Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Circles Pillow

Hi all -

This weekend I finished my April FMQ Challenge pillow. Our inspiration this month was Christina Cameli. She showed a pillow in her Craftsy class that I really loved, so I decided to make something like it. Her pillow has a circle in the center that's quilted with pebbles in a colored thread. I liked how the pebbles reflect the circle shape and how the circle shape is made just with the fill, with the edge itself not quilted. For my pillow, I decided that I wanted some diagonal motion so I put my circle more towards the upper left-hand corner. And I added a smaller circle inside of the big one that is also off center towards the same corner. To start, I used some templates to draw the circles on my base fabric:

You have to look carefully to see the marks, but they're there in white. Then I made a "Frankenstein" batting to use up some of my smaller pieces:

It always feels good to use some of these pieces! Now, how should I quilt the background? I know! Straight diagonal lines should help with the diagonal movement. I picked a darker thread so the lines would show up and quilted the lines about 1/2" apart. I figured I could add more lines if I ended up needing them closer together (but I ended up liking them the way they were):

I really like the look of the lines! The center is a bit puffy, but I should be able to control that with the quilting. I wanted the quilting in the circles to really show up, so I chose a couple of melon-colored thread -- a lighter one for the inside circle and a darker one for the outside. I chose the melon color because it's the complement of the blue fabric color. Yes, I actually used my color wheel to make this decision! Here is the outside circle quilted (Wesley thought I needed help with the picture):

I was able to tame the fullness pretty well with this quilting and only ended up putting in one small pucker. Then I added the inner circle:

I like the contrast of the thread color to the background fabric, but was hoping there would be more contrast between the two threads. It looked like there would be when I pooled the thread on the fabric. But it's also kind of cool that it's subtle, so I ended up liking how it turned out. The other thing I did to try to add contrast between the circles was to quilt smaller circles in the inner circle and larger circles in the outer one. Here's a picture of the back, since that's easier to see the quilting:

For the outer circle, I mixed these cool, curvy pebbles of Christina's in with the plain ones:

And in the inner circle I used her straight line motif to match the straight lines used in the background and to contrast with the outer circles:

The quilt was a bit wavy when I finished, but I was able to block it completely flat and then sew it into the final pillow:

This one I'm keeping for me!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

April Showers -- Rocky Mtn Style

Hi all -

Well, it's been a pretty wet weekend up here. For us, that means a lot of wet, heavy snow. We got over 2 feet of snow at my house Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, and it continues to add a couple of inches more each day. Here's an idea of what I got to deal with on Friday:

I had started shoveling, then realized that I should take some pictures to share with you. I think you can see that this was the type of snow that was so thick and heavy that I had to shovel in layers to get to the ground. Ugh! Luckily I actually enjoy shoveling snow, but this was pretty exhausting. Here's the driveway once I was finished (I saved the cleaning off of the car for Saturday):

Since I'm right-handed, I always shovel the left side of the driveway on the way down, then the right side on the way up. In the picture you can see the couple of new inches that fell on the left side while I was shoveling the right. The neighbor was nice enough to come over and help me with the end of the driveway where the snow plows left the big chunks. Even so, I spent 3 hours shoveling on Friday. Then I took a 3 hour nap.....

Now don't get me wrong. We really need the moisture so this is a very good thing. But it's so hard to look out the window at all of this snow, when just a couple of days ago it was all melted and looked like spring. You know how you get into that spring mindset.

But on the bright side, all of this will be gone again before we know it and then we can enjoy the May June flowers (we are generally a bit behind everyone else up here)!

On the quilting side, even though I have a lot that I need to get done, I felt the need to do some mindless piecing for a while. So I got out one of my UFOs -- a Judy Martin log cabin quilt with some changes to the pattern. Here is the plan that I mapped out in EQ7:

This is Judy's "Summer Lake Log Cabin" pattern from Judy Martin's Log Cabin Quilt Book, but I changed the coloring a bit and added stars to some of the blocks. I got the idea for the stars from another one of her books, but I had to draft the blocks myself because of differences in the underlying log cabin blocks. My version required some partial seams, but the result is pretty cool and worth the effort.

I had already pieced about 2/3 of the blocks, so I finished piecing the blocks and then assembled the middle of the quilt. Here's what I have so far:

If you look carefully, you'll see that I screwed up the center block a little bit. There was supposed to only be one red log around the center part, but I ended up with two. It's the right number of logs, just the wrong colors. That's what happens when you think you know what you're doing and don't look at the plan! I think it would look better with just the single red log, but it wasn't worth taking out and I absolutely love how this quilt is turning out! The colors are much more vibrant in person that what they appear in the photo.

As usual, I have other stuff that I need to work on, so this will be put aside for a little while again. April will be over before I know it, so I need to get the April FMQ Challenge pillow finished (I started it yesterday) and then I want to make a little bag for my niece that I can put her high school graduation money in. Her graduation is May 19th, so I need to get cracking!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Colorado Quilt Shop Tour

Hi all -

To celebrate my last few days of freedom before starting my new job, my friend Cindy and I decided to take our dogs and hit the road for a tour of quilt shops and dog parks in Colorado. So I picked up a copy of the Quilters' Travel Companion and we hit the road on Thursday morning.

