Monday, May 30, 2011

New Jewels

Long time no post...I am enjoying a 'staycation' this weekend. So far, I've completed some new jewelry, went to a fabulous bead shop in Des Moines, met up with my bff, and cleaned my studio. I hope to finish the weekend by finishing the quilting on a rather large lap quilt and try to get the binding done. We'll see how far I get! Anyhoo...on to the new jewels...

These first two photos show a set I made for myself from leftovers from a commissioned work. I used watermelon jade, new and reclaimed wood beads along with Vintaj wire for all of the wirework and clasps. The small dark wood beads were reclaimed from a rather uninteresting necklace I found at Goodwill.

This second set ended up being a belated birthday gift for my bff Jaci. It's made with both handmade and commercial ceramic beads, Czech glass, jade, Vintaj wire, charms, chain and clasp. Seems like some people toss around the 'bff' thing quite a bit, but in our case I think it's true. We met the summer before kindergarden and have been friends for 42 years now. I hope she thinks this did our friendship justice :).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Scrumptious Scraps Week 2

Week two of my Scrumptious scraps class has been really fun. Above are photos of the dyed lace base. I'm hoping I didn't go too dark, and that my embellishments will show well once they are applied. I'm thinking that I'll add quite a bit of bead work to cover the areas I'm not that fond of. My plan to finish my piece is to add a border, and I have a very cool vintage crochet yoke that will act as a focal for the upper left corner. I will have a picture of that later, when my batteries are recharged.

On a side note, I have been working hard to organize my studio. I've been feeling totally overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I've accumulated over the last 23 years of quilting. I just don't want to share pictures yet because I still have a long way to go until it's finished. I don't suppose anyone else out there is in the same boat?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Scrumptious Scraps Week One

I'm taking my very first online class at Joggles, an interesting online store that caters to art quilters and dollmakers. I have been wanting to take this class ever since I saw the beautiful example of work done by my friend Freda while at a retreat last summer in St. Louis.

I wasn't sure I would like an online class, but I know that it's unlikely that I will ever have the opportunity to take a class in person from the instructor, Christen Brown, since she resides in California.
The class project is to take odd bits of laces and apply them to a base. Once that is complete, there are 4 more lessons that will guide students to dye the base, and then add various embellishemnts. In my piece, I've combined vintage lace collars, small strips of scrap laces and Venice lace flower motifs. It is so great to finally have found a project to incorporate the beautiful pieces that have been languising in my lace box for more years than I care to count.

I'm really enjoying the process! I love that I didn't have to haul all the needed supplies any further than my worktable, and I wasn't stressed about not having the right supplies because everything I needed was close at hand. Christen's directions are clear, and she's been very prompt in answering questions in the class forum as they come up. I still miss the personal interaction with classmates and being able to see the class sample in person, but the lower stress level is worth it's weight in gold.

I'm really excited to start the next phase of the class, where we will dye the lace base that was created in the first lesson. I'll be sure to have photos when that part is done.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day!

Steve and I have a busy day ahead, so we chose to celebrate yesterday. Our choice of celebration??? Eagle watching! Steve had been seeing a lot of them in our area, having seen more that 20 of them while hunting early Sunday morning with a friend. We went out yesterday afternoon with camera in hand, and I managed to get some great (for me) pictures.

This one let me get about 20 feet away before he took flight. Amazing to see one so close... Below is the beginning of an eagle's nest. I asked Steve, and he says that they do not build nests if they are migrating through. They only build if they intend to stay in the area. And of course, a trip to the country is not complete with out one of these guys darting out in front of you... Even though temps were in the 50's yesterday, we chose to light a fire in the fireplace and made a romantic dinner together.
Medeterranian chicken, grilled asiago bread, salad, and my sweetie of 24 years....

And what better way to end the day than with brownies and ice cream! Here's hoping you enjoy your Valentine's day with the one you love :).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentines necklace

Awhile back I mentioned that I had won a 25 dollar gift certificate from Fusion Beads, one of my all time favorite online bead stores, simply for "liking" them on Facebook. Above are a few of the beads and components that I decided to buy with my gift certificate, and below is the Valentine necklace I made with some of the beads pictured above.
Soooooo......... Is it okay that Isay that I absolutely love something that I made for myself and not sound 'braggy"??? I hope so, because I am loving this one, and I just don't care if anyone else does or not. It just makes me happy to wear it :)

This was my first whack at an asymmetrical design, though I think it really reads symmetrical because I used components that balanced each other on both sides of the necklace. I loved that I was able to use both new components and very vintage components/beads that have been shared with me by several friends over the last few years.

