Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bonnie Hunter Workshop!

I have been wanting to take a class with Bonnie Hunter for years. I've tried on various occasions to get out guild onto her calendar, but she is so incredibly popular that she is booked years in advance. So when I saw her post on Facebook last week about flying into to Bloomington, IL, I checked her calendar to see where she was headed. On a whim, I contacted the host guild in Champaign, IL on Thursday to see if there was any room left in any of Bonnie's workshops and lo and behold there was one spot that had opened up on Saturday due to a cancellation. I  figured it was meant to be! I signed up for the workshop and hit the road.

The workshop was fantastic! It was hosted by the Illini Country Stitchers, an incredibly friendly and welcoming group.  I absolutely loved Bonnie and had such a great time with the group.  I did a lousy job of getting pictures....I was too distracted by sewing (although I can't say that I accomplished a whole lot). Bonnie showed us a different way of strip piecing nine patches.

She also showed us how she creates "bonus" half-square triangles by sewing an extra seam before trimming off excess fabric.

The bonus squares for this project end up 2" (1.5" finished). I'm not convinced that I want to deal with around 300 of those..sounds like a lot of extra work!

I haven't taken any pics of my blocks yet as I didn't really get enough accomplished to warrant a photo.  I am using fabric from my stash - a great roll of mixed reproduction fabrics and batiks that I picked up at The Back Door a few years ago paired with a bunch of neutrals from the stash I was collecting for the all neutral quilt on my "one of these days" list.  I decided to go with scrappy neutrals and a mix of different greens for the star points.  I'm beginning to rethink that decision after seeing these blocks from one of my classmates (picture borrowed from Bonnie's blog).  

I really love the way these look!  I may have to change my plan...or make two!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Home Alone

It seems like ages since I have had a weekend home alone!  It happened this weekend - everyone left except the dog, who occasionally requires more attention than the average toddler...and thinks something is terribly wrong if I haven't gotten out of bed by sunrise...  The solitude made for a fairly productive weekend.  Nothing finished, really, but I did make progress on a couple of projects.

One of the projects I worked is a hooked pillow for a magazine article Nola is writing. I started with a plaid wool and three complimentary pieces.

The idea is to show how different the plaid looks when hooked different ways. 

The top two squares were hooked with the wool cut perpendicular to the selvages (actually vertically in the picture above - in the direction of the colored stripes). The left square was done by sorting the strips by color and hooking a frame with the green strips and filling the center with the red and yellow. The square on the upper right was done by cutting the wool and hooking it in exactly the same order as it was cut from the piece.  The lower right was hooked in the same way - in cutting order - but from wool strips cut parallel to the selvage. The lower right was hooked randomly mainly from a mixture of strips cut in both directions.  This will be finished off as a pillow with the plaid wool on the back. Nola has a bunch of people doing these.  It is very fun to see all of the different effects that people have achieved with the plaids!

I spent some of the weekend catching up (or almost catching up) on prepping my SBOW blocks.  I still need to piece the background for week 7 but have all of the wool pieces cut. Blocks 1-6 are prepped and i am nearly finished stitching block 1. I have a LOT of stitching to do!

I also finally made a start on my first broderie perse section for my Rising Sun. I have been avoiding it - it is definitely not my favorite technique - but I really want to have it in progress to take to Baltimore on the Prairie. I didn't do any sewing....it is amazing how long it takes just to choose fabrics!  I am about half way through the prep.  I think a couple of the flowers I selected will be a real pain to applique...they may end up being switched out for something easier...but I am going to give it a shot.  I'm kind of liking how it is turning out so far.

I addition to taking several frisbee breaks to keep the puppy happy, I also took a little time out to dispose of some zucchini. 

Sadly, I barely made a dent in the pile on the counter, but the house sure smelled wonderful!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Long Weekend

Sadly it's time to get back to work this morning after an extended holiday weekend at the lake.  I wish I could say that I feel completely refreshed and ready to hit the computer this morning, but after three days at the lake with a neurotic dog that is scared to death of fireworks (which, by the way, can be heard going off about 20 hours a day down there), I feel like a need a really good night's sleep.

I was able to get quite a bit accomplished while keeping the dog company.  Most is not picture-worthy - I caught up on all the prep work for my summer BOW and summer freebie and managed to get most of the stitching finished on block one. I still have a little way to go before it is finished. I have to say that I absolutely loathe the new Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite that I purchased when it came back on the market briefly last year. I hate how badly it gums up my needles. Lisa Bongean said that steaming it more would help so I tried steaming for a second time with loads of steam but it doesn't seem to make any difference.  I find that I have to keep alcohol wipes handy and clean my needle frequently. Very frustrating.

I finished the next block for our guild BOM. The taupes do not look great in pictures, but I am really loving how they look.  I didn't do a wool version this month - I have enough wool applique in the queue with my BOW! 

I worked on one of my hand-pieced LeMoyne Star blocks on the drive and managed to finish another couple of diamond wedges. It was fun to work on it again - I'm inspired to get back to that one in hopes of finishing it for our quilt show next year.  I think I am down to only a couple more 12" blocks and then seven or eight 6" stars. I need to unearth that one from one of the UFO piles and start working on it again.

Speaking of digging out old projects, I was inspired to get back to my last Dear Jane over the past week or so due to a lot of new activity in one of the online groups I am in.  I managed to finish two more blocks.

I keep thinking that I want to start over (again) but then I go back and look at what I have completed so far and actually like them - all done in Kaffe Fasset fabrics.  It's mainly the background that I don't like - white on white. I started this one a couple of years ago in hopes of finding a theme that I liked well enough to stick with it. My previous two attempts never made it beyond 40 blocks or so.

I'm looking forward to another quilt retreat this weekend.  I am hoping that I can finish my Celtic Solstice at this one...which means I will have to make a final decision the setting very soon. So much pressure!