Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. Happy Birthday to Me!!

Happy birthday to several friends who share this date with me: Mary R, Sandy R, Bob W, Brian B. Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Celebrities who also share my birthday? Mary Martin of Peter Pan fame, Woody Allen, Bette Midler, Walter Alston (Dodger's manager) and Reggie Sanders (former Reds player), Lee Trevino and Treat Williams. Many more of course, unknowns like me, whose day will be acknowledged by friends & family instead of the media. Happy Birthday to us all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now I wake to see the light.......

I visited a wonderful thrift store in Evanston, Illinois a couple weeks ago - Thriftgeeks. I loved the tidy disarray - you had to poke in the corners, look under things, open boxes and make sure you didn't miss anything. Just the exploration required made it a worthwhile visit! (FYI: I hate modern "thrift shops" where they display brand new socks and cleaning supplies next to a shelf of two dozen florist vases overpriced @ $1 each.)

The treasure I found at Thriftgeeks was a vintage embroidery piece. It is a morning continuation of the child's prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep". It had to come home with me, where it was carefully hand washed. EEWWW - the yellow water! It has been carefully re-framed and will hang in my studio.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Now I wake to see the light,
Tis God has kept me through the night.
And now I lift my voice to pray
That He will keep me through the day.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Queen For A Day!

More precisely, queen for TWO days plus! Last weekend, I flew to Salt Lake City and attended a retreat with an eclectic group of 14 other quilters. What we had in common is that we all own (and love!) a Handi Quilter. We were chosen to be featured in Handi Quilters print ads during the coming year. (As the first quilter to be in the ads, I know what a thrill it is to open a quilting magazine and see myself!)

At Handi Quilter headquarters, we were greeted with an impressive display of cheers and silly string from all the HQ employees. What a fun start to our retreat! Our pictures are on a huge banner in the main entry.

Our retreat was crammed full of activities. A class on Thread, Needles & Tension. An impromptu session about Groovy Boards. A session with Suzanne Hyland on quilting choices. Great food! Drawing continuous line designs on paper, then moving to the HQ Studio and drawing them with thread. A limo ride to Elaine's Quilt Block, where I found some great fabrics. Dinner @ HandiQuilter CEO Mark Hyland's house. What an impressive view they have! Taping our "My HQ Story" video's (They are posted on YouTube - See Mine Here! ) David Taylor's amazing Show & Tell of his quilts. Suzanne Hyland's great quilts during our "How Do I Quilt This Quilt" session.

Being famous requires photographers, so Luke followed us around like paparazzi, taking pictures and videos of everything we did. Check out Part One and Part Two on Picassa. And most of the pictures I took can be seen in my Handi Quilter set on flickr.

It was a wonderful time. Thank you Handi Quilter, for this experience! And now, back to my normal, everyday life. Quilting, of course, on my HQ 16!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two Things To Do In Florence, Nebraska

I went to a fun little quilt show this week at the Mormon Trail Center. There are about 60 quilts, enough to make going worthwhile. Most of the quilts are traditional, with a sprinkling of contemporary quilts. The show is called "Every Quilt Has A Story", and almost every quilt has a label which tells a story. Some stories are about the quilter, some are about the quilt. The stories made even the plain jane one-patch quilts more interesting. Of course, a variety of fabrics will always draw me in, but knowing how and why a quilt came into being keeps me interested! Had there been a viewers choice, I would have voted for the wedding gown made from silk parachute fabric! Not a quilt, I know, but such a beautiful dress! My favorite display was this old wagon draped with quilts all made by one woman for members of her family. Her name was Ambernettie - isn't that the neatest name you've heard in a long while?

After seeing the quilts, we went shopping at a little store called Prairie Piecegoods. We had a little trouble finding it, but were really glad we persisted! It isn't a typical quilt shop. She has an eclectic variety of fabrics, some new, some vintage, some home dec weight. There are vintage quilt blocks and new chef hats, jars full of thread spools, dolls and rabbits, books & postcards, china, ribbons & buttons & laces & trims and even a basket of yarn! Christmas stockings and old linens, sewing machines and jars of buttons. It is one of those shops where you just have to poke around, lift things & look everywhere to make sure you don't miss finding a treasure you didn't know you needed! For me, it was the postcard of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, which I will send my sister, who LOVES to go to their fabulous Sunday Brunch to celebrate special occasions!

If you are a quilter looking for something to do in the Omaha area, check out these two. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My 15 Minutes of Fame Are Here!

Andy Warhol said it in 1968. I've been waiting 41 years (41 YEARS!) and I think my time in the spotlight is here.

Drum roll, please............ I am being featured in HandiQuilter ads in a number of national quilting magazines. It is exciting to open the October issue of Quilter's World and see my face on the first page. Go get your copy now & look! I'll wait. And I'm in Quilters Newsletter, too! Page 23, in case you want to find it quickly.

