Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Rose Parade Quilt

All done except for the binding which I plan to get to work on shortly but I couldn't wait to show the quilting, and I have a lot of pics to post. The fabrics were from an online drawing at Fort Worth Fabric Studio and I was the very fortunate recipient of a half yard bundle, here is the result!
 From a distance the quilting doesn't show well but sitting here at my desk and looking at it from the side it shows beautifully.
 I chose a handfull of quilt designs and repeated them throughout the quilt, taking my cue from a similar quilt by Angela Walters.
 I really enjoyed quilting it once I had decided what to do, it still took quite a few hours.
 I took a few close up pics………….
and varied the angles, with and without the flash…………... 
from above and then this last one from the side.
And the back!
Quilter's Dream 70/30 batting and a white 50wt. thread on top, Bottom Line in the bobbin. I am looking forward to trying more of these modern quilting ideas, it's a lot of fun!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

BJ's Grand Illusion

 BJ chose not to make this scrappy but to use some beautiful fabrics that had been aging in her stash!
I love it, the corners of the block actually look like rosebuds but it looks very different to the original Bonnie colors and the planned scrappy version.
 I wanted to quilt a rose sort of motif but BJ does not like close quilting so I came up with this version of a freehand flower and leaf which she approved!
The backing looks like a solid from a distance.
 BJ now has time to get it bound to show off at the next Quiltville mystery quilt kick-off November 28th.  The Boy found a way to wrap himself up in it when BJ came to collect the quilt, he loves quilts just as well his Grandnanna is a quilter!
I finished up the last of the three Christmas gifts I cannot show yet and also this gift that I can show! I tried unsuccessfully to upload a vide of the lights flashing, I often seem to have issues getting videos to post on the blog.

PS. I need to make the label!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

BJ's Bonnie Hunter Quilts

Easy Street the first of two BJ brought me to quilt for her.  I took this pic when she came to get it as we were on our way to the sushi bar! Forgot to turn on the flash and take a pic of the back and label, guess I was hungry and distracted by the idea of Shogun sushi!
It is quilted freehand with edge to edge feathers, BJ brought her own Warm and Natural batting and I used a shiny lime green thread.
Note the Button dog hiding under the left side of the quilt! The second BH quilt went on last night, last year's mystery Grand Illusion, I have worked on it most of the day and it should be ready for a blog post tomorrow.
Just so you know, I did get my sushi, a Sunshine roll, yum yum!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Current Projects

The past week I have been working on Christmas gifts so……. I can't show them! They are not quite finished but hopefully by tomorrow.
Thinking about some ways to help entertain the 10 year old Boston twins over the Christmas and New Year break I decided to introduce them to Locker Hook. I just recently discovered this technique similar to the old style rug hooking but faster and I think it will be a nice activity for sitting by the fire on cold, snowy days and something to distract them from the electronics for a while!
 It's made with one inch strips of fabric a great way for me to use up fabric that has no other purpose at the moment and has been appropriately aged! This one is for the boy, he has a patriotic quilt that I made him and it will be a nice accent for his room. The fabrics are prepped and now the kits are ready for use.
This design for the young lady whose quilt is pinks and purples and I have one with flying geese that I plan to also kit up for myself to work on alongside them.
 The basic kit comes with the charted design,  canvas, locker hook and cotton twine and I found them on Amazon Prime for $6-9, a pretty good deal. Since I have a considerable fabric stash I am happy to be able to slash a few yards from it for this project. It's a very simple technique, the biggest challenge will be to follow the charted design but they are both bright kids who will not have a problem with it and I think it will be an enjoyable activity for those days in MA. when it is just too frigid to be outdoors.
Thinking along those lines I found this cute kit on, quite reasonable and perfect for a baby quilt, always good to have one or two of those on hand and it's a nice item to take to Boston for free time sewing. We will also be nearing the end of the Bonnie Hunter 2015 Mystery "Allietare", so I won't lack quilting projects.
Other than that I have been busy around the house and happy to cross some more items off the list!
One of which was to paint the cabinet and walls in the powder room, and that was done Friday, same colors as the family bathroom upstairs, it just brightens and freshens it up, makes it look a bit more modern and makes me smile! 
That's a good thing, right?

