Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The "Good Earth" Quilt - Vegetable Garden sneak peek...


Happy Thanksgiving!  Here is another segment for the central medallion square of "The Good Earth," an original quilt I am designing for my parent's 40th anniversary.


They usually have a garden...it is a family tradition!


It was fun trying to draw little veggies...and try to make them look identifiable...


After I do the hand stitching and soak the block to remove the glues, I will add a little embroidery which should help in the "name that garden item" game...


My Dad especially loves growing green beans, collard greens, and squash.  My Dad's Dad taught vocational agriculture in Alabama...he could make anything grow and passed that gene down to my Dad.

I have so much to be grateful for in this season of remembering our blessings, and I feel very humbled and thankful.  I hope you have a great holiday weekend...and aren't having travel problems in the northeast.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)




Monday, November 25, 2013

The "Good Earth" Quilt - A Simple Plow (sneak peek)...


Here is another element for the central medallion square of my "Good Earth" quilt project.  It is missing all the embroidery details, like wheel spokes, but I think you can get the idea.

My dad loves these antique push plows, and even with all his "toys," like tractors, tillers, etc., he loves the ease and simplicity of a push plow when working on a small bit of the garden.

It is fun to stretch the old fabric stash to find enough shades of tone-on-tone fabrics to give the items the proper perspective and shading.

Here is a little prepped pile of pieces for the second tree of the medallion square...


Can you tell what kind of tree it will be??  


I also have my little "to go" stitching box filled with the next music block for the Baltimore Rhapsody quilt project.  I grab it as I go out the door so I can fill the moments where I am waiting on someone or something...that is the only way I can get things done these days.  

Last Saturday I sat at the FREEZING COLD horse barn while my daughter rode.  I am not ready for winter!!  I managed a few stitches between the teeth chattering...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The "Good Earth" Quilt - Oak Tree sneak peak...



The "Good Earth" Quilt will celebrate my parents' 40th anniversary.  This oak tree...and roosting chicken...will be part of the large central medallion square.  For the last post, I shared my stepmother's flower cart.


I have to admit that trying to design a large central medallion square (around 30 inches) is a little daunting.  Just trying to find a large, clutter-free work surface in the quilt cave can be challenging, LOL...


My little design brain functions OK on blocks 15 inches square and under, but going over that size is difficult.  Maybe if I had one of those tilting, architect's drafting tables I could really see the block (I'm beginning to covet my architect sister's drafting table that I think my Dad built...but then, I would have to have ROOM for something like that...). 

So, I am designing in pieces, prepping in chunks, then when the glue baste dries I can slide them around the background square until the design "clicks." 


I picked an oak tree because the family property in Alabama is covered with them...all varieties.  And there are chickens, for egg laying.  Their chickens have an elegant enclosure and don't roost in the trees, but I couldn't help myself.  I mean, have you ever seen an antique applique quilt that didn't feature birds in trees?!?  I am standing on the shoulders of thousands of quilting women as I contemplate this medallion.

A few years ago I changed one of Sue Garman's lovely blocks in her "Around the Town" quilt to reflect a 'tongue and cheek' version of a house in Alabama...hey, if you grew up there, it's OK to poke fun, right?  My parents have a large, beautiful log home that they designed and built themselves, INDOOR plumbing, no trucks up on blocks in the yard, and no underwear or overalls drying on the line in the front yard, LOL...just to set the record straight.


OK...shhhh...mum's the word...this is a secret.  My parent's are tooling around in their little RV right now, enjoying a little holiday trip.  They are away from the Internet, not that they are big readers of my blog when they are at home.  I think they assume that there's normally just a lot of quilting blah, blah, blah, not much else to see.

I am hoping to just get the medallion block hand stitched and mailed to them...no WAY I will do more than that before December 8th!  I will just roll it up and tie it with a ribbon with the promise of the rest of the quilt coming later...no shame in that!

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shhhhh! Double secret project..."The Good Earth" Quilt



There are a lot of words that describe me as a quilter, but the most prominent one in my mind at the moment is schizophrenic.  I've always worked on multiple projects at the same time by choice, but it seems like that has become a necessity lately.


As my husband and I continue to celebrate our 20th anniversary this fall, my father and step-mother prepare to celebrate their 40th anniversary in December.  I find there's a certain mathematical beauty to the symmetry of these events.


