Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Summer for the Book

June-July 2016

Life as I know it -- which is pretty boring most of the time -- began to fall apart with the 24-hour power outage in late June. Then came the news that our planned vacation, The Greenbrier Golf Classic, was cancelled due to the flooding in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

In this two-month period we've had to replace a TV, DVD player, microwave, and HVAC, unrelated to the power outage (at least that's what I think), as well as Alex's glasses. My Faithful Pfaff had to go to the hospital this week after a needle got jammed in the bobbin area.

MIL's physical condition has slipped a bit more, Alex had two diagnostic medical procedures (two more to go), and SIL got so stressed about caring for her mother while we were on vacation that she convinced herself she had a brain tumor! (In reality she was having allergic reactions to some medications.)

I mention all this to explain why I didn't meet my One Monthly Goal (OMG) for July. Even though I had time, it's hard to concentrate with all those distractions. I did put Terrific Triangles up on the design wall, even bought some fabric for setting triangles, but I'm still dithering about how to finish it since I'm not happy with the size and I have fabric available to add more triangles.

Terrific Triangles
Bloom Where Planted never made it out of the box to be quilted.

Bloom Where Planted
Both of these projects will go to retreat with me later next month.

The positives: Alex and I cobbled together a most enjoyable alternative vacation trip (still no refund on the tournament tickets, though). Alex's test results were negative and the professionals convinced him he has serious sleep apnea (something I've been telling him for years) so that study still needs to be scheduled.  After a battery of tests it was determined that SIL's condition can be improved with an occasional Xanax.

ALSO, I finished a top for RSC16 ...

Ohio Watermelon Stars
... and am 3 corners short of finishing my March RSC16 project ...

That Purple Project
My first survey of the stash did not reveal an appropriate border fabric so I think I'll call it done and bind with a purple to create a finishing frame. Both of these little numbers will go into my donation queue.

So that's it for July. Hop over to Red Letter Quilts to see how others managed their OMGs.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Under the Wire

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - July

The color was hot pink, or maybe watermelon pink, or maybe just pink -- with green accents.

The scraps were few -- mostly 1-1/2" strips and 2-1/2" strips.
See what I did!
Ohio Watermelon Stars
I tried to use all the scraps I had and pieces that I had cut.
One leftover 16-patch made its way into the border,
as did the unused black quarter-square triangles.
A whimsical yellow goose -- the golden goose, perhaps --
leads the flock.
Thanks to Angela at soscrappy for hosting Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2016.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I couldn't resist!


Working with all this watermelon pink made me hungry for the sweet stuff.

Oh, so juicy and tasty. I'm the only one in the family who appreciates it (or can eat it) so I opted for a small container to satisfy my desire. (You'll note I finished it all in one sitting!)

Today I got the whole center assembled on Ohio Watermelon Stars and started on the borders. First, I need to explain ...

... I initially planned to use the black fabric around the 16-patch centers to create an on-point contrasting square, but I didn't think there was enough value contrast with the centers. So I opted to use the tiny star background instead.  But I had already cut a bunch of the black quarter-square triangles.

Not wanting them to go to waste ...

... 6 or 7 of them will go into each border. But I didn't have enough of the little star fabric so I picked a dot in the same tones of pink for the border.

What do you think? Does it work? Should I make the placement of the geese more spontaneous or keep them in each corner? I probably won't get back to this till Saturday so let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wishing for Watermelon

Working with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors for July --
Watermelon Pink and Green - has me thirsting for a bite of watermelon!

Watermelon Seeds
Look, I even have watermelon fabric in there! I think I'll put watermelon on tomorrow's grocery list ...

After making 16-patches from an assortment of 1-1/2" strips, I decided they would make nice centers for Ohio Stars. The centers finish at 4" which made it perfect for me to use assorted 2-1/2" strips as star points.

Watermelon in Ohio
I used my Companion Angle to cut the star points and background from 2-1/2" strips. (In case you've never used one, the large numbers represent the finished size of the quarter square; the little numbers indicate the size of strip required.)

