Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stalled a bit...

I'm just checking in to my blog as I haven't posted in quite a while. I have had to redirect my efforts from quilting to webmastering for the time being. I am on the executive board of a statewide educator organization and we just had a BUSY and productive strategic planning meeting last week here in Solvang. We all enjoy each other's company so much, so the social side of it was really fun for me. We had a great dinner at Mattei's Tavern eating good food and catching up with each other's news. Then the next morning it was nose to the grindstone as we made plans for training our membership in the coming year. I found the group WUNderful accomodations at The Inn at Petersen Village including great food (again I refer to food), beautiful rooms, a really nice meeting room, and an amazing host in Adam Petersen. Thanks again Adam, I hope we can return every year!

On to the important stuff. With the declining budget in California, education has been hard-hit. Our teachers are losing their jobs. Our membership is in decline. So, we as an organization have to really tighten our belt. Result is I have taken on many more responsibilities that were previously done by a paid event planner. The school year is about to begin and I have to get our newsletter out, membership forms designed, conference flyers created and then get these printed and out to the schools. And I retired to smell the roses!! Ha. Actually, I am happy to help out and keep my finger in the pie, sort of. I have withdrawal pains just thinking of leaving my colleagues behind and doing just retirement stuff.

So, my quilting. I'll get back to it soon. I am obsessing, compulsively perhaps, on finishing my new Registrar chores. My sewing machine better not develop any rust while I get revved up to turn it on and finish my Carolina Lily and Stars and Cards block. Even my sister Leslie, who was behind, has flown past me and she will now have to guide me through the intricacies of that complex Stars block!! Truth be told, I have kind of enjoyed the vacation from having to decide which fabrics belong to which piece and review again, "how big?".

Talk soon. Bonnie

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The quilt show

Highlights of the Long Beach Quilt Show:

~Seeing Karen (TQS KakeM) and Sandy (TQS SandyPorter) - both fun and delightful and friendly and full of energy, even after two days of classes and vendor hopping and quilt viewing. Here we are at the end of the day outside the convention center. From L-R: Karen, Sandy, my sister Leslie and me.

~Budget Report: I never wavered, not one iota. No credit cards used. Cash only. I bought some Olfa frosted rulers, some Amy Butler patterns, and two cute cute music boxes in a pillow.

~Seeing my LQS Creation Station attract such a huge following! Take a look at these zany creative people and their booth.

If there was a prize for best booth, they would have to be awarded the blue ribbon. Another busy booth was Superior Threads. I wish they had scored an end booth like Creation Station because there just wasn't any room to look at their products, the people crush was huge and the line to the cash register too long. I wanted to buy thread but there's no way I wanted to stand in a line that was so long. We went back twice, but to no avail. Still crowded and long lines. I hope Bob Purcell is reading this.

The quilts on display were beautiful. Of course, the ones I most wanted to take photos of were off limits for photography. I don't know why. Can anyone tell me? Here are afew that I liked. I am kind of partial to contemporary and art quilts.

You may recall that I was concerned about traversing the convention floor with a broken toe. Well, it didn't start out too well. We had to park far away and walk upstairs to the doors of the hall. That wasn't fun. Once I got on the floor and sniffed out the wondrous products and quilts, I stiffened my upper lip and pushed on.

After about an hour and a half, we decided we were hungry and my toe was famished - for the opportunity to be non-weight bearing. Upstairs we trekked to the food court. That is where TQS KakeM first spotted me. We all went downstairs to the Superior booth for a TQS meetup. No one but us and John Anderson, but we had a nice chat and moved on to check out more vendors.

About an hour later, our friend Maureen got really tired. She has been quite ill and we had ordered a scooter for her to use. She went back to her hotel and guess who inherited the scooter? Moi. I felt a bit odd using it, but my toe was finally at peace with me. Instant relief. I also shared the scooter with my sister Leslie. After all, what are sisters for? Here we are in our happy pose.

