Making a Few Fun items for Friends

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Making a Few Fun items for Friends

October in Cuenca, Ecuador has seemed more like Portland, Oregon in late October where I used to live for 35 years.  There is usually a lovely autumn but then late Oct into November, cold storms crash in from the Pacific and make you KNOW summer and the growing season are OVER for this year.  So Cuenca has been very chilly with wind and rain nearly every day for a couple of weeks – not seeming tropical at 8300 ft altitude.  Does Timberline Lodge ever seem tropical?  Well, it gets really sunny at times but not tropical, right?  It is nearly the same altitude here.

I received a wonderful gift from a lovely, generous woman named Gerry.  She brought a whole suitcase of stuff from my daughter’s, clearing out Tenley’s pile of my fabric and gluten free items.  What a thoughtful gift to offer someone in Ecuador!  Thank you Gerry!!! Hope you and Dave move here soon.

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From the fabric, I quickly made a couple pieces of Indonesian fabric art into 20″ x 20″ wall hangings  – both will be framed 20″ x 20″.  Now that I am very excited about!  I feel they look terrific.  Now to finish the back and hang them on either side of the bed in the emerging master bedroom decor.

Does anyone know a reasonable yet GOOD framer in Cuenca?

What is needed now is for me to finish that “quilt of the decade” for the room to be gently coordinated.  But that quilt will come in time.  Oh, and new curtains.

What are you doing as October comes to an end?

Do you make halloween costumes for your children or grandchildren, friends, neighbors? The coolest halloween costumes I ever made were when my children were about 7 and 12.  My daughter was a little fuzzy Panda and my 12 yr old son had a raccoon suit with a fantastic fluffy tail.  All the kids loved the costumes at school.  It makes me a little sad to see everyone buying not-so-cheap ready made identical costumes.  How does that help creative thinking? I understand that every one is busy, not everyone sews, buying is easier but money is tight.

I wish people would get more back to roots! I did not teach  my own daughter to sew.  I was one of those very busy moms…and on and on and on.

I had trouble sleeping last night, partly because a 12 pound cat flopped on me several times at 2 am to wake me.  Sheesh!  Butch is the culprit. Curry was happy to keep sleeping at the foot of the bed.

So I got up and decided to sew something.  I had some napkin sized snowmen riding motorcycles – I wanted to quilt a couple of those as small pieces for a friend in the Puget Sound.  Motorcycles have a special meaning for her these days.  She has been a great friend, recommending movies, books and ways to manage stress.  Thanks, J!  Something  playful coming your way. I will have someone heading back to the US carry it in their suitcase and drop the envelope in the mail to J.    Snowpeople??? We NEVER get snow in Cuenca but thoughts will soon turn to those places that do.

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After a couple of weeks of rain, this week has presented glorious days.  Flowers are blooming, birds are mating, life is moving right along here in Cuenca, Ecuadorphoto 3 (11).

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Here is my favorite shot this week of two of my favorite males, my husband and Butch.  Butch is the orange one.

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Have a super, unencumbered new week!

 

 

More Chickens Coming To Roost

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This is a very visual post with few words.

This is an update on the chicken wall hangings I’ve been making.  I’m going slowly but enjoying the process.  It is fun to see what emerges using fabric components in different arrangements.

Chicken or the Egg?

Chicken or the Egg?

 

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Have a terrfic new week as you more forward with your life!

Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

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Chickens & October Quilting in Cuenca, Ecuador

I have always loved the month of October. In the United States, deciduous trees change color and firey gold leaves come tumbling down on rifs of crisp air. The poplars and alders in the gorge turn into torches scattered along the cliffs. High in the Andes Mountains, where I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, the weather turns a little warmer with hot sun mid day and chilly nights. Many flowers bloom all year long here. Hummingbirds and finches are nesting again in our garden. It is a fabulous month!

Many of the succulents in our garden are blooming.photo 1 (27)photo 2 (25)photo 3 (8)

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I have been working to complete a large lap quilt I call Mud Slide due to the earthy color scheme.  I am machine quilting each block now.  I am about half through machine quilting.  Whew – it is a lot of work!

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I have been using some metalic threads, taking my time,  improving my technique, making mistakes, learning…always learning.

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A feathered star stitch in the center of each flower anchors the 4.5″ squares.

photo 1 (25)The silver thread barely shows – a subtle touch in a fairly muted quilt.

THE CHICKENS ARE COMING!!

Yesterday, I could not find some fabric I’ve been gathering to make wall hangings of chickens.  I turned my studio upside down but I finally found this little collection of fabric. photo 1 (26)

And here is the first “square in a square” 12 inch block laid on two different fabrics to audition sashing fabric.

photo 2 (24)photo 3 (7)I hope you are enjoying some beautiful weather wherever you are in this great world.

