Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June Bee Blocks

For June I only had to sew for two bee mates, since I get to be on the receiving end in the Stitch Tease Bee. My blocks have been arriving and I m going to have a gorgeous array of intersection blocks to assemble soon.

For Bee Sewcial, Debbie asked for Mid-Century Modern blocks. My son, who is a mid-century fan, suggested using Breeze Brick as ispiration. I found this photo on Pinterest and tried to make two of the blocks. I used the middle, far right photo and also the bottom right to make these blocks.
The fans were a down-sized version of Latifah's Molehills pattern, made into a rectangle block.

Bee Sewcial blocks for Debbie

For Stash Sew-ciety, Lori asked us to make a block of her own design. This was a really fun block to make and Lori got to have 11 pattern testers. I think her colors and pattern work well together.

Stash Sewciety Bee block for Lori

Finding time to sew has been difficult lately. It seems all I have time or energy for is getting my monthly commitments of bee blocks finished. I am hoping a summer break and a little time away from the machine will bring new inspiration.

I hope your summer is off to a good start.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Annual Father's Day Post

It's become a tradition that I share the post I wrote 4 years ago about the fathers in my life, with a few updates.

This Father's Day I write this post not only to honor my father, but also the fathers I admire, who have touched my life. I am fortunate enough to know many men who are amazing fathers, the first of which was my own dad.
My dad was tough. He loved us and raised my brother and sister and I to be independent thinkers, as long as we thought his way! He loved and respected my mom and through him I learned how to choose a good man to be the father of my children. My dad died 10 years ago and I miss him more and more each year. I would love to have him see the intelligent, caring men our sons have become. I wish he could meet his great-grandchildren and see his grandsons in their role as parents and the successes they have had in their chosen careers.. I wish I had more photos of he and I when I was an adult. But here are some from my childhood. Thanks to my sister, who is scanning all mom's old photos, I am able to feature a few here.
Dick was my husband's father. A man who looked nothing like the big teddy bear that he was. He was a rough/tough steel worker but yet he was the grandfather who got down on the floor to play with our boys. He was a man who outlived two wives, raised my husband to be my Mr. Romance, and loved my cooking. I miss him. 

4 generations of first born sons
Father John
Father John was our parish priest who became a good family friend. He performed the marriage of Michael and Jenny, baptized three of their 4 children and came over often for dinner. We loved to hear his stories of travel before he became a priest and appreciated his wisdom and friendship. He died a few years ago and we still miss his wisdom and sense of humor.

Frank was my dad's best friend and confidant. He "got" my dad. They had the same politics and outlook on life. Our family did everything with Frank and Dollie and their sons. I have so many fond memories of Sunday dinners at their home.  I knew if I had a problem I could talk it through with Frank and he would explain my dad's point of view without the emotion I would get from my dad. I could complain to Frank and he understood my concerns because he understood my dad. I haven't seen Frank in a few years and need to make the effort to drive the 90 minutes it takes to go and see him. In recent years his health has declined to the point where he mostly sleeps. I still have not made the effort to go see him. It's selfish, but I want to remember him as the moody man of my youth.

Pat was also one of my dad's dearest friends. He and LaVonne have been my second parents. I love visiting them and even asked Pat to be "my dad" when so many of the dad's in my life had died. I try to visit him every year. He also lives a few hours drive from my home. This saying is so true, "old friends are the best friends". Can you believe these active seniors are in their 90's?  I remember riding my bike to their house to visit them on hot summer nights when I was a young teenager. They thought I was visiting them but I was really trying to get one of their sons to notice me, Ha! Ha!  I remember going  camping with their family at a Boy Scout Camp (how's that for beating the odds when you are a teenaged girl?). I think since they only had boys I learned a lot from Pat and LaVonne about how to be a mom in an all-boy family. I treasure their love, wisdom and friendship.

Last year (2014) it gave me great joy to present these influential friends with a quilt of their own, made by me.

Brent and Michael
Brent and Michael are our 2 oldest sons. They are such good dads. Michael was the first to give us a grandchild and Brent followed a few months later. They each have 4 children and are very involved dads. Their children love and respect them and I love seeing them as fathers. Usually we get them a sentimental card for Father's Day because we are in such awe of their parenting skills. But this year (2011) we got them a funny card. I'm sure most parents can relate when they think of their sons as little boys and then see them as fathers.

Michael, Jenny and family
photo by Diane Stanley

Brent, Molly and family
photo by Libby Jones

and finally my Mr. Romance...
I hit the jackpot and so did our boys!  I think one of the greatest compliments a person can receive is that they are a good parent. We recently had our friend remark that Paul is such an amazing father and wanted to know where he learned to be a good father. He had a good role model but I think it is more than that. He is such a kind and caring person who truly loves his boys and they love and respect him, too! I've always said the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love and respect their mother. So we all win. I have an amazing husband and our boys have a loving and caring father.



One of Paul's most recent favorite photos of us from 2012

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Alluvial Plains Shawl

From the moment I saw Karen Macall's finished shawl on Instagram, I knew I wanted to make her Alluvial Plains Shawl pattern. I didn't get very original either, I used the same yarns that she used and just played with the color placement.

