Thursday, September 21, 2017

O, Star!

I am currently 36,858 feet over New Mexico, traveling at 610 mph from California back to Charleston, and blogging on the Internet. Isn't technology amazing?

My mother had surgery last week, so I flew out to be with her. And I know you'll be shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, to know that I made her a quilt. The pattern is Night Sky by Jaybird Quilts. Mom had given me the pattern a couple years ago with a note saying, "The colors on this really caught my eye!" So I knew she'd like the finished piece.

I whipped this one out in less than a week, because I wanted to mail it to her before Hurricane Irma potentially grounded me on the East Coast. I snapped a few glamour shots on the boat before popping it in the mail. Once it was clear I'd be able to make it to California, she agreed to open the box after I arrived. I'm happy to report that she loves her quilt!

Lots of triangle piecing, and my 60 degree ruler really helped. The pattern is well written so I didn't make too many mistakes, although I did end up with four extra stars. If I'd been paying closer attention, I would have noticed several places that said where I could have cut fewer pieces. Oh well; I'll make a table runner or pillow out of the spare blocks.

Two of the edges on the quilt are zig zagged at 120 degree angles. Is that considered scalloped, if it's angular like that? In order to bind around those odd corners, I had to use bias binding, so that was a bit of a challenge. I've done small pieces with bias bindings, but nothing this large.

I did dot-to-dot quilting in the centers of each star, basically echoing the shape of the diamonds. In the smaller, outer star points I did a simple loop-de-loop and travel stitched to the next point, which ended up outlining the whole star. When the stars were finished, I did a stipple in the dark charcoal gray background for some good texture.

The stars were quilted in matching thread colors; dark and light blue; orange and red; purple; forest green and aqua. I was surprised that the aqua worked so well with the lighter green stars. I used three shades of neutral threads for the bobbin, so some of the stars show up with more contrast on the back. 

I named the quilt O, Star! after a lovely piece of choral music called "Choose Something Like a Star" with lyrics by Robert Frost and music by Randall Thompson. The poem has great personal meaning to me and I found it very comforting to sing it to myself as I sewed the quilt. I was worried about Mom's surgery and needed a star "to stay my mind on and be staid." Mom and I have been in a number of choirs together over the years, and we learned this piece under the direction of our dear friend Alva. I was able to visit Alva and his wonderful husband Bear on this visit, and their love and support also helped me be staid.

My Mom's surgery went amazingly well, and was completely successful. She was only in the hospital for three days, then four days in skilled nursing care. This photo shows the quilt in the nursing center. It really brightened up her room and sparked lots of nice conversations. 

Her retirement community is quite lovely, with lots of nice garden spaces. We were able to take a few more glamour shots there.

The doe statue amused me, so I gave her a quilty saddle.

Here we are together. I love you, Mom, and am so glad you're recovering so well!  And to my quilty friends, I'm looking forward to catching up on all your blogs in the next few days.

O Star (the fairest one in sight), 
We grant your loftiness the right 
To some obscurity of cloud- 
It will not do to say of night, 
Since dark is what brings out your light. 
Some mystery becomes the proud. 
But to the wholly taciturn 
In your reserve is not allowed. 
Say something to us we can learn 
By heart and when alone repeat. 
Say something! And it says, 'I burn.' 
But say with what degree of heat. 
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade. 
Use Language we can comprehend. 
Tell us what elements you blend. 
It gives us strangely little aid, 
But does tell something in the end 
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite, 
Not even stooping from its sphere, 
It asks a little of us here. 
It asks of us a certain height, 
So when at times the mob is swayed 
To carry praise or blame too far, 
We may choose something like a star 
To stay our minds on and be staid.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Kaleidoscope flimsy

Before I hopped on an airplane to California, I was able to get all my kaleidoscope blocks pieced together. I do love how all those triangles somehow magically become interlocking circles!

During the flimsy piecing, I found I was constantly having to choose between flat seams and pointy points. I mostly chose flat seams and think that was the right way to go. Even with some of the points being wonky and cut off, the kaleidoscope effect works just fine. If you're close enough to admire the points, the circles disappear anyway. And there are some fine points in there, too, if you know just where to look, ha!

