Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 FAL Meet The Host: Karen -That's ME

Hi there!  I'm Karen and blog at CapitolaQuilter, right HERE!  I've been participating since the beginning of Finish-A-Long and am honored to have joined in as one of the International Hosts this year.   It's hard to believe we are already wrapping up 2017.

Pre-QCon Selfie 2017

Have you enjoyed reading the FAL Meet the Host monthly guest blogger posts?  Well, now it's my turn to to be featured in the series!  Here goes a picture filled post starting with most importantly, my beautiful family.


Summer 2016
I am married to a wonderful guy and we have two grown boys.  We are incredibly proud of the men they have become and adore the women they have chosen to spend their lives with.  Enjoying time with our granddaughter and watching her reach milestones that we remember when our kids were young like it was yesterday and yet a lifetime ago is quite the mind game.

Look how cute and little they were!!!  My oversized glasses and shoulder pads date our family portrait and the "Big Hair-Skinny Tie" picture was the perfect share for my first ever swap called I heart the 80's a Flickr group.  I wish I still had that hand-dyed silk dress although in reality, we prefer jeans and a t-shirt.  This summer marks our 35th anniversary.

Flashback Family Photos
In 2002 we adopted two German Shorthair pointers. Always underfoot,  Dottie's trick was to step on my foot pedal (until I upgraded my sewing machine with a start/stop button) and innocently walk in the way of photos.  Chase perfected the skill of lying on a quilt if I glanced away - for a minute - while basting. 

Sadly, we recently lost them both to sudden illness after long full lives and have no animals at the moment.   Pets are considered family members to us and Hubby wants a puppy but I am not ready.

Capitola Quilter

Frequently mistaken for "Capitol, a Quilter" or "capital A quilter" , my blog name is easily misunderstood if you don't happen to be familiar with the small town on the coast of California USA where I live, Capitola.   Spanning less than 2 square mile with a population of about 10K, it isn't a big city but is rich in history and a constant source of inspiration. 

BeeSewcial "Reflections" Capitola Photoshoot

Although our house is not one of the big beautiful oceanfront ones you see in the picturesque backdrops when I take my quilts on a photoshoot,  we're still pretty lucky to be able to walk to the beach and enjoy mild weather.

Santa Cruz quilt photoshoot by Anne Sullivan

Thanks for indulging me - now on to the QUILTS!

The Early Years - Quilts from Patterns

Among the first quilts I made was a gift for my mother-in-law that included a picture of her seven grandkids.   It is sweet with coordinating prints, fussy cornerstones, sashing and a border.  Image transfer was high-tech at the time but peeling their faces off to iron down was totally creepy. Thank goodness Spoonflower came along!

1998-1999 one of my first quilts
My Scrappy Maximalist style had a kickstart when my friends brought fabric to a surprise Quilt-themed birthday party in my honor.  The assortment received did NOT go together so I used black and white with uniform shapes to bring order and incorporated quote blocks.  It is one of my most sentimental quilts and the beginning of my desire to create original works.

My Birthday Quilt-themed party Quilt

Following patterns from books, I made these wedding quilts out of batiks, traditional and modern stash.  I had the chance to meet Anita Grossman Solomon at Quilt Festival Houston 2014 and see her Old Italian Block quilt in the exhibit.  I subtitled my blog SecondHandScraps because I eagerly accept leftovers from friends who know my reputation for scrappiness.

Old Italian Block 2012 and Split Nine-Patch 2011
In 2013 local quilt store SueDee's featured my quilts on display in a solo show.  Using the MoStash and Friends+Fabric =AMSB bee blocks that I received and adding my own enlarged blocks, the Giant xPlus was a hit and is what I keep on our bed.

Opening Reception
It didn't seem like an ambitious task when I set out to make each of my nieces, nephews and my own kids a 21st Birthday quilt.   I stayed on track until the final three and thankfully all twelve are finally delivered.  Among the tardy is this Full size quilt that rolled over from quarter to quarter on my FAL list frequently.  I included a jumbo delectable mountain for the backing and two matching shams.

a rare "Guy" quilt
Early on I only sewed for gifts and charity giving away all of my quilts.  I didn't have a single one in my house!  Since then I've kept  a few - as evident by this adorable photo: 

More than Quilts

Quilting came into my life as an adult but I grew up wearing handmade and learned to sew clothes in 4-H as a kid excelling in HomeEc in Jr. High and High School.   Somewhere along the way I misplaced the confidence and skills and have had little success making myself garments.  I've dabbled with clothes for my granddaughter since she's much easier to please and fit than I am.  

Hart's Fabric, a family owned independent brick and mortar fabric store since 1969 (a rarity these days) is still the same place I go to shop.  My improv seagull, poppy field and mountains design was chosen for their 2016 Row by Row Experience pattern.

Bags are quick and rewarding makes.  I enjoy browsing thrift stores for handwork and feel compelled to rescue the abandoned treasures like the patchwork cat needlework used in The Wasted Swap tote (lower right).

