Friday, October 9, 2015

My First Mini-Swap!!

A couple weeks ago, I shared some of my work in creating this mini quilt for the Kaffe Mini Quilt Swap.
It is now in it's new home with Debi. 
I've been waiting patiently for mine to arrive and Thursday morning, the mailman brought a bright yellow box all the way from Brazil!!
So exciting -- like Christmas!!
Look at all these little gems -- charming owl buttons, three hunks of fabric that will push me outside my box, and a bag of sweet treats (those yellow squares are yummy peanut confections).
When I pulled the white tissue open, there was a modern wallhanging with three funky "kaffe" birds and lots of quilting!
It's safe to say that Iara picked up on my "bird" thing and her tree full will fit perfectly with my studio art which consists mainly of three large Charley Harper bird posters
Each one has embroidered details and of course, they will all need named. 
They remind me of the antpittas I saw in Costa Rica, so I "googled" to see if there are antpittas in Brazil -- yes!!
So the thinking has begun!!
It was my first mini-swap and getting mine was the most fun!!  I can see why quilters get hooked on these.  I'm not going to join another one this fall but after the first of the year, I might look around for another one.
Off to a stitching retreat this weekend.  No doubt I have packed more than I'll accomplish but one of them is a "stack & whack" that has been cut out for several years and after looking at it laying on my work table for a month, I've had a brainstorm and made a sketch!!  Hopefully, I'll be sharing the first looks at it with you next week.
I hope there is some stitching time in your weekend!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Courthouse Stars -- Pattern Release!!

Ten years ago, just before I closed Erie Street Quilts in Willoughby, Ohio I wrote one final mystery quilt for my loyal customers. 

Courthouse Stars

This is the original version and it still grabs people's attention. 
 Clear, clean contrast is a trigger for me and it must be for lots of other folks. 
My students results (as seen below) were so exciting that I consolidated all the steps together into a pattern which I've been teaching and selling ever since. 
This spring I began my third version as a teaching sample for my 2015 workshops choosing fabrics for an updated look.  I wrote about that HERE.
It's still in the same state -- because I still have workshops booked it's will need to keep working as the step samples.  As a matter of fact, that is where I am today -- teaching this workshop.   The focus of the workshop is learning to use Marti Michell's Log Cabin rulers and tackling the "fast, easy flying geese" technique (which  I shared some tips about HERE)
Since I've "retired" from vending at face-to-face quilting events, I've decided to add the full pattern to my Craftsy store for easy downloading!! 
For those of you with significant fabric assortments at your fingertips, the blocks lend themselves to a "scrappy" fabric pull and you may only need to purchase some yardage for the outer border.
The quilt also lends itself easily to machine quilting in sections -- I did the green and brown one in four "crib" size sections making it very manageable on my basic home size machine.
And of course, I'm happy to answer any questions about the pattern should you decide to purchase it and give it a go. 
Mary Huey 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Not Finished Friday

Where did that 3 months go? 
Back at the beginning of July, I was confident that I'd be able to finish this pile of tops into the real thing -- quilted and bound!!
But I only finished two of the eight.
This one now belongs to a happy friend in her new home in Canada.
And this small piece is currently touring the lecture circuit with me to illustrated updating an older piece with some modern (and simple) quilting.
This one is so close and I really thought I would have it finished yesterday -- just two borders left to quilt and then it's ready to bind.  I guess I've been enjoying the outdoors too much lately??
The hand quilting project is moving along -- past the halfway point on the final block and half of the sashing strips are quilted.  I might bog down again while I consider a design for the border but I'm quite pleased with how the quilting is bringing the quilt to life. 
There's a full frontal view of it HERE.
Two are still layered and patiently waiting for their turn to be quilted.  They are in my line of sight from my machine quilting table and just yesterday I figured out how I'm going to quilt one of them!!
Whether that decision will speed things up remains to be seen.
The last two are still hanging out in the studio waiting to be layered.  (Sigh)
Next week I'll consider my 2015 Finish Along goals for the fourth quarter -- might do well to just finish the UFQ's from the third quarter. 
But for now, I'm going to quilt for a bit.
Enjoy your weekend!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Short and Sweet

