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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Oil Painting Lessons

We have been having computer problems so I have not been able to get online for a couple of days. Last night our tech-genius son fixed it for us. Yay!
It is spring break here so three of our granddaughters have been over to visit. They did some sewing but I think the highlight was the oil painting lessons from Grampa. They each finished one. I don't have a picture of the finished product but will try to get one today. The other highlight for me was yesterday . I had gone to bed early and left them watchnig TV. In the morning, when I got up, I found that they had cleaned the whole house. It was as neat as a pin! I offered to let them move in on a permanent basis!
I haven't done much sewing this week but hopefully I will be right back at it later today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Change of Pace

I have put the chickens aside for awhile and brought out the other quilt I was working on. I found some gray that suits me for the sashing. I will quilt each block separotely and then assemble them later. I will use a different backing piece for each block. I am not sure about the borders yet. I may go with the narrow black one but not the outer gray. I am thinking of piano keys, one of my favorite borders. I can make it using all the colors of the squares. Then I will probably bind it with the gray. I doubt that I would have enough black to do the binding.

If you want to see Meg's version of this quilt check on her March 14 entry. Different sashing really changes the feel of the quilt.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just When You Think You're Done...

Just when you think you've done the last chicken you realize there is a big space just right for one more. Thus, I spent a couple of hours making one more chicken. It's the one in the upper left corner. The one with the very straight back. It's from a border print and I had planned that the bit of green on the top of the back would be in the seam but I miscalculated and didn't notice until it was all done and up on the design wall. It may be part Mallard. It's surprising how much smaller the blocks get when they are trimmed and sewn together. I still need several eggs to fill in the remaining spaces unless I go for some green fabric or stone looking fabric.
The rooster and the hen and chick below him are sewn together as well as the two on the upper right. The three to the left are almost ready to put together. The dark one needs another small strip of background fabric first. Most of the work still to do is on the lower right .
There have been a couple of suggestions that the background be a large chicken house. I am thinking of how I woud do that. I'd probably put all the words on the top just under the roof. It may be too big to look good though. Another option woud be a fence around them. Or I could put my fabric that looks like stones on the bottom and some sky on the top. There are a lot of options.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Words Finished

Today I finished the words for my chicken quilt. I also did some more eggs. I appliqued two of them, one by machine and one by hand. The applique eggs look a lot better than the pieced ones. I couldn't get beyond cubist eggs when I was piecing them. Maybe that's all right but I think I like the round ones better. The hand sewn ones look better than the machine ones so I guess there is a bit of hand sewing in my near future.
Now I have to figure out how to put it all together. I like to let it sit on my design wall at this point while I mull over my options.
Thanks for all the encouraging comments on my chickens. When you are free piecing like this you tend to get so tangled up in details that it gets hard to see the whole picture. That rooster almost made me give up, but not quite! All the helpful comments kept me working at it.
I finally got back to working on the quilting of the jungle quilt. I was doing motifs around the snakes. I had one more to go when I ran out of thread. Now I have to wait until I go to town again to get more. That was a bit frustrating because I was on a roll and would have finished the binding and all if I'd had enough thread. I even remembered to sew on the label before I finished the quilting. That's a first. I always plan to but then forget.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nobody Here

Thanks for all the comments about our weekend trip. We had a lot of fun but we did not, as some of you wondered, sleep in that tent. We sat around the wood stove for a couple of hours and enjoyed some snacks and took in the silence.

Now that we are back, I have started the words for my chickens. I am doing "Ain't nobody here but us Chickens". Thanks to Pam for the idea and the complete words. The words are from a song in a play called Five Guys Named Moe. Now I really want to see the play. The first N looks kind of backwards but maybe that goes with the whole concept. I'll wait until I'm finished before I decide if it will stay or if I will make a new one.

Monday, March 19, 2007

We're Back!

