Early Christmas

Sometimes family life and calendar life don’t coincide. So we celebrate when we can. Logan is almost 2, and toddlers can be quite entertaining.

We did sight seeing things, of course. We were one of three small groups late in the afternoon at the Lan Su Chinese Garden.


I’m sure part of our enjoyable 2-hour visit there was that Logan led the way. He thought he was in a BIG park.

Wall and windows

We did our ritual stop at the tea house (alas I neglected to take pictures there) where his favorite food was the cucumber garnish. Adults enjoyed moon cakes, steamed buns and dumplings. And of course tea.

And I have to have the ritual shot of the persimmons tree, even though Logan is not in it.

persimmons tree

Not the usual angle, but the same tree.

And the red rose was in bloom, though it was getting too dark to get a photo of it. Sunset was around 4:30; garden visit 3:00-5:00. A visit at dusk was a new experience.

The next day was as full as a 2-year-old can handle. First the Benson Hotel’s gingerbread display.

Gingerbread castle

Gazing at the 150 lbs. of housemade gingerbread, Logan said, “Toys!” Luckily he has learned (most of the time) to enjoy things with his eyes. From there to the children’s section of Powell’s City of Books, then to VooDoo Donuts, then the Christmas tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. No photos. What were we thinking?

Even though light rail is not new to him, Logan got excited to be on the “Big train” with “People,” and even moreso when another train passed us. We rode to N Interstate and N Denver to see the Paul Bunyan statue. Logan was not as impressed as we expected, but he did comment, “Big boots!” No photo because we were hurrying to get out of the rain at Posie’s Cafe for lunch. Next time Logan saw the statue it was from inside the car, and he pointed and said, “Little big guy.”I love trying to follow his logic as he chatters. I’m thinking this statement was a comparison of the apparent size from the car window in contrast to the closer view walking by, and “big guy” was the name of the statue, and this time it looked little.

Another day we went to the train museum.

What a clever museum! The adults loved the three working vintage engines–one of which was being steamed up for an excursion the next day. (We would have ridden it except they were leaving the next morning.) And a toy train for toddlers. We had thought Logan might not let us get our fill; it turned out his interest lasted longest.

And then the early Christmas gifts.

It took a while to get the hang of unwrapping gifts; then Logan wanted to help everyone, play with the paper, and start rewrapping things. (Did you see the placemats in one of the photos? They got finished in time.)

In addition to all that sight seeing and gift excitement, there was food, conversation, and hanging out time.

hanging out

More fun than the toys was playing with the afghan, poking fingers and toes through the holes, wiggling and watching the afghan move. Who needs toys?

Linking with Anything Goes–Hey there is one mention of a quilt.


Filed under family, Holidays

Thoughts on a Rejected Quilt

Cracked Ice will not be seen at QuiltCon.

I thought it had potential (of course I did, or I wouldn’t have submitted it), but it will stay home when I go to view those that had more than potential.

About a day before getting the rejection email, I read an interesting blog post about confidence and art by Elizabeth Barton. (Here is a link to the whole.) The short version is this: there is correlation between confidence and marketing skill, but not between improved confidence and improved art. When I read her “If it’s getting easy, it is probably getting trite,” I thought of how quickly the idea of Cracked Ice had formed, and I had a moment of wondering if it was “oh so last show.” That may have been my only moment of self doubt.

I had a flashback to college teaching days, to students who had been at the top of their high school classes and to their surprise that in college freshman writing they were only average. Their peers had shifted and so had their rank. My quilt had had a similar shift from being admired by friends and followers of my blog to being one among many that had been so admired.

Not having a smart phone, I missed the discussion of the judging on Instagram, but I enjoyed the analysis Elizabeth Eastmond provided and ensuing discussion.(Here is a link to the whole.) Among other things, she mentioned not limiting the number of entries per person and the ambiguity of definition of modern quilt design. And comments pointed out the difficulty of defining an evolving moment. I rather agree. If modern quilting becomes easy to define, it will become trite. “Follow the rules and create a modern quilt” is not where we want to end up.

Other bloggers pointed to Latifah Saafir’s discussion of the jurying process, which I think is a must-read piece (link here) for anyone entering any juried show. One year at Quilt National a process similar to the one Latifah describes was presented. Off in the corner was a video screen. The audience was to pretend to be a juror.  Quilts were flashed on the screen for a very limited number of seconds, and we were to say “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe.” Then go back and discuss our “Maybe” category with others who were watching at the time. I can never look at juried shows or at my own quilt entries the same after having participated in that demonstration.

Am I disappointed? Of course I am. Do I like my quilt any less? Not one bit.



Filed under quilting

Finished, Photographed, and Entered

Much as I love my dangling UFOs, I also love a finish. Cracked Ice is the first of my quilts to get a professional photograph.

