Heading West Once Again

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In January I made a western themed quilt to auction off at a fundraiser  for our rural museum that the community here has been working on for many years.   See my last post, “Playing with Potholders” to view that quilt.  The quilt was so popular that there was quite the bidding war, so the powers that be asked if I could make another one to auction off at their next fundraiser on March 11th.  This time the fundraiser will be dinner and a dance and they are calling the event “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”.  The request was to include a covered wagon in the design, so I set out to search for covered wagon fabric.  It was nearly impossible to find.  I was only able to find one piece of antique fabric, and it just wasn’t what I wanted.  So I decided I would try an embroidered design as the centerpiece since I have an embroidery machine and  digitizing software on my computer.  Everything I tried came out too small.  I guess I could have done applique, but I am too lazy to take that on.  So I searched and searched, and I finally found the panel in the photo above at Ebay.  I just love the old west look of the panel and the composition is simply charming.  It came complete with the printed “border” of triangle squares and the wood look border.  I don’t know the manufacturer since the selvedge only has the title “Point of View” on it.

I plan on adding some sort of additional pieced border at the top and bottom and then adding blocks that I will embroider with a covered wagon, a stagecoach, a ranch scene, a town scene that I purchased and perhaps some cattle and/or horses, then some additional borders..  I haven’t decided exactly what will look right yet, but I need to get a move on since March 11 is right around the corner.

This next photo is the fabric choices that I have to use in the rest of the quilt.  You can see the covered wagon embroidery that I experimented with lying on top of the fabric I intended to use as the backdrop for the embroidery.  I thought it had a nice prairie look to it.  I might also design some additional detail to go into the embroidery design like mountains or something.  Anyway, I was really excited to find the wagon wheel fabric right in front on our trip to town yesterday.

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Time to get my creative juices flowing and get this quilt done.

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Playing with potholders

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Sadly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to quilt lately because I have a lot of end of/beginning of the year responsibilities, including duties as the volunteer bookkeeper for my church, personal income tax stuff to gather for our accountant, 24 fruit trees and around 60 rosebushes to prune!  I have no idea why I decided to plant so many rose bushes, but they are certainly lovely when they are in bloom.  Besides, I have really been at one of those seasons that I’m sure most quilters have where you just feel dry and uninspired. So, I have tackled only a few small projects in the last couple of months.

I found the pattern and instructions for these really cute butterfly potholders above in one of my favorite quilt stores.  The pattern is “Flutterby Pot Holders” by Valori Wells.  Since I needed some items to add to my quilt guild’s monthly raffle basket, I decided these would be a nice addition.  Besides, it gave me another opportunity to use up  a few scraps out of the ever overflowing scrap bins.  They were really fun and pretty easy to make.  I most enjoyed the design opportunities of picking just the right fabrics.  And of course, as always I learned something in the process.  This time I learned the reason to clip you curves before you turn something right side out through a very small opening.  I totally forgot to do that on the purple and orange butterfly, and you can see that the tail and the top of the “head” aren’t nearly as nicely defined as on the peacock butterfly.  But it was so difficult to turn these right side out, that I wasn’t about to fix the mistake.  We’ll just call this, not a mistake, but a variation.

The next set of potholders I decided to make were inspired by a saying I spotted in a magazine.  This Sunday, our pastor is away with the youth group up at a Christian snow camp in the High Sierras, so one of our Elders will be in charge of the service.  He has decided he wants to do an old fashioned Bible quiz, and asked me to figure out small prizes to give out.  Why does everyone seem to think that I am the answerer of all questions?   I don’t know, but I put my thinking cap on, and came up with these potholders.

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Again, using scraps out of the overflowing bins, the one on the left is a raw edge applique technique that I’ve used a couple of times to make entire quilts.  It’s a lot of fun to make and pretty easy.  As a matter of fact, I was asked to teach the technique to the kids during our summer learn to quilt classes at our little rural Hall.  At that time, instead of making an entire quilt, we thought it would be fun for the kids to make them into potholders and did it as a quilt as you go project since the applique technique really lends itself to doing that.