We had a good time, but I will say that I thought last year's vendors were more interesting. I bought a whole lot last year, and this year it all seemed to be about the same stuff. Maybe I am getting jaded. I had made reservations to go to PIQF, but I'm thinking I need to give it a rest and go to Road to California instead. We shall see.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Getting ready to leave for LB

Just a quick note. We are getting ready to leave for Long Beach - my sister Leslie, friend Maureen, and me. We're toting water, as heavy as it can be, because I remember being sooooo thirsty last year! Hoping the rush hour traffic through L.A. has subsided somewhat. My broken toe does not like wearing a shoe. I'm not looking forward to dealing with that. But, I am looking forward to testing my ability to say, "No". (to myself) I'm not as flush this year as last, so I will have to just make a wishlist for the future and steel my resolve to behave. More on that later. We'll see how I did.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What a Klutz!

First, I must thank everyone for their very positive comments on my messed up Roman Holiday block. I have taken your advice and moved on. I will not be ripping it out and repairing it. I will leave it as it is and rename it Holiday or Bust! or something like that. Thanks again to all. It was very gratifying to hear from you!

I had fun participating in Annie's Euro Chat on Monday. I met Ruth and Norma and Anna from the North Country. I think I mean from Sweden and Denmark, although I am not quite sure that is correct. I am always impressed by those who have mastered more than one language and do it well. Most impressive! The rest of the day on Monday I played around with fabric choices for the Carolina Lily and Stars and Cards. I'm glad I made a 'chart' to view all my blocks so I could get some idea of which fabrics I should use in these two final blocks. The blocks with the yellow outline are the Lily and Stars and Cards. They are just prototypes and not done yet. I still have to finish the sunburst quarter rounds and sashing. We only have one week left in the class.

Then, this morning I made ready to go upstairs and make some headway on the Lily. That was what I hoped to do. Instead, I walked into the corner of a recliner and broke the little toe on my left bare foot! At first, I ignored it and went upstairs, cut my fabric for the Lily and began stitching it. It was really throbbing and I finally gave up and took a look at it. Swollen and bruised. I googled 'broken toe' on the net and had my diagnosis and treatment confirmed. Ice it, tape it, take an aspirin and elevate it. I did all that except ice it. Just didn't have anything I could use and how was I to keep it on my toe?

So, I spent the rest of the day in my recliner, foot up. And now, I'm wondering, will I be able to walk the floor of the Long Beach Quilt Festival? Under normal circumstances, the feet get pretty tired, along with the back. We shall see. Keeping my fingers crossed it will all work out.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Why oh why??

I have made some dumb mistakes lately in my quilting, but nothing to match what I did today. I am literally sick over it. I worked diligently to create the Roman Holiday block as perfectly as I could. I lost focus several times while paper piecing and put the fabric strip on backwards, or, used the wrong color to make up a unit. I caught those and ripped 'em out and fixed 'em. Kind of disgusted that I zoned out while doing those.

BUT, the biggest dumbest mistake I made was only discovered after I took a picture of it. Take a look and see if you see what I did wrong. You may not know what this block is supposed to look like, but I'm gonna bet you can see what I did wrong. Question is, should I rip it out or just leave it? What do you think? Leave a comment, okay?

Here is what a correct Roman Holiday block looks like. You will certainly be able to see the difference. Perhaps I will have a new block named after me? Shall we call it BB's No Holiday block?

On another note, I am quite pleased with my Best of All block. Here it is.

Two more blocks to go - a Carolina Lily and a Stars and Cards block. There are also the sunburst quarter circles to finish too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Good Nite, Good Morning

We had a good time at the casino seeing Liza Minnelli still belt out a song as well as ever. That lady has the pipes to keep the crowd on their feet for a good long time. The only thing stopping her is oxygen, bad hips and advancing age. She has such amazing stage presence, you know you are seeing a legend up there. I didn't take a camera, and there were the usual threatening signs about video cameras, etc. I did have my iPhone though. So I waited to see what all the security people would do, thinking they would take the cameras and kick people out or something. None of that happened, people were using flash and everything. So I tried to grab a shot with my woefully inadequate concert cam. Here's what I got. Not so hot.

The next morning we went out to breakfast in Santa Ynez and then decided to go to Neverland as my DD#2 was asked by friends to take some photos. So, here is a photo of me with DGD Carrie standing in front of the well-known gates. I took a bunch of photos and uploaded them as a slide show.

