Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hats for Uganda

Growing up, there were always projects at various stages of completion around our house.  My mom usually had 2 or three 'big' things she was working on in her sewing room, like a dress for one of us (or herself if she should happen to find a few extra hours) or a quilt or even drapes.  In fact, looking back on it, my mom knew how to do everything!  Anyway, aside from the bigger projects she was working on, there was always some hand piecing, needlepoint, handmade ornaments or some knitting laying around to fill those spare moments in the car, waiting at dance or play practice or even while watching a movie.  One of the things that continually impresses me about my mother is her sheer desire to create things all of the time--even if she's tired, or has her grandchildren crawling on and around her, or is interrupted by something infinitely less fun than what she's working on--like making dinner.  I'm pretty sure I inherited my love of all things fiber from her.  She and my grandmother used to take my brother and I shopping when we were little and we rarely passed up a fabric or yarn shop.  In those days, Sofro fabrics was actually inside the mall--can you imagine if you could go shoe shopping and stop at your favorite quilt shop on the way out of the mall??  That's almost as good as looking at fabric on your laptop in your pajamas.  And both can spell trouble if you are not given to restrain yourself around fabric and yarn.  My brother and I would invariably groan on the way into the fabric store saying "you are going to be in here FOREVER!"  and my mother would just chuckle, knowing that even five minutes in a fabric store would seem like forever to us.  At some point, however, I started paying attention at these stores and even wandering around and touching all of the fabric--a habit I still have to this day.  And before I knew it, I had my own stash of yarn and fabric growing in my closet, which I had to move over to make room for my prom dress and collection of Nancy Drew books.  I also started a collection of baskets full of projects that fill my time when I am not piecing a quilt at my machine.  Thanks to my mom, one of those projects is now making a few little hats for orphans in Uganda.  One of the ladies in her knitting group has a friend who has a friend (you know how that is...) who visited St. Mary Kevin's orphanage last year and has plans to go again this Christmas.  Of course everyone is anxious to help in anyway they can and one of the things she knows the children like is hats!  Boys and girls both have to cut their hair short to avoid lice so they wear these hats.  My mother, of course, has already made a number of them.

For some of them, she used patterns she had laying around her studio.  But she designed the little orange and blue cutie herself....

In the midst of all of the preparations we have been doing for market, I am still going to find the time to knit a couple of these simple hats.  I am sure that I can handle a Christmas deadline (I am actually laughing as I write this because the truth is, I might not be able a Christmas deadline but I am certainly going to try)!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm in!!

It's new studio is now open for business. A few days ago, our contractor left out the back basement door, and I came down the stairs with my rotary cutter in hand to start long last.  There are still a few finishing touches that need attention--like changing out the hinges to match the doorknobs (I have discovered a new love in redoing our basement.  I am obsessed with doorknobs!), grouting the shower in the new bathroom and hanging some sconces and overhead lights.  But even with these last things undone, it is complete heaven to work down there.  And the best part is that it has been raining non-stop here for the last week or so and I do not even have to think about water coming in because of the drain tiles we had installed last November.  An unfinished basement is one thing, but water pouring in around your longarm frame is quite another story!

The first project to be tackled in my new space was to finish my last quilt for spring market, which is approaching at breakneck speed.  Janine came so we could do some tag-team sewing.  I know I have mentioned team sewing before but seriously--try it if you have a deadline and any willing and able body to iron seams for you.  You won't believe how much you can get done in an evening!  We sewed for hours and things got a little messy....

People wandered in and out to see what we were up to and even Maggie gave us a hand!

I love this quilt!  I have been wanting to make it ever since I drew it shortly after I first started designing. It's called Green Glass Door--so named after a game my sister Anna used to play as a kid.  I had a lot of fun collecting the fabrics for this quilt.  I made sure to have some random prints like green peppers and chairs.  They are all framed with green solids.

And a quilt with random fabrics deserves a random this fish print!

All of my market quilts are now at the quilter's---sadly, I do not have the time to quilt them myself.  But it is a tremendous relief to have them all done--and with a couple of days to spare.  I am not quite sure what I will do with myself!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Have a beautiful Easter Sunday! 
 I hope your Easter Basket is full of fabric.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Southeast Wisconsin in 8 hours

On Thursday, we did a lecture and trunk show for the Lake Country Quilt Guild that meets in Delafield, Wisconsin.  We love going to different quilt guilds and talking about quilting.  First of all, we get to meet a ton of new quilters in the process, and second of all, we get to take advantage of some face time in the car to talk Blue Underground business.  We got a little lost when we got off the highway...but that only adds to the fun.  Delafield is a super cute town!  The Lake Country Guild has great quilting spirit-- we had a lot of fun with them and their guild meets at 9:00 AM so we had some time to bum around our favorite hang outs after the meeting.  That of course started with lunch at my mom's!  After lunch we went to two of our favorite quilt/fabric shops in the area:  Patched Works, Inc. and Bigsby's Sewing Center.  Both are on Watertown Plank Road in Elm Grove.

