Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Help

Have you read this book?  The Help is written by Katheryn Stockett and its amazing!  I've just finished listening to it on my I-Pod (I have an Audible membership).  Its been a few days and I'm still sorry its over.

There are three main characters voiced by three different women in the audible version. They all have very heavy southern accents since this story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi.  Although it is fiction, there are some facts woven into the story (Kennedy's assasination, Medgar Evars death, Martin Luther King, etc.) that make it seem very real. I found that if I listened for very long, I developed a southern accent without even realizing it (Dennis kept asking why I was talking "funny.")

Skeeter is one of the three main characters and the white woman whose idea it is to write a book about black women maids in Jackson and the relationships they have with their white women employers.  The other two voices are black maids that take a very active part in Skeeter's book.  There is also a chapter in here where an event takes place that is narrated by someone completely different which gives you an overview of the entire situation, instead of just one person's perspective.

If you like to read, do yourself a favor and get this book.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Almost-Perfect Weekend

Beatiful weather, riding horses and quilting in the yurt...does it get any better??  Okay, after April 29, it will definitely be better, but for now, this was a terrific weekend.

First:  This is another Victory Quilt that I'm working on.  This is Lyn's quilt and she did a phenomenal job of piecing and applying her borders, which makes my job so easy!  She's going to enter this quilt in a local show here, so I'm really trying to make it special.  Her plan is to hang it in her living room, too, so I've asked for permission to double-up on the batting.  The bottom batting is a cotton (she provided it, so I'm not certain of the brand) and the top is my Quilters Dream Puff.  I wanted this quilt to hang nicely and have great definition.  In addition, I love the colors she chose.  I know it won't show up well in these photos, but I'd buy bolts of her background fabric if I could find it!

This is it, loaded and ready to go. 

The pictures of this block and the one following have already been sent to Lyn; she wanted a preview.  I'm using Carla Barret's "whispers" for my main design ideas.  I'll post a full picture of Carla's ideas as well as what the quilt looks like when its finished.  I tried some new things in this block:  feathers in the middle of the brown/cream blocks and little feathers around the star in the middle. (If you click on the picture, you'll be able to see it better)

This block was one I had to think about for awhile before doing *read, give myself a pep talk!*  Notice that the feathers come out from the middle of the block--that means that the two coming towards me had to be quilted at an angle and upside down...YIKES!   I like how they turned out and was thrilled I didn't spend 10 minutes quilting them and hours frogging!

I'll turn the quilt this weekend and finish the borders and sashings. I also have to decide on the background quilting.  I'd like to do something other than stippling and may fill a few with some pebbling...we'll see.

Second: On Friday and Saturday, we got Kate and Bailey and Andy out for rides.  The mud ball below is Bailey--we only went four miles the first day and I think it took longer to brush the mud off than it did to ride the four miles!  He was a wreck.  So was Kate on both days and Andy on the second day.  What is it about rolling in the mud that makes a horse so happy??

Here are Dennis and Bailey ready to head out.

I'm so proud of Kate; she's still very green (she maybe has a total of 20 miles with me), but she's doing so well.  Chloe scared her half to death when she came running up behind Kate.  Kate scooted out about 6' and then stopped, took a big deep breath and was fine.  If this is as bad as her spooks get, I'll be thrilled.  She's so sensible and solid already, I just think she's going to be perfect!

Riding and quilting...Life doesn't get any better!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Easter Must be Close--The Rabbits are Multiplying

I have a customer, Marei, who just loves these rabbits.  I have to admit, I do too.  She makes them so colorful and I love that she doesn't put faces on them.  Faces make them cutesy; this way, they are more folk arty.  Much more my style (like that matters???).  She's making a passel of these for her grandkids. The quilting is very simple (at her request) to make sure these beauties can withstand all the dragging around they're likely to endure.

I had fun playing with variegated thread in bright colors.

Don't you love this red/black/white one?  Its for her grandson who is 12, I think.  She didn't want him to feel left out, but she also didn't want to make him "girlie" bunnies.  I think she did an excellent job.  Notice the bow?  Its to cover the fact that the sashings just didn't line up--perfect camouflage! I put some extra batting under it to give it a trapunto effect.

