Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Like #42

Another week of I likes!

1. I spent most of this weekend deep cleaning/cleaning out my house; a sort of spring cleaning in fall, and while it wasn't a particularly fun activity, it was satisfying to see dirt and dust and a variety of junk removed.  I also did some long-deferred maintenance type things, patching drywall holes, and steam cleaning carpets.  In the process I was at lowe's about 50 different times and every time I walked through this pretty light fixture caught my eye, and I finally decided to treat myself.  I hung it Monday night and I think it looks really pretty in my dining room.  The one that was there was boring but not terrible, so I moved it to a different room, basically just shifting things around so nothing was wasted, sort of a light fixture musical chairs.  It makes me happy to see it there!

2.  I love my pups!  That should go without saying, but they don't always sit still long enough for pictures, so when I can snap one I like to share it.  They snuggle so well together on the dog bed (even though there are two), except on rare occasions when they like a rumpus.

3. I love fall!  This morning it was actually a bit light out when I took the dogs for a walk; in the past couple of weeks I've been up so early it's been still dark out.  This morning I was able to snap a few pictures of the trees in our neighborhood-  right now is peak color time in my neighborhood.  Almost all the trees have turned, but not so much that all the leaves have fallen off.  Some of the pictures are dreadfully out of focus, the dogs were not interested in stopping for photo-ops.

4. I love flowers.  My sunflowers are still blooming, but even more exciting, so are my Chrysanthemums.  They are such perfect fall colors!

Hope everyone is having a good week!  Thanks to LeeAnna for linking us up!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Like #41

It's been a tough couple of weeks around here but Thanksgiving is in view, and I hope a lot of things will have settled down by then.

1. My family was here this week, parents sister and nieces nephews, and of course that was a blast.  My sister and Dad and I got to have some one-on-one time when we went out to shoot sporting clays, and my mom and sister and I had tons of fun playing games with the kids and doing all sorts of projects.  Alex, my young nephew, is 4, and has gotten so much better at games recently.  He loves the game spot-it which is really tons of fun for kids and adults alike.  So many kids games are painful for adults, so I love finding ones which are fun for all.  That one's definitely a keeper.  The weather was beautiful and we took lots of walks with the kids and dogs; my parents had their dogs with them so we were a household of 6 furbabies for the weekend.  Here's me sitting at the park holding onto the 5 on the walk (Missy stays home from walks).

2. Fall is really truly here!  The trees are turning/have turned, the weather is cooling off, and this morning I even had frost on my car.  I love fall and the cool weather; I think it's my favorite time of year.  I collected a bunch of leaves and dipped them in wax and made simple garlands out of them, an idea I found on Erin Boyle's blog.  I didn't have any beeswax, but I just used an old white candle.  I made three garlands (none of which I have pictures of of course), and they're so pretty but also something I can toss at the end of the year and not have to store or pack up or find a box for.  Here they are drying in my kitchen.

3. I loved these colors this morning!  I was headed into work around 630 this morning and caught this shot of colors reflecting off the Devon tower.  Rainbow sky!  Made me feel hopeful.

Hope you're all having a good week.  Linking up with LeeAnna as ever!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I Like #40

Another week of I likes.

1.  I love that I have a close family and that they are coming to see me today.  I'm so grateful for so much love and support around me.

2. Really just number 1, but I thought I'd share these cute birds I took a picture of in my backyard.  I like them!  And a better picture (slightly) of my sunflowers from last week.

Also, for anyone who is interested, yesterday I posted all about my finished iris quilt which I shared a sneak peek of last week.

Hang in there for another week everyone.  Thanks LeeAnna

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New Quilt: On Irises

I've been working on this quilt (is it a quilt?  what do you think?)  for a few months now and finally have it finished. Mike took some pictures of it last week so I thought it was finally time to share it.  Some of you may remember my giant abstracted interpretation of a dahlia and this is another piece in that line.

On Iris, c. 2017, Shannon Conley

Going into it I wanted to do purple and yellow as my primary colors and I wanted to find a way to make it large and 3D but not have to use the fabric stiffener like I did on the dahlia.  I'm still experimenting with different ways to support dimensional fabric pieces, and this time I decided to use a wire infrastructure. 

