Blue Alaska!

I love living in Alaska! I’ve lived here 35 years and traveled the state quite a bit, but I’m not done yet. There’s just too much to see, from the islands of the Aleutian Chain (next year’s trip, I’ve promised myself!) to the northern Arctic Wildlife Refuge to the islands of the south east panhandle. I’ve gone ocean kayaking in Prince William Sound, commercial fishing in the Gulf of Alaska and driven the Alaska-Canada Highway, many times. I’ve flown in jets, small planes, taken the ferry to many towns and driven many roads to explore this great state. Below, courtesy of Google, is Russia, Alaska and Canada, with a tiny bit of the Pacific Northwest USA in the lower right hand corner. The two pink dots are Anchorage and Seward and the yellow path is roughly the path I drove my RV this past year, heading toward Arizona and back north, to Alaska just a month ago.

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This is one of my favorite photos of Turnagain Arm, just south of Anchorage, along a road I’ve taken hundreds of times to get to Seward, Kenai, Soldotna, Homer or Seldovia. The Arm, like so many things in Alaska, is gorgeous to look at but can be deadly to the unwary.

Turnagain-Arm

As I get older I think more and more about sustainability for our world and our global economy and I love the fact that Clothworks, a company whose fabrics I’ve loved and used for years, is focused on creating their fabric here in the USA. When I traveled through Arizona I saw cotton fields and I often wondered if that cotton would someday be in fabric that I use to make a quilt. Clothworks is introducing their American Made Brand (AMB) cotton, which is from Arkansas (and possibly other locations), spun and woven in South Carolina (I really want to visit there!) and sold out of Seattle (I love Seattle too). I was invited by Candice at Clothworks to join in on her American Made Brand Debut Blog Tour of the United States. AMB_blog-tourShe asked 50 quilters and bloggers to participate and to create a quilt block based on their state license plate – what a cute idea!

Here’s a pic of me, with my RV, and the RV license plate, which I used for the colors of my Alaska Quilt Block.

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I took this opportunity to play with paper and pen (which I love doing) and then take some long overdue classes on using Adobe Illustrator.

Here’s my first draft, in pen on tracing paper. I use tracing paper a lot so that I can keep design aspects I like (just trace over them with a new sheet of paper) and move, resize or discard the parts I don’t like.

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From there I started playing with color, matching the fabrics to the actual license plate and trying to decide on the color of the mountains. One of the things that I love the most about the mountains here is how close they are, and how beautiful they look when lined up against each other, fading gradually into the distance. This photo of the mountains in Seward, taken from the northern boat harbor, shows what I mean as the mountains go from dark in the foreground on the right, to faded on the left. The center has the two boats I worked on in 2003 and 2004, when I went commercial fishing for salmon.

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I wanted the Alaska State Flower, the Forget-Me-Not, to be part of this block. It’s a delightful shade between pale blue and periwinkle and it’s a delicate, tiny blossom. I found these just down the street from where I’m parked in my RV this summer. Alaska is definitely a place you will never forget once you visit or live here.

Forget-Me-Nots

When it came time to do some drafting, I went back to a site I’ve been taking classes on: Skillshare. It’s a site that offers a wide variety of technology and business classes that allow you to learn at your own pace. I’ve taken several classes there. I particularly like the fact that they use a lot of videos in the classes, and a minimum of text. The classes encourage students to use their own projects to learn with which is another aid to learning. By working on my own projects, I accomplish two tasks at one time – learning and finishing something I need done. It’s also a lot more fun to learn while working on something you like rather than a textbook lesson. Here’s what I came up with in Illustrator.

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After drawing and drafting I was finally able to start playing with fabric – YAY!! What a gorgeous collection Clothworks provided, making it very easy for me to be able to use fabrics in the exact colors I was looking for.

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I used the fusible web technique, drawing reverse images onto the paper backing of the Steam-A-Seam and then lightly adhering it to the wrong side of the fabric. After cutting the pieces out, I used a full steam heat setting to permanently set the fabrics. If you are not familiar with the various techniques of applique, I highly recommend Kay Mackenzie at All About Applique and my friend Ruth Blanchet at Academy of Quilting.

