Pine Needle Retreat 2016

Talk about a room with a view!

Hood Canal

This photo of Hood Canal in Washington State — those are the Olympic Mountains in the background — was taken from the deck of the house I stayed in last week. I was in Union, Washington to teach at a four-day quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle. The deck of the house I shared with Geri, the owner of the Pine Needle, was built right over the water. I fell asleep to and woke to the sound of water gently lapping at the rocks on the shore.

The retreat itself was held at St Andrews House, a retreat and conference center run by the Episcopal Church of Western Washington:

St Andrews House, Hood Canal
Isn’t that a serene setting for a retreat? Here are a couple of closer views of the building:

St Andrews House Hood Canal 1

St Andrews House Hood Canal 2

A covered deck runs the entire length of the house on the water side, affording spectacular views of Hood Canal (technically a glacial fjord) and the Olympics.

The pattern I selected for the retreat was Spinners, from the book On the Run Again by Heather Mulder Peterson (Anka’s Treasures, 2014). Spinners is one of 11 designs in the book, so participants got a bonanza of designs when they signed up.

One of the things I love about teaching is seeing what fabric combinations students bring to the sewing table. Here are the first few blocks:

Spinners first blocks
On our last morning, we had an impromptu show and tell of our projects. Unfortunately, our California girls (Candyce, Jan, and Janice) had to leave very early to catch a flight home, and a couple of other participants had already packed their projects away, so I don’t have photos of those. Still, we have plenty of examples to show you.

Diana came to the retreat planning to make one test block. She liked her first block so well she decided to make an entire quilt! Here are her first six blocks:

Spinners Diana

Linda completed her quilt top! She fussy cut the center hexagons. The narrow containment border and wider floral border set off her blocks beautifully:

Spinners Linda Lake

Sophia was very productive! Not only did she complete a Spinners top . . .

Spinners Sofia
. . . she also made another block from Heather’s book, the block called Happy Dance . . .

Sofia with Happy Dance . . . and this one called Chatter Box:

Sofia with block
Donna made a set of placemats using the table topper design from the book — and had enough fabric leftover to make a table runner:

Spinners Donna

Those placemats will add a lively jolt of color to Donna’s table.

Carol S. also chose the table topper design, using a delightful holiday fabric featuring poinsettias and holly:

Spinners Carol Stark
She made several, to be given as gifts. Lucky recipients!

Carol D. made kaleido-spinner blocks (my name for the Spinners block made with identically-cut triangles that surround the center hexagon) using a lovely stylized floral fabric:

Spinners Carol Dyer
Did you notice Carol’s Spinners blocks are on point? She is making a runner for a narrow table; her runner will be 13½” wide. If she had turned her blocks horizontally, the runner would measure 15½” wide.

Pam S.’s runner features playful prints spinning around solid gold:

Spinners Pam Snyder

I can’t help it; those fabrics make me smile.

Evelyn also made kaleido-spinner blocks. She’s making a quilt and is showing us the fabric she chose for the border. It’s going to look terrific next to the subtly textured aqua batik that surrounds the spinning triangles:

Spinners Evelyn Bonney
I can think of only one word to describe Tamara’s Spinners runner: elegant. Take a look:

Spinners Tamara Brockett
The touches of metallic in the triangles and light background fabric, contrasting with that rich burgundy, contribute to the rich effect. Tamara fussy cut her triangles from a fabric I wouldn’t have thought of for a kaleido-spinner quilt:

Spinners Tamara Brockett with focus fabric

Tamara will incorporate that fabric on the back of her runner.

Sharon fussy cut flowers for the center of her blocks from a beautiful fabric that looks like a watercolor painting. Here’s one of those blocks . . .

Spinners Sharon Justus
. . . and another:

Spinners Sharon Justus block 2
She’s using a different colored batik in each of the triangles.

Debbie H. chose fabrics for her runner that match the décor of her dining room:

Spinners Debbie

That creamy jacquard background fabric sets off her Spinners blocks so well. And her Y-seams are perfect!

Debbie S. pieced a king-size bed runner using lively tropical fabrics. She also made kaleido-spinner blocks:

Spinners Debbie ScroggyDebbie put her own spin on the design by incorporating two fabrics in the top and bottom blocks (that stripe!), omitting the sashing strips, and adding an accent strip around the blocks. Debbie is a professional longarm quilter (AllQuilted LLC). I will be very interested to see how she quilts this vibrant runner.

While the retreat featured the Spinners pattern, the participants were free to work on whatever they wanted.  Helen was finishing the binding on two spectacular small projects . . .

