Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Christmas houses

It's been awhile since I've woken up in the morning itching to get back to a quilt project before I've even had coffee, but this little wool project almost has me doing that. I still get the coffee first, but then I go directly to my stitching.

It's a pattern called "Welcome to Christmas Town" by Chris Malone. I found it in this current magazine:

The pattern calls for fusing cotton appliqués and then machine embroidering them, but I'm hand-stitching wool appliqué on a cotton background and then I'll hand embroider and maybe add some beads.

I love auditioning different colors! I finally decided on red and pinkish-purple houses with a variety of roof and chimney colors.

Freezer paper patterns are ironed onto the wool.

Usually I pin the pieces down with short appliqué pins, but I used dabs of glue on the skinny tree trunks.

I use one strand of cotton embroidery floss to whipstitch the pieces down, unless I have the right color of Genziana wool thread, then I use that. Sue Spargo uses Genziana in her projects, but it's pretty expensive and I can't buy it locally.

This is where I'm at this morning. (That's a spool of Genziaza.) Now the challenge is to take enough breaks from stitching so I don't get a stiff neck!

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wonderful Woolies

It was a dark and stormy day yesterday, but inside was cozy and bright because it was our Woolies meeting day!

Judy set the tone for winter with this fantastic snowy village wool appliqué quilt that she just finished. She saw the houses in a magazine and adapted them to a new shape.

Her embroidery details are so inspiring, and the tweedy sky fabric looks like a Northwest winter sky.

But the meeting started with us gathered around Pam's kitchen counter looking at the loot she got on a recent road trip ... fabric and patterns to make us drool. And in the background is Linda's chocolate chip pumpkin bread to really make us drool.

Pam also put out this sewing kit that she made from a Sue Spargo pattern, "Sew Your Seeds." You can never have too many sewing kits!

Downstairs, Pam arranged her block-of-the-month pieces on the design wall. Some of the Woolies already completed theirs and hung them in our guild show last month, but others (like myself) are still working on it.

Here's Pam's house block ... 

... and here's mine, which isn't complete yet.

Here are some of the other projects the Woolies worked on yesterday. Bright colors for a grey day!

And this scarf isn't wool, but it was worn at the meeting. Karen made it by drawing the circles with Magic Markers onto silk and then spritzing it with alcohol. Must try it!

 Have a colorful day

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Retreat update

The guild's retreat ended at 3 p.m. today, so I also wrapped up mine. I finished my little houses quilt top! Yay! It's 42 inches square and I think it will brighten the gloomy winter days. I never got around to the two wool appliqué projects that I packed.

I ate quite a bit of the chocolate cake and ravioli lasagne, didn't leave the house once, finished a cozy mystery and watched a Hallmark holiday movie. And I'm over the worst of my cold. I need to do this more often! Some of the ladies at the guild retreat sent me pictures so I could pretend that I was there, which was fun.

Now I'll get back to laundry, cooking, errands and yoga classes.

Have a colorful day

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Making my own retreat

I was all packed and ready for our quilt guild's retreat today through Tuesday at Seabeck, WA, but a cold that I came down with last week just wouldn't clear up. I didn't want to cough and hack all over everyone, so I stayed home and I'm making my own retreat.

I had all the pieces cut out for my little houses quilt, so I sat down with Christmas music playing on Pandora, snow falling outside, and started stitching.

It's going together pretty fast -- half the blocks are already sewed. I think I'd like it better if the backgrounds were a saturated color, but using black and white is something different for me that I wanted to try at least once.

More importantly, I made a dark chocolate cake to share with the group and now it looks like the group is just me! I can handle it. I cut one piece for each day of the retreat and put the rest in the freezer so that I won't eat the whole thing during my personal retreat.

I also asked my husband to pick up a pan of lasagne from Costco so that I won't have to cook during my retreat. He already was planning to eat some meat that he was going to smoke while I was gone, so now we'll both be happy. I told him to just pretend that I'm not here and carry on with his plans.

It's just about happy hour for the girls at Seabeck, so I'll grab a glass (of iced tea) and some salted cashews. Cheers to me! Cough, cough.

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fall color in the Northwest

The weekend was gorgeous out here, so Dave and I went in search of fall color and a hike. We found that AND piles of pumpkins at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

There was a scavenger hunt going on, so pumpkins and other gourds were tucked throughout the 150 acres of gardens and woods.

Then there was the brilliant fall foliage! While not as colorful as back East where I grew up, the reds and golds were still beautiful, especially against the blue sky. (Although orange is also breathtaking against a stormy grey sky.)

The midafternoon shadows were already long, portending darker days to come.

The reserve used to be the home of Virginia and Prentice Bloedel. Visitors can wander throughout the first floor of the house, where my husband got sucked in by the book collection. It includes hundreds of volumes on plants and natural history. 

Back in Gig Harbor, I got a shot of fall leaves undulating on the water.

Happy Halloween!

Have a colorful day

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Little houses

It's been ages -- decades, I think -- since I've made a pieced quilt following a pattern. I'm doing it now. I need a mindless project to take to a retreat in a few weeks, so I bought this simple house pattern and cut it out in all of my favorite colors.

Once I'm at the retreat, I won't have to concentrate on cutting and can just have fun churning out the colorful blocks ... 68 of them.

I'm using brights for the houses and black and whites for the background, except for the slightly tan Grunge circle print in the upper right. 

I found the newspaper print fabric at the Sisters, OR, quilt show two years ago, and the other black and whites have been sitting in my stash even longer. I collected the black and whites thinking that I would overpaint them, but that never happened.

The blocks go together quickly -- only five short seams.

I need to stop before I finish them all at home before the retreat!

Have a colorful day

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Snapshots: Bend, peppers, power outage

A stormy view from Pilot's Butte in Bend, OR.
I've been missing on the blog the past week because first we were in Bend, Oregon, then I just felt lazy because of all the rain.

We went to Bend hoping to hike on the "sunny" side of the Cascades, but our vacation week turned out to be rainy, snowy, windy and cold. We got one hike in, along the Deschutes River Trail, then we sheltered in quilt shops, book stores, the High Desert Museum and restaurants.

These two photos are along the Deschutes River Trail, which runs past rapids, lava fields, meadows and woods.

We went to five quilt shops, including QuiltWorks, which has an exhibit gallery upstairs and a really nice collection of fabric on the main level. We also hit the famous Stitchin' Post in Sisters, but I didn't get photos. 

The next three photos are from the High Desert Museum outside of Bend. The high desert is probably my favorite terrain. I loved the museum.

Next, restaurants. Some people take pictures of their wine glasses, but I like this picture of my ice water in front of a candle. I especially liked the Blacksmith and Zydeco in Bend for dinner and Rancho Viejo in Sisters for lunch.

The last two days it snowed! It didn't accumulate where we were, but we saw cars coming down the mountain covered with snow. It was nice to look at from inside, but we just didn't feel like facing the cold and wind to hike.

Back home, Dave harvested the last of his hot peppers, which included ghost, cayenne, habanero, and Thai. The deer ate all of the Vietnamese ones. He chops up fresh peppers and mixes them with fish sauce for a searingly hot condiment that he puts on everything. He's also going to dry some for later use. I don't go near the things, except for taking pictures.

Last night the power went out in a massive rain and wind storm. We lit the gas fireplace and battery-operated candles and it was quite cozy. And that brings you up to date on my life! Hope you've all had a good week.

Have a colorful day