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I put a little bit of stitching to hold the Aleutian Islands in place and wanted to embellish the Forget Me Nots with some white and yellow thread, but that’s something better done when the block is quilted. If I were quilting this today I would also put some white thread on the tops of the mountains because as late as June this year there was still fresh snow appearing on the mountains around Anchorage. It’s been that cold!

So, why did I call it Blue Alaska? If you look at every photo in this project, your will see multiple shades of blue. Alaska, The Last Frontier, has a big clean blue sky, huge clean blue lakes and is surrounded on the south, west and north by blue ocean. Even the icebergs have a blue tint to them. This land is often green, sometimes (for very loooooong periods of time) it’s white, but always there’s some blue… there’s even a Blue King Crab! Tomorrow brings the summer solstice and on a clear mid-summer night the sky in Anchorage is just a dark blue. On the solstice it never really gets dark like it does in the south, just dusky around 2-4am, and then it’s daylight again.

For quilters who know me, this little block was just a fun side project. I’m still focused on making, writing about and teaching quilt-as-you-go projects and the one I’m working on now ties right into this “Alaska” blog post – check out the T-Shirt I found in, of all places, Las Vegas! I went scrounging the second-hand shops in both Las Vegas (on my way home) and Anchorage for T-Shirts for project testing. I just had to buy this one! Look for more about T-Shirt quilts from me very soon. If you have always wanted to make a T-shirt quilt, gather them up now and sign up for my newsletter on the sidebar here. If you want to take a class with me, check out my schedule on the Classes & Workshops page here.

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This was a fun blog tour and I’ve really enjoyed reading about the other states, AMB-Fabric-Bundle-1 and learning more about the quilters – some I know and some are new to me – and I hope you will too. Take a trip around the USA to visit some very creative quilters and learn about their home states. Many thanks to the folks at Clothworks for inviting me to be part of their wonderful tour and for sponsoring this great giveaway: leave a comment here to be entered to win an 8 Fat Quarter Bundle of American Made Brand fabric from Clothworks – YAY!! To qualify you must live in USA (I’m sorry to my Canadian and International friends). I’ll pick a random comment on June 27th and announce the winner then.

Click here for a comment window…..

Download the Alaska License Plate Block Pattern Download

OUR WINNER is Carolyn Boutilier! YAY and Thank you for reading and commenting on my home and my quilt block :) ~Marguerita

Teresa’s Road To Oklahoma Quilt

I was lucky enough to meet Teresa Rush at the Pahrump, Nevada quilt show in March this year. She follows my travels on this blog and on Facebook, and she saw me post that I’d be in Pahrump, so she drove 60+ miles to come to the quilt show and say “hi”! That just made my day! :) I’m looking forward to returning to Pahrump in March 2015 and I’m going to try to meet up with Teresa again – either in Las Vegas or Pahrump.

Here’s her note and her quilt pics – Thank you Teresa for coming all the way to Pahrump and for sending me pics to share, especially for the close up on your quilting. Just like the quilts in my book Finish (almost) Any Quilt you can’t even tell that this is a quilt-as-you-go quilt!

I just wanted to share my first quilt with you. I am so pleased and know it would had never been possible without your book and personal demo at Parhump. Thank you!

I would love it if you let me know when you come back to Vegas! I have enclosed some more pics of my quilt and please feel free to use any of them…

Quilt block is Road to Oklahoma. (Curtains are my next project now that the quilt is done.) Quilting was done on my embroidery machine and even though it is a queen size quilt it was no problem using your quilt as you go technique.

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Ricki’s Finished Quilts

Check out these cuties by Ricki Cohn! Here’s the note she so generously sent, along with pics of her quilts:

Just finished my 6th quilt using your quilt as you go method, along with other quilt as you go techniques, including making a reversible quilt. Thanks! You were the inspiration for getting me started on this relatively new hobby.

Here are some of my latest endeavors:

Owl quilt
I quilted the squares first with wavy lines, then learned how to applique using freezer paper and starch for the pieces of the owls. The back does have the outline of the owl and wings, but I used Sulky thread in the color of the backing, and it looks fine.

