Monday, 30 July 2007

At last some sunshine

When we got back from sunny San Francisco (and baking Sisters) it seemed so grey and wet here in England, where we are having one of the wettest summers on record, but yesterday and today the sun has finally peeked out down here near London and it has been quite pleasant. I sent in some feedback to the tour company who ran my tour to Sisters, and was disappointed to receive a very defensive reply today - they are obviously not flexible about changing anything and even went so far as to imply that I was a lone voice (if not actually lying) which is just not good business practice in my opinion. I know that many of the other tour members shared my views on how the tour (and buses) could have been improved even if they haven't actually fed back (it isn't very British to complain so I doubt many of them will put their views in writing). I am a paying customer and I would have thought typical of the clientele the tour company would like to attract (have money, will travel abroad) - but I guess they think that they are doing everything just fine and are not interested in any views to the contrary. They are new to quilter's holidays and I don't think they fully appreciate how much quilters network on what holidays to go on and who does the best ones, because they won't get much word of mouth referral if they aren't prepared to improve and listen to feedback on what people want.

I had a good sewing club day on Saturday, which was the maiden voyage for my Featherweight. After a few false starts (I managed to put the fresh needle in the wrong way - -twice) it sewed beautifully all day with its new Little Foot that I bought in America and my Moda Tin Kit pieced star came out very well. I think I might incorporate it into a tote bag.

Here is a picture of my seaside wallhanging now that it has its borders on. The outer border is actually navy but has come out rather dark in the photo (and the red border is actually fairly straight and not rippled as it appears in the photo). The white blob to the left is a representation of an old church tower that exists on one side of our favourite beach on the Isle of Wight - I will be stitching over it when I quilt to make it look more like a lump of stone and less like a white blob stuck to the quilt. :)

I sewed up my little baby cardigan/shrug and blocked it - I am quite pleased with how it has turned out and it is pretty close to the measurements of the pattern. I only learned to knit properly this past winter so I feel a sense of achievement regarding the lacy holes and the shaping on this little garment. I am going to try my hand at a pair of socks with double-pointed needles next.

I am cutting the squares for my 'Robert's Baltimore Album' quilt and have been disappointed to find that I only have three repeats of the motifs and not the four repeats actually needed for the quilt designed by RJR. I bought these panels a few years ago when they were just being discontinued and I now recall that this yardage was all I could find on the internet at the time. I have plenty of motifs, enough for two quilts likely, but I don't have the four repeats that let you have matching corner motifs etc. Oh well, I will have a unique design.

I am cutting 10 1/2 inch squares, and of course I have three square rulers but none of them are 10 1/2, so I came up with this solution in the picture. I have taped my two Olfa one-inch wide rulers to the sides of my 9 1/2 square, which has made a very passable 10 1/2 square. I am going to cut out all the motifs and then start playing around to see if I can come up with a pleasing layout.

Friday, 27 July 2007

More Pics (and still jet-lagged)

It's Friday and I am still having problems sleeping through the night (I got back Monday) - how long is this jet lag thing going to last??? It's getting old, I can tell you. I have unpacked everything now and here is a picture of all my craft shopping . The vintage snowball top at right was bought from a dealer in Sisters - she thought it was feedsack prints but some of the other fabric looks more like 70s to me, so perhaps somebody made the top up from a mixture of fabrics.

This is a pic of the two Accidental Landscapes I made in my class with Karen Eckmeier. They aren't quilted yet, and the bottom one does not yet have the outer border applied which will be the autumn leaf fabric shown. These were so easy to do - I bought some more sky fabrics because I think I might make some more.

It's been really nice to get back to my sewing machine. I've put together three charity cot quilt tops using up some leftover RR blocks, and also added the borders and finishing touches to the seaside wallhanging. I still haven't put together my new quilting frame, but when I do I will practice quilting on the charity cot quilt tops before tackling some of my backlog of tops. I've also finished knitting the main pieces for the baby cardigan - I took it on holiday with me and did a lot of knitting when I was sitting around in the air conditioned hotel room in Sisters - but I've run out of yarn before I've knit the ribbing bands, so I need to go back to the store and get another ball.