The pattern is easy and well written and great for a beginner like me.
I am so glad it was easy and portable, because I worked at it on my lunch breaks the last three weeks, while I ate my lunch in my car, during my jury duty experience.
I just love the colors and the placement of the irregular arc type stripes.
This shawl is big, measuring 90" long and 20 inches at the point for width. I might block it again and try to get a little more width at the point. I used Soak to soak it before blocking and I am hooked on it. It is a great product.
My absolute favorite part of this shawl is the picot bind off.
I am so glad I used the apple green,  it really shows off the little points perfectly.

After blocking it I found a slipped stitch that caused a huge hole. OOPS! There was no way I was frogging it so I repaired it in the best way I knew how. It adds a little character and my own flair. To be quite honest, I don't think anyone will notice it, but me.

Last weekend my granddaughter and I went on a rode trip to Arizona to see my other granddaughters' dance recital. While there, I had planned to have my twelve year old granddaughter model the shawl and I would take photos. She decided to go to see the new Jurassic World movie with her cousins and uncle, so I was left with my youngest granddaughter for the evening. 
I wrapped the shawl around her and said, "work it, girl". She did not disappoint!

Shawl Stats:
Yarn: Hand Dyed Yarn by The Flying Kettle on Etsy 75% Superwash Merino wool, 25% nylon. Colors: Crush, Tango, Retrograde, Manic Monday, Poolside and Glow Worm.
Needles: US Size 8 Addi Turbo 40" Circular Needle

Friday, June 12, 2015

Alison Glass Mini Quilt Swap

My Alison Glass mini swap gift has been mailed and has landed at the address of my partner, so says the United States Postal Service. I had fun making this quilt after a very long time trying to decide on a design.
In the end, I went for something simple that would show off these beautiful prints. Alison's colors are always so saturated and beautiful and they all work so well with each other. I used prints from a few of her lines of fabric.
The pattern for this quilt was influenced by a pillow I saw on Malka Dubrawsky's Instagram feed. I used my ever trusty template that I received in a class at Sewing Summit several years ago and combined it with a plus block to achieve these nine inch blocks. My mini ended up a little bigger than was suggested in the swap rules, but I am hoping a 27" mini will just be more to love.
For the background fabric, I used Andover Chambray in black.
Backed with a pretty bird print from Michael Miller and quilted with a Superior variegated thread finished this mini for me. I quilted it in an organic spiral in the center of each block, about 1/2" apart.
I added a few extras, including some candy and this gift should be with it's new owner shortly.

As a little extra for this swap, I made my partner a framed clutch, using my own pattern. If you haven't tried making this clutch, the pattern is available on my Craftsy site and can be found on my sidebar. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last But Not Least

June is all about me in the Stitch Tease Bee.

I wanted to think of a really hard block to use as payback to some of my bee mates (joking of course) but in the end I decided on the Intersection block by Film in the Fridge.

I've asked for a all variations of the block, as Ashley suggests in her tutorial. The blocks end up 11-1/2" unfinished, but have different sized cross sections.

For colors I would like Navy, teal or aqua, fuschia, mustard, coral. Lots of contrasting colors so the intersections show up well.

I love the colors used in Cotton and Steel, Lighthearted by Ayumi and any other fabrics that use these colors I have listed. I'm not going to be real picky because I left this to the end to even think about it, AND...I have the utmost confidence in all of my bee mates that they will make lovely blocks and use fabrics they know I like.

I've made two blocks to start, but hope to make a bunch more to make a generously sized lap quilt.

June finishes the third year of Stitch Tease.  When I started this bee I never dreamed I would become so attached to these fabulously talented, kind and loving women. I hope we go on for many more years to come. We have shared life's journey along with our sewing skills and that's why this community is so fantastic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Spider Web Blocks

I made these spider web blocks in May for Kari in the Stash Sewciety bee. They are really fun and easy but make a huge mess as I was pulling scraps from all my scrap bins.
My sewing room is a disaster zone these days as I frantically try to play catch up. I think after this weekend, I will feel like I can relax and enjoy sewing at a slower pace.
The tutorial by Heather was really easy to follow. 
I think Kari is going to end up with a beautiful quilt. I love the saturated colors with the low volume for the centers of the blocks. You can see more of Kari's work on her Instagram account @kjarchows.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Bee Sewcial May

I won't lie, Bee Sewcial has been a challenge for me. A good challenge, but still hard for me to think of how to interpret the queens vision each month. 
May was Marci's month and she asked us to build her a village. Houses, but not just blocks, a roof and windows,. This is, afterall, an improv bee and we are supposed to think outside the box.
My original inspiration was this photo that I took at Disneyland a few weeks ago.

I sketched it out and started  building the houses.
I got this far with the houses and decided to change it up a bit.


Marci also said she wanted trees, lakes, mountains, etc, so I found these paper pieced trees on Craftsy and decided to make her 4 season of trees.



I still was not finished and decided that every town needs a church. This simple stained glass church window is not unlike many of the contemporary churches in my neighborhood, so that's what I made.
All these blocks received a good deal of positive compliments on Instagram, so I am hoping they will make a good addition to Marci's quilt.

Oh, and Marci's latest "finish" is a new baby girl born at the beginning of May. Our bee surprised her with a cute quilt for the baby. Introducing Heart BEEts. Made with love by our bee.
I made the middle right and bottom left blocks. It was sewn together by Stephanie, The back was pieced by Debbie and quilted by Leanne. A lovely collaborative effort that Leanne blogged about in detail here.

HeartBEEts HeartBEEts