Monday, January 26, 2015

A trip to Astoria & some more 

Wonky Star quilt blocks

When I started this blog I told myself that I would post at least twice a week. I read a lot of blogs and I'm really disappointed with blogs that don't post anything for months on end. Then I started posting and I realized that some times life gets in the way and you really don't want to sit in front of a computer and write. Last week we got out of town for a couple of days and went to Astoria. My husband loves this restaurant called Drina Daisy, they cook a full lamb and you can get a platter of lamb with fresh fruit and vegetables. It's a wonderful place if you are every in Astoria. We stay at Commodore Hotel they have the most comfortable beads. The rooms are inexpensive because the bath & shower are down the hall, though they have some suites with a full bath and tub. My mother informed me that she could never stay in a hotel that the bath was down the hall, I let her know the bath was less than 10 ft from our room and the shower rooms were large, beautiful and very clean.  I guess she is afraid of running into someone in the hallway at 1am on her way to the bathroom, I let her know I never had a problem with that issue. But if you are timid (they provide bathrobes in all the rooms) that you should stay someplace else. We went to a couple of thrift stores where I found Astoria has a great selection of books. I usually look for paint by numbers, needlepoints, scrap fabric, books and then I look for a new butter dish (my husband broke my favorite butter dish a couple years ago, he blamed it on the cat!). I had the perfect butter dish it was an small old pyrex glass container that was red with a glass lid, it fit a cube of butter perfectly. Now all you can get are ones with plastic lids.  I can buy it on ebay but some times it's so much more fun to find one at a thrift store or garage sale. I digress. While we were out driving around we saw several interesting one house we saw an 8 point buck eating the grass a couple blocks later we saw a couple of deer walking down the street, we then passed a sculptural park called Garden of Surging Waves. Since we were heading to dinner took note of where the park was and went to look for it later in the evening after dinner. It has some beautiful pieces including a large mosaic of 3 fish. There is another sculpture of the Monkey and the Dragon, of which the story of the statue is as follows: “A fiendish mythical dragon stirred up the waves in the ocean. Using one hand the wise monkey stroked and calmed the dragon, the other hand held up an incense burner.” Across the street from the park is the Elks lodge. We talked our way into the building and had a beer with the Exalted Ruler of the Astoria lodge. He gave us a tour of the building that was rebuilt after Astoria burned down in 1922. The building is amazing, it has a huge ball room with some very impressive stain glass, there are some impressive sweeping marble stairs that are lined with past Exalted  Rulers and past members. When got home on friday it was wet and rainy, I thought I would post something about the trip then, but I ended up spending the afternoon in bed reading. The weekend came and the weather was beautiful and I didn't want to sit in front of my computer. I have wanted to show you some of the wonky star blocks that I have been making, I see a quilt from this block pattern very soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Wonky Star block

I have seen this block several times on various blogs, I even thought about taking a class at Modern Domestic to learn the block. I finally saw a this quilt & a this tutorial, it made me go down to my studio and try making this block. Thought my color choices were not boring but I like this block. The material I used was from shirts that my father in law use to wear. The striped shirt he gave me a couple  years ago to "toss out". I said the material was nice so he tole me to cut it up and use it for some thing else. I used the fabric as practice for Wonky Star Quilt Blocks. 
These blocks are very low contrast. I think a curtain out of some of these blocks combined with some handkerchiefs that I have from my father and my father in law, these would make some nice breezy curtains for the summer months. 

The tutorial from Wombat Quilts is great and she uses 5" squares. The basic foundation block is up to you, I made my blocks 4 1/2". I cut 8 of the blue squares and 4 of the stripped squares & one center block. I then cut the striped squares in half and sewed them to the blue squares as shown above. Sewing a striped piece with a 1/4" seam on the left side of the blue block diagonally, then overlapping slightly the right side and sewing a 1/4' seam. I then flip the blocks over and using the blue fabric as my guide I cut off the extra striped fabric. Lay out the blocks as you see below like a 9 block and sew them all together. You should have a 12 1/2" block, if not trim it all down a little. Or if it's too small you can add some fabric to one edge to make the block even more wonky.  

I can see me making a few more of these blocks but with a lot more contrast. Jane's Fabric & Quilts has some wonderful examples of wonky star quilt blocks. I like the idea of combining low impact colors for the background, light blue, cream & white's with some fussy cut centers and some bright points. I'm looking forward to playing with this block more. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas Tree Burn

