15 September, 2014

Hop Around The World...

Last week Quiltdivajulie posted during the "Around The World Blog Hop Tour" and invited me to follow her lead. I was thrilled to be asked! I always enjoy learning more about the people behind the blogs, who they are and what creative process they use that makes them, and their quilts, distinctive and unique.  

I blog under the name Mrs. Goodneedle and have done so for the last eight years; I share quilts and other sewing projects as well as my life, family and faith stories on an almost-daily basis.

I have been a quiltmaker since 1983, my first project was a sampler quilt done by the lap-quilting method (made popular by Georgia Bonesteel) it was hand quilted and took two years to complete! I gave that quilt to my then 5 year old son who proclaimed that sleeping under it was "like being covered with love". That was all the encouragement I needed and have never looked back! Quiltmaking is my life; I love every aspect of the process.

I am married to my high school sweetheart, have been for 39+ years; we have two children, an awesome son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and four remarkable grandchildren. Life is good, as I state at the end of every blog post; it really, truly, is!

Now, on to the Q&A format:
"Adding Curves" ~ Setting and blocks-of-the-month currently on the design wall.

What am I currently working on?  I am not any different from most quilters that I know, I'm never only working on one thing at a time! But, the blocks above (and layout diagram) are currently what's on the design wall. I am also working on a few other projects simultaneously as well as quilting yet another small quilt on the longarm at the present time. I enjoy challenges, and the piecing on this one is no exception to that statement. Since the blocks from these recent workshops are totally composed from squares and rectangles I thought that adding curves (hence, the quilt's name) might prove interesting to the overall appearance of the quilt. While designing settings I am also thinking ahead the whole time to how this might be quilted, adding yet another dimension to the whole. I believe the secondary circles that are created by this setting will provide a nice canvas for some pretty quilting to set off those emerging shapes. 
Templates and tools for cutting the alternate Orange Peel blocks for setting "Adding Curves".
I'm not afraid of templates when it comes to piecing; since I've been a quilter for a very long time, this was the foundation that my quilting skills were built upon. I use every tool in the toolbox and sometimes going back to basics is exactly what it takes!
"Adding Angles"  ~ This is the sister quilt to "Adding Curves"; same blocks, different colors and setting.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I'm not really sure that it does. I am greatly inspired, and no doubt influenced, by the works of others.  I tend toward details; those little "extras" that add a pop of color or an unexpected touch, to make my work my own.  I will add piping to almost any binding at the drop of a hat! I always joke that I can turn any project into a career move. Since I've already admitted that my first quilt took two years to complete, it's safe to say that I am not a fast quilter by any stretch to the imagination. I work slowly, and listen to my heart; I make quilts to satisfy my own creative desires.
"Swiss Baskets" begun in 1999 and only recently completed. The design, quilting and piping make it one of a kind. The finished quilt can be viewed here.  

Why do I create what I do?  I believe that each and every quilt is a culmination of where I am, and what I've learned, at this point in time.  Could I have completed the quilt above sooner? Of course! Would it look like it does now? Absolutely not! Why not? Because I didn't have the skills in 1999 to see this one through in the manner it is finished today. Does that matter? Probably not; but who's to say?  I love to learn new things.  I have a huge queue of quilt tops waiting to be quilted... as I test my wings and learn techniques to improve my own quilting stitches I am happy to have those tops to practice upon. I create quilts to experiment and try out the latest tricks from the classes that I've taken, or from the books that I've read. If the quilts aren't used or displayed in our home they're given away as gifts, every quilt has a home. 
"Feathered Friends" this small quilt is benefitting from quilted feather techniques learned in a class that I took  this past summer.
Six inch blocks from "The Quilt Block Bible", writing up cutting directions for these is a current obsession.
Recently I was drawn to the 202 blocks, and this book, by Rosemary Youngs.  The book is a lovely composition of photographs and line drawings, there are no instructions for cutting and piecing the blocks. I have enlisted my best friend, and quilting buddy, to help me out. We have divided the book in half and are each writing directions, and piecing blocks, as we go along. I am drawing from a stash of accumulated scraps and going for a very traditional scrappy look; this is also a perfect opportunity to employ all of those specialty rulers that I have purchased over the years, precision piecing is my goal and I won't settle for less than perfect points and corners, this self-imposed challenge is both demanding and satisfying at the same time. 

How does my creative process work?  I jot down ideas as they come to me, sometimes it's a phrase or a quote; sometimes it's a color combination or even a happy memory that bubbles to the surface... I make a lot of notes when I am creating. My go-to design tool is EQ7. I can audition my ideas using that software program and, usually, come up with a neat and tidy design plan that reflects my concept, interpreting my ideas into stitchable units.
"It's The Journey"  a challenge incorporating randomly drawn color and design elements to create a unique quilt.