I had this idea to do three petals, each reaching out of a surrounding frame, one flopped forward and attached to the frame at the bottom and two pointing upward and attached to their frame at the side.  I started by painting my petals, and quickly realized that I needed both front and back to be nicely painted because the "back" of the quilt is actually the "front" of the petal.  If that's clear as mud, stick with me, it might make more sense in a minute.  I started out with three different pieces of purple fabric and three different brown pieces.  The purples were a fairly heavy weight polyester satin, while one of the browns was a similar fabric and the other two were very light weight, almost like a brown and white polka dot chiffon.  I painted them with acrylic and latex paint, and with my fabric very very wet.  I love the way the paint sits on the surface of the purple and blends so fabulously.  Those swirly bits are my favorite part.

After that, I made separate quilt sandwiches for each of the three petals and put several pieces of wire between the layers.  The wire was sufficiently heavy weight that I could NOT quilt over it, so I quilted right up next to it to keep it in place.  I accidentally broke 6 needles during the making of the quilt while dealing with the wire.  After stitching around the wire, I free motion quilted the rest of the petals with lots of fun colors of thread.  Here are the three petals from the brown side and the purple side.

After finishing the quilting, I cut the petals out and started figuring out how I wanted to sculpt it and how I could get it to maintain it's shape and be self-supporting.

My original plan was to have each petal still attached in it's frame, something like the version below, but I could not get the upper petals to look right that way.  I kept trying different things, but finally realized I was going to have to detach the side petals from their frames.

Here you can see it all pinned up, more or less how the finished quilt was, but at this point nothing was attached, it was all just pinned to the design wall with about a million pins.  I had to make a full frame for the back to hang it from rather than just a top slat.  That meant four pockets to stitch down (yuck), but it was necessary to give the back piece enough stability to support the rest of it without crumpling.  Then there are smaller pockets on the back and the upper petals attach to those.  In the picture below you can see what looks like dark strings sticking up off the top of the left petal, but that is actually roving-coated wire.  I got it at a fiber festival and used it to edge each petal.  That way the edges can be shaped, and the end wire bits can be stuck around to the back of the piece to anchor the petals.

Here's the final flower, completely self supporting, along with some closeups.  I love the way it turned out, especially the strong bright colors and the brown background.  I really love the purple and yellow with the little hints of green where the colors meet up.  And even though getting this to be self-supporting and structurally stable was really challenging, I like this method better than the fabric stiffener.  I'm going to try another method on my next quilt, we'll see how that works.  I'm going to do at least one more of these abstracted flowers, but I haven't decided which one yet.  I'm open to suggestions if anybody wants to nominate something!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Like #40

Another week of things to like! 

1. I like getting things finished!  Sometimes I feel like that's not in the spirit of "I like" but it's a positive in my life.  Last weekend I finished my iris quilt, more of an abstract 3D fiber sculpture, and someday I hope to get together a series of posts on it, but for now here's a close up sneak peek.

2. Hand in hand with #1, I like starting new things.  My next project is another experimental-flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, I have no idea whether it will work, but the first step was painting and then cutting up this quilt which I never thought was very successful.  It was a bit scary, but I jumped right in.  Now it's been cut up into a ton of small triangles, so we'll see where it goes next!

3.  I like making small things.  I wear a lot of colorful dangly earrings, and this weekend took the opportunity of reworking some old silver earrings I didn't wear much and adding some happy green dangles to them.  I had a weird shortage of green earrings which has now been filled.  And while on that track I also made up a little knotted bracelet using some beads from my stash, it kind of reminds me of a slightly more grownup version of the ones we made as kids.

4.  I love my flowers!  I still haven't remembered to take a picture of my chrysanthemums, or a better picture of my sunflowers, but they're still going strong.  It might freeze this week, I'm not sure if I need to protect them somehow.  I did manage to get another picture of my work geranium, it keeps blooming but is horribly leggy.  I wish I knew how to make it fill out a bit instead of having these long stalks with one flower at the end.

I hope there are things happening in your week that provide some sparks of joy or happiness, and thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us linked up!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Guest Quilts: Kennel Quilts

My mom is an art quilter just like I am, but recently shared some fun charity quilts she made.  They're called kennel quilts, and its a great way to support efforts to care for displaced and needy pets after natural disasters.  You can find out more here:

These small quilts are collected given to shelters and rescue organizations who are providing assistance with animals after hurricanes or floods or fires or other events.  They can be a great way to use up orphan blocks or other small projects that have been languishing in your studio!  Here are a few cute ones my mom made and sent off after the Houston flooding. 

This is a great organization that has helped out after a bunch of different natural disasters, so if you're a pet lover and have some free time, make up a few and send them off.  There are some basic guidelines at the bottom of the website as well as areas of current need.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

I Like #39

Well I'm too late for LeeAnna's link up this week, but I didn't want to miss a week of sharing.  This has been a crazy stressful week at work, so one of the main things I'm liking is that it's Friday!

