Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busy as a bee!

Blogging took a back seat to stitching for most of the summer.  It was slow going at times, and there were a few distractions along the way, but I'm happy to show you my beehive block, completed just this morning.

There were a few anxious moments wondering if it would all come together.  Sometimes one's vision just doesn't become a reality.  In the case of this block, I was pleasantly surprised. 

I meant to take photos at each step of this block's construction but, once in stitching mode, the best laid plans...
Here is a first photo, taken on July 19 when I was at the very beginning with stems and leaves.
Then came some flowers about a week or so later.

This is the block with the appliqué complete on August 21st.  I worked on some small projects during that month but the beehive was mostly front and center.  It's interesting to compare a block before and after embellishments are added so here they are next to each other.

I have to say the tendrils and sprigs were starting to make me a little crazy, but I persevered.  

When I finish a block, I'm always thankful for the generous encouragement of fellow appliqué devotees:  Elly Sienkiewicz who introduced me to this Baltimore journey;  Cynthia Williford who instilled a love of embellishment;  Jeanne Sullivan who taught me prepared edge appliqué;  and Patsy Lastra, my sister friend, who gives me her honest opinion always and helps me get unstuck.  These are just a few of the women I've been so fortunate to meet because of appliqué.

Well, back to the sewing room!  I need to figure out what's next!  Happy stitching to you!  

From my garden, a David Austin rose called Carding Mill

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Appliqué Academy 2014

I am so pleased to be teaching at The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy in February 2014.  This will be my third year as a main conference teacher and it is an honor to be included.  The Academy is in its 19th year and is an annual celebration of all things appliqué, drawing students from many areas of the U.S. and abroad.   Some women have asked me about the application process for Academy.  It's simple:  write a check!  TESAA is not just for experienced appliquérs.  All levels, from beginner to advanced, are encouraged to attend.  You will find the instructors very willing to help you experience success, no matter where you are in your appliqué journey.   

The very exciting news is that TESAA will be held in a new venue:  The Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia.  The resort boasts multiple restaurants, a spa, and many recreational possibilities.  Just think:  you could take a break from stitching and go have a massage!
My main conference class is entitled "Love is a Rose."  This will be a techniques filled class where you will get your block well underway.  We will use cutaway needleturn for the complex stem, blanket stitch appliqué for the grape leaves, and prepared edge appliqué for the other elements of the block.  We'll complete a section of the wreath so that everyone knows how to handle the key elements.  We will then focus on the center making the padded, multi-petal rose from wire edged ribbon and preparing the hummingbirds.  It's the perfect class for students who want to try a variety of techniques.  And we will make it fun!
I will also be teaching a one-day class on Monday called "Little Red Baskets."  We will focus on one basket and should be able to complete it by the end of class.  You may choose to do all nine baskets for a small quilt top or just one framed and embellished basket like the blue version below.
Please see the Academy web site for detailed information on supply lists and kit options for these classes.  And do consider attending Appliqué Academy.  You're sure to love it!

Summertime means the junco couple that lives in our yard is having babies.  They always build their nest in the hanging basket outside our kitchen door.  This year's basket is filled with what was a lovely black-eyed Susan vine.  Since I can't water it right now, it's not looking so good.  Not sure it will make a comeback once the babies have fledged in about three more days.  I don't mind at all and enjoy seeing the parents raise their brood.  Four baby birds are growing their wings in a nest smaller than a teacup, so it's getting a little crowded. Anyway, here they are. You can only see one little beak and two little eyes but this one's siblings are in there somewhere.  A highlight of summer!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Surpise!

I got a real surprise on Wednesday night!  My quilt, "Love's Horizon," won two ribbons at the National Quilting Association's show in Columbus, Ohio:  a first place in the duet category (it was beautifully quilted by Anita Shackelford) and a special recognition award, "Traditional: Remarkable Achievement in Classic Patterning."  I wasn't there, but Anita Shackelford sent this photo of the quilt at preview night.  It was very exciting!  I made this quilt for my niece, Emerson, and the clipper ship bears her name.  She was very excited too.  

