The baby quilt I sent off to be quilted recently is back, and I’m tickled pink. Make that blue, as this quilt is for a little boy. Longarm quilter Sherry Wadley and I picked a modern swirly edge-to-edge design that echoes the waves in the sea-themed fabric.
Here’s a close-up of the quilting that also shows off some of the prints in the quilt, including a stylish seahorse sporting a bowtie:
On the back, the quilting motif shows up well on the batik stream that flows alongside the jellyfish fabric, part of the Into the Deep collection:
Here’s a close-up of the stream that shows off that organic-looking quilting:
I’m going to bind and label this quilt as quickly as I can so I can deliver it to Baby Stefan. Here’s hoping it will keep him warm and wrapped in love well beyond his toddler years.
In other happy news, there’s a new resident feline in the Portland White House. My husband and I had planned to visit the Oregon Humane Society yesterday but last Friday night I got a call from my friend Colleen, who lives out in the country. A calico cat, obviously hungry, had been hanging around her house all day, and was I interested in taking a look at her? Yes, please!
I picked the kitty up Saturday afternoon, and it was love at first sight. She was thoroughly checked out by our vet on Monday, who thinks she is about one year old. She’s gotten all her shots, been treated for ear mites and fleas, and been microchipped and licensed. She is ours.
And she’s a beauty, don’t you agree?
What a mellow cat she has turned out to be, especially for a stray! Now that she knows there will be a next meal, she is totally relaxed. She absolutely adores my husband. This photo was taken on Sunday, the first full day we had her:
We have named her Cordelia, after the daughter of King Lear. (We name all our cats after royalty and I figure literary royalty counts, too.) We call her Coco for short.
Four of nine blocks for my Mini Rings quilt, made using the QCR Mini (mini Quick Curve Ruler), are done.
I’ve run out of background fabric, a white-on-white Michael Miller pindot. I could make more blocks using one of several other white-on-white prints in my stash but I am holding out for having all my blocks the same. A little obsessive-compulsive, perhaps? Now I have to hope that the fabric I ordered on line is from a similar enough dye lot that no one can see the difference between the old and the new. You would be surprised, even with white and black fabrics, how much dye lots can differ.
Working on these blocks has helped take my mind off the loss of my little cat Theodora, subject of my previous post. Thank you so much to those of you who wrote consoling comments on my blog. I cried the entire time I was writing that post, and I cried while reading the comments.
In the 35 years my husband Charlie and I have lived in this house, we’ve never been without a cat. If one of our cats died, there was at least one still at home to help ease the grief. Not so now, since Theo’s last feline companion, Elfie, died three years ago.
Charlie and I are going to the Oregon Humane Society next week, hoping to bring home a cat (maybe two) in need of a “forever home.” Although it seems a little disloyal to Theo’s memory, I’ve already been on the OHS website looking at pictures and descriptions of available cats. There are some very sweet looking ones! We’ll choose an adult cat, since the older ones are not considered as adoptable as kittens.
By the time of my next post, there may be a new resident of the Portland White House.
My little cat Theodora – Theo for short – was put to sleep on Sunday.
Anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet knows how I am feeling right now. Pretty low. A wise friend, knowing that Theo’s days were numbered, told me last week, “We don’t own pets. They own us, and they own our hearts.” That has brought me comfort in the last few days, as Charlie and I adjust to life without Theo.
Theo has been part of our lives since the day in May 1998 we found her behind a cyclone fence at an abandoned electric station a few blocks from our home. She was so small we thought she was a kitten. She was cold, dirty, and hungry. Miraculously, she was also purring, riding high on my shoulder as I carried her home. She was coal black, with yellow eyes. She had no tail, just a little stub at the end of her rump.
With two cats at home, we weren’t looking for another cat. But that’s how it goes. We weren’t sure how Elfie and Isabelle would react. Elfie took to Theo right away; Belle simply ignored her.
We took the little black cat to our vet the next day for a checkup. He estimated she was about eight months old and thought she might be a Manx, as she had other characteristics of the breed besides the lack of a tail.
In keeping with our custom of naming our cats after royalty, we named this one Theodora after Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian, who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 527 to 565 AD. (One learns a bit of history being married to a history professor.)
Like her namesake, Theodora was imperious. She regularly demanded – and received — attention. She loved keeping company with Charlie in the study, curled up in the upholstered chair a few feet from his computer. She loved hanging out with me in my sewing room, often usurping my chair when I got up to use the iron:
One of my favorite photos of Theo is this one, peering at me through my sewing machine, willing me to stop sewing and pay attention to her:
In her later years, she liked to crawl under the covers at night and snuggle with us, and she would purr for the longest time before finally drifting off to sleep. The last couple of years she launched a nightly yowling campaign to coax us to bed, usually way before bedtime.
Theo’s coat remained a glossy black as she got older, although late in her life there were a few white hairs among all the black ones. And there was that one white whisker. One time it fell out, and the new whisker that grew in was also white:
As the years passed, we continued to refer to Theo as “the kitten” because she was so petite. At her peak she weighed 7½ pounds. At the end she was a little over 4 pounds. Despite a voracious appetite, she had been steadily losing weight over the last couple of years. She was being treated for thyroid disease and incipient kidney failure. By now she was also completely deaf.
A few weeks ago problems associated with kidney disease began to surface. We could tell she was in some distress. After multiple trips to the vet, we had to face the fact that, while we might try different treatments that would prolong Theo’s life, she was never going to get better. We didn’t want to wait until she was suffering greatly to make the decision about euthanasia.
My twin sister Diane (whose cat Alex lived to be 23) told me the other day, “In my next life I want to come back as a cat and live at the Portland White House.” I know Theo had a good life, and I am glad Charlie and I were able to provide that for her. But it doesn’t lessen the profound sadness we feel at her absence.
Even now, I expect to see her demanding to be fed or given treats every time I walk into the kitchen. I catch myself looking for her in her favored napping spots: the chair in the study, the top of the clothes dryer, the rug on the heated bathroom floor, the mantel in the living room when the sun was just right, and yes, the chair in my sewing room.
When I was in Paris a year ago at this time, I bought a souvenir mug that featured a chat noir (black cat en francais), partly because the cat reminded me of Theo (minus the tail). Theo wasn’t terribly photogenic. Even though she was a happy cat, in photos she always looked like she was scowling. Take a look at the cat on the mug. Doesn’t it look a lot like Theodora?
She was with us for exactly 18 years. RIP, kitten.
It’s the test block I made back in January using the mini Quick Curve Ruler — known as the QCR Mini — and Mini Rings pattern designed by those Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters. I’ve been wanting to make a Mini Rings quilt since the ruler and pattern were introduced last fall. I’m using the fabrics you see above in another quilt so that one block was as far as I got.
Time to try another one. For my second test block, I did something different. Instead of making the rings from four fabrics in a strip set, as the pattern instructs, I used one large print, a wonderful black and white and yellow floral I found last summer at a quilt shop in Central Oregon. Having bought the fabric for its possibilities in a kaleidoscope quilt, I was reluctant to cut a chunk out of it just to test my theory that it might look good in something else.
So I didn’t cut into it. Not at first. I placed the fabric on my printer screen and took a color photo of it:
Then I cut the paper into rings, just as if it were fabric, using the QCR Mini:
I liked what I saw so I went ahead and cut enough fabric to make one block. Here it is:
I liked the block . . . but not quite enough to make an entire quilt out of it.
In this case, the river is running through the backing for a baby quilt:
My starting point was a length of fabric from Patty Sloniger’s Into the Deep line for Michael Miller Fabrics. I needed to piece the backing to make it wider, and somehow a straight strip of fabric just wasn’t going to cut it. I blame it on those undulating jellyfish. The backing clearly needed something that emulated the motion of their tentacles. I needed to go with the flow, so to speak.
My batik stash yielded a watery print that picked up the blues and greens in the jellyfish fabric. I cut some gentle free motion curves through both layers and then sewed them together. It was easier than I thought, although I did have to pin the concave and convex curves.
Here’s a close-up of those two fabrics:
Don’t they look good together? I suppose that batik is a bit more fern-y than watery, but it still gives the effect I was looking for.
I used several other pieces from “Into the Deep” on the front of the quilt, which you may remember seeing in this post a few weeks ago:
This is the third of five baby quilts on my to-do list this year. Baby Stefan won’t have to wait too much longer for his quilt, and I’ve already started Number 4. Now that’s progress!
The Junior Billie Bag, measuring 14″ x 17″ x 7½”, is a downsized version of the quilter’s tote designed several years ago by Billie Mahorney, a popular local quilt teacher and designer. (I made one for myself a few months ago, which you can see here.)
Billie never wrote a pattern for her bag but taught classes for many years at the Pine Needle in Lake Oswego and elsewhere in Oregon. She is now retired from teaching and has passed the mantle on to me to teach her wonderful design.
Earlier this week I finished teaching the second of two classes on the Junior Billie Bag and will most likely be teaching more classes in the fall. Two of my students have already completed their bags, with three more close behind. When all 10 bags are finished, we’ll have a virtual Junior Billie Bag parade. You’re invited!
Happy May Day! Can you believe four months have passed since we rang in the New Year? Time sure flies when you’re having fun.
I’ve been playing with Heather Peterson’s Spinners pattern, from her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). I’ve chosen this pattern to teach next month at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop‘s retreat on Hood Canal in Washington State. I want to show my students a few different ways Spinners can be interpreted based on fabric and color choices as well as size of finished project.
My latest experiment is a three-block table runner or wall hanging in which I cut the six 60° triangles in each block from six repeats of fabric. In my last post I showed you the first block I made using that technique.
