Monday, June 15, 2015

Studio Progress!

  It's been an exciting week. The friends who are helping us finish our basement are a father/son team. The son had a high school baseball game everyday but Friday. They still came in and worked 3-4 hours everyday. I had to force myself not to be downstairs the whole time watching the progress. I knew I'd be in the way and bug them, so I was good. They would holler up the stairs to tell me of any milestones in the progress so I could go down and take a picture. Here they are...

The first sheet of drywall going up!


  The first long wall almost done...



 Beginning the west wall...


 West wall done...

  
North wall done!


   So all the outer walls are finished. Tomorrow they will drywall the stairway. Tuesday bright and early the lumber will be delivered and they will begin building the stud walls to divide the area into the rooms. Today I went to Menard's and Lowes to look for trim, baseboard, and lighting. I found 22" round LED ceiling fixtures that I loved. They put out 2400 lumens of light each! I want really good lighting and I think they will be the ones I get.

  My trip to Mankato, MN went well, although it rained from the time I left home all the way to Mankato, sometimes very heavy. The Deep Valley Quilt Guild ladies were a fun group, about 100 in attendance. Shirley, the Program Chair, arrived just in time for my program. Her 18 yr. old daughter broke her wrist in 2 places on Monday and she had surgery the day I arrived. After talking and emailing for months, I was looking forward to meeting her. I'm glad she made it. She's a great lady and I pray her daughter heals quickly. On the way home I stopped at an antique store and bought two oak  library cabinets. One is a filing drawer and the other is a two drawer card catalog. I love these things and buy them whenever I can get them at a good price. They make wonderful storage for quilting tools, patterns, or FQ's. I haven't taken pictures of them yet, but they will definitely go in my studio. Today I went to a flea market and bought a wonderful cupboard top. It is 35" wide by11" deep by 21" tall with two doors with white porcelain knobs. One door hides a 12- 4"x4"cubbyholes. The other is divided into 3 vertical areas, perfect for storing quilt books. The space between the doors is open and has 2 shelves. It is nicely aged and has imperfections that prove it's been used well, just the way I like my antiques! The best part is, I have a bottom cubbyhole cabinet that it fits on perfectly. It will be moved from the back entry to the studio so it can hold the "new" top cupboard.

  Until next time, keep stitchin'.
  Becky

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Building of a Quilt Studio

  After building our home and moving in in the fall of 2013, we're finally ready to build my quilt studio. Randy is more interested in the adjacent family room/media room/man cave, of course. As long as I get a finished studio I'll be tremendously pleased and content. The studio gets built first as per our prior agreement. :) I've been using the space, but it was wide open unfinished space. I've never shared pictures of it for that reason. It was "no frills" work space and not very photogenic. Everything had to be packed up again to make room for the carpenters. They were very understanding and agreed to work around all my cabinetry as long as it all got shoved to the center and covered with plastic to give them space to work. The finished room will be 20' x 27'. Here are the "before" pictures.

  This is the view standing at the landing at the bottom of the stairs looking towards my studio. the triple blue lines mark where my french doors will be. The blue line on the right is the wall leading to the family room. There will be a hallway/anteroom (7'x12') from the stair landing before going into my studio or the family room. The low plastic covered object is my cutting station which will be located between the two red columns. It's 50"x84".
 This shows the 27' length of the studio. The windows face west.
The view from my space back towards the hallway and stairs.
  A closer look at the west wall. The space between the windows will be my design wall. If you're wondering, the stripes on the walls is an insulating/stud wall system we installed instead of having to build wood stud walls and insulate the cement walls of the basement. It was expensive, but very toasty and sound proof. Now the only stud walls the carpenters need to build are the interior ones separating the space into rooms. All the electrical outlets are installed in the outer walls. A good thing since now our electrician is in the hospital with pneumonia and won't be working anytime soon.
  All my cabinets are under the plastic between the columns. I'm hoping to have the columns enclosed since shiny red steel columns aren't very decorative.

  The building materials will be delivered tomorrow and the work will begin. I'll take photos of the work in progress to share with you all. I am so excited. I can't believe a 40 year dream is about to be realized. I may disappear into the studio and never come out! Who am I kidding? Randy would come looking for me when he got hungry enough or ran out of clean clothes! :)

  One down side, I discovered I'm allergic to drywall dust when a friend was building a house and I helped sweep the mess. I missed 2 days of work with bronchitis type symptoms. I've bought masks for me to wear for this project. I can't afford to get sick. I've got 3 programs coming up. I'm presenting "Christian Staffinger: the Story of a Soldier and his Quilt" to the Deep Valley Quilt Guild, Mankato, Minnesota this Thursday. I travel to Madison, Alabama July 8th to present "The Importance of Quilts and Textiles During the Civil War" to the Madison Station Quilters on July 9th. In August I'm presenting the same program at a regional Questers meeting in Burlington, Iowa, where the Hawkeye Questers are hosting 4 other Quester groups. It's going to be a busy and exciting summer.