The things I learned doing this project is how to use my digitizing software to make the lettering curve around the design on the blue potholder.  I’ve had my digitizing software for around 17 years, and I am really just now learning how to do more than simple lettering.  The other thing I learned is the tool I use for joining the ends of my binding, The Binding Tool by TQM Products, doesn’t work very well on such small projects since you have to leave a 12 inch opening to manipulate your binding and trim it just the right way.  The largest side of the potholder on the right was only 11 1/2 inches, so that idea was out.  I used my old, far inferior way of joining binding, which involved tucking the last end into the first end which is ironed at the correct angle….very bulky, and it shows at the top right.  But it looked okay, so I let it go.  On the blue potholder, I learned how to adjust the tool, and got it to line up really closely.  The binding, once joined, was about a 16th of an inch too long, so I took up the excess by reworking the nearest corner.  I think it came out much better.

The last project I’ve gotten done recently was this quilt that I made specifically to donate for the silent auction to benefit the rural museum that some of the local residents have been working on getting up and running for many years to preserve the history of our area.  So far they have one building up filled with items on display as well as a couple dozen vintage farm apparatus.  When driving by quickly, the outdoor display kind of reminds me of scenes from Star Wars so bizarre looking is some of the equipment.

Anyway, here is the quilt, which I named “Riding Till the Cows Come Home” since the back it a print of cattle milling about, doing what cows do.

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The learning experience on this one was adapting a pattern that I’ve used before, Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilt Designs, Debbie Maddy designer.  I absolutely love the interwoven effect. Here is how the original pattern looks:

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The bidding was hot and heavy and the quilt was the most popular item donated.  Now they’ve asked me to make a quilt for the next fundraiser in March.  I think I’ve created a monster.  But I don’t mind because I really do love quilting.  The biggest challenge is they hoped I would do one with a covered wagon somewhere on it.  I looked on line and the only fabric I could find was an expensive piece of vintage fabric.  I think they are just going to have to take what they get.  I’m sure as soon as I’m done, a lot of fabric lines will come out with covered wagons.  It always happens.

The Cow Whisperer

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Well, we have had quite the adventure over the weekend.  Kind of a long story, but here it is.  We live in a very rural area on what some people might call a “Gentleman’s Ranch”.  In other words, we have 17 acres to give us a buffer between the neighbors, who we love for the most part, but don’t want to live in their pocket and to know every time they have a marital spat.  We also enjoy the country lifestyle, but that comes with its own set of challenges.  For instance, our only choice for things like Internet service or television is to choose a satellite-based company.  A couple of months ago, my wonderful husband was accosted by a TV satellite provider while we were shopping at Costco (another challenge…the nearest Costco being a 60-mile one way trip).  He succumbed to their sales pitch, and shortly thereafter we had changed over from our previous provider, who we were really pretty happy with, but we had older equipment that didn’t have the latest bells and whistles.  Just a week or so before the final NFL playoff games that occurred on, Sunday, we lost the channel that the playoffs were going to be shown on due to negotiation issues with our provider and the channel.  This really upset dear hubby because he is a big football fan.  So we shopped around among our local friends to see who had our old TV provider, and turns out our pastor did.  So we invited ourselves over for football Sunday afternoon and evening.  Since I am not interested at all in football, the pastor’s wife invited me to bring my sewing machine.  She and her daughters have learned to quilt in the last few years, so we were going to quilt while the guys watched football.  Of course we never actually did, because we didn’t want to clear the vast array of yummy snacks off the dining room/quilting table.  Hey, some things DO take priority over quilting occasionally.  Now the pastor and his family live at the back of beyond that makes our rural area look like a big city by comparison.  One has to drive several miles up a couple of dirt “roads”, which were a bit rough, to say the least, since our normally dry area has had nearly 8 inches of rain in January, and they have had over 13 inches being up in the hills, and of course the heaviest rain day this last week happened on Sunday.  Our average annual rainfall is in the 16 inch area, but we have had much less in the last few years because of the much-talked about California drought that has occurred. Since they are so far back, there is absolutely no cell phone service at their house, so we just turn our phones off to save the batteries.