Monday, November 2, 2015

An Aussie Quilt

For years I have had a stash of Aussie fabrics that need to be in quilts and out of my stash. Many of them are hand dyes from a now extinct company Oz Dye Arts, two young women who became very successful to the point that it impacted their families so they retired the business to raise children. Sad as I was I could not but admire their decision and hope some day they may return to their craft.
I had the opportunity to visit their studio/workshop in Holland Park, Queensland once when I was DownUnder visiting family and of course did a little shopping!
I used this pattern idea, adapting the measurements to my own needs.
I enlarged it to about 55"x75" for a lap quilt. I have struggled to find a way to use them since most pieces were only FQ or at most a half yard. The detail pics below show some of the cute iconic figures these talented women used for their unusual fabrics.
 The background and the red trim are not from this company but part of the collection by M and S Textiles Australia who have produced fabrics from some amazing designs by Aboriginal artists, they have to be seen to be believed, colorful and beautiful depictions of the native culture.
The background fabric is called "Seeds".
Now to decide how to quilt it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Barn Door Project

Our upstairs bathrooms have very inconvenient doors, the ensuite because we renovated and the door if not completely shut tends to interact with the shower door, aggravating!
The family bath is even less convenient, it is arranged so that in order to reach the shower or toilet one must first enter all the way into the room and shut the door, very annoying!
For some time I have noticed the use of barn doors in renovation shows on HGTV etc, and thought this would be an excellent solution, but upon pricing them it appeared the door and hardware could run up to $1500, too rich for my blood!
An internet search for DIY barn doors turned up a plethora of information from clever do-it-yourself-ers who like us were not prepared to pay the price for someone else to do it. Anyway, I put it on the "back burner" until a couple of weeks ago I was wandering through Home Depot in Montrose, Colorado on an errand for DH when I stopped and stared in wonder at an end-cap of this wood.
 Known by various names beetle kill pine, blue stain pine and others it is the result of infestation of a tiny pine bark beetle which burrows under the bark.
 It then emits a blue fungus which acts as a pheromone to call other beetles "come lay your eggs here it's a good place". The larvae feed off the blue fungus and the tree dies.
 This infestation has ravaged pine forests in western Canada, Montana, Colorado and Arizona. The trees can be treated annually to protect them but it is an expensive labor intensive process and the infestation rate has rapidly outpaced efforts to contain it. Apparently trees stressed by low water supply, [low rainfall and snow deposits] are most vulnerable.  The result is this beautifully stained wood that makes lovely furniture, cabinets, ceilings etc and is becoming quite sought after, way to recycle right? When life gives you pine bark beetles make furniture!
I took pics with my phone and showed them to DH along with an explanation of my plan for the barn doors- he will tell you I am always thinking up new ways to keep him busy!
 Fortunately he was on board with the idea so after church in Montrose the following Sunday we went to Home Depot and I carefully chose seventeen of the six inch by eight foot tongue and groove planks, they were wrapped and loaded on top of the Avalanche and hauled back to Arizona! Total price for the wood for two doors was about $80.
We arranged seven each for the two doors moving the different pieces around until we had a pleasing arrangement. The tongue on the right side and groove on the left of each door had to be "ripped" to give a smooth edge then cut to the length we need. We decided to put cross pieces only top and bottom to provide integrity and not add the traditional diagonals for a more rustic effect, I wanted to keep it simple, a bit more modern looking.
 After glueing and attaching the carriage bolts a light sanding was all that was needed before sealing. Here the doors are laid backside up where there are many more grooves and the cross pieces do not show.
On the advice of Angela in the paint department at our HD here in Phx, we chose this product to finish the doors. It came highly recommended and after using it we would strongly recommend it ourselves, it goes on far nicer and easier, dries super fast and gives a soft satin finish. We used one and a half cans for two coats, cost about $30.
One coat done, wait two hours, a very light sanding and the second coat goes on.
We co-painted, Walt did one end and I the other and we met in the middle, it was fast! This product is self leveling and consequently brush strokes are not evident, nice because neither of us are great painters! 
Both sides completed, time for the hardware which can run $500, but cost us less than $100 for each door from Amazon, shipping included. 
It is nicely made, stainless steel though there are other options, heavy weight nothing flimsy. We purchased this latch for the hall bathroom door also from Amazon, $7, we probably won't bother with a latch for the ensuite.
I think attaching the hardware is not complicated, DH seemed to have no problem with it, accurate measuring and leveling are the most difficult. He had to make a couple of minor adjustments to account for the fact that the frame for the door remains and also the baseboard so the door is not flush to the wall but to the trim.
One down one to go, we are still waiting on the hardware for the second door.
The first beautiful door is hung and I love it, great job Honey!
A close up of the track and below, the view from inside the bathroom
 And a close up of that stunning wood grain. Total cost for this project about $320 for two doors, better even than any of the DYI reports I saw online.
I did a quick and inexpensive update of this area,
painting the walls a soft sea foam green and making a new shower curtain, fabric on sale 60% off total cost under $20.
 The cabinet was sprayed with Espresso paint to give it a new look
and I am very happy with the results. Paint is the biggest bang for the least bucks and a fast way to transform any area.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Autism Speaks Arizona Walk 2015

