Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My oldest UFO

At Christmas 1995, before I ever quilted anything or even sewed anything more than a loose button, I used a gift certificate to buy the kit for this:

It was a kit for a Hawaiian quilt pillow (and yes, I liked blue back then too!).  It included the background fabric, the pre-cut applique shape, batting, backing, and fabrics for a pillow back and for binding.  Oh, and one short instruction sheet that I now know leaves a lot to be desired.

Traditional Hawaiian quilts have a single large, symmetric and often complex appliqued piece on a plain background, and they are densely echo quilted.  If you've never seen any look at this site for examples.  It has step by step photos showing how a gorgeous Hawaiian quilt was created.

This quilt is small (the top is about18 inches square) as well as simple, with mostly broad curves and few Vs, yet I worked for months, a tiny bit at a time and still didn't finish.  We moved in August 1996, I discovered cross-stitch and crocheted snowflakes for the Christmas tree and the Hawaiian pillow-that-wasn't found a home in the bottom of the craft chest because let's face it, I'd never get it done

Fast forward to last week.   I needed some handwork to do while sitting waiting while the kids had their swimming lessons. In desperation I dug to the bottom of the chest and pulled out my old nemesis.  I was surprised to see that it was almost 2/3 finished. I was even more surprised to find that after avoiding applique like the plague, because it was so frustrating and time consuming, I finished that last third in three mornings by the pool.  Hmm, I seem to have acquired more skill with a needle in the last 14 or so years.  The last third wasn't only much faster than the previous two, it is also much smoother.  Maybe applique won't ever be my favourite quilt to make, but perhaps I won't run the other way anymore :).

I still have to sandwich and quilt this little piece, but it will wait until I've finished quilting my daughter's quilt.  The quilting is the fun part anyway, so I'm considering this almost off the UFO list.  Maybe I need two lists...".UFO" and "Almost not"...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Panic!

Presenting Don't Panic, the quilt formerly known as Astro Quilt.  You may recall this one is for my astronomer husband.  Since I have no imagination at all when it comes to naming my quilts, he was charged with naming it himself before he could take possession of it.  He came up with a few obscure astronomical terms but decided it was a fun quilt and deserved a whimsical name.  Split Infinitive was a contender (a rather geeky reference to Star Trek, ask me if you want to know more), but last night after I finished binding the quilt "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" came up in conversation and the catch phrase "Don't panic" won out.  It seems appropriate, since I had a few early setbacks working on this one, and hubby can always go hide under it when grant proposals or whatever other work stresses pile up.

I had planned to finish this one quickly by tying it, but decided to hand quilt it instead.  The whole  background is quilted with patterns like you see above.  I'm quite pleased with the way it tuned out, even though it took a few months longer than anticipated to finish.

I even like the back.  Piecing the back wasn't planned.  When I decided to add borders the quilt grew bigger than the backing fabric I had bought, so I added scraps from the front. The quilting pattern really pops on the back.  The green is brighter in person than I managed in the photos, so it's really quite a striking, cheerful backing.

So now my UFO list looks like this:

1. Astro quilt - all quilted, just needs binding!
2. Mom's table runner and placemats - add borders and quilt
3. Hearts quilt - still quilting, still quilting...
4. Swap blocks quilt - add borders and prairie points then set aside till my freemotion skills improve
5. Leaf quilt - add prairie points and quilt (machine or hand? haven't decided yet)
6. Whimsy - lots of piecing still
7. Hawaiian quilt pillow - started this in 1995 and found it again just today!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finally a finish!

Finally, a finished (even delivered to its new owner) project. I don't think I've had one of those in a while. I suppose I could check my past posts to be sure, but I digress. This is what I was working on the last time I posted.  I ran out of time and didn't get a chance to go to the quilt shop to work out my freemotion woes so I planned out a quilting motif of squares, all nice straight lines, and used the quilting foot.  It came out OK, though I don't feel the picture does the runner justice.

I made this runner and placemats set for my good friend Monica.

 She and her hubby invited us to spend a few days with them and their two kids at their family cottage on Lake Manitoba.  We had a marvelous time.  In fact I was so busy having a marvelous time that I forgot to take any pictures of the fun we were having.  My friends who scrapbook would be appalled!  It was wonderful to see her.  I think this visit, at three nights, two days, is the longest we have visited in person in 17 years.  Thanks to regular letter-writing we just picked up where we left off the last time we saw each other 2 years ago.  The husbands even obliged by retiring early one evening so the two of us could catch up till the wee hours (very wee, about 4 am).

Since we were up in Manitoba, we used the opportunity to visit Winnipeg a bit and steep the kids in a little of their Canadian heritage.  This particular area was new to me too.  I've lived in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, and have family in New Brunswick, but all the middle part of Canada is brand new to me.  On the way up to the cottage we stopped in Morden so my husband could meet Bruce at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre:

The hubby loves dinosaurs, and while Bruce the mosasaur is not technically a dinosaur, this prehistoric marine reptile has a head bigger than a T-Rex's.  Bruce was the best I could do without doing way more driving than the kids and I could stomach in our little "purple cramper", as my daughter called our valiant little Neon on day 2 of our drive.

I'm a sucker for living history museums and Parks Canada does a wonderful job with those, so Lower Fort Garry was a must.  We ended up spending most of a day there because we are a curious bunch and ask a lot of questions and look at everything.  The Manitoba Museum was also a big hit, and the kids were fascinated during our tour of the Royal Canadian Mint

There was supposed to be a visit to a quilt shop in there too to see if I could bring back some Canadiana prints, but I left it to the end of the visit.  I had found an address for a shop on our way out of town, drove through some construction to get there, and found it closed.  Sigh.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Now we're home again in mid-Iowa, the laundry is done, the fridge is restocked and I have drawn up a list of projects to move along:

1. Astro quilt - all quilted, just needs binding!
2. Mom's table runner and placemats - add borders and quilt
3. Hearts quilt - still quilting, still quilting...
4. Swap blocks quilt - add borders and prairie points then set aside till my freemotion skills improve
5. Leaf quilt - add prairie points and quilt (machine or hand? haven't decided yet)
6. Whimsy - lots of piecing still

I'm off to work on number one.  It's so close to completion!

*Edit*  I forgot to give credit for the runner pattern.  It was inspired by the pattern "Choc-O-Cherry Turnover Treat" by Monica Solorio-Snow over at Moda Bakeshop, but I pieced it entirely differently than she did to avoid cutting a zillion triangles and dealing with the corresponding nmber of bias edges.  The placemat design is all mine.

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