Original Designs and Influences

Most of what I make now are original or modified designs rather than from patterns.  Perspective was designed using Play Crafts tool Equal, made in a whirlwind 10 days and displayed at Hart's to show off the Loominous fabric line. An edgy improv butterfly seemed fitting use of the Sweet Rebellion fabric line for Ink & Arrow's blog hop.

Goats Askew  pushed a lot of technical boundaries.   I loved being one of the Score for Bias Strip Petals testers and part of Sherri Lynn Wood's gallery here even though it was not published in her book.  I've taken two workshops with her and got to show and tell in person at the last one.

I didn't make an All-Solids quilt until 2014 which seems crazy since that is the majority of what I work in now.  Capitola Crossing was directly inspired by an antique quilt, details blogged here.  It was displayed at Amish: the Modern Muse, a juried exhibit representing three Modern Guilds in the FiberSpace section of the San Jose Museum of Quilt and Textiles.

Perspective, Dare to Fly, Goats Askew and Capitola Crossing

My style has expanded to include Improvisation with Meaning in the Make since joining BeeSewcial.  The Graphic and Minimalistic focus also comes from Quilt Design A Day, QDAD a Facebook group that I am admin for.   Both encourage exploration and push me beyond boundaries more than I'd ever imagined.

The transformation of a design mock up to a finished quilt is a process I highly recommend trying.  Here are four samples: Two challenges for our local show,  "Resonate" for the AGF Heartland Tour Blog Hop, and Castle in The Sand a collaborative quilt with valued mentor Pam Rocco.   As you can see I've deviated from he original design but have captured the essence which is more my goal.

Examples of #QDAD2Reality

Contributing blocks for QuiltCon First Place group bee winners: 2016 Debbie Jeske's Mod Mood and 2017 Stephanie Ruyle's Direction Optional  was such an honor.  Fortunately I had the opportunity to be there to see the quilts up close in person and help celebrate.  Thanks to the QDAD Showcase and Quilt of the Month Special Exhibit,  my own quilts hung in Savannah at QuiltCon East.

Left: Me & my Quilts, Right: BeeSewcial at QuiltCon
QDADers being silly
This year I'm going to enter my absoulutely stunning Reflections BeeSewcial quilt and hope, hope, hope it is accepted.   Now that I've puzzled this one together I should have no trouble with the next two, right?

Reflections BeeSewcial Quilt
Here are just a few of my favorite BeeSewcial blocks that I've made and a mosaic from 2015:

I was diligent about documenting blocks back in the Flickr days and am sentimentally fond of them despite how different in style they are.

2012 Flickr Group Bee Blocks

Quilting with friends is really special to me.  Fortunately this happens on a regular basis with a small local group and annually with our guild.  I've also managed to crash a couple of sister guild retreats too!  My wish is to have a larger Multi-Chapter or Regional sewing meet up, a casual no frills opportunity to hang out with nearby peeps that I "know" from social media someday.

Local Friends, Sew and Stroll
SBAMQG Annual Fall Retreat 2012-2017

I'm also lucky to meet up with my sis who lives far away at quilty events like QuiltCon, Quilt Festival and Empty Spools.  For the 90's themed party at Glamp Stitchalot we had fun dressing up and although my closet may still have authentic garments from the era,  I repurposed a plaid blazer into a skirt.

Sewing Sisters

We'll be together at another QuiltCon in February - say "hi" if you see us. She'll be the one perfecting her skills in back to back workshops and I'll be the one striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger, embarrassing myself with fangirl selfies and sporting a blue volunteer t-shirt.

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Being part of our MQG guild chapter South Bay Area MQG from the beginning, serving as VP and chairing committees has made a huge impact.  Learning from one another and being part of something bigger holds a special place in my heart.

QuiltCon Charity blocks 2013
I never would have guessed the first tutorial as a brand new blogger, Polaroids Chain Pieced would generate the highest traffic to date and show up on tons of Pinterest boards.  A special shout out to my blog followers!

This summer I had the pleasure of teaching my first workshop, a technique and design rather than project based class.   Students did great playing with parts and possibilities and their enthusiasm made for a fun time.  I hope to have more opportunities in the future and am developing a spin off class that I'm excited about.

  Last but not least, My Workspace

Once upon a time, I had an organized sewing space in a small L-shaped room of our house as a legit place to create.  Yardage stored on comic boards in bookshelves and FQ-ish bundles kept in an antique cabinet with scrap tubs lining the perimeter of the ceiling on a shelf.  Some weekends I would rarely step away and loose all track of time.  It was all inclusive but a little lonely and cramped.  

To be more centrally located I temporarily put up a portable design wall, sewing and cutting table in the living room only I have never moved back.  My old room is now a glorified closet,  piled high with projects in buckets and bags waiting to be put back where they belong - or better yet, finished.

Sewing in the Living Room
When I get in the productive zone, I just push aside what's in my way or brush it to the floor and keep going.  I may be sewing fewer scrappy quilts these days but I am certainly not making less scraps!

