Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Masterpiece(s)

This very well could be the last year I made my kids' costumes LOL!  It was a mere ... 8 years ago (wow was it really that long ago?).  I put so much work into them, that I let them quite literally wear them out in the months to come, because I wanted them to get USED (kind of like my quilts).  My kids obviously wanted to be "Buzz Lightyear", so I got a pattern, felt (never again), and got to work...

Aren't those little toes the cutest?!  It's been so much fun reliving those years through seeing other parents  getting costumes made for their little ones!  It could very well be the last year that my oldest does trick-or-treating, as he's now officially as tall as I am :-O.  But then again, I said that last year!  But I've earned enough gray hairs to tell the rest of you younger moms and dads to enjoy these precious years!!

When my boys got to be about 9-10, I figured they were old enough to start creating their own Halloween costumes!  Free candy is very strong motivation to get their creative juices flowing, and they have far surpassed anything I could ever come up with over the last few years, even without a sewing machine!! 
I encourage any other parents to do the same... let you child (once they're old enough) invent their own costumes!  It's been such a blast for me to see what they come up with each year.  One year my youngest was a ghost, and my oldest was a "MEAP test", the Michigan standardized school test... all we needed was white fabric, and 2 white poster boards and a black paint/markers.  Big brother got so many  laughs!!  It was also much less work for me, and much more satisfying for them!  Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Halloween Quilt

One of the first big exposures I had to the world of quilting blogs was Amy's Creative Side's Blogger's Quilt Festival.  She hosts them twice a year, and stumbling onto one of these, a year ago was a huge revelation for me!  I've made so many on-line friends by connecting to some of the fellow bloggers who have posted quilts on her link-fest, and I've even been able to meet a few in-person!  I've also learned a ton, and been so touched and inspired by countless other bloggers' posts.  Thanks Amy!
The timing couldn't be more perfect!  I just finished up this quilt yesterday, and thought it'd be fun to post it on the Fall 2011 Quilt Festival.

It all started in September during a lunch and fabric shopping trip with a friend, right after our kids started school for the year.  I'm not a big home decor kind of gal.  In fact, we moved here 2 years ago, and just look at my bare windows (blush).

Needless to say, I don't do a whole lot of holiday decor either (sigh).  When I saw this Halloween fabric at the quilt store, it didn't initially "grab" me, but once I found out that IT GLOWS IN THE DARK,  I HAD to get some, which meant that I had to make a quilt LOL!

I based the quilt on the "Children's Delight" pattern in the book, "Quilts From the Quilmaker's Gift".  I've made a lot of quilts from patterns in this book, including my recent Project Linus Quilt.  It's an easy pattern, which came together fast, which is great, because more and more, I've been enjoying the process of the actual quilting more than the piecing.  My machine has been a bit naughty lately, so I did about half of it free-motion quilting, and about half of it is done with a straight stitch, or decorative stitches that anyone can do quite easily, even when your machine is not behaving.

My photographer was my tween son..  It was windy, which made it a bit challenging, plus my dog wanted to be part of the action too, so here's the great picture of the back that he took (he took the top picture too)!
Here's a few details of the actual quilting.

Can you see the spider web in the corner (all done with a straight stitch)?  The narrow orange border used a decorative stitch that reminds me of "stitches", and when I started the green binding, I still had orange thread on my machine from my Project Linus Quilt, and was thrilled at how it looked... a happy mistake.  I liked it so much, that I decided to use orange "fangs" to machine stitch on the binding.
And did I mention that it GLOWS IN THE DARK?!?!
I hope you'll take a moment, if you haven't already to check out all of the other amazing quilts on Amy's Blogger Quilt Festival!!

Finish it up Friday: Another Project Linus Quilt

I have 2 quilt finishes to share today!!  I finished both the 2nd Project Linus Quilt, and my Halloween Quilt (which I'll share in a post for the Blogger Festival)!  I'm also linking up with Amandajean at Crazy Mom Quilts, "Finish it up Friday" .  I had more free motion quilting issues that made my finish up a lot of the Halloween Quilt with straight stitching, but after a nice long spell of smooth FMQ-ing, I realized that I had forgotten to drop my feed dogs, and remembered that Leah Day recommends in her blog that it's fine to leave them up with some machines.  I put the feed dogs down, and had more thread breaks, so with my feed dogs up, I was able to finish it all up, which makes me very happy!!

Here's the back of the Project Linus Quilt (thanks to my tween photographer son for taking pictures for me!).
As I was binding the quilt, I remembered something that I had read on another person's blog who had written prayers for the quilt recipient in the seam allowance for the binding before flipping it over to be tucked inside.  I loved this idea, so decided to write a "hidden" message for this quilt.  As I've mentioned before, my dad was a minister, who loved children, and that I wanted to make these children's quilts, in part, to honor him.  So this is what's on the inside...
I wish every kid had a dad like mine.  It really makes me sad that some of the kids that these Project Linus Quilts go to aren't as lucky.  I'm doubly lucky that my own 2 boys got to know their grandpa, as we talk about him very often, which helps all of us with our loss, and help us remember his kindness and generosity.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Potato - Fail

What you are looking at is our entire potato harvest for the year!  Yep, pretty much a failure of our potato experiment this year.

