Monday, August 31, 2009

Silence Means I'm Busy

Quilt, quilt, quilt. That's how I spent Saturday. It was a good Saturday, and here's what I have to show for my efforts:

It may not look all that exciting to you, but it is definitely exciting to me. This is the shelf where I store other people's quilts, you know, the ones for hire. See that? It's EMPTY!!!

I'm actually still quilting the last quilt, but I'm close to finished. I just need to do the free-motion, which shouldn't take too long, and make and attach the binding. Oh, and I found out I need to make a sleeve for it as well. But, the goal was to have this quilt passed along by Sept 1, and I seem to be right on target.

Did you get the notice that AQS is planning a new show? In Lancaster? There is a special category for Amish-style quilts. I dug through my UFO box, and found these last remaining blocks from my 2005 Hoffman Challenge. I'm not going to make anything specifically for the show (no time), but I thought this might be a fun way to set the 8 blocks. I have lots of solid black, and they'd make a nice frame for something...

In the meantime, I have once again failed to meet my proposed monthly Step. sigh. Not much of a leader, am I? The only Steppers who announced their Steps this month were Pat and Kristin. Pat, did you finish your two tops? Kristin? Did you finish quilting your trapunto piece? Let me know, okay? Thanks!

And for the rest of us, it's time to start thinking about our September Step. I know exactly what I'm going to do. I have a quilt entered in the County Fair, which I haven't finished quilting. It needs to be delivered by Friday. I am desperate for the satisfaction of achieving a stated goal this month, so that's going to be it. I'll post the details tomorrow.

And that's a wrap for today. Goodbye, August!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Yes, today is his birthday, and he is one year older. He's taking it a lot better than he did last year. He was fit to be tied about the big 50, but 51 seems to be a piece of cake. Then again, it's only 9:25am. :)

I finished his birthday quilt in the nick of time. I left it for him on the kitchen table, since he gets up at ridiculously early hours (4:30am), and I hadn't planned to join him. He thanked me, and asked if I knew there was fishing line on the quilt. Why yes, indeed I did. I put it there. :)

"Fish Story"
Suzanne Kistler 2009

So how about this story?

When Pete and the boys went camping a few weeks ago, I was thinking about them as I worked in my Studio. (I still LOVE that phrase: "my Studio!") A block I'd made YEARS ago swam into mind, and coalesced with the guild challenge to "include a circle." (Obviously, since I've unveiled the quilt, this is not my guild challenge.)

Anyway, one slice led to another, and the top was finished that Saturday evening. When Pete returned on Sunday, his eyes glowed as he told of catching a 13" trout. "I cast the line, and this huge fish jumped into the air! I got so excited, I yanked the line and he missed the fly. I was hoping he was still there, and I cast again. And I caught him!!"

Definitely a fish story. It was verified by the boys. Yes, indeed, Dad did catch that fish. Oh yes, they'd heard the story. They'd already "heard it at least 20 times." When I showed them the top, they were amazed. I'd captured Dad's story completely, and I hadn't even heard it yet.

Adam said, "All it needs is some line and a fly." Excellent suggestion, Adam! They make the quilt!

And here you have it, a close-up of Pete's "Fish Story."

"Fish Story" - close-up
Suzanne Kistler 2009

Today I'm going to fix the binding, because I know I can do better. And so, it's onward and upward. I am SO excited to have finished a quilt in 2009. It has been MUCH too long!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The List of Goodies

I logged off in such a hurry, I didn't have a chance to explain what you were looking at. I think I've spent too much time on this blog and that blog, and they're rubbing off on me. Crazy quilting? I've never wanted to do it. And yet here I sit, with a pile of things to drive me crazy. :)

First I've got...about 15 yards of fabric. So much for my fabric diet. It goes the same way as my food diet. Blown to smithereens. There is also an 8pack of skin-tone hand-dyes, and some clothesline to make those cool baskets. And buttons, and more buttons, and a book about French silk ribbon roses, and some French silk ribbon, and a book...charting crazy quilt stitches. hmmm. Interesting. :)

In this next picture, you see the rest of my treasures. They are resting on a half yard of rust-stained raw silk. There is a collection of silk ribbon and silk ribbon needles, and LOTS of beads made from various materials. Most of them are glass, but there are also shells and stone beads. There are hearts and stars and fish and bears...I see everything my heart desired. :)

whew. Now I feel better.

