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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elf Toes!

I LOVE the shape of elf toes!

The problems I encountered when making these stockings included getting a shape which looked right and would hold its' shape, turning the toe, and creating funky pieced look with NO piecing. The black stocking fabric was created with woven strips, the blue stocking fabric was created with fused diamonds. Weaving strips is easier, but I prefer the harlequin look.

Now I can do it all over and write the instructions, take some pictures and finish the pattern I envisioned a year ago!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sometimes I Just Want to Sew!

I want to dig into my stash, pick out some beautiful fabrics in my favorite colors. I want to combine them in a quilt that doesn't require any design effort. I just want to sew!

My hair stylist, Jill, is having her first baby - a girl. It was fun and relaxing to make a pink baby quilt for her. The design is my variation of Fons & Porter's "Amish Four Patch Chain" (For the Love of Quilting, Jan/Feb 2000).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Operation Bold Eagle, 1976. Nevada desert near Lake Mead. My boss, Mel Miller and I, working in the comm trailer.

On Veteran's Day, I am thankful. Because of the US Air Force, I got to move around and see different parts of the United States. I figured out what I liked AND what I didn't like in a job. I met people, made friends, saw new things and was exposed to new ideas. I learned how to work within the system to get something done. I made decisions that affect my life yet today. I went to college on the GI Bill (Go Sun Devils!).

Thirty years later, I have my fatigue jacket, a DD214, a few pictures and many memories. I would do it over again without hesitation.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Go forth and make films!

As Art Quilters, we are told to seek out and study artists who work in other media. I wasn't doing this at all - I was accompanying my 16yo DD, an aspiring filmmaker, to a talk by Kelley Baker sponsored by The Nebraska Film Group. I went with her because I was uncomfortable with the idea of her walking alone around the Creighton campus at 10 pm. I brought my own entertainment (a movie and an e-book on my ipod), Alex Kava's latest hardback, and my sketchbook. They sat unwatched and unread while I scribbled cryptic notes around the doodles in my sketchbook.

Go forth and make films! The edict came from Kelley at the end of a thoroughly entertaining and informative evening. He is an independent filmmaker, with the street cred that comes from working on both "big" movies (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) and his successes and failures as an independent, low-budget filmmaker. I think his philosophy can be summed up this way: Do what you love and get it out there without spending a fortune.

If you get the opportunity, spend an evening with this man, then go home and DO WHAT HE SAYS! Kelley's advice about marketing is applicable to any small business or artist. His comments were about filmmaking, the translation to ArtQuiltSpeak is mine. No one will find you sitting at home. Get yourself out there, maintain a website and blog. Find people you can trust to critique your work. Listen to what they say. Put your work out there to be seen. The judge who hated your quilt doesn't hate the person who made it. Plan, plan, plan, but be flexible when a great idea comes along. Don't waste time and money entering the Sundance Film Festival (Quilt National). Send your work to smaller venues where the acceptance rate is much higher. Ask to have your work displayed at non-traditional venues. Be professional. Live up to your commitments. Be memorable.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Happy Birthday, DellaJane Hand Dyes!

Five years ago, Becky Hinckley and I started DellaJane Hand Dyes. The name is a combination of the names we don't use (Della Alice and Rebecca Jane). Our first booth (and first sale!) was at the Cottonwood Quilters show in Elkhorn, Nebraska, in October, 2003.

So much has changed since that first show. At the end of 2004, I bought Becky's interest in the business. I've been working to grow my business since then. Besides cotton fabric, I sell wool roving, wool yarn, silk, baby clothing, a variety of embellishments that includes vintage items (beads, cotton rick rack, yo-yos), an assortment of 50-100 different fibers, and a huge selection of buttons, sequins, game pieces, etc, plus patterns and kits. I'm teaching dyeing workshops and marketing my own designs. My booth at Threads Across Nebraska (held last weekend) shows how DellaJane Hand Dyes has grown.

Sometimes the effort necessary to keep coming up with new "stuff" seems overwhelming. I get tired of making samples and packaging items and planning displays. I hate the bean-counting aspect of being a small business owner. Sometimes, I just want to chuck it all, stay home, and make quilts. But, come the end of October, 2008, I'll be on the road to Houston, Texas, to celebrate five years of business at the biggest quilt show in the world. I wouldn't miss it for anything!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bits & Pieces of My Father

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative: Raising Awareness & Funding Research

My father has had Alzheimer's for such a long time. He hasn't know who I am for at least 7 years. I first noticed the symptoms after he suffered a head injury in a car accident. He participated in a number of drug studies at The Ohio State University. He continues on medications which help mask the symptoms - it's hard to imagine how completely UN-functional he would be without the meds.

