Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Improv Rail Fence and AHIQ Link up #5

Like Kaja, it's been an unexpectedly busy month for me. Best? Visiting my new grandson.
Worst? Computer crash again. It's extremely hard to get any photos uploaded and impossible to follow links.

I finished quilting Improv Rail Fence. Again I squared the quilt with a ruler before binding. It seems to work better for me although it does remove more of the top than would happen with a more traditional pattern.

Improv Rail Fence
Striped binding seemed a good plan but there wasn't enough of either. So I used both.

Binding detail
Quilt Details
Size: 82"(H) x 59"(W)
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Aurifil 50/2 cotton thread in pink
Quilting: Free motion swirls and flowers

Previous posts:
1. Another Improv String Quilt
2. Improv String Quilt, a Beginning

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because site was hacked.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Who Wants to Flitter Through a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies Link Up?

Cathy wrote last week she's starting a quilt using some of her butterfly fabric in a kaleidoscope pattern! Many other kaleidoscopes are floating around the Internet. Wouldn't it be great to share them all and publicize the need for butterfly habitat improvement, too?

We think a link up might be fun. Very casual. Any information about butterflies, release events, planting, festivals is great. We'll also share photos of quilts we're making with butterfly fabric. Or any kaleidoscope or butterfly quilt. Quilters are an inventive group. :-)

Clusters of monarch butterflies at Natural Bridges State Park, CA
Again, here are the parameters:

  1. Celebrate butterflies and other pollinators with photos of butterflies, pupae, or larvae in your area and/or the plants they feed on AND/OR
  2. Use butterfly fabric OR
  3. Use any kaleidoscope or butterfly pattern (Don't forget those fabulous designs by Paula Nadelstern!)

Let us know if you're interested in the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up starting February 1.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A New Kaleidoscope

Three of us decided to have a quilting day and we chose to play with kaleidoscopes: sophisticated fabrics for Gayle, whimsical for Joni, and a bright mix for me. Each of us brought a good selection then spent the day laughing, sewing and discussing. Gayle made a delicious bean soup for lunch. Joni brought a wonderful salad. I brought my appetite. Oops.

Kaleidoscope wedges by Gayle, Joni, and me.
This is some of what we finished by day's end. The biggest surprise was how much better all of our blocks looked together than individually. It emphasized the need to mix values and vibrancy.

Continuing my monarch butterfly theme, I plan to use orange, yellow and black... along with other colors, of course. I was determined to use this fabric - Tribal Lace Mountain by Zandra Rhodes for Free Spirit. It worked better once I decided to semi-fussy cut the strips.

One of the large scale fabrics used in my kaleidoscope was Tribal Lace Mountain by Zandra Rhodes for Free Spirit.
Can you find it in the blocks below?

Some potential kaleidoscope layouts. 
Here's my progress at the end of day two...

Day 2 progress.
and after day three.

Day 3 progress.
Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Of Monarchs and Milkweed

For several Januaries, I've visited Ano Nuevo and Natural Bridges State Parks to see the elephant seals and monarch butterflies respectively. This year rain made the seals more active. Who knew?

Northern elephant seals have made a significant comeback from near extinction. Fifty were left by the turn of the last century. Over 200,000 are believed to exist now. Excellent protections by both Mexican and American governments helped this recovery.

The monarchs had already left Natural Bridges. There have been significantly fewer butterflies each year.  A docent told us some still remained at Lighthouse Field State Park. We found several clusters there.

A cluster of monarch butterflies at Lighthouse Field State Park
Unfortunately monarchs have been declining rapidly everywhere. Californians tell me there used to be millions in this small location. I've only seen thousands the past few years. The 9 January Google doodle celebrates the 1975 discovery of the monarchs' overwintering site in the Mexican Sierra Madres where they "swirled like autumn leaves." From billions, they are down to a few million.

What's the problem? Basically, milkweed eradication. Monarchs lay their eggs solely on milkweed which is rapidly disappearing as farmland is turned to housing. Each year monarchs have fewer places to lay their eggs.

What can we do? Iowa recently started "bombing for butterflies." Golf-ball sized globs of milkweed seed, loam and clay are given to cyclists, runners, and basically anyone who will toss them around the countryside. We can all join this effort. Iowa is important for monarch migration, but there are many more miles from Canada to Mexico, one of the main migratory paths for these beautiful and vital insects.

I bought native milkweed seed at a state park and grow it in a pot. No butterflies yet, but I collect and scatter the seeds annually. Milkweed has large clusters of small flowerets. From pods, their seeds disperse on little parachutes like dandelion. I thought all milkweed was white but these blossoms are pink and orange. Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa have a section to encourage and feed local pollinators that includes milkweed. Perhaps more of us could incorporate local species into our gardens.

