Cheri Chatter

Cheri Chatter

Friday, May 16, 2014

I Love Color

As a kid I experimented with color using my Mom's food coloring. I'd pour a big glass of water and start mixing colors: red and yellow to get orange, blue and yellow to get green, or red and blue to get purple. 

I'd alter the ratio of one color or another to get different results until the water got muddy. Then I'd dump out the contents of the glass and start all over. I ran out of yellow first. Then I ran out of red. With only blue left, I moved on to playing with vinegar and baking soda, but I digress. That had nothing to do with color.

I don't think my mom knew about my scientific experiments in her kitchen, but I do wonder if she ever noticed her dwindling bottles of food coloring? I'll have to ask. In any case, I know how those early lessons in color translated into my current color experiments with fabric.

This week my Color Basics class at Glad's finished up it's last session.  My students now know why yellow is the first food coloring to go and blue is the last one standing.

This fall I will be teaching the Color Club class at Glad's. The color experimentation will continue!

"When I'm 64 . . . "

I remember when that song was brand new. Sixty-four seemed like a long way off back then, but it quietly snuck up on me last week. I'd forgotten it was just around the corner.

Then Bosca and I arrived home from a walk one day to find this on my doorstep. Very puzzling. I hadn't ordered anything, had I? Even though I'd forgotten about my upcoming birthday, my secret sister hadn't!

What could it be? I anxiously tore into the box to find two fabric wrapped smaller packages. One contained a fancy new (pink) seam ripper that I've been wanting and the other enclosed a very fun wool applique project - a snowman in a snow globe - packaged in a canning jar. How cute! 

I now have enough hand projects to keep me going for a couple of months anyway. Thank you, Secret Sister, whoever you are!

A couple of days after the gift from my secret sis arrived on my doorstep, a few of my friends celebrated with me at our favorite Irish pub. (That's Colleen, Irish to the core.) We've decided to stop gifting each other with more "stuff" and go for what we all need and can use . . . wine. They brought bottles of red wine that I'm looking forward to sampling. 

And then on the very day I turned 64, my neighbor and his little boy delivered yet another bottle of wine. (How did he know? :) This bottle had a lit birthday candle attached. I felt really special, and have decided that being 64 is not only better than the alternative, it's something to look forward to!

"Birthday greeting, bottle of wine . . . "

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tuesday Friends

I haven't blogged about the activities at my Tuesday Friends group for a while.  We've been having fun putting the finishing touches on some raffle quilts. We're hoping to raise funds to pay for some supplies that we don't tend to get as donations, like batting and rotary blades. 

Here's one we did with ugly striped fabrics and a few solids mixed in. We didn't think they were ugly any more after it was put together with sashing and borders.  Now we all want it!

And we're learning how to get blood out of a quilt when we stab ourselves with a basting pin. Hydrogen peroxide is a miracle worker!

Here's a log cabin that we had a lot of fun with. We're still learning about what constitutes a dark versus a light in order to create the effect we want. The red centers pull it all together. We really like the unusual arrangement of blocks. It's an interesting design, don't you think?

And here's a different raffle quilt I just finished to raise funds for a Little Earth basketball team in memory of Trini, their biggest fan and scorekeeper after he was unable to keep playing. I hand quilted this one with a big stitch and perle cotton.

Do you see Rhea in the peach shirt above? She's becoming quite accomplished at machine quilting. She quilted this star quilt made by Jolene. They both did a beautiful work and can be very proud of their quiltmaking skills.

And finally, here's Mary and Caitlen (sorry if I spelled that wrong) with their most recent star quilt. They only have one corner to add.

I love how the colors move from strong to delicate. It almost looks like it's twinkling. Gorgeous!!

I can't wait to see what's in store for us tonight. It's always a surprise to see who shows up and what projects await.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hexie Addiction

I've resisted the hexie craze for at least a year, but then the latest issue of Quilt Mania arrived at Glad's. I fell in love with the project on the cover. I've been needing a good, portable hand project, and this one fits the bill.

I'm using mostly Kaffe Fasset fabrics because I have the perfect one in my stash that will serve as the background. It's just been waiting for the right project.

