Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - The Year In Review

new_year_2010 I love the last day of the year, especially with all of the hope for the new, upcoming year. 

I also enjoy looking back at the year and boy has this been a year!!!!!

During 2010, we enjoyed two, 10 day trips to Kunming China, 7 wonderful weeks in Italy, 2 trips to Louisiana for my husband’s field work , the marriage of our son, Brian to a wonderful woman, Amber, and our daughter, Jenny,  moving to Atlanta to work on a Master’s degree…….WHEW!!!!!

My craft time has been limited this year, but it was fun to look back and realize that I did accomplish a few things.

….”Waves ala Particles”…..a contrast challenge

…..”Terra Cotta Flowers”…. using a rust dyed fabric

…..”As Blue Goes By” ……a blue challenge quilt

…..”Blew Two”……..the second blue challenge quilt.

…..”Hot Espresso, Cool Gelato” ……the Hot/Cold challenge

…..”Christmas Lap Quilt”…..finally finished after 15 years

…..”Read to Rover”…..the last quilt made for the year

…..thank goodness for challenges or I might not have finished anything!!!!

I worked to help prepare 5 quilts that will be hung at the local Senior Center, and worked on two other charity quilts.

I also made 5 covered books which were given as gifts in Italy, and made and mailed my first quilted postcard.

I attended workshops taught by Margaret Hunt and learned to use Water Soluble Pastels.  I put this technique into use in two mini, mini quilts.

I only taught two quilting workshops, but truly enjoyed the interactions with the ladies in my classes.

OK…..so maybe I did get quite a bit of quilting time!!!!

What are my plans for 2011……those are for another day…..today is just one for reflection……

SO, BRING ON THE NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Comfortable Doggie Tooshies

My friend Kris has two wonderful, well trained  Sheltie dogs.  They (and she) work with the local library in a program called “Read To Rover”.  She and her daughter take the dogs to the local library and various kids come in a read to the dog….how cute is that!!!!

Kris likes to put a quilt down for everyone to sit on while they read.    The problem arose that the only quilt she had was one with a lot of texture to it and the dogs couldn’t sit comfortably on it for a long period of time.  One in particular would continue to shake his leg and move around throughout the reading time.

The solution…..a new quilt designed just for this purpose…..

_C241139 I enjoyed picking the doggie fabrics and then combining them into a fun quilt. 

I used miscellaneous left-overs and other fabrics for the back…..

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The quilting is very utilitarian…..just enough to hold the layers together properly.

I am excited that this quilt can be a part of this great program….may it make for hundreds of hours of introducing kids to the fun of book reading and, of course,  comfortable doggie tooshies!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

De-decorating

Today was the day to do the bad deed…..take down the Christmas tree and all of the decorations and put up the winter decorations…..and the name of the season is “Winter Blues”…..

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I made this quilt in 1994 and it was one of the first of my monthly quilts.  I bought the main fabric (with the deer and snow covered trees) at a little shop in Madison, Georgia and the quilt idea was born from there.  I love the mix of blues and grays and the name “Winter Blues” just seemed to fit. 

The rest of the house is decorated with lots of blue bottles and vases, as well as a few snowmen…..just perfect for the month of January!!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

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May the peace and joy of the holidays stay

with you all thru the year!!!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Preparing the Arnold Sleigh

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Many years ago our family began a tradition where we cook goodies and then go out on Christmas Eve and deliver them to our friends.  Over the years we have taken as many as 20 food parcels in any one year.  

Several years ago, Betsy (our daughter’s best friend) proclaimed that “Christmas doesn’t start until the Arnold Sleigh has arrived.”  Thus, the tradition now has a name…..the Arnold Sleigh.

SO, today (the day before Christmas Eve) has been a cooking day.  I started at 9:00 am and finished at 5:00 this afternoon.  In the interim I made 2 cookings of Peanut Brittle, 2 cookings of Fudge, Peppermint Bark, Poppycock, Rum Balls, Divinity, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, and Pecan Sandies.  As I was cleaning up from the marathon session, I realized that I had forgotten the chocolate covered pretzels….Betsy’s favorite…… so I guess that I will finish them up in the morning.

Here is the photo of the finished products…..

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Now I have a question to pose…..how did I ever bake cookies without one of these baking mats?????

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It keeps things from burning, is easy to clean between batches and has GREATLY improved the success of my cookies!!!!     It also works great for biscuits!!

So here I sit at the end of the day with my body tired from standing all day and my teeth on edge from being around so much sugar, but happy in the expectation of a fun sleigh trip on the morrow.

I hope that your Christmas Eve Eve has been wonderful too!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Lap Quilt…..only 15+ years in the making!!!!

Yesterday, I had an entire day in my studio and my goal was to finish a UFO that I started about 15 or so years ago.  I posted about this on 12/29 of LAST year, and here is a recap from that post…..

It started out as a full size Christmas quilt for my bed.  It was in the days where I hadn’t done a lot of machine quilting and had never tried quilting anything as large as this one, so I decided to hand quilt it…..GULP!!   I used a “quilt-as-you-go”  technique where you put sets of blocks together, baste and quilt them and then put all of the sets together to form the final quilt.

I had made the first two strips, each consisting of three blocks.  Life then got in the way,  and I lost interest in the project.  It was relegated to the top shelf of my bedroom closet….in my mind, it didn’t even qualify for placement in my studio.  I had even thought several times about throwing it away.

In 2009, I made a list of my UFO’s and suddenly remembered this one so I added it to the list.  This was how it looked at that time……

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As I looked at it, I decided to turn it into a lap quilt of three rows of 2 blocks each.   I have thought about this project over the last few days and kept trying to come up with a grand plan for doing this, but finally decided to just START the project and let it take me where it would. 