Here is the three-block runner, with the first block I made in the center:
It’s difficult to envision what a block will look like when you first cut the triangles; that’s part of the appeal for me of making kaleidoscope quilts. This isn’t a true kaleidoscope quilt because the triangles don’t meet in the center to form a hexagon. They spin around the center hexagon instead (which is why I’m calling this top a kaleido-spinner). Even so, the outcome of each block is a surprise.
Since some of my students may be minimalists or modern quilters, I’m going to make a sample block in solids or mostly solids. I’m already thinking about how a modern quiltmaker might treat the negative space when it comes to quilting.
I’m also still thinking about making placemats using this pattern. We don’t use placemats at the Portland White House because there is always a tablecloth on our dining room table (yes, made by me). But I have the perfect fabric in mind, one of those fabrics I bought a lot of a few years ago because I liked it so well. And the perfect fabric to make coordinating napkins is also in my stash. All in good time . . .
In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this spectacular May Day in Portland, Oregon. I hope you are enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures wherever you are!
“Ho hum,” you must be thinking. “That’s old news.” Yes indeed, but since bringing that beautiful floral fabric home earlier this month I have been fixated on using it in Heather’s pattern in a different way. I hinted as much in an earlier post about this fabric.
You already know that I am, to put it mildly, fond of kaleidoscope quilts. I’ve finished at least 10 quilts containing kaleidoscope blocks. All of them were made of eight 45° triangles forming an octagon. Until today I had never made a kaleidoscope block composed of six 60° triangles forming a hexagon.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Spinners block contains six 60° triangles. Instead of meeting in the middle to form a kaleidoscopic image, however, the triangles “spin” around a center hexagon. That didn’t stop me from testing my idea that six identical triangles placed in a Spinners block would produce an interesting effect.
Before I show you my Spinners block, take a look at the kaleidoscope blocks I could have made. Because the triangles are equilateral, any of the three points can go in the center, providing three different outcomes.
Here’s the first one:
The second one:
And the third one:
I like them all but am partial to the first one. A quilt made of these blocks and more would be very striking, to be sure. The floral print lends itself beautifully to kaleidoscope blocks. But we’re headed in a different direction this time. Take a look:
A new spin, both literally and figuratively. I’m calling it a “kaleido-spinner” block.
I placed the block on a piece of dark blue fabric so the block would stand out and I like the effect so well I’m going to use that fabric. I’ll make a couple more blocks before deciding whether to make a wall hanging or keep going to make a quilt.
The three-block table runner I made several days ago (and wrote about here) has expanded to a five-block bed runner:
It now measures 20″ x 90″ — long enough for a king size bed. I was going to size it for a queen bed but I had just enough of the batik background fabric to make it longer. Someone very dear to me loves this color combo, and I have a feeling this bed runner will look wonderful on her king size bed.
When I say I had “just enough” fabric, I wasn’t kidding. This is what was left over:
I would have liked to bind the bed runner in the same batik fabric. It’s been in my stash for a while so I doubt I could find more of it now. Oh well. I’m just glad I had enough to complete the top.
Next up: I need to make a backing and get the bed runner quilted. Before it is sent to its new home, it will be used as a class sample for a retreat I’m teaching at in June.
The hexagonal block in this bed runner is called Spinners. Designed by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures, it appears in her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). Heather shows Spinners as a one-block table topper and a three-block table runner or wall hanging. I converted it to a bed runner and have been also playing around with some settings for quilts.
Measuring 15½” x 13½”, the Spinners block is the perfect size for a placemat. Another idea for my retreat students to consider. Or me!
Time for a progress report on the quilter’s tote that I’m making for my friend Deborah’s birthday. Known as the Junior Billie Bag, it’s a scaled down version of the tote designed several years ago by my teacher and mentor Billie Mahorney. I’m making Deborah’s bag alongside the students in my two Junior Billie Bag classes at the Pine Needle Quilt Shop. It really helps to have the individual components on hand so I can show my students exactly how a bag goes together. It will measure 14″ x 17″ x 7½” when finished.
The pockets on the inside and outside of the bag are customized to fit a quiltermaker’s favorite rulers and tools. I’m hoping that the pocket sizes I chose for Deborah’s bag will be a good fit for her. Here’s a look at the inside pockets on the side panels . . .
and the outside pockets on the side panels:
Both outside pockets are trimmed with the solid red French General fabric loved by so many quiltmakers.
Now have a look at the inside of the bag with the side panels pinned to one of the front/back panels:
All told, this bag has 18 pockets. That’s a lot of pockets!
When I first wrote about Deborah’s Junior Billie Bag (you can read that post here), I hadn’t yet quilted the second front/back panel. The original plan was to do some free motion quilting but I opted instead for a modified chevron that extends the lines of the star points:
It’s a nice counterpoint to the serpentine stitching on the first front/back panel:
I’m having a lot of fun working on this bag and am happy to report that I am entering the home stretch. Deborah won’t have to wait too much longer to claim her birthday present!