Now another little detail you need to know is we raise a couple of steers every few years to provide our own organically grown, grass fed beef as well as brush control for our pasture since we live in danger of wildfires.  We buy our young steers from a nearby friend named Lester who is a memer of one of the founding families of this area and grew up on and now runs the family’s cattle ranch.  In fact, since he lives less than a mile away, we consider him one of our next door neighbors since that’s the way we measure these things out in the country.  We’ve had these steers for less than a year, and it takes 18 months to two years to bring them up to “harvest” weight ( okay, I grew up as a city girl and can’t bring myself to talk about what really happens.   I call it going to the big freezer in the sky).  We always name our steers Yummy and Delicious.  We are on Yummy and Delicious No. 4 at the present time.  The photo below is one of our previous Yummys and is taken looking to the East towards our neighbor’s fall-painted vineyard.

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We enjoyed our visit with the pastor and his family, even though evidently the wrong teams won, and headed home in the pouring rain around 7 P.M.  When we got back to the valley we live in, I turned my cell phone back on and found I had two voice mails.  Both of them were from a friend and neighbor that lives on the road behind us and down a mile or so.  Directly behind us is an abandoned 20 acre parcel that divides our property from that road and runs all along the south side of our pasture.  The first message was that she was driving East and had seen that what she thought was our pasture fence was down in the corner and our steers were standing just inside.  The second message was that she was headed back home and that the steers were now on the road.  Both messages were left between 4:30 and 5, so by the time we got it, it had been nearly 3 hours.  It was really kind of terrifying because the road to the north of our property is a very busy highway that is separated from our property by a 7 acre empty parcel and we were very concerned that our cattle would get out on that road and someone could get killed if they ran into a 900 pound black cow on a dark, rainy night.  So I immediately called in prayer support, and called over to Lester’s house to see if they would help us look for the cattle.  Lester was already sound asleep, but his wife said she would go out and look around to see if she could find anything near their property, but didn’t sound encouraging, saying that they had probably bedded down somewhere for the night and it would be impossible to see them in the dark.  But she said that we would probably find them nearby in the morning because they don’t tend to wander too far from their home territory.  In the meantime I was in contact with the neighbor that had seen them to get more details, and she and her husband then joined us in the search.  They showed us where the fence was down, which was really the fence for the property behind ours, and my husband had checked our fence and only found an area where the wire was loose, but not really down.  And then we found more hoof prints across the road in the mud and then lost all track of prints or clues to where they might have gone, driving up and down and checking every property that had an open gate and a driveway that wasn’t paved.  Keep in mind that it is still raining and my husband is just recovering from pneumonia.  After about an hour and a half, we had to give up for the night.

After a nearly sleepless night imagining all the awful things that could happen, we were up before dawn, and hit the road again. I called the pastor and woke him up at 6 AM since he’d offered to come help.  (He is still taking my calls after that, by the way, modeling forgiveness.) Lester and his wife were also out in their truck looking, and when I ran into them they said they thought they had spotted the runaways up a dirt road that leads to our immediate neighbor to the west. They were going to the main busy road  to see if they could see better from that angle.  I was in my passenger car and didn’t want to get stuck in the mud, so I called hubby with his 4-wheel drive truck to come drive up the muddy dirt road and check it out, and sure enough, they were in our neighbor’s pasture.  There is a vacant 20 acre parcel between us and that neighbor plus some large trees, so we can’t see his pasture from our property. We didn’t actually know the neighbors over that way, so there was no one we could call on the phone to check with.  Well, we know them now. The relief and thankfulness to God we felt was indescribable.

Lester went to get one of his cattle trailers, but said he had no idea how we were going to herd them into it.  But we had a surprise for Lester.  We have always spoiled our “boys” by offering them stale bread and excess, not quite human consumption worthy produce from our garden.  And we have trained them to come get these goodies by calling, “Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.”  Even if they are at the far side of the pasture, they will come running to see who can get there first.  They will even let us scratch their foreheads a little (but they won’t let us give them belly rubs like we used to do to our dogs). Lester absolutely scoffed at the notion, but hubby came prepared with a bucket of stale bread.  He went into the pasture with it, and started offering it to the boys, calling like we always do, trying to coax them into the lane leading to the trailer.  We had four people besides my husband standing by and our truck blocking one end of the lane with the trailer parked and ready at the other end.  Sure enough, and to Lester’s amazement, hubby coaxed the boys out into the lane.  The hardest part was getting them to go past the huge puddle in the middle of the lane, but once he accomplished that, it was a clear shot into the back of the trailer.  He backed right up into the trailer and first Yummy and then Delicious followed him in.  And we slammed the trailer door shut behind them. The rest of us had been following behind carrying a large beam that was laying around so that if they turned around, there was no where to go.  Lester let hubby out the small walk-through door at the front side of the trailer and then the life-long cattleman said, “I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.”

