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Thursday, September 28, 2006

3 Charity Quilts

I've decided not to blog about the less than happy experience with a one day workshop of an out-of-state quilt artist. To be fair, she may have been asked to accomplish too much in too little of a timeframe, or she may have been tired, or I may have expected too much (after having such a wonderful time in MI),or I may have been tired - who knows. A blog is too public of a place for a negative opinion on a one-time event. Plus, our quilting world is a little too small that a negative comment could have negative consequences for a quilt artist whose work I respect and admire. So with that said, I am moving on.

So in the effort to keep my life on a positive path, here are the three twin size quilt tops that I promised to make for Duschene Clinic. They said it didn't matter when they were finished. My friend, Carolyn, who is making another three tops and I decided that if they were all completed by Christmas, they would make nice Christmas presents. I can't tell you yet who they are being made for though, so it can be a secret until the gifting. At any rate, I am quite pleased with them. Not only did they take a lot of fabrics out of my stash, but one of them is also an abandoned UFO. I think once a UFO has ripened in the dark in a box for a while, it gets better with age, don't you? I won't tell you which one it is, since I like all of them equally!

Two of them aren't quite long enough to make a pillow roll, so I used some of the largest pieces of leftover fabric to make matching pillowcases for them!

Two of the backings were pieced, using the remainder of the fabrics. I actually had a large piece of fabric that I had been saving (for who knows what?) that was exactly the size for the third one. They really are all square, but when I put them on my design wall, they hang a bit crooked. And the colors are a bit brighter in person, too. I took these photos in full daylight, with a southern exposure from a lot of windows.

This is just a round and round log cabin block. The centers are about 6" square of a fabric that I just absolutely love. It has dragonflies on it that are so subtle and soft. The strips around the centers were cut at 1.5", and they were actually from a strip swap. I think the blocks look like handkerchiefs. The pillowcase body is made from the dragonfly fabric, and the 4" cuff is made of strips folded over and pressed - sort of like piano keys.

This is another Terry Atkinson pattern called Stepping Stones. It really only makes a large lap throw, so I enlarged the border to make it a small twin. I used the green stepping stone fabric for the body of the pillowcase and the pink floral fabric for the cuff.

This is a Debbie Beaver pattern created for Connecting Threads called Willow Mews. It's large enough to have a pillow roll, so I didn't make a pillowcase for this one. I used another dragonfly fabric on this one for the large squares, but it is a bit more beige and the dragonflies are blue, lavender and green. I made the border wider, and because I ran out of that fabric, I had to improvise and use the last scraps to make the nine patches in the corners to make it all work together.

If you click on the pictures, you can see the prints in the fabrics better. They look plain, but there really is more detail in all of them than shows up in the smaller versions.

I've more or less got the other commitments planned: a lap size and two baby quilts for the February auction. Carolyn and I are also splitting up making large and small stars for the queen size quilt due to Duschene by February as well.

In my spare time, I got the binding machine stitched to my Happy Jacks Pumpkin Patch quilt that Bonnie from Quiltville quilted for me. I want to get that hand stitched soon so I can get it on my display wall before Halloween!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More on the Michigan Retreat

View from the veranda

Hello again! My heart is still in Michigan, but my head (with it's cold) is still in Kansas. It sure seems strange that we aren't on the road again.

White Birch Lodge is such a laid back place! I loved it so much, I am trying to talk Hubby into vacationing there next fall instead of Colorado. He is willing to try a new place, but he's still thinking about it!

When Carolyn and I arrived it was drizzly raining, but not enough for an umbrella. We drove all over the place, visited Traverse City, and then we grocery shopped. We got to Elk Rapids downtown and had lunch. It was so funny because whenever we asked for directions they always began at THE traffic light.

The Lodge has several different accommodations - everything from single rooms with shared baths in the Lodge as well as double/triple rooms with a private bath, to townhouses and condos. Our room was in the upstairs area (I believe a former attic), with great views on two sides of the room out to the lake/bay. There's also wonderful picnic or sitting areas along side the water, where we had lunch and dinner whenever we could.
Quiltgranny and Carolyn

The sewing room was also in the Lodge where I believe they serve meals in season. It had wonderfully large windows open to a veranda with lots of chairs, and views of the water. It was heaven! We had full access to the kitchen, located off the sewing area, with a microwave and a walk-in refrigerator, so that made snacks and breakfasts easy, too.

