Saturday, August 31, 2013

NewFO takes on new meaning

Here's post #2 on NewFOs. I've already linked one post with my catch-up NewFOs to Barbara's linky party, but thought I'd better get this one written up and documented while I have them spread all over my living room. You'll see shortly...

This summer, I know I mentioned before, I drove to California. Originally the goal was to get there to see my sister-in-law, Cindy, who was dying of cancer. Unfortunately she passed in May before I could get out there. I went anyway to see my brother and his family, and to deliver my granddaughter Jordyn to her Nana & Papa for her annual summer visit. I also had the 1960s hand died, hand braided rugs that had been in my folks' home loaded into my car to make the trek back to California (I'd brought them with me to Kansas last year). Originally there was the huge one (seen rolled & folded up) that filled our living room for over 50 years, three smaller ones for the entry hall and corner rugs, a long runner for the hallway, and three in blues & greens that were in their bedroom. Between the three of us kids, we split them up when we emptied the house after Dad died in early 2012. As it turns out, my choosing the big one and two small matching ones wasn't so smart--I live in rentals that are typically wall-to-wall carpeted, not to mention there aren't any rooms big enough to accommodate that monster! So, back to California it goes where it will fit nicely (with room to spare) in Wayne's new living room.

We arrived in Fresno the day before Father's Day at my brother's new home--his first "stick built" house ever. Wayne & Cindy had lived in rentals early on, and then a double-wide mobile home for nearly 30 years, always thinking of it as temporary, but life happened and they never got out. With Cindy rapidly failing and desperately to get out of their "tin can" and into a "stick built" house, they and their daughter, Shelly, pooled together and put an offer on a house that was accepted! Cindy only got to drive by and see pictures, but she was happy knowing that Wayne would no longer be tied to the trailer they so desperately wanted out of.

While there, Shelly and I went through Cindy's sewing stuff. I think I can safely say that Cindy was a fabric hoarder! She had boxes, bags, bolts, sometimes full bolts straight from the store! With their move still in process and piles and piles of boxes filling at least half of their huge backyard (the house is on an acre!), we hunted, sometimes by flashlight, to find projects that would need finishing. Shelly is a wiz at the embroidery machine and creats incredible children's fashions and party accessories, but she's not a quilter--yet! Cindy was a meticulous quilter who loved Irish chains and miniatures. After a long day of sorting and organizing, we filled four cartons with UFOs and a carton with books & magazines. Yikes! I thought after dropping off the rugs and Jordyn and her bags that I'd have a fairly empty car for the drive back! Wrong! LOL!
The blue line got us there, the green line zig-zagged me back.

I then took a very circuitous drive back to Kansas and enjoyed the freedom to sight-see and plan my days the way I wanted. You see, we had left Kansas on June 11 and I didn't have any plans until July 4 to be at a friend's house in central Kansas to celebrate the 4th of July. So, what took us only five days getting there, took me 18 days to get back. The only day I worried a little was when I wanted to drive over Boulder Dam. There were check points and when the guard asked me what was in all those boxes and I told him fabric and quilting projects. He definitely looked a little skeptical. I was willing to open them and prove it, but he waved me through. Funny trip memory. :-)

With lots to do to finish settling into my own new home myself upon my return (I had moved about 80 miles northeast into a townhome nearer all three of my kids in April-May), I merely moved the boxes from my car into the garage with everything else piled in there. I swear I'll be able to park in my garage before the snow flies this year! Really, I will! I've been back nearly two months and have only looked through those boxes once. I guess it's time to pull them out and take a look at what's ahead of me.
Minus the books and magazines, here's the projects, almost all bagged separately, some in various stages of completeness, some with miniatures included to show what the finished full size should look like, and even a few bags of scraps!
This particular box intrigues me. Cindy taped scraps of fabric to a piece of binder paper that lists by number where each goes. It's apparently a very detailed and fun Halloween quilt, but WAIT! THERE'S NO PATTERN!!! She has extra goodies--buttons, hot fix crystals, etc., in the box too. Luckily Shelly said she will either find the pattern or draw me a picture so I can attempt to make it. Each piece is meticulously marked with a pinned-on note saying "32 I's" or "24 B's", etc., but where those pieces go is a mystery. Hmmm... this will be my first attempt at a mystery quilt! And, believe me, it's definitely a MYSTERY!!! I'll let you know (someday) how it goes!
 These two boxes are filled with miniatures all cut out, but not assembled yet. Except for the circles cut out in the first box, everything appears to be as it should--mini Irish Chains--true to Cindy's love. I wonder if she left me any notes or clues on what to do with those cute little circles? If not, maybe yo-yo flowers appliqued onto something. She'd like that.

One bag had these three pieces in it, plus several blocks for a full size quilt. The pinks Irish chain is finished except for tying (Cindy never learned how to machine quilt and had too much arthritis to hand quilt, so she just tied her quilts). The pink & white has machine embroidered squares with flowers and Hello Kitty's. I'll turn that one into a doll quilt for Cindy's new great-granddaughter Opal, due in December. The gray & white double Irish chain is beautiful! I'm thinking a wall hanging maybe with some embroidery in the white blocks or maybe I could transfer some family photos into those blocks.
I lined up the projects & bags in groups of 5 and figure there are a minimum of 30 projects here, many full sized, some miniatures, and several of those bags with more than one project in them! This afternoon they'll be packed into under-bed zipper bags for storage until I am ready to start working on them. At least they won't be in boxes in the muggy garage anymore. One step closer to parking in my garage! Yay me!
I love this top with the flower baskets that she finished. I'm seriously thinking about setting it on point as a center medallion and turning it into a full size quilt. Maybe that will be the one I keep for me! That would look beautiful in my room. I know Cindy would like that idea, especially since she had plans to make me a quilt but never got to it. We always talked about collaborating on quilt projects, and she was even planning to send me several quilts to machine quilt and bind for her. Guess I'll be doing a lot of that, after I finish all these tops!
This miniature and partially finished full size will be going back to Fresno. It's for Cindy's middle granddaughter. Reyna talked to her MomMom before she passed about finishing it herself with the help of a friend at school. With the mini as her example, she should be able to do that pretty easily. She was worried when she learned that her mom had sent it home with me! "What if Aunt Lizzie gets mad that I want it back?" Mad?!? Far from it! I'm delighted she wants to finish it herself and, who knows, maybe she'll get her MomMom's and my bug for quilting too!
This sack is completely filled with scraps from so many of Cindy's projects--some in this collection and many from quilts she made in years past. I'm sure some sort of scrappy quilt will come of these and go back to her daughter and granddaughters to enjoy at some point.

I'll be continuing Cindy's legacy by finishing her projects over time. There are several in red, white and blue that will be donated to the Quilts of Valor program. A couple were for specific people and will be completed and gifted as planned. Slowly, they will all find homes where they will be loved as Cindy was loved.

Come to think of it, somewhere in my house there are two adorable mini's that Cindy made and sent to me last year--one with ladybugs (my favorite!) and a St. Patrick's Day Irish Chain with clovers on the green patches. I know I had them hung in my other place, now to figure out what box they're in.

So, while these aren't technically my UFO's, they are New-to-me-UFO's! With all the projects I already have in my own stash and sewing room, who knows when some of these will be done, but whenever that happens, Cindy's name will go on each label as she started every single one of them. Today my family is celebrating Cindy's life with an open house, serving Cindy's favorite meal. I so wish I could be there with them, but they know I'm there in spirit. Cindy, we'll never forget you and the legacy of quilting you've left behind will bless many lives for years to come. Love you Sis!
Me & Cindy in better days
More snippets from the sewing room soon,

NewFO August--Getting back in the swing of things...

Wow! I can't believe the last time I posted a NewFO was at the end of February!!! As I recall, there was some of that white stuff on the ground... Oh yeah, SNOW! There certainly isn't any of that stuff around today. August is going out with a ROAR with temps in the 100s! I opted to stay inside quilting where the air conditioning is working just fine. Thinking back, in early March I had Jacob for 12 days straight 24/7 while his folks got to go to the Bahamas. And then I started the moving process by April 1, which disrupted just about everything. As soon as I was fully moved (end of May--one of those drawn out moves), I left for a month-long trip to California and back that wiped out most of June and the beginning of July. Lots of shop-hopping on that trip, but no quilting. And once I was home from my trip, I had to get the rest of the way settled into my new home. I guess I'll play catch-up a little here, but will start with the most recent new projects to stay with the August 2013 NewFO Challenge hosted by Barbara at Cat Patches.

My new project for August is one of Eleanor Burns' 2013 Signature Pattern Party patterns--Double Four-Patch. I made a quilt last month (you'll see it shortly) out some fun coffee prints. When I was done, I had a whole box of scraps left over, so figured Eleanor's new pattern would be a great way to use them up! Well, the quilt top is coming along nicely, but there's still a whole box of coffee fabric scraps! Did I miss something or do they multiply when I'm not looking? Guess I'll make another coffee quilt next month. Ha!
This one is called "More Coffee" since it's quilt #2 from my coffee prints. It's not done yet--it's still hanging just like this on the design board in the hallway. It needs borders and I have some fun touches that will be added with the borders, but the main body part is finished.