Here’s a photo I captured with my phone while they were following hubby like the pied piper towards the trailer.  The neighbor’s horse to the right seemed very interested in the proceedings. cow-whisperer-cropped-close

So now my husband is not only my Quilter’s Support Staff, he is also the Cow Whisperer.  After we got them safely delivered back into their home pasture, hubby, the pastor and myself went to check out the section of fencing where it was suspected they had escaped through.  They had indeed pushed the staples holding the lower hog wire part of the fence (the upper portion being barbed wire) out. They had evidently been pushing it for some time, nibbling at a buckwheat bush growing on the other side, and it finally let loose enough for them to just step through.  I guess the bush on the other side of the fence is always greener, to paraphrase the old adage.  The fence is now repaired and strengthened and the bush totally removed to avoid further temptation.  Of course, it started raining lightly and continued until the repairs were complete, and then it broke out in blue skies.  Timing is everything, which was proven by the weather first thing this morning.  If this all had happened starting on Monday instead of Sunday, we would have woken up socked in by the thick fog this morning which would have prevented us from spotting our runaways from a distance like we were able to do yesterday.  If it had to happen, I am grateful to God that it happened when it did instead of a day later, plus, now we know another neighbor.

 

Self-imposed Challenge

I have been MIA from my blog for several months now, not because I have lost interest in quilting or blogging, but because I’ve been too busy quilting and living life.  I had a serious bout of illness in late November where I was laid low for about three weeks, and the illness included some sort of horrible virus that morphed into a bacterial infection, the double whammy of pink eye in both eyes, and a torn retina that needed to be repaired by laser surgery during the peak of my illness including a horrible cough that I had to try to control during the laser surgery so that I didn’t move my eye the wrong way.  I describe the procedure as “spot welding” my retina. It was one of those “Lord, just take me home now” periods of life.   In early November, I also took off for 5 days to my quilt guild’s annual retreat, which was a wonderful time.  I have also had three root canal procedures done in the last six weeks, one of which resulted in a pulled tooth, so now I “get” to go for an implant. In the meantime, I soldier on making quilts.

I have challenged myself to use up as much as my stash as I can in order to make room for some new fabrics.  Some of the fabrics in my stash cupboard are ten years old.  With that in mind, for the retreat, I decided to embark on a complicated bargello style quilt.  I had taken a class in how to make a bargello several years ago and ended up with a lovely, but simple quilt with all the columns being a uniform size.  I have always wanted to make a more complicated one, so I dug through my stash and cut 180 strips of fabric.  I used the book by Ruth Ann Berry, Bargello Quilts In Motion.  She includes in her book easy to use charts on how to make each column.  Here is the quilt that I made.

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I wish I had a little larger sewing room so that I could take complete photos of floor to ceiling quilts like this one is.  I only got about half of the columns assembled during the retreat and then I sewed them into pairs to make it easier to cart home.  This was a mistake.  When I got the next few columns up on the design wall at home, I noticed that I had put a couple of columns together with some sections inserted upside down, so the design didn’t flow like it was supposed to and had to get out my trusty seam ripper.  So if you embark on a project like this, be sure to have all your columns complete and up on the design wall before you start attaching them to one another.  Because this quilt has columns ranging from 1 inch cut size to 2 3/4 inch cut size, another thing that I learned is that it is essential that you iron meticulously before you try to quilt on a longarm machine.  The quilt just kind of folded up on itself like an accordian when I pinned the bottom to the longarm leader and I had to remove it, iron and start all over.  I also liberally used Best Press to get everything to lay down properly.  I prefer Best Press to starch because it doesn’t make the quilt stiff and I don’t like to wash my quilts unless absolutely necessary. My friend who longarms professionally belatedly suggested that you can stay stitch the top and bottom of the quilt if you don’t have a border.  This is the only quilt I have ever made without a border.

