have spent much more time practicing my quilting and fabric choices.  Cuz, you're about to see some horrors.  Prepare yourself.  Take off your glasses, turn down the brightness on your monitor.  Save your eyes! 

This is the best of them.  I'm actually pretty happy with this quilt.  I was too cheap uhm, frugal to buy the kimono pattern, so I drafted one.  My mentor taught me to draft so I could alter the size of blocks.  But, I've used it for all kind of things, including drafting original blocks. 

The fabrics were given to me and are supposed to be original Japanese cotton kimono fabrics.  But, you know how given and supposed to work together, right?  You never know the actual origin. 

There's a replica of this quilt on permanent display in an office (from some old ambition to publicly display my quilts) that is the same, except the kimonos all have reds in their prints. 

This is one of the first quilts I made.  I made two, one for my Mom in lap size and this one that I've kept as a reminder.  In the beginning, it was hard to let quilts go, so smaller replicas were a way I could give one, and still keep at least a part of it.

Cover your eyes!

When Sydney came to live here, I wanted to teach her to quilt.  I made the common parental mistake of wanting her to learn, instead of create (parents beware!  if you want you children to craft with you, then let them do it in their own way.  Right and wrong are for later, when you're grown and don't know better.)  Sydney's top never got finished and is in my studio closet as a UFO.  She agreed that I could finish it and donate it, but I think I'm not going to give it away.  Too many memories in it.

She chose three shades of blue for hers.  I chose this background print, and then matched contrasting fabrics to the most obscure shades in the print.  It's never looked great, but it spent many years hanging in front of our fireplace, as a fireplace screen. 

Okay, so now you know three more of my secrets.  If you're an experienced quilter, I hope you're sharing my laughs.  If you're a new quilter or a wannabe quilter, then I hope you're seeing that you're not going to pick up fabric and thread and make Radiate.  You're gonna make some ugly before you get to beautiful.  Slow down and enjoy it. 



Early work and shopping

All my labels are made.  All my quilt bags are made and labeled.  And, all the muslin covers for my labels are made and sewn on.  One of the quilts had been rolled on a noodle for almost a year.  We hung it, but it had a "wave" where the noodle had curved and one side had gotten stretched a little, so I spritzed it good and pinned it to the floor nice and tight and blocked that wave right out.  When I took it up and hung it again, it hangs flat, like it's supposed to.  Beautiful! 

I mentioned last week that I would try to post some of my early work this week.  My earliest work was all machine pieced and hand quilted.  That's the way I thought it should be done.  It's the way my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother made quilts.  It's the way things were.   

But, later, I decided it was okay to machine quilt.  And, I've done some beautiful work and some of it is going to be judged this week.  But, before that, I did simple outline quilting.  That's how I learned to control the fabric in the machine and how I learned to quilt with a walking foot. 

This was the first kit quilt I ever made.  This is long ago (and unlabeled).  I remember being so excited about ordering the kit...and how disappointed I was when it got here.  I ordered the kit from Connecting Threads based on a picture in one of their booklets.  When the kit got here, there were these beautiful batiks, which were all the rage at the time, tho they seem to have cooled a bit now, and the instructions for how to cut the fabrics and make the sections.  But, nothing to tell me which fabric went where.  And, I wanted to make exactly the quilt from the picture. 

That's when I learned that there's more to quilting than reproducing the pretty pictures.  There's art to it as well.  And, for all the messes and mistakes in this little, simple kit, there's also a beginning to the art that would become my quilting. 

This one came in the same envelope.  This one was for Rob.  It's called Mola Lizard and I think was supposed to be part of a series, but this is the only one we bought. 

This one has hung in our room, since it was made.  Far from perfect.  Very far.  My first raw edge fusible applique, which is harder than people make it sound.  Again, batiks in bold colors.  The only thing I would do differently now would be the color of the lizard itself.  I would have used more of a light olive than that mottled blue and yellow. The blue and yellow don't read as a color and I think the lizard should have been its own color. 

I don't buy many kits anymore, although I can't resist a good pattern.  I learned that I could pick fabrics as well as any kit designer (better than some).  And, when I pick the fabrics, good or bad, it's a reflection of me and how I see the quilt.  The owner of my LQS thinks I only make dark quilts...boy is she going to be surprised at the show this year. 

Chapter 2:  polyester, Polyester, POLYESTER

Remember that I was shopping for dress slacks this weekend.  We went to some of Austin's nicer clothing stores...I thought.  I was disappointed at the first.  I actually left the second store feeling angry.  75% polyester, 20% lycrose, 5% spandex is NOT what you make dress slacks out of.  Someone please tell the buyer at Nordstrom...it might explain why they were at the Nordstrom clearance store???  Because everybody knows that's not dress slacks and nobody is going to pay $175 for them, or even $75 on clearance.  They looked and felt like those slinky spandex yoga pants and I wouldn't be caught dead, sweating in them outside a gym.  So, after the second store, I looked at Rob and said "I want to go to Goodwill.  Not our local one.  I want to go to the one in the really nice downtown Austin neighborhood."  And, I got 2 pair of lovely, lined, wool slacks, one in grey and one in blue and 5 shirts and a Keurig K cut coffee maker for $97, cuz that's how we roll. 

