Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Joy of Friends

Sorry about the two week pause. I was in Koblenz for the Tumbling Blocks class. We also opened up Sunday so anybody could bring any project and we made loads of progress! I’m just realizing that we took no pictures, but the list of all we accomplished was huge. 12 fantastic ladies and at least 20 different outstanding projects. What a day!

After a fun weekend in Koblenz, I travelled North to spend a day sewing with my friends in Mülheim. Every year we do a challenge, the 2007 theme was “Spitze” which can translate as “lace” or “points.” Somehow I wasn’t in the mood for lace, so . . . my Tumbling Blocks fit the bill perfectly. There’s not a single 90˚ anywhere in there. See the last photo in the column >>

I spent the remainder of the week with my friend, Elisabeth. She has a great sewing room that allowed me to set up across from her and sew like crazy!

Elisabeth enlisted my help to learn how to measure for accurate borders and mitered corners. She was ready to finish a quilt top she had pieced in October from fabrics bought on her trip to the Northwest in April 2007.

Today she emailed me a photo of her basted sandwich and plans to quilt by hand. It turned out gorgeous and is destined for her guest bed. I can hardly wait to sleep under it! The pattern is from Stack a New Deck by Karla Alexander. With this one off the sewing machine, while I was there she put me to work converting two patterns from inch measurements into metric. Elisabeth is now ready to cut and sew a quilt for her own bed finally using hand-dyed fabrics from one of our friends, Angela. Look for Angela’s challenge piece using her own hand-dyed fabrics.

Not to be outdone, I "finished" something too! You might remember the Amish 9-Patch Exchange that I did with my students in Germany. Well, throughout the last crazy year I had finally finished piecing all my swapped 9-patches into double 9-patches.  Only I didn’t follow one of my very own rules . . . use the same machine throughout the whole project. We were just too much on the move and I thought I’d be able to work with it.  Boy, oh boy, was I wrong! So . . . spent a couple afternoons and evenings picking apart all 25 blocks. In a way I was glad that I did because I took some extra photos for my album to document the story of this quilt. I put all 125 patches up on my design wall! Too fun! I think I might have to do this as an entire quilt someday. I’m happy to report that the center of my quilt is pieced and I’m ready to start working on the first border . . . this will eventually be my first quilt for our bed.

So what else? Well . . . more red tick marks this week! Yipppeee!!
BulletMade a super simple sample for foundation paper piecing. Houses and Trees.
BulletMade another quickie sample - silhouette tree with a swing, need to embroider rope.

My last class before heading back to Belgium was Foundation Paper Piecing. I shared both methods - sewing through the paper as well as using Freezer Paper. We made a village! It was another fun group of eager ladies.
After 8 nights and 9 days on the road and away from home, it was nice to be back. Have I sewn since. No! . . . figures, huh? I’m finishing up exams for my Nederlands class, came down sick and getting ready to fly back to Seattle on Sunday. Time flies . . . seems to be another recurring theme with me.

But I have to say, again, what a joy friends are that spur you on, inspire you to do something challenging and encourage you to sew and be creative. Thanks to all my girlie friends, your the best! Sew I hope this finds you all well and sewing like beavers!

2007 Mülheim Challenge
Theme:  “Spitze”

Hildegard Braatz

Helga Krawczyk

Sigrid Bachhuber

Gabi Dickmann

Roswitha Kohns

Angela Kastner

Jovita Goldschmidt

Our theme for 2008 has been decided . . . Crazy!  My mind is already whirling.  In addition, this year we will also be giving each other blocks for our birthdays.  Challenge 2009 is to make something out of them.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sewing like a Fiend

Phewf - what a week!  I’ve been sewing like crazy.  Running on pure adrenaline I’m sure . . .
I skipped my Dutch classes for the first week back after the holidays and I’m sure that had something to do with it.
Ticked off this week includes . . .  

  1. Bullet worked farther on the Stars Galore houses pattern

  2. Bulletfinished my Tumbling Blocks top - (purples and greens)  It’s a sample for a class on machine piecing Y-seams that I’ll be teaching in Germany this weekend - am contemplating on an on-line class too, so let me know if you’re interested.  The quilt will be one that rotates through the guest room.

  3. Bulletfinished hand-piecing a Tumbling Blocks pillow front that matches the quilt above, but will go in our living room instead.

  4. Bulletfine-tuned the pressing plan for Tumbling Blocks with a started top of only solids.  I love how it’s turning out.  Really, really cheerful.

