Friday, October 13, 2017

More Puppies! (and a Travelogue)

A few weeks ago, I made a couple of puppy blocks (Dog Gone Cute pattern by Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts) for Karen at KaHolly. She is collecting them to make wallhangings and other items for an auction fundraiser to support a pet rescue agency in Texas that is helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

I just could not stop at two puppies. I had a couple more ideas to try. My first idea was to make a husky with blue eyes. Well, it turned out looking more like a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd. Oh well. 
I tried again with some cream and gray Grunge fabrics. In my mind, the block was awesome, but my placement of fabrics was just wrong, and block was so hideous that I'm not even going to show you. Puppy fail. Funny how that happens.

I also wanted to try a brown dog--I don't know what they're called, but I know I've seen them--with blue eyes and a pinkish nose. That one turned out more like what I was imagining.
I wonder, though: do these puppies look a little vacant? A little zombie-ish? Maybe I should have used a slightly darker blue for the eyes. I love them anyway, and I'm sure someone somewhere will love them, too. I probably should have named them, but then they'd be harder to part with. Wait, I'll name one. The Border Collie is Fly, of course, from the movie Babe. Love that movie! You can name the others if you want.

I have other ideas, but I think I need to stop  eating potato chips  making puppy blocks now. These little pups will soon join their playmates for a little trip to meet up with all the others at KaHolly's quilty dog party. Oh, now I have a Go Dog Go earworm. Remember that book by P.D. Eastman? I must have read it a million times by now. It's a fun book. 

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday. Have fun with your puppies--whether furry or fabric. And thank you, Karen and Lorna, for making this project possible!

Okay, since this has been a tiny post, how about a few lot more vacation photos for those of you who like armchair travelogues? These are from the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, in the rural district, which is an area that I think of as ghost farms--a rural museum in the National Lakeshore (hard to explain). A lovely area. I think they are considering some heritage farming there in the future. We rode the newest part of the trail this year. 

A peek through a window of the farmhouse--layers of wall paper and linoleum printed to look like carpet.

Rest stop tree

Narada Lake

Do you see the beaver cuts? Two trees about to be toppled and one pointy stump where one has already been felled (way on the left)

Log school house from the 1800's (right across the trail from the beaver work)

A peek through the window. This is one of my favorite pictures from the ride. I love the dusty light.

I wonder if this could be a Native American trail marker tree.

The brightest spot of color we saw on the trail.

Okay that's it for this post. Bye bye.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Vacation Mode

Not a whole lot of quilting going on here, but enough. Last spring, we planned a vacation trip "up North" during shoulder season--the time between summer and leaf peeping season. We love the time of year when the trees show just a hint of color and the morning air is crisp. It's perfect for biking on trails--no crowds and no sweat. Well this year? Ha! Temperatures were in the 90's. At the 45th parallel. At the end of September. The towns and beaches were crowded with visitors and locals soaking up bonus summer weather. We had a good time. It was just more summery than planned until the very end when the temperature plunged more than 30 degrees--ah, that was more like it.. I'll include a few pictures at the end of this post, but first I'll focus on what's been going on in my little quilting life.

I'm trying to remember where I was with projects before we left town. I think I shared a bit on Instagram about my Lake Michigan quilt. The top is all pieced now. 

My plan is to embroider some tall grass in the foreground where the crude paper patterns are and then some progressively smaller bunches to create depth. I was trying to decide whether to embroider the grass before or after quilting. I didn't want the stitches to show on the back, but I also didn't want to try to quilt around embroidery. I made a little mock-up to test embroidering after quilting, and it worked fine, so my next step is to make the sandwich and do the quilting. Here's the mock-up:

No show on the back from the embroidery:

Anybody recognize that backing fabric? Ancient! Good use for it, right? Now I can use the mock-up to practice the kinds of stitches and colors of thread I'll use on the quilt.

My other in-progress quilt is Hollyhocks. I took that quilt along for vacation hand work. I had done a bit of the flowers before I left.

This was my view on the balcony of our hotel. It was hot, hot, hot, but there was a breeze.

And under the cabana on the beach:

During our time away, we spent time at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. In the visitor's center there, the 2013 ArtPrize people's choice winning quilt by Ann Loveless is on display. So, of course, I had to take some pictures (not easy to do because of its size and the reflections in the protective glass).

Amazing! I'm glad I got to see it up close. There are other beautiful Sleeping Bear artworks in the gallery, but this was the one I just had to see,

I stopped in at four quilt shops Up North. One I had been to before, but the others were ones that just happened to be along our route. Here's what I bought:

The batting and powder blue Grunge are for the Lake Michigan quilt. Seems weird to use Grunge for a quilt back, but I didn't see anything else I liked as much, and it will be a nice memento. The tan Joel Dewberry is a possible binding for that quilt, and the coral, blue, and turquoise are potential parts in a donation quilt I'm contemplating. The yellow is an odd piece from a grab bag table. It's about 80 by 33 inches with some seams and a hem on one end. It's been washed so obviously had a previous life. Maybe the cuttings from a quilt back? 

I enjoyed three of the stores. Each had a distinctive personality. My favorite was in a couple of store fronts from the 1800's in a teeny, tiny town. The fourth store will not be on my list for future visits. It probably had the biggest inventory, and the woman who greeted me (the owner, I hope) was friendly as she explained where everything was, but I was treated with suspicion and rudeness by the cashier (I hope not the owner). It does take the shine off those fabrics. I probably should have walked away. I've deleted a whole paragraph about the experience. 

