Thursday, December 31, 2009

AAQ Retreats -- Session 1 Show & Share

There was another quilter who was very important to AAQ Retreats for many years, Marlene Ball. Marlene had been with us for every single retreat and her most memorable contribution, at least to the retreaters, were the pincushions that she made for each attendee, year after year after year. Everyone knew how many years they had been attending by the number of pincushions they had stashed away!

Marlene was very sick in November 2008, but insisted on coming to retreat and seeing all of her friends, some of whom live quite far so she only saw them once a year. The Session 1 quilters have formed very close friendships with the same people coming every year -- for instance, the 2009 Session 1 was full, but we only had two first-timers.

After the retreat ended, Marlene's health worsened; she entered ICU and passed away two months later. We miss her so much!

At the end of the Session 1 "Show & Tell", this quilt was brought out for everyone to see. It was made by the ladies you see above (Deb Silva, Sylvia, Deanna and Deb Stevens) from fabric that Marlene had in her stash. The quilt will be donated to one of Marlene's favorite charities as a way for the charity to raise funds.

In memory of Marlene, the pincushion tradition has been permanently retired.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

AAQ Retreats -- Session 1 Show & Share (Part 4)

Almost done with AAQ Session 1 -- it was fun going through all of these because I was up front, not behind the camera taking them. I didn't really know what I had on my memory card until I started playing with this. Like being there again!

This was very cool and colorful and she had the pattern right there in case anybody else wanted to write down the info to buy it and make it themselves...

Patti goes to a lot of retreats, like the one with Ricky Tims in CO and Asilomar in CA. I stayed with her in the San Antonio TX area earlier this year and saw the one to the left on her design wall. Liked all that space for quilting.

Ricky helped Patti get her ideas out of her head and onto fabric at a retreat this year.

Karen's red/black/white star...

We were laughing about something -- this is a pretty fun group!

Hearts and nine patches; Sue always brings something big and time-intensive to show!

Sylvia's strip piecing is fun and bright, but the one I fell in love with was the one she made with all of the intricate hand embroidery.

This is such a big quilt that it took three of us to hold it up and show it off to best advantage.

Another year and more great quilts -- can't wait until October!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

AAQ Retreats -- Session 1 Show & Share (Part 3)

Dawna makes a lot of quilts for her Moda University club at the shop she owns, Bolts in the Bathtub. They use a number of fabrics and Dawna calls them "controlled scrappy" as she doesn't like totally random scrap quilts.

This is a "Tennessee Waltz" quilt; I'm not sure, but I think this was also a Moda U. project. If not, Dawna made it for a class she's teaching at the shop.

Green is Holly's favorite color -- it shows! Love the fabrics in this....and in the quilt below, there is a lot of room for Holly to do some fancy quilting with her long arm!

Deb Silva is the other person on whom this whole retreat depends -- she sets up all the rental sewing machines, checks everybody in and gets them settled. She also handles any logistical problems that come up during retreat.

The first full day of the retreat features "dinner on your own" where everybody takes off and goes shopping in the afternoon and has dinner out. Deb checks all of the hours of the quilt shops in the areas, provides maps and discount coupons for everybody and pairs people without cars to people with them. She is such a good resource person that our motto is: "Deb knows everything!"

Kathy shows her square-in-a-square design...

Looks like Danelle has been busy this year! She had a few quilts-in-process in the classroom that were the result of block exchanges.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas to all of you -- I hope that Santa brings you everything you dreamed of!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

AAQ Retreats -- Session 1 Show & Share (Part 2)

A number of people are responsible for making these retreats work and Susan Moore is a big part of that. Alex tells us that Susan is the reason that these retreats are even held as she is the person who does all the organizing -- dealing with all of the details, such as working with hotel personnel, figuring out the menus and accommodations, answering all the questions that our retreaters have -- it's a big job!

But somehow she still finds some time to sew -- this is her neutrals quilt that she started during the retreat a couple of years ago when our teaching focused on using neutral fabrics in our quilting.