I tried to get a bit of a colorwash effect, although the values of the fabrics are pretty similar. So it's really just a pink to blue/warm to cool wash. That counts, right? Is temperaturewash a thing? This one will need some borders to fatten it up a bit. Maybe a soft, solid-reading baby blue. I'm looking forward to working more on this one when I return to the boat in a week or so.

In other news, perhaps you remember this block called "Grandad's Shirts" for one of Kat's block drives. The gorgeous, finished Covered in Love quilts are now posted on Kat's site. If you want to peek at them, check out Kat's latest post.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Quick Irma Update

The very tail end of Irma is just passing over us this evening, and all is well here. Thank you to everyone who expressed concern. Irma was only tropical storm force here in Charleston, and dumped a lot of rain and some storm surge. We saw winds of about 35 to 40mph for many hours, and gusts to 60mph. Our boat is very sturdy, though, and hardly moved. 

In between battening down the hatches, I was able to stitch up 48 kaleidoscope blocks using some Regent Street lawn fabrics and Kona Snow. The stack above still needs to be trimmed. That's the half with the background corners adjacent to the background blades.

This batch is trimmed and ready to go on the design wall (on the bed, actually, since I don't have any big walls to design on.) These are the opposite blocks, with the background corners adjacent to the patterned blades. 

I had a charm pack of the Regent Street, plus a bit of yardage. The charm pack had two of each design. I wanted to get two kaleidoscope blades out of each charm, so that dictated a smallish 7.5" block, but gave me a nice variety of fabrics, one per block. The rest of the blocks are from the yardage, but the effect should still be pretty scrappy.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to finish trimming the blocks and maybe get a start on sewing the flimsy. After that, I'll be away from my quilting for a week or so. I'm flying to California to visit my Mom and DH Sean will stay with the boat and the cat. I won't have much to post here, but I'll be visiting blogs and enjoying your work, hopefully!

(I just said to Sean, "I have 800 quilts in my head," and he immediately started singing, "You take one down, pass it around, 799 quilts in your head!" It cracked me up...)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our hurricane preparations

Several readers have expressed concern about Hurricane Irma and our location here in Charleston. My husband wrote a blog post here that outlines our plans for the storm.

As part of getting ready, today I put about a dozen quilts in the mail to get them safely off the boat. Six of them are the little wheelchair quilts I made for Quilted Embrace. I donated them to the Cobblestone Quilters guild in Charleston as part of their Community Outreach program. I was going to try to meet one of the guild members and give her the quilts, but ran out of time and decided to just mail them to her house.

The second box contains toddler and baby quilts for my Project Linus chapter in California. I've shipped them to my Mom. I'll be flying out to visit her soon, so I'm hoping she'll wait to open the box for when I'm there. She enjoys seeing my quilts in person before passing them along to Donna at the PL chapter.

Our biggest concern, of course, is keeping ourselves safe from the storm. We will not ride it out on the boat unless the forecast changes drastically. Leaving the boat unattended means if something goes wrong, we won't be able to fix it, and there is a small chance that the boat could suffer some serious damage. We will be taking important items with us in our rental car, such as critical paperwork, food and water, our computers, a week's worth of clothing, etc. I'm thinking I might take my Juki, too. It's easy enough to stash in the trunk of the rental car.

We downsized our life from a condominium to a 40 foot motorhome in 2004, so we don't really have much. Some clothes, some dishes, some linens, a very few mementos. In 2014, I started quilting and now I have fabric! And thread, and notions, and two sewing machines! I'm more attached to those things, but they are all replaceable.

We just learned on the radio that the US Navy is anchoring some war ships up the same river. I'm not sure if I feel better that we'll be surrounded by naval vessels, or terrified that even the Navy is worried about Irma...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

One lump or two?

This quilt has been successfully gifted, so it's time for the reveal. Meet Never Run Out of Coffee, which was made for my cousin and her husband who own a sailboat. They lead very busy lives and don't live aboard full time like we do, so they are often away from their boat for weeks or months at a time.

