Happy Dance!

Over the past two days, the prizes from the Love the Lines contest have arrived. They’re all absolutely fantastic!!

The fabrics from Northcott’s Kaleidoscope collection are delicious. As soon as I unwrapped the bundle, ideas immediately started to fly through my mind. I’ve always been a fan of Northcott’s fabrics as they really are cottons that feel like silk and are wonderful to work with.

The Electric Quilt Quilting Designs CDs are something I’ve looked at over the past few years and had on my wish list. There’s something for everyone in these quilting designs. The best part for me is that I don’t have to try to draw my quilting ideas freehand. I can play with these, either tracing or using Pounce or some other method – there are how-to instructions on the CDs. There are feathers and stars, animals and continuous line designs, abstracts and leaves, hearts and flowers, holiday designs and all-over designs and the list just goes on and on. There are hundreds upon hundreds of designs to select from on the seven CDs!

What I’ve already started using is the button finger pincushion. It’s dainty and not heavy and just plain fun. The note that came with it refers to the wonderfully funny Oscar-Awaiting movie “How to make a Finger Pincushion” which can be seen here.

I am so excited to have been one of the three runners-up. The prizes are fantastic, but the best part and the most enduring benefit is that it gave me that added push to learn EQ. I’ll be putting it to good use as I play with the design idea I have in mind for the Kaleidoscope fabrics. Before I cut and print anything, I’ll be able to download the fabric images from Northcott’s website, import them into EQ and then play to see how different the quilt will look depending on which fabric I use for each shape.

Once again, a huge thank you to Inklingo, Northcott and Electric Quilt for these wonderful prizes and an enormous thank you to Linda Franz at Inklingo for holding the contest.

Baxter was watching as we took photographs. I think his face says it all, “What, nothing for me?” I’ll have to keep my eye on him. He may try to make off with some of that fabric!

Next Border on Scrappy Star

There are three borders on Scrappy Star now. I’m working on the fourth border, which is a pieced border. For it, I need close to 200 QSTs. That’s the majority of them in the picture. In less than the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, I had all of them printed, cut out and ready to stitch.

So what does this have to do with it? On the weekend, I was washing some fabric for various projects. I tend to wash a lot of fabric by hand for numerous reasons, including the fact the washing machines in our laundry room are front loading and lock once the wash cycle begins. So I can’t check the water to see if anything is bleeding.

But that’s not the main reason I wash my fabrics. I want to get rid of the sizing and other chemicals that are in the fabrics. Many of the fabrics we use now are printed offshore and come to North America in large shipping containers, sit in warehouses and then get shipped. And something I’ve noticed a lot lately is that when I wash fabrics, even though they don’t bleed, the water is … well, dirty. It’s the only word for it. There’s a real grey dirty look to the water. After a good wash and rinse, the water is rinsing clear.

I know it’s a never-ending debate in quilting, whether to pre-wash or not, and everyone has their own preference. My choice is to work with fabric that’s clean and as free of chemicals as possible. As a hand piecer, I prefer the softness of fabrics with the sizing washed out. The very few times I’ve worked with unwashed fabrics, I’ve found myself coughing every time I pressed whatever I was making with them. I think that’s the formaldehyde and other chemicals reacting with the heat of the iron that bothers me.

I know I’m opening up a big can of worms here, but what’s your preference and why?

Baxter has no opinion on the subject at all. He’s much too busy guarding the toy basket.

Beginnings of New Projects

These three fabrics, along with two layer cakes of Fresh Squeezed, are the inspiration for a couple of new projects. They were a Christmas gift from a good friend and have, ever since I opened the package, been out where I can see them and start planning the first of the new quilts that will be made with them. These bright cheerful fabrics are the perfect antidote to winter’s grey skies and cold temperatures.

The yardage and one of the layer cakes are washed, a neutral has been chosen so all that’s left is to decide which design to make first.

Baxter on the windowsill. Yesterday was a very windy and cold day and was snowing on and off but nothing that stayed on the ground. So far he doesn’t seem interested in the snow at all.

Fabric Group and Planning to Quilt

This grouping of fabrics has been sitting for the past 5 or 6 months while I try to decide what I want to make with them. These are not my comfort zone when it comes to colours at all, but I want to make something with these with perhaps a cream neutral thrown in. Whatever design I end up playing with, I think this will be a long table runner.

Baxter was trying to make sure he got in the picture.

There are 2 large quilts that are basted and ready to hand quilt. One is a whole cloth quilt with all the quilting lines marked. The other is my Quilted Diamonds 2 quilt. At this point, I’m leaning towards working on them both. Perhaps half an hour on the whole cloth and then switch over to the Quilted Diamonds quilt. They’ve both certainly been sitting long enough in the queue to be quilted.

Baxter usually has one paw up in the air when he’s sitting or lying down. We think of it as his royal wave paw. I think he was very sleepy when this shot was taken.

Playing with Fabric

One of my favourite things to do is to lay out groups of fabrics.  I may not have a specific idea what they will get used in, but I love to put groups like these together. Sometimes just looking at the groupings will be enough to give me an idea for a design they’ll work well in.  This bundle will end up in a quilt I’m going to call Spice, I think.  No idea yet on design or even when I’ll start to play with them, but they’re grouped together now and set aside and the photo is in my inspiration folder.

This is another grouping, although I can’t take credit for it.  It was put together like this — and it’s one that I can’t stop gazing at.  The ideas for this are numerous, although I still haven’t settled on one.

Then I thought I’d try the butterfly print with some more muted hand-dyed fabrics.

Finally, I put the brighter fabrics with the hand-dyed ones to see how they would play together.

The photos are all in a folder on my computer and I will, at times, open one of them and leave it open on my screen so that I can look at it periodically throughout the day.   A digital camera and computer screen are fabulous design tools!

It’s the beginning of our Victoria Day long weekend here and finally, after what seems like a week of non-stop rain, we have some sun today.  I don’t know if it will last all day, but waking up to sunshine was a wonderful treat after days and days of grey skies and rain.

Smudge has been ensuring that his kitty toys don’t get too far away.  Lately almost every time we look at him in his kitty bed, he has a paw stretched out to touch the toy basket.

Fabric Challenge

These hand-dyed fabrics have been in my stash for ages.  I cut each one of them in half, gave half to a friend, kept half for myself and we’re both going to work on a quilt using just them and perhaps one other fabric as a neutral.  I’ve wanted to make something special with these for ages and am hoping that having this challenge will be just the thing I need to come up with the right design to showcase them.  The hard part of this for me will be that it has to be a machine-pieced design.  The fabrics are gorgeous but they’re very tightly woven, even more so than a batik, so I know that hand piecing would be too much for my hands.  I’ve been pouring over some of the encyclopedia of blocks books and think this may be what finally gets me to absolutely force myself through EQ and play with some design ideas that way.

Do you ever feel like you should limit how many blogs you visit because of the sheer overload of inspiration?  On Thursday, I saw a quilt at Nonnies Cedar Chest that really intrigues me.  I can see it done in pinks and greens and creams or with a beautiful Christmas red and green.  I love the ribbon effect Charlsey got with her design.  I think it’s a very good thing I have no Christmas fabric as I have a feeling I’d be itching to start this one.  But it may be hard to resist doing it in some lovely soft pinks and greens.

We had another amazingly mild day on Thursday with the promise of at least a couple more days like that to come.  The longer we can put off the bitter cold and true winter weather, the better.

The cats are showing how well they can curl up into kitty circles.  Lester in a kitty bed:

And Smudge on the couch: