Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa -

I've been good all year.
OK, most of the time.
Well, once in a while.
Never mind, I'll buy my own stuff.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Brown Sugar Stitchers Christmas Party

Yesterday we had our annual Christmas Party...our guild gift this year was a pillowcase with the guild name on one side and personalized with the individual's name on the other. We had a small group this year (probably something to do with the way the holiday fell this year and proximity to Christmas), only 18, so I "volunteered" to embroider the names of everyone on the pillowcases. Why pillowcases? When we turn in quilts for shows and exhibits, we ask members to put them in pillowcases to protect the quilts from dust. We get quilts in paper bags, trash bags, boxes, and worst of all, nothing. (Always me, because I always forget. In California, we don't put the quilts in anything, so I'm in the habit of just bringing my quilt.)

The party was fun, as always. We met at Murphy's , the service was great, the food was excellent, the Bloody Mary delicious!
The winner of our raffle, donated by KiwiQuilts, was Joyce Turk.
The winner of our raffle quilt was Ali Reeves of Marietta! We hope she and her family will enjoy the quilt for many years to come!
I dream of a world where I'm in charge, chocolate makes you skinny, and everything is always 75% off. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Moody Blues

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Which is what makes a Block of the Month so appealing. You work on one block of the quilt each month (usually for a period of 8 - 12 months) and at the end of a year, ta-da! You've got a finished top! I have sooooooo many unfinished BOM's...many still in their unopened packages. And yet - I signed up for another!  Do not ask me why I didn't just work on one of the gazillion I already have. I'm not crazy about this pattern, but I wanted to do something that wasn't paper piecing and something different than what I usually do, colorwise. It's good to step outside your comfort zone, yes?

The finished quilt is called Asteria, by Tiffany Hayes. I got it from Quilting by the Bay in Panama City, Florida. I finished the first and second blocks today.  The blocks on the bottom left are me just fooling around with the layout and thinking about making another quilt as I do this one.
Let's be bad and save Santa a trip!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Need Not Be Present To Win...

...but turns out you do need to be present to sew. Who knew? There's always hand work, of course, but then I really would never get anything finished.

The trip to Australia/New Zealand was fantastic. Every day was a new adventure. If forced to choose one favorite event, it would be climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  About four hours, 1332 steps to the top, 134 metres (about 440 feet) high. I was terrified!

Second equally favorite moment - as we came through the tunnel in New Zealand, the bus driver played "What a Wonderful World."  I had a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat on the last drawn out note of "woooooorrrrlllllllddddddd."

And yes, I found quilt shops in Australia and New Zealand! (Of Course!) Fabric is EXPENSIVE...about $22 a metre (little more than a yard).

I came back from Australia with no chance to recover from jet lag - The Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Show opened at the AUC Woodruff Library. We hung over 70 quilts, and the opening was great. So great that the library asked if we could extend the show until May, 2014! Atlanta friends who are interested, let's go to lunch and then see the show!

111 James P. Brawley Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA.
Library Hours to view the exhibit:
9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Noon to 6:00 PM

Then I had jury duty for two and half weeks on a murder trial - couldn't believe I was selected! It was awful! I thought my liberal California butt would be excused by our conservative local Law and Order court by lunch time, but alas, 'twas not to be. I had PTSD after that trial. Just starting to recover.

But this is a blog about quilting...I've gotten a few things done. Here's an update from September to now...

Just before I left for Australia, I completed my block for the outgoing East Cobb Quilt Guild President's Quilt:
The quilt was designed by incoming president Ben Hollingsworth, and it is beautiful. I didn't get a picture of the completed quilt at guild meeting on Friday, but will post when I get one. Also, I was installed as Third Vice President - Membership on Friday.

New friend Bobbie got a shoe quilt wallhanging for her birthday:

And I finished piecing the Waterfalls top I started in Montana. I want to use it as a teaching sample.
All this traveling has been fun, but I have really missed having time to sew. I have three trips planned in 2014, but I'm not going to add any big trips (little weekend trips to quilt shows don't count), no matter what comes up. No, really.
Dear Sleep: I know we had problems when I was younger...but I love you now.
My bed is way more comfortable in the morning than it is at night.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oh - I have a blog?

This summer has flown by in a blur of travel and social activities and quilt shows. There has been some sewing, which has saved my mind. I've updated my quilting related travel to Ireland and Montana...I'll spare the details of my non-quilting related travel, except to say there is going to be another long drought of blog posts. On September 13th, I leave for 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand. I'm really excited about the trip...I'll let you know if I do anything quilting related while there.

Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.


Yes, I went back to Montana and had an awesome trip! I loved the look from the bag checker in Atlanta..."Your job sending you there?" "Nope, going voluntarily." "Why????"

We had a really good group of women! There's always one person who tries to dominate the room, but not this time...Just a lot of really creative women who made me realize I really need to step up my game!

In keeping with no new UFO's, I finished piecing the Forever Yours Table Runner. I'm actually glad I worked on it before doing the Wedding Star...there are a lot of tricky places where things have to come together and a quarter inch seam allowance is crucial. In fact, I had to put my project in time out because the fabric wouldn't behave. After she had time to think about her behavior, she got right in line and behaved like a perfect lady.

This was funny - my sewing neighbor and I decided to take a walk on Tuesday. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, but we both felt like we wouldn't melt, so off we went. Of course it started to pour. We actually had to take shelter from the storm. 
Here are some of my favorite projects:
I wish you could see the colors of this quilt. It's the most beautiful Amazon Star I've ever seen. I told her she should kit it. It was cut out when she came, and she completed it before the week was over. Her friends call her "Judy Junior."
This pink and gray colorway doesn't appeal to me personally, but it is really innovative and pretty. It's the queen size version of the feathered star.

 Fourth of July pattern...another finished project!
And my new Quilting BFF Jennifer! Her Mariner's Compass is stunning!

Jennifer cracked me up the entire time. You know how people always say to "drive carefully" when you are going someplace? Jennifer would say, "Drive fast, take chances." Her rendition of "I like big butts and I cannot lie" is hilarious. As she says, you can insert any noun and it will work. As proven by Delta recently when they introduced a new plane and did "I like big planes and I cannot lie." But best of all was that Jennifer and I went to have Margaritas with Judy. Jennifer and I were talking one afternoon about going to get Margaritas and Judy said she knew the best place in the valley and would take us there. The three of us piled into Judy's truck and sat out in the sun and drank a pitcher of Margaritas at The Vista Linda.

I wasn't at all put off by the Confederate Flags on the advertisement for the Southern Catfish Buffett.

You really do see a different side of Judy when you're at the Retreat Center in Montana. One day she invited us to her lakeside home...this is the view from her backyard.

I don't want to brag or make anybody jealous, but...I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school.

céad míle fáilte

...a hundred thousand welcomes! 

I so enjoyed the trip to the Quilt Festival in Ireland!!!  Yes, there were a few organizational frustrations (how do we get from the airport in Dublin on the west side of Ireland to the hotel in Galway on the east side, two and a half hours away? Oh, no one knows? Oh, it's $75?), but once those minor little details were resolved, it was a great trip.  The people were warm and friendly, the countryside is amazing, hotels we stayed in were great, food was good (as evidenced by the 5 pounds I gained...apparently eating fish and chips, eating Irish bread and butter, and drinking Jameson's whisky every night will cause weight gain. Go figure.)

The flight over wasn't too bad. Ireland is 5 hours ahead of EDT, and the flight is 7 hours, so we left NYC about 9PM and arrived in Ireland at 9 AM. The Dublin airport is very modern. Puts JFK to shame.

The tour was set up for us to do the quilt show for two days, then tour Ireland for the rest of the trip. We arrived on Wednesday, June 5th, a gorgeous, 70+ degree, sunshiny day. We took the aforementioned $75 bus from Dublin Airport and enjoyed the beautiful Irish scenery - a green patchwork lined with stone walls and dotted with sheep.  The land on the coast of Galway is really rocky, and as the rocks came up out of the ground, the farmers would stack them to mark off property lines.
Since our bus got us to Galway a little bit later than planned, we stopped and had a quick lunch (can you see the Burger King sign?),

and then went directly to the marble factory. From the marble factory, we went to the crystal factory. Guess what we were told? There is only one factory in Ireland where crystal is still made. Waterford Crystal (my favorite!) is made in Slovenia, Czech Republic and Germany now.  We went to the Celtic Crystal Factory where we saw a demo and had an opportunity to buy beautiful crystal. This master craftsman is doing the equivalent of free motion quilting, carving the design into this bowl freehand. Kind of like free motion quilting without marking 
the quilt!

We had a delicious welcome dinner the first night. One of our servers made a drink and asked two of us to taste it. Shock and surprise, I volunteered to test the Irish Flag shooter. The colors of the flag are green, white and orange, and this wonderful drink is made with Crème de Menthe, Bailey's Irish Crème, and Grand Marnier. The trick is to pour it slowly over the back of a spoon so that the liquors don't blend.