The wire bins that we filled with soil, compost, and straw as the potatoes grew, proved irresistible to the many burrowing moles, voles, ground squirrels and such that we have in multitudes here.  The hypothesis was that the loose enriched soil would make it easy for potatoes to grow and people to dig.  We'll never know for sure, because it made it even easier for these creatures to weasel through for their 24 hour buffet.  I'm surprised that they missed this one!

Considering that we harvested fewer potatoes than we planted the summer before leads us to the conclusion that we'll be buying our spuds at the grocery store from now on!

But our tomato crop more than made up for it.  We also lost all 3 baby Aspen trees to deer, and they found our 2 fruit trees very tasty.  I'm hoping they'll recover and that we can find a better way to protect them next summer.  We haven't gotten a single fruit from these either, in their 2nd year, so those too may be a failed experiment, but our raspberries and blueberries have already shown promise and produce!

I've spent a great deal of time in our beautiful fall weather doing my least favorite chore... pulling up dead plants, cleaning up and putting the garden to bed for the winter.  It's time now for some serious sewing!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Wed: Postcards and Binding (and Kindle Covers)

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced, WIP Wed.  Come join us!

Lately, I've been busy making postcards for my October swap, and trying to make up more Kindle Covers for my Etsy shop

The Kindle covers take a lot of binding, so I've been making more for those, as well as binding for a few quilts I'm trying to finish up.

I don't want to spoil the surprise for the October swap, but did get my final postcard for the September swap ("Wind, How it Blows").  This is what I sent off:
Here's what I got back!  Aren't they fantastic?
I also thought I'd share a postcard that I made for my Bengal-fan, Brother-in-law's Birthday!

 Get it?  LOL  He loved it!  So what are you working on?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wind turbines

Blogger and fiber artist Kit Lang recently posted this picture on her blog that she took on her commute to work, and asked readers to also post commute pictures.

I haven't commuted to a "regular" job for 5 years now, but do spend a great deal of time driving my kids around to school, appointments, activities and such.  I'm pretty private about my kids though, plus I'm always the driver, and can't take pictures, so I thought I'd post a picture that I recently took (while my husband was driving) of the wind turbines that have been multiplying like rabbits out here in Eastern Oregon.  It's not quite as cool as a piece of subway art, but I bet many city-folk don't see these very much. 

One thing I love about reading blogs is that I can get little glimpses of other people's lives that are so different than mine.  Something as ubiquitous to Kit Lang as a subway commute is quite exotic to me.  I've been in a subway only a few times in my life.  The experience was so mentally novel that it's imprinted on my brain.  I can still see the faces of the other commuters, and could probably recognize them in a crowd.  I can still see my kids' excited, astonished faces riding right next to me!

So I though I'd post this picture of what's becoming quite a common sight here along the Columbia River, where wind is plentiful.  Like many people here, I have very mixed feelings about these things sprouting up all over the place.  We have solar panels on our house, grow our own food, and even drive a hybrid car, but we also love the natural beauty that we find here in the more rural parts. 

So what about you?  What does your commute look like?  What do you see every day that others might not ever see?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Over the week-end, our family had the opportunity to travel to Portland, to see family, and do some sight-seeing.  We had a great time, and really didn't want to head back home.  I was lucky enough to also be able to spend a few hours at the MQX-West Quilt show!  I was delighted and amazed at the complexity and beauty of these quilts, that were literally from around the world.  I took a few pictures of my favorites.  Forgive the poor quality of some of them, and forgive the omission of artists and quilters.  The "WOW"-factor was just too high to not share a few of them!  Enjoy!

I did find a website about "The Quilt Show, by Laura Peterson", which was a special exhibit.  Click on the link, and it'll bring you to her website, which explains the wonderful story and process behind this quilt!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finish Friday: Bliss Quilt

Amandajean of "Crazy Mom Quilts" is hosting a "Finish it Up Friday" link party starting today, and it's perfect timing to share my Bliss Quilt that I finished binding this week.  After the wash, you can hardly tell that it has 2 different styles of quilting in it.  Previously, I have not been a huge fan of the "crinkly quilt", but this quilt changed my mind LOL!

I started this a year ago in the "That Girl That Quilt-a-long" as a Christmas present for my (now) 4 year old niece.  I finished up a quilt for her sister from the same quilt a long, as well as 2 other (4 girls in the family!).  But as I've mentioned over the last year, this quilt has caused me much much frustration as I tried to quilt it.  Now, I fell like this quilt has so much "bad karma" that I don't want to give it to such a special person.  So for now I'll keep it.

