Monday, February 28, 2011

Need a Quilting Break?

 I only have 2 more rooms available for my Flowers On the Lake Retreat, May 30- June 3.

I love retreats. I love to go to them and teach at them.
When the phone is ringing at home and I can’t get anything finished I long for the focused time just to work on a project and get something done.  As a teacher it is such a wonderful experience to work with the students, one on one, and help them achieve their goals and watch them grow.  It is also a great bonding and sharing time with others with similar interests. I always come home learning some new technique, idea or new product as we share ideas.  I have met women that I know I will always be friends with.
Our great-grandmothers had their sewing bees. They would meet at the church or someone’s house, bring a casserole to share and sit around the quilting frame, talking and stitching.  But only for that day.
Today’s woman doesn’t have to milk the cow or bring in the wheat and stay close to home.  She has her own car and may even be in charge of her own work schedule.  Boy, how things have changed.  I remember going my first time to Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, CA.  I had heard about it for years.  I saved up to go with friends and took Mary Lou Weidman's class.   In class I had the pleasure of sitting next to Freddy Moran.  I was in color heaven. I knew that it couldn’t get any better than that.  

That when I realized that these very independent women and men do this retreating thing all the time.  Wow. They may take a long weekend or a week. They sometimes go by themselves.  All making their way to this creative environment and do the thing they love most - being creative and fondling fabrics.  Yes, I said fondling and you know you do it. 

Before I started traveling and teaching so much, I would have the pleasure of meeting my 2 friends for a day of quilting.  We would meet at one friend’s house who has a beautiful studio with 3 sewing machines and lots of fabrics.  She also owns a great quilt shop.   We never ran out of fabric.   We would all decide on a pattern we all liked.  Then we set up an assembly line of cutting and ironing and sewing.  We would end up making 3 of the same quilt, one for each of us.  It was so much fun.  But it was only 3 hours, one day a week.  Still, I miss that time.

As you working girls know, we all can’t have that precious time to quilt every week. That is why retreating is so heavenly.  You can block out an uninterrupted time to immerse yourself in whatever project you want and   listen to funny stories and eat chocolate and maybe even enjoy some wine. 

Last year was my first time hosting my own retreat, Flowers On the Lake. I had no idea how this would go.   It was a wonderful time, if I do say so myself.  It brought 9 women together and by the end of the retreat we had all bonded and were not ready to leave, acting like little girls who don’t want to leave the party yet! As I was packing up my car they were on the phone, finding a hotel to stay and sew another 2 days. It wasn’t long enough they said.  It made me feel good that they wanted to stay.

So that is what a retreat does.  I see it all the time at these events. So, if you have never experienced a quilting retreat, I want to invite you to some of my favorites.  And, of course, I will be there.

Empty Spools Seminars, Pacific Grove, April 15-20 
Flowers On the Lake, Lake Tahoe, May 30-June 3
Hudson River Valley Quilt Art Retreat, Albany, New York, Dec 4 -10
You don’t have to be an experienced sewer or artist. Newbees are always welcome. You can work from your own flower photo or use one on my patterns.  I help you all along the way. This is for you.
Also, for you west coast girls, this will be my first time at Sisters, Oregon and Quilters Affair but we will talk more about that later.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Camellias, Daffodiles and Snow?

I can’t think of anything to write about today. So how about pictures of my garden?   It’s February and my camellia bushes are bursting and the daffodils are up in some places in the yard. What is with that?  But on a cold and dreary day like today it makes me happy.

New! Camellia quilt.
 I made this arrangement for the kitchen table.  It has lasted 3 days which is hard to do with arrangements with camellias because the heavy flowers usually drop off the stem right away.  But this one is lasting.   These pictures make me think spring is on its way.  But is it?

I love how the light reflects in the wet glass vase
Last night while watching the local evening news, our overly perky weather man ran to the Doppler weather map with a little skip in his step.  He was so elated to inform all of us that we could have snow sprinkles tomorrow as low as 500 feet.  What?  This is California!  I live at 1,100 ft.  Well, there go my daffodils and what about my oranges?
Maybe that is why the birds are eating up all the bird seed so fast. They know something is up.  The other day we had 15 large tom turkeys in our yard and now the female turkeys are hanging out here.  Joe "accidentally" drops bird seed on the ground when refilling the feeder for his new pet turkeys. Which reminds me that I really need to get him another dog soon.  The turkeys are fine but their droppings are like land mines on our sidewalk that you have to dodge every time you get the mail.

When company leaves we have to say "Watch where you are stepping" and then try not to laugh as we watch them hop and dance back to their car avoiding while piles.
 This bird feeder has been so much fun.  I can't believe I said that. We can view the bird action up close from the safety of our dining room without their detection. We have counted about 8 different species not counting the turkeys.
Where is Waldo?  You have to finds 2 birds in this picture.
We also have a new little hairy friend that has adopted us from time to time.  I came out on the porch the other day and she was curled up in Joe's lap.  She likes to hang out on our warm porch also watching the bird feeder.   I call her Jade because of her light jade green eyes.  She will now let us pet her.  I don’t think she has a real family but goes from house to house.  Our neighborhood is not that friendly and the few I have talked to about her say she visits them also.  I want to give her a bath and a flea collar, but her teeth are really sharp and I happen to be very allergic to her.   I overdid the petting the other day and paid for it the rest of the evening.  So yesterday was spring and today its winter again. So if you live to the east of California, get ready! Another storm is coming and you didn’t need Skippy the weather boy to tell you that one.

