Friday, September 26, 2008


A small group from my quilt guild was inspired after a workshop with Amy Climer last winter to form our own group to encourage (force) ourselves to work toward creating our own designs and making art quilts. We first met in July and decided that we would meet once a month (to hold ourselves accountable) and work through the Art Quilt Workbook, by Jane Davila and Elin Waterston. The book is nice in that it breaks the world of art quilting up into workable chapters, each of which focuses on a different technique.

We decided we would all make quilts with the same theme so that we wouldn't have to come up with our own and so that we could compare experiences. The quilts are small: 9x12 inches, with an orientation of our choosing. We'll work in series of 3 before switching themes. The first theme selected was "birds."

I missed last month's meeting because I was in San Francisco for my conference and I had no time prior to that due to work on Russ & Shannon's quilt. This month, I combined ideas from the chapter on collage and the chapter on photos on fabric to create my first quilt (above). Everything came from my stash, which was nice. I purchased the hummingbird photo from iStockphoto and printed it onto fabric. The horizontal trim is from an "Adornments" pack I bought ages ago, intended for use on purses or fabric bowls, or who knows what. I like the overall effect, but it strikes me as something a third grader could do. Hopefully I can challenge myself a bit more for next month's meeting.

More images of my quilt are on my Picasa album. You can see pictures of last month's quilts on the group blog.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A New PR and Fabric Shopping!

Today Ben and I ran for the third time the U.S. Cellular Half Marathon in the Fox Cities (Appleton, Menasha, Neenah, Kaukauna, Kimberly, etc.). We typically drive up on Saturday and spend the night in a hotel before the 8 a.m. race start on Sunday morning. It's not too far up there - about 90 miles - and spending the night in a hotel means one less thing to worry about on race day.

This morning was chilly (especially a 6 a.m., when the shuttle bus picked us up), but gorgeous, and I regretted the fact that I decided to keep on my long-sleeved running shirt for the race about 5 miles in. But really, you couldn't have asked for a nicer day. We weren't really expecting to have a great race - most of our longer runs this summer haven't been particularly good, and even our shorter runs have been frustrated by pain. We went out planning to finish and just enjoy ourselves. Well... when we were still running sub 8:45s six miles in, I realized we might be better off than we thought.

We were running really well until about mile 10, when I started to have some issues, but I hung in there and we were able to finish in a new PR: 1:56:45, shaving about a minute off last season's PR and averaging 8:55s throughout! Woo hoo! While our official places were 770 and 771 (edited 9/25: they just changed it to the chip times, and our places moved up to 764 and 765... the right direction, in my opinion), I'm still thrilled. You can see more placement information for me here. (Note: the difference between the reported time and our chip time was a minute and a half. It always amazes me how long it takes from the start gun going off until you actually get to the starting line in these fields!)

An added benefit of driving up on Saturday is the opportunity to visit Primitive Gatherings in Menasha. I certainly found lots of things to love, and if I did more applique, I'm sure it would be an even more costly visit. Here's photos of my purchases:

Several Christmas prints from the Whimsicals line Snow Wonderful:

Several lovely teal-y blues and coordinates from Brannock and Patek's Hemming House and the Collections for a Cause Heritage lines:

And finally, a number of cream and brown fat quarters for use in the Going in Circles quilt pattern by Buggy Barn (in the book Certifiably Crazy):

These creams and browns will join a variety of browns I'd already collected over the past year:

Finally, I finished shopping early enough on Saturday to work on cutting out some Christmas quilting projects while sitting in the hotel watching the Brewers game (unfortunately, they lost...).

What a great weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Russ and Shannon's Wedding Quilt

Some of you might have guessed that the quilt I was madly sewing together last month was the one I was creating for Russ and Shannon's wedding this past weekend (my brother-in-law and new sister-in-law). I hadn't wanted to post too much information earlier because I'm not sure if they read the blog. But the wedding's over and they've seen the quilt, so, without further ado, here it is!

