Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First snowfall of the season!

When you get 4-6 inches of snow and the leaves are still on most of the trees then you get broken branches and downed hydro poles and downed trees on parked cars! Our electricity was fine on our street but just a little further they haven't had electricity all day! The neighbour's garage took the brunt of this tree. All I got were a few stray branches in the backyard which I hauled to the end of my driveway when I got home from work. My property is just left of the garage.

Nope, I just spent a half hour rescuing my small trees and bushes, like this poor Japanese maple. I went around shaking out the snow from all the branches. I was soaking wet when I was done, I had to throw my pants in the dryer afterwards!

We're supposed to get more snow overnight and then it will all melt by the afternoon! Yay! I'm not ready!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

BIQR: It's a wrap!

I almost forgot to show a pic of my floor scrap quilt! I am quite pleased with it. I've got a couple of raw edges happening, which I think gives it some interest. I plan on doing some cool hand-quilting in the wide outer borders.

I almost forgot to tell you that Mary Jo got me a copy of Liberated Quiltmaking!!! Can you believe it? This book is out of print! but this girl she's got her connections I guess! I was so thrilled when I received it, that I had to make it my yearbook of the event. I got all the ladies at the retreat to sign it on the inside covers.....
and of course Gwen signed it too!

We went out for dinner to the Fish n Shanty with Gwen and MJ; excellent food! Apparently, new name, new owners, but the same chef!

It's time for the good-byes!

And the packing up!

Oh yes, and the mailing of a postcard to a Lazy friend in Paris, postmarked Elk Rapids, MI!

Anyway, that concludes my awesome experience at Gwen Marston's Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in Elk Rapids, Michigan. She's posted the dates for next year's retreat Mixing it up! Quilts that combine Piecing and Applique. Sign up now!!!! I highly recommend any of Gwen Marston's Retreats, because you get way more than you paid for! You learn so much!

BIQR: Final Show and Tell

On the last day, we had a show and tell of all our work. It was very hard for me not to include everyone's it is I limited it to 14 (sheesh). Many people accomplished more than one piece, but hopefully this is representative.

Christy, below, is proud of her liberated flower, she spent a lot of time on other projects, but on the last day spent time on this beauty! She had a lovely machine that did embroidery, too. She designs her own patterns. She designed a really neat Beaver Island Retreat pattern, and put them on t-shirts (as seen below) as a surprise for sister-and-mother-in-laws, with whom she attended the retreat.
Not everyone made liberated patterns, a few took store bought patterns and used solids with stunning results. The following is a Maple Island BQ Quilt pattern.

I am not sure of the pattern name but, if I remember correctly, it came from a magazine and the sample used Kaffe Fassett fabrics, so imagine the difference with this one!
Next, Cathy's liberated stars with liberated sawtooth borders:

Cathy's abstract piece:

Allyn used a lot of Cherrywood fabrics:

This was her amazing left over quilt:

Christine and I made postcards:


Rita's bars look like stained glass against the window:


Joyce's quilt dedicated to her dog Flash:

Christine's completed red squares:

Next post: It's a wrap!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

BIQR 2008: Creating with Solids

After Gwen finished her trunk show on solids, she basically said Go to it! But the hardest part is cutting your first fabric! It was so hard to actually start! You look at all your fabrics and you can't decide what to do! I figure there was 2 ways to start with a block or a colour palette. I chose a block...I liked her red square quilts and thought I will start with something simple to get going, knowing I could always change my path. Instead of red sqares I chose 3 yellows, cut 16 yellow squares and just got going.

I don't know how well the colour in the photos will turn out, but I added dark purples and blues, with a splash of green! This is how I ended my first day of sewing:

That night at bed time, I went through Gwen's book before I slept, Mexican Hat Dance was a favourite of mine, I knew I would have to try that block, even if I only made 4 of them. I chose random colours. I mixed them up,

I tried them together:

Eventually, I thought it needed a frame around it and made a blue inner border, that didn't go right so I added a red border, and from the left over pieces from the Mexican Hat Dance blocks I made a couple of sawtooth borders...that wasn't my idea...I stole it from someone in the middle of the room...can't remember who...

Anyway, I got stuck here I needed more fabric, didn't have the right colour to frame it...So it was time for a trip to the fabric store. Found what I needed at the cute store in Elk Rapids and what a deal, many of the quilt stores gave discounts to Retreat participants. It's a deep plum colour.

I added Gwen's serpentine borders and appliqued some of those circles, is strategically placed to cover a tiny error... of which will remain nameless.