Going backwards, I had two July NewFOs. The first was a Marti Michell pattern--Lazy Afternoon--that I made for the Marti & Me Club that I joined. It's named "Coffee Anyone?" and is coffee quilt #1. I played some with the pattern to make it mine and used more prints than the pattern called for, and overall I think it turned out quite well!
The other NewFO from July was a very special quilt I made for my cousin's granddaughter Shelby. Her little girl, Brooklynn, died two years ago before turning two. Shelby's sister asked me to make a memory quilt for Shelby and provided some blocks made by their gramma (my cousin) and a variety of fabrics that had been collected for the project. I was honored to be trusted with such a precious task. "Brooklynn Shay, An Angel in Heaven" was completed at the early August guild retreat (where I had my picture taken with it) and shipped to Oregon in time for Shelby to receive it on Brooklynn's birthday.

The only other NewFO dates back to March, about the time I fell off the face of the blog-world. It's another Eleanor Burns--Zig-a-Zag, the first pattern from the 2013 Signature Pattern Party. I had purchased this fabulous jelly roll several years ago and hauled it around in my move back from California to Kansas last year. Finally, I had a pattern that seemed to have been made for this particular jelly roll! So, I had a great time creating my "Prismatic Progression" which I finished about 2 weeks ago. Yep, it stayed in the NewFO/UFO pile for several months, but no more!

I think that's about it. I'm caught up and feel great about it! And I already know there will be more NewFOs to post next month and in months to come. My plan when I set up my new home was to have two areas to sew--the "formal" sewing room upstairs with the stash, all the sewing stuff, the big Horn cabinet and the Brother machines, next to the computer so I can play with EQ7, listen to my iTunes and check Facebook often while stitching. The second sewing space got set up downstairs in the country kitchen where I put my HandiQuilter Sweet 16 and my new-old best friend, Gerty--the Singer 301A that I learned on when I was about 9! My hope was to be able to sew or quilt in the kitchen while Jacob played downstairs when he's here. I only have him Monday, Wednesday and Friday this semester--he's already started daycare two days a week to start the socialization process. With him getting bigger (almost 14 months already!), I really need to find a way to keep working on my projects without having him loose upstairs among all the open shelves that he loves to clear and reorganize for me. LOL! As much as I miss our hours of snuggle time in the rocker last year when he was much littler, I must say it's fun to see him explore and play, giggling and running back and forth from room to room.
Today was the first day I truly got to work on a quilt while he was here. The plan seems to be working! Not only did Jacob play happily while I stitched at the HQ Sweet 16, he actually climbed into my rocker and took a nap on his own for about 30 minutes. Score! 

After too many hours quilting (my shoulders are telling me so!), now it's time to sleep! Happy to be back and reconnecting with my fellow quilters in blog-world!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Thursday, August 29, 2013

An old friend is back!

I must have been 9 years old when I first sat down to this particular Singer 301A in my Auntie R's bedroom in her apartment in Berkeley, CA. That's when and where sewing truly began for me.
I believe one of my first projects was making one-dimensional stuffed animals--kitty cats, dogs, horses--cutting out two pieces, embroidering simple features (eyes, nose, mouth) on one side, sewing the two pieces together, stuffing them with cut up nylons (remember that??? No poly-fill stuffing then!), and clumsily whip stitching the bottoms closed. A fraternal group I was in made dozens of them to give to children at a local hospital.

Born Gertrude Irene in 1903, here's Auntie R sitting at her kitchen table in about 1967. You see, my gramma died when I was only 3 years old, so as the eldest auntie, she was more like a gramma to me than an auntie. Her two sons, who were only 8 and 10 years older than my father, had no children, so for her, my brother Robert (only 5 years older than me) and I were her grandchildren. Robert and I used to spend weekends with Auntie R and Uncle Ray, playing dress-up, sewing, getting spoiled. The sewing machine was set up in Auntie R & Uncle Ray's bedroom that had twin beds that were always neatly made before they left the room in the mornings. The Singer sat under the window overlooking Gilman Street through old fashioned wooden venetian blinds (the type we pay big bucks for these days!). In the closet was an old Quaker Oats paper canister filled to the top with buttons probably dating back to the 1920s and 1930s (Oh, how I wish I had that canister now!). It was a special time and place that I will never forget. 