Ben picked the pattern from Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe. This particular quilt was called Flush of Spring and in the book was done in greens and pinks, designed to finish at 63" x 81". I wanted to make it larger to fit a queen sized bed, and this design was easy enough to resize, featuring a 9" finished block size. My version finished at 91" x 109" (yes, my seam allowance must be slightly off, but given the large number of seams in this quilt, I am not terribly worried about it). Ben and I picked out 26 different fabrics for the top at Fabric Fusion before they went out of business, placing each fabric roughly in the light or dark pile (although there are a few that could go either way). All but one of the fabrics is a batik (challenge: find the one that is not).

Sandi turned the quilt around amazingly quickly. Ben dropped it off for her on a Thursday night, and it was waiting for me when I got home from San Francisco two nights later. She did a great job, as usual. The quilting pattern is called "too much bubbly" and the curves go nicely in contrast to all the rectangles of the top.

Ben drew a lovely label for the back (his contribution, in addition to ironing the batting, dropping off the quilt to Sandi and picking out the quilting pattern), using Pigma pens on muslin.

Here are Russ and Shannon opening the quilt at the rehearsal dinner last Friday night. I felt badly because everyone at the dinner stopped to watch them open it; Ben and I just wanted to see them open it and weren't sure when would be a good time and the rehearsal had seemed easiest, given everyone's hectic schedules. Everyone seemed to like it and I had a good number of people interested in purchasing quilts if I ever go into business, recommendations on using Etsy to sell my work, etc. If only I had more time!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Been Busy

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I posted, but it's been a busy couple of weeks. For those of you wondering, I did finish the quilt last pictured (sewed the label on last night) and I'll post pictures of that this weekend. As for other things I've been up to...

I was in San Francisco for a week for a conference for work. Didn't really see a whole lot other than what I could see from several early-morning runs from the conference hotel, along the Embarcadero and to Fort Mason. I did go to two Giants games, so added another baseball park to the list of those visited (that's two this summer!). Amazingly, in what little time I did have to shop in the Union Square area, I happened to run into Britex Fabrics - four floors of fabric bliss (and located where I never would have expected to find a fabric store, amidst high-end retail icons like Prada, Burberry, Barney's, Sak's, etc. ). My roommate and I discovered it about 10 minutes prior to close, so there was no real time for dawdling. Clearly the focus is on fabric for decorating and clothing rather than quilting, but there were beautiful fabrics there and I'm sure I could have spent a bundle had I time and a bit of a plan. I still managed to buy one item in my quick visit: the Bendable Bright Light, which everyone seems to be raving about of late. Ann Fahl was selling them at her presentation and workshop with our guild in May but I thought I'd be smart and that Jo-Ann's or some such store would have them and I could get a better deal by using a coupon. Well, I've yet to see them at Jo-Ann's and figure that was the time, so I picked it up. I've not yet installed it on my machine because I really haven't had time for sewing, but I hope it'll give me some good light so that I can turn off my floor lamp and thus reduce some of the heat Ben complains about.

Last weekend, we packed up the car early on Saturday morning and drove half an hour to Jackson, WI, where we picked 36 pints of beautiful raspberries at Henke's, the most wonderful raspberry place I've ever been. Probably 6 acres of raspberries, and only raspberries. The bushes were loaded, the weather was gorgeous, and we heard and saw cranes and geese flying above us. How long does it take two people to pick 36 pints, you might ask? Well, about 3 hours. We used about 17 pints to make two double-batches of jam - 36 jars - and most of the rest went into the freezer. Of course I had to put raspberries on everything for a few days - waffles, yogurt, ice cream (vanilla with chocolate chips, yummy!), etc. I don't know how many we picked last year, but I was pretty much out of them and was thinking I might have to resort to desperate measures to get my raspberry fix.

Finally, I decided to take a class this fall at a local technical college, so on top of all of this, I had a bit of homework to do. Nothing terribly major, but finding the time had me just a bit stressed out. It should be better from here on out (knock on wood).

Quilting-related posts will come again soon.