I spent the day binding a gift for my husband. I had the grand idea of entering it in PIQF, if I could get it finished, photographed and postmarked today. I finished the binding at 4pm, and it looks like ... well, it looks REALLY bad. It's the worst binding I've ever done, without exaggeration. When I squared the quilt I lost the extra batting around the edge, and quilted edges are unforgiving when I wrap binding around them. I need to take it off and do it again tomorrow. I am not happy.

I decided that I could still enter it in the show, and fix it before sending it in. Best laid plans and all that. The CD burner is uncooperative. After ruining 3 CD's I decided it was a sign. It was 4:30, and I still had 3 boxes that needed to get to the post office, with or without an entry form for PIQF.

And so, I will have no quilt in the show. Again. I feel like I'm losing my grip on the show world, as I continue to have nothing to offer. It could be depressing, if I thought about it for very long.

So instead, I'll think about our show. The phone keeps ringing with inquiries, and they're all good. Some are better than good. Some are fantastic! :)

And on that note, I'll sign off. Tomorrow, if I can fix the binding, I might just share a picture of Pete's birthday gift. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What a Weekend!

ohmygoodness, what a weekend!

I left you in a hurry, on my way to Colorado. I had a hot date with Sharon and the Rocky Mtn Quilt Festival. I can't believe how much we fit into the 66 hours that I was there, but we did. It was absolutely amazing. A blog can't convey how much fun we had, but I can give it my best shot.

I arrived in Colorado Springs, shortly before noon on Friday. After a quick lunch, we visited Ruth's Stitchery, one of Sharon's favorite quilt stores. I loved the way some of the fabric was displayed. For some reason a show I'd heard my kids discussing (was it really called Pimp My Crib?) came to mind. If I were going to fix up my crib, this would be a great start! :)

Ruth's was followed by High Country Quilts, another great place for inspiration. I was starting to wilt (after all, I'd left the house at 3:30am), so we drove to her home. Talk about inspiration, how do you like the view off of her balcony? This is Pike's Peak.

Her husband Jeff cooked dinner for us. (And breakfast on Saturday, and dinner on Sunday!) Here they are just before we ate.

I didn't realize the picture had turned out so dark. Here's a better picture of the meal. Isn't it pretty? The pot roast was mouth-wateringly amazing!

On Saturday morning we were up bright and early, headed to the

We were among 2000+ people there on Saturday for the debut of the 2009 Hoffman Challenge Collection. Several of my friends were represented, and I thought you might like to view their pieces.

Karen Taber
Woodlake, CA

"Woodland Spring"
Lisa Ellis
Fairfax, VA

Kristin Eilers
Lemoore, CA

"He Leads Me Beside Still Waters"
Sharon L. Schlotzhauer
Colorado Springs, CO

and my little lion

"Tradition Visits Heidelberg Castle"
Suzanne Kistler
Visalia, CA

While there, we were not only getting a chance to view some awesome quilts, we had the opportunity to meet some exciting people as well. I think I surprised the group who sat next to us at the lunch table when I asked if I could take their picture. I recognized Christine Brown, (the Executive Editor of American Quilter magazine), but didn't realize that she was accompanied by Sherri Bain Driver (the Editor of McCalls Quilting magazine) and Gail Valentine (the author of Mirror Manipulations). wow.

Christine Brown, Sherri Bain Driver, Gail Valentine

The day kept getting better, and ended with dinner with Kelly Gallagher-Abbott. Her son Ryan was dog-sitting Lucy, and she was definitely the center of attention. She's a King Charles Spaniel, and I hear that you do have to pay for all that cuteness. ;)

There is much more to tell, but Pete is waiting patiently for me to finish.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of my purchases.........

And a bird'seye view of a California dairy.

It's good to be home!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Well, I spent yesterday a'quiltin' on my "secret" project. It remains nice and flat as I stitch, which is SO much better than I dared hope. yay!!!

Since the quilt is so simple, I'm keeping the quilting simple as well. I should be able to finish it early next week.

Today my friends, the Itty Bitties, will be coming by to examine the Studio. Let's hope they give it 2 thumbs up, or at least a seal of approval. :)

I'm leaving in tomorrow's wee hours, for a whirlwind weekend in Colorado. I've been trying to be more reliable in the posting department, and I want you to know that while I may be gone, you are not forgotten. I'll be examining the latest Hoffman Challenge Traveling Collection, so you can expect LOTS of pictures upon my return.