"THE GOOD EARTH" is an original quilt that I am planning to celebrate their anniversary.  I had hoped to finish it before December, but now I am just hoping to finish the appliqued large center square of the quilt to give them to mark the occasion.



This flower cart will be in the lower right of the medallion area.  My Mom loves flowers and loves beautifying their little corner of Alabama by planting and nurturing many varieties of flowers and trees.  

The fabrics I picked for the two flower pots will require a little defining outline embroidery after I finish the hand stitching and block soaking to remove the glues...the color is too similar to the fabric I picked for the bed of the cart...oh pooh!

I was inspired by the Phebe quilt as I started to plan my project. 

Phebe Warner's quilt, made by her aunt Sarah Furman Warner Williams, in 1803

A modern interpretation of Phebe's quilt, designed and made by Di Ford.
I am trying to include as many elements as possible in the quilt that define my parents life together, their love of the earth, and their philosophy of maintaining wide, open, undeveloped land for future generations.

The central square will be 30-32 inches square, so I am prepping the applique elements in units before I decide on the final placement.  That is one thing I really like about the applique method I use...the ease and freedom of moving things around until I get the exact placement I want.

I am hoping that my parents are too busy to monitor my blog this month as I begin to share this project with you, so shhhhh...don't spill the beans! 

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block 21 - the C clef...


The next block in the "BALTIMORE RHAPSODY" quilt odyssey is the C Clef.  The block measures 15 inches square, finished. 



Depending on which line of the staff that the clef's middle encompasses, this clef can be called the Soprano, Mezzo soprano, Alto, Tenor, or Baritone clef and the note centered on that line is middle C.
(from www.method-behind-the-music.com)
These clefs were used to identify "middle C" and to keep the notes of the musical passage from appearing off the staff on ledger lines, either above the staff or below the staff.  Reading music from ledger lines is harder to do and can really slow you down as a musician! 
Ledger line notes (from www.answers.yahoo.com)
C clefs are not used much any more.  The Alto clef is still used for some viola music.
Alto clef (from www.mrscheiber.com)
Music for cello, trombone, and bassoon is sometimes written in the Tenor clef when the notes become too high to fit on the bass staff.


Tenor clef (from www.nationmaster.com)


The clef is a sign placed at the beginning of each musical staff to indicate the pitches of the notes - this key unlocks the staff so that the music can be read and played/sung.



The C clef is a beautiful symbol and certainly more symmetrical and easy to design a block around with than the treble and bass clefs were.



I used the liquid Elmer's Washable School Glue (in my own bottle) instead of the Roxanne's Glue for the glue-basting.  When I soaked the block to remove the glue, it dissolved really fast! 



But, I was reminded by this soaking that I need to make sure each and every little thing has been hand stitched with silk BEFORE I soak...I found one leaf, connected at the stem, "flapping in the breeze" after I had gently squeezed my block between layers of a clean towel after soaking.


Ugh!  I basted the leaf in place on the damp block and was forced to do needle turn applique...my hat is off to all you people who do this applique method all the time!

I am working on another musical symbol block now...when finished I will have four blocks to make into a small quilt...the three clef blocks plus the current mystery block.  It's fun to think about possible settings for the smaller quilt...sashing? no sashing? pieced sashing? appliqued borders? pieced borders?

Which symbol will it be?!?  Stay tuned!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The view from my chinny-chin-chin...


I was sitting here in the dark last night, nervously hand stitching on a block while watching a PBS show about Kennedy, waiting to hear news of my MIL's surgery, when it occurred to me...I have never shared one of my favorite tools that allows me to stitch ANYWHERE...the fantastic light that hangs around my neck.


It is called "Beam and Read" and there is a phone number right on it (but I also found it here on www.Amazon.com).  I am able to keep the switch in the "off" position while it is flat (as pictured above)...then just swivel the light head to the angle I want (it comes on automatically when the head is swiveled).  

I guess if you wanted to use it in the flat position, you could just turn it to the "on" position.


I love this thing!!  There are different versions, but this one has 6 little LED lights that are wonderfully bright...there are less expensive versions that have 4 LED lights, but I like how bright this one is.

