Tuesday, December 04, 2012

15 Minutes of Play

Hurray for Victoria Findlay Wolfe (aka V aka Bumblebeans) and her new book, 15 Minutes of Play. Today is my day on the blog hop to celebrate the book.

Do you know the common denominator in my favorite quilt books like Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking and Roberta Horton's Scrap Quilts? No patterns, lots of quilts, and lots of words. And woohoo, V's book is all of that. It's like sitting next to V and listening to her explain how she made her improvisational, scrappy quilts. Her inspiration and enthusiasm are so contagious.

In the book, there are multiple techniques for making "made-fabric" by free-piecing, using paper as a foundation, and the quick way. I love that, because not every one likes to work the same way. For instance, I love using paper foundations and don't mind ripping all the paper off while other people can't stand that. There are directions for some of the blocks in the book and multiple challenges to get you started playing.

Okay, I am admittedly biased about this book because V is a friend, we love a lot of the same quilts and quilters, and woohoo, I have a quilt in the book. Starburst, the quilt V and I collaborated on because I'd made all those string star diamonds and was anxious about the Y-seams involved in getting it all together. V is fearless and actually loves Y-seams. AND she has a tutorial on them in the book, so I'll have that the next time I have to face that task. Anyway, Starburst used to look like this:

but sure doesn't anymore. You'll have to get the book to see the final quilt. It doesn't come with a photo of Pokey though...

More than that, there are quilts by some of my favorite bloggers, like Nifty Quilts and Fiberliscious Mary Keasler amongst others, and quilts by V's grandmother that are just amazing.

You can win a copy of the book 15 Minutes of Play right here by leaving a comment on this post. (US winners receive a hard copy of the book. International winners receive a Electronic copy of the book, direct from C&T.)

Or, you can buy a copy directly from V at her shop  or from Amazon

These are all the folks who have or will participate in the blog hop:

Nov: 26: "Victoria Findlay Wolfe", http://www.15minutesplay.com/
Nov 27: "Bonnie K Hunter", http://quiltville.blogspot.com/
Nov 28: "Alissa Haight Carlton, http://www.handmadebyalissa.com/
Nov 29:  "Pat Sloan", http://patsloan.typepad.com/
Nov 30: "Kimberly," http://fatquartershop.blogspot.com/
 Dec 1st: "Karen Griska",http://selvageblog.blogspot.com/
Dec 2nd: "Angela Walters", http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com/
Dec 3rd:  Generation Q, http://generationqmagazine.com/
Dec 4th: "Tonya Ricucci", http://www.lazygalquilting.blogspot.com/
Dec 5th: "Michele Foster",http://quiltinggallery.com/blog-posts/
Dec 6th: "Scott Hansen",http://bluenickelstudios.com/
Dec 7th:"Amy Ellis", http://amyscreativeside.com/blog/
 Dec 8th: "Rachaeldaisy",http://bluemountaindaisy.blogspot.com/
Dec 9th:"Jackie Kunkel", http://cvquiltworks.blogspot.com/
Dec. 10th: http://www.ctpubblog.com/

Monday, October 01, 2012

Fabulous Blocks

I am so lucky to have fabulous wonderful people out there in quilt blog land who sent me blocks to make a mourning quilt for my baby Pokey. And how do I repay you all? By not blogging for the last 6 weeks. eeeek, how did that happen?

Blocks from Marathon Quilter Cher and Heidi B. Heidi was sweet to send me German fabric to include with the quilt.

I never would have guessed Cooper would be so photogenic. He's great at cute poses and sitting still.

Smazoochie Beth made this oh so cute little Pokey face and the letters for MEOW:

Giraffe Dreams Carol E sent me an X and crumbs, and sweet Mary E., whom I met in WA last summer, made the hearts:

I'm sad to say that my horrible disorganization, procrastination, AND kitty mayhem means that I'm not as sure of who made what blocks as I should be. Diane S made the cappuccino heart (cuz Pokey was my cappuccino-colored girl) and I think it was Lynette who made the other lovely blocks. right?

