Friday, October 29, 2010

oh! oh! a giveaway!

I've seen a lot of selvage things in the quilt world lately.  Truthfully, they don't float my boat.  I've never saved selvages but when I went scrapbox diving today, I found a *modest* amount of scraps where the selvage was intact.

So, since *I* have no intention of doing anything with them, I have decided to play havoc with my surly reputation and GIVE THEM AWAY!  

Oh gosh ... I said that in my outside voice, so it must be true.  :-)

Therefore, if you would like to have a chance to win this *modest* amount of selvages, leave a comment (and be sure that your email is available, OK? ). 

For every commenter who has an email, I'll put that person's name in a hat and have Mr. Pirate do the honors.   The drawing will take place on Monday, November 1st .... what a way to start out the month!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I can't make this stuff up

Mr. Pirate & I live in suburbia.  No doubt about it.  But we have an older lot ... it's almost an acre of flat land and just across the street (no sidewalks, mind you) is county.  But *we* are in the city limits.  Just barely.

And the only reason I mention this is that we also have chickens.  Mr. Pirate thought they would be a "good learning experience for the children"  (HA!) but now we keep them because Mr. Pirate just plain ol' likes them.  (He always did .... he just wouldn't quite admit it. :-)  )

Our chickens are cage-free and free range.  Heck, with an acre of land, why wouldn't they be?  :-)  Most of the time they are kept in their chicken yard but around 1-1/2 hours before sunset, we open up the gate to their yard and let them 'escape' onto the lawn and field.

And herein is the story .... this little dark Rhode Island Red hen got separated from her buddies.  She was cackling up a storm right outside my home office window.  I opened up the door that leads to the outside, stuck my head out and commented to the fowl creature that her friends were "that way" (pointing to the flock on the lawn) and remained standing quietly in the doorway.

Well, Miss Little Red Hen made her way over to the doorway, looked inside the room and you could SEE that she was intrigued by this new space.  I opened the door a little wider and quietly moved aside to give her more passage space and .. yup! ... into my office she came!

Eventually, I was able to *very quietly* sidle over to my desk where my camera was to capture the moment.

She thought the pickin's were slim ... why would anyone want to live here?  No bugs, no grain, no crumbles .. what a barren source of amusement!  So out she went!

Nope, life around here is never dull.  :-)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

another finish: Equilateral Triangles

Earlier this year, whilst Lizzie was down for repairs, I went on a mad sprint of piecing tops. Now that family events and obligations are over, I am able to finally get to that pile of tops.

This top is made from 4" blocks, an equilateral triangle in a square block. I used Eleanor Burn's "Triangle in a Square" ruler set to make the blocks.

Lots of blocks.  A tremendous amount of blocks.  Uncountable number of blocks.

They were so very, very easy to make. :-)

Putting the blocks directly together in this orientation created a zig-zag path through the triangles.

Carla Barrett has a wonderful tutorial on some great swirly curly designs for sashings.  I've loved the basic one so much that I never got around to using any of the others.  With this quilt, I deliberately set out to use the zig-zag paths as a sampler of the other designs.

 The triangles themselves got a low-key squiggle design. :-)

The resulting texture on the back is just wonderful. :-)

For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Equilateral Triangles quilt.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Propeller: an "antique" block

Back in May 2010, I found a block that would allow me to use up a LOT of bonus half-square triangles.   From my quilting friends, I found out what the name of the block was .. "Propeller", circa 1928.

I pieced the top and put it on my pile of Quilts to be Quilted.  Well, the day came when that quilt popped to the top of the List ... and I had no other immediate, non-quilting activities to distract me.  :-)

Being a small quilt (42"x62"), it was quick to quilt, although I had a lot of quilting going on.  Even with all that quilting, it is *not* stiff ... it's still nicely drapeable. :-)

While there are *some* pictures here of the quilt, for the ENTIRE saga, please surf on over to my web page, Propeller, and you'll be treated to my usual verbosity :-)  and lots of pictures.  LOTS of pictures.   I describe the thought/design process I used in the making of this quilt, problems encountered & solved. :-)

Although not proficient, I'm definitely getting *better* at this free-motion quilting thing!  I don't mind pantographs so much, but because of my specific set-up, it's a real pain to get to the back of Lizzie to do them, so I have been focusing on free-motion quilting.  It's simply wonderful to be able to do what (you think) you want where you want it! :-)

I really, really, *really* like the way this quilt has turned out!

