Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Free Motion Quilting Project

Basic Spiral - Day 5Broken Glass - Day 54Echo Shell - Day 6Brain Coral - Day 16Stomach Lining - Day 88Modern Art - Day 110 Moon Paisley - Day 11Desert Sand - Day 194Shadow Waves - Day 1Etch and Sketch - Day 2Gentle Flames - Day 3Basic Spiral - Day 5 Cursive F's - Day 9Matrix - Day 17Spiral Chain - Day 18Checkerboard - Day 19Tree Bark - Day 20Wave Chain - Day 21 Pebbles in a Stream - Day 25Feather Filler - Day 26Cat Hairball Filler - Day 29Striated Earth - Day 23Pine Needles - Day 24Cartoon Tree - Day 31

The Free Motion Quilting Project, a set on Flickr.

If you'd just like the photos of the designs from the project, click on this set to sort through them all.

Cheers,

Leah

Enter the 9 by 12 Transformation Challenge!

It's finally here! You can now enter the 9 by 12 Transformation Challenge! Click here get started registering your quilt.

I've spent a long time working on the registration process so it's as easy and uncomplicated as possible. Here's how it will work:

1. Pay the $10.00 entry fee to get started.

2. Once we receive your payment, Josh will send you an email within 24 hours with the link to the online registration form. Fill this out and submit it securely online.

3. After I get your completed registration form, I'll send you an email with an invitation to join the Transformation Contest Flickr Group so you can upload and share your photos online.

Make sure to have your name and the title of your quilt in the description of your quilt photos before you add them to the Flickr group.

Don't have a Flickr account? Click here to set one up right now!

I'm super excited to see what everyone has come up with in the last few months, and how ya'll are using the filler designs from the project.

A funny coincidence is I was just given the book Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge to borrow from a friend. This is a book based on 12" quilts created by 12 art quilters from around the world.

Reading through this book and absorbing the fascinating photos and interpretation of many themes just makes me want to hop back into my studio and make another Transformation piece.

I keep thinking of new ways to explore this theme: the transformation of fabrics, color, shape, texture, stitch length, design. The possibilities really are limitless!

I'm heading back in my studio to play. I hope you are too!

Leah

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Videocast #5 - Transformation Challenge

It's What's Leah Working on Wednesday, and I've gotta say, I'm really loving these videocasts! It's been a challenge to follow the rule of "one shot, one take," but I'm getting used to it and worrying less about making everything perfect.

Case in point is today - Yes, I could look better. Yes, I could have combed my hair. But if I'd bothered to comb my hair, I would have also fussed about my desk being perfect, then I would have felt the need to change my shirt or put on jewelry, and by the time everything was perfect 2 hours later, I would have been so frustrated and tired, I might not have bothered shooting anything.

So this really is how I look almost every day - sloppy, comfortable, and ready to go take a nap!


Yes! The Transformation Challenge is ALMOST here! It will launch officially tomorrow right here.

I'm really excited to see what everyone has come up with. If you haven't made a piece yet, don't worry! You have until the deadline on July 31st to enter, which is plenty of time to play with the challenge and come up with something awesome.


Also mentioned in the video were the two designs posted this week: Patchwork Farmland and Sea Oat Flower.

Unfortunately I haven't really had a lot of time to work on Hot Cast this week, but I'm hoping to finish up with taxes this weekend and be ready to get back to her next week.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 266 - Sea Oat Flower

I was recently flipping through my design books and I realized that we just don't have enough flower designs on the project. Since it's spring and flowers are popping up everywhere, it should be very easy to come up with several new designs!

So here's something fun to start with: take Sea Oats (or Sea Algae) and stitch it in a circle:

I really like how lacy and delicate this flower turned out. It's a lot more open than most of my flower designs, and more simplistic.

Also notice that I didn't even try to make this flower fit into the square space I'm quilting in. For a flower like this, it would have ruined it to try to fill in the whole square.