We had a wonderful weekend in the North. We drove about 6 hours north from where we live almost touching the US border, to a small Metis community called Barrows. We saw wonderful scenery, went on a snowmobile ride to a winter camp in the woods and to a social evening. At the social we heard great fiddle music featuring 5 guitars and up to 3 fiddles all going strong. It was wonderful.
We met a lady who does Eco-tours and also makes salves and soaps from local plants. She also sells sweetgrass bundles and art made by biting birchbark. These are all Native crafts that she is helping to keep alive.
Thanks to Blaine, our gracious host, we were able to buy some fresh caught fish to bring home. He was kind enough to spend an hour filleting them for us. We also ate the best Jackfish (AKA Northern Pike) meal that I ever tasted.
All in all, it was a wonderful relaxing weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Now that I lost the post I had worked so hard on, Blogger is allowing me to post.
I just wanted to thank everyone who has posted punny and helpful comments on my flock of chickens. I don't know how I quilted before blogging.
We are leaving for the weekend early tomorrow morning so I will be away until Monday.


I'm having problems posting. This is a test.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chicks and Eggs

It doesn't look like I did much but I made a couple of baby chicks and two eggs. I am not at all happy with the eggs. What I would really like is a piece of fabric with eggs on it. There is probably some Easter fabric with eggs but it would not likely be the right colour. I do want eggs of some sort because I was thinking of using "The Chicken or the Egg?" for my words. Of course, if someone comes up with a better quote that doesn't involve eggs, I am open to that. The eggs would fill the odd shaped spaces nicely though. I could also applique some eggs but I'm not sure how that would look since everything else is pieced. On re-reading this post, I have certainly used the word EGGS enough times!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Still That Rooster

I spent all morning working on the rooster's feet. That shape is incredibly hard to piece and it still looks pretty wonky but that is how it will stay. Enough already with the rooster. I thought I would call it a day when I finished the rooster but when I started arranging them I found I needed one more hen looking to the left so I started on that this afternoon. I ran out of steam before it was done but there are only the legs are left so that's not too bad. Tomorrow I will make some eggs and maybe a few more baby chicks. Then I want to make some wonky words for the top and bottom or maybe all the way around.
I bought a couple of pieces of fabric thinking one of them might do for the border or some sort of sashing between the chickens. I really like the one that looks like stones but it may be too similar to the chickens. I think the picture is too dark to see what the fabric looks like. I'll take a better one when the sun is brighter.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I finished the rooster today but I may change his legs. Somehow they don't suit the rest of him. I had quite a time piecing the tail and sewing it onto the rest of him. You can see all the wierd seams I had to do. there was only one set in piece but it took a LOT of sewing, ripping, resewing, re-ripping and on and on to get it to look like it does now. Somehow I liked the shape better before the legs were on. I could put him on a nest but I don't think roosters sit on nests. He definitely has to strut. I may put some feathers on his legs like the one in the picture I used.
Looking at the other post, I think I had the body at more of an angle before. I could easily change that so maybe that's the first thing I will try tomorrow.

I did some organizing this morning and folded a lot of fabric that I have hauled out lately. I folded and neatly put the background fabric on the bottom of the pile of smaller pieces. For a few horrifying minutes I thought I was out of background fabric. The store where I bought it is closed so there would be no chance of getting anymore. Luckily I found it before I had a panic attack! Is the lesson here to not tidy up in the middle of a project?

Here is the stack of neatly folded fabric. I wonder how long it will stay like that?

Friday, March 09, 2007

The New Rooster

I took apart the rooster I showed you yesterday. It just looked too goofy for my taste. I have the new one half put together. I kept the comb and wattles (is that what they are called?). The tail and the bottom of the body are just placed there to see how they look. I will do a lot more work on the tail feathers. I tried legs like they have in the book but they look a bit wierd for some reason. Maybe when there is green around them and feet ore attached they will look better.
This one looks a lot more like what I am trying for than the other one did.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Here is the little iron I bought yesterday. It comes apart amazingly. It has a problem with the steam part. The little piece that the spring fits into should clip into the other part somehow but won't stay in. I just left the steam part off and use it dry. It is so light for ironing blocks that it saves my arm a lot. If I need steam I just use a spray bottle.

Here is a Chinese drawing book with a rooster. I have been trying to use it as a base pattern but I don't really like the results so far. Maybe I need to graph this one. I will go a bit farther with it before I give up and start over. Sometimes they look terrible and then you add a few more pieces and suddenly they look right. Possibly the addition of wings and tail feathers will help.

And finally, here are the chickens with some eyes. I just stuck them on with masking tape to see how they would look. Having eyes certainly changes the expression of all the chickens. I'm not sure if a quilt needs eyes but if it ends up as a wall hanging I will probably go with these eyes.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thrift Shop Treasures

Yesterday I didn't have much time to sew so I cleaned up the studio so I could get right at it today.