This 49" X 61" wallhanging was designed entirely in EQ7.  As the design elements were revealed in an organized group challenge, components were changed and tweaked, meeting the new criteria at every step along the way. The path was never a clear one; the quote became as much a definition of the process as the challenge itself. It wasn't until the final border was added that I realized it never had been about the destination after all, it was about the journey all along; the creative process didn't let me down, but rather, documented my routing.
That's it for me. Now I would like to go on to introduce you to Laura, she'll be posting at Tanderwen Quilts next Monday, she's an amazing quilter possessing a very creative spirit; you will be in awe of her talent!  I have not been able to procure more participants for next week, as directed; they've either already been tagged, have already posted via this format or would rather not post at all, I am sorry about that. Laura will more than make up for it though, she is clever enough to be three bloggers in one; you'll see what I mean.
Laura and her incredibly detailed whole cloth quilt, "Atlantis",  juried into the AQS show in Charlotte.

Life is Good!

10 September, 2014

My Lucky Day!

Today is my lucky day; I feel like I've won the Strawberry Sweepstakes!  This particular china pattern, California Strawberry, has resided in the cabinets of all the homes we've lived in over the last 39 years. It was my chosen pattern for everyday dishes when we married in 1975 and we have been blessed by gifts of many pieces over time. We've done our share of replacing pieces, too, along the way. It is still used, loved, and treasured... every single day.  A few weeks ago a friend asked me if this was the china pattern I owned. "Yes", I replied. She went on to tell me that she had a set she was willing to let go; she has owned it for ten years longer than mine and hers was lightly used, if at all. We agreed upon a price for the entire lot and here it is! I am just as excited today as I was when I was a newlywed bride opening my wedding gifts of this very same pattern. There are pieces here that I've never owned: the pitcher, the shallow cereal bowls, the covered casseroles, larger serving bowl, small platter and the precious cream pitcher! There are other pieces that I am happily reunited with: the butter dish, the tea pot and the large platter! I am happy today; and ever so grateful that my friend and I crossed paths and somehow made this china connection. Thanks, Judi, I promise you... these dishes have found exactly the right home in which to live!
Life is Good!

09 September, 2014

A Different Type Of Bible Study

Quiltkeemosabe and I have embarked upon an adventure; writing up cutting directions for, and stitching up, each of the 202 six-inch blocks in The Quilt Block Bible by Rosemary Youngs. This is a beautiful book full of gorgeous quilt blocks with an accompanying CD of block drawings that can be printed out, but there are no instructions whatsoever.  We are taking a systematic approach and are scheduling monthly get-togethers (referred to from here on in as Bible study) to work our way through the book... me from the front to the back and she from the opposite direction; we'll meet in the middle! My pallete is more of along the traditional, scrappy, lines where hers is bolder and more vibrant; you can tell who made which blocks in the photo. We worked on the same block today, those two are pictured in the center... hers on the bottom and mine on the top. I hope to post photos of our ever-increasing block collections each month. From this point on our tasks are to make up, for ouselves, the blocks that the other has written up directions for during the past month as well as write up, and stitch out, the next five blocks in our own given direction through the book; we will each work on a predetermined block together at our next Bible study.  We have both delighted in using some of our specialty rulers where appropriate (I have a vast collection, most of which I have purchased at her urging suggestion). As if this wasn't just about as much fun as a person should be allowed to have we also ate lunch and had a book report (quilt book) to discuss! This month's book report was Quiltkeemosabe's responsibility; she chose the book Nurture Your Creative Spirit by Vicki Pignatelli. We discussed the book over lunch, it was inspiring and insightful; for both of us. I'll find a book to report on for next time, one from my own bookshelf.  Working our way through the "Bible" together keeps us on task and accountable. The book reports force us to actually read the books we buy and shine a light on the valuable contents without becoming distracted by the photos.  All in all, it was a great time; our creative spirits were fed and our bodies were nourished. I can't wait for our next Bible study!
Life is Good!

08 September, 2014

On Starting A New Project...

"Little Letters"  ~ Temecula Quilt Company

A few weeks ago I was alerted by Quiltkeemosabe to a new tutorial, an alphabet quilt, beginning over at Temecula Quilt Co.'s blog (linked below photo).  Yesterday the first letter, and installment of this series, was published; this will make up as an adorable little quilt!  I'm in! I love letters, I love old-fashioned samplers; what's not to love?  The only decision here is what fabrics to choose.  Why would I consider starting even one more new project right now? I was puzzled by that myself... and then I read this quote, on creativity:  "The excitement, the true excitement, was always in starting again.  Nothing's worse than an accomplished task, a realized dream." - Marilyn Harris  There you have it. I've finished up more than a few long-standing projects recently. I NEED to start something new simply to acheive balance; my creative spirit demands it! Who am I to argue?
Life is Good!

07 September, 2014

Paying Attention!

