Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Couple Finishes

I've gotten a couple of things finished in the past few weeks that I am happy to share.  

This little rail fence baby quilt is now quilted and bound.  It was made from leftover 2-1/2 inch strips from the 16-patch quilt I made for the Hands2Help Challenge.

It will await the next baby quilt giving occasion, and if none presents itself within the next while (an indeterminate amount of time), I'll probably donate it. 

The second is a little scrappy wall hanging I finished last week.  Again, it uses the leftovers of another recent 16-patch quilt made with hand-dyed fabrics by Vicki Welsh.  

I just couldn't throw those tiny cut off corners away.  Actually, I did throw them away initially, but then I rescued them.

Each square broken dishes block is made of 16 half-square triangles and measures 5 inches finished.  Despite the small pieces and my big hands, it really wasn't as fiddly as you might think.

I set them on point with a batik that I had in the stash.  This next picture was taken in full sun, so it's kind of washed out looking but it shows the quilting better.

It was first quilted in the ditch on the diagonal.  I was going to leave it at that, but it looked kind of boring, so I went back and quilted some pointy oval shapes in the batik squares, using a walking foot and making gentle elongated S-curves from top to bottom in one go, and then stitching the same gentle curves in the opposite direction, intersecting the first line of stitching in the batik block centers.


Definitely wasn't going to attempt that freehand, though.  So I made a little pumpkin seed shaped template and marked it out, then did the walking foot stitching on the marked lines. Sweet!

Linking to Whoop-Whoop Fridays.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Consolation

So you know how I was talking about bringing less stuff home from the thrift store and letting more stuff be for the next lucky person to find?  Yeah, I did that the other day and now am kind of kicking myself.

Because you know what there was at the local Goodwill for the measly price of $6.99?  Yes, six dollars and ninety-nine cents.  

Image Source
A vintage Singer 99K. 

This is only a representative photo, not the actual machine, because when I went back yesterday, it was GONE.  Of course.

Oh, I had looked it over pretty carefully.  It was covered in what I thought was cat hair but turned out to be fake fur fluff.  It had some condition issues, like a missing bobbin case and the sliding plate over the bobbin area.  The cord needed replacement/rewiring, as did the connector cords for the foot pedal.  The top cover of the case was missing and the bottom of the case in which the machine sat was pretty ratty and taped together at the corner.

Not a deal breaker, in my opinion.  Besides, did I mention $6.99?  I've spent that on fast food and regretted it more.

There was a nice gray-haired older lady looking at it with me, but she wasn't looking-looking, just supportive looking.  She pointed to the cord and said, "Oh, you can replace that, no problem."  I was enjoying her being on my side, as well as her awesome arm tattoos, while Norm was being slightly more pessimistic/realistic.

In the end, we walked away.  And then I went home to have second thoughts.  I thought about how it might be an interesting summer project to restore "The Mackenzie" to its rightful luster.  Yes, I even named it—something Scottish, because that's where the 99K was made.

But alas, Himself had already been rescued.

And so it came to pass that upon my return trip to Goodwill, I found some Pyrex.  A consolation prize, perhaps.

This ain't the belle of the ball, as far as Pyrex goes (but that's just, like, my opinion, man). It's a funky not-quite-avocado-green, not-quite-brown.  

On doing some research, the color is apparently known as "mustard gold" and the pattern is "Golden Garland."  I bought it because I'd never seen this metallic gold pattern before.

It's apparently a promotional piece.  Not sure exactly when, but I'm guessing in the late "My Three Sons" to early "Brady Bunch" years.  This is a 1.5 quart 043 casserole.

I also found some fabric with neat maps and ships.  

It was in the form of a men's 3XL cotton shirt, which is a pretty good amount of fabric.

Have you ever gone back for the one that got away?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Museum of Wisconsin Art

We didn't wake up with any particular plans on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, but after mulling over our options for the beautiful day it was turning out to be, we decided to visit the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend and afterward stroll the picturesque river walk to enjoy the sunshine and warm breeze.

How I came to know about the Museum of Wisconsin Art is a story that began last fall when I visited my aunt to see a couple quilts that my great-grandmother had made. 

Tea Time by Carl von Marr
As I was leaving, I stopped in her entryway to admire a framed print of a serene Victorian table scene, a man and woman at tea.  My aunt didn't know anything about the picture except that she had always loved it and had come to own it after a relative passed away.  I made mental note of the name of the artist, Carl von Marr, and went home to see what I might find out via the internet.

Self-Portrait by Carl von Marr
Thus began a tumble down a rabbit hole, one that was entered innocently enough via the Google search box and ultimately exited 35 miles away at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, which happens to house the largest collection of von Marr's work.


I proceeded to file the information gleaned in that 20-minute research session into a not-well-curated portion of my brain.  Basically, I forgot about it for the next seven months.

"Funeral in Friesland" 1882

And so on that Saturday morning a couple weekends ago, it was Norm's idea to go to West Bend to do the river walk.  I'm all for walking, but that's kind of a long way to drive to take a walk.  So I turned to the internet to find out what else there was to do over that way and was thus reminded of the museum.  I'm glad Google has a better memory than mine.
Portrait of John Marr, the artist's father and a skilled engraver.
Bertha Marr, the artist's mother - who doesn't look like she forgets much!
Their eyes seemed to follow me as I shifted positions.
The most breathtaking of all von Marr's work on display was The Flagellants, a whopping 14 x 24 feet, occupying an entire wall almost floor to ceiling.  The painting took nearly five years and was completed in 1889.

"The Flagellants" 1889
It depicts a scene in 14th century Italy where, in an attempt to repel the Black Death, or plague, religious zealots roamed from city to city, whipping themselves bloody in a public display of penance.  What they did not know is that by attracting large crowds in the streets, they were more likely aiding the spread of the disease rather than effectuating a cure.

His use of light and shadow was very captivating.  Love the dappling of light on the ground that draws the eye to what is occurring in this scene.

There were many other artists on display as well.  Here are a few of my favorites.

This is a metal chest by artist Jim Rose.  It's one of the first things that caught my eye in the gallery and reminded me of a quilt.  I laughed when I read the name of the piece.  It's called "Stacked Bricks Quilt Sill Cupboard" and is of found painted and rusted steel. 

"Stacked Bricks Quilt Sill Cupboard" by Jim Rose, 2008
Click HERE to explore other colorful, quilt inspired pieces by Rose.  Breathtaking!


Chair Painting by Norwegian-born Per Lysne, 1929


"Leaving Shosone" by Richard Lorenz
This scene called "Leaving Shosone" reminded me of a Remington.  It is by artist Richard Lorenz (b. Germany, d. Milwaukee, Wis.), who is, as it turns out, considered one of the foremost painters of Western genre after Frederic Remington.

"Horse Market Midwinter" by Richard Lorenz, 1911
Finally, what would a Wisconsin museum be without taxidermy animals? 

"Up North Stele" by Gary John Gresl, 2002
Not to worry, that was covered, thanks to this three-dimensional, whimsical piece!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Farewell to a Fellow Blogger

A few days ago, I found out that fellow blogger and frequent commenter on my blog, Hazel Bluhm, had passed away recently.  

I'd checked in on Hazel's blog and saw that she hadn't posted since May 12, which seemed odd in that she was a regular, if not daily poster.

She has a blog where the comments need the owner's approval before they appear.  I noticed that my comments hadn't shown.  I sent her a "hope everything is okay" email.  Was her internet connection or computer down (for two weeks, unlikely)?  Perhaps she was ill or in the hospital?

A day or so later, hoping for the best but fearing the worst, I Googled her full name and then read the dreaded news that had been posted by Karen, an RV-ing friend of Hazel's.  You can read the full account on Karen's blog HERE.

This past year, she had been inspired to repair a family heirloom quilt by painstakingly hand stitching new fabric over the worn spots.  

She really liked my plaid circles quilt and wanted to make one herself.  She had started collecting plaid shirts, and I sent her a box of plaid strips left over from my quilt to add to hers, which she had started piecing into a strata.

Her rescued greyhounds and cat were her pride and joy in life and meant the world to her.  I was so glad to hear from Karen's post that her pets will be well cared for.  Even though she was in a coma, Hazel seemed to obtain some peace from being assured of that in her final hours.

Rest in peace, dear Hazel.  You will be greatly missed.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lovely

Kaja of Sew Slowly and Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict nominated this little space for a Lovely Blog Award this past month.  Thank you to both of them for the honor!  

Truth be told, I accept it with a bit of guilt in that I haven't blogged all that regularly lately and, in fact, have been mulling over whether or not to continue blogging, or maybe just take a break.  But since I can't seem to make up my mind as yet, here we are, and I'm happy that you are still reading too!


As part of this Lovely Blog deal, I'm supposed to share seven things about myself.  Being all about the random, here are some off the top of my head, in no particular order:

1.  In addition to sewing, I love to cook and bake.  Baking doesn't always love me back, however.  Or perhaps more correctly, baking really loves my back...side. 

Chocolate Beet Cake
1a.  I eat, cook, and bake gluten-free and dairy-free (for almost nine years now, for health reasons).  This is not as hard as one might imagine, but I'd be kidding if I said I didn't miss ice cream and pizza and donuts from time to time.

1b.  I love to watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Also, anything involving Tony Bourdain.  Part of me wants to hang out in a dive kitchen with Guy Fieri, and the other part wants to sit at the table or bar with Tony Bourdain.  Kinda like I want to play fetch with the happy-go-lucky retriever and then chill with the attitudinous cat.


2.  I have some eclectic collections...Royal Haeger and other pottery, vintage paint-by-number paintings, and Pyrex, to name a few.

3.  Going hand-in-hand with #2, I love thrift shopping, but I've now reached the point in life where I want less stuff in the house, not more.  More often these days, I only window shop at thrift stores and leave the cool stuff for others to take home.  

