Saturday, June 17, 2017

Recording a Finish

I am not the fastest quilter...but just like the tortoise...I am persistent. (That pile of tops needing to be quilted just never gets smaller.) My favorite moment of quilting is when I tie that last knot when stitching down the binding. I always want to jump up and do a happy dance.

This pattern is "Perfect Ten," by Swirly Girls. So named because you take ten fat quarters and add border fabric. I used a set of Moda batik fat quarters that had aged so long I didn't remember the name of the set but I'm pretty sure they are a Laundry Basket design from long ago. I loved the batiks but because all of the fat quarters are pretty much of a medium value it was tough to figure out what to make with them.


I did blog about this quilt when I pulled it off the quilting frame so I feel like I am just repeating myself...but just in case you missed that post, I'll review a little history. I am thinking of naming it "Practice No. 5," as I pretty much planned to quilt each fabric section differently when I finished piecing the top. It took a few years for the right inspiration to come along but the two new books I bought from Margaret Solomon Gunn with filler techniques was the push I was waiting for on this quilt top. Also, the song, "Mambo No. 5," has been running through my head lately. 

I have been hoping sites for quilt photo shoots would work their way into my new landscaping. I tried a few out today. 

My Clematis trellis is coming along but my new plants are only about 18" tall. Great quilt stand! 

KcKinley and Logan kept walking through my shots (thank goodness for the digital camera age with delete buttons). So...I tried to get them both to pose. Ha! Logan is still too young to stay when I am trying to get him to look at the camera. Kinley is trying to give him some pointers (inside setter joke...pointers) on modeling.

I lost my patience and pulled Logan out of the scene. Kinley was very cooperative. Notice the "WOW" wheel. My son, Zack, who collects the antler sheds, made that for me when he was about 11 or 12 on a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's over spring break.

The "WOW" wheel is also a "MOM" wheel. I love it!

Eli even jacked one of my photo shoots...he was laying on my felt pieces from a Bucilla kit when I came back into the room with my camera.

At least he just laid on them and didn't mess them up at all. 

Questions from my last post:
Since two ladies asked the brand name of the little iron, thought I would mention it is a Clover wedge iron. Also asked by a noreply blogger (check your default settings to change that status) what pattern I was using for the red, white and blue quilt. It is  "Chain Log Cabin," from the book, "Moda All-Stars Scraps Made Simple."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Cynthia England Picture Piecing and Designing Class

We are so fortunate in the Anchorage area to have a quilt shop, Seams Like Home, that brings national quilt teachers up to Alaska. In the past, I have been too late to get into a class but I have made a bigger effort to sign up the day the class is announced.  Angela Walters last weekend and this weekend Cynthia England.

Here is a terrible photo of Cynthia's quilt that won the Houston Quilt show last fall. It is so incredible. I have seen it in a couple of quilting magazines so hopefully you have seen a better photo of this quilt. Or maybe you saw it at Houston. I could look at it forever.

In her class yesterday, we  had the option of making one of her kits....

or this one.

I picked option 2, Smokey Mountains. Turns out it is just a little easier than Tranquil Lake. I chose wisely!

The first half of the class was construction. This is how far I got. I had a little help, as Cynthia actually used my kit to show some of the piecing. She is a Bernina owner also, so I think she chose me because I had a machine she was comfortable using. 

I watched her construction videos before class and it really help me to get this technique down quickly. Another helpful bit of advice was to use this particular iron...

which I bought from the quilt shop at the class. I have a Rowenta travel iron but it is a power hog...uses 1,000 watts which leads to popped fuses when several quilters are using them in one space. This little iron only uses 80 watts and is just perfect. I love it. I also already had the clamp on ironing board that a local quilter designed. You have to press every little seam as you stitch with this technique so very important to have an iron and board so handy. 

The second half of the class was all about how to take a picture and create a quilt design. I bought her book about this technique 20 years ago...hands on with the author makes a huge difference in understanding the little mistakes that most people make.

I now have so many pictures in my head I want to turn into a quilt...I need to stop sleeping. I don't know how else to find time for everything.

I didn't get a bear picture yesterday...though we did have black bear in the yard. I was busy cooking dinner so missed seeing him but my husband did see it as we knew some animal was making the dogs crazy. 

There is a grizzly sow with two cubs in our neighborhood right now...I've only seen other peoples' pictures of her...expecting her to visit us as sometime...though it might be while we are asleep.

I did see this moose in our yard last night. Again...the dogs were doing their crazy barking for animal sightings. This moose was running and I waited for a bit to see if a bear was going to be following it but didn't see it. Dog barking doesn't usually get a moose running.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Real Fear...

I know...
this is absolutely the most adorable picture...
but I've seen this mama bear the past two years in my yard. 
We were hoping she was past her cub-bearing years. 
Not so!

The above photo was taken by a neighbor. She was at the bottom of our mountain, near our mailboxes, when this photo was taken. About a quarter of a mile from my house.

Below is a photo of her in my yard, May of 2016.

And there is a second grizzly sow with two cubs that was in my neighbor's backyard last month. The photo was taken with a motion sensitive trail camera. This neighbor lives directly across the street from me.

I woke at 5:30 a.m. this morning to the dogs going crazy because there was a black bear on our deck.

Bears everywhere!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Shared Journaling

My favorite quilt shop in the Anchorage area, Seams Like Home, brings in national quilt teachers. Saturday morning I spent three hours with Angela Walters doing some hands on with rulers at the quilting frame.  Angela is demoing at the machine and I am in the turquoise T-shirt.

As usual, when I talk with national quilting is always the stuff that isn't included in the official class that often gives me the most memorable learning moments. I would jump at the chance to take another class from Angela. Fantastic, personable teacher with so much knowledge that she gets out so efficiently.

The day before the class...I finally shot my first picture of a bear in our yard this summer. I've seen black bears in the our yard about a half dozen times this summer. I know there are two Grizzlies with cubs in our area but am really hoping I don't see them in my yard...just saying...

I didn't crop the bear photo...I took it from my car since I saw the bear walking down my driveway on my way home.

It is summer time so I have been spending as much time outside as the weather and my schedule allows. I started the rock outline for a perennial flower bed last fall. It was such a delight to plant it this summer!

On those evenings when I have a little bit of energy left, I've pecked away on cross stitch...

Finished a Bucilla ornament set, Snow Garden.

And just this morning I finished making 54 blocks for a log cabin inspired patriotic quilt. Only 16 blocks on my design wall right now. I am so in love with this fabric line in this pattern. It was a batik line from Moda last summer called Fire and Ice. I would never have put all these together and then added black...but it really looks sharp! It is going to be challenging to sew all these blocks together so I might wait for a few rainy days.

I wanted to show how my rock and metal tub wall is fairing after its first winter.  I lost one tub from the top due to the snow plowing of our driveway but I got it easily replaced and filled with a red twig dogwood which is what is in the other tubs along the top row.  The six purple fountain grass plants did not survive. Not too surprising. I replaced them with gold potentilla which I know will winter over as the three orange potentillas are thriving!

The firepit is getting lots of use but of course...I have plans to make it look grander...I don't know why I do this to myself...remember...I have that problem in quilting...making everything  bigger.

What the heck...I'm going for it...adding a rock border...and maybe a little walk way through the grassy area to the rock stairway...

I think of my blog as a journal that I share with others. I keep doing it because it really helps me keep track of what I accomplish. I had a couple of days last week when I didn't feel too peppy and I was feeling overwhelmed. (I even took a nap one afternoon...I never take naps!) I know everyone has those days. Looking through my blog makes me feel so much better. I do accomplish a lot... sometimes it takes months or years until there is a final result. Maybe with some of Angela's tricks added to my quilting knowledge...I can make a bigger dent in my quilt top pile.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


I just love getting to pull a completed quilt off the frame! I washed and dried it today so now it is ready for binding.

This quilt top started out as a Breakfast Club project, a fat quarter pattern called "Perfect Ten." From the start I envisioned quilting each little section with a different quilt pattern. There are 10 fat quarters for this pattern so I came up with 10 different fills for each fabric box...keeping with the same fill for a particular fabric...more practice at perfecting my fill options.

Sew much fun...I'm going to have to do some more practice quilts to work on my "fill" options.

Also pecking away at my patriotic log cabin quilt. 

We've been spending most evenings in the sewing studio since I have a fenced dog run outside my studio door. We have a few black bears that are regularly coming through the yard now and since evenings are the time we see them the most I have moved to the studio after 7 p.m. pictures....two dogs, barking their most ferocious snarls, are keeping the bears out of good photographic distance.

Thought I would share a little "Alasakana." When the snow melts it is prime time to hunt for antler sheds. Artists purchase them for carving. Usually you find one side of a pair of sheds...then walk around a bit...and if you are lucky you find the other half. It is rare to find a skull with the antlers intact. This moose died but the skull and antlers weren't destroyed by other animals. My son will try to sell this to an artist for a few hundred dollars. The perks of growing up in a family with airplanes.

Here's the family Piper Super Cub...kind of like a flying VW bug. My son lands on the sides of river beds or small open areas and then hikes to the antler sheds he saw from the air.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Little Bit of Quilting

I have a quilt top loaded on the quilting frame that lends itself well to being a good canvas for working on my repertoire of "fillers."

Deciding "what" to quilt is always the toughest part.

I'm going with a clam shell variation in this space. I did a little practice on my plexiglass panel. It is cloudy and gloomy outside so I just might get some time to quilt today.