It's best to keep this one simple and limit the sets of petals to 2 or 3 rows tops. It's going to make the flower smaller, but much easier to stitch and better looking for it.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This is really easy! Start with your circle and radiate out with a set of Sea Oat petals working in one direction. The second set of petals fits in between the first, and swirl in the opposite direction to fill the circular space evenly.

Design Family - Center Fill. These designs start in the center, then work out to fill you quilting space. For this particular design, keeping the flower small (2 sets of petals) is going to work best because of the way the petals interlock together.

Directional Texture - Center Focused. You can't help but see and focus on the pretty flower texture that this design has!

Suggestions for Use - I don't know why, but I keep wanting to see this design on my purse or as the decorative touch to a skirt or pair of jeans. It's light and simple, which makes for a terrific touch of color and texture anywhere you want to put it.

Back of Sea Oat Flower
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 265 - Patchwork Farmland

What a long, dreary weekend! Maybe it was the weather matching my mood because I finally got started on taxes and spent the whole weekend on my computer trying to make sense of everything.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel! This rain is bringing loads of new, bright green growth to all our trees and plants outside. Spring is officially here, so let's celebrate by learning how to stitch another landscape type design on our quilts:

A few weeks ago, I shared Landscape Stitch, which would be a great design to create rolling hills or mountains in the background of your quilt.

This design, Patchwork Farmland, would be perfect for creating organic farm pastures as seen from aerial photography.


Difficulty Level - Beginner. This is really quite easy! Just start quilting in one direction with some wiggly lines, then when you get a patch the size you like, switch directions and create a new patch working perpendicularly to the first.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is worked from one edge of your quilting space to the other so it's going to work best in the open, uncomplicated areas of your quilt.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. The more wiggly you make your patches, the less horizontal or vertical this will appear. Play with varying the size and scale of each area for a very interesting effect.

Suggestions for Use - How about another small landscape quilt? Start with a 12" square and mark only a wiggly horizon line and maybe a small square farmhouse through the middle. Quilt the entire bottom using Patchwork Farmland to create a fun pastoral setting.

Back of Patchwork Farmland
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Friday, March 25, 2011

Supernova Update

Last week I decided to join a quilt along being held by Freshly Pieced to create this awesome Supernova quilt:

Yesterday Lee posted the cutting instructions. At first I was worried the cutting would be really complicated, but once I got into it, it's very easy if you work block by block.

Yesterday I started pulling fabrics and deciding what I would use. Because I don't have the blocks mapped out in my head, I couldn't visualize what each fabric was being used for. This posed a challenge, but then I decided to just wing it. It will be far more interesting to just see what happens after I start piecing the blocks.

I have decided to pretend the blocks are flowers, so I choose one center fabric that was used throughout each block and the second fabric is a dark or light green. This should add some continuity between the blocks and make things interesting.

So here's my fabric choices for each block:

I'm so glad I took Lee's advice and cut fabric block by block and put everything in labeled baggies. I don't want to think how messed up everything would be if I hadn't!

This was I can't wait to start piecing these into blocks! Cutting the Super Nova quilt out was a nice break from Hot Cast, but now I'm ready to get back to quilting.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Videocast #4 - I'm Crazy about Hot Cast

Is it really Thursday? I feel like I've lost a few days this week because I've been spending so much time in the studio stitching, stitching, stitching away on Hot Cast.

I was also pleasantly surprised when Josh greeted me this morning with "Happy Anniversary!" Time really does fly when you're having fun and it's hard to believe we're celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary today!

This also marks the day I celebrate as when I officially started quilting. Technically I didn't start quilting the day I got married (that would be messed up!), but it was around this time in 2005 that I decided I MUST make a Double Wedding Ring quilt to celebrate my wedding.

That first project ended in utter disaster, but it didn't stop me or dim my desire to learn everything I can about quilting. 6 years later, I'm still as in love with this craft as I am with my husband. Maybe it's like wine - it just keeps getting better year after year.

