Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Do you ever feel misplaced?
I seem to have seriously misplaced my cord that allows me to free my photos from my camera... searching.   Speaking of misplaced I was cleaning the fabric bins last weekend and found an entire quilt I had begun and set aside.  This isn't an unusual event, but the weird thing is I don't remember beginning the quilt.  It had fabrics I would use and I totally could tell where I was going but I really don't remember beginning it.  I must have been very stressed out and busy when I did it.  Perhaps in the move from Kipnuk?  Anyway I sewed it up already.

I think I'll call the quilt "Buffalo Jump."  It features a running buffalo print offset by random colored squares framed in red prints.  It is a rather dark quilt, being mostly rich browns and reds and dragged from my memory reading about buffalo jumps the jumps were described as "buckets of blood" since the processing of a large number of buffalo at once was not a very clean undertaking.  The reds in the quilt with the buffalo blocks reminded me of that.  "Buffalo Jump" sounds happier than "Bucket of Blood" too.  Maybe "Bucket of Blood" should be my next quilt... has to be modern and abstract... scary I am even thinking it.
Here is a very poor quality shot of a tiny piece of the quilt... searching for the link between my camera and my computer.  I don't think PhotoBooth does a good job.

Next project is a group of wall hanging quilts that the students are embroidering centers to for the upcoming Island League Basketball Tournament.  Paper-piecing to follow.  We had games in Newtok last weekend and we are almost into Wednesday and the teams are still here... it is officially too cold to have students travel though it is warm enough for a fire drill.  Brrrrrrrrr.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Last weekend :)

Slightly chilled :)

Kim with her quilt in progress...

I needed the school's floor to lay out the blocks.


I can't find the #@****! cord for my camera so the pictures will have to wait until later.  I just finished the stripey quilt for Kim.  I used an idea from a Kaffe Fasset book (can't remember which one) but it basically was cutting striped fabric squares diagonally and sewing them back together into chevrons.  I did this with little squares that were made into 9 patch blocks and off-set them with larger squares.  Simple but a nice clean happy look for my good friend Kim.  I had some plaid fabric for her, but couldn't get into any sort of plaid mindset... still looking for inspiration there.  Any ideas for plaids?

I also took some of the scraps and made a bag for the Wii junk in the living room — quite an improvement over the cardboard box that was dong the job (though I should have made the bag a little larger, I didn't realize there was that much stuff for the Wii).  Favorite Wii game by far is Super Mario III.  It is hard to be in a bad mood with that happy music and the ability to leap about and keep using those continues when you mess up (also handy to play with someone that is there to pop your bubble).

Other uses for the scraps from Kim's quilt were... a gift for Betsy's birthday, a pen bag, and a wonky log cabin quilt using an idea from Block Party.  What a great book!  I would love to get involved in an on-line quilting bee.  Hmmm.  Speaking of the book I shipped off a box of not being used quilting books last week too.  I love quilting books but find I very very rarely actually follow a pattern.  I get loads of ideas from them... though the books with a bajillion line drawn block patterns are overwhelming.  I prefer pretty pictures of fabulous brave fabric combinations and patterns put to work.  Surprise me and I'm yours.  Any new favorites out there that I should check out?  Frankly the blogs have been feeding my brain lately... so many talented people generously sharing their time.

Lastly I tripped over my Farmer's Wife blocks and said oops.  They were sort of forgotten for a while.  I had seven blocks and sewed five more last weekend.  Pictures pictures pictures to follow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Out Of Africa

This one is for Bethany in Toksook; I hope it is helpful (to others too).

I made this quilt when I had a pile of African fabrics that my cousin had sent while she was in the Peace Corps.  I loved the fabrics but I was stymied trying to get the fabrics to work using the quilt patterns I had been been using.  I needed something to "turn the volume down" so they could dance in a quilt.  When I was sorting fabric looking for a solid the African prints landed near the yellow orange print I used in the quilt.  All those prints needed another print to dance, what a surprise.

The pattern for the quilt I made up, but I have seen this pattern since, so like most quilts I owe my ideas to others. First I cut the mix of prints into 2 1/2 inch strips.  I don't know how many (sorry) some math person could figure it out, but I just cut some fabric and sew... this time I made two quilts because there were a lot of all of the fabrics involved and I wanted a quilt and I also wanted to give my cousin a quilt to welcome her back from the Peace Corps.  The other reason I don't know is the fabric I had was "Pieces, Pieces" an odd mix of shapes and sizes, not the standard 45" most fabric comes in off a bolt.  I would start with a total of about 15-20 strips... total guess let me know what you used and how big your quilt ended up.  Next cut 5 or 6 strips of the "background fabric" about 5 inches wide.

Sew the 2 1/2 strips along both sides of the five inch strips.  Then cut your new 3 fabric strips into five inch sections.  Each of these five inch sections will have a 2 1/2 inch strip sewn to other two sides and you have finished blocks... super easy.  Now just lay them out on the floor and arrange them as you like... Note I did turn the blocks to make the pattern.