Does this happen to you?  I made a special trip to the grocery store for two cans of cream of CHICKEN soup; I came home with two cans of cream of CELERY. Mr. Goodneedle will not eat celery, not even anything that hints of the taste of celery. Yes, I needed to make a return trip to the store!  Why did this happen? I wasn't paying attention... I grabbed two cans of what I thought was  what I was after, I was on auto-mode; NOT a good way to operate at all, this only results in causing me to spend more time, more energy, more money. Groan.  It was late, I was tired, I decided to wait until morning for shopping trip number two. I turned off the lights and remembered, after I was already back in the bedroom, that my clean and folded pajamas were still in the laundry room... clear on the other end of the house!  No problem;, I half-ran, half-walked, through the pitch-black house to retrieve them... plowing straight into the corner of our kitchen island. The point of impact was the left side of my abdomen, I literally heard the breath woosh out of my lungs. Wow; I had miscalculated my "flight path" by about a foot. Why did this happen? I wasn't paying attention... again; still operating, this time at full speed, on auto-mode. I got the message loud and clear. I need to pay closer attention... and get a headlamp!
What other areas of my life need my complete and focused attention? 
Distracted action, performed in darkness, is the equivalent of complete inaction.
I've switched off the auto button and turned on a light... I'm all ears, God!
"I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever 
will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible." - 1 Corinthians 7: 35
Life is Good!

01 September, 2014

Goodbye, Summer!

Today, as I sit here wearing a pair of white slacks for the last time this season, I am thinking about how quickly the summer has sped by and stare in disbelief at a newly turned calendar page... how on earth can it be September already?  Back in April, when my parents were visiting here, they bought us a small Black-Eyed Susan plantling... I remember the anticipation associated with its potential blooming as I set it into the garden. Well, that little plant took off and grew and bloomed with complete and glorious abandon; it didn't happen overnight but slowly, one day at a time, it got bigger and brighter and better! This plant turned out to be so much more beautiful and vibrant than I had even dared to hope; that's the same way I feel about this summer's passing. Let's face it, all time seems to speed by at breakneck velocity the older we get, but these last few months have been filled with happy days and priceless moments that defined my summer of 2014 as one even better than I had ever dreamed possible! Labor Day has always represented a major shift in my mind; either it was the end of summer for me and a new school year or it was that for our children when they were still at home. New schedules for fall, new classes, and the end of lazy, summer days used to bring a certain and distinct sadness to my heart and mind.

This is a photograph of my own daughter in 1981 on her first day of Kindergarten, looking at it, even today, still brings a lump to my throat.  My own children returning to school was always a bittersweet day for me when they were growing up, I wasn't a Mom who looked forward to summer's end, not one bit. Tomorrow my oldest grandson will sit in a Kindergarten classroom and this little girl, now the mother, will experience those same emotions that I felt back on this day 33 short years ago. Change happens, it's inevitable, but it happens ever so gradually, every single day! There are those markers that signal the transitions in a BIG way... like Labor Day screaming "summer's end" in our faces, or the first day of a new school year, but also happening at the same time, almost invisibly, are those quiet, daily, transitions as each hour and day slide one into the next. All of a sudden I've become acutely aware of time's passing as I stand, looking back at a string of yesterdays and realizing how precious every day, month and season has been... and how, just like that multi-bloomed Black-Eyed Susan demonstrated to me, they slowly combine and evolve to produce memories of days-gone-by that are so much more wonderful than I had ever even hoped that they would turn out to be!
Embrace today, change will occur tomorrow... it might be a big one or you may barely even notice it, but it will happen. This evening I'll hang my white slacks back in the closet one last time, it's my way of telling summer good-bye. I'm not sad anymore, though, today I am grateful. Why? Because today, on this last "official" day of summer, I find myself looking forward eagerly; ahead of me are a string of tomorrows that each hold the promise of something so much better than I can even imagine, or dare to hope.

Happy Labor Day... it's all good!
Life is Good!

30 August, 2014

Crossing The Border... The Final Chapter!

Potluck dinner at the LQS

You'll remember, over the last several months, my agonizing over the border "challenge" (Head For the Border) issued by my LQS.  Every month a design element and a color were each drawn, randomly, from a brown paper lunch bag and the participants set to work on that next border round, satisfying that newest criteria... it wasn't easy, but rather a true "challenge" in every sense of that word!  On Thursday evening we gathered at our LQS; first, to enjoy a delicious potluck dinner, and then for the final reveal! I was impressed, a few of the quilts were already done to point of being quilted and bound... one was even hand quilted! You can click here to view a slideshow of the spectacular finished flimises, quilts and their proud creators.  All in all it was a wonderful evening, yours truly even came home with a doorprize; it doesn't get much better than that... unless you keep in mind that the originators of this challenge have promised a new challenge in January of next year... I, for one, can't wait!

Life is Good!