So let's catch up with what designs I've posted this week and how Hot Cast is looking right now:



I mention a few different things in this videocast that you might want to check out:

Psychedelic Checkerboard
was inspired by Checkerboard. It's basically a wiggly version of the original.

Icicle Lights would look great on a quilt combined with Chain of Holly Berries, Peppermint Candy, and Poinsettia.

I used a Fine Line water soluble pen to mark the surface of Hot Cast in the areas I was struggling with.

And yes, if you watch all the way to the very end of the video you'll see a funny blooper of me totally forgetting what I posted yesterday.

So for the last week I've been working non-stop on Hot Cast. Part of this has been out of absolute love for her and wanting to see her finished. This is my absolute favorite goddess so far and I can't wait to see what she will look like with everything done.

But part of the other reason I've been working so hard has been simply wanting to "GET HER DONE!" in the pushy, workaholic sense.

I'm feeling a lot of pressure to get this quilt done so I can work on taxes, the next book of designs, the next dvd, the next goddess quilt, etc, etc, etc. and by this time in the quilting process, I start feeling the weight of all these projects buzzing around my head, ruining my enjoyment of the quilt I'm working on.

But this time instead of listening to the pressure, feeling it's weight, and allowing it to push and drive me to finish this quilt in a huge hurry, I've just stopped. I stopped and I listened and I tried to figure out why this was happening.

Because it's really a bad sign to be working on a quilt about finding self love if all I'm going to do is turn it into yet another club of stress to bludgeon myself with.

The fact is the list of things I feel like I MUST do or NEED to do is always a mile long. Some things, like taxes, will need to get done in the next few weeks, but there is nothing - seriously nothing - I need to do so badly that I should ruin my enjoyment of working on her.

Thinking on this more I realized the ultimate issue is that working on Hot Cast is something I WANT to do. I don't NEED to do this.

She's not due for some big competition or exhibition. I don't have some looming deadline. She is just a quilt I want to make for me. I want to spend time on her, and I want to enjoy this time. Is that too much to ask?

Looking back at a book I read in the fall - "I know I'm in There Somewhere" by Helene Brenner, I was reminded of a quote:
"...wanting for ourselves, for many of us, triggers outside voices telling us that we're being "selfish," not the way a woman should be. This is a terrible shame. For the truth is, wanting is good.

Wanting, in fact, may be the one absolutely essential ingredient to following your inner voice and becoming who you truly are. Only wanting has the energy, the power, the force to bring about change." (page 152)
So wanting to make Hot Cast, and wanting to enjoy this time - it's not too much to ask. I believe essential, good, and necessary. Wanting this does not make me a bad person.

When those voices and that list in my head gets started up about how much stuff I need to do, all those tasks waiting to be done, and how I should rush, rush, rush through this quilt because there's not enough time to enjoy it, I'm just not listening.

I want to enjoy making this quilt, I want to take my time and have fun with her, and their is NOTHING wrong with that.

Let's go quilt,

Leah

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 264 - Icicle Lights

This always seems to happen - as soon as I get out of a holiday or time of year, new designs perfect for that season suddenly start popping into my head.

Case in point is this simple design I'm calling Icicle Lights. Wouldn't this make the perfect addition to a winter or holiday themed quilt?

Last night I lost track of time while quilting Hot Cast. I kept thinking "30 more minutes and I can finish this section!" I did that several times, not realizing how much time was passing.

When I finally came up to bed, I checked the clock and it was 6:15 am! I might as well have stayed up!


Difficulty Level - Beginner. This design does involve a lot of travel stitching, but don't let that intimidate you! Just take it slow and stay right on the line.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design works like Flowing Glass where you stitch from one edge into the center all along your quilting space, then travel stitch to the opposite edge and fill in the same way, matching up the star shapes so they interconnect together.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This design has a clear horizontal or vertical texture. Play with stitching both straight and wiggly lines for a slightly different effect.