And this is a friendship braid quilt that she did -- I quilted this one and am in the process of quilting the neutrals quilt; just have the border to go....

Cindy shows her Hawaiian style applique in all those wonderful colors and, below, her puppy quilt!

Erica is one of the funniest people I have ever met -- quick wit and big quilts!

And another one of Erica's, a basket sampler....I really like the way it is set -- lots of room for quilting.

Linda cracked us all up telling us about the "big trees" and the "little trees" -- we're all looking at this and saying "What big trees??"

Another one of Linda's -- all hand embroidered with the piecing around it. This is a Crab-apple Hill pattern. The quilt on the pattern cover is done in reds -- I love it in blue!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

AAQ Retreats -- Session 1 Show & Share

Let me entertain you! While I am in Australia and New Zealand, you will get to see the pictures I took at the Alex Anderson Quilts retreats last month. I took a lot of them, so I'll break them up into several posts and schedule them to fill the time while I go play!!

One thing that Alex and I totally agree on is that the quilts that are shown get better and better each year. We have done these retreats for 9 years now and have watched as these quilters have grown their skills -- this is just awesome!

Alex likes to sit in the audience and look at all the quilts, so I am the emcee and quilt holder for this event. We usually do this after lunch on the third day of the retreat. Each person is welcome to bring up to two quilts to share with the group. While I'm helping with the quilts, Holly is manning the camera for me -- thank you, Holly!

The best thing about being the quilt holder is that you get to see everything up close and personal, so if a guest speaker needs holders at your guild, volunteer! It's the best spot in the above, I'm examining the quilting on Diane's 9 patch while she talks about it to the group.

Melanie's quilts are so amazing and fun -- she does a lot of embellishment and you can just see the time and creativity that she lavishes on her quilts. She brought this little one....

...and this larger one with a Halloween theme. Of course, I love all things Halloween, so had to get a few more pictures of this one!

Here's a close-up of the witch and look below at that cute little bat! He even has BEADY EYES!

Jim is our "token" guy quilter -- he's been with us all nine years, appeared with Alex as a guest on "Simply Quilts" (he was dyeing fabrics with shaving cream!) and does a lot of very fun things. Here's his bee-you-ti-ful red/white/blue quilt.

Joyce and her daughter-in-law Julie attend the retreat every year; here is one of Joyce's quilts...

and here is the other. There was so much quilting that the back was as worthy of a picture as the front!

Not too many people do small quilts here! This is Karen's project -- up close, the colors are amazing....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

That Worked Pretty Well -- Let's Try It Again!

Setting goals on the blog -- maybe it's a good idea! I accomplished yesterday's goal by finishing Laura's quilt...

That's my husband Dan behind it, but it's a bit longer than he is tall....

So today I would like to finish Susan Moore's quilt; it came in this year, so I'm not SO far behind.

A few years ago, the theme of our AAQ retreats was "neutrals". In that year, Alex gave a lecture about choosing neutral fabrics, including white to give it a "spark". As part of her lecture, she shared some of her own quilts pieced from neutral colored fabrics as well as my quilt "Make Mine Neapolitan" and the other quilts that were included in her book "Neutral Essentials".

Susan started this at the retreat and finished piecing it later. She sent it to me earlier this year for quilting.

She sent a pattern for the quilting that she wanted done in the blocks and then when we saw each other at this year's retreat, she made her border choices.

This is what she wanted for the narrow outside border...

And this for the wider pieced border. So my goal for today is to at least get this marked, and if I can really carve out some time this afternooon, to get it stitched.

I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow afternoon, so tonight I plan to schedule some posts that will appear while I am gone -- don't want you to get bored! The posts will be all the "Show & Share" quilts that the retreaters from both sessions brought this year -- you don't want to miss this!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Goal for today -- Finish Something!

