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Fiery Sunsets

We are in the middle of a very stormy January. The atmospheric river has been bringing lots of snow to our valley floor. We ski when it’s not snowing and cozy up inside when it’s snow raining. This has given me lots of time to sew! I’ve started a baby quilt, a shawl, and a small art piece of a lighthouse. Meanwhile, I can share with you my last finished piece, Fiery Sunset, which is currently for sale at our Mammoth Lakes Library show which is open until February 10.

img_2036As the last quilt in my series of colorscapes, this was my favorite for color and quilting. The quilting lines have such texture and movement. They were a joy to stitch.

img_2037The pattern looked cool on the back of the quilt too.

img_2040In December, we had a reception for our show. It was also a very snowy and cold night. Despite the very icy roads, most of our quilting group made it to Mammoth for the reception.

img_2053Here’s a quick peak at some of the other quilts in the show. I didn’t manage to take many pictures as I kept getting distracted, but it gives you a taste of the beautiful and colorful quilts in the show!

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Spring in the Sierras by Laura Diko. I really like Laura’s choice of fabrics, and how she used them to make the landscape. And I like her quilting on the flowers!

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Eucalyptus by Catherine Cannon. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be this one by Cathy. I love the movement Cathy created in the quilt, with the shapes and colors and quilting. Stunning.

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Large Swirl by Margaret Phelps. More fantastic use of color and shapes and quilting.

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Serengeti Sunset by Penny Kehus. Closing on another sunset. I like the black silhouette of the animals on the bright colored fabric. The show is open for a couple more weeks if you’d like to see the quilts in person, and all sales support the library!

Each Christmas, I enjoy putting up a tree and pulling out the ornament box, finding the right place for each ornament on the tree. Many ornaments are gifts from friends, and one ornament I made last year, an acorn with leaf. When I thought about what gift I would like to make for friends and family this year, I thought I would continue with the ornament theme. I like to imagine that each person I give an ornament to will also feel that pleasure as they decorate their tree, being reminded by the handmade ornaments of the people that love and care for them.

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As the early part of December past, I pondered and mulled over and thought about what type of ornament I could make. I had some vague sense I wanted to do something with my hand dyed fabric scraps and paper piecing quilt technique. Inspiration struck one evening as I was browsing instagram, and saw a photo of an ornament that was needlepoint, with a mason jar lid as the hoop/border. Perfect! I could paper piece a small quilted piece and then enclose with a mason jar lid.

img_2069Once I had my idea, I browsed pinterest, to see if anyone else had done this and if they had any suggestions. I learned from one tutorial how to use a hammer and nail to make a hole in the side of the lid for the hanging loop to go through, and learned from another tutorial to turn the inside lid upside down to make the design push outwards instead of pushing inwards.

img_2057Each evening I sewed and pieced and churned out ornament after ornament. I traced the lid on paper to make my paper piecing templates. In the beginning, I was more impromptu, randomly pulling fabrics and making a design. Then I started to curate my fabrics a bit, and pulled fabrics of similar hues.

img_2073One design led to another which led to another. Some designs were more complex, and I would draw on the paper to follow the pattern. Others were simple and came together quickly. From start to finish, each took me about 15 minutes.

img_2007My favorite comment was from our Great-Aunt Sue, who upon unwrapping her ornament, exclaimed that it will “make the mason jar look so nice!” Well, I guess that would be a good use for them as well. Really dress up your preserves!

I am excited to be participating in A Very for Keeping Warm‘s Pressed Seam Club. I have long loved the Verb for their yarn and natural dye materials, but haven’t really taken advantage of or browsed their fabric selection. I’ve had my eye on their Pressed Seam Club since I first heard of it several months ago, and subscribed this January for the first time.

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I always love opening packages and seeing what’s inside, especially since the six fat quarters they send each month will be a surprise! Their note shares that they wanted to include fabrics that “bring to mind daydreaming and doodles” for the New Year.

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I think what I will enjoy most about this subscription is expanding my stash to include fabrics I wouldn’t ordinarily pick out myself,  but once I have in my toolkit, will enjoy using.

img_2281 So in addition to doodling and daydreaming, here’s to stretching comfort zones and being more creative with new fabric! Happy New Year all, I’m looking forward to what we all quilt in 2017.

Linking up with Sunday Stash.

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Planning for 2017

 

Looking forward to 2017 makes the world feel full of possibility. This is often the point at which I over commit myself, dream big, and imagine that my time is limitless. They say shoot for the moon and you will land among the stars, so it is off to the moon I go!

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My number one top priority will be … making quilts! Of course. The new part is I’ve been invited to participate in a show locally with a few other artists this summer. This means it is time to start sewing! The show is led by Ann Piersall; if you haven’t heard of her yet, take a moment to check out her work. Absolutely stunning. She has been invited by our local brewery to have a show, and she thought it would be more fun to have several artists participating! The theme will be to share our unique East Side landscape, from the sage covered valleys to the high mountain peaks.