The last lesson is when you are ironing your seams, start in the middle and iron the left side to the left and the right side to the right so that when you smooth the top while rolling it on the frame, you don’t have flipped seams all over the place.  One of the great tips that Ruth Ann includes in her book is to pencil in the column number on the top piece of the column to help keep everything in order.  This worked better than pinning a number on, which tends to fall off at the most inopportune times.

Well, it’s done now and I am thrilled with the result.  It was just what I wanted and I only bought a yard each of two different fabrics to get the color gradient that I was looking for.  I even used a  couple of large yardage pieces out of my stash to make the back!  Someone at the quilt retreat thought the beginnings of the quilt looked like the Richter scale that measures earthquakes (you can tell we are in California) so I named it 7.2.

During the last few months, there has also been a flurry of grandbabies born and to be born in my circle of friends, so I have been working on baby quilts.  Both of these two were made entirely from my stash once again.  I utilized a couple of adorable panels that I had purchased some time ago because I just can’t resist a cute piece of fabric.

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I called this one Fairy Sweet.

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This one is called How Much is That Doggie In The Window.  Here is a close up.021

The grandparents are crazy about dogs just as I am.

Ten days or so before Christmas, I received a frantic phone call from a friend who wanted to know if I had a quilt I was willing to sell her for a gift for her mother-in-law.  I told her I didn’t, but that I could make her a really simple one in time for Christmas and emailed her photos of a couple of others I had made in the lasanga or noodle method, which goes really fast.  She loved them, picked out her colors, and in about 5 days, I had this one completed, also using nothing but stash fabrics.  Fortunately, she wanted florals which I always have tons of because I love flowers. 009

This one is named Rows Garden. The only reason I was able to get it bound in that time frame is I used the binding technique that my sister-in-law, stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com turned me onto.  It’s totally done by machine, and you end up with a little flange of accent color on the front of the quilt.  If you look closely at the close-up of Doggie In The Window, you can see the beige accent separating the wood grain binding from the edge of the quilt.   This quilt has a yellow accent separating the border from the same color binding. Here is a link where you can find a tutorial on how it is done. http://www.freequiltpatterns.info/free-tutorial—susies-magic-binding.htm  .  I have started using this method for all my quilts because arthritis in my fingers makes it difficult to do handwork.  Besides the accent just brightens up the whole quilt and makes it a much quicker process.

Last, but not least, I made this little quilt to donate to my quilt guild who provides comfort quilts to social services in our county which gives the quilts to children who have been traumatized in some way.  Once again, this is all fabric strictly from my stash.

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And a close-up photo of the feature fabric and you can see the gold accent separating the brown binding and border.  Just love the look.

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Thank you for taking your time to read my blog ramblings.  I hope you find something in my blog useful or entertaining and I wish you all a wonderfully blessed and prosperous New Year!

 

 

The Old Domino Game

You know how it is, you start out to do one thing, then you find you have to do three other things before you can do what you intended to do.  I had planned on getting some quilting done this afternoon, but I thought I should dig out the pattern that I promised to my friend before I totally forgot about it.   I’m sure I’m the only one that has a stack of miscellaneous paperwork in my sewing room that needs to be organized into my binders, shredded, or just tossed because they are no longer relevant.  I thought for sure that this was where the said pattern was “filed”, so I started going through it and then I thought that I should just go ahead and organize so that I don’t have to go through it again next time.  So I spent the last two hours going through, punching holes into what I wanted to keep and placing that stuff into binders.  Here is my stack after it had been sorted into categories.

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And this is the end result.

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I ended up having to add one more binder to my organizing system and I relabeled my pattern binders with the specific categories filed inside instead of just having them labeled “Patterns”.  Hopefully, that will make specific patterns easier to find.  The only problem is the pattern I wanted wasn’t in my stack!  I finally found it already filed in its own small folder placed with my quilting books.  But I am really glad to have this project done.  Some of the things in the stack were receipts from 2014.