My Mom moved him to an Alzheimer Care Facility a couple of years ago when she could no longer take care of him at home. She still feels guilty about doing this. She shouldn't.

When served a meal, he would ask "What is this?" and "Do I like it?". Mom always identified the food and assured him that he liked it, and he ate. While visiting my two younger sisters,he asked about his plate of pancakes. Mom told him they were pancakes and that he liked pancakes. He ate his pancakes. Later that day, he asked about the mashed potatoes on his plate. One sister told him they were pancakes and that he liked pancakes, so he ate his mashed potatoes. Must to my mother's chagrin, my sisters continued to identify all his food as pancakes for the remainder of his visit. Dad didn't care - he has always had a good appetite. He no longer asks about his food, but he continues to eat everything put in front of him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Life With Hair

Last weekend, I spent 3 days in Susan Shie's Outsider Art Diary Quilts Workshop. Wow! What fun it was! I loved using the air pen. (I'd run out and buy one, but I'm not sure I'd use it enough to justify the $130 price tag.) I went in with the attitude that I wasn't making Great Art, which allowed me to try different things without stress.

I enjoyed Susan's Library Time, when we wrote and sketched. I treated it like Morning Pages and just got rid of a lot of crap that was floating around in my mind. My sketchbook has twice as much writing as sketches!

The first day's theme was "hair" - my quilt shows me at different hair stages.

I didn't like how the paint bled when I painted on wet fabric. (i.e. my dark hair bled into the background.) I also didn't like the straight paint look. Blending paint with extender &/or water worked the best for me. I purposely didn't mix enough paint to do the entire background. I like the variation in colors that I got as I painted across the quilt.

The writing on a face is about me when I had that hair style.
In the space around the faces, I wrote hair stories and memories. I used a Rub-A-Dub laundry marker and several ultra-fine tip Sharpies. I don't like the thick line of the Rub-A-Dub and I wish my Sharpie markings were stronger.

I used Susan's binding method, but am going to do some free-motion quilting instead of using her free-form grid. I painted one quilt each day of class (themes were 2008 and whine/wine). They are still works in progress.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Chile Red Mini Cooper!

We decided on a car & bought a Mini Cooper S. It's really DH's car (I still need the behemoth Tahoe), but with Al out of town, I got to drive it today. Before I got off our street, before I shifted into 3rd gear, I wanted one of my own!

I've forgotten how much FUN it is to drive a little sports car! I love that the tach sits right in the middle of the steering wheel, while the speedometer is over in the middle of the dash. I love the way the engine sounds when I downshift. I love the responsiveness of the steering. I love how quickly the car responds to a slight pressure on the gas pedal.

In the Tahoe, I am invisible in an ocean of SUV's. Everyone looks at the bright red little car zipping by - teen-aged boys AND girls, teachers on outside school duty, other drivers, neighbors. Pretty please, can I have one too?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Taa Daa!

The fabric I rusted on the truck hood has been rinsed and ironed and is looking quite beautiful!

For this piece, I rubbed the hood of the truck with a wet cloth to get my handprints. They will go into a self-portrait quilt I'm working on. I'm pleased by the results!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rusty Trucks Meet Fabric

I've been rusting fabric (and selling it as DellaJane IronWorks ) for a while. I've been experimenting on ways to get even deposits and even color. This week, I went for almost the opposite - stripes!

My latest rusting adventure started when Vicki J from my local quilt guild called and asked if I was still interested in "borrowing" some rust. Quite a while back, I had asked about rusting fabric on a couple of VERY rusty old cars, but her DH said a very firm NO! He and his son had towed an old pickup home and it was slated for a truck demolition derby. Vicki thought I could take advantage of the rusted hood.

This is what my fabric looked like on the hood.

One piece opened up. Isn't it beautiful?

I'd STILL like to get my fabric on those Model A's!!

Friday, August 08, 2008


DD is driving. Driving here, driving there, she likes driving everywhere!

We are shopping for a "new" vehicle. I saw this yummy raspberry truck today. Does the Ford Escape Hybrid come in this color?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New "Old" Sewing Cabinet

The best of the treasures I brought back from my trip to Ohio was this vintage sewing cabinet. Made by the Caswell-Runyun Company, probably in the 1940's. It is beautiful! I haven't decided what sewing supplies to keep in it.

This photo shows the label inside the top.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Two Weeks In The Buckeye State

I've been in Columbus, Ohio for almost two weeks. (Side note: I missed the ENTIRE College World Series! Since Arizona State got knocked out in the Super Regionals, it wasn't quite as much of a sacrifice. And I take some comfort in the fact that the team that beat ASU (Fresno State) won the whole she-bang!) First week was at the National Quilting Association (NQA) show, second at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS). I squeezed in some time with my family during and between the shows. There have been storms, lots of rain, not enough lightning (which I love!), and this rainbow on a back road in Logan County.