What do you like about October?

Do you have a favorite geographic spot you visit at diffrent times of the year?

Have a great time exploring this new month!photo (64)

 

Quilt project reflects daily life – quilting as a metaphor for life

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I started a new quilt this week. It took me a long time to figure out the fabrics. The pattern is going together quickly (hooray!).  Color scheme is much more subtle than my usual project.  I’m using navy blue, tan, cream, gray, and medium blue batiks. Much MUCH quieter than my usual color selections.  A quilting friend saw the project yeserday and noticed, saying “these are very different colors compared to your usual choices”. It is hard not to add some bright color but I am trying something new and hope it will yield a subtle, tranquil quilt.

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Here are the 4-piece blocks. This will be 65″ x 65″  – sort of a lap quilt.

Blocks are 15.5″ square.

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In this photo, on the right,  I’m experimenting with borders.  The outer border is a lovely brown with “ginko leaf scroll” in gray. I’ve saved this fabric for awhile, waiting for the right project.  The second border is a solid light gray. A quilting friend here, Judi, recommended I add a skinny 3rd border which will be the cloudy gray batik or, more likely, the dark brown you can see in the 3rd position.  I do not have any navy blue in my stash large enough to create a border.  Living in Ecuador has its joys and tribulations: read further.


“Mud Slide” is the name I’ve given to the pattern I found in a downloadable magazine I subscribe to, Quilter’s World. ( Spring 2014,  Fat Quarter Slide pattern)

http://www.quiltersworld.com/

Plentiful quilting agazines are impossible to get in English here in Ecuador so a wonderful solution is a downloadable pattern or magazine.  I often find free patterns in back issues of Quilter’s World, which are included in the cost of a yearly subscription, making the magazine very affordable.  


Brief Pause:  A HUGE special thank you to a friend, Patti H.,  who brought back a huge, generous chunk of fabric in her suitcase, after visiting the US last month.  That chunk included all of the half yards of blues/brown/cream/gray shown here.  There are very few 100% quilting cottons in Cuenca, Ecuador where we live.  So I am constantly buying online and bringing fabrics from the US.  Also my daughter, Tenley, is the receiver of a huge amount of fabric before my visits back to the US each year.  So, I want to shout out a BIG appreciation for Patti’s willingness to pack this substantial 14 yards of fabric in her luggage.  That included 9 yards of fabric to be used as backing for the king size quilt/bedspread I am also slowly completing for my own use. And to Tenley for being my US fabric warehouse throughout the year.

2014 is a year of making quilts for use in my own home.  I have 8 quilts hanging in various rooms and more on beds.  Next year, I expect to make some quilts to sell.  Last year, I made a lot of quilts for other people.  It all balances out over time.

So how is all of this a metaphor for life?  Quilting represents so many things to so many people.  It is a hobby, a livlihood, a nuisance, a joy, a repository of future hopes, a way to show love, a creative outlet and also challenge, and a place where people can get stuck but then work their way out of the puzzle.   Also, here is the special bonus: recent studies show the act of quilting – the math, the selection of tools, fabrics, patterns – all of it, the coordinating of colors, the piecing and stitching, all help keep a person’s memory sharp as years roll by.  Even better for memory enhancement, in one study, than chess and bridge!

Life rolls from one season to another, days marching past as we pursue whatever things are filling up our lives.  Life just happens.  We can plan and dream and create and explain.  All the while, life is marching past us.  It seems terribly important to do what you can to make your life moments reflect what is most important to you.

For your life, dare to dream, dare to try something new this week.  Dare to be moral and ethical and care for the environment as you live each day of this new season.  Dare to be passionate about the earth and appreciate what you have today.

Have a terrific week!

 

A New Wall Quilt with Healing Purpose

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This week I plan to complete a new Laurel Burch wall panel to put up in the master bedroom where I now have my very first quilt hanging. My goal is to get the new quilt completed and UP on the wall in about a week.

My husband Lenny is suddenly facing delicate eye surgery, scheduled for later this month.  Not a fun thing!  This will be done in Cuenca – we have a great surgeon.  It will occupy quite a bit of energy and some luck for a good outcome and to have an excellent recovery.  I am throwing my energy into getting the wall hanging completed, adding a healing image to our bedroom.

 

I have slowly been making the master bedroom in our casa more to our liking.  I had help from Gina at Artex Decor (located on Moreno Mora just off Solano about 1/2 block from Ital Deli –  they do GREAT work!). I took in photos and she made a chocolate-colored upholstered headboard with the antique silver rivets marching around the high arch.  It made the room warmer.

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Also Artex/Gina made a lovely bench for the end of the bed where Len and I can sit to chat or put shoes on. (at the bottom)

I painted the room a delicate blue which contrasts nicely with the dark woodwork and the dark brown headboard and bench.  Added a new light fixture.