I came home and re-hemmed them, because I know how to do that.  And I washed them in Woolite and hung them to dry, because I know how to do that.  And I'm going to do my own steam ironing to put the creases back in.  Because I know how to do that, too.  So there, polyester clothes designers!

Class is not the same thing as fad.

Oh, and to the people that buy those polyester clothes; grow up and buy a damn iron. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  I wanted to spend time quilting, but unfortunately, we are hunting a bad smell that really became prevalent last week when the humidity was 127% and lifting a finger caused a sweat.  We had just cleaned the carpets.  This weekend, we washed the dogs.  Then, we washed the cushions off the chair that one of the dogs lays in all the time.  We keep it covered with a quilt and wash the quilt regularly, but we needed to get deeper than that.  And, we will keep cleaning.  Until we find and eliminate it.  Because we know how to do that, too.



My job is getting in the way of my quilting...not cool!

Well, it's four days and 7 hours until quilts have to be turned in for the Austin Area Quilt Guild show next week.  If you're close enough, it's a great show.  This guild has lots of very talented quilters and I can't wait to see what my friends have entered. 

And, this is the least prepared I've ever been.  I know, I know, it's not like I'm still quilting an entry, or sewing down a binding.  I feel for the quilters that are.  But, I'm still not ready.  I still have one quilt to finish, and three to attach, and three name/address/phone number labels to sew on.  And, then I have to whipstitch muslin over my quilt labels so the judges can't see who made them.  Like they'd know me.  And, if they do know me, they'd probably be able to pick my quilts out without labels.

Ya' know?  I bet you're as tired of hearing me talk about labels as I am making them.  In two years, somebody remind me that a label written with a sharpie is good enough.

Work has been crazy.  In addition to my regular stuff, it's time for my boss's annual review and he's got us scrambling to collect all the data he needs to present.  So, that's keeping everyone busy.   At lunch, I'm reviewing patterns.  I've turned in the first one, which was a very long and complex quilt and I think I gave some really good feedback.  Little tips that can be explained in few words that I think will make it easier for a less experienced quilter.  And, yesterday, I started a second one.  Fortunately, it's a simpler quilt with fewer steps.   But, just as much math and measurement.  For this one, I'm going to make two blocks and sew them together so I can check for a bulky seam. 

Oh, yay.  Another thing to do tomorrow.  I'm so lucky that I never have to worry about being bored.

That poem about April showers and May flowers works in August and September too, and the garden is swelling and filling in and a few hot summer bloomers are really going at it.  Here are a couple of the most beautiful flowers.  But, there are other, smaller flowers, hidden in the background, and even if there weren't, I love all the shades of green and different leaf shapes, combined, like a quilt. 

My gardening has developed a lot like my quilting.  My early gardens were mayhem of plants I liked, all mixed together with no plan.  Now, there is structure and variety of leaves is more spread out and colors are mixed better. 

My early quilts were mayhem.  Believe me, I just refolded them all.  I know exactly what they look like compared to my more recent work.  Maybe, next week, in honor of the quilt show, I'll show some of those early quilts.  That might be a fun way to anticipate my current work being judged.  Get a chance to talk about how far I've come. 

Everybody have a great weekend.  I have to buy a good pair of slacks.  I haven't bought a good pair of slacks in so long, I don't even know where to go.  When I woke up this morning, I thought of this one guy that I pass in the hall almost every day.  I always think what a sharp and conservative dresser he is, much like my style.  I think I'm going to ask him where he buys his clothes.  Should I precede that with some football talk, maybe, to make it sound a little less...well, gay?  Men don't talk about clothes.  Not with strangers anyway. 

I guess if he's someone I pass every day and give that man nod of hello, maybe we're not strangers? 

Wish me sharp needles and luck keeping up with my thimble.  I'm going to be doing a lot of hand sewing this weekend.  



Keeping Secrets

I've been keeping a secret.  Not a big secret.  Just a little secret that's really big to me.  When I took the Tree Farm quilt class from Edyta Sitar, I accidentally got a little ahead of the class.  I didn't mean to, and am not quite sure how it happened because I was paying really close attention, and then I suddenly realized I was a step ahead.  But, it gave Edyta the chance to watch me work from a pattern, without her explanation, and I was successful.  And, it must have impressed her because she invited me to review new patterns for her, after they're written, but before they are published.  It's not the first time I've been asked to do something like that, but it's never worked out before, so I decided to keep it secret in case it didn't work out this time.  And, I waited.  And, waited.  And, she and I exchanged emails a couple of times while she made sure I was still interested.  And, on Saturday, she sent me a new, unpublished pattern to review. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but WOOO-EEEEEE and YIPPY-CAY-EH!

I made sure she knew I didn't know what I was doing.  And, when she asked me how much I'd charge, I said this time, I'd do it for an early copy of the pattern (and asked how much most people charge her, which was a reasonable amount that I will likely ask for next time because this is NOT easy work).  First, it's a beautiful pattern and I can hardly wait to make the quilt, so a pleasure to read through it really fast.  And, realize it's a pretty complicated pattern.  And, then start reading with my pen, making suggestions, not for how to make the quilt, but for how to describe the steps.  If I was a quilt maker, what would have made this pattern easier to follow.  So, that's what I've been working on.  I've found that I can only read for about an hour and a half before I have to take a break and come back at it with fresh eyes. 

So, that's my secret.  And, I'm pretty excited about it. 

I also worked on the hexie quilt during TV time.  I've created the brown border sections and am adding them to the quilt.  It's a little "drab" now and I'm hoping the next round, which is blue and a pale orange will spice it up a little.  It better.  This thing has taken forever and I'd hate to finish it and decide it's "dull"!

The rest of the weekend was just hum-drum (it's hard for chores to measure up to what else I was doing, right?)  Remember that we found a leak in the kitchen faucet when we installed the dishwasher, so we replaced that, and promptly found out we also had a leak in the water filter faucet, so another trip to the hardware store to get a new one of those.  And, I continued cleaning. 

I'll show you something I don't show often.  It's not usually suitable for sharing, but right now, at least half of it is I've been re-folding and re-stacking and moving things around and getting rid of a LOT of stuff. 

There's still a lot to do.  I've only worked on one side.  But, I'm getting there. 

But, I gotta also tell you, I'm over this cleaning stuff.  I'm ready to spend whole days at the sewing machine, like I used to.  I miss it.

Everybody have a great Monday!  I hope you and your family are safe after the bad weather and flooding of the last few days.  I know it's been raining here so long that the mosquitoes are thick as thieves and the yard is full of mushrooms, which we almost never get.  We had a small roof leak in the greenhouse and it flooded out a plant, but so far, that's the worst damage we've had.  And, we ARE counting ourselves lucky! 



Still making labels, still cleaning house

The weekend was spent continuing to clean out our house.  I don't know if it was losing Linda or what, but we are both in a mood to let things go.  And, out they have gone.  I didn't fill another truck, but I did make a very large dent in what I have.  And, I started moving things into spaces I had cleared, freeing up space for me to access and clear out other things.  One of the things I did was have a "re-folding" day for all my quilts.  I try to do this every year, but this time, it's been nearly two years and I was starting to feel guilty about it.  We all know that folding quilts put stress on the fold lines.  If you look at the beautiful quilts our fore-quilters made, you can see the evidence of this damage in worn fabric along distinct lines.  And, I'm doing my best to not let that happen to my work and to keep my vintage quilt collection from suffering more damage.  So, one year, I'll fold them in half lengthwise, then in half, then in thirds.  The next year, I might fold them widthwise first, or in thirds and thirds and half.  Anything to fold them differently from one year to the next.  Are you ready?  This is my body of work, other than what is on display, and my vintage quilt collection. 

Absurd, right?  All the quilts on the right were made by me.  On the left, the top 4 bedsize quilts were made by me (and there are two more on our beds).  The rest are vintage quilts I have bought or inherited.  The very top has my silk whole cloth quilts, rolled on muslin covered pool noodles and in custom storage bags. 

I do my best not to let the quilts touch the oak of this armoire because wood and paper are not good for fabric, over the long run.  But, my grandmother stored her quilts in an armoire, with no protection, and they were still in good enough shape that we have slept under several of them. 

I was also making labels for the quilt show. 

I got this one attached.  I don't know why I covered my name.  I had one block left over after I made the quilt.  Not sure if there were intended to be 13 or some other number and 13 is what made it to me.  Maybe the manufacturer of this kit knew an extra block would come in handy, in case there were mistakes.  (Or, I needed a label.) 

That label is on the back of this quilt, made of the other 12 blocks.  This quilt is entered in the kit quilt category. 

And, I got this label made, but not attached to the quilt yet. 

It goes on this quilt. 

I do like a nice label on something I'm entering in a show.  And, I'm getting better and better at free motion machine embroidery.  But, I go through a ton of work to first write things out neatly on paper, then transfer that with a wash out pen to fabric, then attach a stabilizer and do the machine work and tear the stabilizer away and snip all the connecting threads.  But, it's worth it, don't you think? 