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I’ve also signed up for Elizabeth Barton’s Master Class. The class is hosted on a private blog, and Elizabeth posts one assignment each month. We submit our designs and quilts, and she provides guidance and critique. I am looking forward to seeing what everyone in the class designs and sews, and to see how my own designs develop. This class will be a challenge for me to keep up with, but I’m hoping to set aside small bits of time to devote to it. Like I discovered with my poppy quilts, a lot can be accomplished when you even just set aside ten minutes a day!

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I also want to continue to be involved in our Out of the Box group, meeting up to share techniques, and hopefully having another show at the Mammoth Lakes library again next fall. There are also rumblings from the group that we might have another collaborative project together. We will have to see what that turns out to be!

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And then, if there is any more time left, I want to dye more fabric. I want to play with dyeing gradations and sewing transparent designs. I want to learn how to sew curves and incorporate the technique more in my work (nothing to do with dyeing, just something I want to learn). I want to paint more fabric, more sunsets and skyscapes. Part of the dyeing goal is to also get a permanent place set up for me to dye in our garage/laundry room. There is a wall next to the washing machine and sink that we’d like to install counter tops and cupboards (if anyone locally is remodeling their kitchen, let me know! We are on the hunt for around six feet of counter top). Then I could have all my dye equipment ready to use, and a dedicated space to dye in.

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And let’s not forget to mention my personal health and wellbeing, hanging out with my family and friends, getting outside and being active, and cooking good food. I’d also like to sew up a couple of baby quilts for babies that have arrived and will be arriving. My blog could use some attention, organizing some background pieces and cleaning up a few things I’ve been thinking about.

Here’s to a productive, creative, and fun 2017! Let’s go see what happens.

2017 Planning Party
P.S. And I’m linking up with my first link party! Thanks to Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl for hosting the #2017planningparty.

Reflection on 2016

I love this time of year, despite the shorter days, or maybe because of them, I feel as if there is space to slow down, reflect, ponder, and remember. I anticipate the days leading up to the end of the month with enjoyment, looking back on all that happened and looking forward to what is ahead.

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You can enjoy my past reflections here and here and here and here and here and here

If last year was the year of big finishes, than this year was the year of dabbling in this and that … I let my interests take me wherever the wind blew. This way and that way.

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My hand stitchery for the year was embroidery through the Dropcloth Sampler. I enjoyed trying different threads and learning new stitches. I wasn’t able to keep up with the monthly subscription, so I still have a lot of fun stitchery ahead in 2017!

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Once upon a time, I had the plan that I would make a baby quilt for every baby in my life. I managed to make one this spring for Hunter Edward, and have since fallen behind. So many babies being born, it’s wonderful!

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The first class I took was at Road To California, with Gloria Loughman called Confident Colour. Highlights from the class were for the first time understanding a color wheel and how to use it, learning to paint skies, and discovering steam-a-seam.

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From that class, I finished four small wall hangings. The simplicity of the design gave me freedom to explore different free motion quilting designs, and I experimented with different borders and facings.

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The second class I took was through the Academy of Quilting, with Elizabeth Barton title Inspired to Design. I didn’t particularly like the Academy’s online format, but I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s teaching style and critique. The class focused on making numerous sketches of a design, and learning how to manipulate and critique to a final good design. Life got in the way towards the end of the course, so I became less involved, but I am looking forward to taking another of Elizabeth’s classes in 2017, so more on that in my next post!

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The third class I took was with Rachel Hauser of Stitched in Color called Patchwork from Scrap. I liked her online format for the class which was hosted on a private blog, and I enjoyed her lectures and projects. She rocked my world with her comments and theory on fabric management and storage. I’ll never treat a piece of fabric the same way again!

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I also joined the #30daysofquiltdesign hosted by Stitched in Color. Over a couple of months, we were challenged with drawing 30 quilt designs.

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It was neat to see how my drawings and designs developed over the course of the challenge. It was also my first time participating in an instagram challenge, and I found it very enjoyable to interact with other quilters on instagram, liking and commenting and encouraging each other.

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And last, but not least, our Out of the Box quilt group continues to inspire me. We met several times to play with fabric, learning new techniques with painting and batik. We also completed one group quilt and were invited by the library to have another show this year.

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Our group quilt project was a quilt with puzzle pieces, whose quilt blocks could move for an infinity of designs. We limited ourselves to a fixed set of fabrics and abstract shapes. It was neat to see all the different designs each person made from these limitations! We also received a Best of Show at our county fair.

 

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From a Saturday session of painting on fabric with our Out of the Box group, I finished a series of small poppy quilts. These and the colorscape quilts I entered in our Mammoth Lakes Library show.

