Monday, January 30, 2012

Alex Anderson

I've been a fan of Alex Anderson's for several years.  I found Simply Quilts on HGTV and began watching it so that I could learn about the industry, meet the big names in the business, and learn techniques that would help me in my own work.  

It didn't take long before I was making quilts using the techniques I learned from Alex and her guests.  Some techniques worked for me, others didn't, but I stayed with Alex, searching for her on other channels and discussing her show with quilting friends.

When Simply Quilts left the air, I followed Alex's career and eventually found her again on the internet via The Quilt Show.  

One reason I like Alex has to do with her fun personality, which I found genuine in person, but a bigger reason is that she makes well-known quilters accessible to the rest of us.  My biggest reason, however, is her talent for hand-quilting.  Naturally, I was very happy to get a lesson from the master herself at the Ricky Tims' Seminar.  She makes hand quilting look so easy. 

I do enjoy hand quilting but find that it is a bit too relaxing for me--I dose off after about ten minutes.  Of course, that's not bad, especially when I do need a nap, but I don't get much quilting done in one sitting! 

Alex showed how she creates quilting designs from everyday objects, how she alters designs, and how she uses the fabrics and piecing designs in the quilt to create her quilting designs.  

How might this help someone who rarely hand quilts?  Many of her ideas and techniques can easily be applied to machine quilting and, if I ever find myself hand quilting again, I hope to apply some of her techniques to increase my efficiency.  With just a ten minute window, I have to work fast to get anything accomplished!

What about you?  Do you have some tips for hand quilting that you'd like to share?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Whoo Hoo!

I'm a member of Ricky Tims' Whoo Hoo Nation.  Thanks to three days in New Orleans at the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar with Ricky Tims, Alex Anderson and Libby Lehman!   What an event.  I expected to enjoy myself, I expected to learn, I even expected to see some beautiful quilts.  What surprised me is the amount of laughing I did.  Every word spoken on the stage is hilarious.  Really!  It's hard to believe that one can laugh so much while discussing quilting, but it's certainly possible to laugh till your sides hurt while these three are talking about their quilt lives.

So what did we learn in three days?  Caveman quilting, convergence quilting, what judges look for, how to rip fabric, how to use your machine feet more effectively and so, so much more.  Ricky discussed several of his techniques, Alex taught hand quilting and discussed her many ventures into The Quilt Show and The Quilt Life, and Libby brought us into her home and studio and convinced me that I have the best of machines with my Bernina.  (I bought three more feet!)

Of course, there were many, many opportunities to meet other quilters and talk about quilting, but the seminars overloaded our brains!

Since it's impossible to show all the photos or write about the lessons in one entry without short-circuiting my brain, I'll save some for the next few posts.  The photos on this post are all of Ricky Tims' quilts.  The artists gave us permission to photograph all we wanted, and while I did not take photos of the artists themselves, I got plenty of the quilts.  

Expect the   next few posts to be about this one subject.  I have almost as much to say about the experience as I have photos!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One January Afternoon

The last few days have been rather gloomy, but before the gloom rolled in, we had a few days of sunshine, cool weather, and calm waters.  
 Just ask Richard...he found a rod and walked down to the catfish pond to kill a few minutes.  
 The ducks did a little fishing, too.  At least they caught a couple.
The trees are bare but really pretty.  When there's no wind, they stand like sentinels along the edges of the water.
 And no matter where the live ducks are, the decoys swim the pond waiting for their return.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Week Away

and finally we're home!  Naturally, we've spent the day resting.  First we were off to Beta Convention where we had 9th through 12th grade students intent on competing for awards and a state office.  Although we didn't take home either, we had great fun and ran a good race for 
Beta president.  I'm proud of all the Bunkie High Betas for their hard work, great behavior, and beautiful spirit.  They ran a campaign, worked the Service Project room, and monitored Game Zone.  Our chaperons were just as wonderful and I'd like to offer a special thanks to Mrs. Rolanda, Ms. Serrata, and my darling hubby, Richard.  Of course, we also had a few teachers, Mrs. Melinda drove her bus, Mr. Borrel was in charge of the boys, and Ms. Star came in just in time for the campaign speech and skit.
During the time we were away, our son Adam cared for the puppies and in the three days they grew like weeds.  Tonight everyone got a nice warm bath and then posed for a family portrait.    The babies are now walking and crawling all over each other.  I imagine in another few days they will be getting into big trouble, just as puppies should be.

When we got back from Beta, we cleaned up a bit then rolled out again.  This time we headed to Ruston to attend a follow-up meeting for the La. GEAR UP Professional Development from last summer.  I wrote about our week in Ruston in several posts last July.  One of my favorite is this one.  Here's hoping you had a good week also and got lots of rest today.
Happy Quilting,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Puppy Update

New photos of our little puppy darlings.  Aren't they just adorable?    

They've begun moving around a bit but really are too fat to stand on all four legs, so the moving is rather just squirming from point A to point B. 

Will, our oldest son, said they move and look like walruses.
Regardless, we think they are just too cute.  What do you think?  Could William possibly be wrong?