1. I like flowers!  As I was walking to my car the other day I passed this flowering tree with the most interesting blooms/fruits/who knows what (if anyone knows what it is please let me know).  In spite of the fact that I've worked in this building for eleven years, I've never noticed this tree before and its really cool!  Also blooming this week are my new sunflowers!  These are totally serendipitous, the result of the [stupid] squirrel that dumped our birdfeeder almost every single day this week.  At first the stuff sprouting underneath it looked like weeds so Mike just mowed over it, but when he realized it was growing something that might be cool he left it to grow!  And now I have two new large blooms and sunflowers that are about two feet high!!  So cool!!

2. I love fall birds.  Every year in the fall we get this giant flocks of small black birds.  I have no idea what they are but they are so cool en masse.  You see them by the hundreds along power lines, traffic lights and rooftops.  Back when I used to have to park on the roof of the parking garage, it was simultaneously less cool (because of tons of car bird poop) and more cool because you'd walk or drive through and these huge huge crowds of them would just all rise up at once.  They lend such a fun halloween/fall/witchy air to things, especially in the evening with the colorful sunset....

3. I like getting to do new science.  A lot of my job (kind of like most people's probably) winds up involving paperwork and compliance and different types of busy work.  But I have a huge grant deadline coming up and while no one particularly likes writing grants, they are a really nice chance to dig deep into the scientific literature, think creatively about new experiments, and remember why we're scientists to begin with.  Unfortunately it also means very little sewing, but I'm thinking positive!!

Happy week everybody!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I like #38

Better late than never!  I feel quite behind right now, not in a bad way actually, just in the way that made me forget until just now that it was Thursday and time for another round of I Likes!

1.  I like going to hear live music!  Mike and I got to go out and hear a friend of ours (the awesome Camille Harp) play this weekend.  It was at a local BBQ place with a fabulous patio, and the weather was perfectly crisp and fall like.  Just a wonderful evening and something fun we like to do together.

2. I like making the occasional pieced quilt.  Over the weekend I made a baby quilt for a friend of mine and a couple of donation quilts and they were nice simple projects to finish and send out into the world.  I posted about them Monday, so take a look if you want to see pictures.

3.  This is a strange one, but I like that my car just passed 200,000 miles.  I love my happy little car, and this milestone has been (obviously) a long time coming.  I didn't catch 200,000 exactly, but managed to grab 200,002 which is even more fun since I'm always entertained by palindromes.  I hope it makes many many more miles as there are few things I hate more than buying and paying for a new car.

4. I like being busy at work.  There's a definite difference between being overwhelmed and productively busy, but it's so nice when I feel like I'm getting things done.  We're well into the semester now and things are proceeding quickly.  I'm so proud of my students, they're already showing so much improvement from the beginning of the semester and it makes me happy to see them doing so well.

Thanks to LeeAnna, and I hope you guys have a great week!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Pieced Quilts

I have a friend at work who is having a baby fairly soon, so this weekend I buckled down and made a baby quilt for her.  Baby and charity quilts are about the only piecing I ever do, so it was fun to do something a bit different.  I decided to make a large churn dash block after seeing Mary's really cute churn dash table runner.  My rule for things like this is that I can't buy new stuff- I have to use what's on hand, because I really have plenty.  It does mean I don't have much in the way of kid-type prints, but I think the colors are bright and fun enough for a baby.  And I backed it with this great fish print that I have several yards of (thanks Georgia!!).

While I was at it I decided to go ahead and finish up a couple charity quilts I'd pieced a long time ago and never quilted.   This first one used up a bunch of my favorite prints.  I decided to make it light weight, with no batting, but backed with minky so its very soft and snuggly.  I quilted it and then self bound it.  It finished about 70" x 45" so it's a good lap size.  Sorry the picture is so terrible!

This second one I belatedly realized was much larger pieces of prints, and I think I must have pieced it intending it to be the back of the other one.  At that point it was too late, and I didn't really want to quilt another something that big, so I cut the backing piece in half and used one piece as the top and one as the backing.  After quilting and binding it finished about 50" x 40" which is a good baby quilt size.  Both baby quilts are bound with some pretty turquoise blanket binding I found in my stash.  It was kind of a pain to work with since it can't be ironed very easily, but it gives such a silky finish.

I hope my friend and her new baby like the churn dash quilt, and I look forward to dropping off the other two at one of our local women's shelters.  It's always great to finish up things that have been languishing, especially if they have a useful purpose!