Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Books: Something Different

Once again I cannot review a book, as I am still reading two books, which always confuses me and slows me down. Not knowing which one to focus on, I ignore them both.

I'll share something else with you, however. A while back I posted about the Prison Library Project and the mail art campaign they have going on.

I finished my large-size fabric postcard. It's about 8"x 10". Here it is:

I have to confess, I chickened out on mailing it. I didn't want some postal clerk to make comments or dissuade me from sending it.. so I just dropped it in a mail box outside with hopes that it will go through and reach its destination.

You may be surprised to see the wide variety of mail art they are receiving. They post pictures of everything that arrives. They are getting regular envelopes, postcards, fabric stuff, money, 3-D plastic boxes, and even a decorated bottle -- all came through the mail. Take a look at the art projects here.

I sent a more "normal" one about ten days ago, and you can see it on their site. It is number 150 and says it's from Carol, Minnesota. Well, you can also see it here. This is the picture of it:

When I doodle, this is what I draw. I always start with a house, and sometimes I expand it like I did here. There's a guy on the deck with a telescope.. sometimes I turn it into a winter scene with snowmen, and sometimes there's a dog and a doghouse. Whatever it is, this is my go-to doodle picture. Inside this envelope I put a picture postcard of Minnesota. I don't know if anyone will want to pay for my doodles! Who do they get to buy these mail art items??

While this is not my usual book review on a Friday, it is related to books as this mail art project is a fundraiser for the Prison Library Project which provides books to prisoners. They try to honor requests, many of which are for dictionaries and books to help people get a GED or learn English. Great project, in my opinion!

Did you follow the link? What do you think of all the cool mail art items??

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Machine Quilting Continues.......

Strike while the iron is hot! I was hot to do some machine quilting, so I've been busy at the sewing machine.

Currently my machine is not functioning at top efficiency, so I am only able to do straight-line, walking-foot quilting. That's OK.. sometimes free motion freaks me out anyway.

I made this top only a few days ago, and it is already completed! That is record time, at least for me. I bought some of the fabric in this quilt on my recent trip to Michigan. We returned from there 4 days ago, and it's already made and done! I'm impressed with myself. If no one else is, that is fine, because I'm patting my own self on the back. *pat, pat, pat* This quilt is going to Wrap Them in Love.

The next quilt is another one going to Rosebud. It has the Rosebud fabric used as backing. The quilt is one of those series of florals I made recently and blogged about here.

And finally, this little orange quiltlet... it is made mostly from scraps given to me. I don't work with orange very often. It makes my mouth pucker, like I'm eating a lemon. This one turned out OK for me not being a big fan of orange. It's funny, I like orange alright, I just don't like to use orange in quilts. This one will be donated through my guild to Bundles of Love.

This last picture is for Karen. Thanks again for the giraffes!

Don't look too carefully at the sloppy quilting lines. I was in a hurry to get this thing done.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What a Mood!

I'm suddenly and mysteriously in a mood to do some machine quilting! This mood does not come along very often, so I need to jump while the iron is hot!

I even found some batting on sale, 40% off. So the stars are all aligned.

So far, in this recent mood, I have completed only two baby quilts (and I have a third basted and ready to go, just need to get at it). Here they are...

This one has been blogged about before, but now it is totally done. It is headed to Rosebud Reservation, Tree of Life, for their layette kits. In fact, I used their own fabric. I brought this backing fabric home from Tree of Life three years ago, with the intent of using it in quilts and sending the quilts back pronto. Well, it isn't very pronto, but I have made two quilts using this fabric, so I finally accomplished that goal, at least.

This next one is my round robin quilt made at the Sunshine group... I made the center piece and then it was sent around to three other people for their additions. When it came back to me, I decided to add one more narrow border, just to make the quilt a tad larger. It is now 40" square, all quilted, and it will be going to Wrap Them in Love, for the same reason as above: I found a big box of fabric that Wrap Them in Love sent me three years ago! So I'm using their fabric for backings; I think that means the quilts need to go back to them, don't you agree?

I'm linking this post up with Quilting for Good and counting these toward the 100 Quilts for Kids.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Road Trip Report

I'm back home after four quick days through five states! Whew! My head is still spinning. It was a whole lot of fun.

Thurs., Aug 23, we left Minnesota and headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I've been to Wisc many times, but never before to Milwaukee. Not sure what I was expecting, but it is a beautiful city with lots of nice, old architecture and things going on. We had dinner at a delicious Greek restaurant, walked around exploring, found a Jazz in the Park event, saw sailboats on Lake Michigan, and lots of interesting people.