On Thursday, I took my first tour of Ireland in the beautiful Connemara Region. We drove through mountains, past lakes and streams to arrive at the spectacular Kylemore Abbey and Gardens.  The castle was originally completed in 1871, by Mitchell Henry as a gift for his wife. Hard to take a bad picture of this picturesque location. The gardens were gorgeous.

The Quilt Festival itself was fun...they had maybe 150 quilts...different displays all over the campus of the University of Galway. Aren't these cutouts cute? They had them all over the campus by the exhibits:

This one outside the prison exhibit says, "Guilty of Hoarding Too Much Fabric!"

The prison exhibit was comprised of quilts made by prisoners in the Art and Craft class in Limerick Prison.
I'm pretty sure this is the same guy who announced the birth of Prince George:
There was an exhibit called "I Believe" at the Galway Cathedral. The quilts were hung on the walls on the side of the cathedral, representing all faiths and spiritual beliefs. We ended up at the exhibit just as a Mass was starting and decided to stay. Tracy and I said if you had told me a year ago that I would be attending a Mass in Ireland, I would have looked at you like you were crazy! I lit a candle for Libby Lehman and one for my Mom.
On Sunday our bus left Galway and drove to Killarney. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher, which as you can see from this photo is spec-tac-u-lar.
Monday we went to the Dingle Peninsula, another beautiful area. Ryan's Daughter was filmed in this area. Fun Fact #1: On a clear day, you can see the Statue of Liberty from here.
OK, not really, but Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula is the most Western point of Europe.

Our bus driver was the charming Derrick.

He was funny, knowledgeable, and an excellent driver! He called us his "little flowers."  And he almost left me. The back story...Derrick was very prompt and would tell us to have our "bums warming the seats" of the bus at a certain time when we made a stop. In Dingle, we stopped at a shop which engraved your name in Gaelic on a piece of silver...earrings, bracelet, get the idea...tourist trinkets. We were supposed to have our bums warming the seats of the bus at 12:30, and I got stuck behind a woman who was having problems with her credit card. I noticed that I was the only one from my bus still in the shop, but they said, oh don't worry, they won't leave you. Riiiiiiight. Thanks to Tracy for making sure I wasn't hitchhiking from Dingle. So for our visit to Limerick, we were asked to write a limerick about our Irish experience, and here's mine:

While shopping may give you a tingle
And your purchases make the registers jingle.
Best be fast on your feet,
Bums warming your seat,
Or Derrick will leave you in Dingle.

On Tuesday we drove to the village of Blarney, where of course there is the famed Blarney Stone at the Blarney Castle. You have to queue up and climb a gazillion stairs to the tower, so I didn't do it, but walked around the beautiful grounds. We had lunch in an old horse feeding trough.  (The red thing in the back is the trough.)
Fun Fact # 2:  You know those rhododendrons that you carefully nurture, water faithfully, feed fertilizer for acid loving plants, make sure that they get the proper amount of sun, and they die anyway?  They grow wild in Ireland. They're like weeds there! They are invasive. The Irish hate them because they take over the landscape!!!  This one was easily 15 feet tall...probably more. Taken on the grounds of the Blarney Castle.

More beautiful rhododendron on the grounds of the Blarney Castle.

The weather was perfect the entire time we were there...70-80 every day! It rained the day we left! The people were positively giddy over the sun, and just like people every where, flocked to the beach when the weather was nice.

And my most favorite thing?  They drive on the left in Ireland, so when you cross the street, you have to look the other way. In downtown Galway, some of the streets were painted with this:

I would go back again, but the list of places to go and people to see is a long one. International Quilt Festival of Ireland, the vision of Jim West of Sew Many Places travel.

My dentist said I need a crown. I said, "I know, right?" 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Want to see the back?

One more thing before I go back to working on the raffle always cracks me up that we spend so much time on a quilt and then people will say, "Ooooh, and look at the back!"  Caught this photo of one of the white glove hostesses showing the back to two guests.

Why yes, yes I do live in the land of sunshine and rainbows. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to go feed the unicorns.

What were the judges thinking???

Usually when quilters question the thought process of show judges, they think the judges should have given them an award. Not so, here.