When I travel around the country and give lectures and workshops to guilds and in shops, I'm often asked if I still quilt for the "general public" as well as for Alex and other authors and teachers. I used to say "Yes, as long as you don't have a deadline", but my answer has had to change to "No, I just can't seem to work that into my schedule."

A perfect example of that is a quilt that I have had for five years (YIKES!!) from Laura Ramsey, an extremely patient soul in Glendale CA. I just couldn't decide what I wanted to do on this quilt, so I had my assistant pin it up and I would take it out of the stack every so often, look at it and put it back. I thought I might choose one of the quilting designs from Lee Cleland's book "Quilting Makes the Quilt" and so I kept the book with the quilt.

I made my final decision and quilted about 2/3 of the quilt in summer 2008, then got distracted and put it away again. Laura called the other day so I pulled it out of the stack one more time and laid it out on the bed in my guest room.

The quilt measures 72"x83", so about a full size; Laura got the pattern from an Oxmoor House book, "Quick and Easy Scrap Quilts". I guess it was quick if you didn't count the time it sat in the sewing room of your quilter!

Here is some of the quilting -- it radiates out from a focal point with curved lines that go through the whole quilt, including the border...

This is taken from the back, which is a tone-on-tone blue fabric with tiny white stars sprinkled all over. Roundish spirals and what I call "kindergarten stars" finish out the areas that are not lined.

My goal for today is to get this done and off to its owner. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a picture of the quilt with the quilting completed!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another Yummy Gourmet Dinner -- And I Didn't Have to Cook It!

Our gourmet dinners are always so much fun, but not always on time -- all six of us have ridiculously busy schedules and we fit in our monthly dinners when we can. That results in an occasional dinner being "out of month". Like last night!

Dawna and Robert's dinner was technically in November, but both Dawna and I were gone to the AAQ Retreats, then there was Thanksgiving and, frankly, the month got away from all of us. Given that December was equally frantic, especially with Dan and I leaving the end of this week, a Monday evening in December worked out just great....

Of the three of us, I think Dawna is the most creative with table settings, decorations and food presentation. She has a kazillion sets of dishes and all of the beautiful things to go with them to make wonderful, magical tablescapes. Her theme for this dinner was definitely holiday, with a pale teal and white color scheme and dishes featuring doves and words, such as "peace". What I always wonder afterwards is where the heck she stores all this stuff?

Another view of the table -- I mean, really, do you have room for a four foot long peacock in your kitchen cabinets?

The first course was a salad of cucumbers, shredded carrots and other goodies in a champagne vinaigrette dressing topped with perfectly sauteed sea scallops, accompanied by this sparkling white wine. It all worked together really well and, of course, Fay and I asked for the recipe....

I don't know why I took pictures of the wine rather than the food, but the second course was puff pastry filled and surrounded by various types of sauteed mushrooms -- portabello, button and shiitake.

Here you can see the beautiful plates and silver. The main course was chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, basil and parsley, accompanied by carrots, zucchini and sauteed mushrooms.

The wine served with the entrees was one of Dan and my favorites from Consilience -- perfect with the food!

Dessert was "Penguin Cake", which totally fit the bird theme, right? Robert opened a Consilience Port with dessert.

To introduce you to the group, I took a few pictures after dinner. Since everybody seems to be either asleep or hiding, it looks like before dinner might have been a better bet. At the left is Dan, half asleep, and Dawna hiding behind the table......You can see Dawna's pretty coordinating napkins on the table....

That's Dawna's husband Robert on the right. Now, in our defense, each of us did have our share of 4 bottles of wine -- on a school night!

Looks like somebody is awake! Here are Leith and Fay Bergier, the other half of Bolts in the Bathtub, my local quilt shop, conveniently located just 3-1/2 short miles from my house. Leith does all the maintenance and tech work on the Berninas and Fay keeps track of all the bookwork involved in a busy quilt shop and Bernina dealership.

At the end of the year, everybody moves forward a month, so I'm doing January, Fay has February and Dawna does March -- we had some super foodie experiences in 2009; here's to 2010!

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