Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hive 6 November Block

What is your name?

I'm Sue Staum and I've had such fun getting to know you all a little bit and learning so many new things through this, my first Stash Bee experience. It's hard to believe it's finally my turn- how can it be November already?!? 

Seems that all the pictures I have of myself also have a grandkid or two in them!

Where do you live?

I live on a small lake in northern Minnesota, about 50 miles west of Duluth, the city where I was born and raised. Our home was originally my parents' cabin when I was a kid. Three additions throughout the years transformed it into our year round home on Sunset Bay. Living in the country is wonderful in so many ways- eagle's nest across the lake, baby loons, great blue herons, fish to be caught for dinner, an occasional black bear, wild turkeys, deer (that don't eat my hostas)- but it does mean that the closest quilt shops carrying modern fabric are 50 miles in one direction or 70 miles in the other!  We're used to doing lots of driving!

October Sunset on Cole Lake

Tell us about your family (Spouse, kids, grandkids, pets, etc.)

My husband, Kim, and I met in college and have been married for 36 years- yikes! We both are retired teachers having spent our entire careers teaching in McGregor, a small town 16 miles to the west of our home. Kim taught physical education and coached track and football and I enjoyed spending my days as a fifth grade teacher- it's a wonderful age! I loved my job and still do quite a bit of subbing. Quilting has helped me adjust to retirement. Last fall, a childhood friend and I, along with the local modern quilt shop owner, founded the Lake Superior Modern Quilt Guild which meets in Duluth. We are now one year old and have 62 members! I've gotten to know some amazing women!

That's our 2 year old lab, Berney, happily posing with his master who was helping me get some photos of my "slab" quilt last January. (In case your wondering about the bed in the snow, Kim decided he also needed a shot of the toddler bed he'd just finished for grandson, Max.)

We have two children who are happily married and have blessed us with grandchildren! Our oldest, son Mike and his wife, Anne, are both teachers, elementary and high school English, and are the proud parents of Max, 3, and Ella, our only granddaughter, who just turned one in September. They live in the Minneapolis area which is about a 2 1/2 hour trip. The absolute best part of retirement is the freedom to make that trip often!

Max and Ella on our last visit to their house.
Our daughter, Sarah and her husband, Mike, live in Duluth. Mike is also a high school English teacher and Sarah is an athletic trainer, working with the athletic teams at the same high school. They have Henry, 16 months and another little boy coming in March. How wonderful that they are close enough that I get to visit and help out on an almost weekly basis.

Henry listening to Mom saying he's going to have a baby brother.
(Actually I think the smile is more for the blue "reveal" cookie she gave him. )

I knew being a grandmother would be special but was not prepared for just how spectacular it is! These little ones have stolen my heart and it bursts with love, joy and laughter! 

Tell us about how you got interested in quilting.

I've been sewing and creating since I was young. My mom was an avid seamstress and taught me so much. I made my first quilts in the 70s and 80s- even made a QAYG queen size log cabin in country blue, tan and brown- oh, the 80s! These were all tied quilts. I never even knew that people quilted on their home machines. Over the years, I continued to craft- rug hooking with wool, embroidery, wool felt appliqué, needlepunch, sewing bags/totes and primitive dolls/snowmen and more.

When Max was on the way, I made my first quilts that were machine quilted using stitch-in-the-ditch, which I can't say I enjoyed too much. I kept wiggling out of the ditch. I went on to try various versions of disappearing 9-patch quilts and stacked coin quilts which I straight line quilted using my walking foot and found that I liked that much better. So no stitch-in-the-ditch on Henry and Ella's quilts. 

In June of 2013, Victoria Findlay Wolfe gave a trunk show in Duluth and I was blown away! Victoria is a Minnesota farm girl and she credits her grandmother for her love of quilting and sense of design. I loved how she "made" fabric. Later that summer I attended Camp StitchALot in Michigan with my friend. Our instructors include Jacquie Gering, (Tall Grass Prairie Studio and current president of the national MQG), Amanda Jean Nyberg, (Crazy Mom Quilts) and Rossie Hutchinson (Fresh Modern Quilts). We didn't realize just what a special experience this was going to be working with these talented ladies. Our guild was formed that fall and now I am hooked!  I especially enjoy improv piecing. I like not knowing for sure where it will lead.

How do you organize your fabric stash? 

I'll steal Diane's answer: "I'm supposed to organise it ....!!!" 
I have baskets and bins... many baskets and bins...

Who is/are your favorite fabric designers?

Heather Ross, Carolyn Friedlander, Lizzie House, Allison Glass, Denyse Schmidt, Charley Harper, Tula Pink, Art Gallery, Zen Chic, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner.
I especially love low volume and text prints, "blenders"- prints that read as basically one color- and geometric and novelty prints.

What is one thing you have learned that you wish you knew when you first started quilting?

 There are no quilt police! 

What is your favorite sewing/quilting tool and why should we all go out and buy it?