My 2-sided quilt…

Below is a baby quilt for my niece’s baby. I added the yellow borders that I quilted first to the 4 squares that were extras from a larger crazy quilt that ended up too big for a crib. The yellow and brown quilts are the back and front of the same quilt!

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Owls

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Curves By Jean

Jean Knapp send me these photos of her Drunkard’s Path quilt blocks that she put together using quilt-as-you-go, isn’t it gorgeous? There are a lot of patterns and tutorials for doing curved piecing, and I believe there are even templates for making the Drunkard’s Path block. Here she combined 4 blocks and then quilted and joined them using the same methods we use in all of our books.

Thank you Jean for sharing your quilt and your adaptations!

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Driving to Alaska

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I just finished my spring trip home, to Alaska, and wanted to share some pics with my friends. This was a 3,740 mile trip and I took it in three stages. Just to give you some perspective, this is about the distance of going from San Diego, California to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Next time I get the urge to drive anywhere, maybe I’ll make that trip!

The first 1000 or so miles took me from Fort Mohave, where I spent most of the winter parked at my friends’s house – Peter and Barbara Peterson. You can’t see it here, but my RV is parked to the left of their house, in an RV parking spot built as part of the home. I am so very, very lucky to have kind friends who generously let me stay with them for so many months :)

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My stops took me through Las Vegas, for a new windshield and the hassles that Safelite ( :( ) created for me, [there's nothing like having the hood to your engine pop up when driving 65 mph and having a semi coming at you at 75 mph!]. Next on to Alamo, NV to sit out a windstorm that was strong enough to cause a travel advisory warning.

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The next day took me to Hagerman, Idaho to a park I just adore where I met a friend I made there last year. I stayed a full day and did some grocery shopping and walking around the town. The next morning we shared travel stories and she gave me RVing tips and blueberries while made us both my favorite sourdough pancakes for breakfast.

2. Hagerman, Idaho

After breakfast, I left for Pendleton, Oregon but first I had to cross the mountains between there and LaGrande, OR. I guessed that there might be snow in the pass because of the temperatures, but was hoping for clear skies. No such luck!

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After spending one night in Pendleton I pushed on, but hit gusting wind almost everywhere. I was dreading going through Wenatchee, WA because the gorges have high wind warning signs on the roads normally, so on an already-high-wind day I tried to avoid going that far. But my GPS was no help at all and before I knew it I was in the gorge and surprise of surprises, there was NO wind. I am guessing that the winds were from a different direction that day and that was fine with me. I’d take some buffeting on the road to avoid strong gusts in that gorge!

The GPS torqued me again by refusing to show me how to get to the road I wanted, and I ended up taking a narrow, twisting, steep road with a 14′ tunnel on my way to Chelan, WA. I was SO glad to have planned to stay in Chelan for several days. I needed a break from the snow and wind and the relentless driving – and this was just the first 1,000 miles.

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I love the town of Chelan, Washington. It reminds me of Lake Champlain, Vermont and the wonderful memories I have from there. I did my laundry, bought last minute groceries and hiked up the hill to Walmart for some RV supplies. I relaxed and just enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. On April 30th I met up with Millie and Terry Jackson, who let me tag along with them for the next 1,000 miles or so of the trip north. We left Chelan on May 1 and headed for Kamloops, BC but ended up in a town called Barriere, where we had the transient part of the RV park to ourselves.

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From their we went through Jasper and into Hinton, Alberta. It snowed on us that night, which should have been a clue to the day ahead. Not quite a white out, but snow, sleet and the roads were rutted with ice – my worst driving fears. At one point going down the mountain I had the RV in first gear, going about 10 mph. This is just the beginning, below. After taking that pic I kept both hands on the wheel or one on the wheel and one on the gear lever for downshifting.

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The next day brought us back the sunshine and smooth travels, but also brought us to the end of traveling together. Millie and Terry kept going, but I stayed over in Fort Nelson, BC to visit a friend and take a break from the driving. It was an awesome couple of days, and I let the snow roll on by us while I stayed.

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When I left Fort Nelson I felt like I was just around the corner from home! In 1,000 miles I’d cross the border and another 350 miles after that I’d be back in Anchorage – HOME!

