Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Summer Quilting

Last spring I wrote that I had started numerous projects and finished none of them. I can tell you that I finished one (yes, ONE!) that I started in the spring. This easy little nine patch quilt was made out of fabrics I had on hand to be donated to a local organization that distributes quilts to foster children. They expressed a need for quilts with sports themes. I dug into my baseball fabrics and came up with this. I hope this small quilt will bring comfort to the child who receives it.

Next up is a little paper-pieced gift for a friend who recently retired and likes nothing more than to go camping out in the wilderness. Once he lived in Minnesota and frequently canoed and camped in the Boundary Waters. I actually bought this pattern years ago with him in mind. This was also made with scraps I had on hand. The finished quilt is about 18" x 15". I made in in about 2 weeks in July.

A year ago a friend of mine asked me to make a quilt for her baby granddaughter. We decided to make a rather large quilt, one that the child could use as she grew. Mom was to pick a pattern and colors. After months of indecision and nagging by my friend, Mom finally gave me some ideas and in July I picked the fabrics and my friend bought them. I started piecing it in early August and finished the whole thing last week. It took me just under 6 weeks. It measures approx. 63" x 51".

The quilting is very simple--horizontal and vertical lines to outline all of the pieces of the quilt.


While I was working on the one above, I also made this one. Yes, two quilts simultaneously. The one below took just under 4 weeks. I was nuts. Anyhow, I was invited to a baby shower and I wanted to bring a quilt. I learned that baby's room is being decorated with a nautical theme. I had two yards of this cool fish fabric and scraps of a couple of whimsical fish prints, so I put them together to make this. It's about 52" x 45".

This one is quilted with an all-over meander pattern. Fast and easy.

So, that makes 4 finished quilts, a total of 5 on the year. I still have several unfinished projects, although last night I started working on my Aviatrix Medallion some more. But between now and Christmas I have to make 2 baby quilts and a retirement gift for my boss. Most of those other projects really will have to wait. And knowing me, I'll find something else to catch my eye that I have to make RIGHT NOW. Seriously, I have a problem.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quilt Show

I should be doing a TBR Day post. But once again.... total fail. 

So. How about some gorgeous quilts? I attended the American Quilters Society Chattanooga show on Saturday and here are a bunch of photos that I took.

First up, several quilts from a special exhibit called "Stitch Like an Egyptian." AQS is licensed to exhibit and sell artwork by the Tentmakers of Cairo. In addition to the exhibit, a member of the Tentmakers was there to demonstrate his technique. These quilts are very interesting. A design is sketched on a background fabric and the background fabric is attached to a lightweight canvas. Then the artist stitches the applique pieces into place. The artist we saw uses a large needle and stitches so quickly! I was amazed.



Here's a close-up:

Next up was a special exhibit by quilt artist Melody Johnson. Go take a look at the galleries on her website. Her exhibit here was called "All Color, All the Time." I got to hear a lecture by her some 5-6 years ago. Her work is so bright and beautiful. Note that the second picture below is a close-up of a small section of this first quilt. What a fun, interesting technique.


This one was my favorite.

A portion of the show includes quilts entered in a contest for judging. I didn't try and enter, but I think I will submit an entry next year as I plan to go back down if all goes well. This next section of pictures are just random ones that I particularly liked.



The grand prize winner was Marilyn Badger of Utah. She was there by her quilt, chatting with attendees. She makes about one quilt per year. There is piecing, applique, embroidery, and more.

There is an online group of quilters called the BadAss Quilters Society. They have over 7,000 members from all over the world.


This one cracked me up. The background quilting includes more sharks, and I couldn't help but think of Sharknado as soon as I saw it.