How did it happen? HandiQuilter asked owners to submit their stories online. You can read My HQ Story. Plus you can see me as a redhead! Fifteen of the stories were selected as winners, with the writers to be featured in print ads. And I'm the first one in print!! My 15 minutes of fame!

p.s. Read the other My HQ Stories too! They are funny & interesting and touching. I can't wait to meet the other winners at the special HandiQuilter Retreat later this month!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Iris, Anyone?

I started cleaning up iris beds last night. Dig out the tubers, sort out the young growth, discard the dead/old pieces, replant the bed, give away the leftover tubers. Repeat for each bed. One of those chores that is easy to put off, satisfying to complete. When I get the first bed finished, I have a large tub of tubers to pass on to other gardeners. Quilt Nebraska begins in less than a week - the perfect opportunity to give them away! I'll send out an email to alert quilters all over the state. And I remember the connection between these iris and my very first Quilt Nebraska, in 1998. It was held at the Cornhusker Hotel, same location where it will be this year.

The purple iris originally grew on my grandmother's farm in Ohio. Some grew & bloomed at my parent's house when I was a kid, and I asked Mom for some for my new flower beds in Omaha. Happy to oblige, Mom & Dad dug up one of her over-crowed beds, put them in a box and mailed them off to Omaha.

Stop reading here if you are an animal rights activist, extremely soft-hearted, or anti-death penalty.

Dateline: Omaha, Nebraska, July, 1998.
The box arrived on a HOT day in late July. I put the opened box in our cool basement until I had time to plant. Unknown to my parents, they sent me more than iris. I heard a noise, then saw a field mouse climb out of the box! And because of this mouse, I made an entire quilt (How A Mouse Introduced Me to the Joys of Hand Piecing) by hand. Here's the "rest of the story", as written on the back of the quilt:

Early am, July 24, 1998. Rated R (Violence):
Run down to the basement to get a Diet Pepsi for the 45 mile drive to Lincoln to attend Quilt Nebraska. See big fat gray mouse in middle of floor. Scream! No reaction from mouse. Run upstairs. Scream again! Go back downstairs to find Mickey hasn't moved. OK, I have to deal with him. Grab the big coffee can I keep by my ironing board to throw thread & fabric clippings in. Use it to trap Mickey.

Plan A: Leave him for husband to deal with later. Call husband and advise of Plan A. Act on husband's suggestion that I come up with a different strategy.

Plan B commences! Slide a piece of cardboard under coffee can and flip it over. Put Mickey, coffee can and cardboard into a plastic bag. Double, then triple bag. My plan is to squish poor little Mickey under my truck tires. (I WARNED you about the violence!) How do I get him out of the coffee can, but keep him in the bags? There is a very big, real risk that he could escape entirely!

Plan C: leave mouse & can all bagged up in garage.

I've dealt with the mouse, I have my DP & I'm running late! Rush out the door without my project bag - the handwork I always carry. So when late afternoon arrives, I find myself done with lectures, shopped out at both the merchant mall and the silent auction, magazines all read, and NOTHING TO DO! "Mom, I'm bored", I hear in my head. Then I remember - the tote bag I received when I registered included a winning door prize ticket! I claim my prize - a charm quilt in a jar. It is a pre-cut kit with everything I need to make a doll quilt except for needle & thread. I buy those at the merchant mall. I find a comfortable chair in a well lit spot and begin to sew. I attract other quilters who want to sit and relax, talk a bit. We talk, I sew. I borrow scissors. Quilters come and go. We talk, I sew more.

My plan is to hand piece through the lulls in the day, then finish quickly by machine. Too tired to do this on Friday night, I continue to hand piece on Saturday. I'm surprised at how quickly it goes. Before I know it, all 72 charms are sewn together. And I realize how much I'm enjoying the process. So I decide to complete the entire quilt by hand. I sew on the borders at home on Sunday afternoon. The quilting is begun while waiting at gymnastics lessons. it's finished while I watch my Cincinnati Reds play the Atlanta Braves on tv. The top is squared up and the binding sewn on. It's done! My first quilt completely by hand!

Back to today! I'll be taking my excess iris tubers to Quilt Nebraska to give them away. I think I'll tuck in some hand-piecing for the slow times. I hope there isn't a mouse involved. Iris, anyone?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Quilted Today!

And yesterday, and the day before! And the day before that. It started with a red, white and blue top. I had a partial spool of a cotton YLI variegated thread - wasn't sure how much had been used, but decided to take a chance. You know it! I ran out of thread about 3/4 of the way through the quilting. A nearby quilt shop had some Valdani thread, cotton, same weight. Expensive - $12 for a small cone. I bought it and have been sorry ever since! This supposedly long-staple, high quality thread was fuzzy and had slubs. It shredded and broke in my HQ16, even after I changed needles, re-threaded, adjusted tension, changed needles, re-threaded, adjusted tension, changed needles.......