I'll get that label attached and get a simpler one that I made with a sharpie attached to the bag it has to be delivered in and that will be another one, ready to go.  There is one quilt left to label.  I may be attaching labels on the day they have to be dropped at the quilt show.  That's not so bad.  I once saw a lady volunteering at the show, sewing the last stitches into a binding of one she entered, at the venue where it needed to be entered.  So I guess I'm ahead of that curve.  

Friday was a really good Lane day at work.  I needed it.  On Wednesday, I found out my boss had tossed me under the bus by taking a project I spent months on, killing it, then the resubmitting it under his name.  The rat.  This is nothing new.  It's who he is and I know I have to protect myself.   And, it was no big deal.  I got even by circumventing him on Friday and taking a big project to his boss, without telling him until it was done.  I asked her to send the announcement, basically letting her take credit for my work.  Instead of him.  And, his boss is new, so I don't think she had mentioned it to him.  Ha-ha!  Two can play that game. 

BTW, his boss loved it, and since it was our first interaction, that will hopefully cement my name in her mind as a real team player, something my boss is never accused of. 

It's really not all that big a deal.  Just the petty interactions between me and someone that is way more petty than I've ever been.  And, eventually, he'll figure out how to tape his name on this new project, too.  But, at least someone knows it was done and that I was the one that done it.

I forgot to mention, we also cleaned carpet in Syd's room.  It took it's own designated day.  And, I got that mascara stain out!  But, the water that came out of that carpet was more like mud than water.  Gooness gracious! 

Everybody have a great Monday!  I'm off to see what other trouble I can get into.  What intrigues can I entertain myself with?  And, how can I stay out from under that damn bus?



Rent and return

Sometimes it feels like we go to Goodwill, find something wonderful, buy it for a couple dollars, enjoy it a couple years, then send it back.  It's like our own rent and return policy.  Because I didn't pay a fortune for it, I don't mind seeing it go. 

I took Thursday and Friday off last week for a little decompression.  It didn't work out well because I was so stressed yesterday by people not doing their part in storm watching and reacting for the company that I was a wreck by the end of the day.  And, I'm pretty sure that's why I didn't sleep well last night. 

But, on Thursday and Friday, I was going through my stuff, culling out the things that needed to be returned to Goodwill.  And, a whole bunch of new stuff that needed to go to Goodwill.  And, an even bigger bunch of stuff that needed to go into the trash.  I think that was our fifth truck load of stuff to Goodwill this summer.  It's starting to feel really good and there's room to move around now.  And, I'm working on that "a place for everything and everything in its place." (but I have a long way to go yet.)  Mostly the garage is Rob's space and has all his woodworking tools but I've cleaned up my corner, where my cutting table and ironing board and sewing machine repair station are, which freed space for other things that needed to be stored out there. 

On Saturday, we cleaned carpets.  That was a lot of work, but it needed to be done.  Like I said last week, we are catching up on several weeks of special projects.  Carpet cleaning was just another of those.  Sunday was our regular chores, which should have left Monday to rest and relax...except Mother Nature (and some inconsiderate co-workers) had a different plan for me. 

But, amongst all that, I did find a little time to quilt.  I got the center of the garden quilt finished. 

I took Rebecca Grace's suggestion and instead of filling in empty space with a full frond, which ended up standing out more than I wanted it too and looked a little like I'd been diddling to fill space,  I added individual leaves to fill some of those spaces.  Sometimes, it would be a space for one or two or maybe four, but it filled the space without standing out.  Now, I'm trying to figure out exactly how to fill that outer border, but so far, none of my ideas have appealed to me.  It's time to sit with paper and pencil and see what I can draw, because if I can draw it, I can quilt it.  For the most part anyway.

Yesterday, I was able to devote some time to relabeling my quilts for the show this year.  I've renamed a couple of quilts with simpler names, and that meant replacing the labels and the third quilt hasn't gotten a label yet.  The show is end of this month.  I got the label for one quilt made and partially sewn on...so I've still got a long way to go because every quilt needs a label, and they'll need to be dropped off in bags, each of which will also have to have a label.  But, the bag labels are much more simple than the quilt labels which are designed to impress.  Pictures of that later. 

I was amazed while cleaning to discover how many pair of scissors I owned.  I ended up donating some to Goodwill.  They were everywhere, clearly placed so that no matter where I was sewing, I'd have a pair within arms reach.  Another thing that surprised me was sewing machine screwdrivers.  You know the ones, the larger one and the smaller.  And, even placing a pair with every sewing machine I own, I still have a pile of screwdrivers sitting here next to me.  Like coat hangers, they must reproduce in the dark.

That's enough rambling for me.  I think my brain is asleep and only giving me short bursts of idea, without any substance behind them to really write about. 

I'm tired.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  If it's the first day of your work week, I hope it starts well.  And, if your work week is already in progress, then I hope it's going swimmingly.  I may go take a short nap now that Rob has left for work.