Our family walked the 5K route this morning for Autism in support of our beautiful, clever grandson Matthew who is truly a miracle! I wrote about him in April on World Autism Awareness Day here, you can read more.
 In the past six months in first grade Matthew has made enormous progress in every aspect of life amazing his teachers, therapists and his family, daily making strides to overcome negative aspects of autism and integrating into a world full of puzzling challenges. We have seen him grow academically, socially, emotionally and in verbal skills, chattering, conversing and making friends where ever he goes, using good manners and trying to do his very best.
 So much of our "normal" lives is foreign to his thinking and a constant struggle to make sense of relationships and what is quite ordinary and simple for us. We are so proud of him and excited to see him bloom and grow in his own unique way, he is truly a blessing from God as his name explains he is "Gift of God".
 Five kilometers is a long way and he was only too happy to ride along in the cart Nanna brought towed by his big strong Uncle Andrew!
 Here we are at the finish, Aunt Lana, Uncle Andrew, Grandfather, Daddy, Yessenia Mum and Nanna Ah Kuoi on the right……...
and in this one Grandnanna [that's me] on the right!
It was a very big weekend for The Boy, yesterday we went to the Tolmachoff Farm in Glendale AZ.
First stop was the Corn Crib, where the children lay in the corn and played in it, you can see by the smile on his face how he liked it.
 He patiently waited in line for a good fifteen minutes in the hot sun, shielded mostly by Grandnanna's Aussie umbrella with SPF sun protection, for his turn to jump on the giant bouncy pillow with Yessenia Mum.
 This was an enjoyable experience even in the heat of an AZ. Fall day.
 Another long wait [and not one word of complaint from our boy] to visit the goats in the petting zoo.
 I explained that the big fat white goat was lying down resting because she is expecting triplets, three baby goats, Matthew seemed rather awed!
 There were many expectant goats with very fat tummies and this little one got some extra love for her baby as Matthew gently petted her belly!
He is very interested in science, what makes things work,
and this fascinated him as he tried to figure out how a skeleton could be playing the banjo!
 One look at his face will tell you how weary he was as we prepared to pay for the pumpkins and leave.
He was very happy to get into the Grandfather's air-conditioned truck and rather quickly fell asleep.

Recently in my constant search for more information I have been reading three books I would recommend for anyone seeking to understand more about the puzzle that is autism.
The first is "Emergence", Dr.Temple Grandin's story of her childhood and how she thought, why she acted as she did and how very difficult it was for her to understand the world she lives in.
The next is  "An Anthropologist On Mars" by Oliver Saks, the final chapter is about Dr.Grandin and the book title is a quote from her on the way she sometimes feels.
The third book "Uniquely Human" I am only halfway through but have already learned much from Dr. Barry Prizant who wrote it. Dr. Temple Grandin has said of the book "I love his approach" and I too find much to recommend it. He sees autism not so much as a disorder but a different way of being human and his explanations for this approach make a great deal of sense.

I hope that my humble attempts to highlight autism and the amazing people who have this unique expression of humanity will help to spread the word of their struggles to reach a full life and perhaps encourage others to educate themselves and reach out to help autistics in their lives in every way possible.
I can never explain how blessed we are to have Matthew in our lives, how much he adds to our life experience and the great joy he brings.