This a close-up from the quilt above. It appears that medical gauze was painted or hand dyed and reverse applique was used to attach the gauze to the squares. Then the squares were hand appliqued to the background. I love this quilt. Just love it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this brief look at the quilt show. Now it's back to work on my own projects.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Reading 2014

Here in the U.S., today is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. It's a day off for a lot of us, but not for everyone. I'm one of the lucky ones with a 3-day weekend. So I thought I'd visit my blog (hello, poor neglected blog) and reflect on some of the reading I did this summer.

tl;dr version: I re-read a lot. I read a lot of Nora. I even listened to a few audiobooks. I'm not a fan of a recent RITA winner. And is anything NOT a part of a series? New Robin D. Owens--love.

Re-reads.

I spent some time re-reading a couple of favorite series. I went back to Mary Balogh's Slightly series and read the whole thing in about 2 weeks time. It was interesting to note that my initial opinions still hold. My favorite by far is the first one, Slightly Married. I really dislike numbers 4 and 5, Slightly Tempted and Slightly Sinful. Most people seem to love Slightly Dangerous the most, but I don't feel the love. I just don't get Christine's appeal as a heroine for Bewcastle.

I also re-read Nora Robert's Born In series. Enjoyable comfort reads and now I have an itch to re-read the Chesapeake Bay series. And that leads me to...

Nora.

I also wound up reading two of her much older books, River's End (2000) and Public Secrets (1990). I liked them both very much, but loved, loved, loved Public Secrets. That one is a lengthy saga that begins in the 60s and ends in the 80s. I felt myself re-living much of my youth. Coincidentally, the books have some themes in common (public figures, hero cop who is son of detective first investigating a murder, and a murder that takes decades to solve). I did not know that they would feel that similar when I chose to read them. Reading so much by the same author in a short period of time reveals interesting quirks. Nora likes to use the word "completely" a lot. And that leads me to...

Audiobooks.

So, I've never been one for audiobooks. I am re-thinking that position. I had to make a 20-hour (round trip) drive in August to visit family. Normally I make that trip with someone else in the car. Often my husband does all the driving and I spend my time reading my Kindle. This time I had to go by myself and I knew I needed a book or two to listen to. That's how I ended up with the two NR books mentioned above. That's how I noticed that use of "completely." I wonder what I overlook when I read instead of listen. 

But I did find that listening to a book while I sew is less distracting than having the TV on. I like how productive I can be. And that leads me to...

The RITAs.

When Sarah MacLean won another RITA for best historical I decided to try her books again. I had tried a couple a few years ago and did not finish them. They felt too modern; I like my historicals to be more... well, historical. I had really liked Pamela Clare's Defiant so I was bummed when that one didn't win. Then MacLean won again this year, so I decided to continue my audiobook journey with her RITA-winning series, which I found at my library. I finished A Rogue by Any Other Name and while I found her characters sympathetic, I was not blown away. Right now I'm on One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. I like the heroine, but the whole plot and set-up strikes me as so improbable I'd rather quit reading it. But I want to finish it to see what made No Good Duke Goes Unpunished a winner. I loved The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan and The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas, and really wanted one of them to win this year. Oh well, different strokes and all that. And that leads me to...

Series.

There's very little out there these days that isn't part of a series. It's rather exhausting to try and remember details from various series when you read as much as I do. A good author can bring salient points to mind without an info dump. Thank you Jo Goodman, for one of my favorite reads of the summer, In Want of a Wife. I also enjoyed ongoing entries by Nalini Singh (Shield of Winter) and Virginia Kantra (Carolina Man).

I started several new series this summer. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I'm going to highlight only one. Robin D. Owens has a new series out about a woman who can see ghosts and needs to help them over to the other side. I'm not a huge paranormal fan, but I've always loved Owens' Heart Mate books and there are several familiar elements here, including communicating with a pet. This series, though, appears to follow the same couple. I read the first book, Ghost Seer, a few weeks ago. The next one, Ghost Layer, releases tomorrow. These books are set in Denver, and Owens gives a great sense of place. The ghosts in the book are from the late 1800s, so there's a unique blend of western historical/modern Colorado. I'm eager to read the new book. And that leads me to...

Oh Wait, I'm Done.