Saturday, April 28, 2007

Greetings from Mongolia!

This will have to be a short post since it is already late and I will have a full day tomorrow, but I am now in Mongolia and wanted to say hi. It has been a wonderful trip. This is my third trip to Mongolia, the last one being 7 years ago. Both previous visits have been in winter when it was very cold by my standards (though still mild by Mongolian standards), so I came prepared with sweaters and a down coat, but instead it is really warm and comfortable.

It is so wonderful to see old friends and see the development of the country. I have been here consulting with a development agency that I serve on the advisory board of (The Mongolian Development Center), and also for the Baha'i National Convention. When I arrived I expected to be met at the airport by one or two old friends that I haven't seen in some time, but instead I was welcomed by a whole group of people in the traditional Mongolian way -- with a bowl of milk resting on beautiful scarf (one drinks from the bowl and passes it one by one to each member of the group). I am hoping to get some pictures from my friends. Thank God I was not too badly dressed!

I hope to post a bit more about Mongolia in the next several days. It is really a lovely country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. Since I had better get to bed or suffer the consequences tomorrow, I will just share a few pictures. Sorry they are not better and do not show more of the country!! I have no pictures from my meetings with the Mongolian Development Center, and I do not yet have one of the full convention participants. The full picture would show much more of the traditional dress and the diversity of the community. Instead the first picture is of the new National Assembly and the Auxiliary Board members. The National Assembly is the governing body of the Baha'i community. It has nine members who are elected annually. The Auxiliary Board is an appointed body that helps facilitate learning, encourages unity, and assists the community to devise plans and bring them to fruition. I am seated in the front row wearing the pink jacket.

The next picture is just the Auxiliary Board members, and the final picture is of one of the Baha'is attending the convention. His traditional outfit was just gorgeous and I wish that I had gotten a better picture.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's finished!

One more quilt done this year! I finished up my "red monster" quilt -- a red version of the Out of the Box quilt based on a pattern from The Modern Quilt Workshop. All it needs now is clipping of all the lose threads and a wash (these two steps are right up there with basting in my least favorite activities). Oh yes, and it really needs a better name. It is only a red monster because it sat as a UFO for about 2 years after I lost enthusiasm for hand quilting it. It is relatively small so it is not a "monster" in size. Although I would have done the background differently now, I think I now like it again, and I will probably give it either to my brother's family or to a girlfriend who I will see this summer. All suggestions for names will be gratefully considered!

Although the parallel lines in the body of the quilt were terrible to quilt (and were not parallel either!), the triangles in the border were more enjoyable. I used the background squares to practice different motifs and filler designs I want to learn, so that made them fun.

I used the Ricky Tim piped binding method again, and this time all the corners turned out better. They are far from the way his look, but I think they are as good as my miters using other methods. I still find I am not staying right in the ditch all the time, but again, it is much better than previous attempts at machine stitching the binding! I wander into the pipping, but because the thread color matches the piping, it isn't too visible.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's not my best work, but

Finished is better than perfect! I finished up the quilting on my red monster (my red Out of the Box) quilt top. I ended up quilting triangles filled with straight lines in various directions in the borders, and free motion quilting in the remaining boxes. I used the boxes as an opportunity to practice some free motion motifs, which made them quite enjoyable. Even in the border, somehow just changing directions to fill the triangles made the quilting more enjoyable than the endless straight lines in the body of the quilt. I rather like the quilt again now. There is one place where I really messed up the design in the border, and I am still thinking of whether I should fix it. If the quilt were for my own use, I would leave it, but I am thinking of giving it to a friend's child when I visit the US this summer. It is certainly not my best quilting, but my friend is not a quilter and probably will not really notice...still, I don't like to give someone something that I am not that happy with.

Now all that is left is the binding. I think I will use the Ricky Tim piped binding again to practice it. Last time I had a bit of difficulty with the corners. I will post pictures when it is all done. I have been extremely busy this week, but I should have time to quilt on Sunday. On Monday I leave for Beijing, and then go to Ulan Baatar (Mongolia). I am looking forward to the trip, but I doubt there will do anything quilt related next week. Hopefully I will get some pictures of Mongolia!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Something from China

While I was at the conference the other week, I wore an outfit I bought in China that I think you all would appreciate. As a project for social and economic development, a friend of mine's wife buys old embroidery and traditional items from some of the minority areas in SE China (Guangxi and Guizhou primarily) and remakes them into clothing. They have some really beautiful things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Log Cabin Update

Since it was a bit difficult to envision my log cabin in different layouts without the black fabric, I began playing with layouts in EQ. I love EQ! Here are some of my favorites. I haven't decided on which one yet, though.