Within an hour I was over both Steamboat and Summit and because the roads had weight restrictions on them I pretty much had the highway to myself. Very few semi’s and a rare truck or car shared the space. I’ve never had it so easy, and so gorgeous. Up until then I’d seen few animals, but going over Summit almost guarantees seeing some wildlife – I just didn’t want to see any on the road! That, of course, was too much to ask for, so I settled on hoping I’d see them in enough time to stop safely, which I did for the rest of the trip and I’m thankful! Here are the caribou at Summit:

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The views are always spectacular, in Alaska and Canada, and I was so lucky to have clear skies!

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This leg of the trip is definitely the most gorgeous – from the views at Steamboat and Summit, to this view of Muncho Lake and coming up is my favorite place of all.

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As I wove through forests and mountains, along lakes, rivers and streams, I came upon some goats which I’d never seen before along the AlCan.

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I think it was this view, however, that did me in. I came around the corner and it looked just like the view from Nelchina, Alaska going toward Sutton (about 100 or so miles from Anchorage) and all of the sudden I’d had enough of travel, driving, and transitions. I wanted to be home.

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As I was trying to decide where to stop for the night, I just barely caught a pic of this almost full curl ram! I’d seen him ahead and slowed down to a crawl, but still had to grab my camera and turn it on – all with one hand! I was lucky to get this great shot. This guy was just showing off!

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It was coming into Liard that I decided to push on further. I wasn’t even tired and I was getting more and more anxious to use the great weather to get closer to Alaska. Liard Hot Springs Campground is a favorite stopping place for me, but not this year. I heard later that the rangers had to kill a black bear that had ransacked the campground that night.

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The bison are always hanging around Liard when I travel the road and they are quite a sight. They are the size of a Volkswagen Bug and they move at a snails pace. Of course one bull decided to cross the road just as I was slowly coasting past the heard.

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By then I’d decided to drive on to Teslin. I’ve always wanted to stay there and it was just 500 miles from Fort Nelson. A bit of a long day (most days I’d drive between 300-350 miles) but I’d had an early start, gorgeous weather and I was happy to be closing the gap to Alaska. I just love this view of coming down the mountain and over Teslin River.

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Here’s the bridge over the river:

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The next day took me to my second favorite place in Canada – Kluane. Kluane is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, but pulling into my friend Shirley’s driveway is my number one favorite place now :)

When I see this mountain (coming from the south) I know that I’m in for a treat. The lake is spectacular, the views are truly breathtaking and if you ever drive this highway, this spot is the reward. It was iced over for the most part, but in some areas that the ice had broken up the water was emerald green in the sunlight. I really regret not getting a good photo of that.

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Here’s a photo from last fall, as I drove the RV south.

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After coming past the end of Kluane and into Burwash, it’s all hands on the wheel and eyes on the road – which will tear any vehicle apart if you’re not careful. The frost heaves have been known to break shocks, struts and frames, not to mention ruin many other parts of a rig.

The next pic I was able to take was just after clearing customs and coming back into Alaska. The weather was cloudy and the lighting was poor for pictures on the next day, so I’ll post some from that area (Glennallen to Anchorage) when I come back from my trip to Valdez in September. By then the fall colors should be stunning.

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Thanks for coming with me on this trip, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Anissa’s Custom Quilting Table

Anissa found my Cheap Custom Sewing Table video on YouTube and watched it for a week before contacting me and asking about making her own. Then she sent me a pic with this note:

Just saying hello again. I wanted to show you my quilting table I made, thanks to you :-)

I will be quilting my first quilt on it tomorrow. Once again thanks!

Anissa

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Isn’t it gorgeous! I love that new color foam that’s out, by Owens Corning. I’ve seen it in Lowe’s but I haven’t needed any foam so I didn’t buy any, but oh, I love the color. This photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s somewhere in the middle of lavender and dusty rose.

Thank you Anissa!

Lori’s Modern Log Cabin

This is a quilt after my own heart! The combination of modern fabrics and styling with the traditional Log Cabin block, brought together with quilt-as-you-go techniques, in colors that just sing!

