April 30, 2010

Quilting Choices

After a somewhat distracting morning yesterday. More about that some other time---  I loaded two layers of fleece on the long arm. I've been wanting to quilt Dawn Rameriz "Wonky-feathers" and this seemed like a perfect palette. Fleece is so forgiving.  I've been practicing these on paper for awhile.  If you machine quilt---and don't have Dawn's DVD  "PajamaQuilter Reloaded". Please consider it for your learning library.  I'm not affiliated,  but I refer to Dawn's instructions and designs over and over again.  That is what's so great about DVD's. The instructor is always available!

This fleece quilt is for a friend who requested this color. I bought the fleece at JoAnn's  last month on clearance.   2-1/4 yards top and backing. The fringe is 4" inches long. 

I have another fleece quilt ready to load on the long arm today.  It's a fleece panel of an Iris---or is that an Orchid? Hmmm---- Unusual & Fun!

I really like quilting on these watercolor type free form designs. It's interesting outlining the leaves, flower petals and embellishing the various elements with quilting.   Stay tuned!

I ordered the new Electric Quilt 7 upgrade today! Not that I really play much with EQ6 ---but the new 7 version looks way more interesting.  Sort of verging on a photo editing program don't you think? I feel that's probably the real appeal to me.   Plus I find it's cheaper to buy upgrades each time they come out than to buy a totally new EQ program. So over the years since version 4 this is what I've been doing.  I wonder if this is the year I actually sit down and learn this program "well"?  Maybe---as I'm really into "learning stuff" lately. More than quilting it seems. And there is the other problem. Which should I do today? Quilt or study quilting, or read, or watch a quilting lesson on the computer, or draw, or piece a block---the list goes on, but you get the picture.  Aaaaaagh! To many choices--to little time!

April 27, 2010

Happenings on Timber Hill-Iris

Some of the Iris I planted last year are blooming!

I carefully used a black Sharpie marker to on special garden stakes but the rainy season washed all the markers clean.  I referred back to some pictures I had kept from the ebay seller I purchased these Iris rhizomes from, but this beauty is not shown.

 Don't depend on a black Sharpie to stay on your plant tags.

This is "Nora's Thrill". A dark burgundy beauty.

These are the violet blue Japanese Iris that we left in the ground where they have grown for years by the fish pond that was in this spot. The pond is gone, the iris remain.
This is a picture of the older Iris that are blooming. I don't know the name of this beauty either. 
This is what "Nora's Thrill" looks like this morning since it raining. 
And this is what happened to to the oak tree further down the slope from the Iris bed.
A huge branch broke off.  The leaves on the oaks are saturated with rain and the limbs are stressed to point of break off. More work for Bill and his trusty chain saw. Thankfully we weren't walking down this path when it happened.

Looking down the Timber Hill towards the old apple orchard. All the trees are in bloom. I took this picture a few days ago.  We should have a bumper apple crop this year. The bees are busy!

The little garden gnome came out of his tree house to see what was going on.

April 26, 2010

Design Wall Monday-Feedsack Roses

I took along a new project to the quilt retreat.  I have many UFO's I could have worked on, but like I mentioned a few months ago here---I am not worrying about what "should" be done---I just enjoy the process. No list or deadlines.

Here is what is on the design wall today.

This is a magazine pattern from "The Quilter" March 2010.
I enjoy this magazine because they generously give all the details about the pattern AND the fabric source in a highlighted box at the beginning of each pattern and article. 

April 25, 2010

Quilt Retreat

Do you "do" quilt retreats? I hope you have the opportunity, and attend a quilt retreat. I returned last Thursday afternoon from a wonderful quilt retreat I'm fortunate to attend twice a year. It's not far from our home, but it feels miles removed from the daily hustle and bustle of our lives.   These reunions are priceless. Some quilters travel long distances each year to Bishops Ranch so we can all be together to share in the embrace of this lovely place and memorable time. 

For four wonderful days that pass far too quickly we talk until the wee hours of the morning about everything to do with quilting, and of things not so quilty. We laugh until tears roll down our cheeks! We also quietly share sobering moments with each other.  We catch up with what has been happening in our lives since we were last together. The family celebrations, the trips, the quilts---ah, yes, the quilts. 

We share a lot in such a short span of time.

Pat taught how to use Solvy stabilizer and all our throw away scraps & sewing machines to make these colorful free form bowls. 

Pat showing us this technique.

We spent time exploring our favorite hiking trails and enjoying the natural and peaceful beauty of the ranch offers to us.
Looking east across the valley from Bishops Ranch.

Wisteria on the arbor.


And of course there are the inspiring quilters & quilts.


Then there is the food! There is not a retreat what we don't discuss the great food!

Or that we don't mention the animal life around the ranch.

Sue's fantastic applique bear.

Next door to the ranch is a dairy which at times can make for odorous evenings.

These are indeed the Happy Cows of California!

Even in these wonderful surroundings we managed to finish some projects. 
I hand stitched the binding onto the flannel tye-dye quilt and the string quilt. Two down.  I put the binding and the hanging sleeve on the Diamond Log Cabin. The center still does not look quite right, but after much ripping out and re stitching, I thought it best to call it finished. The fabric was starting to fray.  From a distance --- on a wall. I love it. Up-close--it's never going to be a favorite. I have inspected, dissected & re-evaluated it to death.  It is what it is.

I finished piecing two more quilt tops for the Quilts for Kids foundation and finished the quilting on the kit they sent and sewed the binding.  

This is the kit that I received. Eleanor Peace Bailey fabrics. Easy to follow instructions for making the quilt come with the precut fabrics. A fun way to learn to make a quilt if you are a beginner, and a great opportunity to practice a new machine quilting motif.

It was hard saying good bye as I headed down the road from the ranch to what I call the reality of the world. Traffic and newspapers, and TV, and cooking dinner! 

The peace and quiet of the ranch is so refreshing. Seeing everyones quilting projects and the activity at the retreat leaves you with the sense of how much can be accomplished, and  it inspires me to spend more time in my sewing space creating. Once I get this mess put away!

Chair cushions, cutting mat & rulers, fabrics, machine tote, portable design wall, portable sewing table, extension table, cutters, tools, quilt projects, iron, books, magazines and etc.

This is the last picture I took of the pond at the ranch as I walked towards the car for the drive home. I think this picture is so serene and lovely and a reflection of how it feels to attend this special retreat at Bishops Ranch. Thinking of you dear friends,  until we meet again.

April 08, 2010

Seam Ripping

I finished this Quilt of Valor for Barbara's group in So. California. I use aluminum bobbins in my long arm most of the time,  and had wound 3 bobbins of Superiors So-Fine thread to complete this pantograph when I ran out of bobbin thread. Without thinking to much about it I picked up a steel bobbin that had some of the same color thread on it and started up stitching where I had ran out. Not a good thing!

The top thread looked fine. And that was the deceiving thing about this experience. Top thread was just as smooth and nice as could be--- I rolled the quilt, and since I was standing at the back of the frame as it rolled up onto the take up roller I could see a major problem had taken place as I went merrily on my way. The bobbin thread was "flat". No locking stitches. It was just laying there.

  I had to rip out four rows of the design, re- adjust both top and bottom thread tensions and after much grumbling and thread ripping....find my new starting point and hope I was in the right spot. I was, and the quilt is completed, at last.

Lesson: Don't switch from one type of metal bobbin to another without checking top and bobbin tensions stitch outs or at least looking under the quilt just once, even if the top looks perfect.

Quilted with "Patriot" pantograph which is hard to see on this quilt. It's a series of stars that continue into a wavy half ribbon.

I've not had a good quilting week in general.  Here is a picture of the Diamond Log Cabin.  It's progressed to a stand still while I try to figure out why the lime green strips of fabric in the center are not even or meeting in the middle to give the illusion of even spokes or spiraling out.

My seam ripper is my constant companion this week.

 I'm also auditioning border fabrics, ripping out, sewing and ripping out the center blocks.  One good thing is that I have handled the blocks so much I won't have to rip off the paper piecing foundations, they are coming loose on their own just from all the pinning and adjusting that is going on.  Thanks for reading this ---hopefully tomorrow will be more productive with this project.