I know many people have different methods for how they keep track of the rows as they sew... My method is to pin a post-it not in the the top left hand corner of the first block in each row.  The Post-it has the row number and sometimes other notes (the last quilt I made had two blocks that I had to make after laying it out so the notes pointed out where those blocks went).  Then I pick them up in stacks and go sew.  If I can just leave the blocks out on the floor as I go, I sometimes just make larger and larger blocks (2 by2's, then 4by4's etc.) until I have the top put together.  I added a 3 1/2 inch strip of the "background" fabric as a border around the edges.  Once your quilt top is done you assemble the "quilt sandwich" baste or pin, quilt, then bind, then perhaps sign... take pictures (I didn't do this on my early quilts and now I wish I had pictures of some of the)... and enjoy.  I like to use Quilter's Dream but there are many different battings available to choose from.

Bev Palm did the quilting on this particular quilt.  She has amazing long arm quilting skills and cusomizes what she quilts to the quilt (and the quilter).  I must admit I am always jazzed to make a new quilt top, but not as into putting the sandwich together.  I love the work done at this stage, I guess I'm just too lazy to wrestle the quilt through my not very fancy machine.  Some people ask what machine people use... I have an old Kenmore.  It is loud, but sews OK.  Since it does its job I haven't replaced it.  I think too much money is spent on really fancy machines; especially by beginners.  If your machine can consistently sew a straight stitch... life is good. 

See... this is guaranteed to be fabrics made in Africa :)
I even had an embroidery label made (You can see this quilt is a few years old).
I think this is my longest post ever.  Last words... if you run out of fabric, don't stress yourself out.  The quilts you make will sometimes be more unique due to how you solve the unique problems you have living in bush Alaska.
BTW Congrats Sarah and Dylan!  (They just got engaged.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Basketball and Shovels

This weekend the kids are off to play basketball and we are hosting the junior high tournament.  That means I can't really get in my classroom so I guess I'll just have to sew (insert fake poor me here).

Basketball is king here in Newtok... this morning the high school students were at the airport shoveling it so the plane could land and they could get to their tournament in Tununak (and so planes can arrive for our tournament).  Picture of their wimpy shovels below... it is hard to believe how quickly they cleared the runway (there were only 8 shovels total).  Hopefully on Sunday I'll have a "finished" project to post as I sew and the the gym is hopping.  Happy happy me.

Powered Up!

Excited that there is now electricity in my home.  After one week without power (thankfully the heat was hooked up) I enjoy the little things, like alarm clocks that work, reading a book at night, not tripping over things in the house, and being able to sew again.  I sewed a pile of triangles last night (sorry no pictures), baked an angle food cake, had a normal dinner, played a little Mario with my housemate and enjoyed a modern convenience I hadn't realized I was ignoring all this time.  Sweet.  Now if the water can get repaired life will be in order again.  Sigh....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Out of the Blue

I have been quilting... for some reason I just haven't been blogging.  I think this can be like a habit; and it is a habit I want.  So... what am am I sewing right now?

I love Kaffe Fasset's books and fabric... and in a not very much like me fashion, I am following his design pretty much on my current quilt.  Sadly, my current quilt is on hold since my house hasn't had power in days.
My home

 Warning, Alaska digression ahead.
This is the "Tundra Quilt Blog" so here is the tundra part of my story.  The village I live in has no running water (except in the school) but my house has the illusion of running water.  That means there is a tank of water and I can wash dishes and brush my teeth without hauling water.  I do get my drinking water at the school though.  (Today I dropped the lid off my favorite plastic jug for getting water when the wind blew it off.... oh well, another stupid human trick since I was loosening it since the jug contracts in the cold and I didn't want it to crack.  Oh well.)  Anyway, the bathroom is.. um an Incinolet.  Don't click on the link unless you really want to know.  Suffice it to say, I have had the morning where flushing the toilet involved kicking the darn thing to stop the flames that were shooting out of the bowl!  Anyway, since I am returning from Christmas break the house was so cold that the few pipes in it managed to freeze (and they are copper too).  So for a while at least, the house is only a large building I sleep in.  There are two electric cords snaked in through a cracked back porch... one to the heater and the other to the refrigerator.  6 days and counting... so no quilting at the moment.
On the walk to the school...

 But soon I will finish this happy stripey quilt.  Nine patches of tiny triangles off-set by larger triangles... I should get some solid shot cotton for the border I think (I'm thinking about it.)

Back to quilts.... a chain of triangles that form the nine patches...

Aren't these stripes beautiful?
In the end, the inconveniences are not as bad as they sound.  Friends invite me to dinner, I relax more, and I am even getting back to my blog.  My dad has been ill and the powerless home really doesn't seem like that big of a deal in the end.  I do recommend buying the flashlight ap for the iPad though.  My favorite ap as I make my way through my dark home.