Tomorrow is May's Breakfast Club. The theme is patriotic mini quilts. Last month I decided to start my own project separate from the group and lucky fits into May's theme. 

I bought a set of Moda's Fire and Ice fat quarter batiks last year but didn't use them for the project I intended after I actually got them. Then I saw a log cabin chain pattern done in those fabrics. 

So last Breakfast Club I did all the preliminary cutting. I am ready to start sewing tomorrow. I feel like I am ahead of the game for once!

Have to share the wonderful progress I made on my treadle machine refurbishing. The cabinet looks so wonderful.

My family actually seems to like my little vignette display. The pilots in my life surprise me sometimes. 

My next step is to get the machine working. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Valdez Fly-In 2017

This was the year I finally made it to the annual premier Bush Flying event in Alaska, the Valdez Fly-In and Airshow. My son flew us to the event in my husband's Cessna 185. It was a gorgeous day for flying over mountains.

A view of the Turnagain Arm through the increasing elevation as we made our way out of Anchorage.

More snow-covered mountains...glaciers...and the water of Prince William Sound.

In the above photo there is a tiny sight-seeing boat viewing a glacier edge jutting into the water.

As we get closer to Valdez, there is more open water of Prince William Sound. 

Heading up the Valdez arm of Prince William Sound is the termination of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline which starts at Prudhoe Bay and traverses 800 miles to the Port of Valdez.

We made a hairpin turn over the turquoise water from the hidden Valdez Glacier.

Parked on the runway is our white with blue trim 185. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains.

We rode a shuttle into the town. The gorgeous views continued. We ate dinner outside at the "Fat Mermaid," which had this spectacular view. It was a bit chilly but we had on our coats.

The next day...

We woke up to a layer of marine clouds covering the mountains and blocking the sun.
 The weather forecast was dropping temperatures with snow expected in the evening.

This ancient looking aircraft, a C-46, is a major source of fuel for Bush communities in Alaska. It has been featured on Alaska reality television shows like, "Life Below Zero." 

The main part of the Fly-In is a bush pilot contest where planes vie for the shortest take-off and landing distances. By the time we got to the competitions it was windy and getting colder by the minute. We hung around as long as we could to watch two of my son's friends do their runs and then we loaded up our plane and skedaddled home. All the mountain passes were becoming shrouded in clouds so we had to take a longer route home. We had planned to stay a second night and leave Sunday morning but with snow in the forecast we could have been stuck for a few days. We had not brought our engine cover or flap covers to protect the plane from ice. We really didn't have room for our bags, four people and winter provisions for the plane! Darn it....winter weather was not in our plans!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Quilt Retreat Project Recap

I wish there was a quilt retreat every month! I had a grand time. We stayed at the Pioneer Ridge B & B which started out as a dairy barn. It is a fantastic space for retreats and I hear the place is booked during the non-tourist season with other quilting groups and crafters like scrapbookers. You can click the name to visit their official website.

I stayed two nights and three days. I tackled some boring projects that I have wanted to finish for seven years. Pillowcases and shams to match quilts I use regularly. I am thrilled they are done and I will no longer be shuffling those fabrics around my sewing room.

 Here are the first new pillowcases, two kings and two standards.

And I got two shams pieced...the quilting part might take me a little while to finish. I had two blocks leftover from the original quilt...which by the way...was a Breakfast Club project the first year we started meeting, 2009. I used to finish the quilt tops and quilting before the next breakfast club. Not anymore! I've got an extensive "backlog" of quilt tops.

I also made a set of pillowcases and shams to go with my winter quilt, Iditaquilt. A few years ago a batik with snow dogs was released and I decided it was the perfect fabric for companion pillowcases to my existing quilt.

After being a good girl and mucking through the tedious projects I got to work piecing my "Bloom" quilt blocks together. I had to finish the final border at home but what a delightful design. I think some projects in the quilting queue are going to get bumped.

A few more fun projects to share. Years ago I had my handyman build huge quilt frame to hang quilts in our master suite. I have finally got three quilts with hanging sleeves sewn into place. I adore the  quilt below that started out as an online BOM. I took the 12 blocks and came up with my own setting. I've shown it before, "Sweet Peas in the Meadow." I'm so happy to see her everyday when I wake up. 

And I also just got another project done and delivered from my handyman a large console/cabinet that I will use for storing my quilts. I drew out the design and gave it to my handyman. He is amazing. He does metal fabrication work and he made the barn door railing from scratch. I LOVE IT! I am going to add a darker stain before I do the polyurethane coating.

And one last silly picture. My first morning home from retreat. I woke up to both dogs on the bed after my husband got up to make coffee. Logan was actually laying on my legs. Kinley rarely gets on the bed when Logan is already in place. I missed them, too.