Friday, October 30, 2009

Quilting Studio

I have a beautiful studio to work in. There are five windows that face east and north. It's wonderful to look out into our secluded backyard and see my garden, the chicken coop (with my 4 feathered friends pecking around in there) and the deck and patio. The lighting is perfect most days and having a space almost the size of a double garage is a dream. My longarm is not the only occupant but there is my sewing center and then 3 cabinets for storage of sewing paraphenilia. One corner has a bookcase filled with books on quilting and sewing. Even with all that space I have a storage problem. Right now one corner is filled with bins, bolts of fabric and batting leftovers. The room has a large walk-in closet but at present it's filled with my daughter's things. Just today my husband cleaned out another area in my old studio and brought in 3 more bags of stuff! What am I to do? He says throw it out! Some things I can part with easily but sewing/quilting stuff is not one of them. A person never knows when they'll need a certain button, a little bit of a certain color of fabric, a pattern from an old magazine, etc. I have about 10 days until my oldest daughter arrives home and will need to access her closet (in my studio). So I have until then to get this figured out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Latest Project

Feathers are beautiful on quilts and I just learned a new way of doing feathers. I have two other methods to make feathers but this is probably the most beautiful. So the last customer quilt had feathers (the white embroidered quilt in the photos) and now my red days of the week quilt is filled with feathers. I think it's good to know lots of ways to make designs. It's important to be so familiar with each design that you can execute it from any direction and without hardly even thinking. Skill in anything takes time, but I find that because I've been at this for almost 10 years now it easier to execute difficult designs without so much practice. The learning curve for these feathers was really short. I spent about 5 minutes with them on paper and then proceeded to stitch them on quilts. This days of the week quilt will be a favorite. I've always liked this verse, though rarely followed it's advice. My best days according to this plan will always be Wednesday (though Sundays are great too -- if I can find time to rest).

"Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Sew on Wednesday, Shop on Thursday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday and Rest on Sunday."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Basket Quilt

These basket blocks took me about a year to applique. I love applique work but never have alot of time to do it. So finishing these blocks was a major accomplishment. I actually finished them about a year ago and when I was looking for projects to take on my quilt retreat, discovered them in a projects bin. What a delightful find! The fabric was all there too, for borders and sashing. So before I left for retreat I got everything cut and then it took quite a few hours to get this quilt top put together. The colors are some of my favorites. When this quilt gets done it will go into the rotation of quilts that I hang behind my sofa in the living room.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quilt Retreats

The days of the week project and the basic food groups for quilt retreat!

I'm back from 6 glorious days of quilting!! To say it was great is an understatement. I brought my laptop with me but due to the way my sister's internet is set up and being out in the country I did not have access to my blog. My desire was to update and post pictures all through this adventure but you'll have to settle for a summary and a handful of pictures. Two quilt tops were completed on this trip, a table runner got it's binding done and another quilt had almost all the blocks pieced. That was pretty amazing accomplishment. We watched a 8 hour BBC movie, Bleak House, and visited the Spokane Quilt Show. The quilt show was wonderful. I don't think I have ever seen so many beautiful appliqued quilts all in one building. The Buggy Barn (a quilt shop) put on a class on applique which I attended. I also watched a video on a new technique for doing feathers (new to me). This morning I practiced on paper for a little while and then proceeded to do an entire border with the new way of doing feathers -- I liked it. I'll post pictures of that quilt as it gets further along. I could wish that quilt retreats came along more often, but maybe having them only once a year makes it extra special.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The last of my garden produce is in. It was the carrots. I planted three short rows of carrots and then let some tomato plants grow up around them. The tomatoes looked like they had smothered the carrots. When the tomatoes were pulled out last weekend I could see lots of carrot tops. So today I got them all out of the garden. It was a pleasant surprise to see how well they had grown. Of course, there's always the mutant carrots. Those that seem to take on some alien shape or often remind me of some body part! I washed them all up, dried them on the counter and then put them in plastic bags in the garage refrigerator. They should last for months in the cool temperature. Some will probably be canned next week. I love to can just about anything so I can't resist canning a few of them. If nothing else the beauty of orange carrots in jars adds to the colors already on my pantry shelves.