I now have to seriously address the Quilters Palette blocks for the week. Here are the cut out units in place, waiting for me to bring them to the machine and being piecing. Later.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Busy busy... Liza Minnelli tonite

I haven't updated in a while as I was busy doing a big update to my quilt guild's website. We introduced a new Challenge and Block of the Month for the year and presented over 200 quilts to the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. We sure do have a strong talented giving group in this guild. Check it out:

I have been studying and pondering the pattern cutting and drafting directions on the next two Quilters Palette blocks - the Best of All block and the Roman Holiday block. The Best block pattern kind of interweaves the fabric you choose and let me tell you, I thought I was in an Art and Geometry class both at the same time. I will say right now that I was confused at every turn as I cut my fabrics. The confusion was about which block would be which color and what size and where did it go. There are a lot of pieces. I finally have it cut out, but left a swath of rejected 'cuts' behind. I just don't easily visualize fabric selections in a given complex block. I don't have any photos yet as I wearily left it behind last nite to go make dinner and calm my feeble mind and deal with the heat outside and inside. Here is Annie's block that she demonstrated in her video chat this week. Mine will look different. I really like her color choices, but then, she is the expert!

Next, I drafted the Roman Holiday block which will be paper pieced. That went fine, my pattern pieces are all cut and ready to go. Can't face my fabric choices yet as I have to deal with the Best block and get it completed. My DS Leslie took my Janome 6600 in for its first ever cleaning (after two years of use) and I get it back today, so I will be sewing that mischievous block with a newly tuned machine. Yea!

My other news: Leslie and I are going to the Chumash Casino to see Liza Minnelli tonite!! I'm really looking forward to this, as her name was on my top-ten-see-them-perform bucket list. Of course, it requires me to enter the casino and I'm not so delighted about that, because when I leave I will smell like a bucket of cigarette ashes! They try to clear the air in there, but it doesn't work all that well. Will I drop a coin in the slots? Heck no, I'm going to Long Beach next week for the Quilt Festival and need every penny I have to stay right there in my wallet.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

El Nino and El NoNo?

Okay, at least we have confirmation of one thing. In the last blog I mentioned the MJ rumor that he would come to Neverland on Friday. I also mentioned that El Nino may be on its way. Which one do you think is for real? You guessed it. No one knows the real destination of MJ cuz they just can't act that fast in the face of all the issues. One thing that was confirmed: El Nino is here. Read this if you are curious to know what El Nino means to us here in CA and you all elsewhere.

To me, it means Lake Cachuma (Santa Barbara county's main water source) overflows, the Santa Ynez River becomes a real river, the creek at the bottom of our property flows, our huge Weeping Willow in the backyard tries to fall down (very shallow rooted), and the state of CA replenishes its water supply! Most of this is all good. What is not good is the burn areas in Santa Barbara and how they tolerate the onslaught of the pending storms.

Now, on to El NoNo.
Day by day more conflicting news comes to light. And people get more and more tired of hearing it. Except those of us who live in Santa Ynez. This area closely guards its ties to the rural ranching past. Old timers intensely dislike seeing any kind of change taking place. They don't want more people nor development of any kind. Oh, except for those who benefit from owning grapes. If land isn't occupied by horses, it is teeming with grapevines. And tasting rooms. Thanks to the movie Sideways, we have more drunken wine tasters than the roads can handle.

Oh, don't get me started. We have the Chumash Casino - just a half mile from my house. Reading the Sheriff's Blotter, all we see of crime in the Valley seems to emanate from the casino. Pickpockets, drunks, drugs, heart attacks, fights. Now if you want to stir up some real trouble around here, all you have to mention is the sovereignty of Indian nations in the same breath as 'casino'. But I digress. In case you wanted to know the latest, here is a local writer's latest conflicting article on the MJ situation. Be sure to read the Update at the end.

Now, about QUILTING. Haven't done much in the past two days.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hating Quarter Inch Seams, or Any Seams, Actually!

I have finished nine blocks and five sunburst pieces in the 13-block 8-sunburst project. It is nearly impossible for me to finish a block at the required size, in this case, 12 1/2 inches. I measure and cut the pieces as carefully as I can. The culprit is undoubtedly the quarter inch seam. Maybe I'm just a bit off in cutting, but that shouldn't cause the problem as much as the quarter inch seam. Every block I complete ends up NOT square and a little too small. Not fun.

Here are my two latest blocks, the Nosegay and the Spring Flowers.

