Bits & Pieces

WIP Wednesday–here we are again.  This is a good mid-weekly progress check every week, and many thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced for hosting us all.

Well, I met a goal.

For two months, goals have been something to hide from or add to a already-too-long list or wistfully stare out the window while contemplating goals.  But yesterday, Valentine’s Day, I met my goal of getting this quilt quilted.  And had I not had to stop to read 50 pages of the novel I’m teaching (Moon Over Manifest), I probably would have had the whole thing done.  But sometimes it’s okay to leave a project at the cusp of completion as it will draw you in for tomorrow.  So, I guess you could say, this is still in progress.  But in a good way, not a moaning way.

And under Krista’s enthusiastic encouragement, I tried my hand at English Paper Piecing.  You know I had an English great-grandmother, who I’m named for (Elizabeth).  So I called up my mother and asked her if my gr-grandmother ever did English paper piecing.  “No,” she said.  “She was a gardener.  She spent any free time she had in her garden.  It was my mother — your grandmother — who was the sewer in the family.”  So, in homage to them both, I’m making something with flowers.

I finished the middle, sewed some more together and attached them to the central flower.  Kind of a stuck space for knowing where to go from here in terms of sewing things together, but IF I can imagine myself as a young bride in the late 1800s far away from my mother and hometown of Bloxwich, England, and IF I were a quilter, carrying forward my mother’s traditions, I’d either have been doing this since I was a child, or I’d figure it out.

I’ll figure it out.

I hope you noticed the new notice on the side of the blog: On Leap Day, check back for multi-blog giveaway.

Now head over to Freshly Pieced and see some more fabulous Works In Progress.

WIP–Valentine Quilt

Many thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics for hosting this Works In Progress posting frenzy, commonly known as WIP Wednesday.

So last week I was unpicking this quilt.  The thread was too skinny on top (although I like a thinner thread on the bottom–Bottom Line by Superior is my favorite), I was using PolyNeon on top.  I have sewn many quilts with this thread, but it just wasn’t cutting it for this Valentine Quilt.  I’d picked up a spool of tone-on-tone red that I had in my thread stash, and thought it might work because King Tut is a heavier thread.  I like that look.  [Wait.  What?  You don’t have a thread stash?]

I overlaid some of my trusty-dusty wax paper on the quilt, sketched an idea–liked it.  Now how to get that design onto this quilt.

So I cut out a punch of petals and pinned them on, and while listening to This American Life proceeded to stitch around this little shapes, impaling myself on the pins.  This wasn’t going to work.

I mean–it worked because I liked the design with the thread, but it wasn’t going to work being pricked to death.

I realized that all the petal shapes were merely overlapping circles, so I cut out a circle, did some research on marking pencils.  I went to my pencil stash (don’t tell me you don’t have one of those, too) and grabbed Quilter’s Choice in silver.  I also pulled out a soapstone marker, for the deep reds, but ended up using the silver most of the way through.  Apparently it will wash out.  Stay tuned.

I finished teaching today, and fairly skipped to the parking lot.  It is one of those days that makes people in Wisconsin want to move to California–warm with a slight breeze, but not overly hot.  A lean-your-arm-out-the-window-while-you-drive sort of day.  I teach Mondays and Wednesdays and one of my friends and colleagues coined the term WedFrinesday for what we feel.  We generally work all week long, but it begins Thursday morning with our stacks of grading, continues through the weekend, and ends on WedFrinesday, when we yes, skip to the parking lot.

So, working on the red and white is going to be on this sunny day’s agenda–listening to a new book on the computer (my mother and I listen in tandem, although she’s always faster) and stitching away.  I keep calling this the Valentine’s Quilt.  I think I’d better get to it!

What else is on my list?  Too many things!  I received some Malka Dubrawsky’s fabric that needs to be washed up, ironed and caressed.  I have a stack of things from my purchases at Road.  I still haven’t spent my son’s Christmas Gift of a Fat Quarter Shop gift certificate, and that certainly needs to be taken care of.  Quickly.

That same son gave me the gift of my own web address, so if you want to reach this more quickly, type in It refer back to here.

Thanks, Peter!

Quilting Valentine Quilt

I listened to the Florida Primary Vote returns as I pinned this quilt together for quilting, my WIP for this week.  I have two other quilts that bring up elections when I look at them.

The first is a For-Snuggle-Only flannel quilt (no name on this one), that I tied together on my living room floor while watching the national returns come in from the Bush-Kerry election in 2004, when I lived in Washington DC.  My husband is an avid watcher of the political landscape; I’m more of the I’ll-always-vote-but-wake-me-when-it’s-over type.  But the political spectacle can be interesting to listen to while quilting, my hands busy while the politicians’ mouths are a-going.

The second quilt is this that I began in a Judy Hooworth class, titled D.C. Dots & Dithers.  The political game is always on when you live in Washington, D.C. and I wanted a quilt to contain my memories of living there.

I scanned in my Inauguration Ticket, then printed it out for the top of my label.  Underneath you find. . .