Dog Bites Quilt Show

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Friday was our annual quilt show at the circa 1890s Hall.  Our quilt show is not judged and there is no voting on favorite quilts, but just is an opportunity to showcase local talent and vintage quilts from local residents.  It also encourages people to buy raffle tickets for the handquilted queen sized quilt that you can get a glimpse of just to the right of the doorway.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the raffle goes toward scholarships for our local young people.

As you can see, my Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger was front and center and generated interested from everyone who came by.  There was the best turn out for this event since I became involved ten years ago in the quilting group that meets at the hall to work on the scholarship quilt and various charity quilts.  The event was to open at 2 PM, but our first group came at 1 o’clock.  They were folks from out of the area who were driving by to check out the fire damage from the recent Chimney Fire that I posted about a couple of weeks ago.  They happened to see our signs out on the road, and came out of curiosity.  Of course, we welcomed them in early, and the folks continued to come on a constant stream until 7 o’clock, when we took a break for a potluck dinner and to draw for the donated door prizes for those who purchased quilt raffle tickets that day.  My assignment was to welcome people at the door, hand out programs and “white gloves” for those who wanted to pet the pretty quilts and answer any questions.  I was kept hopping the entire day.

Here is a better photo of our scholarship raffle quilt.  It is done in the Carolina Lily pattern. 007

The rest of the photos are of the quilts on display.  I hope you enjoy the photo tour.005

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The handquilting on this last one was finished while the quilter was evacuated from her home because of the fire.

Busy Bee and New Quilting Gadget Discovery

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Since I last posted, the fire that I posted photos of spread, well, like wildfire, causing our neighbors in the two communities immediately south of us to be evacuated.  Fortunately there were no homes lost in those two areas, but the fire burned right up to many of the homes.  The community even further south, on the other side of Lake Nacimiento where the fire started, lost 49 homes.  My prayers go out to those poor people.  My pastor, who is a volunteer firefighter with our local department, his wife and 15 year old daughter opted to not evacuate their home, but brought their youngest daughter and horses to my community to stay at a friend’s ranch.  The friend, Delani, was looking for ways to entertain her daughter, Cheyene, on the left, and the pastor’s daughter, Abigail, on the right, so I invited them all over to make a project at my house.  The pillows the girls are holding are the results of the day’s efforts.  It goes to show, when the going get’s tough, the quilters get quilting.  Both girls picked out their own fabric, and you can probably tell that they are both horse crazed.  Cheyene even competes in local rodeos.

I had been messing around with Jodi Barrows Square-in-a-Square system, which I recently purchased since I am the Queen of Quilting Gadgets, and I stumbled across Jodi’s easy way to basically make a frame around a feature fabric.  I did all the cutting, but the girls did the rest.  I think they came out really cute.  Definitely a great project to do for a gift.

I am really loving Jodi’s ruler system.  It is incredibly versatile.  I wish I had looked into it more previously.  I could have saved a lot of money on buying specialty rulers that only do one quilting component like triangle in a square, diamond in a square, flying geese and of course square in a square.  I have separate rulers for each of these, plus more!

Following my three- month adventure with my doggie art quilt which I posted about previously, I decided I wanted to do something simple.  So I made this baby quilt totally out of leftovers in my stash.

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Once again, I used the Square-in-a-Square ruler to make the pinwheels which come out already trimmed and squared up when you finish sewing them.  Love it!

I also completed this snail trail quilt using the system.  It’s been on my UFO list since I got my new ruler back in May. It was the first project I started using my new ruler for, so I was ready to be done with it.

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The four patches are made from a fall themed strip exchange that we did at last November’s quilt guild retreat.  I really wanted to make it bigger, but I ran out of the brown fabric.  I thought I had found some more of it on line and ordered it, but when it came, it was 4 shades darker than the original, so I just gave up and made the border with the green that was in my stash.  It now awaits quilting and binding.  The quilt guild meeting where it is due as my UFO for this month isn’t until Monday night, so no sweat.  Hahaha.