I sure hope when the sashing goes on that I am able to work with these deficiencies. I can't Photoshop the missing fabric like I did the Spring Flower block above!

So, here is the 'design wall' with all nine blocks. This is not the final placement, but it helps to see them coming together.

Most of the time I am enjoying this project, but it is disheartening to find the blocks have 'issues' when I finish them. Perhaps I belong in the art quilt arena where quarter inch seams are not a big factor.

I'm going to my quild picnic tonite. Should be fun. Since I am the webmaster, it will become my job to make sure I get lots of good candids for the website. I really like to jazz up the site and increase viewership via photos. Of course, I do like the food everyone brings... a lot. The weather will be perfecto - in Santa Barbara it will be about 70 degrees. Right now in Santa Ynez it is 81 degrees, will probably get hotter today, but there is a lovely breeze and it is perfect!

No humidity here on the left coast. The many summers I spent on Long Island visiting relatives taught me I do not tolerate humidity in any shape, way or form. I don't know how everyone in the midwest, south and east deal with it. I remember taking showers at 8 am and needing one again an hour later. How do you live in that environment? I guess you get used to it.

My first teaching position was in W. Lafayette, IN (at Purdue - I taught PE and coached volleyball) and I left for home base in CA at the end of every school year to escape Indiana summers. They were HUMID. But, I do love the rain and thunderstorms you all have. We have none of that. If we do, it makes for big headlines in the papers.

We're told we may be entering an El Nino year. The ocean warming brings more rain to us - we like that, but it will also bring unpredictable highs and lows (we have that now anyway with global warming) and flooding. With three MAJOR destructive fires in the last year, the Santa Barbara hillsides cannot take a big storm. The hills will try to slide into the ocean.

Well, I guess we all have our climate problems. One thing we rarely if ever have is tornadoes, hurricanes, and rivers flooding over their banks. Our rivers are big wide swaths of dirt with an occasional golf course built down to the edges. Typical California landscape.

Neverland's front gates are still flooded with visitors, flowers, balloons, messages of grief on MJ's passing. If you are curious about the area, one of our local pilots, John Wiley, has taken overhead photos of the ranch, and of many other well-known spots in the area. Take a look at his Flickr photos: If you look through his photo albums you will see Oprah's mansion and other areas of note.

By the way, local rumor has it that MJ will come to Neverland Friday. Stay tuned. There is so much speculation. Katharine Jackson says No!, Jermaine says Yes!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

There were tears...

I can be very emotional, and I was. Watching the Michael Jackson Memorial Show.

Whatever your point of view, some very powerful emotions were called out by the performers... Brook Shields'perspective was sweet and sincere; Usher was unbelieveably vulnerable; Al Sharpton delivered a strong strong address, he surprised me, it was GOOD; Jermaine Jackson nearly broke down singing 'Smile'; emotional and stirring was Jennifer Hudson's interpretation of 'Will You Be There'; my favorite ever, performed better than ever - 'You Are the World' and 'Heal the World'. Marlon Jackson ended the memorial beautifully. But it was the final moments that left me full-out crying, that was when 11 year-old Paris told the world she had the best daddy ever. That child will be someone when she grows up. She wanted to stand up to the world and let everyone know he was wonderful.

I am still in a somber state, hours later. This man accomplished so much with his talent and gentle love for people. He was odd, tormented by his own demons, way off center some would say. He meant well. No, I do not believe he harmed children. Ever. He was a child in many ways. Some have pointed their fingers in ridicule at his oddities. We all have our oddities, just not his extremes. We probably didn't have his childhood, his father, his sensitivities, his highs and lows. A little compassion please. Some understanding is needed. It's over now. Best wishes to those little children who have their lives to live.

Sorry if some don't agree with me. That's okay. We are all entitled to our opinions.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fourth of July

My sister Leslie and her friend Maureen came up from Los Angeles on Friday morning and we had a wonderful three full days of quilting!! I set up my 'sewing room' so that Leslie had her own little area table to sew on. We are both taking the online Quilters Palette class, so we put our heads together and got some blocks completed. Here is a shot of Leslie burning the midnight oil.

