Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pieced units sewn for Cathy's Southwest quilt

Sampling of pieced units for Cathy's Southwest quilt

At last, I finished sewing the pieced units for Cathy’s Southwest quilt. I’m so happy! The rest of the quilt is made up of rectangles and squares in plain, unpieced fabric.

I still have a lot of trimming and removing of paper to do on a few dozen paper pieced units. The picture shows a sampling of each of the pieced units (trimmed up), laid out roughly as a quadrant of the quilt. The purple/gold nine-patch actually goes in the far corners of the quilt. It seemed kind of silly to leave it hanging out there by itself like the former planet Pluto.

This quilt has been years in the making, and I got so excited trimming up and removing paper from the first few units. It was an adrenaline rush!

Tonight I’ll work on trimming and removing the paper on the rest of the units. Tomorrow I’ll cut the squares, lay out the units on the design wall and begin piecing the quilt top together.

I’ve been nervous about not having enough of the purple, but I think I’ll be okay. I bought the fabric years ago, and I doubt I can find exactly the same color, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will all work out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday 11/23/2011

Exquisite Jewels
53" square
Exquisite blocks
Original design
Mostly from stash
Completed 11/23/2011
Donated to BASICS

I finished Exquisite Jewels today and sent it on its way to BASICS, a non-profit organization in the Bronx, NYC that helps homeless families get out of shelters and back into transitional housing. I hope whoever gets the quilt will enjoy it.

Economy block, nine-patch block, half square triangle

I’m close to finishing the piecing for Cathy’s Southwest. I finished the Economy blocks and made turquoise/black nine-patch blocks. I sewed some half-square triangles, but they are too small so I’ll have to re-do them. Also to be made are purple/gold nine-patches and a few Rail Fence units.

I hope to start putting the units together in the next day or two.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Exquisite Jewels quilt getting finished

Exquisite Jewels
Exquisite quilt blocks in jewel tones

Recently I learned about a quilt drive for BASICS, a non-profit organization in the Bronx, NYC that helps homeless families get out of shelters and back into transitional housing. I wanted to help and I remembered a quilt top that I had made at least 6 years ago, one of my few UFOs. I had always meant for the quilt to be for charity. The hope of the quilt drive was to have 700 quilts by Thanksgiving. I'm probably not going to get the quilt there by then, but they'll take quilts anytime.

This is as far as I got 6+ years ago.
Electric Quilt Sketch

I found several quilt sketches in Electric Quilt 5 (the current version is EQ7). I'm not sure how I came up with the layout, but I'm guessing it was some sort of randomness exercise. Evidently I used my Organized Chaos system for the Exquisite blocks. The Exquisite blocks were constructed in the Liberated Quiltmaking style. There were two very similar yellows for the backgrounds, represented by yellow and orange in the sketch. I don't remember how I decided which went where, but that also could have been a randomness exercise.

Most likely I'll get the quilt finished and in the mail early next week. I don't want to be at the Post Office after Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday 11/16/2011

Economy block units in progress. All will look like the one on the far right.

This past week I’ve been working on Economy block, a fancy Diamond in a Square. There are 16 of these units in the design and they are in various states of doneness. About half are sewn through the second round. Most of the rest have just the center square in position, ready for paper piecing. I finished one unit as an example of what the rest will look like.

I’ll be glad when these units are done, as the rest of the quilt top should go pretty quickly. I’m not feeling well today so I don’t think I’ll do much sewing tonight. But I believe I’m still on target to finish the quilt by the end of the month.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pacifica Quilting Retreat 2011, Day 3

Pacifica, CA

Saturday, the last day of my quilting retreat by the sea. I figured I could sew for a little bit before I had to pack up. I wanted to try to get the fourth strip sewn onto the wonky squares that I had worked on Friday night. I couldn't get the bedside light to turn on and my sewing machine didn't work. Both of them were plugged into an extension cord. Try as I might, I couldn't get anything electrical to work. I remembered that during the night I heard something drop from behind my bed, like a plug, then a green light stopped shining on the ceiling. (Later I figured out the green light was from my cell phone charger.) It seemed like a fuse had blown, as I couldn't get my iron to turn on in a different plug, either. Crud!

Unable to do any sewing, by now it was less than an hour till checkout, so I packed up. Just before I closed the door to the room for the last time, I went back to double-check that I hadn't left anything behind. Looked pretty empty. Then I saw two sets of plastic drawers full of scraps that I had set on top of the TV stand/dresser. I gasped, loaded the scrap drawers into the car, then checked out. I told the motel manager about the power being out. I assume he got the power on again.