Components that are pictured above but weren't used for this necklace and earring set are pegged for other designs I have in mind. It may be a long time before I have a chance to use them as I am under the gun for for several projects that I have due for the quilt shop, but that is another story for another day.

Here's hoping that you have something spectacular and special planned with your beloved and that you enjoy a wonderful, romantic day Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Zippy Strippy Bags

Back in November when I started working at the Quilting Connection full time, I hadn't sewn a thing in months. The only thing I was doing that was even remotely related to sewing was the service work on sewing machines for the shop. I was starting to think that I might never feel like sewing again until I ran across this blog, Sister's Choice Quilts. Do spend some time ejoying Nicole's quilts and other projects. Her things are so well done.

This post is one of the first I ran across on her blog and whoa, I was in love!! The Zippy Strippy pattern by Terry Atkinson was the perfect project to start easing myself back into quilting.

Above you see the three that I made for samples for the store. Aren't those fabrics fun? And below are three of my students who took the Zippy Strippy class I offered this last week at the quilt shop. Great job Trish, Erin and Chris!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Busy busy.....

......but then who isn't these days???? I have no current pictures to share of what I've been up to. I have to take my camera to the quilt shop to get shots of my current projects because they have left the house so fast that I didn't have a chance to charge up the batteries for my camera before they had to go on display for upcoming classes.

Rather than have a picture-less post, I leave you with this, a purse that I made as a gift for the former owner of the Quilting Connection.

The purse is my variation of a pattern by Embellishment Village. , the small Curve Appeal Bag. It was a really fun project to make and I was able to use a lot of different fibers and beads from my stash, as well as go a little crazy with machine quilting in a variety of metallic, rayon and cotton variegated threads. The fabrics are all cotton batiks, though I think it would lend itself well to the fancy fabrics that we crazy quilters love to use. Hmmmm......I think I see a silk and velvet creation in my near future....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meet my son Garrett

I wanted to share this article about my middle son Garrett, age 21. Garrett is currently a student at Marshalltown Community College, and this article is being used in their online promotional material. We are so proud of him and his accomplishments.

Garrett has always been one of those people that others gravitate to, a natural leader and very charsimatic. To me, his accomplishments are even more special since he suffers from a severe learning disability. Written words are basically meaningless to him. Despite his disability, he recieved good grades in school, utilizing a lap top computer and scanner to scan and read his text books to him. As he was growing up, he worked with a friend of our who owns rental property. As a young teen, he learned plumbing and welding skills and became a certified welder by age 18. If you read to the end of the article, the answer Becky gave Garrett was an enthusiastic 'yes'!

"It was the best decision the Colo-Nesco High School graduate could have made because he’s learned both business and sustainable practices he is now using on G-Man’s Farms, LLC, his 80-acre farm he is renting near LeGrand. “MCC has made opportunities for me with the education I’ve received. I started my own business and plan to expand my organic farm.”
His farming operation currently includes pork and poultry, row crops, small grains, organic hay and red wiggler worms. The worms are used to make “worm tea” used as plant fertilizer. He has plans to add fish and bees in the future.
Garrett, who will graduate in May, said his favorite class at MCC has been ecological concepts. “That class gave me a different way of looking at things to set up my farm. I want my farm to be as organic and sustainable as possible. I don’t need to use much fossil fuel because I can make do with what’s available in nature.”
Garrett’s expanding sustainable practice expertise was called upon last fall when MCC hosted international farmers from Haiti, India, Mali and Vietnam during Iowa’s World Food Prize Week. Garrett wowed the audience by showing them a box of his wiggler worms and explaining how the fertilizer is produced. He also showed the visitors his chickens and explained how he raises them organically. “That was fun because it’s not often I get to have other people be impressed by my farming. They were very intriqued and it was fun to be able to show them.”
“This is what MCC is all about. You can build your own experience here. You don’t have to fit the cookie cutter form as you get your education. The good professors help you get a quality education.”
Recently, Garrett attended the Practical Farmers of Iowa conference held on the MCC campus. During the evening’s banquet, he was presented with the “Savings Incentive Award” for beginning farmers and when he went up to receive it, he took advantage of a captive audience of 300 and proposed to his fiancĂ©e, Becky Lamb, also a MCC student "

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tanner's Quilt

I don't think that I mentioned that we had a new addition to our family last year. This is Tanner, my son Andy and daughter-in-law Chelsie's son, born July 12, 2010. Andy and Chelsie now live in upstate New York, so we had to wait until Christmas time to get to meet our new boy. Contrary to the rather quiet photos of him, he is very lively and goes by the nickname of "Wiggles" because he wiggles and smiles and coos so much when he sees people.