Since I retired I have been investing in some good equipment (with the help of some great coupon deals!):  Ginghar 10" shears and thread snippers (both are so sharp!), a seam ripper that comfortably fits my hand, red glass-head pins by Clover and Olfa Splash rotary cutter. All were recommended to me by various experience quilters and I am so glad I took their advice.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? 

Do gnomes count? Seriously, I love to read and every day I find at least a little time to get lost in a good book. I do look forward to the new releases of Minnesota author John Sandford's books featuring Lucas Davenport (The Prey series) and Virgil Flowers. And every character that my most favorite author, Maeve Binchy, created has won my heart!  

On to the November block! Our last one!

I love wonky stars! Maybe it has something to do with all those correct answers I put stars by over the years! (I have a thing for smiley faces too!😉) Anyway, what I would love for you guys to make is improv wonky star blocks. These blocks can include one, two, three or more stars- any size- it's all up to you! I'd like you to shoot for making blocks that are about 12.5 inches unfinished. (It's not a problem if the blocks don't end up as squares or if they are a bigger or even a little smaller.) To flesh out your star(s) to about 12.5 ", you should add various size strips/rectangles/squares of low volume prints (I really love LV text prints.) and/or an off-white solid like Kona Snow. Actually combos of LV and solids would be the best!

As far as prints for the stars go, I want it to look scrappy so the more prints you use the better! Feel free to fussy cut some centers. As I said above, I like geometric prints and blenders- no busy multi-colored floral prints, please- unless you just know it would be perfect for your star(s)! It's your creation- I trust your judgement! I also love novelty prints.

As to colors, I love blues/teals/aquas and greens the most, with reds, oranges, yellow/golds, grays and blacks thrown in the mix. Please no (or limited) pinks or purples- thanks. 

I had a blast sewing up some "example" blocks. Improv is rather addicting, isn't it! This is what I am envisioning. I'll make all the blocks fit together later by adding additional strips of off-white solid and low volume, where needed.

If you have not made wonky stars before or want a refresher, there are many great tutorials online. Here are a few I've used:

Your wonky stars can be whatever size/shape you'd like, in combinations of your choosing. (Or just one star is good too.)

The smallest I have made started with nine 1.5" squares, finishing as a 3" square block. These are really fun! Maybe fussy cut the center and use up some of those tiny scraps?

If you want to have 3 or even 4 stars in one block, I have found that various stars made with 1.5" squares, 2.5" squares and 3.5"squares will "fit together" quite well to create 12.5 blocks. Just fill in the spaces between the stars with low volume and/or off-white solids. Here are a few examples I made:

A star within a star is pretty cool. A tiny star made from 1.5" squares makes a perfect center of a star made with 3.5" squares. With some added strips on 2 sides, it measures 12.5".

Stars can "overlap" by sharing a corner:

Your wonky stars don't have to be made only from squares. I love these skinny, pointy stars! The center and the three other small squares are 2.5", the rectangles measure 2.5'" x 6" and the large square is 6". (I haven't added strips yet to get this block to measure 12.5")

And this example has a 4" center block with side blocks measuring 2.5" by 4" and 2.5" squares on the corners.

Pieced centers is another nice touch. Here are a couple of tutorials on that:

I'm just so excited to see what you come up with! I hope that with the busy holiday season coming upon us that these blocks will be quick and easy and you'll enjoy making them as much as I do. I have really enjoyed creating with all of you this year! And a special thanks to Courtney for keeping us going! 

If something isn't clear, or you have any questions/comments, please let me know.


PS- I'm excited to be going to Quiltcon 2015 in February. Anyone else attending? It'd be great to get together !


Courtney said...

Sue, what a great post! I'm excited to have learned so much about you and I can't wait to go make some stars. I'm also excited that I'll see you at quiltcon! Woohoo!

S Staum said...

Yeah! That's great that you'll be at Quiltcon, Courtney! My friend and I are "super volunteers" which I'm really excited about too. We'll have to meet up somewhere- Moda Party?��

Melodee said...

Oh gosh these are so cute!!! I haven't made any wonky stars yet but they DO look addicting!!!

S Staum said...

Thanks for the enthusiasm, Melodee! �� I do think they're my favorite block! Can wait to see yours!!

Yanick B. said...

Thanks so much for ending our year with a fun block(s) to make. I can't wait to start mine this weekend. I, too, loved reading all about your life and family. (Yay for teachers!)

S Staum said...

I was inspired by you, Yanick, to go with something improv for Nov. I had so much fun making your wonky log cabin blocks. I'm excited to see what everyone creates! The ones that have already arrived have been wonderful.
And, Yes! Yay for Teachers!
Hope you're having a great year!

Natasha Klein said...

I love love LOVE the wonky star and then wonky blocks ! how fun I really want to make 2 quilts for my kids using the random looking wonky star blocks. any more tips on streamlining the process of making these quilts would be great !thanks

Sandy said...

Hi I love the wonky stars! Is their a pattern that I can purchase please? thanks, sandra