Picture my tired, bedraggled, jet-lagged self getting off a plane at the ATL and gratefully heading towards baggage claim with my fellow weary travelers. We had a great trip to Ireland (post on that later), but all I wanted to do is sleep in my own bed. I get a text, which I think is from Al letting me know he is at the airport, but instead it's from my friend Marva, saying, "Congratulations! You won first place!"  I was stunned, and was certain that she had made a mistake. She said there were TWO ribbons on the quilt, and I texted her that they always put two ribbons on - one for the piecer and one for the quilter, and she told me no, there were TWO awards and sent me a picture to assure me that she absolutely had the right quilt. So I'm so happy to tell you that Autumn on Lost Mountain won first place in the wallhanging category AND Best Quilting!!! I totally get Best Quilting, and I'm so happy for Margaret winning this award. I have to admit I'm not so sure about the First Place for wallhanging category. You will recall that I commented that I couldn't get the poof out of the center after blocking it twice, and the border was waving like Wavy Lay's potato chips.
At first I thought maybe the judges hadn't noticed the flaws, but no, they were noted in the comments:

"Strong radiating design. Variety of quilting background filler gives good texture and interest. Outer edge has some ruffling. Fullness noted in center. Machine quilting has very good control for smooth curves and sharp points. Tension was excellent. A shorter stitch length in intricate meandering would give smoother curves."

Libby Lehman told us that the judges aren't pouring over our quilts with a microscope...they don't have time. (P.S. She also said if you have a flaw you want to hide, put it in the top left hand corner, because when they hold the quilts up, the judges might not see it.) I always think of judging for show as like judging during the have the beauty and visual impact, but you have to demonstrate technical ability as well. So the question you reward a quilt that has flaws (as Tracy says, recognizing the difficulty of the piecing), or reward a simpler quilt that represents excellence in every regard? I don't know, but I guess the answer is to keep doing my best work and keep getting better. You can't figure out what the judges are thinking!

Here are some detailed photos taken by Margaret that show the absolutely stunning quilting. She so deserves the Best Quilting Award!

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."  - Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Libby Lehman

I forgot to hit publish on this post, but that's OK, because I have more information than when I originally posted. Libby Lehman suffered a brain aneurysm after returning home to Houston from Paducah. Libby was a judge for the Paducah show, and apparently was having severe headaches while she was there. When she returned home, she went to the doctor, and the aneurysm burst while in the doctor's office. She later suffered a stroke. We've all been holding our breath since then, but I'm happy to report that Libby has been moved to a rehabilitation center and is making good progress. We don't know how long her recovery will be, but it will be a long road ahead. She has received over 400 cards, and her family says she has responses (blinking, etc.) when they read the cards to her. Life is so uncertain. When I ran into Libby in Paducah, she appeared as vibrant and full of energy as always. When I showed her my quilt, she noticed and praised the changes I made, and overlooked my atrocious quilting. No indication that a few days later, she would be fighting for her life. A Caring Bridge has been set up for Libby:

I sent Libby a humorous card because she has such a great sense of humor and I hoped that it would be OK. Since then, the family has said that humorous cards are especially appreciated.

A Little Get Well Poem From Me...

Work on getting well,
Don't you ever quit,
Or I'll be there in person
To give you lots of...
(Open the card)
What? What did you think I was going to say?

The First Step is Admitting That You Have a Problem....

Hi, my name is Jeanette and I'm a hoarder. I joke about being a fabric-aholic, about being a yard of fabric away from being featured on Hoarders, about my stash being my 401k, but the truth is, I'm a hoarder.

For weeks I have been cleaning my sewing room. When I was working on teaching the class in North Carolina, I literally had to clear a path from the door to the sewing machine. What made me come to the realization that I have become more than a fabric-aholic is the number of books, patterns, fabrics, kits that I have more of one of the same thing!  Sew many books that are duplicates, sew many patterns that are duplicates...aaaaugh!  I just said to Al that I am a hoarder, and he said sympathetically, "I know, Honey." He then said, "Is it time to start selling some of that stuff?" and my heart stopped. That is the true sign that I am sick and need help. After I've had time to adjust to the thought of parting with some of my treasures, I think I will try to sell some of the duplicate books on Amazon. I'll let you know how it goes...

In other news, on Saturday we had our Judy Niemeyer Club meeting. I'm so proud of what we've accomplished! Mary completed her table runner, which was the beginning project to learn the way Judy paper pieces.

This is Cindy's table runner:

Once they complete the table runner, they had the choice of doing Three Ducks in a Row, Indian Summer, or Weeping Willow. Mary, our paper piecing Energizer Bunny, has completed all these blocks:

Aren't those pretty? So proud of Mary and the other students.

Back to cleaning....

Twelve step program for fabric-aholics...Never be more than 12 steps away from fabric!