I am using this black remnant as sashing  (those circles remind me of water rings on furniture) ...

I thought about bringing in green as sashing, but none of my scrap greens really did justice to the blocks. Maybe I can bring green into the border, or at least an inner border, or cornerstones ...

Sew I spent most of Monday making stars. Maybe I should have taken a break ...

Because I had a limited amount of the star background I had to stop at 16 blocks. The fact I had only made 17 centers was also a determining factor! I finished all 16 blocks today with only one Frankenstar.

Last of the scraps - one Frankenstar
Tomorrow I'll finish up the sashing and contemplate my navel, uh I mean my border options.

I have a crazy idea floating in my head to use some triangles I ended up not using in the stars. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Design Wall Monday

Freeing the Muse

Music City Modern Quilt Guild hosted Michelle Wilkie for a design workshop Saturday. She is a NC transplant from New Zealand, has a degree in marine biology and works in the technology industry in Cary.
Michelle Wilkie (quilt shown with permission)

A relatively new quilter, Michelle takes a well organized approach to the creative process. First she showed several of her own quilts and described the inspiration -- from traffic signs to indigenous art to architecture -- and how she loosely interprets what she sees. Sometimes it is obvious, other times not so much.

During the workshop she led the group through a series of quick design exercises to get our creative juices flowing. 

NYC Cityscape - my interpretation
In one exercise we had to work from photos that we had brought for both color and design inspiration. After my recent Frank Lloyd Wright pilgrimage, I have been wanting to translate some of his decorative art into a quilt. Specifically, I want to use the fireplace frieze in the Hollyhock House (Los Angeles) as the basis for a quilt.

The modernist bas-relief above the fireplace at the Hollyhock House
Photo by Joshua White

My first attempt
The most difficult thing for me is the ability to divorce myself from a literal interpretation of what I see. I just need more practice.

Michelle wrapped up the day talking about construction, getting an original design from paper to fabric by breaking it down into sewable components.

What a great way to spend a steamy hot Saturday!

Linking up with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Scrappy Sunday

Pretty in Pink

When Angela announced the color for July -- watermelon pink -- I couldn't find many scraps.  Which seemed odd because that has been a favorite color of mine to work with in the past.

I had too many things on my agenda early in the month, including 9 days on the road, to dig too deep. But once I returned home I looked in my scrap organization system (I use that term loosely) and found a pile of 1-1/2" strips and a few 2-1/2" strips.

With just a week left in the month, I thought I should move some of those scraps out. My first thought was to make some string blocks. But since the scraps were cut to a uniform size, it seemed foolish to use them as strings. So I set about stitching two strips together, then foursies. Subcut those stripsets into 1-1/2" chunks and before I knew it I had about 20 of these cute 16-patches made.

Watermelon Pink 16-Patches
As an added bonus, several of the prints include bits of the accent color, lime green. I also included some blacks and whites with hot pink. My plan is to use these as centers for Ohio stars in a 12" block. A 4 x 5 setting will give me a 48 x 60 center. With borders it will make a nice lap size quilt.

Linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than housework.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Scrap Happy Saturday

What is a scrap?

Does it qualify if you are making a "scrappy" quilt but the "scraps" have been cut from yardage or fat quarters?

I'm inclined to say "yes."  So here's my entry for Scrap Happy Saturday.

Inspired by seeing completed examples of Cynthia Brunz' pattern Geese Migration, I pulled out the one I started earlier in the year.

Each block has five different flying geese united by a single solid fabric "sky" ...

... and fifteen different 2-1/2" squares

I am trying to have no more than two blocks with the same color sky. With a planned 32 blocks, that's a lot of "scrap."

I wanted to add some more fabrics for variety and I needed to make a few more blocks. But, most of all, I needed to figure out where I stood in the process (YIKES!)

So I put finished blocks up on the wall and matched them up with their kitted up "sisters." I had almost all of the geese units assembled ...

