Monday, May 29, 2017

Alaska Cruise Part II

Many people were on the cruise as a way to see Alaska and all the beautiful scenery. Me, I was all about the cruise!
Here are a few pictures from our two ports, Juneau and Ketchikan

We were encouraged to take the tram in Juneau, and I'm very glad that we did. The vistas are amazing and it was certainly worth it. If you are a hiker, I would definitely recommend you do this and prepare to spend a few hours up on the mountain.
Look at this view, simply amazing

Photos don't do this justice, so if you find yourself in Juneau, take the tram.

Looking back, this is the entrance to the port.

The trees were really cool up here, the trunks all seem to bend at the base and then find their way up. 

There are lots of hiking trails and fantastic photo op's up here.  Many trails still had compact snow/ice and some were quite muddy.  I'm sure the summertime brings many hikers up here.  You could spend hours on the trails.

Back in town, the iconic Red Dog Saloon takes center stage on the corner of the main street.  The downtown was under major road construction, but I made my way to the quilt shop.  Jan couldn't have been nicer and her shop is fabulous.  A lot of variety, some fantastic local designer patterns and definitely worth a visit.

On our stroll back to the ship, we sat on the pier and soaked up the sunshine.  We had amazing weather all three days ashore.  I couldn't resist snapping a picture of the worn patina look on these old boards along the ocean.

Our third port day was Ketchikan. The skies opened up, washed the town, and then by the time I was organized to go ashore, I put back my rain hat and coat and headed out into the glorious sun. My guy stayed on the ship, so I wandered the town and around until I ended up in the local quilt shop. Then I found a wonderful Christmas tree ornament hand painted on bark by a local artist. I was pleased to make this purchase and headed back to the ship.

There are lots of totem poles in Ketchikan, and the flowers and trees were just starting to break out in bloom

I couldn't resist snapping a picture of this floor

There was also a bit of quilting inspiration on the ship.  The carpets also had some very cool Mariners star/compass motifs, but, I guess I was just too busy to take those pictures. 

Yes, the cruise, the Coral Princess ship.  Oh my, I've never been so pampered and overwhelmed with amazing service.  We LOVED every minute of being on the ship and the staff could not have done anything better or been more polite and friendly.  I was blown away by that.  Every person who works in any type of service industry should be sent on a 3 day cruise to see what good service looks like.  And these people are away from home, their babies, wives/husbands/family.  One guy had a new baby he hasn't seen yet............we were humbled by their attitude and generous spirit.

and yes, we have made a deposit on another cruise, but we have two years to make that plan.

I was so busy exploring and enjoying all that was on board that I only stitched 4 blocks.  They each take an hour so that's how much 'down time' I had.  Didn't even crack my book.
Keep stitching,

Friday, May 26, 2017

North to Alaska.........

Spring is supposed to be coming according to the calendar, and I was overdue for a pedicure.  My move had been completed and my hands also needed a little TLC.  I told my guy I was going to book some spa time.  A couple of days later he told me I had a mani/pedi booked.  Yeah for me, now I just had to call and add on one more service.  Then he had to break it to me, my appointment was on a cruise ship.

We were Alaska bound in 2 weeks.  Our ship left from the port of Vancouver, BC so we got dropped off at Canada Place and proceeded into the bowels of the convention center, us and about 9873 other outbound passengers. 

After getting through a highly organized cattle drive, we were greeted to this upon arriving in our room.  Travel on Princess Cruise lines and you are treated like a princess!

Leaving on our big adventure.  My first ever cruise.  I had no idea what was in store for me.

We left Saturday under sunny skies, and sailed to the north end of Vancouver Island, and then headed to open seas.  Sunday was a sailing day, and we had some rough water.  I thought it was the result of celebrating too much on my first night of my first ever cruise, but I came to learn many others had queasy sessions.  Monday we arrived in Glacier Bay.  What a sight.

My little camera couldn't do this sight justice, but you can see some of the 'blue' to the glacier.

Click for a closer view.
We could hear the chunks breaking away from the main glacier and roll and crash into the water.  It sounds like thunder.