It has taken several “finagles” to make the design work, but I am pleased with the overall results.  There is still some quilting to be done on it (by machine) and a bit of hand quilting to be taken out, but that can happen later when I am looking for a quick project to fill a few hours.

OK…fast forward for almost a year and you will see that my “few hours” never materialized.  I REALLY wanted to get some use out of it in the few days before Christmas, so I pulled it out and finished the quilting.    I even put the binding on by machine….that is how badly I wanted to get it finished today!!!!

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As I said in the previous post, technically it is not a great quilt, but I LOVED being able to snuggle under while watching “Muppet Christmas Carol”.

AND….I can mark it off that I completed ONE ufo in 2010!!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hot Threads, Cool Quilts Challenge results

On Tuesday night our quilt guild presented the results of the Hot Threads, Cool Quilts challenge.  We were so excited to have 19 entries in this contest and we could tell that the challenged piqued the interest and imagination of many of our members.

Here are a two photos that show most of the quilts.   There were a few that came in later and didn’t make it into this photo journal….

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What a fun group of quilts……cant wait for the show!!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A finished quilt and an anniversary!!!

First of all, today marks my 2 year anniversary of blogging.  As I said on this day last year, I have truly enjoyed the people that I have met along the way, as well as the wonderful art that I have seen.  Thank you all for adding so much richness to my life!!!!

A special thanks to Anita  for her encouragement to try to write a blog and to my husband, Michael, for his continuing support of my art and my online journal!!!

Now, to celebrate this anniversary, I am getting to tell you about a completed project….the first that I have had in quite a while!!!

I am co-chair of our Guild’s upcoming show entitled “Hot Threads, Cool Quilts” and we had issued a challenge to our group to make a quilt that was 24x30, designed to hang vertically, with an “off-the-surface” embellishment of some sort, that somehow referenced our show theme.

WOW…..how many different ideas did I come up with!!!!  We set the challenge about 2 weeks before my husband and I left for our epic 7 weeks in Italy so the theme was much in my mind as I wandered thru the beautiful Italian country and cities.   Basically everything that I saw could be somehow combined into a Hot/Cool combination.  I think that I about drove my husband crazy!!!!

But then it happened…….. while in Rome we developed two daily habits.  My husband would always stop each morning for a cup of hot espresso and we would  go down the street to the local Gelateria every night to have our cup of cold, heavenly delight.    And look at those cute spoons that they serve it with!!!!_B190935

So, my mind started planning…..my friends and myself started collecting spoons and the quilt was in progress!!!!!

When I finally had a few minutes to work on the quilt, I began by planning the borders of the project as those had to be big enough to hold the spoons.  Once I had determined the interior size, I started drawing boxes and rectangles that would fit within the piece.  This is how the original version looked, although I made changes to the size of the pieces in later versions…..

PB190937-1I then started looking thru photos of Rome and started selecting ones that I would like to use in the piece.  This was almost the hardest part as I had 1,510 photos of this beautiful city.

Once selected, I would open a copy in Photoshop, crop it to the size that it needed to be, use a contrast layer to deepen the photo and then apply a color mask to change the colors of the photos.  I tried to keep the photos in the cool range of colors….mostly blues, greens and purples.

I printed the photos onto paper, cut them out and taped them to the pattern to see how it was going to look……

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After adjusting a few color combinations, I printed the photos on fabric and started the tedious job of piecing it together.  I tried to find groups that could be pieced together with only straight seams, but ended up with a few seams that had to be partially sewn first and then finished when other parts were added.

At this point I realized that somewhere between the original design and the 2 other versions, I had managed to mess up the dimensions of the piece so that it was going to be about 1-1/2 inches too long!!!! 

OK…don’t panic….this is just a design opportunity!!!  So I played with the borders until I came to an arrangement that I liked.

I had decided to quilt small spoons in three of the borders and hang the actual spoons like a fringe on the bottom.  I was having trouble evenly spacing the designs on the border, so I got a  length of adding machine tape (remember, I am an Accountant, so I have LOTS of the stuff), cut it the length of the border and then folded it again and again until I had a good spacing for the spoons.  It was then VERY easy to draw the properly spaced quilting patterns…..

_C131089 After quilting the piece, the final step was to attach the spoon fringe to the bottom of the piece.  I found a large safety pin, heated the point in a flame and used it to burn a hole in each of the spoons.  To attach them, I first added a seed bead, the spoon and topped it off with another seed bead. 

Here is the finished product…..

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I am very pleased with this piece that fulfills the challenge as well as provides my husband and I of a fun reminder of our wonderful month in Rome!!!!!

As important, it marks a return to the studio for me…..an event that I hope continues into the upcoming year!!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Creative Ennui

Well, it has been THREE weeks since I have posted anything here!!!! There are many reasons for the delay……

…..family visiting for Thanksgiving  (I am on the far right)……

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….decorating the house for the holidays……..

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…..raking all of the leaves that have fallen and are still falling……

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….scanning boxes and boxes and boxes of CPA files that will now be kept as digital copies rather than paper.   This wonderful Fujitsu scanner has been instrumental in this task (it will scan 20 pages per minute, front and back)……

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BUT, the one thing that I WANT to do is to be creative and that is where the ennui comes in…

The dictionary defines ennui as “ a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom”  and that is where I am at the moment.   It has been good that I have had lots of tasks to keep me accomplishing things, but I am truly ready for the creative excitement to return!!!!

Well, enough complaining…….on to the next task!!!

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