It isn't often I say NEVER, but I will NEVER spend another penny on Valdani thread!

I eventually solved the problem by going to a different quilt shop and buying a spool of Sulky thread (cotton, red/white/blue). It worked wonderfully & I finished the quilting without any more problems.

Moved on to quilt the sweet lavender and green quilt in the photo below. The photo looks way too blue - I can add "learn photo-editing" to my To Do List. This is Diane's first big quilt, made for a granddaughter. I finished it today. I LOVE quilting!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Early Morning Along the Olentangy River

I'm in Columbus, Ohio for the Quilt Surface Design Symposium. One of the best things about the hotel is its' location beside the Olentangy River. I love to get out in the early morning to walk. When I take my camera, the wildlife is elusive! I see a great white egret and a blue heron almost every day. Is there only one of each along this stretch of the river? Who knows? I've never seen two!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Country Road, Take Me Home

I spent a couple days with my Mom & took this picture on one of my walks along the back country road I lived on as a child. No lane line - the road is about 1.5 lanes wide. If two big vehicles meet, both have to get one tire off onto the shoulder. Most of the trees are shagbark hickory - beautiful, tall trees with large leaves. Notice all the mailboxes? When I lived there, there were three houses. The Wilcoxes, us, and Gontermann's. Now, there are a dozen houses!

It's still quite rural. On my walk, I saw a red-headed woodpecker and several blue jays, many squirrels. I avoided the ever-present poison ivy - something you learn very early on in rural Ohio!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Student Quilts

It's always fun to see quilters use fabric they have dyed in one of my workshops. These two quilts were in the Omaha Quilters Guild Show last week.

Illuminated Inspirations (22" x 36"), was made by Joan Duggan. It was made from 1.5 yards of hand dyed fabric. The sections are joined with knitted strips and embellished with beads.

Primary Colors (33" x 40"), was made by Joyce Swift. She got the idea for this quilt from 2nd graders at Ackerman Elementary who were learning about warm and cool colors.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Auction Bag

I was asked to be part of a Celebrity Fundraising Auction to be held during Quilt Nebraska 2009. Following my mother's advice (don't talk so much!) I didn't tell Katy that I wasn't a celebrity! I just agreed to make an item for the auction.

Taa Daa! This is a version of my 1-Hour Shopping Tote, made using a technique I call Too Small To Keep, Too Big To Throw Away. The outside of the bag is made using a 12-step colorwheel of fabrics. It is lined with rusted fabric. It took me a little bit more than an hour, but the result is worth the time spent!

Jim Jaworski, an artist from Las Cruces, New Mexico, gave me a walnut needle case to go along with the bag. Jim makes beautiful needle cases using a variety of woods. No picture - I sent it off for the auction without thinking about a photo. If you are interested in buying one, Email Jim. They would be a great gift for a quilting friend!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Give Me A Child......

After the laissez-faire attitude of my younger days produced two non-Reds fans, I took a different approach with my younger children. I truly believed that strict adherence to the Jesuit motto "give me a child until she is seven and I will give you a Reds fan" would work! Note the mismatched, yet stylish outfit - a sunflower print skirt with Reds shirt and hat in this picture of Alyssa & Caitlin taken at Riverfront Stadium in 1997. Years later, my faith is shaken.

Caitlin competed in the National Catholic Forensic League Tournament in Albany, NY this past weekend. She had a great time, made some new friends, but didn't break (meaning she didn't advance to the next round). She was polite to others, chewed with her mouth closed, took a shower every day and was generally kind to babies and small animals for the entire trip. All this Good Behavior took its' toll. Before she got on her plane at the Albany airport, she bought a NY Yankees t-shirt!

O M G !!!!!!

Even worse, she has not shown ANY remorse! And she plans to WEAR the shirt to school tomorrow. Top layer of clothing, right side out. The logo of The Team We Love To Hate right out there for God & everyone to see. I may not be able to show my face at the grocery store for a month or more. And I can just imagine what my "friends" will be saying behind my back. Woe is me. The only bright spot in this otherwise horrific evening is that she had the good sense to pass on the Cubs t-shirt when they changed planes in Chicago. Thank God for small favors :)

In the spirit of locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, I sent a strongly worded email to her Forensics coach, suggesting (nicely of course - Caitlin gets those manners from me :) that perhaps her chaperoning skills need some updating to prevent a similar ugly incident with an Atlanta Braves shirt later this summer at the NFL National Tournament. I remain a baseball fan by birth, Reds fan by the grace of God.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quilted to Death!

