Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Like #59

Tough day here this morning, we are going to put down one of our beloved dogs this morning, the small white Shih Tzu Missy.  She's Mike's baby but has cancer and is going downhill very fast.  We're struggling here, so please send good thoughts if you can.

I'll just leave you with a couple more cheerful things, nascent signs of spring and one of Melissa Sobotka's lovely quilts which I saw this weekend at the Dallas Quilt Show.

Melissa Sobotka

Friday, March 9, 2018

I Like #58

A day late on the I like post, but better late than never!

So what's to like this week?

1. I like doing the occasional pieced quilt.  There are two ladies at church having babies, so I made a bunch of HSTs on Sunday and started sewing them together.  I had enough left to make a donation quilt too, so that's good.  I've only got one top pieces, the rest are still just HSTs stuck on the design wall.  Unfortunately, i'm now feeling like I've done enough piecing, yet I must continue!

2.  I like the pups!  Of course I like the pups, but I have to share them anyway.  They've been hanging out in the studio with me, and going on lots of walks.  We went down to the nice public wilderness area for a short hike on Sunday, and it was fun to get them outside out of our neighborhood.  They always want to make friends with everyone we run into.

3.  I love the early morning sunrise!  The last couple of weeks it's been sunrise time during our walk and a couple days ago while Bentley was pooping I was able to snap a quick picture.  Unfortunately this Sunday will be daylight savings time, so it'll be dark again for a while in the mornings.

4.  This is the very best thing of my whole week!  I got this letter in the mail from my almost-six year old niece asking if I would be her pen pal (of course!).  I'd sent her a letter to thank her for a drawing she mailed me, and I was so thrilled to get this letter in return.  Her penmanship and reading/writing are so so great!  Love you Anna!

Happy week to everyone!  And of course, check out the other I Likes over at LeeAnna's

Thursday, March 1, 2018

I Like #57

I've been sick this week, so the last few days I haven't been doing anything past the necessities, but I do have some I likes!

1.  I like my niece and nephew!  I got to go visit them this weekend and we had tons of fun playing and jumping in puddles together.

2.  I like finding fun old memories.  My sister and I spent a little while going through some piles of stuff that we intended to put in scrapbooks at one time.  One of the things we came across was these two matching flower wreaths.  My sister and I wore them as flower girls at the wedding of the daughter of one of my grandparent's best friends c. 1987-89

. I had no idea they'd even been saved.  We also found my first grade report card (outstanding in most academic things but needs improvement in keeping personal space tidy).  Many years later my beloved first grade teacher told me I was one of the messiest students she'd ever had....

3.  I like the great British baking show!  I know I'm very late to this party, but it's so much fun!  There are currently 4 seasons on netflix and I've been enjoying them very much.

Have a good week everyone!  Check everyone out over at LeeAnna's

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Like #56

Things to like this week!

1. Hiking!  This past weekend we had a church vestry retreat at the Diocese of Oklahoma summer camp St. Crispin's.  The weather was chilly and gray and damp, but I went out a little early so I could do some hiking on their really lovely trail system.  What a peaceful wonderful afternoon.

2.  The new Brandi Carlile Album.  I've been a Brandi Carlile fan for a long time, and her new album was the soundtrack to my hiking.  I really enjoyed it, you can take a quick listen here.  My favorite songs on the album are Every Time I Hear that Song and the Mother, but I like the whole thing.

3.  I got another blog post up!  It counts as a win in my book to get anything posted apart from my I like post!  This one is an in-depth description of how I made my small illuminated openwork initial.  Check it out!

4.  Flowers!  Of course everything here is still dead, but I was visiting a friend in the hospital this weekend and found these great bromeliads blooming in their lobby. My first instinct was that they were fake, but there were lots of different boxes of them and they weren't identical looking (some even had dead looking leaves), so they were real enough to cheer me up!

5.  My puppies!  They of course want to walk every single morning, and it was a bit treacherous this morning since we had an ice storm yesterday and everything was super slick.  We persevered though and it was nice to be outside!

I hope you guys have things to like this week, and thanks to LeeAnna for linking us up!