Last saturday I attended a Christmas Tree Burn out at Kelly Point Park. The idea is to get as many christmas trees as possible and light them on fire. This is something that happens in San Francisco every January. Several years ago we collected about 40 trees and lit them all off at once down at an abandon warehouse in North Portland. The flames got to about 100 ft, it was truly amazing. This year we had about 5 trees going down to the park and hoped that others would bring trees too. When we got to the park there was a recycling area where folks had dumped their christmas trees we had another 14 trees. As we gathered several people brought trees as well as a firework Christmas tree that my friend Karl put together from fireworks left over from new years. We were waiting for a bunch of people that went to the Blazer game to protest against the Westboro Baptist Church folks who were in town to protest the Blazers for coming out in support of Gay Marriage. It was getting cold so the trees were set off before everyone arrived. It went off in a magnificent blaze as dried trees often do. As the fire started to die down more folks arrived and added more trees. It was fun to see the fire reach a hight of about 70 or more feet in the air. The area was quite wet so there was no danger of a forest fire, we were also about 15 ft from the Columbia River so there was plenty water to use if anything caught on fire. We also honored some friends that passed away back in October in a car accident on I-5. We wrote messages to our friends on pieces of paper and attached the messages to the trees, the paper burned with the trees and the good thought went out to our friends. It was a nice way to honor our friends and get some closure. 

I forgot to tell you about the Tula Pink Quilt I completed on New Years Eve. I bought a jelly roll of Tula Pink's fabric line called Moon Shine last spring. I really loved the  colors and the designs were quite cute. When I received the jelly roll I drew a blank..I didn't know what to do with it, so it sat in my studio for about 6 months. I looked at the patterns and kept thinking what could I make that would look amazing. I finally stopped looking and jumped in. I cut all the strips into 4" squares and started to sew them together into 9 patches. I thought I would add a binding around the blocks but once I had the blocks completed I was inspired by all the color. I decided to sew all the blocks together kind of like a postage stamp quilt with larger squares. I can not imagine making a large quilt with 2" squares, maybe one day I will make one. Anyway, I completed the tip but hit a road block when I could not decide what to do with the backing. I didn't want to go buy any more fabric (I have a lot already) so I dug through my stash to see what would match. I found some bright turquoise fabric that I felt matched nicely, and since I had some 4" squares left over I made a line across the back with a 9 patch as an accent lower on the back of the quilt. I then left the quilt unsure what to do with the binding. I found some bright pink fabric at my favorite craft store Scrap. I have talked about Scrap in the past, they have fabric for about $2 a yard. If you are looking for some inspiration it's a great place to visit. I bought about 10 yards of a bright pink cotton that I used to make my Western Christmas shirt this year. I thought the pink was a nice accent to the quilt and used it as the binding. I quilted it with simple straight lines following the squares. I used a walking foot on my home machine finally finished this lovely gem of a quilt. My husband says it reminds him of sunshine. It's bright and I use on my lap while we watch movies during these cold winter months. I'm getting better at quilting on my home machine as long as the quilt is not too large. I still have a king size quilt that I have to complete for my sister, but that will have to be done on the long arm machine up at Modern Domestic or I will have to pay someone to complete it for me. It's next up on my to do list as it's been sitting in my studio ready for over 6 months. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I finally completed the ABC Quilt. Some friends were expecting their first baby and they live on a house boat that can get quite cold so I thought a quilt would be a perfect gift. I wash not sure what to make, but my husband thought the alphabet that I had made earlier this year was the perfect thing for our friends. The alphabet if from the book "Quilt Talk" by Sam Hunter. Her book has all the patterns for upper & lower case letters as well as numbers and punctuation. If you have ever wanted to put text in a quilt this is a great book. It has simple and complete directions for her letters, and some great projects to start you out. I could not wait to make a quilt with letters so I just went through and made the alphabet. I have another quilt planned using text, I hope to get started on it very soon. I kept this baby quilt simple using simple lines across the quilt, the only thing I would do different would be to use blue thread on the lines under the alphabet...kind of like old school paper. Oh well next time. I just wanted to get this completed as our friends had their baby on New Years Day. 

Another friend showed me what he had been up to lately with a box of christmas ornaments he found on the street. He fills the ornaments with paint and throws them against a wall. The results can be very interesting looking. The one above had green paint and the ornament was red, so the glass from the red ornament sticks and dries into the paint. I think this would make a cute christmas card that says have a smashing year I think I will print some of these. 

I also received a $20 credit from JoAnne Fabric to Shutterfly. I have always been a little suspicious of photo mugs as they can look terrible when they fade and well let's be honest people sometimes use awful photos of their family members. I decided to upload some cat photos and test the mugs that Shutterfly offers. I used 3 of my favorite photos of our cats and tested the look with different color mugs. I liked the black background the best. I had more photos but they got so small and looked a little distorted so I kept it simple and only used 3 photos. I ordered the mug on January 4th and received the mug on January 9th. Very quick turn around time. The mug holds 15oz, I could have ordered 11oz but l liked the larger mug. The total cost was $21.99 for the mug + shipping, I paid $9.98 for the mug because of the $20 credit. Would I pay $30 for a mug? maybe if it was something special, but for the price of $10 I think I got a great deal. My husband used the mug for coffee the day after we received it.