For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for the Propeller quilt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Turkey redux

heh ... redux. re-ducks. Except that they're turkeys. :-)

Last year, 'round about this time in fact, we had a flock of turkeys wander on by. I haven't a clue where they had originated. The Pirate family lives in suburbia, but a kinda/sorta "rural" suburbia ... we don't have sidewalks and we border on some large tracts of open land. We do have raccoons and 'possums and skunks and egrets and ... ::sigh:: chicken hawks ... so I *guess* it's not terribly surprising that a flock of wild turkeys happens by.

Interestingly, last year, they had a Very Low Profile around November 28th. :-)

But, by golly, here they are again!  Those are the hens in that picture.  

There's also a guard turkey ... I'm not that well-versed in turkey appearance to determine if the guard turkey is a hen or a tom.

The master bedroom in Casa Rodgers is upstairs.  When we emerge from our sanctuary and reach the ground floor, the sliding French doors to the deck are immediately in front of us.  It's quite a surprise to see these HUMUNGOUS turkeys on the deck first thing in the morning!

And rest assured, these birds are BIG.

Mr. Pirate & I casually wandered onto the front lawn and circled 'round to the back to get these pictures.  The turkeys didn't seem too concerned about our presence.  The hens kept on looking for tasty tidbit and the guard turkey remained vigilant.

It *was* interesting, however, when the turkey flock got within cackling distance of the chicken yard.  I wonder if each group wondered who the bizarre looking creatures were. :-)

And, of course, the burning question is .... will they still be here in late November?  :-)

Gobble, gobble!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A client's Angel quilt

Judy is a wonderful friend of mine.  She made a top for a friend of hers and I got the opportunity to quilt it.  Judy didn't want it over-quilted but preferred something on the lighter side.  This is really good because, at this point in my longarm experience, hyper-quilting isn't in my vocabulary. :-)

After auditioning several designs in different areas, we finalized a leafy column in the borders, a swirly-curly in the narrow inner border, a flower meander in the strip set blocks and a leafy meander in the print blocks.

I was happy with the quilting, even after discovering a strip in a strip set block went unquilted (oops ... that got fixed!).  I was able to achieve a uniform density and texture.  I think the quilt looks good from both the front and the back!

For all the gory details, links and more pictures, please visit my web page for Judy's Angel quilt.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

just marking time ....

I finished quilting 2 queen sized client quilts.  I'm happy with them and hope my client is too!

Normally, I would be loading a new quilt (one from my big, ol' pile of Tops to be Quilted) and putting my Lizzie to work.  Whereas in times past, I would be on a piecing treadmill ... one right after the other .. because I truly do love creating tops ... *now* that I have my own longarm ... a wonderful Tin Lizzie 18 ... I realize that I can't be piecing all the time.  *Some* of that time needs to be spent quilting!

And I would happily be doing just that ... except ... Mr. Pirate & I are going on a small vacation.  I don't want to load a new top onto Lizzie because I won't be able to finish it before we leave.  I don't want to leave an unfinished quilt on Lizzie and  I also don't want to leave it up whilst we are gone.

We've been getting our gear ready for our trip, but in the evenings, I like to relax in front of the TV.  However, I can't JUST watch TV ... I need to be doing something productive.  It is during TV time that I do a lot of piecing.  Normally, I would have an on-going piecing project ... but not right now.  I don't need a new one since all those previously pieced tops are waiting to be quilted  (see the 2nd paragraph above)!

I'm convinced that if I simply watch TV, my mind (what is left of it) will turn to mush.  Who wants a mushy mind?  :-)

So, what to do??  I don't want to start a new pieced project, even though I have LOTS of them waiting to be started.  Then I remembered a scrap project I started who-knows-how-long-ago of a Double Wedding Ring.

Now, don't you start groaning on me!  I *love* Double Wedding Ring quilts!  I've made two of them already: one for our oldest Dear Daughter's high school graduation (2002) and our nephew's Christmas present (2009). 