QSDS has been wonderful! Vendors each have a hotel room as the "booth". I've shared a room with Roni of Sunny Bunny Designs. With two of us, we are able to get away from minding the store to peek into the classrooms. The printing class is calling to me! My own work is so beginning compared to that in the fabric exhibit of complex cloth! If you want to expand yourself as an art quilter, QSDS is THE place!

I've been walking in Union Cemetery (established 1806) and on a trail along the Olentangy River. It is similar, yet very different to the trail I walk in Omaha. They are both "rural" trails in urban areas. Plenty of bikers here, but I didn't hear any "on your left" as they approached & passed me from behind. My Omaha trail runs along a "crick" much, much smaller than the Olentangy! Gray squirrels in Columbus, brown and the occasional black squirrel in Omaha.I saw a gray heron on the river today, along with plenty of ducks. Mulberry trees in both places are messy! No buckeye trees or poison ivy on my Omaha trail. And I miss having my little dog to walk with me!

It gets lonely on the road. I miss my husband, my daughters and my own bed. I'm looking forward to heading home! (Yes, Alyssa, I miss the cat too!)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Quilt Shows, Tornados, Dance Recitals!

What a weekend! It started on Thursday, when I set up for the Omaha Quilter's Guild show. Because of a close-to-the-last-minute change, the show was being held at a new location - the Gretna outlet mall. Definitely different, somewhat confusing, but it ended up being quite successful. Vendors and quilts were divided among seven bays at the mall. DellaJane Hand Dyes was in Bay 7, along with Material Girls (Grand Island), The Log Cabin Quilt Shop (Omaha), Quilters Candy Shoppe (O'Neill), Vintage Textiles (St. Paul), Etc. Etc. Etc. (Omaha) and two others whose shop names I've forgotten (sorry!).

A good turn-out on Friday eased our fears about the location and shoppers finding us scattered through the mall. In Bay 7, we tolerated less-than-adequate air conditioning on a day that allowed us to have the doors open. Saturday, the A/C was fixed, attendance (and spending!) were both good.

Saturday night! The tornado sirens woke us up about 2:30 am. By the time family and pets were awake and safely in the basement with the tv turned on to find out what was going on, the storm had moved over us! A tornado touched down just a few miles south of us, damaging a few houses and businesses. DH & I checked out damage to his factory on Sunday morning and found lots of tree damage and a few broken windows. A nearby neighborhood was hit harder, with several houses damaged. Luckily, no one was hurt!

Sunday was the last day of the show. See the Winners

I did a quick-as-possible tear down of my booth so I could get to Caitlin's dance recital. Thanks to Becky, Mary M, Rene, and Andrea for helping!! Caitlin was in four dances and was the best dancer in all four! In the interests of complete disclosure, I have to say that I didn't watch any of the other dancers while she was on stage. I'm a proud Mom!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm Lookin' Over

A 4-leaf clover! Driving home from the Machine Quilters Showcase in Overland Park, Kansas, I stopped at a rest area. I noticed the clovers were quite thick along the sidewalk, and I thought "wouldn't it be neat to spot a 4-leaf clover?". And I did!

A few miles down the road, I saw deer on the side of the road in time to slow down and avoid hitting them as they jumped across in front of me. Lucky clover!

I pressed it in my sketchbook for the ride home. But what is the best way to preserve it for a long time?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baseball Swap Meet-up

Dateline: April 12, 2008, Rosemont, IL, Chicago IQA Quilt Show. (I'm the red-head.)

I've been a part of an online line group of quilts who love baseball for a few years now. We swap fabric (betting IS illegal VBG) based on wins & losses of "our" team (Go Reds!). It's always fun to arrange a face-to-face meeting when I travel. Chicago means a meet-up with Julie, one of those hopeless cases - a Cubbie fan. She came to the show, did her shopping & looking, then hung around my booth so we could talk & go out for the evening. Julie drove (Thanks again!) in the rain and only had to swear once when she almost missed a turn. Her cute little car took the sudden change in direction quite nicely!

We went to eat at Big Bowl on a cold, rainy night. Met a cute couple in the FREE parking garage elevator. (DH thinks I'm a tad strange because I talk to people I don't know. What he forgets is that I talk to myself, so having someone there to listen is just a bonus.) Ran into a mother-daughter pair from the booth next to mine, so Julie & I joined them for dinner. I thought it was funny that there was an Omaha Steaks store visible through the restaurant window.

Julie brought me a beautiful gift. The quilting is exquisite & she added just the right amount of bling.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Too Much To Do, Too Many Places To Go

Just a week ago, my TO DO list combined with my calendar felt like a weight more than I could handle. Today, my list still has 30-some items to be done before Wednesday, when I leave for Chicago, but... A big BUT! So many things are finished!!

