Monday, September 29, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop



I was recently asked by my friend, Donna Liljegren of Brynwood Needleworks (www.brynwoodneedleworks.blogspot.com), to take part in an Around the World Blog Hop. I thought it looked like fun, and agreed to participate. The caveat was that I had to pass the hop along to three fellow bloggers to keep it going. Hmmmm, not many takers. In fact, only one of my bloggy peeps would take on the task. I am going to add the links to their blogs or websites anyway, since I love their writing and photos and I am sure you will, too
The sole participant from everyone I asked is Jane Weston of Sew Create It!. You can see her quilting, crafting, travel photos and descriptions at http://janeweston.blogspot.com/. I wish I could just pack up and fly to some of the lovely places she tours! It is always interesting to see what quilters in other countries are up to.

Some of the blogs I follow that are wonderful to look at and read are :
Fifteen minutes of Play (http://www.15minutesplay.com/
Bonjour Quilts (http://www.bonjourquilts.com/
Celtic Thistle Stitches (http://celticthistlestitches.blogspot.com/ ( who would have done this, but is traveling in France...drool, drool)
Exuberant Color (http://exuberantcolor.blogspot.com/ ( if you have time, see this blog! What a color genius!!)

Well, on to the five questions I need to answer to be a good steward of the hop!

1. What am I working on? 
Oh gosh, that's a toughie! You may not know it, but we are in the process of moving to Blairsville, Georgia. So what I am mainly working on are customer quilts! They all have to be finished before we leave here, and I am doing my best to accomplish just that.

All of my fabric is being held captive in these boxes! In Georgia!!

Of course, it would be a dull existence if I wasn't doing some sewing and quilting of my own, too.
 I put together some blocks from a class I took ten years ago, and now, just have to do the quilting. I found the blocks while packing my studio (yes, all of my fabric is packed!!) and added them to the projects to work with during the period between one house and the other.

Zoom in on the houses and see what fun I must have had making them. I barely remember that day...

I have also been finishing up a quilt to give to my guild for an auction they promised a quilt to. I made this at a recent retreat and thought it would fit the bill for an auction quilt. Just a fun project to pass the time with friends.

all quilted, just needs binding

swirly quilting

swirly backing
The other thing I have been working on for what seems like forever, is a paper pieced wall hanging that came from a strange place in my brain. Karen Stone designed the block, but I have used it to portray waves coming in on the beach. I plan to add some little applique shorebirds from a photo I took at the beach.  Here is what I have so far:
This is my 'roadmap' of what the beach and waves should look like
Pitiful, ain't it? I have a long way to go...especially before adding birds!
That segues right into the next question:

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My really fun quilts are ones that use some piecing as the foundation ,or background, for either appliqued figures, animals or foliage. I enjoy photography and have a huge number of pictures I hope to someday translate into quilts. The ideas come to me usually while trying to go to sleep at night, or when driving in the car. I jot down a sketch of what it is and then go from there trying to figure out how to make a quilt out of the idea. It isn't very formal, as far as art is concerned, so I always have a hard time trying to figure out what category they belong in when entered in  show! 
Here is an example; I wanted to make a quilt using photos of roseate spoonbills I had photographed here in Florida. I made an applique pattern using an overhead projector and a drawing on acetate tracing the photo. I number all the pieces, then trace the pieces onto freezer paper . I then cut out all the numbered freezer paper pieces and dig around in my stash for fabric to use for each particular piece, iron the freezer paper to the fabric and cut pout the piece. I put the pieces together on the master drawing, then turn their edges and applique them together into whatever figure I'm working on. The applique is a free standing piece, ready to be applied to the background. I used a jelly roll to make the pieced background, then added the elements on top. The babies nest is tubes of batik fabric manipulated to make sticks, and the leaves are freehand cut from pieces of fabric fused together then sewn on randomly.
The whole process differs from other people's work in that I take forever being fussy, where it should be a streamlined process. A lot of the techniques I use are taken from books or classes I've taken, then made my own. Hey, works for me!