*ta ta for now!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All Better

Here it is: The culprit

Blogger doesn't like it either, judging by the tipping of my photo.

Yesterday I was incredibly frustrated, when I discovered that my new secret special project refused to square. I trimmed this edge and that edge, and nothing matched.

I laid awake last night, trying to problem solve. The only thing I came up with was that I needed to remove the two borders I'd added. harumpf.

This morning I spent about 5 hours at the computer. Three of those hours involved updating a mailing list. I am now in the "E's." It's better than still being in the "A's."

While I was typing, my brain must have been spinning, because by the time I could no longer type, I had a solution for my quilt.

Rather than slash this or that, I unsewed a single seam. Then, using Sharon Schamber's piecelique gluing method, I glued the two pieces back together. Once it dried, I sewed the seam and cut out the offending excess fabric.

Can you believe such a tiny amount of fabric could cause so much angst? I expected it to be at least 2" wide!

The other thing that was bothering me was the quilt's shaved dimensions. That's why I'd tried adding borders.

I took the borders off and removed the bottom piece. I cut a new one, adding another 1.5" Now it will meet the 40" x 40" (or larger) size requirement that I was looking for. yay!!!

So now I'm back to where I was on Saturday. I'm thrilled with my new piece, but not only that, it's SQUARE. Now I can baste and quilt it, without hesitation. woohoo! Goals are good!!!

Kicking Myself

No pictures today, sorry about that. I'm working on a secret project, at least for now.

Our guild has a challenge, which is due in November. I haven't participated in years, but I had a sudden vision on Saturday of the perfect project. It just happens to coincide with Pete's birthday, which is next week. All we have to do is make a quilt with a circle. And my perfect project is also the perfect solution to yet another UFO.

I made a new top on Saturday. It was beautiful. I loved it. Then I tried to square it. arg!!!

I trimmed one side, then another. Then a third side - it won't square.

I finally put four cutting mats on the floor and laid it out.


I could make it lie flat on my flannel wall, but on the floor, it has a ghastly ripple. Shades of the "Splish Splash Fish Flash SLASH" quilt that I made years ago. I wonder if I can quilt it out? Or will I have to slash it and remove the excess fabric?

I thought I could at least square the top corner and add two borders. But the two borders are stunning and demand two more. Unfortunately I used a stripe and I cut it short, and it doesn't have that many repeats and if I'm going to put on four borders, I'm going to have to change the fabric, and....


How did such a simple project suddenly become a production?

It's probably because the last thing I have time for right now is yet another project. My August Step sits idle. My Side Step also sits idle. I'm heading to Colorado on Friday to the quilt show, and I haven't the free time I want to spend puttering in the Studio, problem solving.

sigh. It's all good. This is teaching me to prioritize, right? I certainly hope so!!!

And what's today's priority? To spend the first two hours working on our quilt show!!!

Goals are good, let's hope I accomplish something before Friday!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Frustration vs. Gratification

If I'm the Stepmaster, does that mean I can make changes as I go along? I mean, I chose this stupid August Step, of finishing the quilting on my rafting quilt, and all it's doing is making me frustrated. The front of the quilt is looking yummy. The back is a nightmare.

This is what I found, after 2 hours of quilting...

Knot, knot, knot. I might think that I'm pausing too long as I switch directions, going back and forth, but the knots aren't on every direction change, and sometimes they're in the middle of a line of stitching. grrr. I am not a happy camper. I want to change my August Step. Am I allowed to do that?

What I've switched to is the strippy quilt that I basted a couple of weeks ago. It's behaving beautifully, and I can quilt entire philodendron leaves without a knot anywhere on the back. It's the strangest thing...(click on the picture to see the stitching more clearly).

What to do? Stay with the quilt Step that is causing great frustration? Or spend time with the one granting instant gratification?

You know? This has been a year of lost time. I haven't finished quilts, I've barely worked on quilts. I've spent hours and days waiting for this and waiting for that. I don't play the waiting game well.

I think the best answer is to finish the strippy quilt today, and see if it feels good to have something to show for my time. The rafting quilt will still be there, ready and waiting for me. Maybe I was tired when I worked on it. Maybe my hands did pause a little here and there. But I don't want to deal with that just now, I want something fast and happy for this Saturday.