Tomorrow is my Saturday Sewing Club - I am trying to decide what project to take along. I think it will either be the Mystery Quilt blocks from Sisters, or a Moda tin quilt kit that I've had for a while for a pieced star. When I got back from the holiday, the fabric I had ordered from Hancock's for the border to go around the Lone Star (the one where I replaced the background in blue) had arrived, but I'm not sure I like it. It looks a lot paler than I was expecting, I was expecting it to read more as 'red'. What do you think??

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Pics from my Trip

A few pictures from my trip - I haven't taken a photo of my shopping or of my Accidental Landscape class quilts yet.

These are the blocks from my Mystery Quilt class with Lawry Thorn - we made 25 pieced blocks from 10 fabrics chosen to coordinate with our chosen theme fabric (focus fabric is the 'plain' block). I am a bit disappointed with how it turned out, I find the layout rather boring, I thought we might be doing something more complex. I don't know what I am going to do with this quilt yet.

This is one room of the "Sew Many Quilts" shop in Bend, a larger town about 30 miles from Sisters.

This is the main street of Sisters on show day - this year the road was closed to traffic which made it really easy to get around. Apparently they get about 20,000 visitors on show day.

This is the block contest that my friend Eileen and I made blocks for, out of the hideous fabric kit provided (you may remember the pic from an earlier post). When the blocks were all together like this, they looked a lot better. Still wouldn't want to win the contest quilts though.

This is my quilt hanging in the show - the second from the left. It is a 12 block calendar quilt (one block for each month) that I made a really long time ago, but it was small enough to go into the suitcase. The zig-zags behind the blocks represent the four seasons and are blue sky, summer trees, autumn leaves and snow, respectively.

asdfs - This is one of the two rooms in the Imagiknit knitting shop in San Francisco.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Craft spots in San Francisco

This is my last night in San Francisco - we are on the plane tomorrow afternoon at 16:30. I'm just having a quick check of my e-mail before we go for a swim in the hotel pool, if we can find it. We've had a fantastic three days here and been all over the city on the public transport - this is a great place and I have really enjoyed our visit. I've managed to add even more shopping to my suitcases, so tonight is going to be the big 'pack and weigh' to see if they are going to let me back on the plane tomorrow!

While it is fresh in my mind, I thought I would list some of the crafty places I have been to, in case anyone else is coming out this way and might be interested.

- Quilt & Textile Museum in San Jose - this was a huge disappointment. It was supposed to be the last stop on our tour and turned out to be a complete waste of time. It is just one big room, and they were mounting a special exhibit on textiles created in reaction to war/violence. There were only about 4 quilts: 2 crazy quilts, one vintage flag quilt, and a new flag quilt, and everything else was either tapestry, woven rugs or sort of mola-applique pictures. When you come in, you are greeted by an exhibit of knitted bombs hanging from the ceiling (I kid you not) and it just goes downhill from there. What a downer.

- Imagiknit - this is a fantastic knitting shop at 18th & Sanchez (I think that was the address). Two huge rooms stocked with wool floor to ceiling on every wall. I couldn't believe it - the two knitting shops I have been to in London are about the size of this shop's cash register area. I wandered around in a daze finding every yarn or notion I had ever read about in a knitting book or magazine, but eventually came away with two different sock yarns, some needle holders and a book of miniature sweater xmas ornaments. Too much choice!

- Needlepoint - this is a shop on the upper floor of a building just off Union Square (you can see their sign from Union Square) which specialises in pre-printed tapestry canvases. A feast of colour and lots of cool uses I hadn't seen before like handbags, boxes, stockings, and other 3-d creations. Very friendly.

- Britex Fabrics - near Union Square, four floors of all kinds of fabrics - not a lot of quilt fabric but there was some (and I bought a bit) but the big winner for me was the notions floor. Chock full of every notion imaginable, walls of buttons and ribbons, and lots of the neat stuff I've seen in Japanese quilt books like those metal 'bear trap' purse closures, and magnetic purse snaps etc.

- Stitch - this is a cross-stitch shop on Sacramento out near Fillmore, it seemed pretty big but again concentrating on pre-printed canvases although there were some charts and books. Unfortunately they were closed for inventory and only let me in for a quick look because I whined that I had come all the way from England :)

- Chinatown - loads of touristy tatty gift shops, but also some gems with gorgeous textiles made up into drawstring bags, pillows etc. One shop had the most gorgeous soft slippers all decorated with velvets and dyed silk ruched ribbon etc, very adorable in children's sizes but not so adorable in my big size 9 feet!

