Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Winter Sampler

Yay, it's ready to quilt. Then the final felt pointsettias!

Hmm, or now that I am looking at the bottom border, I think I was supposed to flip it to the snowman ninepatches were not so close. What do you think? Leave it as is or frog it and flip it?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Slow Start on Clue 5

I am off to a slow start on Clue 5. I feel a sore throat brewing on this gray damp Boxing Day. Spent a quiet Christmas afternoon, just me and Mom. After a few weeks of a really strong rally, she is not doing too well again. I hope she can pull through for her 92nd birthday next week.

I cut my 32 pairs slowly, using just about each fabric twice, and scrambling the pairs so no two HSTs will be the same.

Tomorrow promises rain, so I won't walk in the morning, and will probably finish this clue tomorrow. I think the rest of the afternoon will be for reading or knitting and staying warm.  Don't you hate these days where it feels chilly even in a warm house?


I took a rest yesterday afternoon. A quilt and a Clyde kept the chills at bay.

I finished sewing my clues, and trimmed them up this morning. Now that I see this picture on my monitor, it's a bit blurry, although it looked fine on my phone.

A rainy morning here, and I am hoping to tackle a rather substantial to-do list. And a little quilting.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Winter Sampler Embroidery

Is finished!

Need to piece it with the border blocks that I finished a few weeks ago. Then machine quilt and bind it. There are some felt pointsettias that need to go on after the quilting. And maybe some seed beads.

Not sure if I will get to it until after Christmas. Made three batches of cookie dough today, and will be baking and cleaning tomorrow.  Probably out to food shop very early in the day as well.

My Christmas prep has been minimalist this year. We don't do gifts in the family, as our kids are grown. I didn't put up a tree or decorate other than putting a wreath on the front door. It's just been a rough year, and I couldn't even get to my decorations while one of my sons was staging his stuff to move out....thankfully, this is moving week for him, so I am starting to see a little breathing room in my kitchen and small TV room.  I am hoping to get my dining room back soon too. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

We have a winner!

These alternate blocks are working well for me.  I will press and trim these blocks, then assemble these rows, and if it's not too painful, I may make something bigger.

I am happy with this because it's bright even though there are a lot of old mongrel fabrics in those 1" squares. There is no other way to use up these uglies. Mix in some bright squares and they hide in plain sight.

I enjoyed the process of getting to this point. I had set myself a goal of not using the same alternate blocks as the designer (Bonnie Hunter). I thought about what makes a good alternate block, and for me, it has to create a secondary design that makes it difficult to tell where each block ends.  This layout will have the lovely diagonal one patches and the yellow squares are separated by 16-patches. It blurs the boundaries of the original block, and it gets me away from solid sashings, which I don't enjoy doing at this stage. 

P.S. I hate the way my android phone uploads photos to blogger. It always makes them huge. I guess I better hunt for a way to change the defaults.    

P.P.S The blocks on the right appear wobbly because they are not lying flat on the flannel design wall. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Clue 4 is in the bag

Time to link up Clue 4.  I cut with accuquilt this time due to a semi frozen right shoulder. Had to use a scant seam allowance. Didn't have to trim much. I am storing the slivers of trim in a plastic ornament for a memento. Can't wait to get some yellow and green in there as well.I wish I had more of the purple I used for my blah blah bag, which holds my headphones and phone charger. You can see it in the picture.  I also made a strip with the leftover ends of my strip sets, and will use this to make a case for my new kindle fire. I bought one of the $39 Fires and am very impressed with it. Video is good. Sound is mono, but my hearing is not great, so it's fine for me.

Lots of time in the quiltorium this weekend. My last bin of scrap strips needed to be tidied.

I got one bin of neutrals, and all other colorways are bagged.

Decided to grapple with this stalled project on the design wall.

Did not like the dark green. Took those blocks out and am subbing in this:

Threw these lugubrious greens into a single piece, will use it for machine quilting practice, if nothing else. Although I may whack it a la Jenny Doan and repiece it so the green hunks are not so wide. They really overpower the small squares.

Monday, December 12, 2016

84 four patches heading for france

Ha ha.Yes, I'm talking about Clue 3. I continue to make 50% - ish of each clue. Today I finished piecing the 4-patches. Have to clean trim about 30 of them. I do that best in the morning light. Also my shoulder is hurting, I think I have frozen shoulder, which gave me eight months of misery on the other arm a few years back.

That old Kai cutter is still my favorite rotary cutter. Had it about 30 years.  As usual, I went far out of bounds on the color suggestion, and I am ok with that. Flowers are sometimes faded and struggling.