We took down the old accordian-looking vertical blinds and put up a cream colored lightweight blind that lets daylight pour into the room while keeping our privacy intact. I will make drapes later.

quilt in progress for master bed

The quilt that will top the king size bed will be my next BIG project to complete.  This began, as I have reported before, as a “quilt block a month” 5 years ago.  A relative in my family was injured and I dropped out to help with care.  However, I had all the material and directions, which has proven to be much more complicated to do by myself in Ecuador.  I have about 8 blocks done, using shades of blue, eggplant, rust and cream. Making it a king quilt, large enough to cover like an entire bedspread, is a huge undertaking. It seems like I run out of one color I need.  Then I make a different block and run out of another color.

Massive amounts of fabric are needed for the backing as well as the quilt top itself.  I keep working on this quilt top and then putting it aside for months at a time.  But I hope to complete the top, machine quilt it and bind it by next summer.

Did I say I am a slow quilter?  I get sidetracked by other projects, a grandchild needs a quilt, other projects like preserving lemons I got from a neighbor crowd in for my attention. Moroccan and Lebanese food to make with preserved lemons.

 

I am calling smaller wall hanging at the top the Healing Goddess. It is full of rich color and movement. It will spread beautiful light and energy around the room where Len will recuperate. A positive attitude makes a huge impact on surgery outcome so I’m being proactive.

Two 1 yr old rescue cats keep me company.

Curry, left, and Butch (Saffron) also help keep us happy.  They are on the old “bedspread” quilt I made 4 yrs ago.

I was just taking some photos of the bedroom, trying to show the bench.
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The cats are fascinated by the bench.  We have to keep it covered to protect it from claws.
They think it is a) a cat bed for two
b) a springboard for waking the parents up
c) a scratching post, even though there are several others nearby
d)a place to hide before leaping on the other cat
e) all of the above
you KNOW the correct answer

Have a terrific week!!!

Economy Block ANY Size! (With Cheat Sheet)

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sharonmcintosh:

A really helpful tutorial!

Originally posted on Catbird Quilt Studio:

There’s a new craze out there promoted by Red Pepper Quilts, crazy mom quilts, and others, and it’s called the economy block. That’s a new term to me, as I know this block as “square-in-a-square” or “diamond-in-a-square.” Maybe the economy comes just in its name!

[See my post of seventeen free designs using this great block.]

This is the square-in-a-square made with TWO squares in the interior.

If you’d like to make the version with only ONE square inside, it’s the same as setting a block on point. You might do a large one for a medallion quilt center, or a small one as part of a block quilt or pieced border. See my tutorial here.

I’ve looked at a number of tutorials for the economy block. And none of them explain how to make it any size. That’s okay if you…

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A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

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A Straight-Forward-Appearing Pattern Proves Hard

I recently bought a quilt pattern online.  It is a perfect solution for this US citizen living permanently in Ecuador.  The pattern appeared to be something I would enjoy making.  I even  had fabrics that look a lot like the pattern.  The pattern is fine.  My skills at matching approximately 20 junctures in each 9.5 inch block are not so great.  If several points match, still several do not.

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This is a lap quilt for me.  It does not have to be perfect.  The cats will sleep on my lap on top of this quilt.  Still, I have taken this as an opportunity to improve my skills.  So far, I have found that I sometimes stitch slightly wider than 1/4″.  Big problem! Even if only for 1/2 inch, it throws junctions off.  Of course.

I have discovered my attention span wanders frequently – maybe the music is great so I’m distracted for a moment.  You know how it can be, right?  So other points may be slightly off.  I have ripped out and re-sewn block after block.  Finally, I am doing the best I can but reminding myself CATS are going to sleep on this.  It will never be in a show.  For sure!!

I hope to keep improving my skills.  On other patterns, things come out just right so this one is simply not forgiving enough for a sometime-slacker.

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Still, I am mostly enjoying the process.  For one thing, I have HATED ripping things out since I first learned to sew.  With this project, I have found, with an ergo seam ripper, I can do it quickly and without drama.  All good!

I love the colors – not my usual choices – salmon, coral, orange, shades of brown, shades of gold and snowy white.

There are 30 blocks.  I have 22 completed.  On the final blocks, I am trying to learn all I can about what I’m doing to prevent perfect matching points. Sewing when I am tired is NOT successful.  Duh!  Lowered attention to detail, much less patience, mood turns to cranky, not the ideal conditions for piecing quilt blocks.

Quilting is a metaphor for life: luscious fabrics mixed in different ways make up a whole “item” in the world.  Learning new things keeps the brain sharp.  Patience can be learned in many ways. Quilting is one of them. Perseverance is rewarded at the end.

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What are you working on this week?