I stopped by Tanya's blog this morning, and she'd posted pictures of her cats. That made me think of MattMatt, and the fact that he likes it when I post pictures of our cats.

They were all in the sewing room, looking at my fabric collection, but by the time I got the camera set to capture them, they'd skedaddled. sigh.

Here is Malcolm, giving his usual dirty look. Eyes narrowed, ears back...there's nothing friendly in that body language.

Here's Charlie. He heard me coming, immediately ended his cat bath and looked up at me with adoration and started purring. I didn't even have to touch him. What a love.

And then there's Edgar. Eyes wide open, ears on the alert, paws spread wide, ready to take off without hesitation, if I do anything that he might interpret as threatening. Can't you just feel his increased heartrate when you look in his eyes?

And I guess that's it for now.

I'm going to stick with my "finish quilting the rafting quilt" as my August Step, but I'm going to take a break and finish the strippy quilt first. I need to finish something bigger than a quiltie card right now, and this is my best option.

Hopefully the next time you hear from me, I'll be putting on binding! Goals are good!!! :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Half-full & Empty

In preparation for a camping trip, two of the boys came home for a bit. The oldest brought his latest toy, they're called jumping stilts. He says they were developed by the Army, to help soldiers run faster and jump higher. They take some getting used to.

It's not so easy to stand in these, and a nice ledge helps a lot.

My, what a big boy you are!! (The smaller one is almost 6'4".)

While they were jumping around I spotted one of the neighborhood foxes. They've lived here for years, and interact well with most humans. (They ignore us.) There's one neighbor who insists she's seen a fox carry off a full-grown cat. I don't believe her. This fox is the same size as my full-grown cat.

The fox curled up on the neighbor's lawn, to watch the happenings. Unfortunately it was almost dark, and all my camera picked up were the eyes.

If you click on the next picture, you can see his silhouette, with the long nose, pointy ears and bushy tail. Definitely not a cat, but it is cat-sized.

Here's another picture of the boy and his stilts. My, what long legs you have!!

I had grand plans today, to work on my August Step. Goals are good. I even had a very healthy lunch, accompanied by Dr. Pepper to keep me awake late into the night.

But when I got home, I realized that although I'd done youngest son's laundry (he asked, pretty please), I hadn't ironed his shirts yet. This boy has a lot of shirts. There were already 5 in the closet, that I'd ironed last night.

I pulled out the ironing board and went to work. I've ironed all but 7. And I've lost my incentive to quilt. All I want to do is sit down with a book.

I'm signed up for a class tomorrow, that I thought I might skip. It's Cindy Needham, with an open thread bar. hmmm. I've been told I need to be there, there are things I can learn. I talked to her today, and she told me I don't have to stay for the WHOLE time. She also told me I can work on anything I like, I don't have to do her project.

Well, in that case...

I've put the Kitty Motu together with a back, and pulled out a second small artsy quiltlet from my bottomless UFO box. They are both set together with backs and batting and ready for tomorrow's class, just in case I wake up not wanting to work on my rafting quilt.

But for now? That book sounds good, as does just putting up my feet up and pretending I'm a vegetable.

yep. I think I'll do just that. laters!

P.S. In case you were wondering about the title of this post, I was referring to the status of the nest. ;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Puttering

I had plans to work on my rafting quilt today, really I did. But I distracted myself with yesterday's actions. Focus, Suzanne, focus! One of these days I might get it.

Instead, I'd pulled a few things from my UFO box and pinned them on the design wall. I was a bit annoyed with myself for doing that, and I was going to unpin them and put the fabric away again. But I do that a lot. Pull it out, put it away. Pull it out, put it away. I decided that this is an unproductive use of time, and if I pull something out, I should at least complete a step before putting it away.


Yesterday I pulled out a hodge-podge 8-pointed star, done in tropical-ish colors. I'd also pulled out some blue/turquoise piecework, thinking I'd use it for borders around the star. But it washed out, turning very blahsville. A strip cut from the back of the color strip quilt was on the chair below it. hmmm. Maybe an accent? It's got hibiscus...but there was only enough to go around three sides.

Adam remarked that I have a "very cool assymetrical thing going on." I guess I'm an accidental artist. It's assymetrical because I didn't have a large enough strip. That's why the top strip is solid black. I had enough solid black to finish the frame.