This coming Friday is our local quilt show at the 120 year old Hall in one of the communities that was evacuated.  It too survived the fire unscathed.  The quilt show is just a showcase for local quilters and vintage quilts made by people associated with this area.

As an ending note, the wildfire I spoke of is over and the evacuees went home last weekend.  It’s wonderful to be able to breathe smoke free air again and not have ash covering every outdoor surface.  The firefighters are heros for saving so many homes!

This and That

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Maybe I should spend a little less time quilting and a little more time making sure summer squash harvesting is getting done….Nahhh.  These guys really were hidden and totally escaped both my husband’s and my notice.  They are too heavy to wear as bracelets, but will go really well in zucchini bread.  A friend of mine also just gave me a recipe using shredded zucchini in lieu of flour for a pizza crust.  It sounded intriguing and will be worth a try.

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This is the first day of the “Chimney” fire just a few miles from our house.  It’s called the Chimney fire because it started near a landmark called Chimney Rock.  Many homes have been lost.  The fire has been burning for a week now and as of this morning has consumed 15,439 acres and is only 35% contained.  Cal Fire says that they are concerned that Hearst Castle is now threatened.  We have a lot of friends who live in the path of the fire to the north, but the fire remains on the southwest side of Lake Nacimiento at this point and hopefully won’t cross the narrows of the Nacimiento River, which is what it was threatening to do yesterday.  It seems it is moving more in a westerly direction, which is good news for most.

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In one of those good news/bad news situations, My friend and I have been making the above signature quilt for a 16 year-old girl from our church who was shot in the head twice two weeks ago.  It was a gang shooting and she was riding in a car with someone whom she shouldn’t have been with.  One of the bullets went in her eye and the other shattered her cheekbone.  Everyone in the church immediately started praying for her.  The family was told that she wouldn’t survive the first night, and if she did, she would be a vegetable.  Two days later they removed the bullets from her head and did their best to save her eyeball.  There are several bone fragments buried deep in her brain that they can’t remove without doing more damage.  The good news is the next day after the surgery, she was texting her friends and up walking around.  Because she knew sign language, the doctors tried testing her cognitive capacity by asking her to sign the alphabet.  When she did that perfectly, they asked her to sign the alphabet backwards, which she was also able to do.  It’s really a miracle.

Instead of making the traditional signature quilt, I dug out my old X-block ruler from Patricia Pepe, which I hadn’t used in several years and made the tweaked blocks seen above.   I dug through my scrap bins and stash to find the happiest fabrics we could.  We are now gathering signatures and words of encouragement for her.  Even though things are going well, it will still be a long road both physically and emotionally for her.  We wanted her to have something tangible that she could hang on to to reminder her that there are a lot of people who love her and are praying for her.

 

Creating a Dog From Scratch Can Be Ruff

Fannie Mae

I have not forgotten about blogging over the last few months, but boy, have I been busy.  In May, I flew back to Delaware to visit my east coast partner in quilting crime, my sister-in-law, Mary of stitchinggrandma fame.  We had the opportunity to go on a four day retreat with Cheryl Lynch, www.cheryllynchquilts.blogspot.com,  at her lake house in the Poconos to learn how to take a photograph of our pet and turn it into a quilt.  I don’t normally do art type quilts mainly because I like to stick with bed sized quilts and I simply don’t have any wall space to hang an art quilt.  But I am game to try anything once, and besides, I wanted to have a quilting adventure with Mary.  In addition I figured that I could make a pillow top out of the completed project.  So I sent off the above photo of our dear Rottweiler, Fannie Mae von Nubbinwagger who passed on at the ripe old age of 12 around 2003.   My first clue that this was too large for a pillow top should have been the fact that we were requested to bring a 56 inch square design wall!   Indeed, the project ended up being 56 or so inches square without borders. Cheryl had us overlay our photo with a grid overlay, and following the grid, make 2 inch squares of fabric.  Sounds easy enough; right?  Well, not quite.  On top of many of those 2 inch squares, other little pieces of fabric needed to be added to make up the details of that particular grid square.  Some of the pieces I used ended up having up to 8 additional fabrics on the little square.

