Monday, December 15, 2014

PMQG

I love my guild... The Portland Modern Quilt Guild - what an amazing group of people. Our holiday party was a blast, and now I can finally share what I made for our gift swap!
Pillow Front
Pillow Back
The swap was fun, we each brought in a sandwich baggie full of fabric to our Nov. meeting where we randomly received a bag of fabric from someone else.  We used the fabrics in the baggie to make something for them from their own stash and brought it to our Dec. meeting.  I received fabrics from Katie Blakesley of SwimBikeQuilt.com and I had never met her before... I was a bit nervous to make something for someone so prolific, but she liked the pillow I made for her, and that made my day!

I received a great little needle-book from Pamela Barber - it's a 'book' made of fabric with felt 'pages' so I have a neat little place to keep my needles and scissors for hand sewing. It's so sweet, and the quilting on it is fantastic!



The board members this year really did an amazing job at wrangling the 230+ members of our guild to keep things happily rolling along! Thanks to Mary Ann, Kelly, Suzanne, Lisa, and Cath - they all really excelled at making it a fun year with lots of things to do, and I, for one, am appreciative of all the work that they put into it.

One event PMQG hosts is a monthly charity sew organized by Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts. Each time a group meets, there is a simple block pattern to make using a bunch of scrap fabrics donated by individual members of the guild. This time we made a scrappy 7.5" block with 2" white borders. There were about 10 of us there and we made enough of these blocks for another quilt top for Project Linus.
charity blocks 
PMQG members at charity sew day at Modern Domestic - Quilts on display by: Elizabeth Hartman

Scrap Station... so fun to dig!
This is such a fun way to get involved and meet people from our guild, I really enjoyed this - there is nothing like working with a group of people all focused on the same project. We got a lot done, and for a good cause too!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Time

HST's on the design wall
This is a tough time of year for me, and for others out there too, I'm sure.  I actually can't wait for the "shopping season" to be over! I know most people LOVE this time of year, and I want you to know, I love it when people are in a celebratory mood - so I can roll with it!

Since I was raised JW I never celebrated anything growing up. Nothing. Not even birthdays. The hardest was Halloween because we would turn off the lights and not answer the door when trick-or-treaters came to the house... and that always felt sneaky and dirty. Now I always make sure to have candy for the cutie costumed kids who come by!

That said, since I have no reference to how things are "normally" done for the holidays. In general, they kind of freak me out because I have no idea about the traditions most have grown up with. Even gift-giving seems strange, and I never know what to get people... so I don't do holiday gifts. If I find or make something for you, you'll get a gift right then and there, no matter what time of year and no reason necessary.

If I had to pick something to celebrate this time of year, it would be the Solstice! With the days getting shorter, it seems like a no-brainer as far as something to get excited about. Getting dark at 4pm does nothing for my creative intentions, all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep. I can't wait for the days to start getting longer!

The cooler weather also is taking it's toll - haven't been able to sleep through a night without achy-pain and stiffness waking me up every few hours. I can now say I've tried every diet alteration for pain relief, and so far - no great help in the nutrition department. So now I'm trying a medication: low-dose-naltrexone - it's supposed to be very helpful in pain management. We'll see.

As noted earlier, I'm not very motivated when the days get so grey and dark - so I haven't done much sewing recently. I did go to the PMQG Sew Day last Saturday and attempted some half-square-triangles (pictured above) I'm loving the colors and looking forward to doing an improv quilt with these pieces - should be interesting to see how that goes. I've also started French-Knotting the Jellyfish, and boy does it feel good to be working on that again - hope to finish in January sometime.





Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Braces Quilt Finish

Oh how I do love finishing a quilt! Time for a little celebration, and right now, I'll take any reason to celebrate:
Braces Quilt Front
 I made the pattern from the block I entered in the GenQ Magazine Block Builder Challenge in June this summer. It really felt great following through on this project. I'm thinking of drafting this pattern... any interest?
GenerationQ Magazine
And here's how the back turned out:
Braces Quilt Back
I really love piecing all the leftovers from the front to make a back... although I spend more time on the backs than the fronts sometimes. What is really cool about this quilt is that thanks to a friend who has one, I got to use a real longarm to do the quilting!! It was my first longarming experience and I think I did okay... but actually quilting on it helped me understand how to rethink my quilting options for this machine. It is a very different process than using a domestic machine. Here's a close-up:
I just mimicked the block pattern for the quilting, and free-handed it all. I really like how it came out... for my first try. I'm looking forward to building this skill set as much as possible. The best part about it is that no basting was required!

So now that THAT is finished, I've started a gift for the PMQG holiday swap... we exchanged fabrics at our last meeting and I'm trying to use every little scrap to make a nice pillow :) Can't wait to share photos after our holiday party!

I've also secured a few spools of floss to start doing French Knots on the Jellyfish. Time to get busy!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Wild Cock

So I just finished a super fun project for our basement bar! You may not know this, but the name of our screen printing business is Phantom Chicken... and we do have a thing for the bird.  The chicken is a major theme at our place. When we moved here last year, we put our orange metal roosters up over the bar, and we love them there, but the space still seemed a bit empty.
Then Sam Hunter came out with a new book called Quilt Talk with patterns for the alphabet, and I had an idea.
With some fervor, I went forward with a sign for our basement bar... I had so much fun making these letter blocks! Sam's patterns are awesome and easy to follow.
Putting the letters together was much easier than figuring out the sign around the metal roosters, but once I got it, it went smoothly... of course I had to add some hexies.
Then I followed that up with some echo quilting with my walking foot - who doesn't like a quilted cock?
Gregg hung the quilted sign this morning... doesn't it look great? Yes, there are many things I could have done better - but I LOVE The Wild Cock sign! It makes our little bar really fun and festive.
Now I'm looking forward to see what else I can add letters to in my quilting projects!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Quilt Back

YAY! I finished a back for the Braces quilt top I made a few months ago...
Braces Quilt Back
I think I spent way more time on this than I did on the front. I don't know why, but I really love creating a pieced back for a quilt. This one had a lot of small pieces that were left over from the front that I wanted to use, and I was able to use ALL of them.
This was how it was looking after the first day of working on it - lots of random pieces... and I love how it turned out. Now I can get to some quilting!!! So excited to be at this point, it's the quilting that makes a quilt come to life.

Speaking of quilting, I also did a French Knot test to make sure I remembered how to make them. My friend Cherri had me try a 'side-threading' needle like this one... and I'm sold! Especially since I'm using embroidery thread for the knots... using this needle will make the whole job go much much faster. So all I need now are good thread colors for the Jellyfish and I'll be knotting away!

At the awesome PMQG quilt retreat I went to last month, we got a goodie-bag with little squares of fabric and some hexie templates - I think they are 1" in size... much bigger than I'm used to - but I put all those together the other night for another hexie project that hasn't quite been formulated yet.
With the colder, shorter days - I'm antsy and am glad I have so many projects to work on!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thread Basting The Jellyfish

I've been doing a lot of thinking on how to baste and quilt my Jellyfish.  I decided to thread baste it because I don't want to use spray glue and since it's planned home is as a wall hanging, I don't think I'll be washing it anytime soon. I didn't pin baste it because I hate sewing around the pins.


I found this great video tutorial by Sharon Schamber who walks through all the steps of threadbasting. It took me about 2.5 hours to baste the quilt this way... so it is a bit of a time commitment, but not so bad. Probably would take close to that to pin baste it anyway. Here is the basted top:
And the back:
Here are the stitches on the back - they are about 1/2 - 3/4 inch stitches that seem to hold everything in place nicely.

Now I'm ready to start making a bunch of French Knots!! I will use them in the 'water' on this quilt and figure something a little different for the jellyfish itself. So happy to be at this point!

I'm also working on a back to my Braces quilt today - and loving my new lilac bushes we planted yesterday... they will make this ugly chainlink fence look sooooo much better.

Oh... I'm still following the Blood Sugar diet, not as strict as the first 10 days - so it's much easier, and the meals in the cookbook are fantastic. I can't say that about too many 'good for you' recipes! I should be going in soon to have my blood sugar tested to see if this is helping in any way. Either way, I'm doing good and happy to be eating much more nutrient-dense foods.

Now back to sewing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Health Through Food?

This post will be about food rather than quilting. Why? Because my health is making it hard to be able to sew (or work, or think clearly for that matter). It's something I've struggled with since my gall bladder was removed in 2000, ever since then, things have slowly spiraled downward. I have IBS, leaky gut, SIBO, and some sort of auto-immune disorder that is causing my white blood cell count to be high. I also have a sneaking suspicion I have fibromyalgia (like my sister) but I haven't seen an MD to get that diagnosis. I'm also pre-diabetic.

What this means to me is I'm tired (exuberantly exhausted) with headaches, and I'm achy in all my joints, with inflammation that affects my spine, which makes moving a very nervy experience.

Instead of complaining to everyone about it, I thought I'd share my plan to health instead! I'm hoping by posting about it that I will have the encouragement to follow through. So... this is the plan:
 It's a pretty intensive diet plan that incorporates nutrients from food to help heal the gut lining. I think that is my main directive. It's pretty close to what I already eat... I only have to cut the rice and corn, and that's about it.  It is also specific in what (exactly) to eat and when. Here is the recipe for one of the protein shakes and a lunch - looks pretty good, right?

The plan is to follow this for 10 days, then re-assess. If I can keep going... I will. I know the longer I can stick to it, the better I'll heal. I've cut sugar from my diet before and so I KNOW how wonderful it can be.

If I feel good, I'll be able to work on my quilt projects more and maybe I'll feel good enough to travel and meet some of my quilty friends in other states. I'll even be able to do more right here in Portland for that matter... or so I hope. There is nothing more depressing than feeling too tired to meet with friends... especially for sewing!

My next few posts may have some food-related things, but I'll get back to quilting for sure. Thanks for being so supportive!