But the black accent was perfect, and the blue/turquoise border now works. This little quiltlet reminds me of Tahiti, and I've already named it "Kitty Motu." I might just have to keep this one. It's definitely calling for some embellishment.

The other UFO I worked on was the group of 4 abandoned airplane blocks that were shown in the background of yesterday's post. I think I made them in 1991.

That solid greyed blue background is very difficult to match, and I'd pulled this wavy blue star print to go with it. It actually blends better than it looks in this picture.

I thought it might be fun to experiment with a squares-on-point border, but didn't expect it to fill my afternoon. I found out the hard way.

Here's what I ended up with.

If I turn it on point, I can make it into a usable baby quilt, rather than just a wallhanging.

There. The design wall looks MUCH better. It's still cluttered, but the clutter is somewhat organized. Now that the airplanes are together, I'm ready to take them down and put them aside for another day.

Tomorrow is another day, and I surely hope to work on my rafting quilt. NO DISTRACTIONS. oh wait. Another of the boys is coming home tonight. I might just be distracted. :) I'll just have to work all the more over the weekend while they are camping. Goals are good. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Busy Bee

I wish I were a quilting bee, but not today. Today I am a worker bee, going back and forth and back and forth. I haven't been pollinating anything, I've been relocating little bits and pieces from there to here. On second thought, maybe I'm pollinating the Studio. ;)

The Annex is just about to lose its name, sort of a devolution thing. Tonight it will once again serve as a bedroom, when our youngest comes home for a couple of days. I've moved enough things out to actually vacuum, so you know I'm doing better than expected. (Every inch under the bed is filled with either fabric or Bible study paraphernalia. Don't look!)

I've been unhappy with the state of the Studio, as I try to find a place for everything. It sounds easy enough, "find a place for everything." Those five simple words could make a person tear her hair out!

But, as the hours tick by, I've found places for MOST of the things. I've still got things on the table for tonight's Art Quilt meeting, as well as a few odds and ends. I've hung two items on the wall, and already the room begins to feel cramped. But maybe it's not the things on the wall. Maybe it's the junk all over the design wall. (I pulled out some UFO's, thinking that maybe I could sew them together and get them out of here. nah, not today!) And if I could deliver those quilts on top of the cabinet, it would be nice and neat in that corner.

Here's the other angle, and you can see what I'm most proud of. I still see carpet, there's not a single Rubbermaid bin coming in contact with it. There are plenty of bins hidden around the room, but none are so brazen as to sit in the middle of the floor. yay!

On a completely different note, one of the promised pictures of the Big Fish arrived last week. Here is Pete with his 40" pike. I guess the 7 lb. trout is on a roll of real film, waiting to be developed.

yep. They both look pretty relaxed. Pete caught his fish, and the fish is just waiting for what comes next...release back into his lake.

I guess that's it for now. I've finished quilting the wedding quilt, and I've finished a for-hire baby quilt. I hope to spend tomorrow working on my August Step, but you never know. Goals are good!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Still Plugging Along

hmmm. Looks like a topsy turvy day for Blogger. The majority of my pictures are flop-flipped. grrr.

Well, it's Day 5 of quilting the wedding quilt, and counting. I'm actually to the last bit of it, but it's not as fun as it should be. The owner doesn't like overly-quilted quilts, and showed me pictures of what she does like. It's reminiscent of how I used to quilt, 15 years ago. Since then, I've become a big fan of "secondary quilting" (i.e., filling in the background behind the main motif). I guess I should be happy that she doesn't want this, because it would add hours and hours onto an already time-consuming project.

You're probably wondering how the quilting is turning out. Some of it is fine and dandy. When I have flat areas on which to quilt, I get lovely motifs like this.

When I have not so flat areas on which to quilt (too much fabric, too little space) the same motif looks different. sigh.

This next picture shows T blocks with excess fabric. Since all I did was go in the ditch around the outside of the blocks, they look decent, even though they're not perfect.

This is what the overall quilting looks like. (I've still got some to do.)

And here's the back, nice and flat.

On a different note, I cracked up last night when I noticed that both Pete and I were wearing cow shirts.

This is his...

In case you couldn't make it out, it proclaims "Holstein-Friesian Cattle: the original hybrid"

And here I am, promoting Ben & Jerry's...and cows.

And I guess that's it. I've stalled long enough. It's time to go see if I can finish that quilt. Goals are good.