- Shellie's Miniature Mania - this is a dollhouse / gift shop down in San Carlos, it took me about two hours to get there on the train from Fisherman's Wharf as I had to change a couple of times, but it was a huge shop. They had a lot of Bespaq furniture, and some great 'Painted Ladies' Victorian dollhouses, and many artisan-made items including the finest crochet blankets with gorgeous ribbon threaded through them and 3-d flower clusters ($170!!!). It was mostly 1/12th scale but there was some Bespaq 1/24th scale and a very limited amount of laser-cut 1/48th scale kits.

- Japan Centre book store - they were selling several Japanese quilt books and other needlecraft magazines, and Quilts Tushin (I don't think I am spelling that right) magazine was only $14.95!! It is more like $24 in the UK, so I was quite pleased to buy an issue (I am too cheap to buy them back home).

- Magnet Kingdom - this is a really tacky shop in the Fisherman's Wharf area (near the Cannery) that only sells fridge magnets, but a lot of them are actually dollshouse miniatures like fridges, toilets, stoves, washer/dryers, filing cabinets etc. I bought about 12 of them, mostly for $3.95 each which is way cheaper than similar items would be at a dollhouse fair back home. Don't use your credit card here though, it looks like my card has been cloned since I came to SF and that shop is my most likely suspect although I have no firm evidence yet. My bank wants me to come and see them as soon as I get home (and the card has been cancelled).

I've had a great time here - what a great city! But I'm ready to go back home now - and I've taken loads of photos so I will have to post some of them when I get back.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

San Francisco

We've made it to San Francisco, where it is about 20 degrees cooler than Sisters, and I've just had a nice steak and lobster dinner on Fisherman's Wharf. We had a very tedious bus journey today of about 8 hours from Klamath Falls, but we did stop at a super quilt shop called Tater Patch in Merrill, Oregon, which was really fantastic. It was in an old farmhouse but every room (including the bathroom) was chock full of fabric both downstairs and upstairs. The ladies were really nice and even gave everyone on the coach a nice goodie bag when we got back on the bus. The night before, when we pulled into Klamath Falls (having driven down to Crater Lake from Sisters) we spotted a fairly large quilt shop (the Quilted Rooster I think it was called) where all the fabric was $7 a yard so we had a fairly good time there and they stayed open late to cut all our fabric. I have now expanded beyond my second bag and may have to buy a bigger one I think.

After I posted on Saturday (Sisters Show Day) I went back out into the heat and spent a few more hours looking at quilts, and then I headed over to the park for lunch where I had arranged to meet Whitebear and Jemo from QuiltChat. I didn't know if I would be able to find them but I spotted Whitebear easily and we had lunch together where I heard all about their tour which sounded way better than our tour. I also got a message from Aunty_Social who said 'Hi' via one of our other tour members who was in a class with her. But the big surprise was when Swooze called my hotel room - I had been trying to contact her without any luck in the week, so she got in touch with me instead. Thanks Swooze! It was great to chat to you (although I am still disappointed that you didn't have a nice Texan drawl).

I am getting a bit fed up with being on the tour now, I have to say, and being herded everywhere like sheep. Tomorrow we have a three hour sightseeing tour of San Francisco, then a free afternoon, then a farewell dinner, then on Wednesday we are going to a museum of quilts in San Jose then the tour group flies home - yay!! I am staying on for a city break until Sunday, so I am looking forward to some non-tour holiday.

I have added many things to my purchases, let's see if I can remember:

- a stack of Moda fat quarters in the American Jane range
- a christmas panel
- several 30s fat quarters
- several bag handles because these are really expensive in the UK and I want to make some bags
- 2 yards of a pink fireworks print I liked
- 1 yard of one sky print, and a half yard of another, and a 1/4 yard of another, so I can make some more accidental landscapes

I know there is more in my bag but my mind is blank and other hotel guests are waiting to use the computer so I had better get off!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Live from Show Day

Hey everyone, it's 10:15 am on Show Day, and I am back in the library for a rest because I've been on the go since 06:45 when I reported to the Quilt Show office to volunteer to hang quilts. I was lucky and was paired up with an efficient American lady who had hung quilts before, she had her own truck and her own ladder, so we whipped over to our section and hung about 15 quilts on our own, and helped another team with about another 10. I had been wondering how the quilts would be hung - turns out the participating businesses have wires strung along nails inside their verandahs or on their walls. We had a rag to wipe the wires with, but some of them were really rusty and my American partner said this isn't a show you enter a white quilt into! The buildings themselves of course are not necessarily that clean either. The quilts are hung quite simply by doubling a corner over the wire and securing it with a wooden clothes peg. The longer ones are folded at an appropriate place, like a border, and then pegged as before. We also hung some quilts along an upstairs balcony rail, and those were actually thumbtacked into place, although we tried to put the pin in through the binding seam where the hole wouldn't show.

