Saturday, July 28, 2018

one, two, now three . . .

So, family is coming in from all over the USA over the next several days . . . Virginia, Texas, California, Georgia . . . even Alaska! So you can imagine where my focus will be over the next week, right?!

The next installment of A Quilter's Journey was published in the May issue of our guild's "Fanfare".  It's the prelude to our challenge show, so it's kind of funny that it follows my last post revealing my challenge piece!  Enjoy -- and I'll see you in a week or so!

Challenges. Quilt challenges, that is. Regardless of how long you’ve been quilting, this can be an alarming word! I remember my very first HQH challenge very clearly; I was still a relatively new quilter, I had never been to a quilt show (local, national or otherwise), and I had absolutely NO CLUE as to what was expected of me in a challenge (beyond what the rules listed – I got that). But as a newbie quilter, thinking outside the box, in both a vague (create what you want) and specific (but follow the rules) kind of way, was quite alarming. 

The theme that year (2008) was Quilt the Vote. Essentially the rules were that we had to make our entry voting or patriotic themed – it was an election year – and we had to use a specially purchased piece of them fabric. 

I was stumped. Seriously, I had no idea how to proceed from there. What I *should* have done was to go back to the guild’s scrapbooks, kept in the library (which is located in back room of Patches & Stitches), and thumbed through pictures of past challenges and entries, so I could have had a better idea as to how to proceed. 

But I didn’t. 

Instead, I went over to Quilter’s Cache and looked for blocks that I could possibly use for a voting theme. I came up with two. A paper-pieced star and the Alabama block. I put them together, using the specified fabric, and fashioned it in a sort of flag shape with quilted stars in silver thread and with a silver metallic binding. I have no idea what I called it and to be honest, I didn’t really like it (I’ve always wished I’d been able to “think outside the blocks”). But . . . I. Was. Determined. To. Have. An. Entry. 

I sat out the next challenge. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t – the theme was really a really cute one: In the Cards. But I was still recovering from both the first challenge and entering a quilt in my first guild show. The next time I attempted a challenge it was the guild’s Still Crazy After All These Years challenge. That was 2012 and I was a little more seasoned as a quilter and had an easier time thinking “outside the box.” I was having fun trying different techniques, and at the time I was playing around with faux applique, using colored pencils and a special color setting liquid. My entry that year was Crazy in Color and won a ribbon! (I rarely share that it was the only entry in its category.) 

Challenges stretch us as quilters. They call for us to dig deep and to be fearless! They want us to have fun, and be innovative and creative! They demand we keep secrets—which for me now, may be the hardest part—and they give us a show like no other! 

I’m already stitching up this year’s challenge entry for Stitchin’ the Blues! and I’m so excited for our show! I’m looking forward to seeing all the lovely quilts, to seeing how members interpreted the theme, and all of the wild, wonderful ideas that are presented. And I truly hope everyone will consider joining in on the fun. After all – the more the merrier! 

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

challenge accepted . . .

Shoulder recovery continues to go well . . . I'm still in the sling, which makes typing difficult.  So consider this post a labor of love!  ;)

Our guild -- Heritage Quilters of Huntsville -- helds its bi-annual challenge show at the July meeting, which was last Thursday, July 19th. 
The challenge, Stitchin' the Blues, was introduced in November and involved creating a quilt using only blue and white fabrics, maintaining size parameters, and keeping projects top secret.  Which for me was the HARDEST part! But since the show has come and gone, let the revealing commence!

I had an idea almost the minute the challenge was introduced.  Seriously, when I came home from the guild meeting that evening, I sat down at my laptop and came up with this basic concept . . .
Which eventually morphed into this finished piece . . .
(the front -- one of my favorite things about this quilt 
is that the musical notes play out a classic blues riff)
(the back, which I love almost as much as the front)
(the label, which I printed)

Y'all, I expected with seventy-plus entries of small quilts in blue and white, that the exhibit would be impressive.  I was blown away by just how impressive it was in actuality!  Here are a couple of shots of the exhibit and a few of my favorite entries (my photos are not up to par...I was taking them one-handedly and it shows!):
photo by Pam A.
photo by Teresa C.
Here's a closeup of the center of that one:

And now for the money shot . . .
You see that goofy grin? I was incredibly humbled and thrilled that out of all those gorgeous quilts, mine was chosen to be one of the top ten of the exhibit.  On top of that, I think I nearly broke into tears when it was announced my piece, Blue Melody, took second place in interpretation of the theme! Giddy, giddy, giddy!  It was a lovely evening -- one I had the pleasure of sharing with my mom!
I'm going to make a quilter of her yet!! It was a good choice for her first guild meeting. :)

And each participant received a lovely gift ... a beautifully handmade blue and white apron. The challenge committee made these.  Isn't it pretty?  I *adore* toile.
The perfect momento!

This was the best guild challenge experience I've had (and that's prior to the ribbon winning).  I enjoyed the process, finally understood what a challenge was (an upcoming A Quilter's Journey article coming on that), and felt like my finished piece exceeded my expectations.  A terrific--albeit challenging--experience!


Sunday, July 15, 2018

chronicling the journey . . .

Nothing much going on here . . . still in a sling, still pecking away one-handed, still slugging through daily physical therapy. More notably . . . still no stitching. But there's light! I'm past the halfway mark of the five weeks in the sling . . . just a little over two weeks, in fact, until it comes off. Hurray! (And HURRY!)

The February installment of A Quilter's Journey, discussed chronicling one's quilting journey. I really do use my blog to look back and see when I did things and what things I've done. I found over the past year, when I wasn't quite so faithful, that I really missed being able to look back and see finishes (or more likely, starts), fabrics I'd purchased, a particular pattern I'd used. That was one of the reasons I've come back! Anyway, without further ado . . .