Solvang has a great Fourth of July parade, but we decided to keep on quiltin' instead. The baby needed her nap and maybe next year she will be able to go and enjoy it more. The weather was great - it maybe reached 88 degrees, there was a good breeze all day, and we had a good day! The fireworks spectaculars on TV provided the color and music we love on this day. And, Neil Diamond sang with the Boston Pops, which was WUNderful!! The neighborhood restrained itself from firing off any of the illegal rockets it had done in past years, so even our dogs found the evening to be okay. They usually cower and pace and run all over the place, trying to get away from the sound of rockets firing.

All good things must come to an end, so Leslie left this morning and our little quilting retreat has ended. We will be going to Long Beach for the BIG quilt festival in late July. In the meanwhile, we do have this quilt to work on. The sampler blocks are very interesting, much different from the standard ones you do in a sampler class. Kudos to Annie and her husband BigGuy for putting it all together! Here are photos of my latest completed blocks, the Butterfly block, created by Annie herself, and the Thistle Block. I will eventually embroider some antennae on the butterfly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No to Neverland?

MJ UPDATE: The hordes of people lined up at the gates of Neverland may not know, but the disorganized Jackson entourage says they are not having a public viewing there.

If they were looking for future cooperation from the county of Santa Barbara, their flip-flopping from here to there is surely not going to help them. I received a copy of an email from county disaster health services seeking assistance from health care volunteers for the weekend, so someone in a position to know had set the county services in motion.

The businesses had started gearing up and ordering more supplies to accommodate the expected influx of visitors. Hope they can un-order just as fast. They don't need to suffer losses because of the misinformation being circulated.

Staples Center is the latest rumor for the viewing/memorial.

Happy Birthday Heather and Patrick!!

Today is the birthday of my two youngest children, Heather and Patrick. They are what we call , Irish twins. Born on the same day one year apart. I hope you have a wonderful day and an amazing year!

On another note...

R.I.P. Michael.
Michael Jackson is returning to Neverland for a memorial and public viewing. In case you may not know, the Santa Ynez Valley consists of several very small stops in the road- Santa Ynez, Ballard, Los Olivos, and two very small 'cities' - Solvang and Buellton. All consisting of about 20,000 people spread around in small enclaves consisting of a mostly rural environment. There is a lot of wealth in this area - thoroughbred, arabian, miniature, warmblood horse ranches; and lest we forget, a lot of vineyards. And way too many wine tasting rooms, especially in Los Olivos, a quiet upscale colony of about 700. To make a long story short, Neverland is a few miles up the road from Los Olivos.

Residents, emergency staff, business people are being prepared for the onslaught of visitors that will arrive tomorrow and Friday and probably over the July 4th weekend. Volunteer health workers are being scheduled to offer assistance for visitors who are overtaken by the emotion of the moment, as well as the predicted 90 degree heat. I'm telling myself, get to the grocery store now, because there will be no food left by the weekend.

Some friends from Salt Lake City were visiting yesterday and I was showing them the area (before knowing the MJ memorial would be here). It is beautiful, colorful, quaint - fun to show to people. The miniature horses and their babies were out in the pastures, the vineyards were bright green with promise of a luscious crop, the peach and plum and berry picking farms were gearing up for sales, the lavender fields were displaying their beautiful purple haze, the two block western town of Santa Ynez was looking western; Ballard was looking its quaint Victorian self; and Los Olivos was filling up with Porta-Potties. All the parking spaces in town were filled. Undoubtedly the wine tasting rooms were loving it.

Problem is, this area must once again try to handle the thousands and thousands of people who will be swarming in for the next several days. Solvang has hosted huge crowds for the Amgen Bicycle Tour and other big biking events, so it's not unknown how to deal with this. The cost to the county of Santa Barbara will be great and the county is teetering on the edge of being broke. Kind of like Michael.

We will hunker down this weekend - go to the parade in Solvang, and then come home and enjoy the celebrations of the Fourth from our own backyard.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carnival Ride and Chalk

I had fun today putting the newest block of Annie's Quilters Palette together. It is called Carnival Ride and I did the impossible. I did it BACKwards!! Am I dyslexic or what?

You have to be very very careful constructing this block which is composed of three templates. It is actually possible to mess it up really well and still think you are doing it right. My problem is that I think I've got it down so I don't catch the minutia while watching the instructional video(s). I'm wondering if I am the only one to have ever done this? I have absolutely no idea where I went wrong. If I made another one, perhaps I would figure it out, but that ain't gonna happen too soon!

