Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas To All

I've had a few days where I could work on some sewing at home, so I have really taken advantage of it.
I've been working on (and finished) a baby quilt top. (My son and his wife are having a baby next June.) I got this finished last night. (This pattern came from a 2006 Weekend Quilt from & Since I don't know whether the baby will be a boy or girl, I think this quilt will be appropriate for either. I imagine I'll be making more than one quilt. I'm not sure this is the one I'll settle on.
I have a whole sewing setup in the living room (so I can watch my taped shows while I work). I have an ironing, cutting, and sewing station; it is VERY efficient.
I've also been working on my 365 Challenge blocks. I'm really far behind on those. I did finish one of the corner 12 1/2" blocks

and several of the dark 3 1/2" blocks.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Retreat 2--December 2016

My second retreat of December just ended. This retreat is vastly different from my "quilting" retreat. This is a "fiber artist" retreat (where, evidently, we need to be quiet so the participants can focus). I am a pretty social (talkative) person, so I used my earbuds to listen to "The Wire" on my iPad to keep myself from making too much noise (i.e. talking/visiting). We DO end up with ample time to visit and talk when we break for meals. We each provide our own breakfasts and lunches, and we all go out together for dinner. This is SUCH an interesting retreat. I ALWAYS enjoy seeing what everyone works on. Another thing that makes this retreat so different is that we have critique sessions if requested. These meetings are a great learning experience for me. Artists show their work and we may or may not be asked for input. (Sometimes it is more of a show & tell depending on what the artist needs from the group.)
We meet at a retreat center called Pieceful Haven located in Crestwook, KY. I think most of the retreats held there are traditional quilting retreats, because the owner is always surprised at the lack of sewing machines at this retreat. We are provided a very nice space in which to work--several sleeping rooms, a dining room, kitchen, and well-lit and well-supplied work area. Irons, rulers, cutting mats, extension cords, cushy chairs, tables, a TV (should it be needed), two big design walls, and extra lights are supplied. A small design wall is available at each work station. There is also a nice deck with tables and chairs if the weather is nice enough to use it.
Debbie spent most of her time on collages and spinning. I had never really seen anyone spin, so I enjoyed seeing that. I loved the muted "clacking" sound made while she was spinning.


Felice worked on a couple of pieces--one using a photograph incorporated into the piece and the other a fabric collage from a photograph taken by her husband. It was interesting to see how these pieces developed as the retreat progressed. Joanne worked on her sketchbooks (which are art pieces themselves) and some research for her projects. Kathy worked on her annual hand-made Christmas ornament project and her newspaper haikus. I loved seeing how she incorporated materials that she "melted" with a heat gun into her ornaments. Pamela worked on a HUGE purple quilt and pillowcases along with some big, big, tote bags. She seemed VERY pleased to get the quilt top finished and said she hopes to have it quilted in time to add the binding at the artist retreat we have in March. Linda worked on the computer (She is a PhotoShop expert.), some basket coiling, and some three-dimensional fiber pieces. I'm always amazed with her work. I worked on finishing the tops for two children's charity quilts. 
I also worked on my black, white, and red blocks. Here are some of them on the design wall. I haven't decided what to do with them yet. I have to make more blocks, put them on the design wall, and play with them a bit. Here are some of the beginning configurations.
There is something I like about all these beginnings. Which do you like best? Do any of them speak to you?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 2016--Retreat 1

This month, I had the opportunity to attend two retreats. These retreats couldn't be more different. One is a "quilt" retreat; the other is a "fiber artist" retreat. This blog post will concentrate on the first retreat. I'll be posting one about the second retreat at a later date. The first retreat is held in an "apartment" above the "Quilt in a Day" store in downtown Paducah, KY. It is such a nice space for a retreat.
The biggest drawback to this space is that we have to go up 24 steep steps to get to the retreat center. Lugging all the stuff we bring to retreats up these 24 stairs is VERY taxing. We have found a way around that, though. We have a young guy we call who will carry up ALL of our retreat supplies. It only takes him about 15-20 minutes, and he earns $40--a win/win for all of us.  Friends from Tennessee and Indiana meet here for four days of fun (and work). There is lots of talking, laughing, sharing, visiting, and fun. Eight of us attended this year's retreat. Everyone works on their own projects. We always go out to dinner the first night and make a stop at a grocery store before we go back to the retreat center. We don't go out to eat again while we are there. We take turns cooking meals for the rest of the time. We used to fix breakfast, lunch, and supper; but we ALWAYS had too much food. Last year we tried just cooking brunch and supper; this worked out great. We never lack for good food and not going out to eat saves us a lot of sewing time (and money).
I'm pretty proud of myself in this picture--I'm eating healthy (salad). The second day we always venture out to some local quilt shops and Hancock's of Paducah. I really didn't need much (but what has "need" got to do with it, really). I bought an LED light (that was on sale for $7), a quilt magazine, a large crochet hook, a cheap iron (mine quit working while I was there), and a gift or two. 
Here we are at Hancock's.
 This is some of us at Calico Country.
I didn't have the best of luck at this retreat. My iron quit working AND my Featherweight sewing machine wouldn't keep the correct tension. The machine would sew along just fine and all the sudden loops would form on the underside of the seam. Then, it would sew just fine and then loop again. It would switch back and forth between sewing fine and sewing "crappy." Before I gave up on using the machine, I sewed three of my 365 blocks and some pieces for my charity quilt projects.
Luckily, I brought some hand-sewing projects along too. I spent the rest of my time working on my "forever" hexie project.  Here are some pictures from the retreat.
Pam finished this quilt and some matching pillowcases for a gift.
Gayla finished a Raiders quilt (also a gift).
Debby finished this quilt top. It is made with construction-themed fabric.
Michelle brought this top along. I WANT this fabric. 
We all had a nice space in which to work with cutting and ironing stations available. Rulers, irons, and mats were all provided for us. 
Pam had these flamingo slippers. Since my sister and I have a "flamingo thing" going, I'm thinking I REALLY need to get her some. Aren't they cool?
If you are a quilter and attend retreats you all know that what happens at retreat stays at retreat!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

What Have I Been Doing?

This is what I've been working on. Each of these is a section of my big hexie project. Now that I'm looking at it, it doesn't look like too much, but this represents MANY hours of work.
Hmmmmm...I wonder what it will look like when I get these pieces added to what I already have done? I guess putting up the big piece and pinning these in place will give me an idea.
Here is what it DID look like.
This is what it looks like with the new sections pinned up on my design wall.
It is getting so big it barely fits on the wall. As you can see, it is hanging off the bottom and isn't finished yet. I'm heading to a quilt retreat with some friends from Tennessee. From there, I'll be heading to an retreat with some artist friends from Kentucky. Hopefully, I'll have a post or two about those. What have you all been up to?