The NQA Show is a non-juried show.  They accept the first four hundred entries received by the deadline and all are judged.  The Best of Show , Best Machine Quilting, and Exemplary Appliqué ribbons all went to Sharon Schamber's quilt, "Once Upon a Time."  I've seen her quilt in person and it is truly extraordinary, as is everything she does.

So that's my big adventure in entering a quilt show.  It's only the second time I've done it;  the first time was in a local guild show.  It is not for the faint of heart, especially the packing and mailing part of the process.  Now I just have to wait patiently for my quilt to get safely home to me.
Quilting by Anita Shackelford;  Pattern by Elly Sienkiewicz.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

All together now...

I’ve FINALLY finished the little red basket quilt top!  Color me happy because all those French knots on the border made me delirious!  It took an entire 20 yard skein of Thread Gatherer size 10 pearl silk in "Old Lace" to do the job.  That's a whole bunch of French knots!  The effort was worth it and I'm looking forward to quilting this piece.

My blogging absence can be explained in two words:  deadline and spring.  I had a sewing deadline which I have met.  Can't show you what I was working on just yet.

And Spring!  Nothing is lovelier than Spring in the mountains.  We have had a cool season and lots of rain.  The flowers have been particularly spectacular, especially the hybrid rhododendrons.  The native rhododendron in our neighborhood will be blooming soon.  Here are a few flower photos from my garden.  Can't you just see them in appliqué blocks?

Poppies by the mailbox
A bank of rhododendron near the front porch



In addition to gardening, I've been doing quite a bit of hiking.  Here are a couple of photos from last week's hike to Crabtree Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This spot is a wildflower paradise.  The galax were blooming profusely on the forest floor.  Galax is in high demand by florists for their long-lasting leaves and they are becoming scarce because of illegal poaching.


Crabtree Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

So I have been busy with the other parts of my life, but sewing is always at the top of the list.  I'll get back to blogging regularly now that my flower and vegetable gardens are under control.  I have just started a new block and in future posts I'll show my progress and offer tips for complex appliqué.  Until then, happy stitching!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More Little Red Baskets...

Here are the rest of the little red baskets for the small quilt I’m making. The fabrics are all Daiwabo taupes.  I think they're looking really cute and they are super fast!  Using the prepared edge technique for appliqué, it only takes a couple of hours to do one of the more complicated baskets.  The easy ones are even faster!   Once the appliqué is finished, it's on to the fun part -- embellishment.  The basket above makes use of some lovely Mokuba organdy flowers that I dyed.  The ribbon bow is a lovely taupey color called "twig" from Mary Jo Hiney Designs.  The feather stitch on the basket is done in silk floss from Gloriana Threads in "alpine taupe" and "dried roses."  I am always fascinated by the names for colors!

This basket has a more minimalist design and looks a bit Native American to me.

This basket features what my husband calls "whirly flowers."  They are done in Gloriana 4mm ribbon, "dried roses."  The Queen Ann's lace is Gloriana silk flass in "gilded pink" and Thread Gatherer's "honeysuckle white."

The simplicity of this little basket is sweet.

This one is a bit on the fancy side.  The flowers are 7mm ribbon from Gloriana in "gilded ink"  and Mary Jo Hiney in "floribunda."  In the style of Japanese quilters, I used French knots to highlight the handles and upper rim of the basket.  The Japanese quilters will put French knots in abundance just about anywhere to achieve a beautiful outlined look!

Stay tuned for the little quilt top all put together -- it's coming soon!

In the meantime, March Madness is a big deal at my house. Although my husband was briefly unhappy that his Kentucky Wildcats didn't make it to the big dance this year, we're happy to have a great team to cheer to victory -- the University of Miami!  GO 'CANES!!!