Suggestions for Use - Here's a cool mix for a winter themed quilt: Blocks filled with Poinsettia, inner sashing filled with Chain of Holly Berries, and the outer sashing or borders filled with Icicle Lights. Sounds like a fun, festive quilt indeed!

Back of Icicle Lights

Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 263 - Psychedelic Checkerboard

A LONG time ago I posted a grid based design called Checkerboard. Now it's time to loosen up those straight lines as we turn this simple design into Psychedelic Checkerboard!

Looking back I know the hardest time of this project was the very beginning. With so few designs created, inspiration and variation was hard to come by. But now with 263 designs on the project, coming up with a new design is as easy as looking back at what has been created before.

Of course, the trickiest part of this design will be traveling inside the wiggly grid to stitch the wiggly lines. Just remember, this is definitely possible if you slow down and take your time stitching right on the line.

Let's watch out to quilt this design in free motion:


Click Here if the Video Does Not Appear

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. This design can be tricky, but the best thing to do is just start with a large wiggly grid (essentially Matrix) and travel stitch inside this grid to create the wiggly horizontal or vertical lines to make your Psychedelic Checkerboard.

If you find you can't see what you're doing and traveling is a lesson in frustration, try breaking open your free motion foot for better visibility.

Design Family - Edge to Edge. The base of this design is stitched from one edge to another on your quilt, so I'd try to place it in simple, open areas of your quilts, like open blocks, sashing, or borders.

Directional Texture - 2 Directions. This has a pretty funky texture doesn't it?! With all those wiggly lines in such a grid-like arrangement, this design isn't going to be a big showoff, unless of course, you stitch in in contrasting thread!

Suggestions for Use - Here's a cool project idea - take a 20" square of fabric and mark a 16" square in the center. Stitch a Psychedelic Checkerboard over the surface, making sure you have an 8 x 8 grid. Finish the edges and you have one awesome chess or checkerboard to play with!

Back of Psychedelic Checkerboard

Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hot Cast: Part 5 - Transitions

Sorry to interrupt our normal More Filler Monday, but I meant to post this yesterday and didn't have a chance. And yes, this will be a personal post, so if you'd rather not read further, just click here to go shop in the store or check out designs. Retail therapy is always fun.

To say it plainly - this quilt is working on me. It's pulling me through the ringer, busting open my heart, and turning me inside out. It has pulled off my blinders and jerked out my ear plugs so that I can't help but see and hear the truth.

It was so intense that I took a few days off from it. I had tons of things I could do instead: check email, organize designs, learn how to digitize designs, outline a new book, etc. I avoided the quilt, and my sewing room for a few days.

But no one was fooled. Josh finally looked at me and said "Why aren't you working on Hot Cast?" and I mumbled something about have a To-Do list a mile long, needing to check email, write a book, plan a new DVD, etc, etc, etc, and he interrupted me and asked:

"What is the real reason you don't want to work on it?"

And that made me stop. Stop everything. Stop fighting. Stop trying to make myself super busy, or so distracted I couldn't think. Just stop.

Stop and feel the pain because this is very painful.

When working on Hot Cast, I've found myself over and over asking the questions "Why? Why can't I love myself? Why is this so impossibly hard? Why can't I just decide I'm worthy of my own love? Why can't I snap my fingers and just make it happen?"

I wasn't ready for the explosion of grief that has come with this quilt. Why Why Why? I feel like a child again, hurt and broken and just asking over and over again Why Why Why?

It might seem crazy that I continue to work on this quilt. It might seem ridiculous and incomprehensible why I don't just put it away, but I know by now that this is a process, and I must see it through to the end.

My yoga instructor is also my massage therapist and before yoga or a massage, she always asks me the same thing "What are we working on today? What is your intention?"