As I went through my quilts preparing for last month’s guild program, I realized that most of my *favorite* quilts that I’d completed were quilts I’d gifted away. And I’d imagine there are a lot of us quilters that feel that way. And if you’re like me, a lot of heart and soul goes into those favorite quilts (if not blood, sweat and tears), and while there’s definitely joy in the giving, there can also be that hollow feeling that comes from giving a bit of yourself away. 

Quilt Journaling. I’m convinced that may be the answer. 

Quilting journaling has become very popular over the last several years, with merchants coming up with eye-catching journals and layouts to tempt us into chronicling our journey of creation. Journaling can take a lot of different forms. Today’s quilting journal books provide prompts, blank spaces for photos or design doodles, areas for fabric swatches (and detailed information about said fabric), and some even have space for planning sewing time (or shopping time??!). A quick search on Pinterest revealed LOADS of resources you can print yourself. Project worksheets, quilt planner sheets, quilt design planners, quilting goals, even instructions for how to make your own quilt journal! (Want to take a look at a free quilt journal/planner set of printables? Patchwork Posse has a fun *free* set you can download and use as you see fit – a great, inexpensive way to play around with the concept of journaling, especially if it’s new to you: 

Going through all these resources it dawned on me that I’d been journaling a lot of my creations from the first quilt I’d gifted. In fact, for my very first quilt, I kept a notebook of each month’s block construction instructions, along with small patches of the fabrics I used for each block, some scribbled notes/comments on the process, and after I’d completed a block, I took a digital picture of it and printed it along with the name of the block and which month it belonged to. At the end of the notebook is the date I finished the quilt along with a full-size photo of the finished project. I did that for all the block-of-the-month quilts I’ve done, which it makes it really easy to keep up with those. 

Not long after making my first quilt, my sister gifted me with a darling little 4” X 6” scrapbook she’d made especially for my quilting. The next quilt I made I used that sweet little book to document the making of a baby quilt I gifted back to that same sister and my newest niece. Pictures of the process and the completed quilt, along with notes of where I got the quilt pattern, snippets of fabric, and the website where I found the template I used for the bunny applique. 

And don’t forget about blogging! What a great way to journal the process *and* share it with a like-minded community (and make quilty friends around the world, to boot!). I’ve kept a blog since 2003 but it wasn’t until 2008 that I found the quilting community online and began sharing pieces of my quilting journey on my blog. But in 2010 – 2012 I blogged nearly every day, and my quilting life is laid out for all to see. This has been particularly helpful to *me* when I want to go back and check a pattern I used or particular fabric I had or check my timeline. Social media – Facebook and Instagram in particular – can also be a great way to digitally journal your quilt projects, and get feedback at the same time. 

Somewhere along the line I purchased a plain, lined journal. For a while I doodle-journaled quilt concepts and sketched out ideas, as well as some true-to-form journaling (deep quilty thoughts). Then I had the GREAT idea (famous last words) for a personalized hexie-crazy quilt, where each hexie was themed by a memory or hobby or other aspect of my life. So I drew out the appropriate sized hexie across the center of the journal . . . on about 40 pages . . . and then as I thought about it, I sketched out the block map with embellishments and embroidery stitches I planned to use for each block. This is a work in progress, so I’m still playing around with it—let’s just say it’s a LIFE project. 

Do you journal your quilts? What steps do you take (especially when the quilt won’t be spread on your own bed or hung on your own wall) to preserve the memory of the time, effort and energy spent in creating? Do you create photo albums or keep fabric snips, or write notes? How do you preserve the creative process? Things to ponder . . . 

My name is Denise and I’m a quilter. :)

Saturday, July 07, 2018

teabloom party for five . . .

So, bear with me. Here I am nearly two weeks out from surgery, but still have no use of my right arm/hand. Which means typing is a joy. Not! The easiest way for me to do this was to use my speech to text on my phone, and email it to myself so I could cut and paste it into my blog. LOL!

All in all, though, I'm recovering well and feeling good. Jocelyn and her girls paid me a visit this week and that was such happy medicine! We had a tea party (of course), with a lovely new teapot and tea from a new-to-me company called TeaBloom. 

When I updated/freshened up my blog, I spent a good deal of time checking/adding links and content on my All Things Tea page. Evidently it must have caught the attention of online merchandisers, because TeaBloom contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to try their products and add their link to the tea page. Of course!

Pre-surgery I shared a pic of a pretty glass butterfly....which graced the lid of the teapot I chose....the Wings of Love teapot.

Isn't it pretty? I knew the grandgirls would love it! It came with two blooming flower teas, but it also has a pretty glass infuser for loose teas. 
I showed the ball of tea to Evey and Ellie and they wondered over it and sniffed it (and it had a wonderful 'bouquet')....but let's face it. It was a brown ball and nothing special. 
Until you added hot water. 
The girls were captivated watching it unfurl into a beautiful flower! I have to admit I was pretty captivated, too. 
Not only was it pretty tea, it was tasty tea!  It was a light green tea, but very full flavor and bright. A nice pick-me-up tea! (Plus, it could be re-steeped with fresh hot water.) I highly recommend TeaBloom for their teas and tea wares.  

Even Edith Rose thought it was delicious! And don't let her diminutive size fool you ... girl knows what she wants and she wanted her own cup of tea!

Mind you....neither Jocelyn nor I managed to get any other pics of the girls. My brain was still muddled from surgery. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

No stitching yet...but I do go back to work Monday. I'm doing a lot of blog reading, just not so much commenting/typing. My PT is going well and the therapist tells me I have great range of motion. All positive things! The sling comes off July 30th. I *am* counting days (and it *will* be a JOY)!

Happy tea-drinking and happy weekend!