What about you?  Do you feel the same about quilts?  That part of your energy goes into it?  Would you still give it to a friend or family member?  Or would you start from scratch and make a new one instead?

Regardless, I'm very glad that it's DONE.  It's really a very pretty quilt, just not my style at all, and in our testosterone-loaded household, it kind of sticks out, but I learned a great deal from it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WIP Wed: Halloween Quilt

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Lee, at Freshly Pieced WIP Wed link party!  Come join us!

As soon as school started this fall, my good friend Kathleen invited me to go to a fabric shop that she's wanted to take me to ever since I moved here, and met her.  It's The Sewing Basket, in Prosser, Wa.  I don't think I've ever seen so many bolts of fabric in such a small place!  It's overwhelming!  I concentrated on getting some boy fabric for quilts I'm hoping to make my sons for Christmas this year, but couldn't pass up this Halloween fabric that she had there.  If you want to shop there, she has an on-line shop that has very generous prices.  She has a huge selection!  I only bought a half yard of each, so it's just going to be a lap quilt, which is fine, because I'm not much of a home decor person, and have gotten rid of much holiday decor in our last 2 cross-country moves.  But one of the things I love the most about quilts is how little room they take up!!

I decided to strip piece this quilt.  I love this technique, as it makes a quilt come together fast!

There's a lot of fun Halloween fabric out there, but do you know what really "hooked" me about this fabric?  It GLOWS IN THE DARK!!!!  Is that cool or what?!?!  I think I'm more excited about it than my boys LOL!

I also finished up my 2nd Project Linus Quilt top.  I didn't originally intend it to be such a lovely fall quilt, but it is!  I used up blocks that I had from an old UFO/WIP.  I didn't have too many, so it's a smaller quilt, but will be perfect for Project Linus!  I hope to get it pinned and quilted soon! 

I also am in the middle of making the binding for my Bliss Quilt.  I hope to have it finished up soon as well!

By the way, both of these quilts were inspired from patterns in the book, Quilts From the Quiltmakers Gift.  Both the original children's book, and the "Quilts from" are WONDERFUL books!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Summer Sampler Series Quilt top DONE!

One good thing about having older kids, is that I can enlist them to help me take pictures :-).  I finished my Summer Sampler Series Quilt top today, and got my younger son to help me take a picture of it.  That's me (and our dog) behind the quilt!  It only seems fitting to be bringing this quilt to an end (or beginning?), as the weather turns crisp and the leaves start their beautiful demise.

Here's a picture he took of me (and the dog, again) as I headed inside!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WIP Wed: Another Project Linus Quilt, Summer Sampler and Art Project

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP wed, and letting you know what I'm working on!

In the box with the striped squares that I used for my first Project Linus Quilt was a bunch of "puss in the corner" blocks that were made up.  I decided to pair them with another yard of fabric I had in my stash to make another Project Linus Quilt.  When I dropped the first one off yesterday, one of the coordinators was in the quilt shop, and it was fun talking with her about the project.  She told me that one of the agencies who gives away quilts also receives many nice stuffed animals to give away, and when the kids are given a choice between a toy and a quilt, they ALWAYS pick the quilt!  Is that neat, or what?  I had already started the quilt, and as I was sewing the rows together, it occurred me that the puss in the corner and striped blocks were originally meant to go together as one quilt... they were the same proportions, same box and all.  Oh well...  That's what happens when you have a WIP for 3-4 years shelved away in a closet.  I'm really happier with the 2 separate projects than the initial one.  So sometimes I guess all it takes to resurrect a WIP or UFO is to split it into a few different quilts...

I also decided to get out my Summer Sampler Series Quilt to finish, now that the weather has turned.  Originally I was planning to add additional blocks to make it bigger, but I found a cream fabric on clearance that was a good match, and now I'm going to make it bigger by giving it nice wide sashings and borders.

Finally, I'm taking part in a local art challenge that's perfect for me!  The challenge is to go to a community thrift store here in town (which raises money for local charities), spend no more than 5 dollars on items there, and create a piece of art to be displayed in their street window.  We can also use items from our own stash.  Here's what I bought yesterday, a $3 polyester/rayon women's suit, and an orphan flannel brown flat sheet for 25 cents.  As a bonus, I found a vintage sheet that was ripped that they gave me for free, and 3 men's silk shirts, all under $3 per shirt!  If my husband won't wear them, I may have to make a quilt from them!  Has anyone ever made a quilt with silk?  Any tips?  These shirts are so luxurious!!

We are finally getting our fall rains here, after many, many weeks without measurable rain, which is typical here.  It's so nice to see clouds and rain again!  Best of all, rain, clouds, and cold means perfect sewing weather!!