Whatever my intention is, whether it's to release anger, sadness, or tension, to open my heart, or to find release, I continually return to this intention throughout my practice. It helps me stay focused on what I'm doing in the present, not on adding to my future To-Do list or brooding about the past.

I realized the other day that I was essentially doing the same thing while working on Hot Cast. This constant pleading and begging for answers I hope to receive while creating the quilt.

And I realized about halfway through quilting the body section that I'd been asking the wrong question.

I'd been begging, pleading "Why why why can't I love myself?"

And what I should have been saying was "Show me how to love myself. Teach me. Show me the way. Open my heart."

Realizing this has been monumental. I've learned that asking questions is half the battle - asking them of myself and others. Now I've learned that asking the RIGHT question is also essential.

So I finished up quilting the rest of the body section of Hot Cast just simply asking over and over: Show me how to love myself. Show me how to be enough.

And like magic, the teacher I needed stepped into my path.

The book was sent by a reader named Jenny, who offered it to me after reading Hot Cast - Part 4. In a way, I now see that Part 4 really was a begging for guidance, a call to the world that I needed help, and Jenny responded. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jenny.

Now that might sound hokey, but I've been on this path for 4 years now and I've experienced enough coincidences to know that things happen for a reason. Books, people, events - it's all happening all the time, but only if we're open to them, open to seeing and learning from them will they actually help us.

I can't count the number of times I've gone to my public library or bookstore only to find THE book I needed to read right in front of me on the display shelf of recommended books. It's not the book I was looking for, but it was the book I was NEEDING to read, and only because I was open and looking did I see that I needed it and was willing to check it out.

The funny thing was, I didn't see this as the step I needed. The title of the book is: "Will I ever be good enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers." by Karyl McBride

When Jenny offered it, I cringed thinking "Do I really have a narcissistic mother? Is that really me? I don't know..."

I resisted the title of Narcissistic because I didn't really understand that word and it sounded bad. Words like this are difficult because they have a weight you have to face.

It's taken me a long time, despite ample evidence, to be able to say "My mother is an alcoholic." because once I said it, I had to face what that actually meant to me and to my family.

So I had a slight reluctance to open this book about narcissism. While, yes, I have been very angry at my mother, and, yes, I have had to remove myself from her life, I am reluctant to lay more blame and heavy words on her shoulders. She is human after all, and she is my mother.

But reading through this book has been essential at answering my question of why I can't love myself, why I have so much trouble seeing and acknowledging my accomplishments, why I work like a crazy woman sometimes and it never feels like enough. Why I've felt such deep grief while working on this quilt seeking a love that I don't feel capable of.

In short, I grew up not feeling true love from my mother. Please understand that I do know and understand that my mother DID love me, but she had issues SHOWING and SHARING this love freely or in a healthy manner.

To exacerbate this foundation was my two sisters who were also stuck in the void. Lack of love, excessive competition, and family dysfunction combined together to create a very abusive mix. No wonder I hid behind a chair and no wonder I've lived with a monstrous voice in my head for so long - it was all their voices, their combined criticism, sounding off inside my head, tearing me down.

But also with this book is the realization that I carry narcissistic traits too. From mother to daughter, this cycle has repeated itself over and over through our family. Just as my mother would shut us out of her world, so too can I shut down and turn away, blinding and deafening myself to the pain of the others around me.

I didn't know this when I created Sinkhole, but I can think of no better image or representation of this cycle than that quilt. The words are all narcissistic in nature "You're not good enough, you're not pretty enough, I have nothing to give you, I don't want you." They are the words I grew up hearing on a daily or weekly basis.

So how does this help me create Hot Cast? How has this answered the question "Why why why can't I love myself?"

Thanks to reading "Will I Ever Be Good Enough" I now realize that this is very normal. I can't love myself because I never felt truly loved or accepted as a child. I was never seen for ME, but as an extension of my mother.

This lack of love I felt from my mother has created a void within myself. When thinking about the past, I see a goddess figure stabbed through the heart with a giant sword.