With the car all packed, I walked to my favorite bench for one last session of enjoying the waves.

 I passed this car on the way to the beach. The design of the license plate frame might find its way into a quilt sometime.
Little black bird
Just as I was getting in the car to leave Pacifica a few of these little birds landed near my car. I grabbed my phone to get some photos. If you read my entry about Day 2 of this trip, you'll know I've been obsessed with these little birds for years. Well, it turns out that the sheen that I for so long thought was red, is actually green!

I am a big Food Network fan, and when I can, I visit restaurants that are mentioned on Food Network. I found out recently that there was a Sprinkles cupcake store in Palo Alto. Sprinkles stores are owned by Cupcake Wars judge Candace Nelson. Palo Alto is about 30 miles from Pacifica, so I figured while I was close, I'd might as well go.

As I was driving to Palo Alto, I passed a sign for Filoli Gardens, which was recommended by friend and co-worker Debbie S. I made a mental note to visit sometime, then go to Half Moon Bay for the ocean.
I got to Palo Alto, found Sprinkles, but decided to have lunch and then come back. I used my phone's GPS to find a Joann's store, then drove around the area looking for a place to eat.
Milk Pail Market, a European style open air market, down the street from Joann's.

I didn't actually go in, but it looked interesting. My friend Ramin T. would probably enjoy this place.

Esther's German Bakery, not far from Joann's. As it turns out, my friend Ramin has been here.

Pearl Tea and Coffee
My daughter Lisa is into Bubble Tea. This place reminds me of a restaurant near her home in Washington State, where Lisa and I had a Bubble Tea when I visited earlier this year.

Sushi 85 where I had a Dragon Roll for lunch
 Cover of my restaurant bill. I think it's beautiful and is an idea for a quilt.

Restaurant bathroom. I like the pattern of the wall tiles. It's quite simple but interesting. Quilt idea.
After lunch I went to Joann's in the same shopping center as the sushi place. I like the texture and color of these shells. I may have to get a bag and do something with them sometime.

Glass Slipper Inn
How Disney is this motel? I passed it on the way to find Joann's and made a mental note to try to find it again later. I remembered the name and used my phone's GPS to find it on the way back to Sprinkles. I parked at the Comfort Inn next door, then walked half a block to the intersection, crossed a very wide street and walked half a block back up the street to get this shot. A little hassle but worth it.
I saw this bamboo on the walk back from taking the photo of the Glass Slipper Inn. Quilt idea.

Sprinkles cupcake store in Palo Alto


It's quite a popular place.

Back wall of the store. How cute!

Pull up a chair and enjoy your cupcake.
Here's the assortment I bought and took home. Top left: red velvet; top right: salted caramel; bottom left: milk chocolate. I kept the salted caramel for myself, which I shared with my granddaughter who came over to spend the night after I got home. I gave the other two to my son and daughter-in-law who split them between each other. Man, were those cupcakes good!

After I bought my cupcakes I headed home. I got rain again on the way back, but I was kind of grateful for it as I needed the salt washed off my windows. I had a great time during my quilting retreat in Pacifica. I'll be back again in a year.

Pacifica Quilting Retreat 2011, Day 2

Beautiful day - hardly a cloud in the sky
I woke up on Friday, Day 2 of my retreat, to a gorgeous day. The sun was brilliantly shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. What a wonderful surprise after yesterday's cloudy, rainy day.
I got dressed and walked to the coffee place a couple of blocks away, where I bought a slice of lemon cake, a slice of red velvet cake for later, and a cafe mocha. I walked to the beach to enjoy my breakfast. The benches where I usually sit were still wet, but I found a fairly dry place on the ledge of a sculpture not far from my favorite sitting spot.
Little black bird, hoping to get some crumbs from my breakfast.

These two brave birds came very close.

After I had enjoyed my lemon cake, some little birds gathered, probably looking for crumbs from my breakfast. I couldn't believe my luck. On one of my early quilting retreats I had seen a black bird sitting on a post in the morning sun, with the most beautiful sheen on his chest. I had scrambled for my camera, but the bird flew away before I could take a photo. Since then I have been trying to get a picture of one of these birds but have never gotten a close-up.