It came with a colored filter to snap over the lights, but I have never used that...also came with a magnifying lens that you can snap on, but I don't use that either.  It takes four AA batteries, does not generate heat, and only weighs a little over 6 ounces.


I can sew in a dark room when my family is watching a movie, sew in bed, sew during meetings, sew ANYWHERE!!!  I used to use the clip-on book lights, but found those terribly inconvenient...the clips were clumsy and the lights not very bright...and they used those hard-to-find round/flat little batteries.  I would clip them on my hoop while hand quilting, which was clumsy...this is WAY better.

Weasley is fascinated with this old, beat up, but still functional sousaphone
that I found at a junk shop over the summer.
Perhaps if I attached the mouthpiece, we would hear him tooting in the night
when he is frisking about while we are trying to sleep.  He enjoys slam-dunking cat toys in the
"net-like" bell of the instrument.  I guess if he is ever missing, I will know where to look first...  
On an unrelated topic, I was overwhelmed by the responses to my last post...thank you!  Really, I promise I wasn't fishing for comments, but simply puzzling out all the things I don't understand about blogging (ha! which is everything...).  I never worry about the number of comments, but do, from time to time, check the stats for the number of page hits.  The blog readers do cut into those statistics.  

Someone emailed me and told me how to determine the number of people who follow me on Bloglovin'.  And for grins, I signed up to "follow myself" on my own blog.  This morning, I got an email with that last post in it, which can be read without ever going to my blog. Interesting.  That makes reading a particular blog very nice and convenient, but no button for commenting, so THAT explains a lot...if I had an iPhone or iPad I would love that little convenience.
What was I thinking when I dragged THIS home over the summer?
The fact that it almost didn't fit in my Subaru Forester should have been a hint...
I have no intention of stopping what I do...I appreciate and really enjoy...the online quilting community, even when I don't really know who is out there.  Google and Blogger have never made it easy for people to comment in the first place.  

I guess Facebook makes it easier for people to communicate with each other, or simply "like" something, and I do have a Facebook page (which is so neglected and not up-to-date at this point...).  My husband says I should start another one that just has to do with my fledgling pattern business and quilting.  

Hmmm...maybe when I master folding space and time...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blog blah-blah-blah...


This is what my cat does when I am sitting at my computer, reading blogs, writing posts, working on patterns, or dreaming on Pinterest.

I think he is doing some sort of cat stretching exercises to make his short, stubby legs longer...not working...and this is what my husband does...



Maybe the cat learned it from my husband (or vice versa?)...I think it is working for Steve...his arms look freakishly long in this picture.

I am the first to admit that I am a complete idiot when it comes to blogging.  I started blogging as a quilt conversation and quilt diary. 
I love the feedback, the questions, the friends I've made, etc.

I barely know how to do the basics when it comes to posting, adding gadgets, pictures, and features.   Then, when changes roll down, like a Blogger update or new blog readers, I am completely clueless.

I would rather spend my limited time sewing on things to post than working on the actual blog...CONTENT over PRESENTATION any day.  I am a quilter first, blogger second.

When I get stumped on something technical, it is painful taking the time away from sewing to figure it out.  I have learned that Karen of SEW MANY WAYS is brilliant, and I turn to her great blogging tutorials to help me out (not to mention all the other amazing stuff on her blog).

I never used Google Reader, or whatever it was called, but when Bloglovin' came out, I sort of jumped on the proverbial bus and registered my blog there, thinking it might increase my readership.

I get daily emails from Bloglovin' with my "Bloglovin' feed," but have a difficult time even navigating that, so I just keep reading my favorite blogs from the side bar of my blog page, like I always have, or navigating from comments. 


I keep getting emails that "so-n-so" is following me on Bloglovin', but my actual follower number on my blog is not growing, and I feel like my readership is dwindling.  How do you people out there like Bloglovin'?  Is it working for you?

Of course, I know it is not a popularity contest, and I am probably just boring.  And I know I don't post enough...aging in-laws, the schedule of a teenager without a drivers license, and local/out-of-state demands on my time have made it challenging in the last few months.  

I have a tendency to try to only post when I have something interesting to show or talk about.  Maybe I should post more often, with less material to slog through per post?  I am also WAAAAY behind on reading and commenting on the blogs that I love. 

