Friday, September 22, 2017

Two Scrap Quilts

A few months ago I decided to use up some of my wonderful batik scraps.  Batik fabrics are made of tightly woven cotton dyed in a way which results in the design being on both sides of the cloth, so there is no right or wrong side of the fabric.  The tend to be richly colored and often have striking designs.  Most quilters love batiks so much that they hang onto every last scrap.  I certainly do and my drawer of them was overflowing.  It was fun to poke through them and become reacquainted; I've had some of these fabrics for over twenty years!   

I randomly cut some bigger pieces into little pieces and then sewed up a couple of rows. ( I kind of like the jagged edges of these rows and might play with that idea at some point. I guess I'd have to applique them down onto a backing fabric; could be interesting.) 

I cut those rows into curves and set them into a pretty hand-dyed blue fabric which I've also had for years and years.  Then I auditioned some borders along the bottom.

I loved this brown and green strip.

But in the end I used a dark purple which I also inserted in narrow curves among the strip-pieces batiks.   I thought about doing some hand stitching in the blue areas but decided not to.

 I liked the result so well that I decided to hang it in the hall outside my studio.  That meant I had to cut the piece into a narrower size so it would fit that space.   It finished up at 11 1/2" wide and 15" long.  (The edges are even, despite how it looks in the photo; one of these days I'm going to have to figure out how to take better photos!)

Here's a detail of the piecing.  To quilt it I just stitched along each curve.  Minimal, for sure, but it didn't need more.  

The other quilt is bigger, 24 x 30." I started this one by making free form blocks and then I cut them down into a uniform size.  I also made a bunch of squares from a lovely flower batik. Then I put all the blocks on the design wall and had a fun time arranging them.    

I did extensive quilting on this piece as the flowers and strip-pieced blocks seemed to cry out for it. And it was a lot of fun to make up quilting designs and to use my new quilting rulers to guide some of the stitching.  I was sorry when it was all done.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I'd give this little guy to one of my guild's "outreach" programs which supplies area hospitals with quilts for the preemie babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units.  So I backed it with a sweet giraffe fabric made out of flannel, all nice and cuddly for a little baby. 

But now I'm not sure if the preemies are supposed to have flannel on their quilts; someone told me flannel could be bad for babies with respiratory problems.  So I'm just going to hang onto it until I can get an answer.  Maybe by the time I do I'll be ready to give it up!   Sometimes it's hard to part with a quilt even if you have no need for it yourself.  

So, do you think these two quilts made a dent in my pile of batik scraps?  Ha!  Here's the drawer, and you can see that it's still overflowing! 

Linking up to Nina Marie Sayre's "Off the Wall Friday" blog

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Few Images from the Week

Friday night was the Homecoming game at Boulder High.  The football team played with spirit, making a great comeback after half time, but still lost by twenty points.  I worked concessions and Paul played in the Pep Band, and a good time was had by all. 

Can you tell that the school's colors are purple and gold?

John and the boys came over Sunday night for dinner on the deck and we took some photos to send to Dawn, who is working a few more months in Virginia and is missing her guys. The boys are growing up, but we still aren't quite to the stage where we can get a photo without "rabbit ear" fingers appearing somewhere!

Now that the smoke from the western fires is, apparently, blowing some other direction, we can see our foothills and mountains again, which is lovely.  I woke up early this morning to a glorious sunrise and then received this photo from Ben.  He was on his way to a climb in the mountains and captured the sunrise near the railroad trestle on Rollins Pass.  It promises to be another beautiful day.

I'm eager to get some quilting done before I go to the Denver Botanic Gardens today, so just one more photo, this one of Paul's band playing at the Stage Stop in Rollinsville last weekend.  It was taken by Lisa McCarley, a friend of one of the band members, and I think it's pretty cool.

Photo by Lisa McCarley

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Time to Turn Off the News and Get Outside!

I don't know about you, but I've been watching way too much news lately.  I'm pretty good about keeping political news to a bare roar, but news of the hurricanes and wildfires have mesmerized me.   It's felt apocalyptic!