First port was Skagway and I loved this rock cliff.  Crew from ships have some how scaled these rocks and left their ship and/or Captain's mark.  I thought it was pretty fun. 

Once we got into town, we quickly realized that the downtowns have been severely commercialized with jewelry stores owned by the cruise lines that dock in the town.  My guy found the library, I found the quilt shop and then I walked around the side streets.

We then headed out of town, over the bridge and visited Jewell Gardens.  There were 4 other ships docked so I was glad to be getting out from the shops.

 It's a good walk from the ship, (you can see them in the distance) approx 1.5 miles but the sun was shining and we needed to move.  They have a glass blowing workshop on site, but I really just wanted to look for something hand crafted.  Mission accomplished.  The gardens were just getting started, so we visited with the shop staff, did a little shopping, and then headed back to town.

The landscape was magnificent, the weather was fabulous.  It was the best day of spring that we had seen so far this year!
By days end, I had logged 18,000+ steps on my fitbit, so it was an excellent day.

Next up, Juneau and Ketchikan, AK

Stay tuned,

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Seeing Stars

Apparently blogging on a regular schedule has not been a strong point of mine.  Life is busy, I let things get away from me and then, wham, it's coming up on Memorial Day and I still don't have the boxes unpacked in my new place.

However, I have been unpacking bags and boxes and drawers in the studio one at a time and have actually been dealing with the contents.  This is the latest bag to be dumped on my cutting table.  Left overs from 3 - 4 years ago.

Perfect for some liberated stars that were in the works.  I found patches of "made" fabric, background squares cut up in several sizes and I got to work.

Since I don't have ANY grey or yellow in my bins that can work in, I opted to add in a few solids of different yellows.

I needed some more white on whites, and my fabric bin did not let me down in this dept.  Now I have a mix of blocks that finish at 4", 6", 9" and 12"  I can see I have to make a few more blocks in order to put this puzzle together.  The best part is that I love making this block, and I needed a bit of sunshine in the long stretch of rain that we've had.

I have also jumped into the "star a day" but mine will be called the "star a week" project.  After marking and cutting them, I still need an hour to do the hand piecing for each block.  This was my take along project on a last minute trip my guy booked for us.  We just came back from a 7 day Alaskan cruise, and this was the sum total of my down time.  4 blocks..

And I'm still picking away at an EPP stars project.  I need 100 stars and I've picked out my background.  I need 200 diamonds prepped in that fabric. 

Here are my bundles of 5, I have a total of 75 stars so I really need to get on the task of making background diamonds.  If not, 200 diamonds in one fabric is going to become tedious in a hurry.

And yes, I'm back at my longarm machine, getting customer quilts finished up for the next phase; bindings, labels, and sleeves.   Here is the back of a commissioned piece.  The top was pieced from her fathers Hawaiian shirts.  It too, needs binding and a label before it goes to it's new home.

Spring has finally arrived this past weekend, it's been long overdue here in the PNW.  We were starting to forget what the sun looked like.  My house has closed, everything has been moved, (but not unpacked or put away or hung up), but I'm at the beach, life is good, and I've got several irons in the fire on any given day!

I will post about my cruise later this weekend.

Keep stitching,

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Best Big Stitch Needles

I got a bit jazzed on the Perle #8 threads a few years ago. I bought a lot of it, in lots of colors. Plus I have boxes of DMC threads, so it wasn't that I needed any colors. But these little balls of thread looked SO cute.

Years ago, in another life time when I used to sift and search eBay for no reason,  I bought this vintage top. It was so sweet, and yet so not worthy of a ton of time. I had found the perfect project to use some of these bright threads. Now to find the right needles.

I purchased a multi pack of big eye needles, branded for big stitch quilting.  It was tough for me to pull the eye through the fabric. Then I was bending the needle at the base of the eye.  And breaking the eye off.

Needless to say, this trouble send me packing, as in packing up the project and putting it away. Until I found these.  I've used Tulip needles for other types of sewing, and while we were at the quilt show in Monroe, WA we went into Quilting Mayhem  They had a very good selection of needles and I thought I'd give these a try. I used the #4, (there are 4 sizes in the package)

Although this isn't a very big top, approx 32" x 40", I got it finished in two weeks.  As soon as I took the first stitches, I was in heaven.  They went through like a hot knife through butter.