Which milkweed should you use? There are 73 varieties native to the Americas; buy one that comes from your area.

Where should you toss them? Think nature preserves, bogs, streambeds, empty lots, your own backyard... not your neighbor's flowerbed. Here's another site with more information. If you don't live in the Americas, ask what flowers (or weeds) best support the native pollinators of your country and plant those. Update: Monarch Watch sells and mails milkweed plugs. They also have a list of seed providers for various areas.

Did you know the collective noun for a group of butterflies is a kaleidoscope? This is how I interpret kaleidoscope. How appropriate. A kaleidoscope of butterflies. Wouldn't that be a sight?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Floating Squares Finished

The top was pinned before Thanksgiving but I finally quilted it just before the new year. Very simple straight lines with a walking foot. Again I chose to square up the edges with the ruler.

I liked the challenge of using scraps to make the blocks and finding a way to put them together. One diagonal is roughly red/pink; the other green. I have several ideas about blending the edges of the blocks next time.

Floating Squares
There was almost enough of a brown and pink print for the binding. It needed a foot of light pink leftover from the Chinese Coins string to complete. You can see it at the top left of the photo below. Machine sewed on one side, hand stitched on the other.

Floating Squares, view of quilt back
The back used vintage yardage from my stash with 12.5" string block squares that were leftover from another project. I love using up the scraps. :-)

Quilt Details
Size: 60"(H) x 56"(W)
Pattern: Floating Squares from Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann 50 wt. cotton thread in pink (800 m spool)
Quilting: Walking foot on a Bernina 1230

This is a perfect size for a toddler, lap, or picnic quilt. Just waiting for a home...

Previous posts:
1. Floating Squares Begun
2. Floating Squares Top Complete

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Vintage Kaleidoscope and End of Year Sorting

I intended to write about cleaning up my sewing room but Julie wrote everything last week. We must be related: there are millions of shiny, new objects (quilts) in my mind but I couldn't get started until I'd cleared out the scrap bag, sorted the storage and vacuumed, dusted and polished. As Julie said, it's so refreshing to take the time to regroup.

As part of the general cleaning, I pulled out this top. Some kaleidoscope blocks have been around since 1997. About five years ago, I made more blocks, tossed some older ones and sewed the top. It's never been quilted.

Deep red, purple, blue, and blue-green fabrics sorted by value highlight the circles of the kaleidoscope quilt pattern.
Kaleidoscope quilt
This is another quilt constructed using Marilyn Doheny's kaleidoscope ruler. (I can't find photos of the first two made with this ruler. They were lovely and well-loved.) The ruler continues to be useful.

Detail shots include some of the original blocks as well as newer ones.

Kaleidoscope quilt, detail
This design is created with two blocks; both have the same pieces but the value placement changes. It's most noticeable if you look at the darks; they create either an X or a + in the center. The four corner triangles that complete the squares are very light against the dark X or medium light against the medium X. The strict attention to value creates the stronger light circles and diamonds as well as the occasional dark circle "after image."

The center octagons are usually created with two sets of four wedges (alternating dark and medium.) However, many of these have two pairs of darks and/or mediums.

It's still a pretty quilt that should be used instead of languishing on a shelf.  Now it's donated as a veteran's quilt.

Kaleidoscope quilt, detail
Over the holidays I sewed 146 string blocks solely from my [now empty!] scrap bag. In addition to these colors, there are  yellow, orange, black, brown and purple blocks. Perhaps they will become toddler quilts or... ?

String blocks from the scrap bag scraps.
This year I am choosing a scrap block as a leader/ender project to regularly reduce the scraps. There will still be scraps in the scrap bag but hopefully it will take longer to fill. I know I'm weird but a full scrap bag bothers me until it's used.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Red Circle Days - Quilty365

Thanks to Audrey's Quilty365 I'm rediscovering hand applique. Like so many others, I sew one circle a day... and I'm up to date.

Some backgrounds are pieced; some circles are pieced.

Red Circle Days - Quilty365 through December, 2015
Some days there is too much to do to choose a fabric. Those are my "red circle days." One small circle for every day in a row I'm busy or sick. It reminds me of Red Letter Days although being under the weather is not exactly a "red letter" event.

Other people appliqued multiple circles to a single background. I think they are counting the backgrounds. I'm counting the circles! Is that too didactic? Or cheating? That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

See many more wonderfully inventive variations of this project at Audrey's Quilty365. There's also one more day to add your improv work to AHIQ, too.

Enjoy the day, Ann