Split Personality

My favorite way to relax is to work on one of my crafts.  And, yes, I have been doing that a lot.

But, today was a day to do something very different.  With the temperature in the low 70s, low humidity and, most importantly No Bugs, it was a day to work outside.  I was able to crossed something off of my to-do list that has been on the list for a while (okay, so actually a couple years).

img_3697A few years ago, we had three large oak trees taken down by a local arborist (Branch and Bough, if you are in MN, is a great tree service).  These trees were hanging far over our driveway and the concern was that they might fall onto our vehicles. At the time, we had the tree crew take the trees down and then cut them into 1 foot length intending to split the wood to use in our firepit and fireplace.  Since then, these large pieces of wood have been stacked by our driveway.

Well, today I finally got around to splitting the wood.

img_3699.jpgWe made a trip to Home Depot last night to rent a log splitter for a day (my husband was kind enough to help with this since I am not confident towing something behind my vehicle).  Then around 7:30 this morning, I started working through the stack of logs.   Eight hours later and I had about a full cord of wood (8 ft x 4 ft by 4 ft) split and stacked.  At the current rate of $550/cord, I’d say it was a productive day.

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But, boy am I tired.

I think I’ll go back to my craft room before tackling another task like today.  But, it was certainly nice to get the log splitting off of my to-do list!

 

Fractured Tree

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“Fractured Tree” wall hanging.

I enjoy reading historical fiction books. When reading, I like to look up information about the events happening at the specific time in history.  This helps me understand the book’s story line better.

I enjoy these books even more when there is a reference to the art of the era.  Having recently I read the latest book by Jennifer Chiaverini, I did some additional reading about the history of quilting.

One of the sources talked about Depression Era quilts.  Many of these quilts were string quilts made of small fabric scraps stitched together to make a piece of fabric large enough to cut a pattern piece. These larger pieces were stitched together to make a quilt block. The quilt blocks were put together to make a quilt top. This method was used during hard times when money and fabric were scarce.  Scraps of all sizes were utilized.

 

Over the past decade, this method has also made a resurgence within the art quilt community.

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There were several pictures of a string quilts that have caught my attention.

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One of the quilters that I really liked was Ursula Kern.  Her string quilts are breathtaking.  The illusion of movement and shape that she creates is absolutely amazing.

 

 

 

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I decided that I wanted to try to make a string quilt wall hanging for my sewing room.  With wall space limited, the only spot I had left to hang something was adjacent to my four seasons landscape quilt.  So, in keeping the the landscape theme, I thought a tree might fit the area well.

 

Looking at tree clipart images, I selected one, traced it out on pellon, and then divided the pellon into a 7×11 grid. Each section of the grid (2″ x 3.75″)  was used as one block of the string quilting.

Since I have a lot a scraps from various other quilts, and not wanting to purchase more fabric right now, I pulled out my scraps, sorted them by color and started creating each of the blocks.

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Pieced, but not quilted.

 

The seventy seven blocks were sewn together (with numerous changes to match my design better). The illusion is somewhat like a stained glass window – I really like it!

For the quilting, I used one layer of Quilter’s Dream Cotton batting.  To create texture for the tree and shrubs, I placed pieces of Quilter’s Dream Wool batting in these areas between the cotton batting and the pieced top.  The background sky was quilted with straight lines and the tree was loosely quilted to allow the depth of the batting to show.

 

Christmas Treats – a village, some trees, and a whole lot of Grinches.

With Christmas just a few days away, I decided to show some holiday treats I have recently shared with my staff.

Christmas Village

For our December Saturday clinic, the staff enjoyed an eatable village that included:

Pound cake houses (each staff member could have their own house):

  • Pound Cake (recipe found here)
  • Cookie glazing frosting (recipe found here)
  • Mini M&Ms, chocolate chips, colored sugar, almond slivers, Andes candies, lemon wafers, green frosting, and sugar flakes.

Spritz cookie Trees (recipe found here, peppermint extract used instead of fiori di sicilia)

Marshmallow cereal trees (recipe found here, shaped into trees rather than wreaths)

Cream wafer cookies (recipe found here) – these are really good!!

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Meat and Cheese Tree

On another day, a demonstration of a new piece of equipment we are considering, was held over our lunch break. So, I brought in some meat and cheese for the staff to eat.  Keeping with the holiday spirit, these were put together in a decorative fashion.

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Grinch Poppers

After seeing the idea in an ADA Morning Huddle email, I also made a tray of fun fruit treats.  These Grinch Poppers (original idea posted here) were enjoyed by everyone.

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Merry Christmas to everyone who reads my blog!!

Fall in Minnesota

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What a difference a week makes!

Last Sunday, I was in Arizona visiting my parents.  With a high temperature was 102 degrees, I was wearing a skort, sleeveless shirt and sandals.

Today, back in Minnesota, the temperature is 51 degrees.  I am wearing a sleeveless shirt this week, it’s just accompanied by a sweater, slacks and warm socks.

My week off of work started by spending a few days with my parents.  Having recently relocated to a new retirement community, I went to Arizona to see how they were doing.  Glencroft Retirement has many nice features – fountains, library, exercise room, etc.

 

And entertainment!

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After spending a few days with my parents, I returned midweek to Minnesota.

The later part of my week was spent on fall yard projects.  After picking apples, I spent countless hours making applesauce and dehydrated apple slices – 36 cups of apple chips and 39 pints of applesauce!

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I also cleaned up some of my flower beds and planted about 400 bulbs for spring flowers.  It will be nice to see how things grow!

I guess it’s back to work tomorrow 😒.