I haven't decided what to call this piece yet, it reminds me of a test pattern on a TV, and since it is a bit of a sampler...I tried out many of the tutorials Gwen gave...maybe Test Pattern is a good name, or maybe Do not Adjust your Set, This is just a Test.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BIQR 2008 part 3: Meet and Greet

On Wednesday evening, we all got together for pizza in the wicker room for our Meet and Greet. Everyone was asked to bring something for show and tell to introduce ourselves to the group. Since many of the attendees had been to past retreats, many of them brought stuff they had worked on at those retreats. I am not going to show you all the wonderful quilts shown, but focus instead on those from the Liberated Basket retreat, since there were a fair number of them.

I finally got to meet MJ in Michigan in person, I had met her in Lazy Gal's First Ever On-Line Class. She took what she practiced there and applied to Gwen's Liberated Baskets and came up with this beauty:

Joyce insisted she had failed liberated baskets and when she got home she took hers apart and created this lovely folk art piece dedicated to her grandson. Her grandson is blind and says frequently, "Can you hear the birds?"

Joanne's liberated baskets:

If I remember the story correctly, Sylvia had quite a few of these large basket blocks and didn't know what to do with them. Gwen's retreat inspired this arrangement, front:


more Liberated baskets:

OK, the next one wasn't from a Gwen retreat, but you know how I like quilts and things made from t-shirts and it does contain some liberated piecing...This one was made for a husband out of his racing t-shirts, and do you know what his reaction was? " Don't you know, hon, you can't mix Formula One and Nascar!"

Next post: Creating with Solids

Saturday, October 11, 2008

BIQR 2008: Gwen's Trunk Show and Lecture

She gave her lecture 9AM Wednesday morning; as you can see we had a great view. She gave a brief summary of why she chose to do a retreat about solids, much of which can be found in her introduction to her new book Ideas and Inspirations: Abstract Quilts in Solids. She created the book with photographer Gregory Case to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Beaver Island Quilt Retreats. Most of the pieces in the book were newly created as samples for BIQR.

She showed all of the quilts in her book and then some! I will not bore you (as if you can get bored looking at Gwen's quilts) with a photo of each one that appears in the book, Gregory's photos do it better justice, of course, but will focus on some of the bonuses. I have to tell you, every night before I turned off the light I journeyed through that book and still do since I've been home. Of course each photo has a memory attached and that is something I cannot give to you, you'll have to meet Gwen and her quilts in person for that!

This was one of her first quilts using her "Tulip Block". She gave demos in the making of this block. I knew I would be putting some of these in my piece, since Mexican Hat Dance (the one on the cover of her book) was one of my favourite pieces! This is a fun block to play with, above with sashing and she showed how you could put stems and on them to create another block.

She says that quilts stitched in solids, are more like contemporary art. Your solids are your colour palette. Instead of the patterns being in the fabric, you have to create the pattern with the fabric and the stitching. Definitely, hand quilting shows up more effectively on solids than on prints. And solids are not like those prints and colours now, but will you still, 10 years from now?

I just love the hand quilting in this piece and had to take close ups.

After the trunk show, the quilts were laid out on the counter and stayed there the whole time, so we could visit, hug, fondle, drool, (no skip that, there was absolutely no drooling), yearn, peruse, take photos of her quilts for ideas. "it starts with an idea, plant a seed and let it grow."

Just go ahead and sew blocks, "arranging them is like jigsaw puzzles", she says. Each block does not have to be an exact duplicate of the last one, these differences are "what holds people's interest longer and takes it out of the predictable."

This is one quilt not in the book, where she just added liberated triangles at the ends of sashing to create the stars. Here she added interest in the centre blocks. The next pic is of Gwen's pinwheels, this quilt can be found in her Liberated Quiltmaking book. She says they look like Jacks and we were calling them Jacks blocks. It was a favourite and she gave a demo on that block too.

Here is another surprise quilt she showed, she was very enamoured with those Cherrywood fabrics. A few of the students also had those fabrics, "Luscious" as Karin liked to say!

She then told us about floor scrap quilts. "Don't worry about cleaning up your scraps", she said, because after each week of retreats she collects the floor scraps and makes quilts out of them. She encouraged us to do the same. It was funny, as many of us were searching the aisles for floor scraps. Our end of the room was much messier than the other end for some reason.

Another surprise, she showed us this basket quilt she made with 219, 4 inch blocks! Rumour has it, this will be appearing in an upcoming book by 2 Toronto ladies, Biz Storm and Mary Elizabeth Kinch, called Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts, due out in December.

Next Post: Meet and Greet, Show and Tell. Stay Tuned!