This is the main reason we wanted to stop in Milwaukee: the beautiful Milwaukee Art Museum. Wow! It's the coolest building, inside and out. Really nice. We toured it on Fri., Aug 24, our 37th wedding anniversary.

Next on the itinerary was continuing our journey on the ferry that crosses Lake Michigan. It was probably our only time to experience this as it is quite expensive, but worth it for an anniversary treat; we relaxed, napped, ate lunch, and watched the lake and sailboats for 2.5 hours instead of sitting in Chicago traffic. Nice, eh??

After landing in Muskegon, Michigan, we drove on to Grand Rapids. There we settled into our hotel, walked around a bit and then ate a nice anniversary dinner at TGIF's. We had a very friendly and helpful server and had a good old time.

Saturday, Aug 25 was the original impetus for taking this trip: a quilting work day for Margaret's Hope Chest. I have participated in this charity before and love what they do and their passion for making a good thing come out of a bad. It was really fun to meet the MHC creators, Carol, Carin, and Amy. Special guest was Amanda Jean, author of Crazy Mom Quilts blog and the new book, Sunday Morning Quilts. What a neat bunch of people!!

There were about 15 people in attendance: from Minnesota, Cincinnati, Chicago, various other places in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. Several were bloggers. How fun to meet in person the author of a blog one reads! We were crowded but very productive. Look at all the beauty!

Sun., Aug 26 was our long day on the road. With stops for breaks it took us 12 hours to drive from Grand Rapids, Mich to home in Minnesota. No luxurious ferry ride for us this time. It was all on the road! We hit Mich, Indiana, Illinois, Wisc and Minnesota all in one day.

"Are you going to behave this time, so I can get in and drive?!"

We had a great time. No regrets! I'm grateful to my wonderful, supportive husband who is willing to jump in the car and drive 1100 miles so I can make some quilts (something I can easily do in my own house), and he manages to have a good time, too. What a treasure he is!

Oh, in case you are wondering, Yes, I was in Grand Rapids during the AQS quilt show but did not manage to get there. I could have, if I'd pushed, but I didn't want to make every minute of the trip all about me and my quilting. We needed some relaxing time to enjoy our anniversary, after all. So I missed the special exhibits I would have liked to see, but I'm content with the trip and how it all played out.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Books: Michigan

Greetings, friends and neighbors! I am sorry to say, I did not finish reading a book this week, so I cannot provide you with a book review. Also, I am away from home. In my preparations and then my travels, I have ignored this blog.

Charles and I are celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary today. First stop was Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we visited the famous art museum there. It is a beautiful building! This piece of art is in the museum, and I took the picture with you, my blog readers, in mind. Can you figure out how this "bookcase" was made? From a picture it will be doubly hard. In person it was confusing enough.

It's a cut-out of books, sort of from the upside down and backwards view. The shelves are recessed so the part that is the books is deeper inside than the overhanging shelf top. Very hard to explain and even difficult to understand while standing a few inches from it. Charles and I had slightly diverging opinions on how this was made.

So if you can't figure it out from the picture, don't feel bad.

Second stop was Michigan. We will be back home soon, and then I will share more about our travels and will share more photos. 'Til then, be happy and find something good to read!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's a Quilt!

Feeling of satisfaction.. can you sense it oozing out of me? I made this quilt for my new great-niece, CLS, this little cutie:

I pulled out the quilt top, the table I use for basting, cut backing and batting. Then read my book, took a nap, tried to work up enthusiasm for quilting. Getting it all ready to go is one of my hurdles. Not a fun process.

Finally I decided that it would be worth proceeding, as I love the happiness of a finished quilt. So I charged ahead, and now it is done, and I feel satisfied and happy. I quilted in so-called straight lines. I learned from Pat those are called "organic" lines. Great name!

The backing is a sheet I got from my mother, CLS's great-grandmother. I thought it would be cool to use that fabric that has the family connection.

I probably won't see CLS for another month, unless I make a special trip. I might do a special trip, if I can find the time. Otherwise, she will receive this quilt next month.

The fabric with numbers is soft-as-a-cloud minkee. LOVE it.

I decided to keep this part of the sheet on the backing so she will have the lace flippy-flap to play with.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Prison Library Project

As you know, I love books and love to read. I also like to support projects that encourage reading. For that reason I sometimes send donations to the Prison Library Project. You can read about it here.

They try to fulfill book requests from prisoners and try to support prisoners' efforts to better themselves through reading. Many are working on GEDs, for example, or are trying to improve their knowledge of English. The requests often include various dictionaries, reference books, or inspirational books on how to re-route one's life. I'm all for learning and working on self while in prison!

Recently I found out that the Prison Library Project is doing a fundraiser. They are asking for Mail Art -- art which is actually sent through the mail and will then be sold for their fundraising efforts. I don't know who their customers are or whether anyone would want to buy what I created, but here it is. I sat up late one night, until about 2:30 AM, working on this.

It's about the size of 4 postcards.. I started out wanting just to send one fabric postcard, but it grew. I still need to get the backing stuff that turns it into a mailable product.

If anyone is interested in sending some Mail Art, please click on the Postmarked 2012 button I added to my sidebar. You'll probably have to scroll down a bit to find it. It should be linked up with the Postmarked 2012 information. At that site they also post pictures of the art as they receive it. The examples so far are fun and inspirational! Deadline to get your art to them (in California) is Sept 30, 2012.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Books: Joy

Two book reports this week: First, I read Joy for Beginners by Erica Baumeister. This book was too predictable and too perfect. The character, Kate, chooses challenges for each of her friends who had supported her through a bout with cancer. Magically, she manages to choose just the perfect challenge for each friend, even though some of them were secret longings within a friend's own mind. How could she have known these so perfectly?

Of course, each challenge resulted in just the right amount of work, introspection, revelations, and empowerment. Too cliche, too perfect, and even the writing bothered me with too many metaphors and similes. It's unusual that supposed "good writing" bothers me, but in this book I felt it was way overdone.

I gave it three stars because there were parts that kept my attention and interst, such as the rafting ride through the Grand Canyon. That part was interesting and was maybe a zillionth of a microgram less perfect than the other portions. I was leaning toward two stars, but the parts that I found interesting got it up to three.

Second book: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. Definitely 5 stars! This was a great book! It's so good that I don't want to say a lot about it, in fear that I will ruin it for you, a potential reader. Please read this book! It's about a man who walks across England to visit a friend who has cancer. But it really is about WAY MORE than that. It's the human story, with all our foibles, fears, mistakes, regrets, joys, and loves. Just a great, great book. The writing is beautiful, the characters are very human. This book will break your heart and touch your heart... definitely one of my faves.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Immortal Lives of Fabric Scraps: a Story

Once upon a time, there was a quilter named Carol. Carol decided to start collecting cotton floral fabrics. She bought them now and then, in various quilt shops. After a year or more, when she realized she had a large collection of florals, Carol decided it was time to start sewing.

Carol had in mind a pretty, floral quilt made of simple half-square triangles (HSTs). She cut and sewed, and cut and sewed. Soon she had a large pile of pretty floral HSTs. Playing with various arrangements of the blocks was quite fun, but surprisingly, Carol did not feel pleased with many of her first attempts at block settings. They just weren't as pretty as she had envisioned.

Undaunted, Carol kept playing until she found a satisfying arrangement of blocks. The quilt top, no longer aiming for bed size, appeared to prefer the lap-size arrangement that you see here:

48" x 64" (to be honest, Carol got bored and didn't sew these together yet, but this is what they will become very soon)

Alas, using this arrangement meant that Carol had several leftover floral HSTs on hand. One possibility was to toss them into the "blocks bin" where blocks tend to wait and wait and wait for further attention. "No, no!" cried the pretty HSTs. "Please put us to use right away! We don't want to languish with all those other (um... dare we say ugly) un-used blocks! We want to be put into a quilt top right away and be given to a child or adult who will love us!"

Carol relented and played with the leftover HSTs until they formed themselves into this flying geese arrangement:

32" x 40" plus not-yet-made border

Carol liked this plan OK, but still had some leftovers. While she was in the "use-em-up" mood, she decided to keep going. Here is what she created with the Leftovers from the Leftovers:

32" x 44" - a good baby size

Carol realized that the flying geese quilt top would appreciate having some kind of interesting border, so she got to work making border pieces from extra fabric and unused scraps from the original florals collection. Alas, once again she hit a brick wall. These 4-patches just did not complement the flying geese at all. When put together, all these pretty florals just turned into ugly ducklings.

Carol was rather tired of pinks and florals but thought, "OK. I'm on a roll. Can't stop now." So those leftover 4-patches turned into this:
32" x 40" plus not-yet-made border

From her innocent collection of floral fabrics, Carol has now created four quilt tops. AND, those darn flowers are multiplying faster than you can say "pretty cotton florals." Carol finds herself with still more floral scraps. Will these turn into a fifth or even a sixth quilt??

Carol began to dream fondly of those Boy-Colors and Sports-Themed fabrics she has. They will make some wonderful non-pinky quilts that will contain NO FLOWERS. Meanwhile, you must wait for further installments to see what Carol does with the Last of the Leftovers of the Leftovers. Do you think she will ever really see the end of the florals??? After all, isn't the moral of the story: Scraps Keep Multiplying and Live Forever????