On a different note, thanks to all of you who sent notes and email with condolences about my dad.  Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated.  He was a wonderful father to eight daughters, a husband to a special woman, and grandpa to over 40 grand children and great-grand children.  We will miss him so very much, but we also believe that he and mom are reunited and his legacy of love and faith will see us through.  Again, thank you all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


My dad was sick during the first week of this month with a mild case of pneumonia.  The medicines upset his heart rate and sugar levels.  Unfortunately, at 82 it's difficult, if not impossible, to recover from so many issues.  Dad was released from the hospital on Friday but experienced cardiac arrest on Saturday night.

A week later I believe my parents are reunited in heaven.  It's been a long difficult week, but I can not mourn their deaths.  I can only mourn my own loss.  At the wake service we prayed a rosary, and I read a poem that I'd written for his 70th birthday, which follows below a photo taken at their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2009.

A Lifetime of Learning
When I was little, you towered over me, speaking in a big, booming voice
that meant business, and I knew security and safety.  Sometimes I sat in your lap,
leaning into the crook of your left arm, as you read the newspaper, and I looked
at the pictures understanding the importance of learning and education.

As I grew bigger, your quiet determination taught me that I, too, could
accomplish my goals.  You insisted that I learn to live with my sisters, that mean
words and fighting were not ways to get along.

As a teenager, I watched you hug and kiss Momma and learned how
relationships work.  I witnessed your kitchen romance, heard your quiet laughter,
and saw longing when one of you was away, and I wanted a marriage of love and
laughter and longing for myself.

I began another family, finding a man who fit into ours.  You accepted him
and cherished him and loved him, and he held you in great esteem, knowing
respect, seeing the importance of marriage in your example, wanting to stay, to
be a part of something wonderful and safe and lasting.

I gave life to others, doing the best I could with them, knowing that my best
was the only thing I could offer: my love, the safety and comfort of home, hard
work, education.  I make mistakes, I apologize, I keep trying: you taught me how.

Now we talk about our lives and you teach me that I come from more than
just family--I share a destiny and past with a people whose culture and pride are
a part of me, and I try to share that with others.

So now, as you reach for the pinnacle of your life, I honor you.  The
memories and images I hold of you have given me lessons and direction.  They
help guide me in difficult times and help me to appreciate good times, family, and love.
They nurture me and ground me and enlighten me.  I am today because of you.
     Written for my father, Joseph Riley Bourque, for his 70th birthday, December 28, 2000.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cotton Candy Kiddos

I mentioned here that our little Maltese, Candy, had puppies on Christmas Eve.  That means they were a week old on New Year's Eve and yesterday they made 10 days.  

I took a couple of pictures but didn't get to post them, so today's post is all about Cotton  and Candy's puppies.

They are getting quite fat.  Apparently Candy has lots of mother's milk.  I'm surprised what a good mother she is. 

I figure that instinct must have kicked in during birthing, because she certainly was not nesting beforehand.

We have both a male and a female puppy.  They seem to be healthy, and we have plans to take them to the vet's office at the end of the week for a general checkup and to begin shots when it's time to do so.  

Although their eyes are still not open, the little boy is curious about his surroundings.  He's escaped the puppy bed twice already!  We've had to push it against the wall so that he is restrained.  That's working for now, but I have a feeling that in another week both will be getting around.  My sister noted that it's just going to get "more interesting" with each day.  

I'm sure she's right, but aren't just the cutest?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sewing Dreams

Thanks, Mimi
Yes, I've been dreaming of sewing.  I have only a week left of my Christmas break and have had very little time in the studio.  Some of that time I spent picking up and putting away the items left from the Natchitoches show.  
I did, however, manage to make a few stitches: I added an applique on Dusti's new bag (a gift from her Mimi) and made a little dress for one of the tykes.

Dusti's bag is very pretty and colorful, so I found a solid yellow that is an almost perfect match and auditioned a couple of letters until we found a font she liked. 

Then she gave me an idea of how large she wanted the letter, which turned out to be really big.  In fact, I carefully measured the space to make sure the letter would fit.  

I drew and cut out a pattern, double checking to make sure it would work.  From there, the process was easy, although the sewing wasn't.  It's difficult to fit a shaped bag under the needle and keep the zigzag stitch relatively straight.  In the end, she was very happy with her bag, and I discovered that it's not something I want to do very often.

The find
 Tonight I pulled together a odd little dress.  My sisters and I found a pattern and fabric while cleaning up at my mom's house.  I brought it home out of curiosity, thinking the pattern would be a good one to keep.
the plan
Apparently mom was planning to make a dress using fabric from another project.  She ran out of fabric after cutting out the back and facings, and there weren't enough pieces left for the front. 

Because it intrigued me, I decided to figure out something to finish the dress.  The fabric is a red/white gingham, so I decided to make a color-block front using a solid white from my stash. 

Isn't it just cute?
It took about an hour to make the dress.  It was fun to watch something come together that I didn't begin or plan.  Since it's a size three, I decided to stitch it on the Juki serger.  The seam allowance is smaller than a regular seam allowance which makes the dress just a tiny bit larger.  

back of dress
I'm hoping it will fit one of the younger grandchildren--Marley, Caki, or Sophie--which we call the tykes.  Of course, the plan is to make two others so each will have one of these cute little dresses.  They are so easy and quick that I should be able to make two more before we go back to school.

Take a visit to the Aussie Hero Quilts website to see how JanMaree and others are working to support the men and women of Australia who serve in their military forces. She just started the blog today in an attempt to encourage others to make quilts, pillowcases and laundry bags for the soldiers.