... and used the design wall to start laying out the squares where needed.

My goal is to assemble at least two blocks each day so that I can lay out the quilt on a large design wall at retreat in August.

Of course, I have generated a lot more "scrap" in this process. I am making some HSTs as leaders/enders but I will have piles of 2-1/2" squares left over. Any ideas?

Linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is more fun than housework.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When Inpiration Meets Desperation

The geese are flying again!

 Regular readers may remember that I began working on Geese Migration (a Cynthia Brunz design) earlier in the year.

Geese on the Move (a/k/a Geese Migration)
I got quite a bit accomplished at a retreat in February but was running low on variety in the 15 little squares per block so I kitted up what I had and set it aside till I could add to my stash of Japanese taupe-like fabrics at AQS-Paducah.

Fast-forward to last Saturday. Two people at the St. Louis MQG showed their versions of the quilt and I was inspired to dig mine out when I got home on Sunday. However, the 25 (or more) FQs that I bought in Paducah and immediately washed/ironed/folded were still in a sack on the floor that I have been tripping over since the end of April. 

Desperate to figure out where I stood, I paired up kits and blocks with matching sky in the geese block (didn't want more than 2 of each color). Then I unfolded and cut a 2-1/2" strip from each new FQ. From there I cut 2 geese (Companion Angle), 2 right triangles (Easy Angle - for future use) and 4 squares.

Blocks and kits in baggies
I'm planning to make my quilt a little longer than the pattern so I needed a few more blocks. And I wanted extras so that I will have some flexibility in layout when I get to that point.

Extra geese and sky being auditioned
I know this is far from my One Monthly Goal (OMG), but I desperately needed to get that sack out of my way and get this project to a point that I can pick it up and work on it when I have time. There will be another retreat in August and I should be able to get the flimsy all together then.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Vacay 8.0

Driving Blind

Of all stupid things we could have forgotten to do, we didn't update Gabby the Garmin before we left home. If we had, we might have noticed that she is only programmed for the Eastern US! Apparently it's a memory capacity thing. Anyway, we were not able to plug in our St. Louis destination, either by street address, zip code, township, NADA.

We had a vague idea of how to get to our hotel because we stopped at a McDonald's for lunch and looked it up on Google Maps. Things got complicated, though, when I missed a turnoff to I-44 in downtown St. Louis -- stoopedest highway sign I've ever seen! We knew we could continue on I-64 to the perimeter then down to I-44, but finding an exit to get to the hotel was another challenge. All this in rush hour traffic on the most complicated spaghetti junctions I've ever seen ...

The important thing is we made it and we were ready for a new day this morning. Jan (The Colorful Fabriholic) met me at St. Louis Bread Company (a/k/a Panera) and we made our way to the fabulous community center where the St. Louis MQG meets. Without going into details of the meeting, just be assured a great time was had by all! They even laughed at my jokes during show-n-tell!

After lunch with some of Jan's bee friends, we managed to hit THREE quilt shops.

The Haul
Jackman's is big -- too big to whip through in a short period of time but I did manage to pick up four FQs in addition to the requisite RBR license plates while joking around with the staff.

Jackman's Fabrics
The Quilted Fox was on the second floor of a distinguished looking French Provincial office building. They had a very nice selection of many styles, including Australian and African. I focused my attention on some low-volume prints.

The Quilted Fox
Last stop was Janie Lou. A relatively new shop (not in my travel guide) and definitely leaning toward the modern side. I picked up a cute arrow background, a chevron dot, and a flesh Architextures to go with a recent purchase.

Janie Lou
Dinner tonight with Jan and her husband at a casual restaurant with Southwest cuisine.
Libby and Jan
PS: Alex completed his FLW pilgrimage alone today at the Kraus House. I would be sorry I missed it had I not had such a great day!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Vacay 7.0

Upscale Living

The first FLW homes we saw were Usonian (ranch style today) in the 1200 SF range. Next was Kentuck Knob, an "expanded" Usonian design of about 1600 SF. The 2-story Wescott House on Wednesday was 4,400 SF and the expansive Bradley House on Thursday was in the 6,000 SF range. Today we visited the impressive Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, IL, a generous 12,000 SF! It occupies a half city block.

Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, IL
The original owner, Susan Lawrence Dana, was a wealthy widow who spared no expense in building her impressive home in 1902-04.  (Or, more likely, Frank Lloyd Wright took advantage of her desire to impress and saw to it that she spared no expense ... just sayin'.)

Twenty-four years later (and after two more husbands), impoverished and in poor health, Susan moved from the house and it remained mostly vacant (except for some occasional entertaining) for the next 20 years. Charles C. Thomas bought the house and most of its contents in 1944 to use as administrative offices for his publishing company. In 1981 the house was acquired by the State of Illinois and completely renovated. So the house has only had three owners in its 100-year history and most of the original furnishings have remained with the house. 

Unlike most of Wright's residential designs where the entry was hidden, Mrs. Dana requested a dramatic streetside entrance to make it easy for her guests to step out of their carriages and into the house.

Front Entrance - Dana-Thomas House
This was my third visit to this house and I couldn't believe I had missed this most impressive exterior detail (granted, my first visit was at night):

Exterior Detail
There are over 300 of these molded plaster blocks that have been painted to match the weathered copper gutters. Wright designed all of the decorative elements including art glass windows, furniture, and even flower pots. The art glass windows and skylights in this house are absolutely over the top!

As is typical, no interior photography was allowed so our guide politely turned away while I photographed this Oriental carpet that reminded me of a sampler quilt.

A little quilt inspiration
We requested the "specialty" tour that focused on Wright design concepts -- just the two of us and the guide for 2.5 hours. Oh so special! AND tours at the Dana-Thomas house are FREE (though they do "suggest" an appropriate donation). Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the Springfield, IL area.

The quilt shop stop today was Sew Unique on the north side of Springfield. It is a very small shop with a very limited selection of fabric. This being her first year participating in RBR, she had already sold out of her initial order of license plates. But I was able to order two to be mailed when the next order arrives.

Tomorrow I meet up with Jan, The Colorful Fabriholic, to attend the St. Louis MQG meeting. Hoping to find time to visit a local shop, as well.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Vacay 6.0

Hanging Out in Kankakee

Alex needed to print/sign (in blue)/scan/submit some business documents early this morning, so he located a FedEx Store just 3 miles from a quilt shop north of Kankakee.  So thoughtful of him!

In addition to the R-B-R license plate, I was still searching for the exact Moda Grunge I need to finish a project. I was successful at Top Shelf Quilts in Frankfort, IL!

I also found a beige batik that may work in my String Bean quilt, and a purple that is a potential border candidate for Tropical Trellis. Up to this point I had been very focused on "need-only" purchases. Then I turned around and saw the Kaufman tree panel (designed by Avery Tillmon) and how it was bordered with a complimentary tree fabric and blue sky fabrics .... need I say more?

Top Shelf is a lovely little shop in an out-of-the-way suburb of Chicago. The selection was limited, but excellent, and the staff went WAY above and beyond in helping me spend more cash!

The FLW house tour of the day was the Bradley House in Kankakee.

Bradley House, Kankakee, IL
It is believed this house (and its next door neighbor) are the first Prairie Style homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright over 100 years ago. This home was originally built for another wealthy industrialist but went through a succession of owners through the years, including a couple of property trades -- for many years it was a bird sanctuary, for a time it was offices for lawyers and an architect, and for over 30 years it was the very upscale Yesteryear Restaurant and Inn. Like many Wright homes, this one was purchased and restored by a foundation that now offers tours and special events.

Dressing Room
With a special $5 donation we were allowed to take interior pictures. My favorite space was the dressing room with all the built-in cabinetry. (Second favorite was the soapstone sink in the kitchen.) 
Again, an excellent tour led by a well-informed guide.
We're in Springfield, IL tonight. The Dana-Thomas house is on the agenda tomorrow. I've seen it twice before and never get tired of it. I've also picked out a quilt shop (or two) to hit before we get to St. Louis tomorrow night.