Since we arrived on Sunday, and the rest of the 2nd week campers didn't arrive until Tuesday, we had the run of the place to ourselves. That was also pretty terrific, with no pressure on where to sit, what to do, or where to go.

I've been waiting to post more about my retreat with Gwen and friends until I could get pictures arranged and some other responsibilities put away. First of all, I won't be showing any pictures of other people's project except for Carolyn and mine. I failed to get permission from folks, and the one or two that I did get permission, I can't remember. So, to be on the safe side, I'll just describe some of them for you. I DO like to honor those quilters who prefer to "save" their projects for other venues.

With introductions on the first night, we found that about 30% of class names were "Carol", in some form: Carole, Carol, Carolyn. So if you wanted to ask someone a question, and didn't know their name, you could just say "Carol" and have a pretty good chance you were right. I can't tell you how many times I heard "Carol?", even when they were calling to ME! LOL! We also found that when someone lives in Michigan, they show you where they live on their hand because the state is shaped like a mitten. We got quite a few laughs from that one.

Can you see which one isn't the same? Miss Kitty on the left is from Kentucky!

Here's a couple of shots of our work area. Isn't it nice and spacious? Most of us had an entire table to ourselves. I think only a couple of people shared a table amongst them.

I set to work making strada on Sunday and Monday since I hadn't brought any with me. I think it was Wednesday when Gwen showed us the different ways to use it. If you have the new book by Freddy and Gwen, look at the different quilts to see how many different uses there are for strada. A very versatile piece of "made fabric"! Here are the 2nd weeker Strada Queens!
We had a great time making parts, and playing on the design wall. I started out making a lot of parts in Colorado, and continued making parts the entire time I was there. I can't remember if I mentioned that one of the big things I learned was that I like making the filler parts more than the actual "focus" blocks. That's why my parts are still parts, and many others in the class had completed tops by the end of the week. I still need to make more focus blocks, but just haven't had the time or energy to do them just yet!

We learned a few easy ways of making the setting squares to put blocks on point. I love the way Gwen teaches you just using a piece of paper and a pencil. Something my brain can take home and do again on my own!

Now, let's see, what did other people do with their parts? Several used houses as their focus points. One gal used great novelty fabrics and made a great sort of strippy quilt with all of her family members and her pets in the doors. Another made a bright and fanciful wild large log cabin that put me in the mind of Gee's Bend quilts, only using modern bright fabrics. I was surprised to see how many people used batiks and hand dyes for beautiful, beautiful constructions of shapes and eye catching designs. Another used pre-printed squares of "woman's work" and used all the parts around them as setting spacers. There were SO MANY ideas that worked, it's hard to describe them all. What I liked most was the versatility of the parts. They could either work alone, or in addition to other pieces.

Here's another tip! Carol (who else?) had this great idea for organizing strips:
Here's my traveling buddy, Carolyn's quilt top:The houses are paper pieced, but the rest are all parts. This is a big step away from the traditional colors, and pattern guided quilt tops she makes. I love it!

Here's yet another variation on my parts. Who knows how this will end?

And last, I couldn't believe that the water was warm in September, so I just had to try it. It's really quite nice!

As you can tell, this was a marvelous week away! Gwen brought lots of her quilts, and we could pore over them whenever we wanted to for ideas. The show and tell was fabulous, and the campers were all so wonderful! Even though the majority of them had been going to this same second week retreat since Beaver Island times for ever so long, they all made us newcomers feel welcome. This definitely is on my schedule for next year, second week in September again. Baskets are the focus for next year. Maybe then I'll have a top done - but then, again, maybe not. The retreat is what I will be going for! Sewing might just have to come in a close second!

Next post: A not so happy tale of a not so happy workshop upon returning from Michigan.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

So....on to Michigan!

I really don't have the time today to post the full week long trip to Gwennie's retreat up in Michigan, but here's a couple of teasers for you. Everyone's been asking, so I thought I could post just a wittle bit.

My friend Carolyn and I flew into Traverse City, Michigan on the Sunday prior to everyone else arriving on Tuesday. It is a nice short flight from KC: one hour to Chicago with a short layover, then another hour into Traverse City. We rented a car and drove north to Elk Rapids, which was only about 20-30 minutes away.