Annabelle with an X made by A Moment of Whimsy Laura (a new friend from the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild - how dare she have the nerve to have to start back to school teaching instead of playing) and blocks from Margaret C:

Em Celebrates:

Quilt It Marit, who recently lost her beloved Venus. Breaks my heart.

Pokeytown Kim who's been blogging lately about her Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen Marston (woohoo):

Blue Mountain Daisy Rachael:


Indigo Threads Sharon K:

Note to self: never go this long between blog posts. My brain melted and I can't remember a couple of blog names. This is a lot of blocks. They are all so beautiful - this is going to be a wonderful quilt.

Laura took pity on me and cleaned out her stash.

I'm grateful for the lights and I have already used a bunch of these. Such a hoot to have all this Williamsburg Blue and Dusty Pink. Yes, I'll always take donations of uglies, especially lights. Oh and I did receive some lovely scraps to use in Pokey's quilt but did I keep track of who sent them? no, bad blogger.

I mentioned Debra in my last post. In addition to letters, she sent cat toys (those big mice with the long tails are *awesome* - they throw really well) and this cat bed (in Pokey colors) which the bigger cats take turns lounging in and catching rays. Here's Lily modelling it:

I'll leave you with one final picture. Destructo climbing girl Annabelle scaling my design wall (there's insulation board under the batting):

That's 6' off the ground at the top there. You can see all the gouges in the batting from her previous mountain climbing adventures. If there are blocks up there, she leaps up at them until she can get them down. If blocks are stuck up there with pins, that just means an extra toy to play with when she gets it down to the ground. She's a very silly girl.

So interesting how the kittens personalities differ. Annabelle is mischievous and loves to pull towels down. She leapt one too many times at the large quilts on the walls, so they've been put away and my walls are barren. Cooper meanwhile is so sweet - he jumps up and sits on my chest and rubs his face against mine. I think they've both had goes at the toilet paper - Annabelle likes to pull on the end and run with it, Cooper likes to chew through the roll. But really, that's the only naughty thing he does. I'm enjoying it all - I know they'll outgrow this kittenness all too soon.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Talented Kelli

I want to share a marvelous quilt with you made by the very talented Kelli P:

Isn't it fabulous?  Kelli says
We've never met but I am a HUGE fan of your work.  For many years, I followed your adventures without yet having the "nerve" to try your techniques.  Finally, several years ago, I worked up the nerve to improv a project and it was a epic failure - except that I learned two things.  I learned that I was way more dependent on someone else's patterns than I had previously thought and that improv was a lot harder than it looked.

Fast forward to earlier this year when a good friend of mine was injured and I yearned to make her a quilt.  I had purchased your book Word Play and decided to use it to make her something.  I have attached a picture.  It is my first improv project and I love it.  The wordless borders are extra long so that she can use the quilt on her hospital bed and still read all of the words.  I call it "For Adina: Do Something".
The finished dimensions are roughly 120"x 89. Kelli won 2 first place ribbons at the NJ State Fair.  Well deserved. Woohoo! You can find Kelli blogging at HobbyWhore - Too Many Hobbies, Not Enough Time.

The thing about doing an improvisational quilt is that you have to be prepared for some failures. You never know how something is going to turn out until you do it. I've certainly made my fair share of dogs.

I've been getting envelopes and packages in the mail. Makes me so happy. These are blocks for Pokey's quilt from Nifty Quilts:

Joe Tulips Quilts,:

And Debra B:

Debra also included wonderful gifts for the kitties. Bibi getting that catnip high:

Look at how well Pokey's quilt is coming together:

The colors are wonderful, a great balance. I really do want to just put this together kind of randomly so it's not love love love in your face. Thank you so much guys.

The deadline for getting me Pokey blocks is Columbus Day, 'bout the first week of October. I can't believe how soon that is coming up.