1. Original Layout. I still like something about it.

2. I don't like how much black I am ending up with at the top and bottom, but I really like the center of the layout.3. Barn raising with a border to give a better size. This might be the easiest to quilt.
4. I really like this layout, but I am not sure how I would quilt the large expanses of black.
5. A bit of a variation, with the border all around.
I must have 10-15 other layouts that I tried and just did not like as much as these. I may end up with another 20 before I'm ready to finalize!

WIP 4/11/07

I have been very busy with work, so I haven't gotten much chance to quilt. When I have the time, I have basically been forcing myself to finish up quilting on my red monster quilt. I finished the parallel lines in the main body of the quilt and the quilting around most of the patches, but I still have the borders to do. My parallel lines are not parallel, and I will never do parallel lines over so much of a quilt again. At some point I had decided to extend the parallel lines into the borders, but then, because they were not parallel, I decided to switch directions on my parallel lines at "random" places (actually places where it would soon become abundantly clear the lines were not parallel). That would make the border look like triangles filled with parallel lines. At this point, I am so sick of parallel lines that what I would really like to do is just finish up the border using some relatively large border motif. However, as you can see from this photo, I have this big chunk of border quilted with parallel lines, and the thought of taking them out is not too attractive either. Hmmm.

Oh yes, in case you are wondering, all those threads are there because this quilt was originally going to be hand quilted. Those days are over, I think.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Layout help

Now that my Single Wedding Ring is done (remember, help me with names!), I have been playing a bit with my Log Cabin to try to come up with a layout. Actually, mainly I have been trying to find a solution to some problems with my laptop, which may have a virus that is not being detected. When not doing that, I have been playing with my log cabin blocks. Here are some of the possibilities. I am aiming for a quilt that is at least 70" wide, but several of the layouts would finish naturally at 60". My family likes ample quilt for their feet! Blank places would be filled with black squares or black borders. Please excuse the family debris in the photo, LOL.

#1, My original plan:#2. This is fun, and may be more interesting to quilt, but I might have to add an extra border at the top and bottom to get a usable length.

#3. Barn raising layout with color at the center. Block blocks would fill in the corners, and a wide block border all around.
$4. The playstation cord is such an attractive addition. Additional block border all around.
#5. Black to fill in the first border, and possibly an additional black border at the top and border to make up the length.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


My Single Wedding Ring is finished! You may all be fairly sick of seeing it as I have posted so many pictures as it was in process, but it now has binding. I tried out the piped binding method on the Ricky Tim DVD, and I am pretty pleased with the results. I like the touch of color the piping brings, and it gives me something to do with 1" strips leftover from various projects.

As with any method it will take some practice to really perfect it, but it is certainly an improvement on my previous attempts at machine binding! My previous quilts had stitching wandering in and out of the ditch on the front, and on the back they went from the quilt back to the binding, wandered back on the quilt top. This time, although I am not exactly in the ditch everywhere, you can't really tell unless you are looking pretty closely because the thread just blends in with the piping. On the back I have a nice even line of stitching running just parallel to the binding everywhere except at some of the corners where my miters did not come quite far enough over the line of stitching. The mitering of the corners was definitely the hardest part of this method. I find it fairly easy when just stitching the continuous binding and mitering as I go.

Now I need a name. I am thinking of something like "A flurry of feathers" or "feathered frenzy". All suggestions are welcome. Ah. Now that I write this, I realize I forgot about a label for this quilt. I will either quilt the name and date into the border or into a somewhere, or add a label by hand.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I'm back!

I spent last week in Thailand, participating in a fantastic conference with participants from all over SE Asia and East Asia. It was wonderful to meet such dedicated and insightful people and to hear the stories of how they have worked for the advancement of their communities. The conference was really busy, so I did not manage any quilting this week until getting back to Macau, despite bringing some hand piecing along.

Yesterday, I was able to finish the last few blocks for my Log Cabin. I am not sure about the layout to use, though. I had originally planned lay them out so that all the bright halves would face in the same direction, but then I thought about using a barn raising layout, which may end up giving more interesting options for quilting. If I do that, I either have to make another row of blocks, or take away 4 blocks. I am out of red scraps for more blocks, though, and without the blocks the quilt might be a bit short. Here is the original layout. It would have wide black borders for fancier quilting. The blocks are just laid out randomly. Might need a bit of adjustment.

I also managed to pick up my two new presser feet for the Ricky Tim binding. I can't wait to try it out.