One time, my cousin opined that there was no coffee aboard, and she needed her morning cuppa. I had some fun coffee themed fabric and thought I could provide her with quilty coffee, at least! So I started stitching up big hearts using Cluck Cluck Sew's fun free pattern.

The backing is made of two different fleeces, pieced into a big sixteen patch. The fleece will dry quickly in a damp marine environment, and is light and warm. This was the first time I did extensive FMQ on fleece, and there was definitely a learning curve. The needle made a lot of chunking sounds, which took some getting used to!

The argyle fleece pattern is actually a bit fuzzy in person; that's not an out of focus photo. This is the back of one of the hearts where I used a flame-shaped FMQ motif.

Each color heart got a different motif. They are easier to see on the back because I used bobbin thread that matched the top thread. The darker threads really show against the white fleece. At first, I didn't care for that look, but it has grown on me. It's the back, it can look a little off kilter and still be just fine!

This rusty red fabric has coffee words on it, like Kona and Espresso, and the dark heart is coffee beans on a black background. I quilted a spirally square motif in the cream background for lots of texture.

Strictly speaking, I think this fabric is supposed to be swirls of chocolate, but it certainly fits the theme. Who doesn't like chocolate and coffee together? Yum.

There is only one of these golden hearts, and I outlined the pretty flowers and leaves on it. Not really related to coffee, but it blends and has nice metallic accents.

How cute is this coffee cup border print?? The red and white polka dot cup is my favorite. I actually started with this fabric and designed the entire quilt around it. I didn't want any cups to be cut in half, so I used a LOT of quilt math (and possibly some cursing) to fill in extra cream background to make the body of the quilt fit just right. I stitched a heart in the red sashing above each cup's handle, too.

Here's the back of the coffee cups where you can see the little hearts better. After I pieced the fleece backing, the edges tended to curl and make a lump, so I finished the seams between the fleece pieces by sewing the flaps back before basting the quilt sandwich. I've forgotten what that seam finishing method is called. 

The corner stones are four different coffee pots, fussy cut from a panel. The wide outer border is roasted coffee beans, and a dark brown--excuse me, dark roast--binding tops it all off.

I actually finished this quilt quite a while ago and set it aside for some reason. I wasn't really ready to give it away, even though it had been made for specific recipients. Have you ever done that? Held a quilt before gifting it? I guess it needed to live on our boat for a while.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fiery Tree

My friends Maria and Paul are expecting their first baby, hooray! A couple of months ago, they attended an art event with their mothers, and painted these seasonal trees for the nursery. I knew in an instant that I had the perfect fabric for their baby quilt.

This is Fiery Tree, made with a beautiful Timeless Treasures panel called "Paradise."  Maria said her nursery theme would be "nature," so I added fish, animals and birds beside the tree. 

The backing fabric is the same birds as the upper left block, an Anna Marie Horner piece called "Honor Roll." That amused me, since my last name is Hornor and is often misspelled either "Horner" or "honor." 

"Fiery Tree" is also the name of Maria's art blog. It didn't surprise me that her painting in the photo is the second from the left, with flame colored flowers. To emphasize the red, orange and yellow flowers in the panel, I left them unquilted. Most of the rest of the panel is densely quilted in a ruffly floral motif.

I just love the colors of this panel, especially the hot colors of the tree roots swirling against the rich, deep blues and purples of the earth.

The panel is surrounded with a watery blue blender that I quilted with a rippling back and forth pattern. 

Each animal panel has different quilting: echoed jungle beasts, outlined birds with swirls or stipple behind them, watery "waves" over the little fishes.

The binding is this cool blue fern fabric, helping to keep the whole piece more on the blue side to coordinate with the paintings.

This little piece is quilted more densely than I usually do for a baby quilt. I'd been worried that too much quilting would be stiff, but after a bit of experimentation on Bright Astrodelic was pleasantly surprised at the drape and feel. If it seems otherwise to Paul and Maria, they can use Fiery Tree as a play mat.

Fiery Tree arrived at its new home today. The thank you email contained a significant number of exclamation points. Paul and Maria say they are torn between using the quilt and displaying it on the wall. I'll take that as a sign of a successful gift!