Janine and I are hardly ever known to pass up a fabric buying opportunity.  We love the fact that we can find completely different fabrics at each of the quilt shops we frequent even if they are down the street from each other!  Both of these shops rank high on our 'favorites' list.

Bigsby's carries many of Lonni Rossi's fabrics (printed by Andover).  Of course I had to zero in on the green section--I don't think I will ever get over green--it really is my favorite color.  I have a ton of green fabric, I've made a respectable amount of green quilts, and if I didn't wear so much black even all of my clothes would be green!

They also have a great selection of buttons.  I am loving the fact that they organize them in a rainbow palette.

And if you are feeling over burdened by the number of bolts you have chosen to buy from, do not worry!  They will wheel you over a sewing chair to relieve your stress...

I started a collection of Lecien and Lecien-type fabrics on this shopping trip.  They are not my usual bright colors but I have a specific project in mind.  I want to make a wall quilt for the new bathroom in my soon-to-be finished studio.  I chose a tealy-grey paint color called arrowroot from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot.  I cannot stop thinking about how great these fabrics would look with that paint...In fact, I thought about it the whole time I was sewing a quilt for market today!

As soon as I can move into my new studio (which could be as soon as Sunday evening!!!!!), this is going to be the first stack of fabrics to go on my cutting table.  I might not be able to sew them right away, but I can at least look at them while I am sewing other things!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Creative uses for quilts brought to you by a 2 year old....

At the Walsh house, we have quilts in every room.  In fact, when I first started quilting in earnest, I finished a couple of quilts and thought "wow, I can't wait until I can have stacks of these around to put on chairs, guest beds, etc..."  Little did I know when we started Blue Underground Studios how quickly that time would come.  We are lucky enough to be able to live with quilts that are not out on trunk shows (Janine and I take turns with our favorites).

I have been known to use quilts for many different things--table cloths, picnic blankets, Christmas tree skirts....but if you are two years old and you have at your constant disposal a stack of quilts that can be used, loved, tossed around, washed and sat upon, you can come up with some pretty creative things.

If you're in the mood for some nature, you might wrap yourself up in a quilt like a little caterpillar in a cocoon.

Be sure that the quilt is wrapped loosely enough so you can burst fourth like the beautiful butterfly that you are!  We have it on good authority that quilt cocoons produce the most gorgeous of butterflies...

If you are in the mood for adventure, you might set out for a boat ride on the high seas!  Make sure you have enough friends around you to make big waves and watch out for pirates!!

Of course, when you return home from your journey, the best thing to do is wrap yourself in some love and just chill out!

I love that Maggie is growing up with fabric and quilts all around her.  She's already "making quilts" by arranging scraps on the living room floor and remarking about things that are "extra colorful."  I can only hope that someday she will love to sew as much as I do.

Friday, April 8, 2011

You know you're getting old when... find yourself in an art gallery looking at paintings created by one of your former junior high students in the SAIC BFA exhibit.  That is exactly where I found myself on Wednesday of this past week, after I had spent the day at a social media conference downtown.   I snuck over that evening to the Sullivan Gallery on State Street to see the work of Samantha Haring.  I had the pleasure of teaching Samantha during her junior high career at The Willows. The entire exhibit was beautiful---and inspiring.  It's exciting to think of all of these young artists graduating and moving on to making art.  You can see some of Samantha's work here.

I love visiting galleries and looking at art in all forms.  It can be so inspiring, especially for a quilter (or just plain anyone who's crazy about color)...I often come home from a trip to the Art Institute with new ideas for color palettes and quilt themes.  Looking at art online can also be very inspiring.  Do a google image search using some of your favorite artist's names.  A host of images will come up, some of them with commentary on the colors or a brief history of each painting.  Some of my favorites are Grant Wood,  (partially because of my penchant for all things green--look at those Iowa farm hills!  How can you resist running to your bin of green fabrics?)

                                      Young Corn by Grant Wood
                                   Source:  Grant Wood Art Gallery

Vincent Van Gogh (I love the yellows and blues in this painting--)

                  Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night
                                         by Vincent Van Gogh

and Vermeer (speaking of blue and yellow, see below!)

                                   The Milkmaid by Jan Vermeer

So just how, you might ask, can you use these paintings to inspire your quilting?  You can, of course, do the obvious thing and take an entire color palette from a painting and use it in a quilt.  The simple thing would be to use equal amounts of each color.  If you want to be more complex, you can study the color relationships in the painting and determine each color's proportion.  You can also take just a few of the colors (or even just two) and use them as a color palette for a quilt.  If I were using Grant Wood's Young Corn as inspiration for a quilt, I would use all of the shades of green.  To further the farm theme, I might create a strata-based quilt (hmmmm....I might have to try that when spring market is over).  If I were using the Vermeer or Van Gogh painting, I would probably do a quilt with different shades of blue and yellow and possibly cream.  Since I am not ready to use any of these paintings for inspiration at the moment, I will come back to them from time to time.  You never know how something will inspire your work in the future!

So, congratulations, Samantha!  And thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to look at some art on a busy Wednesday afternoon.