I believed that the sheen was red, and after that first sighting I asked my birding sister Cass what kind of bird it might be, based on my description. She said she didn't know of any bird with a red sheen, but suggested it might be a red-winged blackbird. I didn't remember a red shoulder like I saw in internet images, but I took Cass' word for it. I have even planned to do a quilt called Red-Winged Blackbird with black background and little squares in bright red. This little bird has been an obsession, so I was extremely happy to finally get close to these birds and take some good photos.

The next few photos were taken while I killed some time waiting for my room to be cleaned.

This is the "cove" view offered by the motel - still beautiful.

Far side of the parking lot. Notice the rocks behind the fence.
Looking over the rocks, maybe 10 feet down. At high tide the water can crash over the top of the rocks and onto the parking lot. It's quite a show.
Back in my room, I picked up where I left off in the book Quilters Playtime by Dianne S. Hire. The exercise I worked on for the morning was called Piano Keys.
View from my sewing machine
Accessory bag from my luggage set. I put little sewing tools in here for traveling.

Fabrics for Piano Keys exercise. The off-white fabric actually has tiny notes. Great for me, since I play the piano. Black fabric is leftover from Baby Q quilt.

Fabrics stacked right sides up, cut wedges.

About half the wedges laid out

All of the wedges laid out. I like the gentle curves.

First few wedges sewn together

Half of the wedges sewn together. They came out more pie shaped than planned. Next time I'll try cutting the bottoms wider and/or cutting fewer wedges from each width of fabric.
Ready to sew the other half of the wedges. I use the small ruler to keep the wedges from blowing away in the breeze from the nearby window.
Two sets of wedges done

The finished run of wedges

Camelot Fish and Chips in Pacifica

Inside Camelot Fish and Chips
Nice British atmosphere here. I had fish and chips, which were pretty good.

After lunch, back to the beach. The bench is "my favorite bench." I come out here often to enjoy the waves, even at night! A nearby restaurant shines a bright light on the ocean so the customers can enjoy the view at night.

Beautiful view from my bench

You can just see two brave hikers on the hill.  You won't find me up there. I can see just fine, thank you.

In the afternoon I began working on Pick Up Sticks from Quilters Playtime. According to the instructions, I was supposed to use graph paper, which I did not have. A substitute could be regular printer paper. I had a little, but I make my design notes on it and didn't want to give it up. I thought of using pages from a telephone book, but it would be naughty of me to tear pages from the motel phone book. Next I thought of getting a newspaper from the motel manager, but he wasn't around. Back in my room, I found a Michael's ad in a bag. That will work!

Michael's ad

Sunset as seen just outside my room. I was so focused on sewing that I almost missed it. I caught the last couple of minutes.

Ad torn along the long edge to create two long, narrow pieces

I chose a navy background and this piece would barely cover the paper. So I trimmed a little off the long edge of the paper, which worked fine.

I gathered some orange, red and turquoise fabrics

Narrow strips in various sizes and colors

Navy fabric for background

Background cut in wedges

Strips inserted between wedges

All of the fabrics need to cover the paper

First strip placed on the paper

As seen from the back

Sewing the first couple of strips. My sewing machine is very small and I had to roll the far edge of paper and pin it in place.

First strips sewn

Almost to the end of the paper

Trying out the last "stick." There won't be much left for the final background wedge and I don't want it to be a sliver.

Trimmed the next-to-last background wedge

There's a little more of the paper showing now.

Stick sewn on

 Finished run of Pick Up Sticks

As seen from the back

By now it was time for dinner. I headed to Gorilla Barbecue, as seen on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for a rib plate. Since I learned about Gorilla, I've gotten a meal there on every visit.

I took this picture when I picked up my food long after dark. I got there just before they closed.

This is how it looks by day. Check out the line. That's because the food is great!

After dinner I started working on a different book: Thinking Outside the Block by Sandi Cummings and Karen Flamme. This was my first venture in the book. I chose to work on the exercise called Freeform Units with Inserted Strips.

Cherries fabric leftover from a dress I made for my granddaughter Reghan.

Two strips sewn to wonky square

Strips trimmed even with edges

Third strip attached

By the time I got the third strips sewn to the wonky squares, it was very late and I was ready to call it a night. I figured I would have some time in the morning to sew on the fourth strips. I watched some TV, read more of my new book Fabric Art Workshop by Susan Stein, then fell asleep to the sound of the sea.