I'm currently part of Hive #7 of the Stash Bee block swapping group.  Each month we make a few blocks for someone in our hive and as part of the post to let everyone know we've done our blocks for the month, we answer a question posed by the hive queen for that month.
This month's was an interesting one and while I pushed myself to answer it, I'm not sure it's the right answer for me. 
The question is "what colors and prints would you add to your stash"?
Have you seen my stash?  There's plenty of depth to it -- I estimate it tops out around 2500 yards of fabric collected over the past 35 years. 
There are just bits from the very early years and probably 50% lives on these shelves that are my color palette.  The rest is comprised of "style" groups -- 30's, Civil War, florals, etc.
So what was my answer?
Since I had a shop to stock and a budget to manage, I add new fabric to my stash first to fill gaps -- right now that that includes true greens and dark purples.
I'll always be a sucker for a great bird print.
Bees really get my attention, too.
I love all the modern prints but I don't buy much because I have noticed that I struggle with merging them into what I already own.  I'm not sure if it's the color or the print style that holds me back.
I need to think about this more but I thought it would be interesting to pose the same question to all of you.  What are you adding to your stash and how do you decide? 
Impulse or plan?
Mary Huey

Friday, September 25, 2015

Looking ahead and a happy story!

It's the third day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere -- in this spot, it's mild and sunny with a light breeze.  The crickets are singing constantly and the leaves have started to drift slowly down out of the white oak outside my office window.  It's time to review the summer gardening efforts and make notes for next year before cleaning up the beds for winter.
I've been traveling more than stitching the past couple weeks and one of the events I attended was the annual meeting of the Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association at Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio.  This group of outdoor enthusiasts (mostly botanists) are coming together all over Ohio working alongside the Ohio DNR to support and monitor the network of natural areas of which there are 125 or so.   
I donated this original wallhanging to the Saturday evening fund raising auction and happily it sold to a very happy couple.  But there is a happy story that will now travel with it.
Upon checking in at a local hotel, the desk clerk remarked that there was a Mary Elizabeth Huey in the building -- I assumed it was an employee and laughed with her that Elizabeth is also my middle name.  Now this is not the first time I've encountered another Mary Huey -- at one point, I determined through a quick internet search there are at least 57 of us.
An hour later, when I arrived at the banquet and picked up my nametag, Mary Huey, I noticed there was also a nametag for Mary Elizabeth Huey.  Now this is getting strange -- we are staying at the same hotel and now we belong to the same group?!?
Shortly, someone tapped me on the shoulder and we were face to face -- we are about the same age and live in opposite corners of Ohio.  Both of us acquired the Huey part of our names through marriage.  And we are both nature lovers.
The evening progressed and after the program, the names of auction winners were announced and everyone made their way to claim their treasures.  I heard Mary Elizabeth's name announced but didn't see her until we stepped into the elevator together back at the hotel.  I made some inane remark about our good fortunate in placing winning bids and asked what she bought.
"Your quilt!"
So now Mary Elizabeth Huey owns a quilt designed and made by Mary Huey.
Her friends will be having lots of fun with that I suspect.
Fall also brings a change in my stitching priorities.  Winter workshops move to the front of the line and I'm currently working on samples for the workshops I'll be offering during the 2016 Lake Farmpark Quilt show.  This is a link to the Farmparks webpage and eventually you'll be able to find information about the 2016 show under "events".  If you've taken one of my set-in piecing workshops or worked your way through my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified, you might be interested in joining one of these workshop.
On March 17, 2016, I'll be teaching GLITTER from Jen Kingwell's book, Quilt Lovely.  If you haven't discovered her fresh approach to mixing and matching fabrics, this book will pull you into her web!  We'll be learning how to adapt patterns with y-seams for chain-piecing without manufactured templates.  This skill will open up all sorts of new possibilities for you. 
The other workshop will be on February 20, 2016 and focuses on the star in the center of this quilt below -- I've dubbed it Karen's DRESDEN STAR.  Karen from The Little Red Quilt House near Medina, Ohio first brought the block to my attention and I found a clever use of one of Marti Michell's kite templates to cut the pieces.  There are lots of y-seams but they are effortless with the chain-piecing technique! 
It's the same block I used recently in my Kaffe Mini Quilt Swap.  Read more about that HERE.
You can't register for the workshops until early December, but if they tickle your fancy, pencil the dates onto your 2016 calendar and keep the dates free so you can join me to expand your mastery of Set-In Piecing Simplified.  Haven't tried it yet?  You can order the DVD using the link at the top right corner of the blog and be ready for these workshops!
I'm itching to stitch and hope the next few (nearly) empty days on my calendar present lots of opportunities!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Most of us have no trouble finding lots of inspiration for our quilting.  There are so many magazines, books and patterns, we can hardly keep up with all the good ideas. However, as we grow in skills and confidence, it's fun to look around at a wider variety of sources for inspiration.
I've just returned home from my first trip to New York City.  When friend and I discovered we have been avoiding NYC for the same reasons (fear of it's bigness), we joined a Road Scholar tour, Five Boroughs in Five Days.  The tour leaders were all long time NYC residents and we had a wonderful overview of the city and learned how to get around like a local (walking and using the subways). 
Usually I look to nature for quilt inspiration, especially in terms of color. 
But during my visit to NYC, I found some inspiration in the buildings which far outnumber nature.
The first examples that caught my eye were the mosaics in the subway stations.  This is just one of the dozens that I saw -- most date to the early 1900's and all had some extra embellishment reflecting the skill and artistry of the long forgotten workman.
That won't be the case with this new installation on the ceiling of the newest subway station in NYC which opened just last week as the east/west line through midtown Manhattan moved further west towards the Hudson River.  This artist created two large pieces that won't escape notice. 
(And people think we are nuts when we chop yards of fabric up -- these tiles are 1/2" squares.)
There is a great deal of stone work scattered around the city from the early 1900's -- this motif on a grand arch in Brooklyn caught my eye -- applique would be a perfect way to render it's beautiful organic symmetry.
Trinity Church sits at the end of Wall Street and as we passed through it . . . .
I had to pause (and backed up the line behind me) to grab a quick picture of this geometric tile floor (pardon the feet).
And when we turned the corner into another area, there was another one!!  I could do this!! The current building was completed in 1846 but there have been many upgrades and additions to the interior over the years and I would guess these floors date to the turn of the 20th century.
I also found inspiration in the ceiling at St. Patrick's Cathedral which is all spic and span for the visit of Pope Francis this week.  Look at those 8 pointed stars in grid -- it was a tough picture to take -- such a high space.
And there in some of the intersections were these lovely morning glory inspired motifs! 
One of our walking tours passed through a housing development from the early 1900's in Harlem.  The area is experiencing a renaissance and rediscovering the beauty of it's architecture.  This building had these delightful cornices on all the street level windows -- lots of quilting inspiration for sure. 
One of the last places we visited was Wave Hill, a NYC park centered at an estate along the Hudson River in the Bronx.  This unusual water plant is the mosaic plant (ludwigia sedioides) and is native to the northern part of South American.  This doesn't just inspire my quilting juices, I think I want this plant in my little pond next summer (not hardy this far north)!  A Google search for images of this plant produced some stunning close-up photos.
 I've printed out these pictures and pinned them up on the bulletin board in the studio -- it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of all this inspiration in my future work.
How about you?  Do you find inspiration for your quilting outside of the fabric shop!