Putting the completed pieces on the 'roadmap' drawings

the pieces may not fit exactly after they have been appliqued together, but that's okay

Batik background, tubular fabric sticks, 3-D leaves and a hidden lizard surprise!

Background with detail of one of the wings, showing all the individually appliqued feathers

Babies in the nest

The finished quilt
Question three:

3. Why do I write/ create what I do?
Heck, I don't know...I create quilts because something in me makes me do it. I can't stop, nor do I want to. Designing, sewing and quilting the project is a Zen experience for me. I can spend hours on a piece and not even know I've wiled away an entire day. It makes a mess, but it is MY mess, and I love it! Most of my show pieces start out as something quite different from what they turn into during the assembly process. My quilts are an evolving representation of who I am and what I happen to be thinking about at the time. I saw a famous quilt teacher I had taken a color class from at the Houston show. We chatted and she asked if I had done anything with the knowledge I gained from her class. Pulling out the iPhone, I proudly showed her a quilt I made using her rules of dynamic color combination and she said," You should take off the dancing pineapples, they ruin the whole quilt!" I was flabberghasted and deflated. I had spent weeks making the pineapple blocks and when I got them together, I thought the quilt was kind of blah. I doodled around a bit and thought,"what if the pineapples had escaped from the farmer and were running amok all over the pineapple quilt? Cool!"... That's how the idea came, and it is exactly what I did. She hated it, but I love it and it makes me smile still.

Penny Piper Picked a Peck of Perky Pineapples

bckground block

one of the 'dancing' pineapples
I write down what I am doing for people who aren't in my proximal sphere any more. I love to tell them what's up at Wazoo, but phoning everyone would take hours away from work! I don't always know if anybody reads my babbling or not, and that doesn't bother me at all. I share my little world with whomever may get a kick out of what I am doing. That's all. No deep meaning in it; it's quilting.



Last question (Whew!)

4. How does my writing/ creating process work?
I simply write what is on my mind at the moment. No fancy ritual or thought process. I love to write and this is a creative outlet for my thoughts. Kind of a public diary. 
I hope you like my work and seeing what is going on at Wazoo. I really do live in the fun world of quilting.
Now, hop on over to Sew Create It (http://janeweston.blogspot.com/) and see what Jane is up to!
Thanks, 
Susan






Saturday, September 27, 2014

Back on track and rain, rain, rain!


The day began okay; I worked on a tee shirt quilt for a friend and got it all quilted and ready to go. Then I put on one of my quilt tops, made at the retreat. I have promised a quilt to the Peace River guild for an auction and thought it would be a good one for that purpose. A swirly pantograph to go with the swirly Kaffe Fassett fabric on the back seemed just the ticket. Off to the races!
Hmmm...when I rolled the first row up, there were some little knots of top thread on the back. Bad sign.

I changed the needle, re-threaded the machine and started row 2.


Oh dear!! Even MORE knots! I adjusted the top tensioner a bit and tried again...


Aw! Come on! It has taken me almost two hours to do these short rows because of all the picking and re-sewing I had to do. Let's add a Bobbin Genie to the bobbin case. These are promoted by Sharon Schamber as an alternative to the anti backlash spring  to prevent knots and nests on the back. Now we're cookin'.


Or not...
I finally decided to replace the anti-backlash spring and really clean the bobbin case. If this didn't work, I was ready to scrap the entire project. Three hours gone on a 54 x 66 inch quilt! Ridiculous! I was now on the last full row and saying a little quilty prayer.


Oh well, a knot or two was better than a whole row of knots. Maybe it was the Bottom line bobbin thread or the King Tut top thread...heck, maybe it was the quilt! Whatever it was, it tried my patience. The quilt it finished and waiting for binding. I don't know yet if it will be the auction quilt...not perfect enough for my standards. I just know this had better not keep up or I will never get all my customer work done. Thank goodness it happened on my quilt.
Here is the (almost) finished product.




back looks okay now.

