snug

snug

Friday, August 31, 2018

Color!

      I am in love with color!   I have been looking for a while for some yardage of a colorful floral to do a Kaleidoscope quilt.  I think these were big some years ago, but I am intrigued by the possibilities.  I thought I had enough of a fabric I purchased a while back, but the repeat was too big, and I didn't have enough.  I  found this yellow cabbage rose print on sale at Craftsy - for $4.40 a yard.  I got two 3-yard cuts (the middle one is still in plastic so it looks muddy) of the big floral and one 3 yard cut of the smaller (interior border?)   I have plenty to work with.  This is a possible retreat project!  I'll keep you posted.
     In the meantime, art classes are underway.  Last semester I found I didn't post or quilt as much while in school.   I may be writing shorter posts, but I am going to aim for a minimum of a post a week.  Yesterday I spent some time making little color swatches for my first Color Theory project.   It is so interesting to see how the paints work and blend together.  FYI, I am going to redo some of the yellows - too streaky! 

     Have a great weekend! 
Take care,
Gretchen 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Back to School!

     I am back to school this week.  As you may know, last January I decided to take advantage of being retired, healthy and curious to do something I always wanted to do.  After earning a BA degree in Psychology with a minor in Economics, and a few years later, a JD, I am now pursuing another degree - this time an AS in Fine Arts.  I am taking just two classes a semester at the moment, and with certain electives waived, I should finish in another few years.  I took Drawing 1 and 2D design last semester, and learned so much, and enjoyed the whole experience tremendously.  This semester is both Color Theory and Painting 1.  I can't wait to get started playing with colors in paints instead of fabrics! It was so great to be a returning student - not nearly as frightening as walking in that first day last January!
    Before I started classes, I got a project finished and sent off that will be revealed in early January 2019.  I was able to use these beautiful fabrics from the Sugar Sack collection by Whistler Studios from Windham Fabrics.  Gorgeous fabrics, and so sunny to work with!  I can't wait until the project can be revealed.  In the meantime, I know I will be busy with art projects, so I have scheduled another quilt retreat weekend at the end of the month to make sure I get my sewing in!
    Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Take care,
Gretchen
   

Monday, August 20, 2018

Clearing the design wall and working on two quilts at once!

     As you know, last Thanksgiving I jumped on the Bonnie Hunter "Quiltville" bus, downloading her weekly clues for her annual mystery quilt - this one is called On Ringo Lake.  I finally had all the pieces ready to lay out and start sewing together into a top, and used my design wall to keep track of things.  This quilt top takes up the ENTIRE wall, making it impossible to lay anything else out.  As a result, I have been working away trying to get this top finished up.  All the rows are sewn, and some of the rows are sewn to each other.  I may be able to finish the top today! 
     For the "leaders and enders", the sewing of  other pieces to keep fabric in the sewing machine, I have been working on the spider quilt that I started at least 5 years ago.   It is remarkable how many pieces can get done this way!     
     This spider quilt is a paper pieced project, and I had made numerous copies of the block pattern, without really having an idea of how many pieces I needed!  I frequently just sew and design as I go, but I decided to use my newly acquired EQ8 software to make a plan.  I first planned a quilt without borders.  Using the actual size of the blocks I am making,  this design results in a quilt of 67 x 80 inches.  This is a nice size, but a little bit small if I want to enter it in a future fair competition.  (The main quilt category requires a minimum  300 inch perimeter).  I like the fact that this looks somewhat modern and graphic, even with the reproduction civil war fabrics.
     What I enjoy about the EQ8 software is that I can play around with different ideas.    Here are some designs with borders that I am considering.  I still have plenty of assorted civil war reproduction fabric to work with.  I am still working out the kinks in my use of this software! 

       I welcome your opinion on whether to add a border or not, and if so, whether either of these border options appeal to you!    In the meantime, the design helped me calculate that I need 240 pieces to make the center!  Thanks to the On Ringo Lake quilt, I have finished over 190 pieces, so pretty soon, this quilt top can be put together.  I am dreading the paper removal process!
    My current thought is to hand quilt this, so realistically, it won't be done for at least a year!   The actual quilt will be more scrappy than the computer image -  check out the piles of completed pieces.  
  To finish the pieces, I am working with the left over scraps. 
 If I run out of scraps, I still have some larger pieces to work with! 
   In the meantime, the little kittens we adopted from a shelter last month are getting big and seem happy.   When they aren't flying through the house chasing who knows what (and knocking down an occasional lamp), they are sweetly napping with each other.  
         I have plenty of projects waiting for the design wall to free up.  I start my art classes again next week (so excited!), and have a fall quilt retreat in the works!    I am trying to increase my social media presence, so if you like to read this blog, please follow me!   

     Enjoy these last days of August -

Take care,
Gretchen

Monday, August 13, 2018

Red, White and Blue! Erie County Fair 2018!