 

The Minnesota Great Get-Together

img_2410.jpgThe Minnesota State Fair is currently taking place.  If you are not from MN, you may not realize how big our state fair is.  While MN only ranks 12th in size and 21st in population, it ranks second in state fair attendance, with over 2 million people attending each year.  This is just behind Texas at 2.25 million visitors.  However, Texas is second in land mass, second in population, and their state fair runs for 24 days (twice the length of the MN fair).  Thus, I would say that the Minnesota State Fair outranks even Texas.

The fair is so popular that, even on a rainy morning like today, there were lots of people in attendance.  What do people like to do at the fair?  When I asked some of my friends, they replied: eat the food, attend a concert, eat the food, see the animals, eat the food….

I think you get the picture – there is lots of food to eat if that is what you are interested in.

For me, the State Fair is a place to go to see the craftsmanship and creativity in the Arts and Crafts Building. Today was no exception.  After getting very wet walking from the transit center to the A&C building, I spent a couple hours walking around taking pictures.

Here are my quilts:

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Me (with my wet hair) in front of “Burst Doll Quilt”, which received a first place in the child quilt category.
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“Burst” bed quilt received a second place in the pieced bed quilt category.
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My reversible tree quilt “Childhood Memories” received a second place in the mixed techniques category.  Unfortunately, you can only see one side of the quilt and none of the shadow painting.  
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“Window on My World” placed fourth in the wall quilt category.  I re-entered it this year because I was surprised that it did not place last year and knew that there was a different judge this year. 

Some of the other quilting highlights:

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Sweepstakes winner – Mary Alsop

 

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Best Hand Applique – Terri White
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Best Machine Quilting – Marilla Schmitt
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Knit & Bolt Award – Susan Nevling

 

Some other crafts that caught my eye:

 

“Childhood Memories” – finished quilt

 

When designing a quilt, I like to plan the quilting at the same time as the piecing.  This allows me to think about adding something unique to each quilt.  My recent project for the two sided tree quilt was no exception.

The quilting of the tree, leaves and background would be fairly straightforward.  Wanting to add something special to the quilt, I thought about what I could add to the tree.  One idea was to place flowers or shrubs at the base of the tree.  Another was to add some animals.

My final idea, and the one I actually used, came while reviewing some photos from my childhood.  These photos brought back memories of things growing up.  I decided to add theses memories to the quilt.

I needed to invoke the idea of a memory without overwhelming the quilt.  To do that, I planned to used only thread to make the images appear very faint.  After stitching, I realized  that the images were there but extremely hard to see.  Having recently purchase some textile medium (InFusion Textile Medium) that was very lightweight (did not stiffen the fabric) and shiny, I decided to use this to enhance the visual effect of the memories.

I am really happy how they turned out.  If you look closely at the images, you will see a boy leaning against the tree reading a book, a girl on a tree swing, and their faithful dog laying on the ground near them.

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Here are the full images of the quilt front and back:

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Hand applique and embroidery

How do you applique a two sided quilt?

You think, think, plan, think some more, plan again and then finally jump in and do it.  That kinda describes the process I went through when contemplating the idea of embroidering an identical tree on both sides of a quilt.

Idea #1

  •  adhere light weight fabric adhesive to the back of two pieces of fabric for the tree trunks
  • draw the tree trunk onto the fabric and cut out two identical trees
  • adhere the tree to one side of the quilt and baste in place
  • adhere the tree on other side and then machine embroidery through all layers of the quilt and tree
  • machine quilt the details onto the tree
  • Concern – machine quilting will cause the quilt to be “flattened” and lining up the edges of the tree on each both sides of the quilt would be difficult

Idea #2

  • baste stitch the outline of the tree onto the quilt
  • cut out fabric to match the tree
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the tree onto each side of the quilt
  • machine quilt  the details onto the tree
  • Concern – it might be difficult to control the amount of fabric involved while doing hand embroidery

Idea #3

  • pin large pieces of the tree fabric to both sides of the quilt
  • machine quilt the tree details onto the tree
  • trim the fabric approximately 5/8″ – 3/4″ away from quilting details
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the fabric to the quilt
  • This was ultimately the idea I decided to use for the trees, sun and moon

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Daytime detail:

I decided to hand applique leaves onto the daytime side of the quilt.  To do this, I pinned pieces of green fabric onto the quilted tree.  Then I machine quilted the outline and veins of a leaf onto each piece of fabric.  After cutting around each stitched leaf, I used needle turn embroidery to secure the edges of the fabric.

Nighttime detail:

I did not want to use the same technique on the nighttime side of the quilt. So, after completing the daytime side, I used the quilting lines as a guide to paint faint green fabric dye onto the leaves and then hand embroidered outlines around the leaves.

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Unfortunately while quilting the leaves onto the daytime side, my long arm machine handles fell off the machine while I was working on a leaf.  When this happened, the needle broke and the broken needle tore the fabric through all layers of the quilt.  This picture shows that even on the backside of the quilt, the broken needle tore the fabric. I was really bummed!

To fix the tear, I could applique a leaf onto the daytime side.  But, how do I fix the tear on the nighttime side.  I could applique leaves on this side as well.  However, that was more applique then I really wanted to do.  And, I had really wanted the two sides of the quilt to use different techniques.  This was really frustrating.

Ultimately, I decided to add a bit more detail to the quilt.  By appliqueing an owl on the nighttime side and a cardinal to the daytime side, I was able to repair the quilt and no one can even tell that the quilt was torn.

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A good repair and some nice details for the quilt! I have added more details to the quilt that were really fun to do.  I will post about those soon.