Everyone has been following Harvey and Irma, but even out here in the West it's taken a while to register the fact that major fires are burning in the Northwest.  From about Sept. 3rd through the 8th the smoke from these fires made its way here resulting in a very noticeable haze.  On Sunday the 3rd it was thick enough to obscure our views of the foothills and on the 8th many people reported being bothered by the smell.  Here's map from the 7th showing how the smoke ended up in Colorado.

The past few days I've been particularly struck by the destruction that Irma left in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  If you haven't followed that news thread you can read a good report here.  Ben and I and Paul have spent wonderful vacations in St. Croix and St. John, with brief stops in St. Thomas, and it's sad to see such amazingly beautiful places turned upside down by Irma. 

Here's the beach right down the road from the apartment we stayed at over Christmas last year. 

Here's the wharf by the ferry dock.

This is the restaurant where we had our Christmas dinner.

And here is a popular bar, Skinny Legs, across the island in Coral Bay where we had a leisurely lunch with John and Dawn and their boys over spring break in 2014.

I made this collage of some of the photos we took at that lunch.  

Seeing and reading about the destruction on St. John has affected me much more than what's happening in Houston and Florida.  Having traveled to the island I know how remote it is and how difficult it is going to be to rebuild.  Everything has to come in over the water and that's slow, difficult, and expensive.   

In addition, I know St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas primarily as places of wondrous beauty, with sugary white sand beaches, lush green mountains, and amazing sea life.   I've been in Florida and Texas on business trips or to see family.  But my trips to the islands have been just for fun, and filled with pleasure and relaxation.  It's hard to see that beautiful playground destroyed, even temporarily.  And doubly hard since I believe in science and therefore believe that the frequency and severity of these storms is tied to the warming of our oceans caused by man-made climate change.   

All that is on top of the political and social turmoil of our times.  Not to mention the regular trials of life.  

Well, it helps to turn off the news and get out outside!  I love the quote from Anne Frank,  "I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.   Ben and I make a point of getting outside most every day.  Even a half hour walk around the neighborhood really lifts our spirits.   

A couple times a week we do a longer hike.  Last Friday we escaped the haze and smoke and headed up to the Indian Peaks wilderness area for a six mile round trip hike up to Blue Lake and back.  

The air at 10,000 feet was cool and clean, the wildflowers were still blooming which was an unexpected treat, and the hiking felt good.  Being on the trail was a great respite from the drumbeat of the news!      

Monday, September 4, 2017


The Front Range Contemporary Quilters (FRCQ) is a Boulder area group of people who create art quilts.   Such quilts generally are original designs created by the maker of the quilt (as opposed to working from a commercial pattern) and the quilts often feature fabrics that have been manipulated --dyed, stamped, hand stitched, painted, or the like --by the artist.  The resulting quilts are one-of-a-kind original works of art.   FRCQ has been in the forefront of promoting this kind of work through meetings,  hands-on workshops, and exhibitions since 1989.  Although I was on the east coast I followed its work and met some of its members on the many trips that Ben and I made to Boulder over the years. 

You would think that when we moved here in June 2014 I would immediately join FRCQ and get involved in its activities.  But no, I was a bit scared of the famous and fabulous artists that make up FRCQ.   They were all so excellent and I was, basically, just getting my feet wet again.  I felt way out of my league. 

 But last year, with the encouragement of an art quilter friend who was a long time member, I began going to meetings.  What I found was a friendly and supportive group of like-minded quilters, a place to talk about the quilting that I enjoy, to show my work, and to learn from the work of other members. I found kindred spirits, which is always a good thing. 

When FRCQ announced that it was sponsoring an juried exhibit with the theme of "diversity" I challenged myself to enter some pieces.  It was going to be shown at the NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a famous building by architect I.M. Pei at the base of the foothills, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to be included.  

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Entering meant doing a lot of tedious and tricky steps that really have nothing to do with creating a quilt.  Steps like taking high-quality photographs of each piece, filling out entry forms, completing insurance and permission forms, and --the most dreaded task of all-- writing a statement about your pieces that links them to the theme of the show, not always an easy job.  

And after all that your work might not be accepted; yikes!  Rejection is never easy.  