It was really nice to be there early! We were able to get all settled in our room, go to the grocery store for our "two meals" a day at the retreat purchases, and basically get the lay of the land. What is so funny, is that most of the roads aren't marked. I guess if you are from there, you'd better know where you are, but of course, maybe it really doesn't matter!

Everyone started arriving on Tuesday afternoon and by evening time there were about 31 or 32 gals there. We had a get together, introduced ourselves and had a fabulous show and tell session. I think it lasted until close to 10 PM.

Quiltgranny and Gwennie at White Birch Lodge, Elk Rapids, MI

This is one of two felted handbags I purchased at a little (and I mean little!) shop in Elk Rapids. Bonnie and Clyde had to check to make sure there wasn't another cat in it when it came into their territory.

The owner of the shop called Now and Then (a fabric store plus an antique shop) had a special sale for all of Gwennie's campers - $5.00 per yard of ANY fabric she had in the store. I did pretty good, and only bought red fabric since that's what I was short in my supplies. BUT, as I wandered around the store waiting for my friend to have her fabric cut, I found that all of her knitted bag samples were for sale! OH! MY! GOSH! Since I could only knit and purl, and I couldn't figure out how to make loops for handles, my one and only knitted project still awaits me in a bin downstairs. Every time I look at it, this reminds me that I should stick with what I know and love - and that's NOT knitting! So when I was able to buy this finished purple "poufy" bag for about what the wholesale cost of the yarn would have been, I pounced. I'll show you the larger green fur trimmed one later in the week.

Of course, Clyde voiced his opinion about my suitcase when I got home, and then immediately climbed into it after helping me unload my class supplies. Maybe this is his way of telling me that I won't go anywhere without him next time!

These are my parts and one of MANY ways I played with them, but I'll tell you more about that the meantime, watch this space over the next few days/weeks for more on the retreat! Which BTW, is now my favorite place to go!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Colorado and New Mexico

This is why Hubby likes to go to Antonito, CO and Chama, NM.

"Antonito was once the "mainline" of the infant Denver and Rio Grande railroads. Today, Antonito is the main station for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad - the highest and longest narrow-gauge railroad in the North American continent - an authentic railroad trip to Chama, New Mexico, that brings Colorado history to the present day."

Of course, after 30 years of visiting there, he doesn't ride the train anymore, just chases it up through the passes, takes pictures, and hikes along the rails. If anyone wants more history about this area or the railroad itself, you can check it out here.

I stayed back at the cabin for most of the days and sewed. I took along my Pfaff, and as you already know, enough projects for me to work on even if we got snowed in for the winter! HA!

Occasionally, I would sit by the river and pretend to read.

We always get to see the last of the hummingbirds on our front porch before they leave for the winter.

I also made sure to get out of the cabin and walk along the Conejos River everyday. It's so quiet there, and it's very relaxing to hear the river tumbling over the rocks!


We drove straight south from Colorado into New Mexico into Taos. Along the drive there was some beautiful country, with high altitudes, and lots of cold wind. We saw a dark shadow running across the flat vista to the east of us as we were driving into New Mexico. All of a sudden, we were right on it! It was the Rio Grande Gorge, which was well marked with all the tourist cars parked up and down the road on each end of the bridge. Of course, since we were officially tourists, we decided to stop and see the hole in the ground, too.

Quiltgranny at the Rio Grande Gorge

Since we were officially tourists, we thought it was high time to consult our unread guide book for the area before taking off again. After all, we almost missed this hole in the ground, right? So we found that an 80 mile drive enchantingly named the "Enchanted Circle" was located immediately to the north and east of Taos. This, too was highly recommended by the guidebooks. All I can say is that we are still waiting to be "enchanted".

But there WAS one formation of rocks that was pretty cool! Apparently, there was someone else impressed with this wall of rocks, because they're parked on the other side from us, up the road!

