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.