When I finished the block it just didn't look right. So I went back to the video and snapped a screen shot of a sample block. Take a look, can you see how my block is different? Maybe Annie will know what I did. We have an online video chat scheduled for tomorrow night and I will ask her.

In the meanwhile, getting an average of 5 hours of sleep lately, I sat down in my easy chair, tuned in HGTV and took a nap! When I awoke an hour later, I checked my email and saw something about Petal Play and decided to investigate. Always the curiosity hound, I clicked on the link to Petal Play Video Tips, and lo and behold, there was a video by Joan Shay explaining how to replace the lead in my wonderful Bohin mechanical chalk pencil! I haven't had to change the lead yet, so the method of doing so came as a bit of a surprise. If you haven't invested in one of these, I recommend you do so. They are wonderful. And I was able to use mine with the Carnival Ride block. Here is the video:

The Chalk Pencil by Bohin and how to replace the chalk!

While I was working on my blocks the other night I heard the sweetest sounds coming from our little Baby Girl. I decided to investigate and here is what I found. Now how cute is that??? This precious little bundle makes my heart happy ALL THE TIME!

Friday, June 26, 2009

More paper piecing

I finished two of the partial sunburst blocks and got comfortable enough with the ebb and flo that I significantly reduced the time it takes to complete one 'sunburst'. This epiphany of sorts came about because I happened to watch the You Tube video on paper piecing in my own blog! I also reduced some of the twisting and turning I was doing to work the pieces and came out of it with good paper piecing in less time! Yea!!

Being so caught up with the project, I decided to try to place my blocks on a grid so I can see how they work together. I used Annie's sample blue Quilters Palette quilt as my guide and then placed my completed blocks. I will continue to use this layout to determine my fabric selection in the remaining blocks.

Speaking of paper piecing, I have always been curious about English paper piecing but never pursued it until today. So, I googled it and found this very very interesting site! They call themselves Threadbangers. I am delighted to see younger folk getting involved in quilting. Take a look and then go hit up Google for more information. Click on this link to see the video.

Quilting Techniques- English Paper Piecing - More DIY How To Projects

I have been listening to CNN all day as more news of Michael Jackson's death comes to light. I was particularly struck by longtime MJ friend, Deepak Chopra's analysis of the situation. Believing his death was a result of improper prescription drug use, he repudiated the actions of celebrity doctors who carelessly and indiscriminately dispense drugs to their patients. If anything good comes of MJ's death, perhaps it will be increased pressure on physicians to re-address the age-old ethical codes of their profession.

An old interview between Barbara Walters and Michael gave me pause to reflect on how sad a person he was and how he became the man he was at death. He just wanted people to understand him. He referred to a song he wrote called 'Childhood'. He laments never having had one and that his affection for children was about reliving his lost childhood. In another interview he mentioned how afraid he was, as a young boy, knocking on doors with his Jehovah's Witness family. He shrunk from it, afraid of danger when doors opened and unknown people would appear. He was a victim from the get-go. Does brilliance always have to emerge from oppression of one kind or another?

RIP Michael. I always felt for you and never believed you had hurt children. I was serving on jury duty in Santa Maria during that infamous trial. RIP all of those who were hurt by the circumstance of that event.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

What a day!

They say that tragedy happens in threes, and once again, it has proven to be true. Ed McMahon, the beautiful Farrah Fawcett, and now Michael Jackson. So sad. The breaking news is conflicting. TMZ has MJ dead, CNN reports he is in a coma, the LA Times says he has died. Either way, it is shocking and sad.

I feel so badly for Farrah and her son and Ryan O'Neal. It is a good thing she did not know that her son Redmond was in jail. Wondering why they couldn't have let him have one last visit yesterday. Another sad sad situation. I hope the devastation of losing his mom will help him recover from his addictions, but I'm betting it only gets worse. Fame and fortune isn't everything, is it?

On to happier things. I finished my Thistle block and it is not totally square. Darn!! Live and learn. I will not do it over, but hopefully I will learn to stitch on a line better in the future! (referring to paper piecing lines).

I will now begin working on the sunburst blocks which require more paper piecing. I have to do eight of them, so I should get it right. I noticed that my needle does not line up with the red arrow on the foot, therefore misaligning the stitching direction. I will pay more attention to that so I can stay on the lines better.