(Aside:  I just got home from a thrift store where there was a well done vintage paint-by-number for about twice what I wanted to pay for it, so I left it there.  Regrets?  I have a few...)

3a.  Finding contemporary, vintage, and other interesting/useful fabric at the thrift store makes my day!  It also makes some of my quilts, like these:




4.  I am an ISTJ, if you're into the Myers-Briggs personality type thing, but with a more flexible, liberal, and less organized inclination than the description implies.

5.  Dark chocolate is one of life's necessities, in my opinion.  I eat a couple squares of it every day.


6.  Listening to podcasts is my thing lately.  Some favorites:  Serial (seriously? so good!), StartUp, Mystery Show, Reply All.  I also love story-focused programs on public radio like This American Life, and The Moth

7.  I started doing "yoga for dummies" in January.  For reals. Some of you may remember this post, and it's ironic that here I am a year later having actually learned a teensy bit of yoga and feeling better for it. Most nights will find me doing some gentle moves and stretches during The Tonight Show.  Jimmy Fallon cracks me up, so maybe it's not truly "legit" if I'm laughing, but it works for me!

"Woman Pulling Radishes" - Not a legitimate yoga move, but fine in the garden!
Now the last part of this blog award is nominating others.  There are so many beautiful blogs, it's hard to pick just a couple, but here goes:

Kevin the Quilter
Sophie Junction
Quilting in My Pyjamas
Patty the Quilt Lady
Three Old Keys

I hope you check out these lovely blogs and leave some comment love!  Thanks for visiting here today too!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hands2Help Quilt Finish

I finished the Hands2Help charity quilt this past week, and it is boxed and ready to ship off to Emily for Happy Chemo.

This was a really fun 16-patch quilt to make.  My stash seemed to be over-weighted in pink, so I started by pulling some of those, as well as some reds, teals and aquas, and started stitching.

This was started during Sarah's Sweet 16 Quilt Along a few months ago.  I used one of the tutorials she had featured for the Hands2Help Challenge a couple years previous, featuring guest blogger Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts.  You can find that tutorial HERE

I had an idea to use a different fabric in the center for the background fabric.  Both the center background fabric and the outer background fabrics are Denyse Schmidt/DS Quilts.  That's about as "coordinated" as it gets!  There's a little bit of everything else in the 16-patches, which is just how I like it.  

(That reminds me of a song by Dawes: A Little Bit of Everything.  Those guys can write a song that tells a story, folks.  Have a Kleenex ready.)

This quilt finished at 57 x 68.  I quilted it in an overall meander with Aurifil thread in a silvery gray, which blended in nicely.

It's a snuggly one, and packed along with it are wishes of comfort, hope, and love to the recipient.

Linking to:  Whoop-Whoop Friday

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Little Things

As it often happens when I sit down to do something I should do, like quilt the Hands2Help quilt that's been basted for a month or better, I find something else that seems infinitely more interesting.  Like a pile of scraps.

You know I love me some scraps.  These, in particular, were the corners cut off on the diagonal in making the X blocks for this quilt.  

Now, I didn't set out to be all waste-not-want-not with these trimmings.  I was being rather pragmatic about throwing them away.  In fact, they only came to be on my sewing table after doing time in the garbage can.  I don't know what came over me the day I went to empty the trash and saw them huddled together in a clump, but I took pity and rescued the lot of them in a couple fistfuls.  Thankfully, I hadn't dumped anything too nasty on top of them.

Still thinking I might just warm up for the big, hairy quilting project, I started chain piecing a few dozen half-square triangles through the machine.  And here is where I warn you that chain piecing is a slippery slope, y'all.  

Next thing you know you're finger pressing, then you're trimming dog ears, and then—oh no, she didn't!—you fire up the real iron like you mean some business, and pretty soon you're admiring all those cute widdle things!  And it all just follows like a train wreck from there.  You cannot look away.

Hence, what we have here are some itty-bitty broken dishes blocks, which will finish at five inches square.  Yes, I'm pretty sure I still have most of my marbles, thanks for asking.

The HSTs sew up at more or less 1-3/4 inches, and if you think I'm crazy enough to trim them all up square, well, you would be right.  I did make the first block without trimming and it was wonky.  Not good wonky, but I-don't-know-if-it's-useable wonky, and that just felt like wasted effort.  So a little work on the front end seemed the better plan.

Starting to think of ways these might go together.  Perhaps on point?  I'm digging that peacock feather fabric with them...

But I'm also kind of crushing on the coppery metallic feather print.

Maybe they could work together, as an inner and outer border?

Just exploring the possibilities.  We'll see where it goes.

How about you?  Do you like to work small?

Before I go, I wanted to give a shout-out to Elizabeth at Such a Sew and Sew, who did a FABULOUS job on her Thoroughly Modern Lily quilt from my pattern.  

She made it for her friend, Eloise, and it is really wonderful!  You can read all about it on her blog, HERE and HERE.

Way to go, Elizabeth!  You make beautiful quilts with so much love and attention to detail.  Thanks for sharing the journey with us!