Making Hot Cast has allowed me to take the sword out. The pain caused by continuing my relationship with my mother and sisters is over, and the wound is healing, but it will leave a scar I will have forever.

When sketching down my current feelings, I've drawn multiple goddesses with a hole in their chest where a heart should go. Is this what I should make next? A scarred goddess healing?

It's hard to know what to make next because I'm still so entirely focused on Hot Cast. Working through the body and landscape portions of the quilt, I've come to terms with my past and the cycle of narcissism that has run through my family like a inherited disease.

Working through the sky section, I'm also coming to terms with my own narcissism and selfishness. The scar I bear can cause me to lack empathy or truly SEE the pain of others, particularly those I love most. To break this cycle, I will have to change.

But this is a change I am absolutely willing and ready to make because I refuse to pass this abuse down to my son or inflict it upon my husband. I refuse to create a mother-centered household where all participants circle around me like a train around a Christmas tree.

So I think the ultimate point of Hot Cast is finally revealing itself. This quilt has been a transformation taking me from a girl carrying a giant sword of throbbing pain in her chest to a scarred, but healing woman, free from the sword, free from the fresh pain, and slowly working to knit the wound closed.

And I'm so enormously grateful that I've taken the time to create Hot Cast before finishing Sinkhole.

I never, never in a million years would have known what I was getting into when I created Sinkhole. I didn't see this grief or anger coming or where it would lead. I certainly didn't see the my own blindness or deafness, and it's as though I see everything and everyone around me more clearly and distinctly.

Is this transformation over now? No, I don't think so.

I've still got a few more weeks of quilting left on Hot Cast, then painting, and if I feel she needs it, I may add couched threads and beads to her hair by hand. This is not a speedy process, and I want to take my time - take the time to think, the time to heal, and the time to see all that I need to see.

I've had another goddess on my mind lately: a mother and child, two distinct figures embracing and sharing love. I struggled to find a title for this piece until yesterday. I think the perfect title will be "I See You, I Hear You, I Love You."

It will be a quilt about my love for James, but it will also be a quilt about my love for my childhood self - that little girl that didn't get shown true love. Maybe if I make this quilt next, I will be able to see, hear, and love her so that we can both heal together.

To love, shown and shared openly and freely,

Leah

Friday, March 18, 2011

Transformation Challenge Update

Have you been working on your challenge piece for the 9 by 12 Transformation Challenge!?

I sure hope so! This exciting contest will officially start on April 1st, so if you haven't started working on something yet, what are you waiting for?

If this is the first time you've heard about the challenge, click here for the full page of details, rules, and schedule of events.

I've received many good questions about the challenge recently so here's a little FAQ:

Can quilters from other countries (outside the US) enter?

Absolutely! The more people who enter, the more fun and inspiring this challenge will be!

Should the orientation of the quilt be portrait like your example?

I created this 9 by 12 quilt as an example for this challenge:

I choose to set up this quilt with Portrait (vertical) orientation because it worked best for my design, but if you have a design that would work better with a Landscape (horizontal) orientation, go for it!

This is YOUR piece to play with in any way you choose, so definitely play with either Portrait or Landscape orientation to see what will work best for your piece and best interpret the theme of transformation.

Do I have to have a website or blog to enter?

Nope! I going list photos and links to the websites or blogs of all finalists, but that doesn't mean you have to have a website or blog to enter.

You will need a flickr account to post the photos of your piece online. Click here to learn how you can easily get a flickr account set up in a few minutes.

Do I have to use a domestic (home) machine?

Nope! If you're a longarmer and want to quilt your challenge quilt on your longarm machine that is perfectly fine!

I really can't tell the difference between a quilt quilted on a longarm or a quilt quilted on a domestic machine. I do believe this challenge will be easier to quilt on a domestic simply because it's so small.