Opening Day came and went. The Reds lost Dusty Baker's first game. I'm so happy that baseball season is here!

"Joseph" finished a successful run at MNHS this week. Caitlin celebrated her birthday as one of Pharaoh's dancers. Alyssa successfully tested for her TDK green belt AND was named Student of the Month. I finished our taxes!! We owe less than $500, so I'm a happy camper. I dyed over 50 yards of fabric, dyed two dozen onesies, rusted about 10 more yards of fabric. I got a new credit card machine. No more knuckle-buster swiping!

We ordered new appliances (range, microwave, dishwasher & fridge) a couple of weeks ago. Choosing them was WAY more work than I expected. Delivery was scheduled for Saturday. When Al unhooked the dishwasher on Saturday morning, the shutoff valve broke. Water everywhere, so we had to get a plumber in at weekend rates. On Friday, we learned that the range we ordered didn't come in. Of course, we had already pulled the old one. Nebraska Furniture Mart came through with high marks - they gave us another model (an upgrade!) so we could get everything at once. All but the microwave are installed & beautiful!! Kudos to the NFM delivery guys. They did a fantastic job.

The new dishwasher is SO quiet! The new range is intimidating. The ice-maker is spitting out cubes faster than we can use them. I'm faced with the daunting task of sorting through all that stuff from the freezer. How long DO you keep frozen vegetables? We really have to get to the zoo to feed the fish all those bread crusts! There were pots and pans in the bottom drawer of the stove that probably hadn't been touched since we moved into this house. Which magnets and pictures and comics move to the new fridge?

Today, we are shopping for a prom dress. If I survive, I'll get to work rinsing and ironing all that fabric!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New Bag for Spring!

I made this so-cute purse sample last week. The bag was designed by Ellie Grisham of Wisconsin. I love the over-dyed fabric on the outside, the spring colors, the knotted handle - everything about it! This is a fast & easy purse!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Blatant brag: I can grow anything outdoors in the Midwest. But my green thumb seems to turn dark inside. So I was VERY thrilled to see buds on one of my Christmas Cactus last week! I have two cacti - the blooming one was an impulse purchase at the grocery store last year. The other is a cutting from a 100-year-old plant given to me by my friend, Mary R. I almost killed that one (sorry Mary!). While the plant has recovered, it shows no sign that it plans to thrive & bloom. Sort of a teenage attitude - "I'll live here with you & tolerate everything, but you can't make me bloom". The funny thing is that the two plants sit side by side on my kitchen table, in the same size pots, getting the same benign-neglectful care. As with my teenagers, I'll just take what I can get, knowing they will surprise me with a bloom somewhere down the road.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Meant to Write Sooner.....

Time flies when you're busy. Trite but true. I wanted to complain about the ultra-cold weather we are "enjoying" in Omaha and post a picture of the snowman in our yard. I meant to tell you about the pair of eagles I saw sitting in a tree overlooking the Platte River. I've been dyeing both wool roving and cotton fabric in wonderful luscious colors that I wanted to show you. I was going to brag a little about the beautiful pincushions I've been making. I could have shown you my new quilt, ColorWheel Constellation. But I had Things To Do, Places To Go, People to See. Blogging was put off in favor of getting people where they need to be, on time and (mostly) well fed. I'll skip the details of those so-last-week items and tell you about the weekend.

DH, DDs & myself went to see Phantom of the Opera, at the beautiful Orpheum Theater.

The production is superb! The re-creation of the chandelier from the Paris Opera House is incredible. It was raised & lowered (fell) using well-engineered machinery which made the fall Very Realistic. Since I couldn't take a picture of the real thing, I'm substituting a picture of one chandelier which hangs in a staircase in the Orpheum. Not as ornate or as large!

The story and the music were enthralling. The costumes, especially those worn during the masquerade ball, were fabulous. (Better than the fashion on the red carpet at the Grammy's!) All the costumes were so complex, layers that moved and shimmered and sparkled, in a riot of color. I wouldn't enjoy wearing those heavy, multi-layered dresses in place of my t-shirt and jeans, but I love them on-stage! Come to think of it, I wouldn't wear most of the dresses shown on the red carpet either!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Color, Glorious Color!

I taught a variation of my Color Wheel Dyeing for the Omaha Quilt Guild last Saturday. It is so much fun to share my passion for dyeing with others! The group was enthusiastic and fun to work with - the kind of students that every teacher loves to have in the classroom!

My students dyed a 12-step color wheel, then had "playtime". Gorgeous fabric in plastic bags doesn't photograph well, so you get to see the playtime fabrics. Each student had 2 yards of fabric to dye, and there were as many ideas for dyeing them as there were students. A few pictures of the in-progress dyeing: