Thursday, July 31, 2008

It was fun while it lasted!

It's Thursday evening and Steve and I are in Clarendon, TX, 2/3 of the way home. The last two days were absolutely packed! Tuesday we got the blocks drawn for Linda's next quilt. It's going to be cute! I'll work on border drawings from my house next week.
I took some photos of Linda's house to share with you. Her house is new so the plants are not mature but the grass is green and the views of the mesas from her house are spectacular! Grand Junction is in the high desert and the climate is dry. It gets hot in the afternoon but it cools off overnight. I have to say that I wish I could take the weather home with me.

Wednesday morning we had new photographs taken to use in new books and articles. We looked good from the waist up (which is all that counts in this sort of photo) but from the waist down we were in shorts and tennis shoes. An interesting look. The photographer, Melinda Roberts, did a great job on the real photos. She gave Steve permission to take some candid photos of us at the same time so that I could share one with you. 
Next, we went up on the mesa that you see from Linda's patio. The mesa is in the Colorado National Monument. You can drive up onto the top of the mesa. We had a picnic at the Visitor's Center and took lots of photos on the drive through the park. I resisted the urge to take home a rock from the mesa.

After touring the mesa we dropped Steve and Paul off at the house (that's them above) and Linda took me to her favorite clothes store - Herberger's. She had told me that there were great clothes at great prices and she was not kidding! I found shorts, tops, dresses, tops, and jackets. And a lot of it was 70% off! It's probably good that there is not a Herberger's in Sherman, TX.

We got on the road early today and will again tomorrow. It's time to sign off and get some sleep! Happy stitching!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day One at Linda's

Linda and I have been working on the drawings for her next quilt. It's coming along nicely! While I was working on the computer, Steve went hiking in Arches National Park. He had a really nice day and took lots of photos. These are just 2 of the 91 images he put on my little digital camera.

Tomorrow Linda and I are getting new photos taken — you'll be seeing an updated version of us in the next book and online. After that we're going up on Grand Mesa to see some sights. Then it's back to work.

Steve and I head home to Texas early Thursday. We'll be home on Friday afternoon, in time to wave goodbye to Jeff and Celia Saturday morning. Celia (our almost-daughter-in-law) is joining Jeff in Baltimore. Steve promised Celia that he would make his Kaluah cinnamon rolls for Saturday breakfast. They are oh-so-amazing!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quilt Nebraska

I taught at the annual meeting of the Nebraska State Guild in Chadron, Nebraska, last weekend. (FYI - Chadron is pronounced "Shadron".) There were classes, exhibits, vendors, and lots of getting together at Quilt Nebraska. Everyone had a good time!

To got to Chadron last Thursday I flew to Denver and then on a smaller plane to Scottsbluff, NE. Gail, a quilter from Scottsbluff, picked me up at the airport and drove me to Chadron. My luggage ended up flying on to Chadron on an even smaller plane (I'm glad I was not on that smaller plane). We drove into, and out of, a spectacular thunderstorm! There was an incredible double rainbow as the sun was going down behind us that I took several photos of. This is the best one. It almost doesn't look real... everything in the landscape took on a reddish glow. You can't see it here but we could see the entire rainbow. The prairie may be mostly flat, but it is beautiful.

I'm at Linda's in Grand Junction now. I'll post more later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A book for quilters...

Emilie Richards sent me a copy of her newest book, Sister's Choice. It is a lovely story about two sisters (hence the title) and the way their lives, and the lives of those they love, intertwine. There is a quilting theme that runs through the book, as it does through many of our own lives.

I have to admit that I read a lot more murder mysteries than anything else, but I enjoyed this book. Thanks for sharing it with me Emilie!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Something old, something new...

Most of you have seen our newest block of the month, Aunt Millie's Garden. I know that many of you are working on your own versions of this lovely quilt.

Linda made the red Aunt Millie quilt that you are most familiar with. However, I'll be teaching classes based on Aunt Millie so I needed a smaller version of it to travel with. We have new fabric coming out in August so it made sense for me to make my version using some of that new fabric. I chose a white background which sets off the new fabric beautifully. I wanted to share this image with you to give you an idea of what the quilt looks like with something other than a red background.

The new fabric is from P&B. The collection is called Elanor's Picnic and we'll have it on our website just as soon as we can. We'll post close-ups of the fabric then so that you can see the details. We think you're going to love it!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A library system that quilters can love!

Isn't this lovely! I found this photo on a design blog and it led me to the source. Valerie Madill designs information systems. (Valerie gave me permission to post these images and share the links to her site.) This is her idea for a new library organization system. Click here to read more about this very fine idea. 

