I've been plodding along all day working on quilting my Deadwood quilt. It's a group project quilt. The blocks were gifts from 1994! If all goes as predicted I'll take it off the Gammill tonight. Whoo-hoo, ready to bind! Also, today was filled with a gazillion phone calls - some very long. But that's business and I don't want to bore you.

One of my conversations was with Jan Magee, editor of The Quilt Life magazine. Maybe you've heard of it? Well, she was asking if I could spread the word that we are looking for fun photographs with the letters T Q L in the photo. I know my peeps are the most creative on the planet, so why not ask YOU to see what you can do. They can be for any month or season - or totally just whimsical. That's what we want. Here are a few that have appeared in recent issues of The Quilt Life magazine. I carved the apple.

We've even had a version spelled out with dog biscuits! What will your creative mind think of? I can't wait to see! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and if we use it we'll send you a free copy of the magazine!

Mindless rambling alert:

It rained this afternoon in La Veta. Yay!

Mable's big ole happy-dog tail keeps knocking some of my Streak of Lighting patches off of the design wall. How shall I solve that problem? (no pins please)

Tomorrow I'm going somewhere I've never been. Hint.... it's quilt related and I don't have to get on an airplane.

Go with me on Route 66 next June! - I'm just sayin'.....

Yesterday my threads arrived for the Deadwood quilt. I chose two 40wt. poly threads - a cream and a black Highlights from Superior Threads. I already had a cone of the cream so I had made my first stitches a few days ago. Most of what I needed was black so I stopped. Being a novice, I wasn't ready to roll the quilt because the few spaces I needed to do were small and the quilting was dense. For now, waiting was best.

That didn't stop me from planning some designs to do on the boots. Each boot has a fun fabric and I know I could follow the fabric pattern, but I wanted to stitch on the boots more like real boot stitching. It's not going to show up well on the large prints, but it was what I wanted. I spent time drawing some various options. I wanted each boot to be quilted differently.

I loaded the black thread and began working on the borders using the same sort of designs I drew for the boot legs. This effort turned out pretty GOOD. However, the border is dark maroon with black designs and seeing where I was going (or where I had been) was not so easy. I had already quilted two rows of the cream background on the boot blocks so it was time to stitch on the boots. This effort also turned out GOOD, but not great. The worst was along the sole of the boot I wanted to stitch three parallel lines following the angles. This was NOT so easy. It was BAD. I get a C - a B- at best. Then I chose to do straight lines in the attic window frames. Those were not so hard because I could use the horizontal and vertical locks. 

Speaking of lighting. I had to stop last night. I have good light in the studio, but the lamp from the longarm casts a shadow right at the needle. What do you longarmers do to combat that problem?

The next part was to enhance the pictorial panels with stitching that followed the design. Thank goodness that these pictorial blocks are rough because controlling the machine on that detail was UGLY. I could do that waaaaaaayyyyy better on my domestic using free-motion. Thankfully it doesn't look so bad, but I don't like feeling out of control.

Related Blog:
Longarm Odyssey


The famous music for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) was written by Ennio Morricone - who also wrote the music for my favorite movie score, The Mission (1986).

This morning was the third 'hoodie morning' in a row. Cool and breezy.

The young pony in the field across from our house greets me each morning at the fence. She wants to play with Mabel, who kissed her once and ignores her now. What's up with that? I'm just sayin'....

Last night I finished putting up all the patches on my design wall for the Streak of Lightning quilt. I believe that a design wall is one of the most important things in a quilter's studio. When I teach a class, I assign it as homework for any quilter who does not have one. I realize that the wall takes space. If that's a problem for you I will reply with, "where there's a will, there's a way!" The wall can be portable or permanent. The best design choices and quilt "conversations" happen sitting in a chair, looking at the design wall, and evaluating your desicions before proceeding.

Naturally, as this quilt emergedl I had to make specific fabric choices - especially for the zig-zag streaks running vertically between the nine-patches. My initial thoughts were to make a few of them very bright so they would stand out. As the quilt grew on the design wall (from left to right) I began second guessing some of those choices. However, rather than trying to fix anything at the moment, my tried and true advice is to just keep moving forward - keep evaluating - and since nothing is sewn (except the nine-patch units) I can move, rearrange or replace anything. I didn't want to stop and fix anything until I saw the full quilt on the design wall. In this case, if I had stopped my progress to redo a streak, I would still be uncertain and probably slow the progress of getting the overall design on the wall.