  One other thing. Before I had to pack up my sewing machine and fabric for the build, I had to hustle and piece a 56" square version of my Civil War Images quilt.  A lady from South Carolina commissioned me to make it for her son's 50th birthday. He's a Civil War enthusiast like me and it will be a surprise for him to hang on a wall in his office. He's an attorney in New York City. Here is the quilt in process and finally basted for me to hand quilt while my studio is being built.

  Cutting the pieces...
   The first four blocks...

Planning the rows...


Basting the finished top. My kitchen island works nicely for this.
  
  Keep stitchin'
    Becky

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snow, No, Make that a Sew Day!

  What a lovely surprise. I got a text at 6 AM saying we had a 2 hour delay. I went back to bed till 7AM and took my shower, got another text...NO SCHOOL! Of course, I'm quilting. What would any self respecting quilter do on a snow day, but quilt? Actually it is an ice day, as in freezing rain. Randy slid all the way down our steep driveway leaving for work. I don't plan on leaving the house all day.

  I thought I should post before getting too involved in quilting. On February 24th, Ann's one month anniversary, I gave her the wedding quilt I told you about in the last post. I walked into her office singing  a Happy Anniversary song in my less than melodic voice and gave her the bag. She was thrilled. I don't think you could fake that smile, do you?

  She said new hubby Rick loved it too and it's to be hung in the guest room. They appreciated the biking theme and said it would always remind them of how they reunited after all these years. May they have a very long and happy life together.

  I had several quilts, besides Ann's, to show at Breakfast Club last month. Nancy has a huge flannel wall on a tripod frame to display large quilts for photographing. It is much easier to take quilt photos there than at home. I can't step back far enough here to get the entire quilt in the picture.

  This is my Civil War Generals quilt. As you can see, I started with the 2 panels of Union and Confederate generals and made it in the medallion style using Civil War toiles and specialty fabrics. Most are out of print now. I should have taken a closeup to show the hand-quilting. I did a lot of 1" crosshatching, 1/4" outlining to feature details, and the border is crosshatched behind a rambling feather motif. To see that, check out an earlier post on November 17th.





  Here are the Generals. It's necessary for my quilt to feature both the North and the South since I have 47 ancestors who fought for the Union and 92 ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. No surprise since the Lillards were heavily concentrated in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia at the time. Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky were divided in their loyalties and my family was no exception. I descend from a Jeremiah Lillard who was a minister that moved his family from Kentucky and settled in Missouri after the war, breaking ties with the South.


  I'm very happy to finally show you the quilt I made for Dante. He graduates in May and I'll present it to him then. Until then,"Shhh! It's a surprise." I call it Appamatox Courthouse Steps. I used tons of scraps from my Civil War toiles and specialty fabrics.  There are glimpses of flags, soldiers, cannons, maps, horses, etc. in every block. I can't wait to see his reaction. Kym Ward of Reds Threads did the machine quilting for me.




This is the quilt I made for his brother, Blake, so he wouldn't feel left out. He will receive it when he graduates from college in another year. 


   It's made in the Crazy quilt style, but each block is built around a featured Civil War fabric piece. So, maybe a not so crazy, crazy quilt. It's also machine quilted by Kym Ward. I call it Civil War Crazy. Unlike Dante, Blake never asked me to make him a quilt, so I really hope he enjoys receiving it.


  Ok, now I'm heading for my studio to lose myself for hours and hours. Randy has a meeting tonight after work, so I don't even have to cook supper!

 Keep stitching!
   Becky

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Long Break... Too long!

   I've been incognito for 3 months. Hard to believe, but true. Family issues which started at Thanksgiving when Mom said she was interested in moving into assisted living and would I help ( which took all of December to research, visit, and decide on placement); then she ended the month in the hospital for a week with pneumonia (the very week we were moving her into Sunnybrook!), and lastly, Randy got sick with a terrible upper respitory infection which he naturally shared with me ( I ended up with bronchitis and missed a full week of work.) We both are still left with a cough, but feeling a little better everyday. During the few good days, I quilted and finished "Civil War Generals". Kym Ward finished machine-quilting Dante's and Blake's quilts for me and I picked them up at January Breakfast Club at Inspirations. I have finishing binding all 3 and attached labels, but haven't taken good pictures yet. I'll share them when I do.