When we got home we had just enough time for dental appointments and laundry before taking off for a week of daycare with the Grands. Pure fun. A bit different now that our granddaughter is in all-day kindergarten. But we got to do some evening care, too, so we spent plenty of time with both kiddies. During naptime, I kept working on the Hollyhocks quilt. I finished quilting the flowers and outlined the leaves.
Then I started the veins in the leaves. I'm not happy with that quilting so I think I have some unquilting to do. I'll probably use simpler quilting and a different color thread

Now that I'm home, I've spent a little more time with puppy blocks. I'll save those for another post. 

Meanwhile, here are a few Up North photos. I've taken a lot of photos there in the past, so this year, I tried to focus on details or scenes I haven't taken before. 
Big Sable Lighthouse (Update: Oops, I meant Little Sable)

The sky at sunset on the Fall Equinox

Fall Equinox

Ludington North Pier Light

Cardinal Mountain Ash tree at one of our motels. The part of the building to the right of the door is the former lighthouse keeper's home.

Okay, I'll save a few more pictures for next time. I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. I hope your week is going well, whether or not you've been on vacation. Of course, quilting at any time is like a little vacation.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Birthday Puppies

Last week, Karen at Kaholly posted that she had a birthday coming up and her wish was for Dog Gone Cute blocks (pattern by Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts) that she could make into wallhangings and other items for an auction fundraiser to support a pet rescue agency in Texas that is helping victims of Hurricane Harvey. 

So Happy Birthday, Karen!! 

I had so much fun making these. They really are like potato chips. (I think there will be a few more before I'm ready to send them.) I like tiny piecing, so I chose to make them in puppy size (6 by 9 inches plus seam allowance). The hardest part was choosing which fabrics to use. I've made a Dog Gone Cute block before. That was in blues and turquoises, and I changed it a bit to look like my granddog as it was for my grandson's baby quilt. I think I might have paper pieced parts of it. But I decided to make these in more realistic doggy colors and stuck to the pattern and instructions, working really slowly to try to get my seam allowances/size accurate (or close enough), my seams pressed smoothly open, and my backs neat. Is anyone else really self conscious about block backs when you give blocks away? My block backs are usually so messy--thready, with seams not lying down where they are meant to. It all gets covered up in the quilt, but giving a block away is so exposing! Maybe I should use starch or a starch alternative. Does that help keep things neat? I've always assumed it does, but don't really know. (I probably still won't use starch if it does. It makes me sneeze.) 

I remember that when I watched all of the people being rescued in the flooding from the hurricane, I was struck by how many pets were rescued along with them under such difficult circumstances. Some of the animals seemed bewildered, but they looked so calm, trusting their rescuers and families to keep them safe. So many pets. And then I was impressed with how quickly agencies responded to shift animals to shelters around the country so that they could help displaced families stay as close as possible to their pets. 

I enjoy seeing how my granddog is a much loved part of life for my son, daughter-in-law and grandson. He's a goofy rescue dog, and watching him develop such a fun relationship with my grandson helps me see how close that bond can be between pets and their people. I'm sure all the pets rescued in the hurricane are a source of great comfort to their families as they reunite and begin rebuilding their lives.

Isn't it neat that Karen is making these wallhangings and other quilted goodies? They will celebrate pets, honor the rescuers, and provide needed funds for pet food and supplies. What a great gift! 

So thanks, Karen. Thanks, pet rescuers. And thanks, Lorna, for such a delightful pattern. I can't wait to see the finished items for the auction.

I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts (of course!!) for Let's Bee Social.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival 2017

It's time for the Fall Edition of the Blogger's Quilt Festival put on by Amy's Creative Side. So here is one more post about my Deconstructed Coins quilt. (I hope you can stand one more. It's the quilt I'm most excited about of the ones I've finished so far this year.)  

Here's the summary and some of my favorite pictures. Well, this isn't one of my favorite pictures, but it's a place to start--the whole front:

 And the back:

My inspiration for the quilt came from two sources. One was a set of three fabric sample panels from a giveaway from Hawthorne Threads. I wanted to use them in a quilt but wasn't sure how. Then Kaja from Sew Slowly and Ann from Fret Not Yourself presented a challenge to the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters to make an improvisational quilt based on the Chinese coin pattern. The fabric samples were already in the shape of coins, 

so I cut them apart, split some of them randomly with solid strips 
and sewed them back together with a navy edge. (The navy was a suggestion from Louise from My Quilt Odyssey. I'm thrilled because I don't think I would have thought of that myself, and it really was a significant design element in the success of the quilt.)
 Then I added improv-pieced sashing and borders. 

As you saw above, the back is made with mostly leftover solids from the front. I quilted the whole thing with loose waves with my walking foot.

This all seems pretty straight-forward, but it was a long process--intentionally long because I wanted the design to unfold bit by bit without frustration.

Now for my favorite pictures. Here are some of the details showing the fun, quirky prints:

And on location, in the back yard

and in a nearby town:

I hope you enjoyed revisiting my quilt (or seeing it for the first time). It really helped me discover what my improvisational piecing style is (structured) and taught me to slow down and enjoy the process. If you'd like to read all about it, click on the Deconstructed Coins label on the right sidebar or the label at the bottom of this post in the web version of this post.

Thanks to Amy for hosting this festival again. I know I'll enjoy seeing what everyone else has to share this week. I hope you have fun at the festival, too.