On a completely different topic, are ya'all aware of the upcoming AQS quilt show in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Well worth going to. There are two special exhibits that I would love to see: quilts from Gwen Marston's Liberated Medallion book by Gwen and her students (woohoo!) and Stitch Like an Egyptian. The latter is tentmaker applique pieces that are truly stunning. Two of the tentmakers will be there in person. These are some photos I've taken of Tentmaker work.

Time to get back to work in the coalmines. Later.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quilt Blocks Go Wild

Hey all ya'all. I gotta do a little bit of shameless self-promotion. See this?


Shazam! It's the block I redesigned for the book Quilt Blocks Go Wild just published by Leisure Arts.

It's my version of Rail Fence. You know my Dr. Seuss Christmas Quilt? Well this is the way to make it. The easy way I figured out how to do years later...

I've got a mixed opinion of the book. Of course there is my block--which is fabulous-- and made UnRulily. That is, no marking or real fussing - although you do have to pay attention. I love that we were allowed to use photos to illustrate the steps, so I think it's pretty clear. (If not, give me a holler.) I love Malka Dubrowsky's Drunkard's Path redo. I love that the book shows you alternate methods for working.

But. But there are some methods in the book that do not appeal to me in the least. Freezer paper and templates. So this book isn't about Liberation. It's about how to step outside the traditional zone in baby steps. And of course not everyone loves Liberation and UnRuly so hopefully they'll find a way to play that they do like.

The book will be available on Amazon (Quilt Blocks Go Wild) and at JoAnn's stores. Possibly other places as well.

While I've got you all here, can I make a request for blocks? I know I don't deserve them since I still have several UFOs-worth of wonderful gifties from readers. I do, I know. If you don't worry about it eventually becoming a quilt and just think of it as a gift to Lazy Gal, who looks at it and feels loved... I'd appreciate it. Not that I'm trying to guilt you into anything ;-)

I'd like to make a love quilt for Pokey. I still miss her so much.

I have a quilt in mind. I know what the components are, but not how the quilt will look. I'd love to receive Pokey-colored blocks. White, cream, all those lovely shades of brown and dark brown/black accents. I called her my cappuccino girl - coffee with cream. And of course turquoise/cyan for her beautiful eyes and pink/red for her nose and paw pads (and love).

And the type of block? It's a love quilt. UnRuly L-O-V-E letters and UnRuly XOXOXOXO hugs and kisses. And wonky hearts.  Individual letters, or joined together. Just one or several. Nothing too big please unless you're piecing the letter fabric. Any questions, just ask.

Summary: UnRuly Letters (as found in Word Play Quilts)  E, L, O, V, and X and wonky hearts in white, cream, and all sorts of brown with hints of turquoise, red, pink, and black. (not that you have to have all those colors in one block). The goal is to have a quilt for the next book (yes, I'm finally working on one) so it's gotta be UnRuly.

If you make some letters/hearts and they don't come out well? Don't throw them away. Send them anyway. The UnRuly Orphanage takes in all sorts of strays.

To be even more obnoxious: as always, I'd love any spare orphan UnRuly letters you'd care to send. And teensy bits of ugly ugly fabric in light colors. I've got way too many dark fabrics in my stash...

I hate sunless, overcast days. This blog post makes me sound so sad and dreary and that's really not the case. I'm enjoying the Olympics and sewing. Yes, I'm sewing again and book plotting. woohoo! And enjoying the company of the cats. Even the little stinkers, Annabelle (or should it be Annabowl?):

and Cooper:

They both love the dishwasher, why I don't know. Shiny cave to explore, oh boy! These are older photos, amazing how much they grow in just a couple of weeks.

Later, gators!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Meet Annabelle and Cooper

I know this is supposed to be a quilt blog, not a cat blog (or at least not ONLY a cat blog) but I haven't done any sewing and hardly any hand quilting or cutting since my last post which was eek, five weeks ago? aagh.

I've had distractions. Meet Annabelle and Cooper:

They are darling siblings, now 3 months old. Rescue kitties of course. I saw their little faces looking at me from Petfinder.com and they just drew me in.