Oh yes, the other topic is the never relenting rain storms we have been having here. Everyday the heavens open and torrents of rain pour down. Poor Molly hates the thunder and takes refuge under Mr Wazoo's machine. The rain has let up for now, and it's time to make some pizza for supper. Mmm-mmm, good!










Bumpy road

Sometimes we have things happen in our lives that make us question what we are doing and why we are doing it. I have had such a week.
After the retreat, it was difficult to get my mojo going for the next quilt. It took several days to finish, but I got it together and finished, thinking it looked fine.




Sometimes, the customer isn't happy. Strike one!

The girls came over and we worked on the applique for the guild raffle quilt. It was a lovely day, full of happy chatter and handwork. The blocks are almost done. The quilt is taking shape!But people felt excluded from the process even though I have asked for help every step of the way. My friend and I were maligned publicly while we were away at the retreat; none the wiser until that happy day at my home, hand sewing with friends on the guild quilt. No chance to set the record right, or defend the way we went about making the quilt. Strike two.

Sometimes I unintentionally ruffle feathers.

All week, Mr Wazoo and I have worked on quilts, fixed things in the house that need fixing to make the house more 'saleable', dealt with contractors and horrible weather (rain, rain, go away!) and pretty much got on each other's nerves. Even Molly got in the act by pooping and peeing on the newly cleaned tiles! Bad doggie! Cooking has suffered...there were raised voices and nasty words.
Strike three, I'm done.
 Bit of a quarrel. We'll be fine. I think we have had way too much stress with the impending yard sale, showing the house and getting ready to move, and all the backbiting from the disgruntled guild members. I'm not done with my work and the date is looming when we will have to leave here. I'm crying over stupid things. I will miss my guilds (at least two of them) the Sebring retreats, Nifty Fifty, Red Hat outings, and mostly, my friends here in Florida who have made this sauna of a state bearable.
So you see, I am not always sweetness and light. I stumble and make mistakes and act like a jerk sometimes; but I am still the Wazoo quilter, and will always have that accomplishment to buoy me up!

On a bright note, My mojo is back and I am in the groove. Quilting continues and I am determined to finish all the quilts in the queue before loading the truck to leave town. Thank you, Mr Wazoo, you're still the butter on my bread.
My project sample for the retreat all finished

Sweet quilt done by the Man

another lovely scripture quilt, done by Mr Wazoo

I loved working on this Christmas embroidered quilt! So fun.

some of the quilting

More quilting

I love the kooky penguin!

Mr Wazoo again

GIANT quilt done by yours truly

Tomorrow is another day and I am raring to start the next customer quilt. Plus, I will be sewing with a friend on Sunday and having a laugh. I hope you all have something to laugh about, and do it often.
A grasshopper walked into a bar and ordered a scotch and soda. The bartender said,"we have a drink named after you", to which the grasshopper replied,"You have a drink named Irving?!"
Happy weekend!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Inn on the Lake September retreat

We had a wonderful time in Sebring sewing, laughing and enjoying being pampered. The girls all loved having food from a chef and a bar on premises...but I still like the homey atmosphere at the regular haunt. I am there to sew, and the room is huge at my fav spot. This venue was beautiful and the rooms comfortable and well appointed. No Granny Sue for shopping sent us out to the shops to get our fabric fix. When weighed side to side, the two places have the same amounts of pros and cons, so I will let the ladies decide which retreats to go to. No matter where we are, though, we all have a good time. After all, it's about the camaraderie!!

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Sewing in Sebring

We are here in Sebring, FL having a great time getting to know the staff and happenings at the Inn on the Lakes hotel. Everyone is having a good time and I have been able to sew more than usual because I haven't had to run all over town for food and supplies! The lunch was great and we have been laughing and sewing most of the day when not shopping for more fabric.
I have two more days of quilty friends before heading back to Punta Gorda and the work that is waiting for me there.
Wish you were here!