Here are my latest thrift shop treats. The magazines are all fairly recent which is rare at thrift shops. Most of them are from the 90's or earlier. The little iron works but I don't know yet how useful it will be. At $1.oo it won't have to be used very often to be a bargain. It has a teflon sole plate and a tiny water sparyer on the front. I don't know if the sprayer works. I plugged it in when I got home and it heated up. It could be that the thermostat doesn't work but it looks almost unused so I am thinking it will work fine.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I have done a couple more chickens. Next I want to do some that are more colorful and I need a rooster.

This one I made to use the head that didn't fit on the body I made for it. I want to put a nest under it but don't have a fabric that suits me. The one I have in the photo is the same as the head and too close in color to the body. I should have used a lighter background so the chicken would stand out more but my rationale is that when nesting chickens don't want to stand out.

This one is a bit large in comparison to the rest of them so she may have to wait for another quilt. Also I don't like the shape of the breast. It is too straight so I may cut it apart and change that line.

Here is the flock so far.

Thanks for all the encouragement and especially the puns!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Chicken Update

Today I went from this,

To this.

What a difference! I don't need to put on a lot of pressure and then cut missed threads with the scissors. I need a new ruler too but they didn't have the one I want. There was a 40% off sale at Fabricland so I got a good deal.

Here is the latest chicken with a different head. I think it looks much better. I am going to put it on at an angle to give it some movement. This time, for the comb, I made a lined piece and sewed it to the top of the head. It is not sewn down to the background. I like the look of it that way. The head looks a tiny bit big for the body but I am hoping when it's sewn in and at an angle it will look a bit smaller. Or maybe it's just a very intelligent chicken. An egghead, if you will.

And finally, all the chickens so far up on the design wall. They haven't laid any eggs yet. Maybe they are waiting for the rooster.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Still Chickens

Here is the one I started yesterday. I don't like it as well as the other two. It is not as lively. I really like the one that is looking back. I also need to make some looking the other way.

So I started a new one this morning. Now I think I will have to make a different head and save this one for another chicken. It just doesn't seem to match the rest of it. I really like the pale batik on the body and I want to keep that. Maybe the head needs to be lighter in colour. Or maybe the head is the wrong shape. I'll try some options when I go back after lunch.

Friday, March 02, 2007

More Chickens

We shoveled ourselves out and went to town but it was so windy and drifting that we just got a few essentials and came straight back home. Essentials didn't include the new rotary blade and mat. We would have had to drive an extra 10 miles to Winkler for that.

When we got home, after lugging our supplies down the lane again, I started a new chicken. This one may end up sitting on a nest. I will see how it looks when I get to the point of adding feet or not.

Once again, I started with a very rough drawing, divided into squares and triangles. The comb was a huge challenge and I am still not satisfied with it. I want it to be longer and more pointy. I might make another one and try to add it on. The one that is there is sewn on at an angle and could be removed quite easily.

The second picture shows a sample of what the wing fabric could be. I think the dark one might be all right but the lighter one is too light.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Walk in the Snow

I don't usually post twice in a day but the walk in the snow was too nice to wait until tomorrow.
Here is the car, stuck at the end of the lane. We decided to just leave it there until this storm is over. We are hoping that Mr. Sun will help us out eventually.

Relaxing after struggling up the hill in more than knee-deep snow.

The snow is very deep. It must be at least two feet (about 60 cm) and soft and fluffy.


I tried the quilt with no sashing and, although you do see a secondary pattern, it's too jumbled looking. I will just continue my search for the right gray. I am thinking there might be a batik that is mostly gray with a soft pattern on it. I can wait until I find the right one, or maybe dye some muslin that I have.

I have made another chicken. I took a picture during the process. I build them up like Tonya's wonky houses or letters . I haven't been able to think of doing wonky yet because they are so complex to make. I start with a rough drawing divided into squares and triangles. Then I decide what colors would look good for each part.

Doing this one again, I would use triangles on the corners to round the head a bit. I would also try to put triangles on the end of the brown wings. I am debating whether I should embroider eyes or glue on plastic one s that I have or just leave them as they are. I will decide that later when I start to assemble them. I want to try a rooster as well.