     My hometown is the host of the annual Erie County Fair, established in 1820.  This is a big deal locally.  Over 1.1 million visitors come every year.  More info is here.    There are animals, concerts, food, rides, and of course, quilt (and other creative arts) exhibits!   
     Back in 2005, when I was a novice quilter, I entered some pieces in the fair, including a civil war reproduction log cabin which I hand quilted.  More on that quilt can be found here.  I won a red second place ribbon for that quilt, which was thrilling at the time, but I did always wish I could win a blue ribbon for something at the Erie County Fair!
    For many reasons, mostly the demands of work, I didn't enter anything  again until this year.  I had 5 pieces which fit into the available categories.  I dropped them off a while back, but was out of town when the Fair opened.  Today was the first day I went to the Fair to see how my quilts fared.   
      The quilt I wanted to enter most was Priscilla's Uphill Climb.  It is the most traditional of my current quilts, and my friend Priscilla, for whom I made the quilt, works every year at the Fair in the building with the quilts.  I thought she'd like seeing her quilt when she worked.    Here are two full pictures of her finished quilt.  My blog post on this quilt can be found here
     What a fabulous surprise!  I got my long-wished for blue ribbon for this quilt!   I am happy that Priscilla did not tell me ahead of time about this!  It was a wonderful surprise!  
     I also entered my "Over the Rainbow, Baby" quilt that I made in anticipating teaching a class that never took off.  My blog about this little happy quilt is here.
     The quilts were displayed all over a large space, and I had to hunt around to find this one.    I missed it the first time through!   Another surprise, a blue ribbon on this one as well!  
     I also entered my Blue Ribbon Dreams quilt.   My blog about this quilt is here.
     I had made this as part of an on-line challenge.  Although it wasn't picked in that challenge, I  liked how this design came out.  I was very pleased to get a red ribbon on this one! 
I also entered my Moody Beauty wall hanging.  This is the most intricate piece I have done lately.

 

and that one, too, took a second place finish! 
The final entry was my Summer Waves table runner.  (Blog post here).  I love this piece, but was uncertain how it would fare.
    When we found it displayed on the bottom shelf of a cupboard, I was please to see it got an honorable mention, but it was displayed with the back showing instead of the front.  Did I get honorable mention for my backing? 
         
    One of the docents was nice enough to fix the display, so at least the actual quilted and pieced part will show for the rest of the Fair! 
     What a great day!   I got the blue ribbon I have long secretly wanted (plus another!) and overall, 5 ribbons for 5 pieces!  
       I love the colors and over-the-top excesses of the fair.  On the walk to and from  the creative arts building, (where all the Fair food is) I took some photos to try to capture the spirit of the Fair.  









A lovely day!
The arrival of the Fair was always bittersweet, since it marks the beginning of the end of the summer.  So, enjoy the rest of your summer.
Take care,
Gretchen







Sunday, August 5, 2018

QuiltExpo - "Off the Rails" accepted! (and the new kittens)

     I am thrilled that my little modern mini, "Off the Rails" has been accepted for exhibition at the upcoming Quilt Expo in Madison Wisconsin.  My previous blog about the making of this little quilt is here.  The link to the Quilt Expo is here.  This is a juried exhibit, and so I am delighted that my work was accepted!  Madison is a 10+ hour drive away, but we may make the trip!  
     In the meantime, we are still getting used to our new kittens.    They are quite active and busy, but occasionally take a break!  I love this photo! 
and this one!
Betty is in the front, Judy in the back.  
   Hard to believe that it is August already!  Enjoy the rest of the summer.  I'll post a Fair update soon!
Take care,
Gretchen

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Where did July go?

      A month has gone by with no blog posts!  Lots was going on!  The kids were both home at the beginning of the month and so the house was full of family and friends.  The quilt studio reverted to a guest bedroom for a few weeks!   After our company left, we found a pair of little sister shelter cats, and decided to bring them home.  It has been a year since we have had a cat in the house.   They have similar coloring to our dear old Chester, but they are young and peppy.  Holy moly!   They are Judy & Betty - named after the Haynes Sisters from the old movie White Christmas.
Chester the Cat 
     I also got some quilts registered and delivered to be shown at the annual Erie County Fair.  This is one of the largest county fairs in the country.  I entered some quilts long ago, and decided to enter a few this year.   I'll do a fair post later this month.
The quilts all rolled up to go to the Fair! 
       I also finally finished the bits and pieces of the "On Ringo Lake" quilt and got most of the quilt up on the design wall.  I must say that I love it.  I have just gotten started with sewing the bits together, but I do think I'll be able to finish the top before the next mystery quilt is announced! 
      I also got a top finished last year sandwiched and quilted.    This was the sampler I did with solid colors, making each Block of the Month from one of my quilt guilds.   This is a nice size for snuggling while watching TV, so I wanted to get it done before winter arrives.  While I like the look of the brights against the black fabric - that black fabric gets really linty looking! 

 I also ended up finishing two baby quilt tops, and have part of a third cut out and ready to go, using that crazy circus striped fabric.  I took all my ETSY listings down and am going to revamp with baby quilts and patterns.  I  have been finding it hard to let quilts go!  
      I also have been playing around with the EQ8 software I finally purchased.   My progress is slow, but it is certainly easier than coloring in graph paper, and there are lots of helpful blogs and videos to supplement the instructional books!  Today I entered an  EQ design challenge.   This involved designing a quilt on EQ, using Christa Watson's new fabric line.    I spent a few hours, learned more EQ, and actually really like my design, which uses 6 of the fabrics in the Fandangle line.   You can see all the entries on the EQ Challenge page,  here.

      So, that's the update of all my July fun.   

Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Take care,
Gretchen