I sorted through the rest of the Kaffe stash, setting aside fabrics I wasn't sure would be a good fit.  That still left me with a pretty big pile of mostly fat quarters.  I cut one strip from each fabric, which yielded about eight 1" hexies from each 20"+ strip and left not a dent in my stash! Sheesh. 

I spent yesterday afternoon at my friend Dee's house cutting out hexies. She talked me into layering marked strips on top of several unmarked ones to rotary cut the hexies. In no time flat I had all of them cut. I believe I have enough now for three or four of these quilts. I'm anxious to get started!

But look what I have left from the cutting. Millions of little colorful triangles. I couldn't throw them away, so they may end up fused together somehow. Maybe little flowers? I know. I'm crazy. But I've accepted that about myself.

I now have choices about the construction method. Do I baste the hexies or do I use glue to speed up the process? Or do I substitute starch for glue? We are so lucky in the quilting community to have fellow enthusiasts, and great tips on every aspect of quilting are everywhere. 

A customer and fellow hexie fan sent me this tip and included a tool. Thanks, Deb! And yesterday Dee clued me into a method for tying knots that will make the stitching very secure when I start sewing hexies together. I can't wait!

I'm still whittling away at other priorities, so the hexies are going to have to wait a little longer. I'm off to clean the oven and pay bills. Yippee.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring Is Sprung

Or at least it's trying to spring. I see buds on trees and bushes. They're almost popped out. 

I'm anxious to see the blooms on the magnolia tree that Bosca and I pass on our way to check out the water level in Minnehaha Creek.

But the surest sign of spring is what's happening right here at home in my Easter basket (or what's left of it). The Peeps have matured and are hatching. Two have already flown the coop.  The other three are about to emerge.

Where do Peeps go when they hatch? Straight into the microwave. Five to fifteen seconds depending on the age of the Peep. Add a little bit of Carrot Patch Pete and a graham cracker for Spring S'mores. Yum!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Double the Fun!

I met my goal and more! I got a backing pieced for Mystery #53, the latest mystery at Glad Creations. I would show you a picture of the quilt top if I could, but I can't. It's still a big secret. What I can show you though are my fabric swatches and the backing.  

For my color story I chose violets ranging from blue to red, rich greens that lean a bit toward yellow, and some multicolored orange/rose/browns. For the sashing fabric I picked a grayed teal that shows up in tiny places in the other fabrics. I'll post a picture of the completed quilt when it's back from the quilter and safe to reveal.

It took no time at all to piece that back, so I decided to do a second one of yellow daisies for the back of "April Showers and May Flowers". 

I truly think it's the prettiest group of fabrics I've worked with. Maybe I'm feeling that way because I need spring so badly. Easter has been over and done for two weeks, and we're still waiting for spring here. This quilt could not be more spring-like if it tried!

The fabrics are lovely little florals that remind me of teacups and are set into a minty green background with mustard green polka dots. 

The background fabric was a panic buy.  I watched the bolt get skinnier and skinnier til I panicked and bought what was left. (The hazards of working in a quilt shop!) It turned out to be the exact yardage I needed for this quilt.  Funny how that works! 

Here it is on the design wall waiting to be assembled and borders added. I found the pattern in the book, 40 Fabulous Quick Cut Quilts. It's called "Spring Fling" and was designed by Evelyn Sloppy. 

I pieced most of it last weekend at a retreat that I attend every year and that is also called "Spring Fling". How appropriate is that? 

See if you can track down a copy of the book.  I think you'd have fun making this easy peasy quilt too!

And check out that quilt on the cover. It's on my list of must-do projects . . . someday.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sew Many Quilts, Sew LIttle Time

I'm in trouble. I have sew many projects in the works that I have (almost) lost track.  I definitely need to prioritize. Here's what's on the list:
  • one quilt to bind, label, and attach a hanging sleeve
  • five tops ready for the longarmer
  • backs and battings to get ready for three of those tops
  • two hand quilting projects
  • two tops ready for assembly
  • one piecing project half done
  • one hexie project started
  • a baby quilt to cut out

All are active projects, and I bounce from one ball to the other trying to keep them all in the air. It's fun! (Mostly.)