We started at her house in Louisville and went first to the dog park to tire out the dogs for the long trip. Then on to Golden to visit the Golden Quilt Company. Unfortunately, we didn't pay attention to the clock so we got there before the shop opened. Fortunately, I realized that we had left the Quilters' Travel Companion back at Cindy's house, so we went back to Louisville and the quilt shop was open when we got back to Golden. :) It was a really nice shop so we were glad we didn't miss it.

After Golden, we headed west to Idaho Springs. There used to be a quilt shop there, but it wasn't in the book and we couldn't find it so we continued on to Georgetown. In Georgetown, we visited The Quilted Purl. This is a quaint little shop with some quilting and knitting supplies, but they didn't have much that was of interest to us. So we had lunch and headed to Leadville to visit Mountain Top Quilts. This shop was much bigger than it looked on the outside. It was 3 rooms packed full of vintage fabric, buttons, patterns, linens and much more. It was a lot of fun to look around!

From Leadville we headed to Buena Vista to visit Bev's Stitchery. This shop was bigger than the others we had visited so far. It had quilting supplies as well as other needlework supplies. From there, we headed to Fringe in Salida. This is another shop with knitting as well as quilting supplies. We really liked this shop as the fabric selection more closely matched our tastes. Our next stop was Canon City, but we arrived there after the quilt shops had already closed, so we headed to Colorado Springs for the evening.

Cindy was in charge of finding us a nice, dog-friendly accommodation and she did a great job! We stayed at the La Quinta Inn in southern Colorado Springs. The room was reasonably priced with no extra fee for the dogs and breakfast was included. Once we checked in, we went looking for a dog park. That search wasn't so successful and a bitter cold wind was blowing, so we decided to eat dinner and just walk the dogs around the hotel. We were all pretty tired after our long day of driving, so I think we were all happy to call it a day. We hadn't hit very many shops, but we'd traveled a lot of miles and had seen some pretty beautiful landscape, so it was a great day.

Friday promised to be a different type of day. Now that we were on the populated front range, there would be many quilt shops to visit. In fact, we started out with a list of 19 shops and headed out to see how many we could hit. But before the shops opened, it was time to find a dog park. Cindy found a great dog park near where we were. It was a fenced in 25-acre area that included a running stream. It was wonderful and the dogs had a great time! Now we could get down to business....

This was a really full and fun day. I'll try to get the places right, but we did so much that my memory might be faulty. I apologize for any mistakes. We definitely started at the Quilter's Gift Shop. This is the place that publishes the Quilters' Travel Companion. They aren't a true quilt shop, but instead sell quilting related gifts. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my wallet), most of their stock was packed up for an upcoming show, but I did find a couple of gifts for friends and also got a couple of Jim Shore figurines on sale for $10, so I had to have them. I just love his stuff!

From there we went to Nana's Quilt Cottage. This shop was okay, but nothing out of the ordinary. Next was Mill Outlet Fabric which was huge! By the look of the place, I expected to find good prices but they charged the going rate for fabric. Luckily, they were having a 20% off everything sale while we were there and I found some nice discounted fabric, so it was a good stop.  Then we moved on to LadyBug Hill Quilts. We both really liked this store and wished it was closer to home. It was much bigger than it looked from the outside and they had a wide variety of wonderful fabrics. I will definitely go back if I'm ever in the area again. High Country Quilts finished our time in Colorado Springs. I'd been to this store before, but it'd been something like 10-15 years ago. This is another shop that is on my return list if I get back to Colorado Springs.

It was time to head north to Monument to Find Homespun Hearth, which wasn't in the travel guide but Cindy found it on her Ipad. We drove around in circles quite a bit, but we were never able to find it so we moved on to Castle Rock and Sew-Ciety.  The name is certainly creative, but the shop was nothing special, just okay. Of course, my memories of this shop might be a little warped by the ladies who work there, who I found a bit annoying.

Our next stop was High Prairie Quilts in Parker. This is another shop I'd visited before, many years ago. It's really nice to see these shops that are able to stick around! High Prairie Quilts is another nice shop with a good selection of fabric, samples everywhere and a lot of nice patterns. Time was starting to get tight, so now we rushed to Holly's Quilt Cabin in Centennial. This was another good shop with plenty of fabric to choose from. Finally, we rushed to the Creative Needle in Littleton. I wanted to visit this shop because they sponsor the quilt shows on PBS and I really appreciate that. Our luck ended here and the ladies put the "closed" sign on the door as we were walking up, so we weren't able to go inside. So this shop will go on our "next time" list.

It was a really fun couple of days on the road with a good friend and our little best friends. Well, her little best friend and my big guy I guess would be more accurate. Sorry there are no pictures. I did bring a little camera, but I was having fun just relaxing and enjoying the trip so I never took it out.

Now I've just finished my first week at my new job. I think it was a really good change for me. I really like all of the people there. It's nice being in a smaller organization again. I'm just the 11th employee at Global Weather Corp ( They just moved into some nice new office space right before my start. The new space is right next to a nice dog park and Lance (my dog) is welcome in the office, so that's perfect. It'll take a while for me to come completely up-to-speed, but I was able to make some contributions in my first week, so that's a nice feeling. I'm in a cubicle, which is a bummer after 23 years of my own office, but I have some nice headphones and there aren't very many people in the office, so it's not a big deal. And I'll be able to telecommute a lot once I know enough.

Happy quilting!