Mary Huey

Friday, September 18, 2015

My wheels are spinning . . . .

Does that ever happen to you? 
Do you find yourself at the end of a project, celebrating a FINISH!!! only to take a nose dive into the abyss of "what to do next"?
That's where I was a few days ago -- the Kaffe Mini Swap was finished (two weeks early??) and I was headed on a little vacation.  I was actually packed and had done as much prep as I could for a teaching trip a couple days after my return.  My entire body was vibrating -- the oddity of being ahead of time for a change and the worry that I was forgetting something whipped me up and the only thing to do done was stitch myself down off the ceiling.
I could do a bit more quilting -- only the borders left but the design plan is still vague for it.
I could start the silver cape project -- nahhh -- too much wingin' it pending on that.
I could do a bit of hand quilting, but someone got there before me -- hope he made some noticeable progress!!
I could figure out what fabrics to put with these kaleidoscope cuts that have been laying around for a couple years.  Like the colors but would prefer prints.
This soft book panel surfaced during the August tidy-up -- it's all cut and ready to assemble.  I need a baby gift soon -- nahh.
I need to cut another batch of pieces for eight more of these blocks.
But first, let's look at them on the work wall -- nice!! 
That dot is going to work for the setting triangles.
When I arrived at the cutting table, the 2 1/2" strip box was sitting there -- might as well tidy it up a bit.  I've been meaning to pull strips out of it that are at least 18" long for a scrappy trips around the world.
And I pulled a dozen sets to cut for Glitter blocks from Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell!
The second set of basket blocks was cluttering the cutting table so I trimmed them
and put them up on the work wall ready for the final assembly of the top.
Thank goodness, it was time to fix supper. 
The spinning sensation has passed at this point but I definitely have too many options!
I feel more focused today and have prioritized a couple projects so it's back to my productive zone. 
I don't like spinning!!
Mary Huey