Thursday, September 27, 2012


I'll admit it -- I've been quite remiss this year; not following through on the FMQ Challenge pledge. I've been busy. I wonder if I can catch up and get 9 more blocks done to at least do a dozen this year?

That's the way it is -- winter doesn't provide as many distractions as spring, summer, or fall. :-) Happy fall!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A dogwood block for the bag lady exchange

I just finished making a block (yes, just one!) for an exchange I'm doing with a few quilting friends. It's called a "bag lady exchange" and we started out making a block which we sent on to the next quilter in the group. Each quilter in the chain makes an additional block (or more than one; some are more ambitious/organized than others) and then sends it on to the next person. There are six of us, so when I get my original block back it will have others to go with it.

This block was depicted on a calendar that my DIL gave me for Christmas, and I made up my own directions to make a 12" block*. It reminded me of a dogwood flower, and since I was contemplating making this block in early May, dogwood seemed appropriate. It's made with mostly batiks (except for the white background/petal fabric) because the other blocks in this particular exchange are also made from batiks. Ever since I discovered batik fabrics (Hoffman and beyond) I've been in love; you can't beat their visual appeal, and their tight weave makes them my choice for applique projects. I love their crispness and how they don't stretch.

I found quick instructions on the internet for making the quarter-square triangle blocks with white, gold, and green. I didn't realize that one starter block would make all four pieced blocks that I needed, so there are extras. :-)  If any of my friends wants my instructions for this block, I'll send them to you.

And here's the inspiration:

*The calendar probably came with directions for making the quilts depicted, but they went into hiding; they'll turn up eventually.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A bit of running

I think I'll throw some running into the blog. I had a wonderful weekend of orienteering in Western Massachusetts this past Memorial Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday, allowing Monday for recovery and remembrances).   Here are the maps I ran on, showing the routes that I took on 4 different courses.  The first two were national ranking courses.  The sprint at UMass-Amherst and the "farsta" at Mt. Tom were just for fun.

The course level I typically run is called Brown, which is the shortest advanced-level orienteering racing course. This weekend there were X and Y courses (for the men and women) because we use interval starts and creating two courses shortened the start window. I had very good runs on the first two events with no bumble-headed searching for controls, and finished well in my age group (limited as it was :-) ). These races were held on parkland near Hadley and Amherst, MA, in warm, humid conditions.

The third course was a sprint on the campus of UMass at Amherst, later in the day after the first two courses. I was tired and hot and starting to get headachy from the humidity and probably hydration imbalance, but ran well (though not quickly) except for one hesitation at checkpoint 7 where I wasn't sure where the point was in relation to the staircases.

The final course, on Sunday, was a mass-start race that involved a map exchange (after checkpoint 8). There were a total of 16 different variations used by the 45 or so doing the course I did (medium length). By the end of the race we had all run the same "legs" (i.e., between the same checkpoints in the same direction), but we did them in different orders. The purpose was to split everyone up so that following another runner was discouraged, since everyone had started at the same time. You never knew who was on your particular forking arrangement (turns out there were three others besides me).  Again, I only really made one mistake (my number 14) where I headed in the wrong direction, but relocated off the ditch. Again, it was hot and humid, so I mostly walked this "race," but I was still happy to finish close to my prediction of around 2 hours.

These aren't track races, so forest conditions and climb come into play to slow you down.  I traveled 8.4 km over the 6.3 km (straight line between checkpoints) course, taking the around route rather than the "up and over" route because climbing is not my strength in this sport.

Since I've been participating in orienteering for over 20 years, it's always a social reunion to go to an event like this -- it's fun to catch up with my competitors and other folks who enjoy this crazy sport.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Missing April's challenge

It should be obvious by now that I missed April's challenge, but I still have a chance to complete 12 challenges by the end of the year (with bonus ones not yet announced).

April's demo by Don Linn just wasn't all that interesting to me, as I already know several ways to mark a quilt including the one shown. Besides, April was a busy month from a "running" standpoint (a subject I haven't yet addressed in this blog).

I do hope to get time to sit down and try out Leah Day's May challenge before the month ends. :-)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time Marches on

Ann Fahl's instructions were basically a review of supplies and techniques, and suggestions on practicing free motion ideas on paper and on fabric using all-over patterns. So I used a favorite which combined a couple of her ideas, swirls and flowers. This block also used 100-wt YLI silk thread, like the one for February's design.

Swirling flower vine

FMQ for February - only a month late

I didn't get my act together to do my free-motion quilting project for February during that month, but I DID succeed in sitting down and quilting that block before the one for March. Thanks to Diane Gaudynski for wonderful directions and an inspiring design. And even more for suggesting using silk thread. My block was quilted with a natural colored 100-wt YLI silk in the top, regular cotton in the bobbin, and it quilts like a dream!

Feathered plume a la Diane Gaudynski

Friday, January 27, 2012

Let's get started

At the start of 2012 I was crazy enough to "pledge" to follow up on a sewing premise, involving free-motion quilting (FMQ). I did my first FMQ, using my trusty Bernina 1530, on a small wall hanging submitted to a local quilt show (NY Quilts!) in May 2001. I have found FMQ to be a lot of fun, and continue to try it on quilts here and there.

I don't sit down at the machine often, and my skills can get rusty in between quilts, so I signed up for the FMQ challenge on Sew-Cal Gal's blog when I saw it pop up on some Facebook page I follow. I also figured I could get expert advice (each month has a talented, expert quilter guest) and maybe some unique filler ideas.

January's expert is Frances Moore (I can't say I'd heard of her before this) and she demo'd a leafy vine I've actually used before.  I am doing my designs on white muslin using green and red threads, thinking perhaps I'll combine all the squares with sashing and have a Christmas-y wall hanging when I'm done. I decided to do my "vine" as a wreath.

I hear next month's expert will be Diane Gaudynski, my absolute favorite FMQ mentor. Looking forward to trying out her feathers!