Monday, February 19, 2018

SAQA Donation Quilt: 2018

A few weeks ago I made my annual 12 x 12" quilt for the SAQA auction.  The auction is a major fundraiser for SAQA and I've participated for the past several years.  It's not until September, but our fabulous regional representatives from KS/OK/MO have organized a hanging of the 12 x 12 quilts from our region for the month of February.  If you're in or around Westwood, Kansas, you can see them in the Shirley Stiles Gallery at the city offices at 4700 Rainbow Blvd.

I really enjoyed doing the illuminated initials in this quilt, and this quilt, so thought it would be fun to do another one.  I also wanted to do another openwork piece, so it seemed like a fun time to try combining them. 

I started out with a bunch of drawing.  I knew it had to have a fabric frame because I needed a way to hang it, and then I sketched in the letter and the decorations.

When I started with the fabric, I made the top of the frame out of gold brocade, then sandwiched a layer of sitff peltex interfacing between it and a backing layer (just made out of cotton).  I satin stitched around the inside of the frame to give a nice finished edge.  Then I quilted the frame down to a piece of water soluble interfacing in a grid pattern so that the final openwork would have some structural stability.

It was fun to layer the letter and other elements on, and after I had them where I wanted them, I fused them to the water soluble interfacing.  I had to fuse a mirror image of each element to the back so that after the interfacing was removed the letter would be more than one layer thick and have a nice back.  And then I just started quilting!  For the curly-cues in the background, I tried to make sure they touched the grid as much as possible.  I've had bad experiences with openwork thread work collapsing on itself after you soak out the interfacing, so it's good to have things touching as much as possible.

And then when I soaked it, there was the most marvelous surprise!  I'd unintentionally gotten the backing fabric off from the front fabric a little, so that it looks like the letter and leaves have a really nifty turquoise shadow!  The turquoise you see is the backing fabric showing through.  I love the openwork look, it casts a lovely shadow on the wall, and I think the whole thing turned out great.  I hope it raises good money for SAQA!
A is for Art, c. Shannon Conley, 2018, 12" x 12"

And here's a quick picture of the regional showing!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I like #55

Welcome to another week of I likes!

1.  First up this week, I like having a fixed shelf on top of my cabinet.  I don't know why builders insist on leaving 12 or so inches of open, dust-collecting space on top of upper kitchen cabinets.  I feel like having the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling would at least give more enclosed storage.  Anyway, a bunch of my pottery serving pieces have always lived on top of my cabinets, but the stupid recessed space meant I couldn't always see them very well and they often tipped off crooked when I tried to set them back up because of the strange framing.  So this weekend I pulled everything down, ran it through the dishwasher to remove the gunk (some things twice!!), and then installed boards all the way across the top.  I didn't have matching stain, but the darker stain I had was better than plain white.  It makes me so happy to see my nice clean pottery up there, not half buried or falling over!!

2. I like this new book.  Marsha McDowell from Michigan State University has written this cool book called Quilts and Health.  The university bought one of my quilts a couple years back and I'm super excited they published it in the book.  It's a lovely hardback coffee table style book and filled with lots of writing and essays on the topic in addition to quilts.  I'm looking forward to reading it!

3.  I like hanging out with my friends, even virtual ones!  This week was a wealth of friendly support, complete with dinners out, an Arabian nights themed valentines day party (more on the costume for that in Tuesday's post), and a really wonderful, laughter-filled breakfast with my friend Linda yesterday morning.  

4.  I like doing small projects as a break from the big ones.  In the midst of more long-term things it's nice to make something you can finish in an afternoon!  Last weekend I made a new gumdrop footstool, and this weekend I stitched up a quick bag to hold my crochet on the go.  I wrote more about them on Tuesday if you want the details!

5.  I love my mom!  She makes my sister and I a valentine's themed quilt block every year, usually in some style she's been recently doing.  This year is a fun pieced New York Beauty block, in honor of her recently completed giant and beautiful New York Beauty quilt.  So fun!  Someday I'm going to start sewing the valentine's blocks together.  I love the variety in them, last year I did a retrospective, so you can see some of the others if you want.