By the way, here is a look at a completed Quilters Palette quilt, the project I am working on. You can see the eight sunburst 'blocks' in the periphery of the quilt. Lotsa paper piecing yet to do. Many thanks to Annie Smith of Quilting Stash podcast fame for creating this fun online video class.

Well, that's all for now. I need to get to work.

-- bb

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Thistle and other blocks

In yesterdays blog I said I would post the four blocks I have finished thus far in my Quilters Palette class, so here they are, all together. Unfortunately, some of the detail is lost but you will see the colors working together.

I spent most of the day working on the paper pieced thistle block. First, I traced the pattern onto sandwich wrap as I decided the heavyweight printer paper would be a pain to stitch through. Then I had to select the colors I would use. This block will have a different background as it will serve as the center block. I am constantly faced with the issue of a very dark background fabric that makes it difficult to use all of the fabrics evenly. I didn't want the center block to stand out like a sore thumb, so I selected one of my dark blue fabrics to act as the background. Happily, the dark green showed up well enough on it so that I could use it as one of the leaf parts. I used the orange again, as I need to distribute it in bits and pieces throughout. Were I to do this again, I would definitely pick out all medium light and light fabrics. The darks have a really really hard time showing up on the black background. Live and learn, they say.

So, here are the parts needed to put the thistle flower together. On the right is one of the four 'patches' that make up the block. Above it are the sandwich wrap patterns, and to the left, the fabric strips layed out in order of use. One item sitting above the fabric is a big post card which I used as a straight edge to fold the paper foundation with. I have three more 'patches' to go - they take a bit of time, but maybe they will be done tomorrow.

Last month we celebrated Baby Girl's first birthday party. Many of her little friends and family came to celebrate with her. It was a perfect day, actually. My SIL Allan, a talented artist, had some fun with sidewalk chalk. Everyone loved it.

Here she is, digging in with the help of her mommy. Oh, to be young again?!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Back in action - it's Summer!!

Seems like we were looking at the beginnings of spring in my last post. And now it's summer already. I've been really busy, well, to tell the truth, about as busy as a lazy retired person can get!

I think I left off talking about the Alex Anderson workshop I attended in Livermore at Alden Lane Nursery. That was one great experience. We made reservations at the Holiday Inn to return in September for Quilting in the Garden. Alas, we have to defer this trip one more year. Other matters have come up that keep us from going. So, never one to exist in a void, I made a reservation to go to Pacific Intl. Quilt Festival in Santa Clara in mid-October. That should be fun. We'll see if we make it though. Hard to predict the future and what may take place that alters your plans.

As to the present, I am totally enjoying the wonderful June weather we have had. Nice and cool and beautiful. Couldn't ask for more. We are expected to reach the 90s this weekend though, maybe even higher. So, here comes summer I guess. And up goes the A/C bill. Up up up. And the water bill. Up up up up. We have to keep our beautiful trees, hedges and plants alive, especially our scent-ual lavender. By the by, our little baby granddaughter is seen enjoying the weather out on the lawn, playing with her first birthday toys. How cute is that!

And, presently, I am participating in an online quilt class complete with video demonstrations and weekly video chat. We are doing a sampler with some unique blocks and a unique design. I really like the design and I find I am liking changing gears and using different quilting methods, such as paper piecing, machine applique, and regular piecing. Check it out, the class is offered by Annie Smith, a fave of mine. My wonderful sister, Leslie, treated me big time to the fabric needed for the class, which was skillfully put together by another Leslie, owner of Material Pleasure in Morgan Hill. Here is a photo of my fabric and tomorrow I will post photos of my first four completed blocks.

This is a screen grab of the quilt design we are working on. Annie designed several of the blocks herself. I love the border treatment, rather, non-border. I haven't seen anything like this before and it is way different from any other sampler I have seen. I'm really gonna like this!! And, for once, I think I'll even finish it!! Thanks, Annie!

Okay, now to share something really neat I read this evening. Helen Godden of Oz sent out this email that shares a great wonderful idea! Using Press 'N Seal to mark up designs for quilting blocks! If this interests you, check out Helen's blog/website at

Check back tomorrow and I will have photos of my blocks and more.