I like bouncing. It keeps my interest level high. I get to work on what I am in the mood for. But since I am almost never in the mood for piecing backs and doing bindings, those balls get dropped, and I get stressed. That's not fun.

I admire quilters who can pick a project, go buy the fabric, and work on that one quilt start to finish. What a concept! But I know I will probably never work that way. Plus, I love prioritizing and tackling a list - one task at a time - so here goes! Today's task: assemble one back.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Roof Acrobatics

The Olympics may be over in Sochi, but they are still going on at my house. With record snowfalls this week, the snow on my roof is unbelievably deep. Time to go bobsledding!

Just kidding. I do think I have a neighbor kid or two that would be willing to give it a try, but I decided to get rid of some of that snow. And don't worry. I've done this many times and have it down to a safe science. I climb out the dormer window and always leave a pile of snow between me and the roof edge.

Wish I had a before picture, but this is what it looked like after shoveling off the northwest corner. You can kind of figure out by what is left how deep it actually was. It took a couple of hours.

I then had to deal with the mountain of snow on my front steps. I have a back door which is no longer snowed shut that I can use, but my small quilt group is coming over this week and they would have had a hard time getting in. (LOL)

Done! One more hour of shoveling and the deed was done. I have no access to the side of the house, but there are great big piles of snow for the neighbor kids to play in. They're loving it!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bobsledding, Anyone?

Since I'm still recovering from my luge event, I've decided to postpone building the bobsled run on my roof. Too bad. I have the perfect roof for it. You could bank off the dormer and then the lower peak onto the front porch roof. Nice big pile of snow in the yard that would make for a soft landing after launching from the porch. Oh well, it will have to wait.

In the meantime I've distracted myself with a couple of other projects. I needed a hand project, so I've started hand quilting "Coffee Break" with perle cotton and a big stitch. That technique is so much fun and finishes off a quilt pretty quickly.

This small wall hanging will be the second in my Yikes! Stripes! series. The first one was "Fractured Pansies", also finished off with a big stitch. Both quilts make use of an irregular, multicolored stripe. I have a stripe stash that will be very fun to experiment with.

I've also started planning a baby quilt for my great nephew expected to arrive the end of May. I finally got reunited with a charm pack I bought last May and promptly misplaced. It turned up in the laptop bag. Go figure.

I plan to frame these bright squares on two sides with light aqua and yellow. Since I don't have enough squares in the charm pack, I will add some black and white prints. Babies see black and white best for a while, so I will add the most graphic ones I can find. I may even throw in some applique.

I've put in my request to have the baby arrive on my birthday, but that would mean he'd be here a couple weeks early. Sure would be fun though!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter Olympics

I've taken a break from sewing to watch the Winter Olympics. I don't really have a hand project I'm that excited to work on, and in any case, I don't want to miss the action.

I'm anxious to see the luge events more than anything. While waiting, I decided to create my own luge event right here at home. It was quite impromptu. You can do it too.  Here's how:

1.  Like me, you probably don't have a luge laying around, so the right clothing is a must. Pick out a pair of clunky outdoor shoes that are slippery when wet. And a big puffy down coat, also slippery. The less friction, the better.

2.  Find a staircase, preferably uncarpeted, for your luge run. I used the basement stairs. They have those shiny rubber treads over bare wooden steps. No friction. Perfect!

3.  One more thing: add some extra weight. I found that a 50 lb bag of dog food cradled in my arms was just the thing. I needed to move it to the basement larder anyway. Two birds, one stone.

4.  Now you're ready. Standing on the tippy top step, slide your feet to the very edge until gravity and your slippery shoes take over. If you are lucky, your feet will fly right out from under you, leaving you airborne for only a split second before you begin your exhilerating plunge down the stairs on your back and backside.

5.  A word about elbows is in order here. Try to pull them up and away from the luge run as it will only slow your progress. It's admittedly hard to do while holding a 50 lb. bag of dog food, but halfway down I managed to raise my elbows a bit and immediately picked up speed. 
There you have it.  Easy peasy. I made it to the bottom in what must have been record time. 

Let me know how it works for you. You, too, could be an Olympic contender!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Another Empty Bin

This bin was full to the brim of leftovers from my Four-Square Lone Star, so following my new resolution to deal with scraps as I create them, I set to work.