I have enjoyed gardening more this year than any year. Hours were spent planning, cultivating, pulling weeds and harvesting more than ever before. The best part was that almost nothing went to waste. I canned over 200 different jars of produce. Come winter there will be much satisfaction from opening what has been home grown.

Quilt Retreats

I leave on a quilt retreat in two days! I'm so excited! This will be the 12th year of my doing this quilt retreat. This year the retreat is in Spokane at my sister's home. There is a quilt show going on in Spokane this weekend so we will be enjoying that too. Retreats are such a great time to get marathon quilting done. We sew all day, stay up late, get up early and hopefully accomplish a lot. Some years I've put together a couple quilts. I always have hopes of doing a lot and bring way more than is feasible to get done in a few days. But one never knows when one project will get boring and there will be a need to start something new. Isn't that why we end up with dozens of unfinished projects?

When I went looking for projects to do on this retreat last week, I came across a couple projects that I had totally forgotten about. They are projects that are almost complete. Both involved massive amounts of handwork and that part is done. They just need sashing and borders added. I'm very excited to finish these, so that will be my first items on the agenda. Then if there is still time I will start a new jelly roll quilt. I will take along hand work too. We always plan movie time where we sit and do handwork. I have a table runner that needs a binding handstitched down and I have my brown and tan quilt that still has lots of leaves to applique on the border. Hopefully I can post pictures on the laptop while I'm on the retreat.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Recent Customer Quilts

I usually do 1 - 3 quilts a week, depending on the size and time involved. When I first began my business (almost 10 years ago) I took pictures of every quilt. Then as the pictures started to pile up, I only took pictures of those quilts that were unique in some way. This last year I've started taking pictures again of almost all quilting done for customers. It's easy when it's all digital now and they can be downloaded and sorted online. So here's a few photos of recent quilts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Update on the Tomato Experiment

It's now been over a week since I started the tomato experiment. There are about 40 ripe tomatoes sitting on my counter or window ledge. I have had to throw about 5 or 6 away that were too rotten to use. So what's been the best way to get them ripe? By a wide margin it's the paper bags with two apples in each. The bin with no apples and just left open is where most of the rotten tomatoes have come from. The box with the tomatoes individually wrapped in newspaper still have not produced a red tomato. I have no idea why a paper bag with an apple or two in it is working. If anyone knows, please leave a comment. I'm just happy to get ripe tomatoes. Tomorrow I will make spaghetti sauce and can it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Science Experiment

I have about 100 green tomatoes that I got out of my garden a couple days ago. It's turning much colder here and I didn't want them to rot or split from the rain. So I went out and picked them all. Then I went online to figure out how to best ripen them. Unfortunately I should have read before I picked them, since I found out that one of the best ways to get vine ripe tomatoes after the season turns cool, it to pull up the whole plant, roots and all and hang it upside down in your garage. The tomatoes will ripen right on the plants. For me, though, that may have caused a bit of a problem since I was collecting tomatoes from 8 plants and my husband may not have been too appreciative about the jungle that would have created in the garage!

Two other methods could be tried. Wrapping the tomatoes individually in newspaper and then placing them in a box (only two layers deep) with an apple placed with them. The other is to place the tomaotes in a paper bag with an apple and then fold down the bag and let them ripen. So my scientific mind (and that's a joke) wanted to see what the better method would be. I've placed tomatoes in a bag and in boxes, both wrapped and unwrapped with apples. I have one bag of tomatoes without the apple. Some are just on the window ledge and another dozen or so are in a bin with no apple and not covered. I'll check them every day and see the results. So stay posted!