The pattern is from Buggy Barn; I love their stuff! 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Exciting News -- New Challenges

I finally did it.  I've been talking about it for years, but I finally did it!  I went home from work on March 8 and had a complete meltdown.  Dennis had stayed home that day because of a major water leak that had sprung that morning that needed fixing.  He stayed home the rest of the day and got some screen printing done for his business.  I'd only been home a few minutes, meltdown starts, Dennis comes over to say "hi" (from his screen-printing studio) to find me a mess!  (I'm sure he was re-thinking the whole, "I'll go say Hi" idea)

So we talked and talked and realized that with my retirement, quilting business, the four different associations that I get paid to take minutes for and the potential other work-from-home irons that I have in the fire, I should give notice.  I spent the whole night fretting and the whole next day on edge; should I do it??  During the day we heard about a friend whose cancer was so bad that they'd opened him to operate and closed him right back up.  Made me realize, once again, how short life is.  So...at 4:30 (yes, I waited until the last minute) I told my boss that I was retiring (hard word to say) and that April 29 would be my last day. 

Since then, my boss has asked me to reconsider.  Nope!

Meet Plumas County's new, official, Code Enforcement Officer. I think he can handle the job...don't you??

Monday, March 15, 2010

Carla Barrett's Quilt Whisperer Class

I feel very privileged and not just for being smart enough to take Carla's class, but because after I asked her a question, she actually invited me to her home!  But, I get ahead of myself...

I left for Cameron Park at 6 a.m.; class began at 10, but I knew I'd need at least one coffee stop.  I arrived at 9:30--just in time to help Carla carry her stuff in.  I'd never met her in person, but we've "talked" via e-mail several times and I follow her blog, Feathered Fibers.  It was so fun to finally meet her in person.

Class got underway and I discovered that of the 5 students, I was the only one with a longarm.  We were her "beta testers" for the class, since this is the same one she'll be teaching at MQS in May.  We watched a powerpoint presentation, saw some of her quilts, learned how she approaches quilt design, learned and were able to watch how she does some of her signature sashing and finally, had her take photos of the quilts we'd brought for her to "whisper" for us.  Class was over at 2ish and because of a question I asked, she invited me home to her house to see her studio and have the question answered in person!  I was beaming!!

We drove east to her home which is beautiful.  I met her husband, Joe, a very nice guy and then it was back to her studio.  It was crowded and messy and I loved it

I would have been so intimidated had I gone in to find it perfect and spotless.  Carla is very down to earth about everything she does and she does plenty. The tips and info I got from going to her house totally made the 7 hour drive worth it!

Turns out, she's planning to take some items with her chicken logo cartoons on them and guess who will be doing the embroidery and screen-printing for her??  That's right...Dennis.  Nothing like going to a quilt class and bringing him home a new client *shrug*  Maybe I can get him to give her a really good deal and wangle a hands-on class...maybe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Taxes, yuck! Carla Barrett, YEAH!!!!

Today I'm working on our taxes...well, not right this minute.  Now I'm taking a break; but I'll be back to it.  Currently I'm just trying to separate and organize and I'm swearing that next year will not be like this.  Of course, I said that last year too.  *sigh*

This is what my "filing bed" looks like now...lovely, eh?  At least its raining outside so I'm not tempted to be out with the ponies.  Wet horses are just not much fun!
But...tomorrow...I'm driving to Cameron Park early to visit High Sierra Quilters and take a class from Carla Barrett.  (You can follow Carla's blog "Feathered Fibers" by clicking here) I was scheduled to take this class last year, but it was post-poned.   At the time, I was very disappointed, but now that I have another year's worth of practice and quilts under my belt, so to speak, I'm actually glad.  Now I'll be that much more confident and feel as if I can maybe take a stab at some of the designs and designing ideas she'll share.

I don't remember how I first heard about Carla, but it was back when she was doing her Quilt Whisperer Wednesdays.  I had a particular quilt that I just couldn't decide how to quilt.  I sent her a copy, she "whispered" all over it and I had some beautiful design choices to choose from.  Since she's not doing that anymore and is in the process of writing a book, I'm even more thrilled to be taking this class from her.

This is a picture of the quilt I sent her with her design idea that I followed.  I actually had several to choose from, but this was perfect.

If you'd like to see the entire post, check out Carla's blog -- click here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Victory Quilt

When I first got my Millinneum and began quilting for others, Paula, a lady in my Guild, suggested that I prepare a sample of the pantographs I offered for customers to choose from.  At the time, being a newbie, I thought, "What a great idea."  However, as time went on and I started working on more customer quilts and had less time of my own, I realized two things:  1) I love custom quilting and freehand ovealls and 2) I was never, ever going to have time to create samples of the 60+ pantos I had inherited.

With that realization, I determined that although Paula sent her quilts out, she would not be sending them to me.  Several months later we were in a class together and Paula told me she'd sent her quilt to her usual computerized quilter and was not happy.  She was removing the quilting and planned to bring it to me to quilt for her (yippee!!!).  I started to give her ideas and she cut me off with a, "I've seen your work.  I want custom."  After they picked me up off the floor, I couldn't stop smiling.