Both of them were constructed using John Flynn's method.  I particularly love the arcs when they are made with individual wedges (as opposed to a single piece of fabric) but  Would Not Ever cut out all those wedges to make the arcs.  John Flynn's method allows you to create arcs with individual wedges but you start out with strip sets.  It completely circumvents the tedious cutting of small pieces but it is still a fairly laborious method.

Then, "a while ago", I realized that I could make those arcs using freezer paper piecing!!!  Oh, how utterly awesome!  I had learned the freezer paper piecing technique from none other than Judy Mathieson herself.  This method has ALL the advantages that paper piecing provides but NONE of the drawbacks because, since you aren't sewing *through* the freezer paper, there is *no paper to tear off afterwards*.  ::swoon::  As a cherry on top of the whipped cream, the freezer paper template can be reused over and over and over ....until fabric will no longer stick to it.  Her technique is worth it's weight in gold.

And I'm not exaggerating!  [Want to learn how to do it?  I have a tutorial on my website, appropriately titled, Freezer Paper Piecing.  Try it ... you will be Amazed.]

So, back to the Double Wedding Ring .... McCall's quilting has a free downloadable pattern for a Double Wedding Ring.  I copied the arc pattern to freezer paper and began making arcs.

Oh. My. Gosh.  Freezer paper piecing is SO MUCH EASIER than John Flynn's method!  I took down my box of 2" wide strips and began piecing the arcs together last night, whilst watching TV.  Each arc doesn't take very long and at the end of my marathon TIVO watching session (love TIVO!), I had 20 arcs.  Yes, TWENTY arcs ... all with individual wedges ... all scrappy.  I have lots more scraps and a couple of nights before we actually leave, so I anticipate making quite a few more arcs.  :-)

At this point, all I'm doing is mindless sewing of arcs.  It's just a way to be productive and creative whilst passing the time watching TV ... all because I don't want to get involved in a "real" piecing project right now.

I'm not thinking about the melons or the center sections ... I'm just making arcs. 

And having a FABULOUS time.  And using up stash strips. :-)

but mostly having a grand time.  :-)

the Crush

In wine grape growing regions of the world, the time of year when the grapes are harvested and wine-making begins is called 'the crush' .. because, well, the grapes are being crushed to start the wine making process.  :-)

A couple of years ago, Mr. Pirate took a series of classes on viticulture .. the how and why of growing grapes, soil and pests and pest eradication.  He really enjoyed the classes.  At the end of the series, he bought (or maybe the students were given ... I don't quite remember) one vine plant.  Cabernet Sauvignon, if I remember correctly.

He planted his single, solitary vine in our front yard with the vague intent of planting a new vine (or two or three) every year.  He cultivated and fertilized and hugged it (not really) and took very good care of his vine.  And it thrived.  Lovely leaves and a strong, healthy stem.

The deer truly appreciated Mr. Pirate's care because they thought the leaves were Very Tasty.

Mr. Pirate was not amused.

Especially when, as soon as the leaves grew back, the deer came back.  Kinda like a bad penny.

Eventually, Mr. Pirate became smarter than the average deer and put a cylinder of chicken wire around his vine to protect it.

To show its appreciate for the good care and feeding of it, our one vine gloriously put forth its fruit this year!  All three grapes.  :-)  

In case you have difficulty finding the grapes, follow the yellow arrows in the picture.

Since I'm not a wine maker, I'm not sure how long after the crush of our 3 grapes we will have to ferment and age the product.  However, I am absolutely, positively convinced that it will be a Very Limited Production.  :-)


Sunday, October 10, 2010

During the Process Journaling/Notetaking

Way long time ago, I started capturing information and pictures of the quilts I made.  Before computers, this would have been done in a scrapbook of sorts.  I greatly admire physical scrapbooks and, indeed, have a LOT of resources and supplies to make scrapbook pages.  Have I done so?  Of course not.  :-)

What I *have* done is make website pages, Dread Pirate Rodgers, (i.e. virtual scrapbook pages) for almost every quilt and quilted thing that I've made.  Some of those pages have very skimpy information, as they were made (sometimes decades) after that fact.  I don't care WHO you are ... remembering specific details 25 years later is tough! :-)  (I also have pages for my sewn items .. not so many as I need dig the clothing out of the cedar chests.  My needlework projects is still on the List of Things To Do .... I have a lot of them, scattered all over.  It's going to be "interesting" rediscovering them.)