Vacay 5.0

Across the Prairie

Since our house tour was scheduled for 11 a.m., we were able to make a quick circuit by Creative Fires in Springfield, OH. It's not a huge shop, but it has a nice variety and a huge collection of flannels. The owner is very cordial and helpful, definitely worth a stop if you're ever in the Springfield, OH area.


In addition to the R-B-R license plate, I picked up a yard of a nice grey/white low volume dot, a couple yards of a teal diagonal stripe I might use in a border for Tropical Trellis, and a pink/yellow print as potential setting triangles for Terriffic Triangles (Marlene or Ramona suggested a pink/yellow stripe). If it doesn't work, I know I'll love it somewhere.

Our Frank Lloyd Wright tour was at the Wescott House in Springfield.

Wescott House
At 4400 SF, this house is definitely NOT in the Usonian class! It's hard to believe this very modern house was built almost 100 years ago. The tour was absolutely the best we've ever had; the guide was so well-informed, not only on the house itself, but also provided insight into the life and times of the family that built it. Mr. Wescott was one of several wealthy industrialists who built homes on "Millionaire's Row" in Springfield; he was even mayor for a term. Sad to say he ended up penniless in the 1950s. The house was purchased and converted into apartments after he died. When it was purchased by the foundation in 2001, it was in near ruins. It took five years to bring it back to something near its original condition.

With a 4+ hour drive ahead of us, we headed west across the prairie -- very flat prairie. After a brief delay due to a driving rainstorm, we arrived in Kankakee, IL. We had forgotten that we are back in the Central time zone, so the delay was mitigated.

Another quilt shop is on the schedule for the morning, another tour, and then we move on to SW Illinois. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Vacay Update

Days 2.5, 3.0, and 4.0

I was so terrified of fireworks as a small child. My mother blamed it on the fact she was standing next to the man shot out of a canon when I was 9 months old.  As an adult, though, fireworks make me smile -- as long as they are done professionally and safely.

Well, the fireworks at Stonewall Resort on July 3 (Day 2) were fabulous! (for a small show) What made them fabulous for me was I could watch from our room in my jammies!


Unfortunately I forgot I have a "fireworks" setting on my camera so the pictures through my window leave a lot to be desired.

On Day 3 we drove up to Pennsylvania for the day to tour 2 houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and 2 designed by one of his pupils. All of the houses we saw were of the Usonian style -- designed for "common folk" who couldn't afford a custom design.

Duncan House at Polymath Park
The Duncan House is one of a very few of Wright's prefabricated homes built in Wisconsin, advertised to cost only $15,000 in 1957 (it ended up costing about twice that!). Destined for the wrecking ball, it was purchased, dismantled, and reconstructed on this site in this century. Polymath consists of 3 Usonian homes; all can be rented for overnight accommodations.

After lunch at the Treetops Restaurant on site, we drove about 30 miles south to Kentuck Knob. We had visited this house two years ago, but this time we took the "in-depth" tour where we got to see three spaces not on the regular tour. Since our new house design is following Wright's principles, Alex was anxious to revisit some of the design features. We were not disappointed. Because the house is privately owned, photography was not allowed inside and it was pouring outside. You'll just have to take my word.

We made it back to Stonewall just ahead of a tornado warning. Fortunately nothing serious developed. Being Monday and a holiday, no quilt shops in the area were open.

We had all of Day 4 to get to our next destination, Springfield, Ohio. We made a stop at the Nelsonville Quilt Company, a sweet shop in Nelsonville, Ohio.

Nelsonville Quilt Company
The town of Nelsonville is the original home of the Star Brick Company. Hence the shop's license plate for R-B-R 2016.

 Another quilt shop and another house tour on the agenda for Day 5. Stay tuned!