We walked the town plaza in Taos, and afterwards, we found our B & B, Hacienda del Sol and got a very relaxing sleep on a wonderful bed! Not quite as rustic as the cabin in Colorado...and a nice breakfast before we hit the road to Santa Fe.
Cowboy Room, Hacienda del Sol, New Mexico

The drive south to Santa Fe was pretty flat with a few rock formations here and there. There were many Pueblos to visit or drive through, but since we've done that before, we decided not to pay their fees for photography or the privilege to drive on their roads. We drove to Chimayo, which is a lovely old, old, old, city/village. We stopped at the weavers, and I purchased some bookmarks, and a small, black piece of pottery that I fell in love with. We also stopped at the Sancturario, which is sometimes called the Lourdes of America.
"Somewhere around 1810, a Chimayo friar was performing penances when he saw a light bursting from a hillside. Digging, he found a crucifix, quickly dubbed the miraculous crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas. A local priest brought the crucifix to Santa Cruz, but three times it disappeared and was later found back in its hole. By the third time, everyone understood that El Senor de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayo, and so a small chapel was built on the site. Then the miraculous healings began. These grew so numerous that the chapel had to be replaced by the larger, current Chimayo Shrine -- an adobe mission -- in 1816.

El Santuario de Chimayo is now known (at least locally) as the "Lourdes of America." The crucifix still resides on the chapel alter, but for some reason its curative powers have been overshadowed by El Posito, the "sacred sand pit" from which it sprang, which gapes unheavenly behind the main altar. Over 300,000 people visit this dustbin o' heaven every year.

The Prayer Room, which is located in the sacristy of the church (next to the pit), is filled with discarded crutches, braces, and scary, handmade shrines that look more voodoo than Catholic."

Since I couldn't take pictures in this sacred place, I am sharing one from Roadside America's website so you can see the pit of dirt. Of course, being good tourists, I had Hubby pour some dirt on his hands as a preventive measure.

We drove on into Santa Fe and basically crashed at our next Bed and Breakfast, Inn on the Alameda for the next two days. We did a little gallery looking, and little walking, and a little shopping but mostly just luxuriating in the lush room!

Here's Hubby on one of the benches on one of our walks about town. Pretty big crows they grow in New Mexico, eh?

And if you've lasted this long - here's your reward:

When we went into Chama NM, we stopped at Lynn Graves (Little Foot) shop. She usually has a Labor Day sale when we are there, and this time, we found a LOT to bring home! I can't even begin to tell you how many yards is here. Most, but not all of this fabric was $2.50 or $3.50 a yard. The black pieces and the brights in the upper left hand corner were regularly priced, but still less than here in Kansas City.

And then! If that wasn't enough fabric to blow my fabric diet, then Hubby found this nice little shop in Santa Fe with exactly what I had been saying I wanted. Nice Hubby, he gets a biscuit, doncha think?

And now, i have to admit to you that I really didn't like Taos and Santa Fe. It's too dry, the altitude is difficult for me to adapt to, and I sure don't like all those green chilis and green peppers in my food! But it was nice to see, but even nicer to be home!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Raffle Quilt (Number one) news!

Caritas Bowties with Nancy Graves,
Development Director,
Caritas Clinics, Inc.,
Duchesne Clinic and
Saint Vincent Clinic

I was back from Colorado and New Mexico for one day, then I was off to Michigan for a week, then back one day, and then a day long workshop in Lawrence, KS on Tuesday. Yesterday was "Mother" day, and today was supposed to be MY day. But instead, I had a delightful time shopping with dear son for new appliances for his new duplex. He and the girls moved into their new home while I was gone, and we had a nice visit Wednesday night when the girls stayed overnight.

I thought I would take a minute and share the good news about the raffle quilt for Duschene Clinics.

Even though they didn't have a lot of time for exposure for this quilt, it raised $778.00! I am pretty pleased with the amount, even though I was hoping for more (don't we always?) One of our many local quilt quilts was having a small quilt show at the same place as the quit, along with the annual Caritas Pancake Breakfast. What luck, eh?

So, tomorrow, I should have a clear mind after some much needed rest, and start the trip saga - starting with the Colorado/New Mexico trip. Watch out for the fabric diet crash! Yes, there will be pictures of newly purchased fabrics!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Back home and on the run again!

(Notice the quilt on Granny's lap!)

Hubby and I are back from our Colorado and New Mexico trip. A long, long, long drive home on Thursday, then washed clothes, packed and took care of errands Friday. Today I had to pick up my featherweight travelling machine from it's annual service and tune-up. At the same time my Pfaff got to stay the week getting it's annual update, too.

Tomorrow, my friend Carolyn and I will be leaving at o'dark thirty in the morning to go to Traverse City for Gwen Marston's retreat.

Will post Colorado/New Mexico trips and of course the Gwennie retreat next week!

Behave yourselves!