Yesterday, we were out in the pre dawn, and saw some lavender in the sky. It was a beautiful cold  morning, and the frost was definitely on the ivy and in the meadow. Beauty everywhere,  a good walk.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Wish I Were in Provence!

So grateful for this Mystery Quilt to distract me from everything else and force me to do a fair amount of therapeutic sewing. We all know how I hat to fly from years of business travel, so dreaming of Provence may be as close as I get. And I am ok with that.

I am going to make a wallhanging this year, so my half quote of Clue 2 is done already.

I will be the first to admit that this triangle block is always a tough one for me. Right now, my right shoulder and left index finger are giving me trouble, and it makes rotary cutting hard. Should have used my accuquilt die, I already had it before I ordered the ruler set.So I had to fiddle and fudge and trim a bit. Here is what I learned along the way. It worked for me, but may not work for you.

1. Use a scant seam allowance. I had calibrated my 1/4" carefully on clue one, and was using the same machine, the beloved workhorse, my 301. After my first ten blocks were such a struggle, I considered switching to the Bernina Aurora 430 because it had a quarter inch foot. I just have the regular old Singer foot with the skinny inside toe for the 301. But I didn't thinking I would be back behind square 1.

2. I actually setup my blocks for sewing by letting about two thread widths of the neutral stick out beyond the edge of the magenta. As I sewed, the magenta moved over! It just about covered the neutral or lined up nicely.

3. By my third set, I was cutting the magenta pieces a few thread widths wider than my first set, and fiddling accordingly.

I don't know why I had to resort to these tricks after everyone seemed to sail right along, but so be it. I finished as many as I hope I need!

So, spurred on by this progress and a wave of guilt at seeing the second Advent candle lit on Sunday, I made a fair dent in the Christmas shopping today.  Hope to get some gift sewing done this week as well. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Winter Sampler Blocks Done!

I managed to find a moda charmpack called midwinter reds that gave me some good options to blend in with the fabric that came in the kit.

My stars are done.
Yes, the instructions said that they should not all spin in the same direction.

It was not without its challenges:

  • A thread jam in the trusty 301.
  • Many seams that needed rework, followed by a slowdown and the use of pins when seams would not nest without encouragement.
  • And one really stupid mistake:

But they are in the project storage box, and I can proceed to En Provence Clue 2 this afternoon.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Winter Approaches

The season is tipping toward winter here. Two solid days of  this week. Drizzly, gray, chilly days.  But I loved those days. Staying in!  Working on my writing!  Quilting!  Crocheting!  Embroidery! It was all good times here.

I am trying to finish up a stalled project, called the Winter Sampler from Crabapple Hill. Embroidery is almost done, but it has sixteen blocks that frame it out into a wall hanging. I purchased it a few years ago as a kit from my LQS. I've got half the blocks done, and the fiddly piecing on the other star blocks in progress. The embroidery needs a few more hours of my time, so it's converging toward the finish line.

And when this is done, I also have another pattern that celebrates stitching the winter away

Just have to remember where I put the pattern........

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Where did all this ugly fabric come from?

Did you ever paw through your stash and find a piece of fabric that was so ugly, you could not remember where you bought it, when you bought it, or who gave it to (or inflicted it on) you? Maybe it is the natural consequence of having a decades-old stash. After all, when I started quilting, Jim Croce and the Carpenters were churning out hit singles.

Truly, I have come to believe in Bonnie Hunter's maxim: "If it's still ugly, you haven't cut it small enough." and a lot of really putrid colors have made it into recent quilt tops. There is liver colored fabricin the last few tops I've made, hiding in plain sight, surrounded by snappier and happier colors.

But yesterday, I came upon a real doozy. I said to myself, "how do I dispense with this?" I am too frugal to throw it away, and didn't have an immediate need for it in a backing.  I remembered that a crochet project downstairs involved a jumbo skein of baby yarn, and I was tired of pulling the knot of the AC Moore plastic bag in which it resided. I needed to keep the skein covered and free from cat hair, which seems to always flow in my direction from the quiltorium cats, no matter what room they are in.

So I quickly made a little drawstring bag from the whole fat quarter.

Now, I love my tiger lilies in the summer, but they are orange, not rusty brown like in this fabric. I don't know who came up with this colorway, and I hope I have used up the last untouched piece of it.