So that's it for the questions that have come up lately! If you have more questions about the challenge feel free to post them in the comments below.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Josh here for today's recipe. Happy St. Patrick's day!

Today being what it is, we're going to feature a recipe famous for St. Patrick's Day. While it may not be exactly authentic to Ireland, the tradition of serving corned beef and cabbage on March 17 has been ingrained in American culture. In the movie The Devil's Own, Brad Pitt played an IRA sleeper agent staying with Harrison Ford, an NYPD cop. The family prepares the Irishman corned beef and cabbage to make him feel more at home only to learn this was the first time he'd had the meal.

Anyway, enjoy this fun and easy recipe. Once again we're cooking in the crockpot because the meat needs to cook slowly and for a long time, making the crockpot the perfect vessel for this dish.

Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage


1 packaged corned beef brisket, w/ bag of pickling spices
2 medium yellow onions, chopped coarse
1 russet or small baking potato, or 3-4 new potatoes, quartered or halved
1 head cabbage, cored and cut into chunks
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped coarse
1-2 bay leaves
1 Tbs black peppercorns
Bag of pickling spices, or 1 Tbs pickling spice
1 can or bottle of beer
Water to cover brisket and vegetables

Chop vegetables and place at bottom of crockpot, along with bay leaves. Note we've only prepared one potato and 2 small carrots. Many people like more potatoes for this meal.

Remove brisket from package and rinse. Place fat-side up atop bed of vegetables. Sprinkle pickling spice over brisket, saving some to drop over the side into the vegetables.

Pour beer over vegetables. We used Sol, a light Mexican beer. Killian's Irish Red would be interesting, as would Bass or Harp. These beers, along with Guinness, are also excellent to go with this dinner!

Finally add enough water to just cover the brisket. You need A LOT of water for this so don't scrimp.

Cook on high for first hour or so until liquid is bubbling. Drop heat to low and cook all day, a minimum of 5 hours, preferably 6 or 7. Try to keep the lid covered all day as steam is released whenever the lid is removed.

When done remove brisket (it will likely be falling apart) and cut into slices against grain. Serve with potatoes, cabbage, onions, and carrots.

A horseradish-based dipping sauce is the perfect condiment to finish this meal.

Josh

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Videocast #3 - Don't Fear the Ripper

Today is What's Leah Working On Wednesday so let's check out what's going on in the studio right now:


I really thought I'd learned my lesson about thread by now, but apparently I haven't. The thread color you use over the surface of a quilt is pretty important, and if you quilt as densely as I do, your thread color can show up as much, if not more than the fabric colors.

I knew this, but I got in a hurry working on the background landscape of Hot Cast and decided to just go with the green thread I had in my stash.

The transition from light to medium shades was just about perfect, but suddenly things got too dark, too quickly.

I thought about leaving it, but all I had left for green thread was dark, darker, and darkest and they wouldn't have contrasted from one another at all. Essentially the bottom half of the landscape would have ended up looking like one big green hill, and I wasn't having it.

So here comes the ripper!

I ripped out green thread for about 8 hours to remove those offending hills. As I said in the video, free motion quilting stitches are generally smaller than regular stitches and can be a real pain to rip out.

These hills were a lot easier to rip out because they were just curvy lines. Had this been filled with Microstippling or Paisley, I'd definitely still be ripping them out today.

I was using Alex Anderson's 4-in-1 tool, which has a super tiny, super sharp seam ripper on one end and was perfect for removing the stitches quickly.

So last night I finished up ripping and here's what those hills look like now:

Yes, there are definite signs that it's been stitched and ripped, but this should be fixed when I stitch over it again, this time with the correct color thread.

I'm also going to try to ease some of the bagginess showing up in this area more evenly so I don't end up with lumpy pleats towards the bottom. Quilting densely does this sometimes, so you just have to figure out a way to deal with it.

I'm hoping to finish up this landscape section today and possibly get up to the sky area, or move into the columns. Stitching this much Landscape Stitch over this section has gotten really boring and I'm ready for something new!