Lori sent this to me a while ago and I somehow misplaced it as I was preparing for my drive down the AlCan in September.

Take a good look at the pic – can you see the different quilting she did on each block? Check out the heart in the lower left, the pink square. This is just fantastic!! I actually didn’t think it would be possible to use quilt-as-you-go on a Log Cabin and Lori proved that it can be done, and stunningly at that! Thank you Lori :)

Here’s her note

Hi Marguerita,

I bought your book, “How to Finish Almost Any Quilt” and just finshed a crib sized quilt using your instructions. I’ll be donating it to my local “Bags of Love” chapter.

I love to recycle things and and the quilt is about 50% recycled cloth. (In this quilt, I used mostly recycled medical “scrubs”)

Attached is a pic.

Can’t wait to start the next quilt!

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Kim’s Quilt and Custom Table

Kim sent me a pic of her very first quilt-as-you-go quilt, and her custom sewing table! What a great way to start the new year – a really happy email from a comfortable quilter!

She sent this note:

I just wanted to share my very first ‘quilt as you go’ quilt. I could have never made this Queen Size without your technique! I purchased your book about a year ago and just never had the nerve to try it. This quilt is for a close set of friends. The husband asked me to make it as a surprise for his wife for Christmas. I panicked when he picked out that pattern! The pattern was for a full size and their bed is a queen. And the pattern had an error with a cutting measurement. And I purchased every bit of the blue on the bolt- and had only a tiny scrap left! So it was a little rough start :( But, now I’m glad he picked that one out. I will definitely feel more comfortable next time knowing that I can use your wonderful technique!

And, please keep the You Tube videos coming- I love my table! My mother helped me sew a slip cover for it. And the thread video was amazing! A design wall is next!

Thank you again-
Sincerely, Kim

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Linda Patzer Teaches Quilt-As-You-Go

Linda is a quilt teacher at The Sewing Studio in Normal, Illinois. She sent me this pic of her student Sandy’s quilt, which they adapted to be quilt-as-you-go.

This one was made by Sandy Way. The quilt block is a drunkards path. Sandy is a new quilter but has sewing clothes and home dec for many years. She recently retired from teaching. I am so proud!

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I love that Linda is teaching how to adapt a patterns her students like, to make them quilt-as-you-go. That is what my book Finish (almost) Any Quilt is about. You can read more about the book here – or buy it on Amazon here.

Click to see Pam’s finished quilt. She’s another one of Linda’s students!

Marilyn’s Finished Quilt

Oh, I’m in LOVE!

Marilyn (from the UK) sent me this photo of her quilt and the message below:

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Dear Marguerita,

I bought your book Crazy Shortcut Quilts some time ago, and I love it. I have made several quilts using the ideas in it. I now also have your other books Quilt as you go (Reimagined) and Finish almost any quilt (the day before yesterday was my birthday!), and can’t wait to get going.

However, about two years ago after learning your techniques for quilt as you go, I made the quilt in the attached photo. I used a basic block pattern that I saw in a magazine, and adapted the sashing to your methods. I am pleased with it, and recently I posted a photo on a Ravelry forum, and several people there said how much they liked it. As you will see, it is simple, but I think simple quilts can be the most effective sometimes. I hope that you like it.

I found the pattern in a magazine I bought some time ago, called Quilt Mania (no 60). As far as I can judge the magazine is French, although the version I have is in English. All it says about the design I based my quilt on is that it is called “Aussie”, comes straight from Australia, and is a Patchwork Studio design. Their version is not “quilt as you go” of course, I adapted that bit as I said before.

I have no idea where I bought the magazine – sorry! and it is quite old, I think 2007.

Marilyn

First of all, I love the big squares of fabric – it really lets the fabric be the center focus of the quilt (green – my favorite colour!). Second, I love, love, love the dropped shadow effect that the black fabric makes. Most of all, I love that Marilyn figured out how to adapt a pattern she liked to make it quilt-as-you-go. THAT is what the book Finish (almost) Any Quilt is about. You can read more about the book here – or buy it on Amazon here.

Hurray Marilyn and thank you for sharing your gorgeous quilt!!