Helen with Convergence

Helen's project
. . . and she was also working on her version of Shadowbox (pattern by Mountainpeek Creations):

Helen's quilt

Colleen worked on her 6″ Farm Girl Vintage blocks, designed by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet:

Colleen with Farmgirl Vintage
That block on the far right has over 50 pieces in it. I can only imagine how many pieces the finished quilt will contain.

Thank you, Geri, for organizing a fabulous retreat filled with laughter, games, good food, and some very productive and creative sewing. Thank you, participants; you made teaching a pleasure. I hope to see you all again when we convene at the Pine Needle in October to show off our finished creations.

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, hexagons, kaleido-spinner, table topper, update, wall hanging | 13 Comments

A New Coat for my Rotary Cutter

I’m heading off shortly to Hood Canal in Washington State for a quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. On one evening I’m going to show my students how to make a rotary cutter coat based on my free pattern (tutorial here).

As I was gathering my materials yesterday, I realized I didn’t have a rotary cutter coat of my own. All the ones I have made were given away.

I fixed that in short order. Here is my (new) rotary cutter coat:

rotary cutter cut

The fabric? Two prints from the Paradise line designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Cottons. I bought a lot of this line when it came out last year. You may recognize it, because it goes with the Junior Billie Bag I made a few months ago. These are the front and back panels of my bag:

Jr Billie Bag front and back

Now my Billie Bag is packed for the retreat, including my new rotary cutter coat:

billie bag and cutter coat
I’m good to go!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, rotary cutter case, update | 5 Comments

Friday Finish: WanderLust

Well, that was fast.

Just yesterday I showed you pictures of WanderLust, the king-size bed runner I picked up on Wednesday from longarm quilter Coleen Barnhardt of the Quilted Thistle. The bed runner needed to be bound and labeled — and that’s been done.

As good as my quilt looked after Coleen worked her free motion quilting magic on it, it looks even better now that it’s bound:

WanderLust complete

WanderLust back and front

Are you surprised I got it bound so quickly? It would have taken me hours to stitch down the binding by hand. Confession: I took the easy way out and fused the binding in place in a matter of minutes with Steam-a-Seam-2, a double-stick fusible web.

I use Steam-a-Seam-2 occasionally on wall hangings and other small pieces that won’t get washed. It should be just fine for this bed runner that will be laundered but not as often as, say, a baby quilt. (Actually, a fusible web should never wash out or come undone if applied properly. I used it on this quilt because I was in a hurry to get it done; my preference is for a binding stitched down by hand.)

The label is a bit unconventional. In fact, it’s not a label at all. I mentioned yesterday that this quilt is reversible so I didn’t want to attach a label as I normally do. Here’s what I did instead:

label

Can you see where I wrote “WANDERLUST, DAWN WHITE, 2016 PORTLAND OR” in permanent ink? It’s hard to see (my plan) but it’s there. I like to include information on my labels about the patterns and designers but I skipped it in this case. Let this post be a permanent record that WanderLust was based on the pattern Spinners by Heather Mulder Peterson. Spinners is one of several delightful designs in her book On the Run Again (Anka’s Treasures, 2014).

My new cat Coco must really like this quilt. She photobombed it:

Coco photobomb

 

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, cats, free motion quilting, quilt labels, update | 6 Comments

WanderLust, Quilted

Yesterday morning when I looked at my Instagram feed, I saw something familiar, a photo on Coleen Barnhardt’s Instagram page very similar to this one:

WanderLust, quilting detail 1

Oh, joy! It meant Coleen, an award-winning longarm quilter (the Quilted Thistle), was working on my quilt WanderLust, made from Heather Peterson’s Spinners pattern (from the book On the Run Again).

Later in the day Coleen let me know she was finished, and off I rushed to claim the quilt. It’s actually a king-size bed runner (measuring 20″ x 88″ after quilting) so it was a bit difficult to photograph. Here are a few shots taken on my back lawn yesterday afternoon:

WanderLust

WanderLust front and back-001

I liked the floral fabric so much (it’s from Joel Dewberry’s Wander line, which is how this quilt got its name) that I made the bed runner reversible. Because of that I won’t put a label on it — but I may write some information on the back in very tiny letters.

Coleen’s free motion quilting is spectacular! Here are a few closeups:

Wanderlust quilting detail

WanderLust quilting detail 4

WanderLust, quilting detail 3

WanderLust, quilting detail 2
Coleen and I chose a pale khaki thread with sheen. Because the quilt is reversible, I asked her to use the same thread on the back:

WanderLust, quilting detail, back
The fern-y batik I used on the front of the quilt is all but gone from my stash. Fortunately, I have enough of the dotted batik from the back to use for the binding:

Wanderlust, binding fabric

Getting this bed runner bound is top priority, as I am teaching the Spinners pattern at the Pine Needle retreat this weekend, and I want to show a finished quilt. After that, I am sending WanderLust off to my sister Reigh, as it will look perfect at the foot of her king-size bed.

 

 

 

Posted in bed runners, family, hexagons, update | 10 Comments

Hitting the Jackpot

That shipment of Garden Pindot fabric by Michael Miller that I’m using as the background for my Mini Rings quilt finally arrived today. It shipped out 10 days ago, and I’d been wondering if it would ever arrive.

I think the wait was worth it:

2016-05-31 15.59.37
That sticker was on the plastic bag my fabric was packed in. I ordered five yards — and received 11½ yards instead.

But that’s only part of the story. All I needed was a small amount of this white-on-white dot to finish my Mini Rings quilt:

2016-05-31 16.00.05

I couldn’t find it locally so I decided to shop online. When I discovered that fabric.com had 11½ yards of this fabric available, I impulsively ordered it all, reasoning that it would serve as background for a great many quilts and I would never be in a situation where I would be using noticeably different dye lots in the same project.

Then fabric.com notified me that the yardage was not one continuous piece of fabric but rather several pieces in 1 yard, 1.5 yard, and 2 yard cuts. Did I still want the fabric? I decided to rein in my impulse purchase and modified my order to three pieces totaling five yards. The fabric shop altered my order and refigured the price.

When the box arrived today, I lifted it and thought, “Gee, this is awfully heavy for five yards of fabric.” Inside were eight cuts of fabric totaling 11½ yards. Talk about hitting the jackpot! Thank you, fabric.com!

Interestingly, two of the eight cuts are noticeably creamier than the others, so I will set them aside and make sure I don’t unwittingly combine them with the snowier ones.

Guess I won’t be running out of Garden Pindot anytime soon.

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 5 Comments

Mini Rings Update

I thought I would have my Mini Rings quilt top (pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful) assembled by now, but I still have two blocks to go:

Mini Rings in progress

I’m making a square quilt of nine blocks; the blocks finish at 11″ so the quilt will finish at 33″. My plan was to make a block a day but alas, I have fallen behind. Too many other things going on at the Portland White House. Plus, I’m still waiting on that shipment of my background fabric (Garden Pindot by Michael Miller).

Still, my top will be finished soon. I’m going to keep it borderless and bind it in that acid green.

Speaking of binding, I’m halfway done sewing the binding on a baby quilt you’ve seen come together recently:

Stefan's quilt, binding detail

I am really liking the narrow border, using a pale lime Fairy Frost from Michael Miller for both border and binding.

It’s an absolutely beautiful day here in Portland, Oregon. The delicious aroma of something cooking on a neighbor’s barbecue is wafting in the open windows, the DH is happily working outside in the garden, and our new cat Coco is stretched out on a chair in the TV room. It’s been a lovely three-day weekend.

I hope you have had a lovely weekend, too!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 4 Comments

Babies and Cats

Stefan's quilt, front

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:

2016-05-26 09.39.44

You can see why I fell in love with this line of fabric, Into the Deep, designed by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller Fabrics.

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:

Stefan's quilt, back
Here’s a close-up of the stream that shows off that organic-looking quilting:

Stefan's quilt, detail on back
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?

Coco May 24, 2016
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:

Coco with Charlie

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.

Babies and cats. Irresistible!

 

 

 

Posted in baby quilt, bowties, cats, family, update | 11 Comments

A Quartet of Mini Rings and a Thank You

Mini Rings four blocks

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.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, family, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 6 Comments

Theodora, the Cat with One White Whisker

Theo 2014
Theo, December 2014

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:

2013-9, Theo 1
Theodora Stakes Her Claim

 

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:

2013-12, Theo on my sewing table
Hey!

 

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:

Theodora, May 2012
Theo, the Cat with One White Whisker

 

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?

2 paris mug
Theo’s Double

 

She was with us for exactly 18 years. RIP, kitten.

 

 

 

Posted in cats, family, Paris, update | 24 Comments

Doodling Around

Remember this block?

Mini Rings block 800 11.5 in

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:

fabric Studio 8 for Quilting Treasures-001

Then I cut the paper into rings, just as if it were fabric, using the QCR Mini:

Mini Rings test paper

I liked what I saw so I went ahead and cut enough fabric to make one block. Here it is:

Mini Rings test block yellow

I liked the block . . . but not quite enough to make an entire quilt out of it.

I tried again, this time using a fabric from the Doodle collection designed by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures:

Mini Rings test block green

I liked this block. A lot. Enough to make an entire quilt out of it?

Mini Rings fabric cuts

Why, yes!

 

 

 

Posted in QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, update | 9 Comments