6. I like being outside!  It's still very cold and dead here, but the birds don't mind, I have whole flocks of them that come to the feeder every day.  Unfortunately, the slightest movement on my part, for example to get the good camera, sends them scattering.  And the second picture was the sunrise on my morning walk this week!  The dogs drag me along, but when Bentley stops to poop I can take a quick picture!

I hope you are all having a great week!  Thanks to LeeAnna for keeping us positive!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Small Projects

I've finished a few small projects lately so thought it was time for a quick update on some of those!

Two weekends ago I made a new pouf, or gumdrop pillow as I think the official name goes.  This is the third or fourth one of these I've made, and they're all from an Amy Butler pattern.  Here are some of the old ones:

It's a nice easy pattern to make either 18 or 24" footstools, but I think it might be out of print. Anyway, I decided to make a  new one for the living room.  I currently have one in my studio, and the dogs love to sit on it.  I thought it would be nice to have in the house as a footstool (which I didn't have), for the dogs to sit on, and to help Bullett jump up on the sofa (his little back legs are getting a bit gimpy).  I picked out some fabric from my stash (Thanks Georgia!) and stitched it up.  I made the 24" size, but realized later, that it's about the same height as my living room furniture, so it wasn't much help for Bullett! I think the old one has just gotten compressed, and eventually I'm sure the new one will too.  It's stuffed with eleven walmart sacks of old scraps (cut off batting edges, selvedges, scraps that are too small to sew with, old clothes too holey to take to goodwill) and two old cut up king sized mattress pads.  It's always surprising to me how much material you need to really fill one up. The fabric filling makes it quite heavy, but also less compressible and sturdier feeling than if I'd used fiber fill.  I've already been enjoying having it to put my feet up while watching the Olympics!

The next small project is this bag I made up this past weekend to hold my on-the-go crochet project.  I have plenty of medium and large tote bags, and plenty of small pouches, but I needed something medium size (~13" square) that would close up but not with a zipper (which sometimes catches yarn) and was very lightweight.  It's for my current carrying around crochet project which is just shoved inside my purse so I didn't want anything too big or with too much structure.  It was really fun to pull out a bunch of fun bright scraps and piece them into a cute drawstring bag.  Now my yarn won't get caught in my keys and all the other purse junk!

And finally this last weekend my friend Liz hosted an Arabian Nights themed Valentine's day party.  I didn't have time to do anything too elaborate, but I grabbed some fabric from my stash (thanks Georgia!) and whipped up these harem pants and a headscarf veil thing.  They matched a shirt I already had and voila! quick costume.  The harem pants were super quick, I followed this great tutorial on youtube, check it out if you need a quick costume.  The veil is just a rectangular piece of fabric with some gold trim stitched down, but it did give me a chance to use the rolled hem foot for the first time ever.  Wow have I ever been missing out.  It worked great!  so much easier than trying to press a tiny hem, especially in ravelly synthetic fabric.  I only snapped one quick selfie before rushing off to the party, but you get the idea. 

One of the nicest things about all of these projects is that they were 100% from my stash.  I love using stuff I already have!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Triangles: Finished!

Earlier in the week I shared my design process for a new dimensional quilt made out of cut up quilted triangles, and today I'm sharing the finished piece.  I call it a quilt, but then I call all sorts of things quilts.

It's named Tesseract, in honor of one of my favorite books as a kid (and now a new movie) A Wrinkle in Time.  I was inspired by the idea that a tesseract brings two points in space closer than you'd normally think they could be.  Of course that was in the fifth dimension and I'm only in the third dimension, but that's ok!

Tesseract, c. Shannon Conley, 2018

Here it is from the side so you can see how it rests on the wall.

Here are some up close details.  When you get up close you can see the tulle a little more.  I love the way the paint didn't sink all the way in around the quilting stitches since the triangles were painted after the quilting was done, giving a textural look to the colors almost like a grave rubbing.  And I also love the quilting stitches themselves.  They're a bit random since they came from whatever piece I cut up, but I love the variety.

I really love the way this turned out.  It's one, unlike the quilt I cut up to make it, which came out like I envisioned in my head.  It feels like a metamorphosis, something flat and ugly turning into something with depth and vibrancy.  I'm actually thinking of doing another two-dimensional piece based on this one to see how much depth I can artificially create by using shadows and quilting rather than sculpting.