Whenever possible, I have volunteered to help on Judging Day for my local quilt guilds. One often-heard comment, usually made when borders are quilted significantly less than the interior of the quilt, is "needs more quilting". I just returned from the Machine Quilters Showcase in Overland Park, Kansas. Few of the quilts in this show will elicit this comment.

The quilts are quilted. And quilted. And quilted some more. As the popular phrase says - "quilted to death". And while looking at the quilts in this show, it seems that, to some extent, this amount of quilting is excessive. Don't misunderstand me - the quilting is wonderfully executed, technically fabulous, incredibly beautiful.

But excessive because it causes the viewer (me) to think "Forget ever entering this show - I don't do this amount of quilting". And if I'm thinking it, so are many other quilters. Many of the attendees at MQS are professional machine quilters, running successful long-arm businesses. But they aren't entering a show created specifically for them.

It seemed to me that the exhibit area was heavy on Special Exhibits and light on actual entries. There was a lot of empty space - black-curtained bays without any quilts, extra-wide spaces between quilts in the Special Exhibits. Maybe some of that empty space might be filled if the standard for quilting wasn't "quilt it to death".

Monday, April 06, 2009

Why Time Begins on Opening Day

People ask me what I do in the winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. -- ­Rogers Hornsby

Opening Day - the two most beautiful words in the English language. -- Tim Kirkjian

I've re-read Thomas Boswell's collection of baseball essays and I'm ready to watch the Reds first game of the season on ESPN. Spring has officially arrived.

Play ball!

One reason NOT to celebrate today: The introduction of the Designated Hitter (DH) on this day in 1973. I'm Old School - pitchers should go to the plate!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Think Green!

I saw Fabri-Quilts "Save Our Planet" fabric and fell in love with it! My reuseable shopping bags are more than 15 years old (do Fry's grocery stores exist anymore?), so I designed a shopping tote which is quick (1 hour!) and easy. Made from sturdy canvas fabric, it will hold LOTS & LOTS of groceries!

Kits for my 1-Hour Shopping Tote are available on my website, DellaJane Hand Dyes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Have A Handi Quilter!

On Tuesday morning, it was an empty (relatively speaking!) room:

Getting it to this point involved hours of sorting through piles of mostly quilting stuff, going through boxes of mostly quilting stuff and making decisions about what stays and what goes. I sold one sewing machine and a table, but what you don't see in this empty room picture is the full shelf in the next room of Stuff-That-Stays.

Leslie & Kevin showed up at 10:30 am with a truckload of boxes and several hours later, I had my new baby - a Handi Quilter 16! I love it! If you want me, I'll be quilting!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Prom Dresses - Color and Bling!

Prom dress shopping - not the most anticipated event on my calendar! Find something DD likes (minimal pouf), in a Mom-approved style (not too revealing) and an acceptable price range before my shopping clock strikes midnight and I run screaming from the store. We went to Black Tie, White Satin in Fremont, Nebraska. The Prom Loft (400 dresses!) was full of color! A rack of 7 orange dresses, each a different shade caught my eye & had me returning over and over. None of them fit our criteria, but the colors were beautiful! Another collection with colors ranging from pink to magenta to almost purple were wonderful as well. Animal prints were big, but tiger stripes in any color combination say the opposite of "Prom Dress" to me! The acid green dresses were beautiful, but not right for DD's skin tones.

The black dresses are always my favorites. Start simply and jazz it up! I love the way the designers use bling to create their designs of repetitive straight lines, wavy lines and organic waves. Without my camera, I could only sketch. Wanting more color, I picked up several booklets of photos, which resulted in this collage:

P.S. We were the only one of the 3 mother-daughter pairs to decide on a dress. It is ordered - now to find gold shoes.....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gradations Workshop A Success!

Yesterday, I taught a workshop for the Omaha Quilters Guild . The best classroom space (for dyeing) I have EVERY been in is the art room at St. Mary's College! I'm always a little surprised that I enjoy the experience of teaching. There is a HUGE difference between quilting workshops and middle-school classrooms!

My students dyed three 6-shade gradations, one yellow, one blue, one red. Each gradation was dyed using a different method, giving them both some beautiful fabric and several dyeing options for later use.

My wonderful, enthusiastic students:

See more pictures on Flickr.

Next Saturday, I'm teaching another workshop - Direct Dye Application. I'm looking forward to a day of PLAYTIME! I've dyed some samples, but still have to put fabric packs together, review my supply list, and prepare handouts.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Overdyed Skirt

While I was in Houston for Festival last year, Christine T. stopped by and asked if I could overdye a summer skirt. It was light blue, with a light stain which made it unwearable. She wanted it gray with hints of purple, then picked a piece of fabric from a scrap bag that was more purple than gray. This is the result - I like it!