I love the way the books look! There is a pieced quilt look to them. But beyond how great this is to look at, on close examination you find that there is a amazing amount of information on each of the colorful labels. The system is both intuitive and informative. I am going to have to find the time to organize my books this way! Way to go Valerie! 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Full Spectrum Lights

Jay posted a comment to one of my recent posts about full spectrum lights. I think it's easier to answer that question here with a new post. I want to be very clear with you all that I love my full spectrum light and I use it every day. But I am careful with it and here's why:

A few years ago I was teaching in Baltimore and noticed that one of my students had burned her arm. When I asked her about it she said that, because she had recently gone on medication that made her extremely susceptible to UV rays, exposure to her full spectrum light had caused the burn. I want to emphasize that this is rare. But it got me to thinking.

I had not ever connected the "full spectrum" claim on any particular brand of lamp with UV rays. I used to position my light in such a way that the light shone onto the side of my face and into the side of my eye. My glasses have a UV protective film, but that didn't do me any good where the light was not going through the lens of my glasses. My initial thought was about cataracts which run in my family. I lowered my light so that it only shines on my handwork. The added benefit to the lower light is that it reduced my eyestrain.

It later occurred to me that, if I had a medical condition that required very limited exposure to UV rays, I would probably talk to my doctor about the safety of using a full spectrum light. I'm not an expert on UV exposure, I am just trying to use some common sense. 

I did do some limited research about Dr. John Ott who gave us full spectrum lights. He's a very interesting guy! Click the link to read more about him and the technology he started. It seems that the range of light varies from one full spectrum light to another. I'm not sure how you would tell which light has the most UVs.

I want to be very clear: I am not advocating that you give up your full spectrum light. Just be aware of that what it means when the box says full spectrum.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Blog surfing...

I found myself with a half hour on my hands yesterday afternoon and I spent it surfing a variety of design blogs. I should tell you that my almost-daughter-in-law, Celia, is the one who got me started on this. She finds the best sites!

I came across this photo of tulip fields in Abbey Goes Design Scouting. It came from an article posted in The Daily Mail. Being a girl from the prairie, I have never considered what tulip fields in flower would look like! Very quilt-like, don't you think?

There are an amazing number of good websites and blogs that are all about design. In the coming days I'll add links to the best of the ones I find. Then, when you have a little bit of time on your hands you too can do a little blog surfing :-).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Quilt on a Barn!

We got an email this morning from Heather Ladick. Here's what she said:

"I am a quilt shop owner in Cynthiana, KY. I wanted to drop you both a note to tell you that one of your quilt patterns is forever immortalized on a barn. In our state, we have a tourism project where people are painting quilt blocks on 8' x 8' plywood and hanging them on barns. It has become so very popular and all our counties in the state participate. It is such a treat to drive and find a new one on a barn.

I do some painting myself on the side and have completed a few of these in our area. Last winter I had a customer come in who wanted a block to commemorate their family's retirement from a greenhouse business they owned for over 45 years. Do you know which pattern they picked, of all the quilts, blocks, books, and magazines in the shop?

Well, I just wanted to pass along this photo to you both. They are so honored to have such a beautiful quilt in place, but really, all credit should be to both of you for the creation of such a lovely pattern. The owners of the greenhouse, now in their 90s, were so touched and happy when their children hung the block on their barn.

Thank you for your inspiration that reached far."

Wow! We are so honored to have one of our quilts up there for all to see! Thank you, Heather, for sharing this wonderful story with us! 

BTW - The name of our quilt is Briar Rose and it was first published as a stand-alone pattern. Later it was included in our book, Flowering Favorites, which is currently out of print.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Details are wonderful!

I love digital photography. I've never been a great photographer, but my digital camera makes me look like I'm much more skilled than I am. I love being able to snap as many photos as I want to with no thought about how much film I might be wasting. I love being able to delete bad images - rather than trying to figure out what to do with bad prints that I paid money to have developed. 

I also love being able to zoom in. My new tiny little Canon PowerShot SD950 (click to read a review) takes 12.1 megapixel images! The images are big enough that I can crop in to show detailed close-ups. So this plant...

...becomes this lovely detail. FYI: this is a poisonous plant that smells really bad when you break its stem. I can't remember the name. It makes pointy seed balls and is very prolific.

The leaves of these tropical cannas...

...have an almost wood-grained look.

I'm going to take more of these detail shots. I think they could easily work their way into a quilt!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

He's really moving now!

Here is a new movie of my grandson, Jack, on the floor in my studio. I have the camera. You can hear Elanor who is sitting near me on the floor. 