I think I will work on my camellia quilt today and pretend it is spring anyway.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Presidents Day Sale

Macy’s is having a Presidents Day Sale and so am I.  I have reduced the price on 3 of my first Fusible Flower quilts: Clematis, Yellow Daisy and Oriental Poppy.  They are looking for nice homes.

Click to enlarge.

New price is $800.
21” x 32”
This is the second Fusible Flower quilt I made. Purple is my favorite color so when I saw this picture in a flower catalog I knew I had to try and recreate it.  How could I make these flowers look dimensional with just fabric and maybe some thread?  That was my challenge.  I had never seen a Fusible Flower quilt before but wondered What if I treated it just like I was painting, only using fabric and thread?  These flowers are bright and crisp in the morning light.  I wanted to capture the sunlight hitting the center of the flowers just right.

Click to enlarge.
Yellow Daisies
New price is $500
18” x 24”
This quilt was inspired by a picture in a flower magazine.  Right away I knew I did not have enough yellow fabrics to make it work.  I used about 12 different values of yellow fabric to give the flowers their depth.  This was my third quilt using the Fusible Flower technique.  Each time I made one I would learn something new.

Click to enlarge.

Oriental Poppy
17" x 24"
New price is $900.
I knew this quilt would be a challenge and it was.  I almost gave up many times but I'm so glad I didn't.  I learned so much from making this quilt.  This quilt is painted with fabric and thread to create this beautiful poppy quilt inspired by a flower catalog. This was quite a challenge trying to making the paper-like petals bend and fold, all in fabric.  I highlighted the quilt with lots of thread play, which adds more shading and detail.  Back then I thought it was a lot of thread and they would surely kick me out of the quilting world for all that thread.  Who knew? 
The final step is some carefully placed glass beads that I added by hand.  This was the first time I entered my Fusible Flower art work in a show and it won Honorable Mention at the Marin Quilt and Needle Art Show in 2003.

These first quilts are very special to me.  Each one has taught me a valuable lesson and pushed my creativity.  It took me years before I would show the quilt world my flowers.  Then I saw the work of Katie PM and Velda Newman and thought there might be a chance someone would like what I do, also.

If you are interested in any of these art quilts, let me know.  I take PayPal, Visa or Master Card or good old green cash.  You can contact me at

My closets are getting too full and Joe won't enlarge my studio space, so some of my babies have to go, so more can follow.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Looking for Mr. Right

I have been looking and looking for the perfect free-motion sewing machine. Does it exist?  I don't think so.  I want something the sews really straight and I can control the speed.  It has to handle sewing through many thicknesses of fusible fabric while using delicate rayon thread.   It needs to have a big enough arm so that large quilts can easily get under the machine.  And maybe it should come in pink.  If i am going to dream it might as well have a color. Why not? 

But the biggest thing is I don't want to sell my house to buy it.  Where is that machine?  I don't want a stitch regulator or fancy stitches.  I don't need it to sing to me when it turns on, or have a drink holder for my coffee.  I don't need it to store pictures of my family that pop up when I am trying to sew.   I just want it to do the job of sewing.  Even Wilma had a sewing machine that worked.

Where are you Mr. Right????  I dream, fantasize and pray for you.  I  even have been searching (dare I say?) the Internet for you.
When Hello Kitty went bad.
But alas!  You may only be a vision in my dreams. Maybe you haven't been invented yet.  So I will wait. 
In the mean time, does any one what to buy a Bernia 200 upgraded to a 730 that tap dances?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Knit One and Purl Two

I just love to knit. So while my web site has been under construction, which seems like forever,  I have been knitting.  First it was this scarf to get me back in the knitting groove.  When I saw the colors and texture of this yarn my heart skipped a beat. I broke out in a sweat and knew I had to have it.  I didn't look at the price until I got to the register. Yes, it was very expensive. I bought it anyway.  Don't tell Joe. Then feeling quite accomplished after making this beautiful scarf, I wondered if I was brave enough to work on a sweater I started about 2 years ago.

It was a Vogue pattern that I downloaded off their web site. I had to join the vogue knitting site and then you can down load it for free.  I just loved it.  I was going to teach myself how to do cables with this pattern.  No sweat, right? 

This was my second try at the sweater. You can see some of my cables rows are not going in the right direction.

I started the sweater 4 times, which means I had to unravel the sweater 3 times. At one point I just lost interest and felt maybe it was simply too complicated for my little brain but I needed something complicated to work on while Joe was fixing my web site. Oh! I guess I forgot to tell you that I wiped out most of my web site by trying to help Joe.  So why not try again to make this Debbie Bliss Silver Belle sweater again and stay out of Joe's hair (what little he has left) and stick with what I know how to do. 
So far it’s working out really great.  I have been obsessed with it and it is going very fast - big needles help (Size 9).  Every once in a while I have to take out a row or 2.  Like last night.  You can see by the picture that this young girl has not been blessed yet with her womanly assets.  And at her age I wasn't, either.

So the sizing and fit of this sweater is also a challenge.   I was lucky to find web sites that have also worked on this sweater and gave me an idea of how it fits. It runs really big.  But I am happy to say I am done with the skirt and now working on the top and sleeve that are in one piece.

I will keep you updated on my progress.  But now I am looking for my next sweater and I found this pattern that I want sooo bad.  It’s called the Mermaid by Hanne Falkenberg. It comes in all colors but you can only get the pattern when you buy her kit.  So this is my motivation for completing my Silver Belle. Then I have to find the $$$$.  And you thought you could only be addicted to fabric!