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This year the wind blew me towards learning new skills, drawing designs, and playing with color. Where will the wind blow me in 2017?

 

Many Studies in Color

I’ve had a lot of free-motion quilting practice this past month! In January, I attended a Gloria Loughman class at Road to California on Confident Colour. Which means I’ve had four lovely small sized quilts waiting to be quilted! The skies were especially fun to quilt, with swirls, squiggles, and even algae (I turned one sky landscape into an underwater landscape!).

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Having many small pieces to quilt also let me play with different quilting designs on the hills. It is an interesting opportunity to have the same design to quilt over and over again. After seeing the different results and textures, some I liked and some I thought could be better.

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My first finish was in May, with a triad color scheme between purple, orange and green. I finished it just in time to be shown in our Calico Quilt Guild biannual show, and then I gifted it to Lesley for her birthday (she is rather fond of purple!).

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For our upcoming library show, I pulled out the remaining designs last month, and got to stitching! My second finish was the split complementary, which included a range of greens from yellow-green to blue-green and a red-violet for accent. I thought this one looked like it could have been underwater, so I filled the sky with algae.

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The next one up to be stitched was the monochromatic, with a range of blues. This sky was my most dramatic, the dark colors making it look moody and stormy.

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For this quilt, I tried a narrow and wide border, a technique that Gloria Loughman outlines in her book Radiant Landscape. Before stitching, when I put the three layers together of quilt top, batting, and backing, I made the batting and backing three inches larger than the quilt top. After quilting the quilt top, I sewed on a narrow then wide border. I really like the overall effect this border has, but it does make some funny stitching lines on the back. But who sees the back anyway?!

img_1967I also felt like I was channeling Vincent Van Goh’s Starry Night when quilting the sky. I really love swirls! If you have a second, take a closer look at the direction of my swirls. I always entered them from a counter-clockwise direction. While stitching, I kept trying to figure out how to do a clockwise swirl, but never managed to!

The Underwater Sea and Stormy Night quilts will be for sale at our Mammoth Lakes Library art quilt show which opens today! Save the date for a reception on Friday, December 16. I’ll be sharing more details when I know more.

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From my Study in Color set, I have one last quilt top to finish, a complementary color scheme, from blue-green to red-orange. The orange hill in the middle of the blue hills continues to bother me. Perhaps this is why I subconsciously left this quilt to last to finish. I’m contemplating attempting to replace with a blue hill. I think that might be good …

 

And then, I ask myself, where to go from here? These designs were templates provided by the class, and while I learned a lot about color, quilting designs, and borders, I want to make one that is more uniquely me. I am inspired by a local artist, Ann Piersall, and her dramatic mountain-scapes. Perhaps I need to pull out my pencil and paper, and try to capture one of our local-scapes in a way that is uniquely me.

Poppy Quilt Series

It’s no secret that I love poppies. And I shared with you how I painted poppies on fabric. Now I get to share with you quilting and finishing those poppies!

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Our Out of the Box quilt group has been invited to have another quilt show at the Mammoth Lakes Library, opening in December. I’ll be posting more details as they develop, like dates and if we’ll have another reception. Until then, you can read more about our show last year! As the days got shorter and the weather cooler, I knew I needed to buckle down and get some quilting done for this year’s show!

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So I decided to quilt at least 10 minutes every day, and to keep track of my time in a little book. And I’m here to share this motivation worked wonders! On some days after work, I’d set my timer and just do the ten minutes, and that was great. On other days, I’d be excited or more energetic and quilt for 20 to 30 minutes. And some days I didn’t quilt at all, but I mostly sat down at my machine every evening.

I found that no matter how tired I was in the evening, by setting the timer for ten minutes, it would always be over way before I was ready to be done. And doing just a little bit each day kept me excited for sitting down the next day, wanting to continue and stitch more. Before I knew it, I had my first (small) square pieced and ready to be finished!

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On the first quilt, I chose squiggly lines radiating out from the center to match the circular pattern of the poppies. For the second quilt, I chose to try a winding curve pattern. And for the third quilt, I fell back on my tried and true love of swirls.

I love quilting swirls so much. I love their look and texture and the act of quilting them is so meditative. For the third quilt, I kept the pattern of swirls but alternated between two different variegated thread colors. I really like how it turned out!

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Bit by bit, ten or so minutes a day, all three were ready to bind and stitch and finish! Each has elements that I love, and choices or things I would have done differently. That is what is great about working in a series, is I learn as I go and can discover what I like and what I think looks good.

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Last thing left is to put my label on each and decide what to price them for. A portion of the proceeds benefits the library; I love that my stitching is a form of volunteering and giving back!

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Do you have a favorite? I think the littlest might be mine, though there are elements of each I absolutely adore.

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I’m tempted to keep this series going, painting and stitching more. It’s a journey where I’m not sure where it will end up, and it’s exciting to think about the unknown and what’s ahead.