When Auntie R was finally moved to a convalescent home when in her 80s, my folks--her closest living relatives--cleaned out her apartment and Mom took home the old Singer. I had it in my room for awhile when in junior high school and the first dress I made was for my niece as a Christmas gift. Ellen Marie looked quite the fashion plate in her green, white & red flowered dress with her purple knee-high socks. Well, we were in the San Francisco area in the psychedelic 60s!
Mom kept the Singer after I married and later brought her to me after I moved to Kansas on one of their drives back. I used it faithfully and each summer, Dad would oil & clean her for me to keep her in good working order. Before I got her, he also refinished the original cabinet she had been in since Auntie R had purchased her in the late 1950s or early 1960s--not long before I started learning! After I bought a beautiful Pfaff and a Horn cabinet in the 1990s, I let my eldest daughter take her home to work on. Between several moves, juggling multiple jobs, and two children, she got too busy to sew and some time ago put the Singer in her cabinet into the closet for safe keeping (it's probably been there 10-12 years at least!).

Jump forward about 50 years from when I first sat down to this beauty and look whose back!!! With my most recent move, I have set up two sewing areas. The primary sewing room with all the supplies, stash, etc., is upstairs in the master bedroom (who needs all that space just to sleep?). Plus, the country kitchen on the main floor is long enough that I have put my HandiQuilter Sweet 16 there and rescued the Singer from my daughter's closet, had her serviced, and set her up also in the kitchen. This way, when Jacob (remember that little rascal grandson I watch?) can play on the main floor and I can sew without worrying about him tearing apart my sewing room upstairs. He is only 13 months old, so doesn't yet get that he can't just empty the shelves and drawers! LOL!

My auntie's full name was Gertrude Irene, but she was always known as Irene, 'Rene, and later just went by R. In Auntie R's memory, I've nicknamed her old machine Gerty and just brought her home from her first trip to be serviced in probably 15 or more years. I sat down to her last weekend while working on my Kansas State Fair block and she sewed like a dream! It was like I hadn't been away from her at all. Using the knee pedal control was as natural as walking. I did have to find my thread stand so my Aurifil spools could feed up through the stand loop and into the machine, but that's no problem at all. 

I would imagine I'll be doing a LOT of sewing on Gerty now that she's set up downstairs. In fact, in anticipation I bought fresh spools of Aurifil 50 in white and cream to stay with Gerty so I don't have to be running up & downstairs in search of my favorite threads. Although I love my Brothers--both the Quattro 6000D and the Innovis 80 Runway, whenever I'm downstairs I'll be sitting happily at Gerty, stitching away. It's so good to have her back and in running order!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Stitching, Fiddling & Picking

What a great past few days! I got to spend lots of time stitching and wrapped up the weekend with some great bluegrass fiddling & picking in the park! But more on that later...Oh, and I'm also linking up with Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday!

My friend Sharon came and spent nearly a week at my place while we worked together to get all of our various projects done to enter in the Kansas State Fair next week. I focused on my block for the Kansas State Fair Quilt Block challenge kit. Each year a limited number of kits are available for purchase that include instructions and two pieces of fabric, both of which have to be used somewhere in the finished block. The completed blocks are turned in and judged at the fair, then turned into a quilt, which will be auctioned off at the next state fair. I feel very lucky to have been offered a kit by one of the ladies in my guild.

This year's theme is Happy 100th Birthday Kansas State Fair! On the website and posters are images of a ferris wheel and a wheel of fortune. I thought about it for several months and then it came to me... in my usual fashion, near the fast approaching deadline! I decided to make a multi-spoked wheel to applique onto my block. So, off to buy fabric for the background and a compliment to the orange fabric from the block kit. I chose a rich burgandy for the background and a light green that coordinated with the orange as the alternate wedges in my wheel. The white fabric included in the kit would be used later as the yo-yo center.