  A couple biking friends of Randy's ( I also work with her) became engaged at Christmas with plans of a July wedding. I immediately thought to make them a quilt for a wedding gift. They surprised everybody when they eloped January 24th! They decided at their age, why wait. I hadn't even started the quilt! I downsized the idea to a wall-sized quilt, found an antique bicycle toile to base the pattern on and set to work. I finished it last Thursday, but will wait to give it to them on February 24th, their one month anniversary. Plus, Breakfast Club is this coming Saturday and I want to share it at show n tell along with the other 3 large quilts I recently finished. :) It's been awhile since I had quilts to share.

   This is the Antique Bicycles wedding quilt. It finished at 27" square. The logs are in Civil War repro fabrics of double pinks, poison greens, and blacks. They live in a large Victorian home dating to the 1880's, so the fabrics should go well. Colors are not as dull as the pictures show.


Closeup...
 Back with label...
  I had President's Day off so I spent the day quilting on a small wall quilt for my boss (Media Specialist), Jessica, as a "Thank You" for working double duty the week I was out sick so I didn't have to ask for a sub. I hope to get it done before Saturday too! I'll have to be diligent about quilting everyday after work.

  I hope you had a day off too. Keep stittching!

Becky

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sure Signs of Winter: Snow & a Quilt in the Frame!

   Ugh! Winter is here in SE Iowa. I hate it more every year.  We had our first snow on Thursday, more on Friday. Temps are in the 20's and 30's for daytime high. Yes, I know I'm whining. Sorry. This is about 6-8 weeks ahead of when I expect or want snow, usually Christmas day is about time for me.

   I like two things about winter though. The first is sweaters. I love the feel and warmth of sweaters and own quite a few. The second and best thing I like/love about winter is a quilt in the frame. Nothing better on a cold winter's day than to be sitting at the quilt frame watching the snow outside. I put my Civil War Generals quilt in the frame on October 28th and have been hand-quilting on it every moment I can since. I rolled it 4 turns last Sunday, the 9th, and am ready to roll it again tonight or tomorrow, so I'm making good progress. It always gives me a great deal of satisfaction to roll a quilt. My frame was custom made for me by my Uncle Jack about 30 years ago. It has a reach of 20", just what I can reach to quilt from one side of the frame. I like it because it takes up less room and I usually tuck it up to the back of the couch in the family room so I can quilt and watch TV with Randy at the same time. I have two sets of poles, one for up to 104" wide quilts and one for up to 60" wide, which is perfect for the 54" square baby quilts I like to make. I never make any quilt wider than 92" though, which is fits our queen-size bed.

  Civil War Generals on the frame ready to begin hand-quilting.
  
 My favorite tools for marking and hand-quilting.

  Some closeup pictures of the first quilting...



I bought a Civil War Era Bear's Paw quilt from the Jean S. Lyle booth at Des Moines Quilt Expo this year. It was in pristine conditiion, except for a few small brown spots on the back.


  Here's a closeup of a block with a madder plaid.

  I had my yearly physical this morning, so I took the morning off. I had some time before I had to go in to work, just enough time to write a little post. Now I'm off to school. I hope you have a wonderful winter's day quilting. I plan on spending a few hours at the frame to night.

Keep Stitching!
Becky

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Eye Candy

   I've been awfully remiss in keeping up with my blog. It was a hectic summer and back to school for me. I'll try to make it up by sharing lots of eye candy. Here it goes...

  I added several Civil War quilts to my collection this summer. Thiis is a lovely Princess Feather top.


 I fell in love with this Baskets top. It may date closer to 1870's, a little after the Civil War.
 
The swag border sold me on this one.
 Another view of the Princess Feather. It is a large quilt.

  I gave a trunk show entitled, "My Quilts: from the Beginning" at Rochester, Minnesota in early August. The first quilt shown is Grandmother's Garden of Stars, I hand-pieced and hand-quilted for Randy starting when we were engaged in February,1980, and finished while I was expecting Isaah, in March,1983.
 A better view of the audience and my Emeline's Garden Baskets being displayed. Some of my antique Civil War quilts are displayed on the railing in front.
 
I tackled a lot of projects this summer. My first was an indoor project. I put up shelving over my washer and dryer to display part of my antique children's watering can collection. It makes me very happy to do laundry and enjoy my treasures.