Here is a photo of the end product, minus the binding which I’m still working on.
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I just love the way it came out, but was it ever a lot of work.  I have literally worked on nothing else, except for longarm quilting a quilt for a friend, since I got home just before Memorial Day.  I dreamed about this project.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I was going to achieve a particular effect that I wanted.  I emailed Cheryl and whined when things weren’t turning out the way I expected. (By the way, Cheryl is a wonderful and patient teacher.  I recommend her Pet Mosaic class if you ever have the opportunity.  We were treated like queens at her home.)  I continually asked my dear husband’s (Quilter’s Support Staff) opinion.  I remade the nose three times.  I totally redid the eyes four times.  I remade the eyebrows once.  I was worried I would make a mess of the actual quilting. I agonized over some of the fabric choices.  It was like being in labor for three months.  It was worth it, but I suspect that making art quilts will go the way of paper piecing in my mind.  Never again.  I saw, I learned, I did, I redid.  I’m done!  I am glad I did it though.  It was a real challenge and helped me develop some skills that will come in handy in other quilting projects.

Here are a couple of closeups of the quilting that wasn’t nearly as challenging as I made it out to be in my mind.  The hardest part was remembering which direction the fur on Rottweilers lays because we lost our last one 5 years or so ago so I didn’t have one to pet.

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When I quilted the nose, I couldn’t see the thread on the fabric so I ended up going over the same spot several times trying to make a pebble effect.  The pebbles came out really well on the mustache area that you can see in the last photo, though, maybe because I got so much practice on the nose?

Now that this project is done, I can go sweep the cobwebs off the walls all over the house that have been ignored for so long, and maybe I can blog a little more often.

Old Time Fun & Quilting Too

dutch oven fire

Last Saturday, our little rural community held it’s 11th annual Dutch Oven Dinner where everything from chili verde to cinnamon rolls is cooked in dutch ovens.  Well, the one exception is the homemade ice cream.  This year there were over 100 different dutch ovens going.  The cooks start preparing around noon and dinner is served around 4.  It is a fascinating process to watch.  The photo above shows some of the guys getting the charcoal ready to go.  Once the charcoal is ready, it is transferred to a metal bucket, and taken around to the cooking stations, where a few coals are placed under the dutch ovens and a few are placed on top.  The tops have a little lip all the way around that keeps the charcoal in place.  There are specialized tools to lift the lids to stir or check on the food cooking inside.  The piece of metal under each oven is a part of an old plow.dutch oven 3

This is a photo of a few of the ovens cooking away.  When the coals start disintegrating into ash, more is brought around to keep things going. It’s amazing that a half dozen pieces of charcoal is enough to thoroughly cook a dish.

The great entertainment doesn’t stop at watching the cooks at work at this event.  There are also all sorts of old time craft demonstrations.  This year there was several blacksmiths manning their forge, a couple of Native American drummers doing traditional drum chants, gold panning, and there were even two restored chuck wagons that had been set up as if they were an actual campsite.  The one in the photo below was actually used in the ’50s TV series Rawhide and belongs to one of the founding families in the area.

dutch oven chuck

Last, but in my mind, not least, for the first time, I was asked to do a quilting demonstration.  Below is a photo of my area while we were setting up.  I am in the red shirt, and the incredibly handsome gentleman in front is my wonderful husband, or as he called himself, the Quilter’s Support Staff.

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The other lady is a quilting student of mine who agreed to help out, and later in the day another lady from our local quilting group came and demonstrated hand quilting and sold raffle tickets for the hand quilted scholarship quilt that our group made.  My intention was to demonstrate the versatility of half-square triangles.  The blocks hung on the design wall all have HSTs in them and look totally different from one another.  In reality, I ended up demonstrating how to make 4-patches and 9-patches to beginning quilters and wannabe quilters.  I was pleased to be able to encourage several people to hang in there or to look into actually taking a class.  More advanced quilters also stopped by the booth, and we had a great time discussing our passion for quilting.  My husband amazed and amused me because when I was busy with other people, he was actually using the pieces I had made to demonstrate the 4-patch to show other interested people how to make them.  He truly is the best Quilter’s Support Staff that I could have.

All the money raised at this event goes to build a rural life museum featuring the history and founding of this area. A good time had by all, and I can’t wait until next year.