The organisation is really incredible - we were given a photograph of the building with stars showing where the quilts should be hung, and the coding on the photograph matched the coding on the black plastic bags of quilts which were delivered by the team leader to each building. We just had to take the quilts out and hang them. So now I've got a nice ribbon that says I am a volunteer which will be a nice keepsake.

It's hot today but only in the 90s I think, and there is a nice breeze so it isn't too bad. The town is filling up, the atmosphere is like a country fair only with quilts instead of animals. Lots of entrepreneurs are set up selling food and drink, antique quilts and lots of other stuff. I lined up at the Hewlett Packard stand behind the Stitching Post and I got my photo taken in front of the official show banner as a souvenir - they are printing them out of about six little photo printers which I am sure are going to self-combust by about lunchtime because the line was huge (I got there early). I found my quilt on display - I brought over a little calendar quilt I made a long time ago because it fit in my suitcase - it is on the side of the hardware store so not as far out of town as I was afraid it might be when I handed it in past the deadline (because we didn't get here until Sunday). I also found the block contest - neither Eileen nor I won, which is a relief because the winners go in a pool to win the quilts and neither of us liked the fabric at all. An American lady looked closely at Eileen's (a card trick block) and exclaimed "oh look! A Stack n Whack!" so I don't know if she has been a quilter for too long.

We wondered how the town was going to cope with 20,000 visitors pouring in but so far it seems fine, they have blocked the main street to traffic this year for the first time which must be a big help.

OK, I'm going to head back out and look at some more quilts!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Your Roving Reporter in Sisters

Hey, I found internet access at the Sisters public library! Hi everyone, I'm reporting live to you from Sisters, Oregon, where it is ridiculously hot (in the high 90s and it was over 100 on Tuesday). Our English tour has been here since Sunday night. We flew into Portland after an incredibly long day (I got up at 6:30 am, and it was about 4:00 am the next day UK time before I got to bed) on Saturday, Sunday we had a bus tour around Portland which looks like a nice city, and then a stop in Salem to visit Greenbaum's Quilted Forest quilt shop where we were warmly welcomed by the owner. We had some free time in Salem to have some lunch and do a bit of non-quilt shopping (I got the videogame my son wanted so I can go home with kudos as the best mommy in the world now), then drove up to Sisters. It is really gorgeous here, the snow-capped Sisters mountains loom over everything (which is a bit ironic considering how hot we are down here).

So far it is pretty quiet here - it isn't the best place to be located if you don't have a car. We are staying at the Sisters Inn which is on the edge of town, it is like a motel but still the best accommodation in town I think and we are quite comfortable (with airconditioning!!). But it is a 15 minute walk to the High School where the classes and lectures are (a long hot walk) or a 10 minute walk to the edge of the town of Sisters. And Sisters itself is just a collection of gift shops really, other than the fantastic Stitching Post quilt shop. I've been kept busy because I signed up for a class on Monday and Wednesday, plus some lectures, but I think some of the other English ladies, particularly the older ones, are finding it rather hot and boring. We were taken out by bus on Tuesday to see the High Desert Museum which was really good, and into the town of Bend (about 30 miles away) to visit Sew Many Quilts shop, but we weren't given any time to explore anywhere else and it was so hot that the airconditioning on the bus couldn't cope, so it was a pretty uncomfortable ride.

