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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I think I can, I think I can

Three sides of binding on the Double Wedding Ring are now complete. If I can keep up the pace, I might just be able to get it finished this weekend!

Monday, August 25, 2008

AQS Quilt Expo, Nashville

Last week was the last time the AQS Quilt Expo will be held here in Nashville (for at least the next three years because they are moving it to Knoxville), so I definitely wanted to attend it at least a day or two. I also volunteered through my quilt guild to work on Thursday afternoon, and my "payment" was that day's entrance into the show for free.

Thursday morning when the show opened, I decided to look at the exhibits first before visiting any vendor booths. The Nashville show, in my opinion, tends to have more art quilts than traditional, so the exhibits are not quite as appealing to me as the ones in Paducah, but I wanted to be able to view them without as much of the crowds that are there later in the day. I took a few photographs, and then I set off perusing the vendors. I bought a few quilting stencils, but not much else as I made my way through the show. I did decide to return to one booth at the end of the day and make a rather large "investment" purchase - a new Martelli mat / ruler / cutter set. They also let me trade in / upgrade my old Martelli cutter (the Ergo 2000 I love so much and that they have redesigned a bit) for only $5.

After lunch I still had about 90 minutes before reporting for volunteer duty. Just for the heck of it, I checked out the schedule of lectures and workshops (I've never attended one at a show before, and in fact, had never considered it before because of time constraints). There was an hour lecture that fit in the time frame perfectly, and it also fit with my earlier purchase - "Got Stencils? Use them!" - so I paid my $10 and found the lecture room. Before the lecture began, they were playing the usual games of who came the farthest, who has the most children, who has the most children who also quilt, and I actually tied with one other woman for who came the shortest distance. My prize? A year's membership in AQS!!! That more than paid for attending the lecture! The lecture was also very good for someone like me who is not all that stencil-savvy. DeLoa Jones talked about how to look at the designs that you can create from within the stencils (by just using parts of the design), how to combine different stencils, and how to look for things like that when you purchase new stencils.

I also went ahead and signed up for an all-day workshop on Friday (Machine Quilting: What a Difference Thread Makes with Sue Nickels), and looking back, that was probably the best part of this show for me. Machines were provided, and they turned out to be almost identical to my own, which was a real boon for me. The kit included 10 spools of thread in different contents and weights. I used "invisible" nylon thread for the first time, silk, as well as a variety of cottons and polyesters (yes, 100% polyester). I am still working on my thread sampler, because I didn't have time to finish each area as we went through them, and it will just be a reference for me, as my machine quilting still needs a lot of practice. But I learned SO much!

As soon as we returned from our annual weekend in Bristol (racing, of course!) I started playing with one of the new threads I purchased. I decided I'm going to use a spool from the Rainbows line of Superior Threads in Delaney's Snow Puzzle quilt, because I knew it would be perfect (and it IS!).

I've been making a pillow to go with the quilts I make for the nieces / nephews now that I'm making them bigger quilts, so I got to work piecing the pillow top. It is quilted different than the quilt will be, which allows me to experiment some. I decided to freehand a cabbage rose in the center, then did some meandering in the other background spaces. I LOVE the look. I don't know if you can see it as well in these photos, but the sparkle of the thread matches perfectly the sparkle of the fabrics. The variegated color goes along really well with the colors in the quilt, also.




I've also decided on using the invisible nylon (YLI Wonder) thread on Hollywood's T-Shirt quilt. I'll probably begin working on it as soon as I finish quilting Delaney's Snow Puzzle. Okay, I'm back off to the sewing room to piece the backing and get to it!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A few updates and a new start

Over the last few days I've been in the sewing room working away on Delaney's Snow Puzzle quilt. I figure, especially since I am going to quilt it myself, and since Christmas is getting closer and closer (it feels like it's barreling towards me), I should really get moving on it.

So today I finally finished piecing the quilt top. Now I just need to find a nice backing fabric and get to quilting on it!