But I am determined to go forth, so any advice, comments, or input is welcome.

Someone told me that with more and more people reading blogs on their smart devices, that may be the reason that page views and comments are less.  I don't have a smart phone, or laptop, or a WIFI device...just an old-fashioned desktop PC.  I do get emails from people, which is lovely...maybe it is just too hard to comment on these smart devices...without a keyboard, I guess you have to be pretty motivated or provoked to send a comment.  You at least have to have a free Google account, and not everyone takes time to do that.

If I would take some time and figure out how to use Bloglovin', I would probably answer all my own questions, lol!  I am a dinosaur when it comes to technology.  If I had money to burn on smart technology, I would probably be more excited about learning how to use all this stuff.

I have a new large format scanner to learn how to make digital downloads of all my patterns...it is not as easy as I had hoped, and my techie/geekie other half has not had a lot of time for my nonsense lately due to work and ailing parental issues.

Please be patient with me if you are waiting for the finishing pattern or digital download.  Those items, along with the hand quilting of the symphony quilt, are progressing...although painfully slow. 

To keep my sanity with the progression of the three things mentioned above (and to have something to work on away from home and in meetings), I am continuing to work on new blocks for the music project ("BALTIMORE RHAPSODY") and "CONTENTMENT" quilt.  The handwork is my therapy as I deal with some of these pressing family issues.

Be patient with me (and maybe some of your patience will rub off on me, 'cuz I am running out of the stuff!).  I know we all have family issues that pull on us from time to time, but I am not managing the stress very well!

In stitches (and lately in pieces...),
Teresa  :o)


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The "CONTENTMENT" quilt - block #7, our wedding day...


Your calendars aren't wrong, it really is November 6...things have been challenging, so the posting of this block is late.  This is the 7th block for my "CONTENTMENT" quilt, a story quilt celebrating our life together.  The block finishes 10" square and is part of our 20th anniversary celebration.


Here we are in front of the beautiful "Garten Verien" (historic German Garden Club), where we were married on Galveston Island, TX in October of 1993.  It was a fantastic octagonal wooden building with lots of "gingerbread" wooden trim set in a pretty municipal park.


I had so much fun drafting a wedding cake block for my version of the Civil War Bride Quilt (pictured below) - I thought I would do another cake block to represent our wedding day for this quilt project (especially since there is a "story" surrounding the cake...).



While in college, I worked as a commercial cake decorator at Auburn University.  This included about 100 wedding cakes.  To save money on our wedding and to make sure we got exactly what we wanted, I decided to do ours.  Since we were having a smallish wedding, we decided to only have one cake...no groom's cake.  

That simply isn't done down south, LOL..."people will talk...what, no white bride's cake?  And no groom's cake shaped like half a bottle of Budweiser Beer?!?"  (I actually had to do a couple of those...sigh)
  

Anyway, Steve wanted chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Again, in the south, that simply isn't done..."people will talk..."

(Remember the red velvet groom's cake in the movie "Steel Magnolias" in the shape of an armadillo??  I LOVED that, but didn't want one at my wedding...not even in Texas!)


But I digress...


I decided to just frost the cake, decorate it with piped borders, and let the florist put fresh flowers on and around it.  It was simple, pretty, and delicious.


Well, we all had a little too much fun at the dinner the night before the wedding, so even though I had the cake layers baked, I did not start frosting and decorating until after midnight.  

To my horror, I realized I was low on cocoa, milk and chopped pecans, which I was putting between the layers.  One of my brothers was dispatched to the Kroger, the only real grocery store on Galveston Island where we lived, to procure the needed ingredients.


Well, the grocery store closed at midnight.  My brother, thinking of bribery, knocked on the door until a stock boy came to see what he wanted.  My brother handed him $20, carefully explaining that he needed cocoa, nuts, and milk, and told him he could keep the change.


My brother returned with a bag of coconut, and couldn't stop laughing long enough to tell the story...he's hilarious...not.  To this day, he still talks about that twenty dollar bag of coconut.

I ended up modifying my plan and managed to make just enough lighter chocolate frosting to frost the layers and pipe the borders...I did not use the coconut.


The cake was still delicious, and we have such a fun, stupid story to remember about our special day.  There are no Norman Rockwell occasions, are there?  I think it's better that way...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)