And if your work is accepted there are more tasks,  like preparing it to hang in the exhibit, labeling it, and getting it to and from the venue.  

The whole process can be time consuming and emotionally risky, but I hung in there and got it all done and much to my surprise three pieces were accepted into the show!  

The exhibit opening was on Friday and I was thrilled to be included.  

 Here I am with one of the pieces, Balancing Act I.  I look happy, don't I? 

The juror also chose Balancing Act 2.   But interestingly, she didn't choose Balancing Act 3, which I thought was the best piece of those that I entered.  You never know what goes on in the minds of the juror! 

Here's Balancing Act 3, in case you'd like to compare it to the others.

Also in the show is Sunflower, a small piece, just 12" square.  (It's mounted on canvas, not shown in this photo.)

It was an exciting night for me and I was happy to share it with friends who were kind enough to stop by and with Ben and Paul.  I had volunteered to help set up for the reception and was glad I did since I made some new friends while we worked together.  

And so now here it is Labor Day!  We had a record high of 97 degrees yesterday but the squirrels are very busy gathering acorns, so you know fall and winter are on their way.  

My quilter friend LeeAnna and her husband Drew are relocating from Maryland to Colorado and came into the area to look for houses near Denver.  Yesterday they found "the one" and their contract was accepted!   We enjoyed a delicious dinner on the deck and celebrated.

LeeAnna is an art quilter as well; see her work at her blog.  It will be fun to have her so much closer.

Soon I'll be picking up my nephews and heading to the pool for an end-of-the-summer swim.  Then we'll meet up with Ben and John and Paul here for grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and yummy corn on the cob.  We'll be missing Dawn, but it's only a few more months until she'll be here with us!  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I Like San Diego!

I returned on Tuesday evening from a long weekend in San Diego with my sister, Jean, and our friend, Janice.   I really liked being in San Diego again. 

We stayed at the Marriott resort on Coronado, where we had this great view of the bay and the Coronado Bridge from our balcony.   

There was a lovely pool and with a nice deck for dining al fresco in San Diego's "almost always" perfect weather.  At night the palm trees were lit up. 

Our original intent was to lay around the pool for three days but in the end we only managed to relax for an afternoon.  There is so much to do in San Diego!  We went to a ballgame, ate a salted caramel sundae at Ghiradelli's in the Gaslight District, went to Balboa Park to see the Zoo and the San Diego Art Museum,  toured the USS Midway, ate lots of wonderful food, walked through the streets of Coronado while admiring the interesting houses and the lovely flowers, and visited the Visions Art Quilt Museum in Liberty Station.   

At the game


Enlisted men's bunks on the USS Midway
 As fun as all these activities were, the most fun was seeing Jean and Janice again.  This trip was our 18th getaway, an annual celebration of our friendship!    

At the Zoo

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" blog.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

He's Back!

Look who we found as we walked Gus tonight!  We looked up and there he was trotting down a neighbor's driveway like he hadn't been missing for 24 hours!  The little devil.  Although it was only 7:30 we brought him home and locked him in for the night.  

Bad kitty for worrying us.  Good kitty for coming when he saw us tonight. 


Today I'm.....

...looking forward to my "girl's weekend" in San Diego with my sister, Jean, and our good friend from high school, Janice.  I leave tomorrow!  

....worrying about my cat, Fetcher, who didn't come home last night.  We haven't seen him since yesterday which is not good considering all the wildlife around here.  

...working hard to get some things done before I leave.  It wasn't the best planning to take four days off to see the eclipse when I had another vacation following right on its tail, but I'm glad I did.  

...feeling glad that Paul figured out which Bari Sax he wants.  He's been playing on a rental for three years and saving up for the last year for his own instrument.  He had saved his part of the cost by May but then couldn't find one he wanted in stock to purchase.  Now he has and I'm glad that we can all stop thinking and talking about it.   

...enjoying having That Handsome Dog Gus visiting with us.  He arrived this morning and will stay the weekend.    

...appreciating how Ben installed a new, sharp-looking mailbox while I was in Nebraska.  These little changes make a big difference!