You'll see it's nearly empty. I pulled out all the big pieces that can go back into stash for another project. Then I cut up the smaller pieces into useable sizes.

What's left are the remnants of strip piecing for my Lone Stars. Not sure what to do with those. The last time I faced this challenge, I made smaller star parts for my Harlequin Romance wall quilt.

I have decided to leave them as strip sets for now and have a separate scrap stash of Lone Star parts.  Maybe they will end up as little LeMoyne Stars in a future quilt?

In any case, I can chalk up another finish!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quilt Surgery

Last week's finish was a long time coming. Every time I teach a Lone Star class, I make a Lone Star to demonstrate all the steps involved. I learn best by seeing something done, and I think a lot of other people do too.

I used similar fabrics (Civil War reproductions) in the first four classes, intending to put all four into one larger quilt. What else are you going to do with a growing pile of small stars? I don't know that many newborns, and one on my wall is enough! I had one star to finish assembling.

After completing the last star, I discovered one of the previous stars had a pretty wavy edge.  It wasn't going to match the other three.  What to do? Quilt surgery, that's what! I had to resize that piece by trimming off one edge to square it up. The new fit was perfect.

I added sashing and 9-patch cornerstones to join the four stars. At the last minute I substituted a green fabric for the light tan in the cornerstones. As soon as it was together, I knew I had made a mistake. Yes, the green pulled out the small amounts of green in the stars, but there was no value difference with the purple fabric. Plus it broke up the flow of the sashing design by introducing a third fabric.

What to do? More quilt surgery! I had nine cornerstones to remove from a 90" square top. Removing and replacing the four corners was like removing appendixes, the four side cornerstones like setting broken limbs. But replacing the center cornerstone was like doing open heart surgery. Kinda tricky and very cumbersome.

The final result was well worth the extra effort. It's a more cohesive design; the cornerstones weave right into the sashing. Welcome to the world, Four-Square Star!

Now, do I add a border or just bind it with that green fabric???

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sun Dogs

Every January for the past few years I attend a quilting retreat at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center put on by a great gal and teacher, Carole Wilder. She has created an event that is attended by 40+ regulars who wouldn't miss it for the world. I'm getting to know all of them and look forward to catching up with them and their projects.

The view from my sewing table was spectacular. We're situated high on the bluffs overlooking the Root River in southeastern Minnesota.  From that vantage point, I love to keep an eye peeled for wildlife.  I'm never disappointed. Soaring eagles. A huge raven. And a bright red cardinal that flew down to the deep snow to pick up seeds that had fallen in the heavy winter gusts. The wind blew the cardinal sideways as it made its way from seed to seed, tipping it over at times. I wonder how it would have felt seeing a crowd of laughing quilters peering down at it's struggles?

But the highlight this time were the sun dogs. The wind kept enough ice crystals suspended in the air to create a rainbow around the rising sun. They became bigger, brighter, and more colorful as the sun became brighter and higher in the sky. It lasted for hours. This picture just doesn't do it justice. I had to block out the sun with the window frame so the sun dogs on either side show up.

Can you see them? They were intensely bright in their centers and the colors of the rainbow. You'll have to take my word for it! The sun had a bright horizontal and another vertical ray running through it, too.

What an amazing light show!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Calvin's Baseball Quilt

This week's finish is a big one, Calvin's baseball quilt. It's one of the easiest quilts one could do. Big pieces sewn together to form a baseball diamond and then a couple of borders.

It was designing the center that stumped me. I wanted to applique baseball bats and other baseball paraphernalia to fill up some of that open space. How to do it so it looked somewhat realistic and not stupid? I've had a mental block about it for two years.

Then 52 finishes came along, and I decided that this quilt had to go to the top of the list. Just recently I discovered that I could pull up images from the internet. (Okay, I'm a little behind the times!) I found images for bats, baseballs and all manner of things baseball-related.  

And I remembered that I own an alphabet stencil. The letters were just the right size. A little fusible interfacing, fabric markers, some zigzagging and, viola, the center was done! 

The most interesting result is that a huge weight has been lifted, and I feel excited about (rather than dreading) the next unfinished challenges.  On to the next UFO . . .