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about me and the creative frenzy that has been my journey so far.  I wish you all the best of luck with your FAL goals and hope you continue to carve out a quilty path that brings you joy.  

Happy Stitching, Karen aka CapitolaQuilter

Friday, November 10, 2017

BeeSewcial Bite Size Swap - a Q4 FAL finish

Remember the side swap of bite size blocks that I made and blogged about in June 2016 HERE?  

my BeewSewcial Swap quilt
Grape popsicles were the source of color inspiration for the ones I sent.  Using a technique of sewing a top together and then cutting it into a dozen "bites" was pretty fun.

The Bites that I sent off

Since so much time had passed by from receiving the blocks from my mates, I created a mosaic from their posts on IG to refresh my memory on who had made what and included it when I shared my finished quilt.

This summer I finally got around to putting together the blocks.  I wanted to preserve the integrity of the eleven individual blocks so I used low volume for the background and only introduced select parts necessary to finish the vision.

The idea for the quilt came about when I thought about what BeewSewcial has meant to me and the words "growth" and "blossom" popped into my mind.  

This is my third year with the bee so I pieced in three large flower pedals and three small leaves using free-hand curves. 

The "X and O" from Hillary made for a perfect center.   Although we were all working independently the remaining blocks were easily grouped to form the thorns, stem, roots and bulb of the flower with blades of grass on each side.


I was surprised at how often the alignment of one block naturally fit to join another like Marci and Leanne's portion of the stem.

My granddaughter asked me why they were not connected.   I told her that when creating  things don't have to be "correct" to be OK.  As long as you like the way it looks that's what matters. 

It was a hot day in July when I finished the top during a girls getaway weekend mini-retreat.  Even in the shade, the harsh sun was casting an emphasis on the white in the background that is less obvious in real life.

I borrowed everyones rulers and took advantage of the large table to square it up.   This October I finally got around to quilting it.

My stash for the binding did not disappoint and I found Art Gallery Fillagree with not only a similar palette but motif.   I used a single fold binding even though it's more of a wall hanging than mini.

Wonder clips are wonderful for little four year old hands.  She has alway been such a helper.  

Look how times have changed since learning her colors back in the scrap sorting days .

We are about half way through  2017 Q4 FAL and I'm happy to have this goal checked off my list (blogged here).   You can see what my mates have made with the blocks they received - all so different from mine and equally great  #beesewcialswap.

I'm hopeful to also tackle the Michael Miller QuiltCon Fabric Challenge but I've hit a design stumbling block and the deadline to enter is rapidly approaching.

Here's the sneak:

Better get back at it!

Be sure to stop by next Wednesday for the next installment of Meet the Host - it's MY turn to be featured and I have written a long in-depth post about yours truly that you won't want to miss. (blush)

Happy Stitching, Karen 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

BeeSewcial Blocks: of all Stripes and Unity

For September the prompt was of all Stripes for Anne (described here on Instagram)

All About Stripes September BeeSewcial
As soon as I found out about the theme I immediately thought of the workshop that I took from Maria Shell and knew I would incorporate a little of the technique in my blocks.  The color palette of predominantly blues and greens with an accent of yellow gold was not a stretch for me.  

WIP from Maria Shell Workshop
The element of woven needed to be included at least a little because that also reminds me of Anne, here's why.

My neighbors are use to my quilty weirdness taking photos of my quilts on the porch and hanging bags from the branches of my tree to take pictures. For some reason the indoor lighting on the day I was sewing was playing mind tricks and messing up my decision making so I kept going outside every few minutes to double check. 

In the end, I toned down the range and eliminated several from the original pull.   I also chose to make two blocks instead of one large block so that one could be busy and one more simplistic. 
initial fabric stash pull

For October, Hillary requested a UNITY blocks. Read more on her blog post here.
You would think that using only two fabrics would be easier to choose but narrowing it down to ONLY two was a challenge in itself.  Refreshingly so. 

sketching ideas
Using extreme discipline (for me) I committed to my fabric choice and did not pack any backup when packing for my retreat.  With four whole days, I knew that I'd be able to focus and get it done. 

The very unique size of the block 5-7"x40-50" has to do with the concept behind the quilt Hillary is making. She described it as "showing each of us standing tall uniquely together proverbially holding hands showing UNITY"   

For the pieced adornment the shape that I used to represent "me" is from my Improv Abstraction quilts.  Although it is a sliver version and comes off the edge I think it still reads the same idea.

There are 10 shapes, symbolic of the ten members of our bee.   I took advantage of the large tables to square up my block which was very tricky and took multiple rulers to pull off. 

6.75" x 50"
Taking a photograph of a block of such an odd dimension could be challenging but the redwoods made for a fun photoshoot. 

It's a good thing that I have long arms!

As always with my bee blocks, when they are done it feels like I am just getting started and I love them both.  Be sure to check out #beesewcial to see what my mates have been up to and use #inspiredbybeesewcial if you are playing along with the prompts. 

Happy Stitching. Karen