Off to my computer and EQ7 where I found and printed a template for the Dresden plate block I wanted to use. I printed it in four quarters so I could assemble it in stages before putting it all together. Then I dug out my package of C. Jenkins Freezer Paper Sheets so I could print the quarters directly onto pre-cut 8-1/2 x 11 freezer paper sheets with my inkjet printer.
 I carefully cut out all of the wedges, placed them on the fabric spaced apart enough to allow for the 1/4" seam allowance to be added when I cut them out, and attached them by ironing the freezer paper wedges to the wrong side of the fabric. Then I pressed all of the points down over the ends of the paper wedges before sewing anything together so it would be easier to applique once assembled. 
 Here are all of the wedges (with freezer paper still attached to the back) laid out on the ironing board before I started sewing them together.
And then, like magic, here it is all assembled and already appliqued onto the background! Geez, I need to learn to stop and take more pix as I go. I guess I was just too focused and ready to have it done. LOL! I finished it off by twilling the words "Kansas State Fair 100 Years!" in the corners and then appliqued my yo-yo over the center of my wheel. This was my first experience doing twilling and I like it! More projects with it will be in the works soon...
I like this picture of the block by itself too--shows more detail and better color.
So, now that my block was done, I had time to go play, right? You bet! And what a perfect weekend to play! Sunday, August 25, 2013, was the 33rd Kansas State Fiddling and Picking Championship to be held at South Park, Lawrence, Kansas. I've attended many times over the years and always enjoy listening to the competitions as well as the performers who come to do mini-concerts between competitions. In fact, last year I was asked to call a "flash contra dance" during the final performance, which was great fun! At least this year I had enough presence of mind to take my camera and get some fun photos during the couple of hours I was there.

A regular sight at Fiddling & Picking is instrument cases all over the park. Whether the owners are competing or sitting in on one of the jam sessions going on all around the park, there are plenty of easily identifiable cases with their stickers from festivals they've been to before. 
And then there's the people sitting in their chairs or on blankets, enjoying the music. And, although I didn't catch any this time, always children dancing in the grass!

 These two gentleman competed in the "miscellaneous instrument" competition playing harmonica and autoharp.

 Here's one of the five "Ensemble Folk" groups who sang.
Just in the last week, a former participant and supporter of Fiddling and Picking passed away and a group of his friends came together to sing in the Ensemble Folk competition in his memory.  The songs they chose, for those who knew Jim, brought tears to our eyes along with laughter, especially when they broke into an audience participation version of Send Me To Glory in a Glad Bag. Happily this group won the competition.

The day was perfect... hot, but not too hot, a gentle breeze, shade under the large trees in the park, great music, and... yes, even quilts! Each of the stages had a structure with quilts clipped across the front so the judges could listen from behind the quilts without seeing the competitors they were judging.
Off away from the two stages there were circles of musicians jamming around the park. Bluegrass is such happy music! Everywhere I turned I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I listened in.

The highlight for me was getting to hear Amber & Erin Rogers, better known as Scenic Roots, play an afternoon concert. I've known these girls since they were pre-teens playing with their dad. Now in their mid-20s and both college graduates, they are touring the country playing venues from coast to coast! Having them home in Kansas playing here was such a huge treat!
 Later in the afternoon the girls led a children's bluegrass jam session. To fully participate in the kids' event, Erin visited the children's area earlier in the day and made a hat to wear and modeled it during one of their songs.
And then it was time to go home. But first, a quick stop at DQ for a banana split. What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Now it's back to my projects, my grandson, and yes, lots of school work with two classes this semester. I'm trying to plan well and stay focused, but may be here only sporadically depending on how my school work goes. Wish me luck!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,

Monday, August 19, 2013

Beautiful quilts at the Douglas County (KS) Free Fair

What's the worst thing that can happen the week of a county fair? RAIN! Yes, that's right, day after day of rain. There were a couple of days when it was just cloudy and drizzly, but I didn't go back for those. I'm afraid I skipped the outside fun completely because, for me at least, with the rain it just didn't look fun. I did, however, go for the inside show with the quilts entered in the open class. There about 25 quilts entered by local quilters from very experienced down to beginners making their first quilted pieces.

As a resident of Douglas County and a member of two guilds here, I entered four quilts into the fair. All four took ribbons--three blue and one red, and two Reserve Grand Champions (2nd place) in the overall classes of quilts and wall hangings. I find it exciting and challenging to come up with something new to enter in the fair each year and always look forward to seeing how my quilts do up against my peers.

Here's pix of most of the entries for your viewing pleasure.

 Yes, that's a Reserve Grand Champion ribbon hanging from my Asian themed Enlightened Souls quilt.
 And another one on my Moondance Gal, a fun and sassy applique and FMQ piece I designed for the "It's All About Me" blog hop!
 My "Hugs & Kisses" blog hop original scrappy wall hanging took first place in original design!

This first quilt is a little rough, but a great first effort for a young quilter who we hope will enter something new next year. It was fun seeing some of the younger quilters win ribbons both in the open class and in the youth entries. Encouraging young quilters is important to the future of the art of quilting continuing in future generations.

Maybe next year I can get some fun outside shots of a small county fair. With 4H exhibits and animals, plus the carnival rides, there's sure to be some action to catch if the rain will please stay away. And of course, more quilts!

More snippets from the sewing room soon,