Cracked Ice

85 x 100

I had read that bad photography disqualifies quilts, and I know my photos are usually too dark. Plus I didn’t have anywhere to get the required flat shot. Luckily, Bill Volckening advertised quilt photography in the newsletters for both of the guilds I attend. I was even luckier that he had time to get this photo at such a late date for entry into QuiltCon. (My entry is #973; I’ve heard of #1309–wonder how many more they had.) Every time I have this deadline crunch, I swear I’ll start earlier next time.

One design challenge was to create a placements of the blocks that would work either as a wall hanging or on a queen sized bed. Here is a bed view.

A queen sized bed playing dress up

Jolene of Good Knight Quilts did the quilting. My contribution was asking for an echo of the blue 9-patch arrangement somehow and free motion work. Jolene showed me some computer options, and we chose the square pattern for the blocks and their echos. She agreed to design curvy FMQ for the rest.  I love the results!

When it was getting close to the deadline and I thought I might miss it, I started thinking of other shows. I checked AQS, and the Paducah deadline wasn’t till Dec. 4 or 5. So I entered it there too. Here’s hoping, but not holding my breath. I remember a talk at a Quilt National show; the curator was giving a history of Quilt National and encouraging entries. She said, “Every quilt in the show was entered.”


If you are visiting from Off the Wall Friday, TGIFF, LAFF, or Finish it up Friday and want to see the beginning of this quilt, click here.

Linking up with Val’s Tuesday Archives. I didn’t do the longarm quilting, but I think Jolene’s work deserves to be looked at. The paisley/swirl/pebble part is FMQ; the squares computer assisted.


Filed under design, quilting

Christmas Placemats

Since December is getting closer, the placemat project is back. It started with fabric I won, and I got as far as making the tree blocks before I set it aside for other projects. (I shift projects like you shift chairs in the game of Musical Chairs.) Back in August or September there was no need to rush, right?

Here are two of the tree variations, ready to be quilted.

I curved the corners so I’d not have to fuss with making them square. I can see I need to improve my freehand cutting or else make a template. Here are the other two tree variations, waiting for their turn at being completed.

Because some of the fabric had black background, I thought perhaps some of it on the tree was in order. Of the four, I like 2 and 3 the best. All the variations have the star fabric for the top square–gotta have a star on top of the tree.

I’d intended on plain green and red backs, but miscalculated and used some of the red for another project, so had to piece two backs.

If you were in a hurry, I think the stripes would make a fine set of placemats. Or if you were in a bigger hurry, a sngle fabric on each sides and another print napkin would also work.

Linking up with WiP Wed before I get back to stitching.

Since I didn’t get them finished, I’ll have to  just link some progress. :-) Linking with Show Off Saturday. I do have a couple quilted, but no photos yet. Wonder if a tutorial is in order…Also linking  with Fresh Sewing Day, a monthly event. And since Needle and Thread Thursday took a break last week, I’ll link this week. A new post is coming soon.



Filed under Holidays, quilting

Holiday Doll Quilt Time

The time for doll and teddy bear quilts for the Fire Fighters Toy and Joy program has rolled around again. Last year I made around a dozen in November/December and thought to work more steadily during this year instead of all in the last month. Um hmm. Another good intention down the drain. So here I am with four finished and hoping to make ten or twelve.

These two are the quick ones, the way I usually make them: a simple block and border sewn to a back, then minimally quilted.

Star quilt

20 x 20

A friend gave me the novelty fabric and I thought it needed multicolor points. The pinwheels are from the “bonus” triangles left from the star points.

25-patch toy quilt

16 x 16

The size was determined by the width of the piece of red cuddle fabric–I had originally planned another plain yellow border. The squares came from a welcome packet at a recent guild retreat (Alas, I’ve forgotten the fabric line and the label is gone–if you recognize it, add it in the comments please.) Looking at the finished product, I see much better color distributions were possible. No matter how much I play with arrangements, I always see something in the final product that I wish I’d placed differently.

The next two have needed more work than I usually do on toy items. But it has been good practice.

These started with blocks already quilted.  I’d made them for Soy Amado (now concluded); however, my 12 1/2-inch blocks shrank when I quilted them and were no longer usable in that project.They are quilted more densely than I’d normally do, but it was good FMQ practice. And it was nice to quilt such small pieces. The ladders came from Leah Day’s website and seemed perfect for a firetruck block. The flowers on the black print were an attempt at extending the fabric design into the quilting.

I’d watched several YouTube tutorials on assembling the pieces. The process is simple enough, but tedious. And even the 12 1/2 inch side under the machine harp made it difficult to keep the topstitching line straight on the final seam on my Featherweight–currently my only machine. If I’m going to wrestle a piece anyway, I may as well FMQ it whole and wrestle there without the tedium.

I have a couple of these prequilted blocks yet to do, then I can get back to the simpler method.

I’ll be linking with Link a Finish Friday, TGIFF, and Finish it Up Friday (as soon as the links are available). It’s always fun to see other peoples’ finishes, but more fun when I have one too. And the first two were NewFOs for November, and the total ten are not finished, so linking up with Barbara’s NewFO . It’s as much fun to check out new starts as old finishes.

ETA: links


Filed under quilting

Leaders and Enders Progress

Leaders and Enders projects are not a source of instant gratification. As you might imagine, they can last a long time, especially when I find ways to make the primary project be its own leader/ender.

But even chain piecing and leap frogging have ends, so yes,I have a continuing “real” leader/ender project. This one started a couple years ago when I saw this on Quilters Gallery. This project was perfect for several reasons, the most important being that I liked it. Secondly, I had 1 1/2-inch pieces already. (Although I thought I had used up all my 1 1/2-inch squares and made more to finish Fading Charms, I found another box of samples.) Thirdly, it took few light neutrals.

Now I love quilts where there are equal pieces of light neutrals and darker prints. However, I never seem to have that many light neutral scraps–or new yardage, for that matter. Until I take on Bonnie Hunter’s quest of used shirts for fabric, I need something mostly dark.

A Quilting Chick is starting a linky to encourage leaders and enders–and she explains the concept, so if it is new to you, check the button on the sidebar. I’ll be playing–how about you? If you do leaders and enders, add your say on the third ThursdayTuesday of each month. I  decided to take inventory for starters.

3 finishedI just had to see the finished look, so did these three one day long ago. One upper right rectangle had a redo–needed some color to contrast with the triangle. Here’s what I have to show for a couple years.

A pile of squares, rectangles and triangles. Forty-two 9-patch blocks waiting to have their 2 rectangles pressed along with five that have been pressed. Nine in the next round along with five-sashing-plus-cornerstone, both waiting to be pressed. One with triangle attached.  As you can see, leaders and enders require patience and preparation.

The first round for this pattern is easy: sew a light and dark 1 1/2-inch square together. I can do that without preplanning, need only a little digging–once the squares were sorted light, medium and dark, but they are hopelessly mixed now. Then comes a choice. Random 9-patches or light and dark pattern?  I go with pattern, so a little planning is needed. When I have a pile of threes to combine, I pause a while to plan and pin them so they are at the ready in the stand beside my sewing machine where I keep the project in a drawer. Or I can attach the first two neutral rectangles to a 9-patch mindlessly, then later plan and pin the ones with squares for the corners. Likewise I plan the triangles.

Of course  scraps have to be cut, and even leaders and enders have to be pressed and sometimes trimmed. Sometimes the primary project doesn’t allow the luxury of that extra time, so I do the mindless steps.

When I do have extra time I press. Or I cut more 1 1/2 x 3 1/2-rectangles and corner triangles. I keep meaning to spend 15 minutes each day cutting scraps so that they are always ready, but that has gone where most of my good intentions go.

I suppose the size of this leader-and-ender quilt will be determined either by my scraps running out (slim chance) or by my attention shifting to another project.

I know some of my readers have a leader-ender style of working; I hope you will join the linky (button in sidebar) this ThursdayTuesday and share your leader and ender projects too. I’m eager to see them.

ETA: Today is the first Leaders and Enders Link up–come see!



Filed under quilting

Urban Chickens–Top Finished

finished top

60 x 48

The top is together. I managed to maintain the chosen layout.

Realizing that the bottom row and the left most row will not be seen, given the angle of my bed in the room, I’d not wanted any favorite blocks there. However, a friend pointed out that I could alternate the way the quilt lay on the bed.

If I make another, I may limit the palette more; however, my bedroom needs all this brightness. The pattern works very well with prints as well as solids. And I’m wondering if it could go totally scrappy? I’m starting to save scraps in bunches of 4 blocks (3 1/2 square) so I can try it. Maybe a degree scrappier yet with totally miscellaneous scraps, not trying for groups of four. And I’ll probably select fabrics in closer values. The ones with very light and very dark confused the light-to-dark arrangement–which to count them? They always seemed the opposite of where they had been put. Or with a more limited palette, maybe I’d not be trying for value gradation arrangement.

I love having the “chickens” pointing every which way with an occasional block surrounded; however, now I notice that the surrounding creates a lot of emphasis. Next time I’ll select more carefully which blocks get that treatment.

I have no idea how to quilt it. Suggestions? Or whether to quilt it myself. I had enough trouble with bulk when I sewed the last seam connecting the two halves to reconsider.

ETA link to pattern so you can have it without viewing the whole history of the quilt.

Linking with Link a Finish Friday and Needle and Thread Thursday.


Filed under design, quilting