 I made another doll quilt featuring the last of my 9-patch squared leftover blocks. It's about 20" x 20" with a toile backing of course.

    I pieced 3 queen-size quilt tops this summer. The first was Dante's which is at Kym Ward's being quilted. The second was for his  older brother, Blake. Both were made with Civil War reproduction fabrics. I'll share pictures of them after they are quilted and ready to give to them in May, 2015. This one is my newest, Civil War Generals. I used some of my favorite toiles, panels, and CW repro fabrics. This one is for me and it's pictured the day I basted it before putting it in my large quilt frame for hand-quilting. It will be my winter project. I've been quilting on it all week and I'm about ready to roll it!  
 
 It's 87" x 94" so I had to move some furniture out of the way to make room to baste the layers on the living room floor.

  I almost forgot...This quilt was brought to show me at the Rochester trunk show. It's an 1830's Mariner's Compass from an antique shop in Tennessee, but probably originally from New England. It was fabulous.

   I attended my first DAR meeting with the James Harlan  Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter. My paperwork has all been submitted and I'm awaiting my confirmation of membership. I've dreamt of joining for years, but didn't know how to go about it. A local member approached me with an invitation to join. I was thrilled. It took about 3 months to acquire all the genealogical material needed to submit with my application. The meeting yesterday was held in the courtroom of the Henry County Courthouse. The first picture is of the stained glass dome in the ceiling of the 3rd floor. 
  This picture is of the center medallion in the tile work of the first floor of the court house. I've always thought it would translate well into a hexagon quilt. Can't you just see it?
  I attended the AQS show in Des Moines, Iowa earlier this month. I'll share pictures of some of the quilts next time. My quilt frame is calling me! I hope you all keep stitching.

Becky

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gettysburg, Here We Come!

  Randy and I left early on Saturday, June 28th, picked up our friends, Jeff and Michelle, in Illinois and were on our way. We made it as far as Zanesville, Ohio the first evening. We were determined to get to Gettysburg by Sunday evening.Once we got into Pennsylvania, we visited the Flight 93 Memorial. The memorial is still under construction, but what is there is very impressive and a sad remembrance of those on board who died fighting the terrorists on September 11, 2001.


Through this gate you can see the path to the crash site.










These are the ones lost on Flight 93. As is befitting, not one name of any terrorist on board is mentioned anywhere at the memorial.















This path leads to the crash site, but is reserved for surviving family members only.












This long marble wall is engraved with the names of those on board. The crowd was instinctively quiet at the memorial out of respect for the sacrifice these souls made.















   We left in a somber mood and shared memories of 9/11 as we left the quiet hills behind.

   It was with great excitement that we arrived at Gettysburg National Battlefield...at exactly the time the Visitor's Center CLOSED!!! The Park Ranger was very courteous however, and gave us a quick, but informative introduction to the battlefield.

 I was almost giddy with anticipation of the sights I'd see the next day. We took a few photos of the monuments at the entrance before finding our hotel for the night. I was totally enamored with the carpet at the hotel in the lobby and hallways. It had the Union Seal and medallions of crossed rifles on a field of stars. I envisioned it in my living room. I'm glad I asked Randy to take this picture, because it's only one of five of me on the whole trip and it's not terrible. At least it's better than the pictures of me each year on Christmas morning with sleepy eyes and bedhead hair in my pajamas. Randy never seems to remember to take pictures of me. I tease him that, at my funeral, he won't have any pictures of me to show I lived at all, because I FORBID him to use those awful once a year Christmas pictures. :)

  Did I look casual? The purpose of the picture was to see the carpet, but I was embarrassed to have other guests see me taking a picture specifically of the carpet. I mean, really, who does that?!


  Ok, I'll humble myself here and show the picture he took of me at the Pennsylvania's Visitor's Center. After taking a nice picture of him petting the black bear, he returned the favor, but told me to look scared. Not hard, because, I'm always convinced a bear will attack me when we're in the Smokie Mountains. Here's the beauty that he took and, NO, it can't be at my funeral either!


   I did enjoy myself at Gettysburg, even though, I have no pictures of me there to prove it. I'll share the rest of the story on my next post. I'm waiting for a friend to pick me up to go to a Civil War presentation. I'm not the speaker. It's at the Dover Museum in New London, Iowa, and the topic is: The Civil War from a Woman's Perspective. I'm excited to hear what the male speaker has to say. I hope to learn new things!

  Till next time, Keep Stitchin'.
Becky