Jack doesn't crawl so much as he swims on the floor. He's fast enough that I have to keep my eye on him. He really likes the printer. I'm not looking forward to the day when he discovers my thread. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Road Warriors

My son, Christopher, is a big believer in bicycles. He rides as much as he can. In fact, his car spends more time sitting in the driveway than it does anywhere else. This is good and I'm proud of him for doing his part to cut down on emissions. Chris has even taught himself how to repair bikes and has set up a small bicycle shop in his garage. He buys used bikes, repairs them, and sells them. He has refurbished bikes for his wife, Lorna, and for Elanor. 

Both of my sons learned to ride bikes when they were young. When we lived in Tulsa they rode them a lot because our street was safe. When we moved to Sherman, TX, the bicycle riding came to a pretty quick halt. Our street was safe enough to ride on but they were getting big enough to want to go places and the city streets here are not particularly bike friendly. In fact drivers can be positively aggressive toward bicyclists. So, even though I know it's a very good thing, when Christopher started riding his bike all over town at any time of the day or night, I got nervous. He assures me that he has found safe routes around town and I believe him - mostly. But I'm a mom so I still worry. 
Recently he found (and I admit it, it was with my help) a tandem bike. This is a contraption that attaches to a regular bicycle to add another seat. That makes it easier for them all to take family bike rides! Chris has Elanor attached to his bike and Jack rides in the seat on Lorna's bike. They rode to our house for dinner last week. I took these photos as they were riding off into the sunset to go home.
Please be kind to the bicyclists that you come across when you are out driving around. Their mom's will thank you for it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Creativity is work!

A friend sent me a link to a video clip by Ira Glass (thanks, Nysha!). Ira Glass is the host of This American Life, a truly fine weekly radio show on NPR that I never miss.

In this video clip Ira talks about the fact that, especially at the outset, a person has to work at their craft. He may be in radio, and we may be quilters, but he speaks the truth. To see Ira, click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sunny Flowers in Bryan, TX

I taught the Sunny Flowers class yesterday to 22 lovely ladies from the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild in Bryan, TX. Anne Perry, the "blog mistress" and/or historian, asked my permission to take photographs of the class throughout the day to post on their guild's blog. I said yes and she discretely took photos (and some videos, also with permission) throughout the day. 

Anne does not let any grass grow under her feet! Today she sent me a link to the photos. I'm impressed! This is my first experience with a guild blog. What a good idea! Click here to go to the photos taken in my class. Scroll up and down to see more of their blog.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ikea Curtains = Fabric!

I used to have folding doors that, when closed, separated my living room from the studio. In all of the 15 years we have lived in the this house, those doors have been closed maybe 20 times. It occurred to me during the remodel that it might look better with the doors down. It is better!

One set of the doors used to fold up against my design wall. With the doors gone, I have gained about a foot of usable space on my design wall. And, while the doors didn't take up much space, the doorway feels much more open.
The downside was that I was left with a view of the side of my tall bookcase that I didn't like much. So I got some curtains and an tension rod (meant for a shower) from Ikea. 
I'm pretty darned sure that the fabric is merimekko. It's cotton, heavier than typical quilter's cotton, but not as heavy as upholstery fabric. Each of the 2 panels is 56" or so wide and close to 7' long. They come un-hemmed.
I washed the fabric in cold with 2 color catchers and dried them in the dryer (not recommend by Ikea). They shrank which was why I did it. I figure that at some point I'll want to wash them again and I wanted to hem them already shrunk. The red did bleed a little, but not enough to be a problem for me.
The 2 panels (one set of curtains) was just under $30. That's a lot of fabric for $30 and that's what I wanted to share with you. You can't (to my knowledge) order these on the internet but if you like merimekko and shop at Ikea, don't forget to check out the curtains!
FYI- The side of my desk has a piece of galvanized metal screwed to it. It makes a great magnetic bulletin board. We can buy it here at a sheet metal place and Steve cuts it to whatever size I want. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Show & Tell

Last week Jan Hirth sent me photos of quilts her students made from our Everyday Best pattern (from Quilts with a Spin). That's Candy Martin with her quilt on the left.

The quilts were so much fun that I knew that you all would love to see them. I thought about posting them here, on the blog. But it's hard (if not impossible) to post more than 2 photos in any single blog posting. 

I decided that it would be easier to show the quilts on a page on our web site. Can you see the glowing lightbulb over my head? Go to our new Show & Tell page to see the quilts. Thank you, Jan, for giving me this idea.

So, if you have a show and tell photo of a project you made using one of our patterns, please send it to me. I won't be able to post every one but I will try to change them out on a regular basis.