  5. Bulletoh yeh, I also trimmed and sewed some leftover triangles from the Bali Beach House quilt I made last year.  The triangles worked into a fun mini measuring only 6-1/2” x 9-1/4”.
I have to say, I just love those tick marks.  There’s something quite accomplished about it.
But I have to admit, there was a certain amount of un-sewing as well.  I have gone through miles and miles of thread.  On the bed-size Tumbling Blocks, there’s no seam longer than about 10 inches an constant stops and starts means that bit of thread between each one.  Plus all that I ripped out - where the six diamonds meet.  Oi Vey! - they were tough and some of them I stitched three or four times.  I know, let it go, but it would have bugged me each time I looked at it.  But then again it was pointed out to me, how often will I sleep on the guest bed? 
The diamonds at right are 3/4” wide >>>
For those of you who would rather avoid a rather strange but true drift off-topic, skip the following two Paragraphs . . .   
But now, another topic . . . Axel (my husband) reads and translates my blog entries into German (he's so happy I've figured out how to use the Google Translate Gadget ... I know the translations aren't perfect but it safes us both a lot of time), so I just read the last paragraph to him.  Remembering that he grew up in Germany and speaks British English you will understand that there is a certain amount of translating that goes on in our house everyday.  I made Chicken Mole tonight, wasn’t sure what he’d think but yeh, ok it went down ok.  He couldn’t figure out what was in it though, so . . . while I usually try to stick to American English after 12 years of exposure the odd and oh-so-very-occasional (here you’re supposed to chuckle) British pronunciation slips in.  When I said “a tin of to-mah-toes” he didn’t understand me.  I actually had to repeat “a can of to-may-toes.”  
Why onto this, well because he asked me what “oi vey” means . . . “I don’t know.”  I even wondered where it crept into my vocabulary.  I have to say it’s not something I usually say, but it does creep into my writing, so sometimes I have to figure out if it’s a Brown-ism (my strange family has invented some of it’s own dialect phrases).  Aha - my friend since high school, John!  That’s where I got it.  Ok, well what does it mean?  Ooops, off on a tangent answering the wrong question . . . so I did an on-line search and nearly fell off my chair (ok, I’ve had a glass of wine) the first and only real definition I came up was that it’s Yiddish for “rolls eyes.”  
Ok, so all this quilting has been making me a bit loopy . . . but how fun to finish some more projects.  I’m off to Germany this coming weekend to teach, teach and meet up with friends.  Spending the week over with friends should be a fun diversion  . . .

Get together with a friend this week and show her something you want to finish, she’ll help motivate you!   
(Thanks Liz!  for all the chiding the last couple months, I’m a slow start, but it’s paying off!)                                        

Wow just remembered I had written this after a glass of wine, I hope I caught all the typos.  Some of them just “crepted” in.  Thank goodness I caught that one! 
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Crazy Weekend

Last weekend we had a blast once again in Koblenz.  It was a small gathering but we definitely went crazy.  
So I thought I’d share my crazy quilt with you.   I swore I’d never make a crazy.  I think what turned me off were how dark they can often be and having seen so many contemporary crazies that were so full your eye couldn’t take it all in - ever.   What changed my mind?  One of my student/friends in Koblenz showed a crazy she did.  There was no turning back after that.  I’ve always embroidered since I was a kid so  . . . never say never.   
I started with a plan. I wanted mine to be simpler, lighter and symbolic.  It was important that this quilt turned out to be bright, fresh and cheerful.  This was to be no mourning quilt as many crazies were, but rather a celebration!  The spring green and magenta should make sure that it never becomes somber.  The rose and ivory will keep it sot.  Later I added teal and sapphire in the hopes it will add a sense of sophistication.   Of course I can’t help adding a bit of periwinkle too . . . my plan keeps morphing but I’m still happy with the result.  I’ve nearly finished four blocks.  I’m alphabetizing them as I go.  Each block gets a monogram.  Blocks B and D still need some work, A is pretty much done and C is nearly there too.
When I started it, I chose to write a journal alongside it . . . I was surprised to open it in class and find that I had started the quilt in 2003.  August to be exact.  
My first entry reads as follows:
Block “A”  The antique lace was
purchased from a rummage sale and the buttons are a few from my growing collection.  
I would like to experiment more with raised Brazilian embroidery - the cast-on rose.  The row of daisies are in honor of a friend’s yellow lab (aptly named Daisy) that we’re dog-sitting the weekend that I started this quilt.  The peacock is my own rendition  and I want to include more to represent our business.  I plan to include more beads, but will keep them simple so they don’t overpower or make the quilt too heavy.

Just a few of the stitches I showed this weekend included:
  1.  Chain Stitch and Lazy Daisy stitch 
  2.  Cast-on Rose
  3.  Poinsettia or Edelweiß flower (next to letter D)
  4. Woven Heart (the one shown here is only half finished.     It’s a basic darning stitch, but is quite nice to use for simple shapes.

Note for those who are truly shocked . . . The pink looks really vicious here but it’s not nearly so neon.  In real life it’s much more of a raspberry-ish magenta.
I think my favorite motif all weekend was this one of beads and knots.  It was just something fanciful that I added to as I went along.
The nice thing is that I’m very relaxed about finishing this quilt.    It does not have to happen tomorrow or even next year.  I only work on it when the mood takes me there.  And I don't stress about it in the meantime. this could take me the rest of my life.
I envision this being a quilt I work on for many years to come, journalling and adding things that are appropriate to my life at that time.   Essentially this will be my journal quilt.
A journal of my crazy life!

Here’s to your history of quilting,     Jovita

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Updating Goals

I am determined that 2008 will be a year of accomplishment.  There’s so much inspiration out there, so much energy - now just to capture it.  Use it as fuel and burn on!My day, the first “working” day of this new year, started with a tidy.  Not deep, but enough that I can could sweep my half of the studio, clear off my sewing area.
A new day - another year!  I always have a to do list going.  Usually I loose it, make a new one, find it and loose the other.  But lately, I’ve taken to keeping one binder on my desk and each week I re-write my to do list.  Check things off, re-prioritize, make notes of progress.
I also cleaned off my design way and hung projects I need and want to work on.  Plus a few things just for inspiration.  It felt good, really good. 

This year’s goals?
• Rest More
• Spend time with Friends
• Update blog often
• Sew every day!
• Keep on Task

I wish you the most wonderful start to 2008.
May this year find you creative, productive and expressive!

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