I also finished one side of the binding on the Double Wedding Ring (only 3 more sides to go!)

Earlier this week I decided to stitch one of the little quickie Sweetheart Tree designs I've got kitted up. It took just two nights, and I still need to find a charm for it, but here it is, [mostly] finished.


I also thought that my next cross stitch focus project would be The Sun Sets... by M Designs, so I got it out and put some more stitches into it.


Of course, as a coworker and I were discussing this week, things don't always go exactly as you plan. A couple of weeks ago I had seen Nora Corbett's (Mirabilia) new Halloween Fairy design online (it's in the September 2008 Cross Stitch and Needlework magazine). I decided to purchase the magazine and materials online (tried the LNS, they don't carry the magazine), and they came in the mail Thursday. I decided on fabric last night, and just had to start it. I hope my fabric choice (denim blue jobelan) looks as good as I imagined it would. We shall see!


Oh, and one more thing - my quilt guild finally has a web site! It's small for now, but as time goes along, I expect it to grow and be useful for our group. I was just glad everyone was so receptive to the suggestion (and my volunteering to do it). Music City Quilt Guild

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New month, new block

Today is the second Saturday of the month, and so I present the SSS 2008 block for August, Martha Washington Star:


It's not as striking as last month's, but then I guess not every block can be a "superstar" (groan, I know, but I couldn't resist).

We bought a new digital camera today (Sony Cyber-shot), and I finally got the battery charged so I could play with it a little bit. I love having new toys. :) It's got way more memory, it's faster, and it's much smaller and lighter than my old one. Also, it uses a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, so no more going to Sam's Club for a mega package of AA batteries (which my old camera used to eat like candy). It's not a top-of-the-line camera (which I don't need), but I think it will meet our needs for several more years.

With my new camera I took a new photo of my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt, since I've been working on it a couple of nights recently. I was surprised to realize I hadn't taken a progress photo since last December. I've actually made quite a bit of progress since then! It is the full length now, and I've begun working my way across in columns. There will be 8 full flowers across the top and bottom when it's finished.


I'm afraid that I either didn't fully get over the strep throat from last week, or that I'm coming down with a sinus infection or something [not good]. I think I'm going to schedule an appointment with my regular doctor as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

HUGE Happy Dance!

I've been slowly plugging away, and it has finally paid off. The last time I updated was back in May, so here is the result of several months more stitching: Maidens of the Seasons I and II are finished!!!!!!!!!!


I'm slowly recovering from my strep throat, mostly trying to get my energy back now. This means that I'm officially down to 14 cross stitch WIPs. Happy Dance with me everyone!!!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sidelined

I finally got my Double Wedding Ring quilt binding made, and I spent several afternoons working on attaching it to the top of the quilt. That was a pretty long process, because of all of the inside and outside corners. Friday night I finally got to start stitching the binding down to the back (and stitching up those inside corners so that my points aren't floppy). I didn't make it very far because my eyes kept getting blurry, so I eventually put the quilt down for the night. I figured I was just tired and that my meds were just working on me a little harder than usual. I woke up in the middle of the night with a swollen tonsil (it never fails - I don't usually come down with something in the middle of the week when I could get in to see my own doctor, it just seems to fall at the beginning of a weekend or holiday or vacation). So I went to the local doc-in-a-box and got the diagnosis that I expected, strep throat. He prescribed antibiotics, and I'm taking them along with the usual painkillers. I just don't have my usual energy while I'm fighting this thing, so I haven't really picked up the binding to work on it this weekend like I'd planned.

But I did take a couple of pictures to share what I have to look forward to once I'm all better. The first photo is the binding that's attached to the front but not to the back yet, and the second photo is how it looks all nicely stitched down. I'm stitching it to the back by hand because I don't trust myself with the machine to make it look as nice. I've learned this: I do not ever want to create another quilt with curved borders. It's not the tips of the points that cause the problem - it's all those inside corners.