While the kids were here visiting, Chelsie and I went shopping for the fabrics for a quilt for Tanner. She chose a very cute jungle themed fabric line we carry at the quilt shop. I kept the design simple so that Tanner could have his quilt as soon as possible, and here's the design I came up with:
Can't wait to get this off in the mail !

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cool Surprises

This week has brought me two very pleasant surprises. First, after coming home from seeing a movie I checked my email, and I had won a $25.00 gift certificate to one of my favorite online bead stores, Fusion Beads ! They had a drawing for those who "like" them on Facebook, and I was one of the lucky winners. I will take a picture of what I ordered when it arrives next week.

The second surprise was also by email, and was just so sweet. A woman from South Africa had an old issure of Quiltmaker magazine that had a pattern of mine in it. She wrote in part:
"I am a quilter from Pretoria in South Africa. I have kept this pattern, Raise the Roof, that was in the quiltmaker: September/October '97 edition for all these years! At last I started making it. Half of the top is now done! I am so excited to finish it. This morning I took it to my quilting group and they were all in awe! They then asked whether I could teach them to do it as well.
Would you mind me doing this? And off course I will give full credit. I would be happy if you would consider this favourably.
Your work is beautiful and the latest quilt that you finished is really beautiful.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Kind regards

Below is the photo that Ina attached of her quilt in progress, and yes, of course I granted permission for her to teach my pattern to her friends. I was so honored to be asked!

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Finish for 2011, the Cascades Quilt

See???? I wasn't fibbing, I really do have quilty things to post this year! This is Cascades, a pattern by Black Cat designs and it is my first finish for 2011. This was a really easy pattern, though I would caution anyone who purchases it that there is a major error in the directions. The pattern says to cut 12 3/4 inch squares for the setting triangles when they actually should be 14" square. The details of the correction can be found here.

Despite the frustration of the pattern error, I have to say I enjoyed making this quilt, and it will now hang at the Quilting Connection in Ames, Iowa. I am hoping to teach a class if there is enough interest. I think I'd like to make this quilt again, though this time I would use two more closely related colors so one would blend into the next, use more fabrics, have a wider outter border and make it queen sized to fit my bed.

For now though, I am off to continue work on a baby quilt for my newest grandson, Tanner, pics to follow soon, of course.

Happy Quilting,

Dusting off the ‘ole Blog

I’d be surprised if anyone stops by here anymore since it’s been almost a year since I wrote anything. 2010 was a long, and uhm…interesting year. I’ll always think of it as the year of learning.

First up, learning new jobs….

When I came back from Colorado last February I had a big surprise waiting for me at my job. That very day my supervisor took me aside and said I was now moved to a different department. This is the machine I ended up learning to run.

Never been a machine operator, never thought I’d BE a machine operator, and yes, it’s as complicated as it looks. Can anyone guess what it does? No? It’s called a Cheetah and it is used to put a latex closure on envelopes that banks give you at the drive up window when you ask for cash. Very proud and very happy to report that I was one of two people that never mangled a hand in that thing. It took several months but I became a competent operator until I decided to leave my job last November.

While I was learning to wrestle uhm…operate the Cheetah, I was also learning sewing machine service and repair on Huskvarna Viking sewing machines for the Quilting Connection .

My husband Steve had been working on machines there on a part time basis for several months when it became clear that he could not keep up with demand. We both attended training in Nashville, Tennessee in March, and hosted a serger class at the shop for the region in July. It was great getting to learn from the top two techs in the country.

I am happy to say that the part time service/repair job has led to a full time position at the quilt shop! I am very happy to have left the printing business behind, though I do miss the friends I made there. I wasn’t sure I would ever be interested in beading or quilting again, but the desire is back, and I will have lots of projects to share this year.