Those pages detail a LOT of the "why" did what I did and the process I went through, problems encountered & solutions arrived at, in the creation of the item.  Aside: I have to chuckle ... there is currently a movement in quilting Blogland to take the "Process Pledge", which is to talk about, well, the process you went through.  Heck, I was doing that even before there WAS a Process Pledge. :-)

I've always been more interested in where the inspiration came from, my thinking process during the creation of the item, what problems and solutions I went through and who the item was for and why it was important.  Much less important to me is is the "numbers": 57,000 square inch blocks, 1 million spools of thread, 98 thousand years  (yeah, a slight exaggeration, but you get my point).  Unless the quilt is ridiculously simple, EVERY quilt is involved.  We, as quilters, *get* that; what we don't know is the back story.  I think that is the important information to share, not the "numbers".

And that's why my webpages for my quilts are the way they are.

But, during the quilting process, I discovered that I needed to keep track of certain pieces of information. 

At a quilting retreat, one of our goodie bag items was a small notebook with attached pen.   I rarely carry a purse and initially thought "what a useless item for me", but I soon ate my words. :-) 

Thank you, my hostesses, for this WONDERFUL notebook!  :-)   Hugs and kisses to you!  :-)

I found that this small notebook, kept by my sewing machine was the IDEAL place to record the width & length of the quilt, so that I could then determine how much yardage I needed for binding.  I also added other information specific to that quilt that I might need later on for the "real" journal page on my website.

The drawback to this notebook is that the pages are tear-out.  And they do.  This notebook was never intended to be a permanent document, more of the sort of thing you toss into your purse, backpack, glove compartment whenever you need a small piece of paper to jot something down.  Over time, I discovered that as I was paging through it, the pages *were* coming out.  Just like they were supposed to.

Except that, many times, I wasn't READY for those pages to come out and be discarded!  I still needed the information.  Additionally, in the beginning, I wasn't as organized as I learned I wanted to be; I would put down the quilt information in any space that was available.  It was all very haphazard.  While I'm not always (OK ... usually never!) organized about many things, some things just drive me CRAZY when they are disorganized ... and quilting information is one of those things!

Eventually, I discovered that for each quilt I was working on, I really needed just a few numbers and memory joggers for posting the quilt. 

I printed out address labels for this small notebook so that all I needed to do was to write down the numbers.  Now each quilt that I would be working on would have it's own page.  No more Quilt A intruding on the real estate of Quilt B!  Everything was neat and tidy; my eyes were pleased.

(and then after I had printed out the labels, I realized I hadn't included check-off items for the posting!  aargghh!)

But this still didn't address the problem of the pages themselves becoming detached over time.  That is simply the nature of this kind of notebook.  So, I got to thinking what was it that I needed?

I liked the size; it was small.  Being small meant that it wouldn't take up a lot of space next to my sewing machine.  I wanted loose-leaf pages that I could replace.  A ringed binder would be fine ... but was a small binder that like available retail? 

Oh my, it was! :-)   At an office supply store, I found a 3"x5" ringed binder for which loose-leaf pages were available as refills.  Oh, hooray!

The green stickers you see on the inside cover are information to me for formatting the margins when I print out the pages and size information for certain types of quilts.

This particular notebook wouldn't be any good, however, unless I could put those small pages through my printer.  My printer is a Canon MX870.  It has a secondary, rear paper feed, which automatically centers the paper in the feeder. 

I use Word Perfect.  Go, Word Perfect!  :-) 

I formatted a 3"x5" page with the information I wanted and after a little tweaking for margins, I was able to successfully put those small 3"x5" pages through the rear feed AND all the printing came out exactly on the lines of the paper! 

Dang, am I clever or what?  :-)

So, now I have a notebook with the ability of have unlimited pages, pages that are "pre-printed" with labels for me to fill in.

Remember, this small notebook is not a proper journal ... it doesn't have the capability of putting pictures on the pages ... although I suppose I could print out a 3"x5" photo and place the photo in the appropriate spot.  Maybe I'll do that later.    This notebook is primarily for me, to be able to remember binding yardage requirements and did I really post the information to the places I want?  :-)

I haven't started using it yet but am eager to ... but first I gotta go get those tops quilted!  :-)

What memory joggers to you use to remind yourself of the information you need during the creation process?