. . . a description of the quilt, and my thoughts on it all.  I used an already-started quilt top, quilted it, then added the labels — and the meaning — as I worked.  Back to the Valentine’s Quilt: I began by stitching in the ditch around all the squares so I could get rid of the pins.  Trying to decide how to quilt is always a hard thing for me.  I scanned through blogs, my Road to California photos, trying to look for ideas.

I drew up a pattern in my quilting notebook (in the turquoise) and began.

A pause in the action for a beautiful sunset, and dinner (husband was at a business dinner), then when I came back up I looked again at the quilting I’d started.  Ugh.  Not for me, so I started unpicking the first part I’d started.  It may have been the thread (I was using a fine thread) or the too-busy nature of the circles, but it had to go.

So now I have two messes Works In Progress: one on the quilt, and one here, at my cutting table.  I’m off to school this morning, and will think about it all when I return.

Thanks to Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics for hosting us all on this WIP Wednesday.  While I’m linking back to her blog, you really ought to look at her good news of this week: one of her quilts hit print!  Congrats!

New address for this blog:, a birthday gift from my son.  Thanks, Peter!  No need to change address books–this new address refers over to this site but is easier to type; both addresses work.

Valentine Quilt–Getting Unstuck

Tomorrow it will be one month since my surgery.  In my dream last night  I was clothed in a heavy coat, trying to get up into a tall vehicle, and unable to lift my leg to get in.  Over and over I tried, like we get sometimes with our pajamas or nightgowns caught up in sheets and too sleepy to figure out how to untangle ourselves.  So that’s how it felt in my dream–like I couldn’t go forward, couldn’t get up in that car that was going to take me somewhere.  I was stuck. I woke up, trying to get oriented.  The house was quiet, as I had slept in really late and my husband had gone.  I stumbled into the shower and began to cry.  Why is it that tears come so easily these days?  The doctor said it will take six to eight weeks to recover from surgery and I’m only at week four.  So I guess I can expect some of this. It just drives me crazy, that’s all.  I just want to be me again, an impossible wish.

But as I dressed, still teary, I asked myself that question I do sometimes when I’m in a stuck space: What do you want to have accomplished by the end of this day?  What do you want to have done?

I don’t ever need to write it down, because it’s only one thing I have to identify.  And today, I wanted to have the Valentine Quilt sewn together.

And just knowing that pulled me into my studio, got me sewing the little white squares on the end of red strips, cutting, ironing, and what you see is up on the pin wall at 2:00 p.m.–leaving me the rest of the afternoon to sew it together.

The original is 64″ square–and 8 by 8 square quilt.  I just need mine to hang up in the hallway, so I went with six by six.  That will leave me some extra squares to make some pillows to throw on beds.

So, the bottom line is I made it through my funk.  I climbed up into that imaginary car today — bum leg and all — and got going.  I dried my tears, straightened my shoulders and began sewing the cloth together.  Like I imagine hundred of other quilters have done before me, in good times and bad.

Valentine Quilt

More Road to California is coming–just had a lot of lesson prep to do–plus this little detour.

This is a WIP post–Work In Progress post–hosted by Lee of Freshly Pieced Fabrics.  Since having my heck-of-a-December, these weekly deadlines have been quite a blessing for me.  They give me a goal to have my hands on the cloth at least once a week.  Many thanks, Lee!

But this afternoon/evening I stole away from the computer for a few minutes to start on a Valentine Quilt (Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a Forth of July quilt!).  It all started when Rhonda sent me a photo of a quilt she was doing for a class for Mare’s Bears–a local quilt shop near Alexandria, Virginia, where I used to live.

I fell in love with it–so fun and fresh and so red-and-white.  We talked on the phone and she told me her inspiration was Le Jardin Cerise, in a recent McCall’s magazine.  I looked up that quilt and to me, they looked very dissimilar.  The original was a blender quilt, with more emphasis on color, whereas Rhonda’s had an emphasis on value–the light-to-dark of a quilt.  She gives credit to the magazine for the pattern, but I give credit to Rhonda for making it sing for me!

So I opened the “red” cupboard. . .

. . . and picked a swath of reds.

Maybe I had red and white on the brain, having shopped at Sandy Klop’s booth at Road to California, where they gave me this very cute bag.  (See our photo with her below).

And maybe because Cindy and I (on the right) were all decked out in reddish tones.  And maybe because all the stores have put away their Christmas and gone straight to Valentine’s Day.  But I think it’s more because of Rhonda’s amazing skills.

Beginning, I cut red squares, until I remembered that Rhonda said she’d done a more streamlined way of putting it together, sewing the thin strips onto the larger.

Okay.  Back on track.  Then I bordered them with strips on which I’d placed a square, then stitched diagonally to make a triangle.

So here are my first four blocks, with the little pinwheel in the center.  Mine’s much more unkempt than Rhonda’s, because I drew from my stash, while she limited herself to six fabrics.  Of course, I like hers better (I always do), but mine will work.  I have to teach in the morning, but look forward to getting back to this tomorrow afternoon, raiding my stash for reds to make it work.