Last night when all the patches were on the wall I sat and studied my progress. There were three places that bothered me, and they were the same three sections that had bothered me over the past few days. Here is what the quilt looked like before I went to bed.

The three streaks that seemed out of place to me are the orange/coral, the bright yellow, and the bright mint green. I don't dislike those streaks and I could have left them in. I really liked the entire right side of the quilt. The thing I liked best was the use of my Caveman Pastel (I call it my Miracle Fabric). It is the seemingly iridescent streak just to the right of the second black streak. It is not a fabric that folks gravitate to, but for me it creates the miracle of movement in light areas. We all know that we need 'lights' even though they are not fun to purchase.

So, this morning I replaced the coral, yellow, and mint green streaks with some miracle fabric and another multi-color. Compare the two and I think you'll agree that they both look good, but the second version (shown below) is more cohesive across the design. 

Related blog to this post - HERE.

Unrelated Trivia:
Yesterday I worked on this quilt about 12 hours.
I had a glass of milk this morning for breakfast
I watched a lot of The Universe on History 2 yesterday. This morning it's been Cowboys and Outlaws (Tom Horn) on H2 
Today's To-dos: Edit Gammill and Bernina videos. Work on this quilt. My threads arrived - so maybe more longarm quiltling - whoo-hoo!

All this and more.... I'm just sayin'...

I juggle a lot of balls and this blog will prove it.

Over the weekend I was able to FINALLY load a quilt top onto the Gammill longarm quilting machine that is sitting in my new studio - whoo-hoo! The machine is here to tape short educational Gammill videos for The Quilt Show. Look for those soon at www.thequiltshow.com. They are called Longarm Lifelines with Linda Thielfoldt. 

Most of you know I'm a push-the-quilt sort of guy, the free-motion quilting kind. However, I'm not resistant to trying new things. Well... since there just happens to be a Gammill in my studio, why not give it a go? I'm green when it comes to long arm quilting but not totally green.

About two years ago a friend who owns a Gammill urged me give it a whirl. I loaded one of my dad's quilts and quilted the whole thing. After it was finished I realized that the tension was so bad on the back that I could never bind and finish the quilt. It was sad, and I didn't have the time to invest in picking out all those quilting stitches. The quilt stayed tucked away.

Fast forward... this past February the Gammill was installed in my studio by the Kelly/Terry team from Ft. Collins, CO. Kelly saw the quilt and mentioned that she knew someone who would pick out ALL of the quilting stitches. It was worth the price I paid to have it done and the quilt arrived back to me last week. This photo shows the impressions of what had been the quilting design.

Rewinding... this past May I found some old UFO quilt blocks. These blocks were cowboy boot blocks that had been given to me as a gift from Circle in the Square Quilters back in 1993. I arranged the blocks into a fun quilt and named it Deadwood. Deadwood is the name of a historic mining town in South Dakota. There is an intense HBO series by the same name. Here's the Deadwood quilt top.

Now...back to the quilt I loaded this past weekend - it's the Deadwood quilt. I ordered thread from Superior Threads and those should arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, I was able to at least quilt the cream/white areas of the first two rows. I thought you might like to see how I'm doing - and I'm sure open to suggestion.

For the most part, I'm still plugging along on the Streak of Lightning quilt waiting for my threads to arrive.

Stay tuned! I'm just sayin'....

I LOVE old traditional quilts! I love the fact that they are usually a bit wonky and the grass roots designs often capture my imagination. I can't always jump in and make my own contemporary version of the old quilts that inspire me but I have been known to do so.

Recently, I discovered an image of an antique Streak of Lightning quilt in a book called The Darwin D Bearley Collection Antique Ohio Amish Quilts (©2006) published by Bernina and Darwin Bearley. It has an introduction written by Johathan Holstein. 

Inside I saw this quilt.

Most of you know my dad quilts. He's quilted since 1991 - we both started the same week - without planning it! Dad will turn 86 in November and this year he has not quilted very much. So during my parent's recent visit to La Veta, I wanted to see if he still had his quilting chops. I sat him in front of the Bernina 550 and told him I needed strips sets sewn together with perfect 1/4" seams. He was great! We spent a day sewing and cutting fabric using the Streak of Lightning antique quilt from the book as our guide.

At the end of the day we had made a lot of progress.

Dad is back home in Texas but today I've had time to work some more on the quilt. I feel it will be very challenge to get the colors right in this one. I want it to be colorful and contemporary because that's just what I do - so I'll keep on working - keeping my fingers crossed it all turns out great. Have you ever taken an old quilt and put a contemporary spin on it?

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