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Supernova Quilt-Along

I know this may be hard to believe, but I've NEVER done an online quilt-along! I didn't even really understand what a Quilt-Along was or how I could join in until today.

Supernova Quilt-Along with Freshly Pieced

I know, I know - What planet have I been living on?!

For those of you who don't know what the heck a Quilt-Along is, here's a basic rundown from what I've learned this afternoon:

Lee, the awesome blogger behind Freshly Pieced, designed an beautiful quilt pattern called Supernova. She's broken down the piecing instructions into reasonable chunks which can be finished over the next 3-4 weeks. The plans will start being posted with cutting instructions starting March 24th, but yardage requirements are already online right here.

So basically the idea is we will all follow the directions step by step with our own fabrics, post our project on her Supernova Quilt Along Flickr Group, and generally have a blast, and learn a lot while making this beautiful quilt!

I've got a stack of pretty Moda fat quarters that desperately need to see the sharp edge of my rotary cutter so I'm definitely joining in! Click here to go to the Freshly Pieced blog and learn more about the Quilt Along and the fabrics you'll need to make this quilt.

And super thank you to Gen X Quilter, AnneMarie - if you hadn't blogged about it today, I wouldn't have known about it!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

Day 262 - Butterfly Feathers

It's been awhile since we played with a new feathering design, so let's experiment and see what new ideas we can come up with.

Here's a fun variation I created after wondering what it would look like if each feather had a circle in the tip. After looking at it, I thought it looked like the circles found in butterfly wings, hence the name Butterfly Feathers!

Feathers are one of those things I struggled with for a LONG time. When I started the project in 2009, I could barely stitch a marked feather, but over time and by stitching many other designs, the movement and flow of feathers became less difficult.

So if you find yourself struggling with one design, or an entire group of designs, try switching to something else for awhile. Come back to the designs that give you fits in a few months, after you've stitched a few quilts in free motion, and I promise those tricky designs will be a lot easier.


Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Feathers aren't actually difficult for everyone, it just depends on the way your brain works. Try them out and if you get great looking feathers on your first try, then you know that is a design that works great for you!

Design Family - Stem Centered. Most feather designs work from a stem and branch out to fill your quilting space. If you're worried about your feathers being perfectly symmetrical, you can always mark the starting stem first before you get started.

Directional Texture - All Directions. The longer and more swirly your feathers, the more flowing movement they will have.

Suggestions for Use - Feathers are so universal, they really do look good on anything! And these Butterfly Feathers are a bit different - less formal and more funky than regular feathers. So try quilting these funky feathers

Back of Butterfly Feathers
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 261 - Blowing Wind

How many branching designs have we learned so far? I still feel like I've only scratched the surface when it comes to these designs, so let's learn a new one inspired by the windy days we've been having lately:

This is yet another good base for many variations! Let's learn how to quilt it in free motion:


Inspiration - Here's another design that was inspired by Poseidon's Eye, only this time instead of a circle, I create a tear drop shape on the end of my wiggly line. I then took an extra step to fill that tear drop with internal echoes so the texture would be continuous throughout the design.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Don't be intimidated by the complex texture of this design. If you like, try leaving the tear drop shapes open so you can see what you're doing as you move around your quilting space.

Design Family - Branching. This design is really fun to stitch! Focus on creating each branch and play with making the wiggly lines leading up to the tear drop long or short to see how it effects your overall texture.

Directional Texture - All Directions. We don't call it Blowing Wind for nothing! This design will be perfect to use in all areas of your quilt and will give it a very dynamic texture. Try it over areas meant to be water or sky for a really neat effect!

Suggestions for Use - Branching designs can fill large areas of your quilt very quickly with beautiful texture. If you've got a project that's heading for show this spring and you're trying to finish it quickly, try stitching Blowing Wind for a super fast finish!

Back of Blowing Wind
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it!

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day
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