Since it was so pleasurable, I kept at it during the evenings, and in no time, I had resurrected not only an old top, but an abandoned project.

This sweet little piece just needs binding.  I have a soft yellow solid that is perfect, it's all cut and ready to add, and then it's ready to be washed and loved.

Tools of the trade are very subjective, what one quilter loves another one abandons. Just like methods to making blocks, there are many ways to achieve the same outcome, it's a matter of personal preference. I'm thrilled with this product so my $8.50 was well spent!

Keep stitching

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gwen Marston - It's a Wrap

Photo heavy, word light.  Here are the shots of some work in progress pieces and some finished results from our workshop.  With 20 people creating in one room, there was a bit of sensory overload for me.  I kept focused on my piece and soaked up so much from those around me.

Matt - Seattle Modern Guild.  You should stalk him on IG  @odditease  Everyone tries to pull their hands out of the shot.  I happen to like them in the photo, after all, these are the hands that created the piece that we are enjoying.

Finished? not quite.............

Matt finished and if you check out his IG, you will see the hand quilting he has going on.
Making parts....

Auditioning background colors.  Vera worked her pieces from lots of yellow/green on the right to lots of pink/turq on the left.
Finished the abstract piecing and onto making Liberated Stars

Sally and Mary came up from Seattle to say hello, and lucky for us, Sally brought her corduroy quilt.

LeeAnn and Merry.  Square in a square by Merry, cherrywood fabrics.  Still in process, as a fabulous border showed up a bit later.

Leah M&M for size reference.

She rocked the small piecing and created some wonderful patchwork.

Finished composition. Such lovely work!

Paula with her Mexican Hat center and liberated rounds, medallion style.

Cheryl - we realized we have taken 3 different Gwen workshops together. She has good taste in teachers *vbg* Don't you just love this? She did the patchwork, then cut her big square in 4 to make the outside triangles. Her sewing buddy had some great advise. Stay stitch just beside the cutting lines "before" you cut on the bias. Still more to happen, but not enough fabric or time to have a finish.

Justine rocked the hour glass block with brights all around.  This piece is so lively. 

Fern, as in IG @fern_royce, or came up from Berkley to partake in Gwens last blast class.
Fabulous work.  She teaches and lectures.  Check her out!

Ferns sewing buddy, who's small 4 patches took my breath away.  I just had to go make a block for reference.  I love the partial seam technique she used to surround the center. 

Elizabeth continued on a current project she had.  Such good colors in this piece.

Mary green lib log cabins

Gwen shared so many techniques and here is a collage of processes.  Marilyn now has the best note / sketch book to take home.

Merry shared a wool quilt she finished.  I love a good churn dash.

LeeAnn aka NiftyQuilts working on the floor.

Nifty had the floor with her wool strippy.  Is is recycled? or upcycled now?  I just know its a great quilt and someone will be lucky to get this.

Norma also pulled out the hourglass medallion theme.  Love the curves added in the first round.  There's more to come on this piece, but again, time got the best of us.  Norma and I have also been in several of Gwen's workshops in the last few years.

As Gwen continued to show techniques, the work became more complex.  I see Maui when I look at the piece on the right.  Such great colors.

I call this one Vision Accomplished.  I had an idea in mind; sea glass  I came with a stack of fabrics that worked with my newly painted condo and I managed to see it through to fruition.  Strings on the right were from the strip ends.  They have made their way into another piece already.  When the iron's hot, right?

Gwen and I, our last hurrah............

And like the fields of Snow Geese that I saw while leaving LaConner,  Gwen drove away.  It was a bittersweet workshop, knowing that she has truly retired. 
I asked her if she considered taking up quilting in her retirement, she replied, "I've thought about it"

Gwen, thank you for empowering so many of us to find our voice, to be confident in our decisions, and to defend our work.  You are a true gem in this industry and in this world.

Thank you