Notice the resemblence to Lily? (that's her down below) Couldn't bear thinking of Lily living in jail, so figured I'd bust these two out. Not that they were in jail - actually living in a wonderful foster home, but that's besides the point.

The big difference is the eye color. Right now the wee ones have yellow-green-brown eyes, as compared to Lily's striking clear green. And the little dudes have a more pronounced snout. Their mother is gorgeous, as well as friendly, so I know they will be too.

Anyway, Annabelle has a white face, ears, and legs.

She's a chewer - chewed my iPod headset cord in two and scared us by playing with electrical cords. We now have lots of cords wrapped in blue electrical tape,  which supposedly has a chalky taste that kitties don't like. Agh, Annabelle just launched herself at a quilt hanging on the wall - and she stuck there for a few seconds.

Meanwhile, Mini Cooper has the same face mask as Lily and two brown ears and hind legs.

Cooper's more likely to chew on fingers or toes. He loves hunting and dragging prey behind the sofa - there's quite a collection of toys and paper towels back there. Cooper has made the unfortunate discovery of the dishwasher - he loves jumping in there while I have the bottom rack pulled out. He's the more affectionate of the two and voluntarily sat in my lap for a couple of hours yesterday.

They both have tiny sharp teeth and tiny sharp claws. Agh.

The big cats for the most part ignore them, but there has also been hissing and running away. The big boys are mostly uninterested and Lily is peeved.

The little dudes added a lot of life and energy to our house. We sorely needed it after losing Pokey. And then Bubba.  Bubba was a sweet, cuddly little guy that we really loved, despite having him in our family for only 9 days. I had to have him put down - the vet suspected Feline Infectious Peritonitis. That was truly awful.

I feel like I am finally, slowly starting to come back to life again. The last few months have been difficult.

Besides the cats, the other big event around here was the super derecho which left us without power for three days. That meant we had no internet, cable tv or phones either. The winds knocked down the cell phone tower too - so we felt really cut off. First time I've ever really wished for smart phone. But the whole thing could have been much worse, since there are areas that STILL haven't gotten their power back more than a week later.

And now to watch the Wimbledon Men's Final and whatever stage of the Tour de France we're at today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lily on the Mat with Diamonds

I'm trying to get back to normal, but I still miss my sweet Pokey so much. Writing in my blog makes me think of her, so it's hard to do.

Working again on a string diamond project inspired by one in Gwen Marston's Liberated Strings book. I dragged my machine up into the kitchen (rather than using my still horrendously unorganized but wonderfully lit new studio down in the basement) so I felt a part of things rather than apart.

Lily worked on the quilt with me, of course.

I'm using the EZ Rulers 60 degree diamond. Love it. (Thanks for letting me keep it, Kathy!)

the classic "holding down the blocks so they don't get away" technique:

Kitchen islands (and counters) really are a fabulous place to set up a cutting station. So stable and just the right height. I'd be able to iron too if Lily would just move...

I was caught horribly off guard when I downloaded my new photos to the computer. I didn't know I'd find darling Pokey.

So frail and underweight, but still my baby. She'd just come back from the hospital so her leg was bandaged in bright pink.

I miss her so much. dammit dammit dammit.

That's why working on the diamonds is a good project for me. Stringing onto paper is soothing for me. The decisions are small and I know exactly how each piece fits. And I'm working with some of the fabrics that ya'll have gifted me over the years so those are good thoughts. I miss my blogging community even as I find it hard to participate.

Everything will be okay. just not yet.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Sorry I've been away for so long. This is a really hard post to write. Lots of things have been going on in the last few months, some really really good but others not so much. I'm about to start bawling now, so I'm just going to write it quickly and get it over with.

Sweet baby Pokey lost her battle with Chronic Renal Failure. I am absolutely heartbroken and I've spent too much time crying. Pokey was never "just" a cat. She was playful, sweet and my truest companion. I loved her dearly, as did my husband. She was just 8 years old. She was lucky to have made it to her first birthday, but that knowledge doesn't make her loss any easier.