This is the quilt she sent to me.  Its an Eleanor Burns Victory Quilt. I've done many of them, so wanted to do some different designs on this one.  I did swags and piano keys in the border, ribbon candy in the sashing, and to fill up those big setting triangles I did a combo of water-stipple with an outlined star--a technique I learned over at MQR.

A close up showing the swags/piano keys, ribbon candy sashing and the setting triangle star.

This ended up being my favorite block.  I had done the continuous curve on the outside, but then had no idea what to do in the actual star pattern.  I actually did this block last and used my Boomerang ruler from Deloa Jones for my design idea.  Can't really see much from the front, but...

Check out the back.  Way cool, I think!! (Yes, I know...tooting my own horn--sorry. *shrug*)

I have one more of these Victory Quilts to do.  One of my customers, Lyn, did her quilt in burgandies, greens and golds--its very striking.  She plans to enter it in the local fair.  If you have any ideas for different designs, please let me know.  After awhile, I get into a rut and can't think of anything new!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Okay, I'm not giving away anything, but my friend, Shannon, is.  Check out her blogpost (click here) to read about what's up for grabs.  I love it and am keeping my fingers crossed that I'm the lucky winner.  Amazing how well I type with crossed fingers, isn't it??

Isn't this great??

Empty Spools at Asilomar

Isn't this the most gorgeous view?

This is what I woke up to on the Sunday morning before heading to Asilomar and my first quilting retreat with Empty Spools.  I say first because there will be many.  My friend, Cindy, and I drove down together from her grandparents' house in Santa Cruz.  Their house was built in the late 40's as a "party house." The views are all of Montery Bay; directly across is Fort Ord and a bit to the north of that is Monterey.  The interior of the house is very much of that period.  It is "U" shaped with a concrete courtyard in the middle of the "U."  There is a bar are in the dining room that can be opened to the courtyard and a huge wall that can be lifted to open up the living room to the courtyard as well.  It was terrific to be able to stay there.

I arrived on Saturday afternoon, February 20, and was able to meet up with another good friend for dinner.  She took me for the most excellent Italian meal I've had in quite some time. Then we went to her house and played "blind girls sewing" while we set up her new sewing machine.  She'd left her glasses in the car, so I'd put mine on, show her something, then she'd take them, put them on, and repeat it.  Good thing no one was watching!

Sunday morning we were off for Asilomar and Empty Spools.  Cindy and I had signed up to take Janet Fogg's class.  I have loved her style ever since seeing her "Kitty Corner" quilt at Pacific International Quilt Festival a few years ago.  There were 15 people in our class and we went through the entire process of creating a quilt using her methods.  It was quite an undertaking; mine won't be done for quite some time!

Below is a picture of what our room looked like.  My sister, Barbara, met us at Asilomar and she and I roomed together.  Cindy stayed in the next room over. 

This is only one of the beautiful view we saw when walking the grounds. Its a very peaceful place and very relaxing. 

Although hard to imagine from this picture, this will eventually be a quilt featuring Emma.  The process is so complex that in four full days, I was only able to get her head put together.  Her mane is still in pattern pieces.  This photo shows the colors being auditioned before sewing.  Some have been changed.  If you enlarge the picture, you can see the diagram better.  The large areas coming from the top of her body will be the sky in dark purple to blue batiks.  Below her, the grass that she's running across, will be the block called "Rite of Spring" -- seemed appropriate. On her butt is the center of the Rite of Spring block which will be done in her body colors, but the block will shine through.  At least, it will if I do it right...

This was the 25th Anniversary for Empty Spools at Asilomar.  In honor of that, they asked every teacher who had ever taught there to contribute a block befitting the occasion.  The blocks were then assembled into six quilts.  Each attendee got to put their name in the hat for an opportunity to take one of the quilts home.  On the last night the lucky winner was drawn and was actually a woman that was also in Janet's class--it almost felt like we had all won.  She won't get to take her quilt home until the sessions are over so that all can enjoy them.  During the last session, all the names will go back in the hat for one final quilt.  Chances of my winning that are only slightly better than my winning the lotto; I don't play the lotto.

So...next year.  I had to beg my sister and Cindy to come to Asilomar.  When my sister finally decided to come, she didn't want to take the same class as me.  That was disappointing, but then Cindy decided to come and she wanted to take Janet's class as well.  After the first full day of class, the two of them were already planning for next year.  I couldn't believe it.  The plan for next year is that we're all going to take Sally Collins' class.  Sally is incredibly nice and the most precise quilter in the world and hopefully, when I'm done with her class, my blocks that are supposed to be 10 1/2 for a 10" finished block will actually be 10 1/2"--wouldn't that be special??

Below is just one of Sally's quilts: