Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween, Happy Birthday!

Happy Halloween....and Happy Birthday, Patchwork Pie!
It's amazing that we've all been enjoying a slice of the Pie for two years now! And I really want to thank all my friends & followers for continuing along this quilting journey with me.
In this mysterious time of year, I have been pleased and suprized by several happenings.
Two days ago I went out in the morning for the newspaper, and found this scarey fellow watching over the house!

He looks great all lit up tonight! Thanks, dear husband, for your artistic carving.
This is really what you'd call "ephemeral art" here in Florida...a Jack O'Lantern just doesn't last too long!

And speaking of ephemera, or things that don't last long (and are a bit valuable if they do manage to survive), I received a mysterious package from my father.
This is is what I found inside:

This is paper-mache, about 5" tall, and the face is printed on paper behind the openings for eyes & mouth. Inside is a tiny metal tube made to hold a candle about the size of your little finger.
But this just not any Jack O'Lantern...this guy came from my grandparents' engagement party in 1922! I love it! (OK, the candy is NOT antique).
Yes, indeed...let's do the Time Warp again!

As a nice wrap-up to the mysteries and family connections, the Night Blooming Cereus suddenly had a bud!
Now, this is my "heirloom plant", which belonged to the same grandparents as the Jack O. above, It's not an attractive plant, and goes for years without blooming, then might have one or twenty flowers! It's a mysterious plant, for sure.
Dad says the only time he was allowed to stay up late when he was young was to see the Night Blooming Cereus flowers open after dark.
This flower also has a wonderful and unique fragrance....

Not much to look at, but it was already 6" long when I first noticed it, right in a place we walk by almost every day. The bloom comes right out the side of a leaf!

You could almost see it growning larger from the morning to the afternoon for three days. But when would it bloom? I was afraid it was waiting for Halloween or the Full Moon, and I'd be away and miss it!
And, of course, you must go out after dark to see if it has opened up. About 10:10, if you know what I mean.
Oh, boy! We came home from our weekly Mexican dinner tonight, and found the flower ready to go! When it is completely open it is about 10" across.
As I loaded the Quilt Mobile, I watched the beautiful bloom come to full flower:

And this is it...only one night of glory! By morning it be done.
So now you, too, have seen the Night Blooming Cereus!

The QuiltMobile is loaded once again, and ready to hit the highway for North Carolina and the Campbell Folk School. Cherry-Cherry gets to come along as my class assistant, so stay tuned for adventures ahead!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

EQ to the rescue

"Do you EQ?"
I do...even though I haven't put the little logo on my sidebar yet!
The Electric Quilt Company's EQ6 is a fantastic software program for designing quilts, and especially just playing around. It has everything I could possible need, and more...I have not even tried doing things like tracing a photo to make applique patterns.
Now don't be getting a headache...this post is only about easy things!
I am updating a lot of work for my class at the Campbell Folk School next week, and thought you might like to see how EQ6 rescued me!
I originally started off with the Blockbase program (also from Electric Quilt), which essentially is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns on a CD. I use it quite a bit for research on block names, and it was my original source of pictures for class handouts.
I was working on The Best Friend today. Here's what it looks like in Blockbase:
That's wonderful... if you want those colors, or a grey tone version of them.
WARNING! Anyone who actually knows how to use a computer may find the following confession too painful or confusing to believe! Technophiles should only continue reading at their own risk!

In my original version of the class handout I carefully used my Publisher program to generate little triangles and rectangles to cover up the dark background!
This, of course, is almost impossible to pull off, because you can't get the shapes exactly the same size and the under-layer peeking out gives the whole thing a sort of op-art effect with vibrating lines!

OK,'s safe to read from here on! (I only warn you 'cause I love ya!)
Now that I am learning to use EQ6, I can actually change all sorts of things...and they look so nice! I can even draw a block diagram and color it in the way I want.
So I made a new Best Friend block:
I have been thinking lately about making a purple and gold quilt, so why not try out some of that combination? I like it!
Although you can use scans of real fabrics in your work, I think it will still look different "in the cloth" after you make it. And we must remember that value is more important than color.
But it's still fun to be able to re-color a block and fool around with ideas quickly.
To print out well on a class handout ( & white!) it's a good idea to just fill the block parts in with different greys/ black/ know, just the values!
Each time you see a block in here, I have drawn it on EQ6, colored it in, then exported it to my EQ file in My Pictures on the computer, then imported it to this blog. Or to the page for the handout I am working on.
Then I make little text frames to put in the A--B--Cs for each shape so the instructions will refer to the pattern picture.
And that's when I realized I had drawn the pattern wrong!
You astute Pie Readers already can see I have plain squares instead of 4-Patches.
Back to the drawing board....or in this case, the EQ Worktable!
OK, now it looks more like The Best Friend instead of another Bear Paw block.
In the past, quilters didn't tend to have names for blocks until patterns started being published in magazines and newspapers, so I don't know that there is any intended relation between this as a Bear and a Friend.
But then, another very similar block is Duck's Foot in the Mud! So that just goes to show you should have fun with these things and not take the naming too seriously.
Meanwhile, back at the class handout, I am noticing a real problem. There are more values here than in the original (and a bit scarey) diagram I made.
OOPS! I seem to have colored in four large parts that should be the same as the background fabric!
OK, here we go, finally The Best Friend is all right and ready to be seen:

"Don' she pretty?" as Justin Wilson, Cajun Cook, would say...I think so.
A good trick you can learn from this block is to take a square area and turn it into something else...a 4-patch in this case. What if you made a half-square triangle unit in there?
Hmmmm...I could check that out really fast with EQ6!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Batches of books!

If there's anything I love as much as fabric, it must be books. I have a huge collection of quilt books, not to mention the many books I just enjoy reading.
In order to keep the house from collapsing, they must be "purged" occaisionally...and that means a trip to Chamblin's Bookmine, the best used book store in town. They literally have everything.
A visit to the Quilting section is like a visit with old friends...

As I was craning my neck to see the items on the top shelf, a worker came by and stuck about ten more books onto a shelf I had already examined.
Oh boy! "new" used books!

But then I realized....those were the books I had just brought in!
That's just as well, I was able to justify buying quite a few others: the first two books in a series I wanted to try, and several books on creativity and art.

Yet where did I find myself today, but at the Friends of the Library book sale!
They have started having two sales per year, as so many books are collected.
It's not the greatest place for quilting books...again, it's the "I already had/have that one" problem. But it is a great place for getting cheap entertainment reading...and, of course, they can be given back to be sold again! (do you think the 27 copies of "The DaVinci Code" are the exact same ones as were at the sale in January? I do!)

Sometimes there are really old books, and of course there are loads of out-dated computer books! And I bought one! It's a "dummies" book on Windows XP, which is what runs my computer.
I have never been to that book sale that I did not see at least one of my guild members there, too. There must be something about book lovers...

For the quilt books, I think I'm holding out until we go down to West Palm Beach for the World Quilt & Textile Show...they must have a book vendor! Cherry-Cherry & I agree....we want to see the books before we buy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quilt Show at Stephen Foster State Park

The Suwannee River Quilt Show & Sale was held last weekend in White Springs, FL, at the Stephen Foster State Park.This is a must-go annual event for me, whether I am participating or, as this year, just going to enjoy the quilts.
If you're thinking "Way Down Upon the Suwannee River" you have it right....the park is all about the popular songwriter of the 1800's.
This delightful couple were adding some local color as they appeared at different places around the park. Love that banjo music!
And what is that in the background?
Why, it's the newest FL vendor, the Quilt Trolley! Yes, it can be driven around anywhere to deliver bolts of fabric and other quilting needs. When I get the whole story about this couple from Lutz, I'll fill you in! (No, that is not the same couple as the musicians!)
I did a miserable job of getting the info on these wonderful quilts. I apologize to all the artists and makers. I hope I hear from the artist who made the quilt above...I think I know who it is!
One of the great things about this show is they have something for everybody. If you like art quilts, you'll see fine examples of personal expression and embellishments.
And if you like traditional or vintage styles, there are always quilts like this. The butterflies were made by people from her family, and she completed the quilt.

There are some truly dedicated hand quilters...good ones! this area, and the Best of Show was a perfect example:
This is "Blooms and Baskets" by Itsuko Andrews. The applique done in a stunning array of fabrics, carefully chosen to give depth and detail to each flower. And it was topped off with wonderful quilting (if only my camera been able to capture it!).
I especially like that each square with a basket had a different pattern of background stitching.
Here is another quilt made by the same lady. Great color and applique, of course...that black background always makes colors sing!...but take a look at the borders between the outer row and inner section.
That's a stripe made of little flowers and other motifs on a black background. So the seam disappears into the plain black fabric behind the applique, and gives the effect of a very tiny run of pattern floating between the squares.
This is how you learn at a quilt show: see something pretty, then look to see how it was done. I would never be able to do this sort of applique, but the idea of matching the background color of a print with some plain fabric to get a floating that's something I would do!
What a fun collaborative quilt from a group in Trenton! Each block portrays a song from the 50s or 60s...this is called "Rock Around the Quilt". Elvis is well represented with a hound dog and some blue suede shoes. There's also a Flying Purple People Eater and Puff the Magic Dragon. A list of songs was hanging by the quilt so everyone could have fun playing the match game!
The group quilts really caught my eye, because here is "Lotto Xmas" by Kim Conner.

I just happen to love this pattern, and the bright holiday prints were soooo cheerful! These blocks all had their own framing borders, so when put together they have a neat double-sashing effect.
Ann Opgenorth always has at least one huge applique quilt. This is "Sandhill Cranes" (she also had another of "Appalachian Animals"). The detail is amazing and invites closer viewing. She also designs and makes metal sculptures...I would love to see them! What doesn't show up on this cropped shot of the quilt is how she uses the quilting patterns to continue the picture and motifs out to the edge of the quilt. This is the creation of a real artist.
Another artist (and a friend) is Sandy Lindfors. She had a couple of good pieces in the show and actually covered a great range of styles! Here is "Faces in My Head"...let's get a closer look....
What fun to see so many people looking out, all done in varigated threads!

"Barns Are The Heart Of America" by Sally Bowman is a study in how to take a pre-printed fabric and turn it into truly creative work. She found a fabric with barns from Ohio (yes, I immediately recognized the Round Barn in the upper right here) and cut it up to re-arrange and add other appliques to form new scenes.
What a great selection of smaller pieces! And you know I love animals! "Sonny in the Jungle" by Joyce Marie Lottinville has such pretty colors. "Molly Want a Cracker" by Sandy Lindfors was a experiment in the stained glass style. And "Love Me--Love My Pets" by Rosilyn Blanck features several dogs and a cat done in thread work. Rosilyn has a line of patterns showing different dog breeds done in thread painting.
Well, no show is complete without a Challenge of some kind, and the Lady of the Lake Guild (Lake City) had their projects from this year, to make a quilt from a book. There were lots of clever representaions of both children's and adult books.
But this is one from somebody who was reading the Pogo comics:
That gator's pink hat got my attention, so we must have a closer look....oh, my!
Check out that stogie he's smoking! This is so funny and well done!
I am really sorry I did not get the maker's name!

There is less than one month left for Florida Quilt Show Season. It will end with the new, to FL, World Quilt & Textile Show in West Palm Beach next month, and pick up again in January next year.
I hope you go to a show soon...every show is worth seeing! No matter how small, there is always something waiting to be seen, something that has a good lesson for you to learn, something that has laughter and beauty to share.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Posting poltergeist!

Yes, friends, it seems I have a ghost in my blog that would not let me write anything without turning all my text into a link to...I don't know what that was! I sure was not going to click on it!
And I was not going to run the risk of any of you having some weirdness...
other than my own usual weird, which I hope is ultimately harmless!
And here I am with all these quilt show pictures to share from the Suwannee River Show! There was also a problem connected with those loading.

This post seems to be alright, so I will try a quick pic of Shayla:

She does not seem to approve of the agenda for the guild meeting!
Maybe she does not realize all eating and napping at the meeting is done at each member's own discretion, and does not need to be an agenda item.

OK, sorry for this sort of post, but as I said, I have to be sure things are working safely for all of us!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time flies when you're quiltin'...

Now what happened to all those Big Plans I had about blogging the whole QuiltFest experience?
I guess you got as much as I could do this year. But there are more quilting adventures ahead!
This is what I have in my sights right now:
Yes, in just a few weeks I'll be headed for the hills...literally!...and a wonderful week of teaching at the John C. Campbell Folk School!
The last time I was teaching there I designed a quilt that tells the story of how the school was founded. It was a Mystery Quilt, and we had a great time.
But this year I'm blowing it wide open!
Yes, we'll have the original 9-block quilt (no longer a mystery!) as a starting point, but I have also planned about 30 more blocks that refer to the history, classes and places around the Folk School. I'm bringing instructions to make just about anything...a wall hanging, table runner, we'll be designing and sewing all sorts of projects that tell each person's own Campbell School story!
This is the original quilt, which I now call The MorningSong Quilt. One of the school's traditions is joining together in the morning before breakfast to listen to a variety of stories and songs about the area. A different person leads MorningSong each day, and my favorite is when the director Jan Davidson tells about how John Campbell met Olive Dame, they married, and in time the school was formed.
The location for MorningSong is the Community Room at the Keith House. Just about everything important for getting people together happens, dancing, the end-of-week class show & closing ceremony. It has always been at the heart of the school, as well as the local Brasstown community.
This is Keith House:

Well, this is part of Keith's a very large place!
As something special for this class, I have designed a block to represent Keith House...or at least, to keep it simple, what I consider to be the main entrance. It will be fun to make and can be either pieced or appliqued, as well as (in fact it begs for) embellishments!

In the near future, I'll be showing you some of the steps that go into designing a quilt block.
And I'll be taking my computer so I can post from the school...and even better, I'll be taking Cherry-Cherry along as my teacher assistant, which I get to have because the class is filled!
I am really looking forward to meeting my new friends and students on November 1st!