On the plus side, I've really enjoyed my classes and everyone I've met has been so friendly and generous. I haven't been buying nearly as much as on previous trips, let me see if I can remember what I've got so far:
- a booklet of patterns for quilted backpacks
- a booklet of patterns for bags and totes
- a pattern called 'Let it Snow' and six yards of two different fabrics to go with it
- a kit with pattern and fabric for a vintage log cabin from the Stitchin Post
- a new seam ripper (broke mine just before I came away, obviously I am overusing it!)
- two vintage Needlecraft magazines from 1925 and 1926
- two copies of Quilter's Home magazine, and one of American Patchwork and Quilting
- a Valerie Wells pattern for big swirly cushions
- a Moda Jelly Roll Pattern that looks like pinwheels (haven't found a jelly roll to go with it yet though)
- two boxes of Angel Food cake mix, and some Glad Press 'n Seal for machine quilting (can't get these in UK)
- a couple of secondhand dollhouse books

That's all I can remember, I have a feeling there are a few more things tucked into my suitcase that I've forgotten about.

My plan for today is to look in a few more of the gift shops before it gets too hot, then retreat to my lovely airconditioned hotel room to do some quiet knitting and tatting. Tonight is the Show & Tell evening at the High School which should be fun. Last night I went to a hilarious lecture by Margaret Miller about why we quilt, what do we get out of it and what are we giving back as quilters.

Best wishes all - hopefully I will find a computer again before the end of the holiday so I can log back on.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Off to Sisters for Two Weeks

This is my last post for a few weeks as I am flying off to the Sisters show in Oregon tomorrow, on a quilting tour from the UK which finishes up in San Francisco. We are going to see lots of cool things, and I look forward to blogging about them on my return. I have also packed the mandatory extra bag for all my purchases on the homeward journey. I'm doing a couple of classes in Sisters, I'm taking a small quilt for either the show (if it isn't too late as I am missing the deadline for entries) or the show & tell, and the tour is taking us to several quilt shops in Oregon and a quilting museum near San Francisco.

Best wishes and I will blog some more when I get back!

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Applique Block 10

Another applique block done - I am trying to do two 17-inch hand applique blocks a month from the book 'Grandmother's Last Quilt' but I have fallen behind. So I have decided to number them instead, which conceals my failure to keep to schedule! This is block 10, and my target is 25 blocks for a Queen-size quilt (there is no sashing). Only 15 to go...

I have packed for Sisters and weighed my suitcase because I was worried about the new weight restrictions on luggage but I think I am alright. I am dreading the first day of travel, 3 hours at the airport, an 11 hour flight to San Francisco, a 3.5 hour layover, then another flight to Portland, Oregon, so by the time we get to the hotel in the evening in Portland it will be like 4 am the next day for me. I hate being bored as well, but of course you can't take knitting or sewing on the plane. I am taking my knitting (the baby cardigan) for the coach journeys during the tour but it has to go in my checked luggage. I will likely take my tatting for the plane, but to be honest I get a bit bored with tatting after 20 or 30 minutes - I am obviously not a true tatter as I find it a bit repetitive (plus I am pants at anything that requires counting accurately - this covers cross-stitch and tapestry where my designs are never quite like the picture, lol). I have two magazines, a few books, and a Gameboy Advance but I still anticipate a tedious flight.

I have also packed for the quilt talk I am giving tomorrow night to a branch of the Women's Institute on 4th July. They wanted an American theme, so someone gave them my name (lol, I was born in Canada but the Brits think I am American) and I am taking along about 20 or so quilts in four suitcases to do a show & tell, and talk about quilting in America. And they pay me! what a great job. I like doing the talks, not because I am a great public speaker because I am not, but because it is the only time a lot of my quilts get out. They mostly live in a shelved armoire next to my bed, and I really can't believe how many I have when I get them all out. It makes me feel a bit abnormal - does one person with only one bed really need more than 20 queen-sized or double-sized quilts? I do use most of them, but obviously I can only use one at a time. I can also display two bed-sized quilts - one on a rail above my bed, and one in the stairwell on a special hanging pole I have rigged up.

I am very bad about giving quilts away, I have put a lot of myself into them and I find it hard to let go in case they get sold for charity for five bucks or for someone's dog to sleep on. I have given a few away, but it happened sort of by accident, when someone (usually a family member) saw the quilt and spontaneously said 'oh I love that!'. But now I am running out of room so I really need to make some hard choices. Quilts are not nearly so appreciated here in the UK as they are in the States, so it is almost impossible to sell them for any realistic price. People only want to pay what they would pay for a nice blanket. I offered a good one to my son's school for a raffle but I had to explain to the Bursar what I meant and they never took me up on it. Oh well. Must try not to buy too many new projects in Sisters.

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