She took a dramatic turn for the worse right before we moved to Maryland. The most stressful move to a new house and new place to live that I have ever had. Vets both in Florida and Maryland did what they could.

Sorry, bummer of a post. I needed to get it out of the way. I'm turning off comments - don't think I can handle it. Hope you are all well. I am actually doing well, just having a hard time today writing about my sweetie girl.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Get it While You Can

I can't believe I forgot to include this in yesterday's post, but holy cow there is an incredible sale on the  book Amish Abstractions: Quilts from the Collection of Faith and Stephen Brown. It's only twelve dollars for a bargain book. I paid a loooot more for my copy and it was worth every penny, so believe me when I say it's a SERIOUS bargain now. I actually bought a second copy, couldn't pass it up.

I think this means that it's time for another Liberated Amish Get-Together. It was sooo wonderful the first time to see the amazing quilts that folks made. Really impressive. Maybe starting in February? But this time we'll use the UnRuly Blog so I don't have to make up another one. Sound fun? Maybe I'll actually make one this time!

You don't have to buy the book to participate, but I recommend it wholeheartedly nonetheless. You can see a bunch of the quilts on this website for the Browns Amish Quilt collection.

I figure I'll be more flexible this time about the guidelines so that folks can interpret it how they want, so that they push themselves - you all know where your own boundaries are. Can be any size that you want. I think it would be fun to make an Amish quilt as interpreted by a Gee's Bender. (Gee's Bendie? hee hee hee). But the goal is to still see the inspiration in there. For instance if they were ever hung in an exhibition together you'd want it to make sense...

Picture of Lily from awhile back, cuz I needed something to go in this post. I do still love this UFO - need to work on it some more. When I'm reunited with all the bits and pieces that is.

Oh, and I also can't believe I neglected to mention that I am thoroughly engrossed in the second season of Downton Abbey. I do so love that show!!!

p.s. You can click on the link for the book on sale here:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stupid Brain

I have the attention span of a gnat these days, jumping jumping jumping from one thing to another, not getting much accomplished. aaaghhh.  To make matters worse, I'm not liking much of what I get done. For instance, in the last few months I tried putting a bunch of my bright-era orphans and experimental blocks together to see if I could get excited and work on something.

Nothing. No wheee, this is the direction to go. My stupid brain is sludgy and just won't play along. I'm slogging through mud.

I tried to narrow it down and do a "cathouse" quilt of cats and houses and maybe some joy blocks. [a "cathouse" is U.S./Canadian slang for bordello, brothel, house of ill repute...]

Fun but I just couldn't figure out how to work with them. Brain wouldn't cooperate.

Okay, how about the Crown of Thorn blocks I started ages ago? That should be easier since I just had to make blocks. I made a few more of them. Kinda funny, but quilting while taking muscle relaxants and pain pills? Let's just say it's a good thing that I like wonky and liberated and utility quilts. Some of these blocks came out crazier than I meant.

Looking at this now? I like it. At the time I pushed for sashing because I was worried about how they looked all mashed together.

This was an audition. I started sewing sashing onto them and then quit, not sure I liked the direction I was going. Unsure now too. Sashing or no sashing? And yes, I know I have a block split into two there. My sweetie, Mr. Symmetry, hates it but that's one of my favorite things about the quilt. Maybe what it needs is more blocks....

That's another thing my brain has been doing. Second-guessing. I start projects then rip them apart. For instance, last July I took a class, along with Nifty, with the Gee's Bend Quilters. I had a hard time in that class for all sorts of reasons (no instructions or quilt examples) and was unhappy with the blocks and bits I came home with. I added borders to one of the blocks, auditioned here with Pokey and Habibi's help:

But wasn't happy with that either. After a few days of living with it, I ripped it apart and started over, ending up with Something Nifty, shown in the last post. Which, thankfully, I love so it gets to stay as is. I'm even hand-quilting it now, despite the second worst basting job I've ever done...

Working with the same fabrics, I pushed myself to use big chunks and work big. (I do love little pieces - I'm much better at that approach.) Anyway, came up with this medallion quilt:

Not sure it's going to stay this way.  I like column quilts better, and eek, don't like that bottom border especially. But I don't trust myself at this point, so not taking the seam ripper to it. Not yet.

On the topic of quilting, check out the Gratitude Quilt that Nifty made with orphan blocks. I helped her by choosing blocks, but that's it - all the rest of the brilliance was hers. Why is it sooo much easier to put someone else's blocks into a cohesive group? Not that she needs much help. Did you see Nifty's Santa and the Orphans quilt?

Take a peek at this Skinny String quilt group project that Karen Griska is doing over on her Selvage blog. I am in love - I want to start cutting and sewing now. Besides the fact that I don't need to start on yet one more gnat brain quilt project, I don't have much of my fabric stash here.

Why is that? Because of the Move to America. Sweetie and I bought a house (after a lot of online looking and a house hunting trip) in Maryland.  Most of our belongings and my fabric stash are there now and Sweetie is taking care of all the arranging and unpacking while the cats and I live in the sunshine, out of the way, for a few months. Sometimes I think I'd rather be there too, but eek, they got snow today.

I have been watching some tv. Some tv? Who am I kidding. Lots of tv, as always. Can't believe that my favorite new/newish program is Revenge. My husband says it's just a soap opera but HA! it moves a zillion times faster than a daytime soap, which would probably take 5,000 episodes to equal what we've already gotten in a season.

I love that show more than Once Upon a Time, which I'm enjoying but not as much. Is it possible that the folks on Revenge are doing a better job of destroying lives than the wicked queen on the latter? Hmm, I think it is. I love the story of Snow White and Charming (both versions) and wish we'd focus on that a lot more. Stop introducing new characters already - the most recent ep with Hansel and Gretel? Boring....

I wanted to love Grimm but I'm only tolerating it, and that's just barely. So dull and the main characters are leaden (hate the actors). Except for Monroe, the Big Bad Wolf. Him I love and that's why I'm hanging in there. I keep hoping that they'll bump off whats-his-name and his girlfrend and his partner and all the police side of things. But would that help? Why am I watching this?

I watched Alcatraz, but didn't even make it through the second episode. Dull and I am sooo sick of shows that jump back and forth between timelines. It's okay on Once because at least that's an alternate fairytale reality. But hated the gimmick on the now departed PanAm and on this one. Stuff going on in prison? So don't care. And I refuse to watch serial killers at work so that's another point against Alcatraz.

Speaking of alternate timelines, I'm still hanging in with Fringe, although I dislike this season.

Loving Project Runway All Stars. I'm rooting for Mondo just because I love him, but so far? Don't care for his clothes. I might actually like Rami's clothes the best. The recent dress for Miss P? Fabulously fun and that polka dot fabric was wonderful.

Feeling sorry for the chefs on Top Chef: Texas. Should only have chosen chefs who work in Texas style of cooking. And twice they've had to stay up all night to barbeque? Agh, I'd be in a coma. The most recent ep Fit for an Evil Queen was sooooo fun with all the freaky ingredients. There's definitely an evil queen vibe going on in the culture these days.

Been watching stuff on Netflix Instant too. Did a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewatching. Season Six (what can I say, I'm a fan of The Trio) was better than I remembered but Seven? bleck. Not sure I'm gonna finish it even though it does have a lot of Spike. I do love me some Spike. Just finished reading the comic books for Season Eight and oh how I wish we had more Buffy.

Finally got into Breaking Bad which I resisted for so long (a high school teacher turned meth maker? too dark!) because I kept hearing how fabulous it is. Oh yeah. Amazing, especially when you can just mainline several seasons at once. I've watched them all through season three, but not four.  Such an example of how great characters are enthralling, even when not much is going on. I wish the producers/writers of The Killing and The Walking Dead would take a few lessons.

Sigh. okay, that's enough bloggy blog blog for now. See ya!