Do you have any other strategies for dealing with ugly old fabric. Yes, I use it up in pieced backings, what else do you do with it? Leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Ever onward

I am going to make the En Provence mystery as a wallhanging. So, I made slightly more than half of the clue one four patches.

My guilty confession: I never spun my seams before doing this clue. So glad I picked up this new skill along the way! And my accuracy is improving. I only took a few threadwidths off of most of my 133 blocks when I checked them and squared up. So now they are stacked away and ready for clue 2.

I also used this clue as an opportunity to replenish neutrals in my scrapsaver bins, except for the 1.5" bin, which is overflowing right now.

Trying to wrap up my last blanket for Bella's Babies this week. I am almost to the decreases, then will have to do a shell stitch edging.

It is amazing how many of us (over on the open studio at facebook) are saying that just stitching anything can help in times of stress and sorrow.  Last week, even though life is a little calmer, I felt my stress level rising almost to panic attack level at times, and that's scary. I've been plagued by a twitch in my lower eyelid, heart was pounding, short of breath.  Maybe cut back on caffeine? Couldn't decide which of these would help, so I bought both and double bagged it instead of a second cup o joe yesterday morning.

Felt better. However, one of them contains catnip, so Clyde tried to devour the tea bag wrapper. I decided I will only use these in my office with the electric kettle. I don't know what the whole herbal blend would do to him if he ever got hold of a used teabag! Clyde is a honey, he also contributes to the calming effort.

So steady on.  Stitch for sanity, stitch for stress reduction. Just keep stitching!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I am so done with Tumblers

This was last year's leader and ender challenge. I soldiered on with it, even though I did not enjoy it.  Anyway, it's done.  I'm not thrilled with this year's L&E either, so I will probably use other strategies for leaders and enders this year. 

Right now, it's making 4 and nine patches out of 1.5" squares. These are useful in a variety of blocks. I've been trimming most of them from my crumb basket, not my strip bins.

And of course, I am ready for this-here are my fabrics for En Provence thus far.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Running on Empty....

I am still all adrift due to the family health crisis, which has stabilized somewhat, but is not without its daily stresses. I am heading into the holiday season with very little reserve energy capacity, so I am not laying any expectations on myself. Just taking life a day at a time.

Handcrafts still provide much needed sanity, although I sometimes have to struggle to pick up a needle or a hook.

Finished my garlic knots wallhanging:

 And my tumblers quilt is ready for binding:

Finishing up some baby things for the Bella's Babies winter drive. Working on an old UFO: The Winter Sampler from Crabapple Hill. Sorry for the bad photo.

Making a few Idaho Square Dance Blocks, trying to figure out what I want to do as the alternate block. I don't think this option is going to make it to the finals. I don't want to do the log cabin blocks that Bonnie did in her quilt, because we sleep under a log cabin quilt every night. Been there, done that.

I seem to start things, then lose steam. Maybe I just need to scale it back and make some string blocks or something.  Like I said: running on empty here. Hoping to get a surge of energy when En Provence drops its first clue on Friday. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Merry Scrappy Hexie Christmas!

Finally done, with a month to spare before Advent begins!

And this is coming close to the finish line! Just the borders left to quilt. I opted for even feed foot and straight line quilting because my shoulders were hurting after a few hours of shovelling acorns (a bumper crop on the side lawn this year) and leaves. Also, I thought free motion might overpower the design as these are four inch blocks.

Other than that, the hook is moving, making stuff for Bella's Babies winter drive. A premie blanket in simple corner to corner double crochet.It's always a good feeling when you start the decrease rows on one of these!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Slowly cranking along

The weather is cooler, and it's time to sandwich up some quilt tops and get them done. Plus Lazy Sunday, whose picture is so far back in the archives, I can't find it!

When I am too exhausted to sew (which is still often!) I am moving my hook along.

This one is actually done, need an updated photo. I'm liking this corner to corner crochet and also started a baby blanket for donation with this stitch.

This is premier yarns sweet roll yarn, the color runs are very long. I started a second scarf, longways to use up the second skein that I bought, but I don't think I will buy more. 

I also finished this one, took about three weeks. This is bernat impeccable big ball.
And I

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

More progress....

I am loving this so far. Wallhanging or baby quilt for the right kind of family, but I am too fond of it. So it will find wallspace here at home.
I will slap on a border about 4", maybe some very old bright teal green I found in deep stash, or some deep sapphire blue.

Fighting a cold, so much time is spent vegging in my comfy blue chair surrounded by bags of yarny projects. Saw this on a facebook group, and had to try it, colorpool crochet. I hope one skein of bernat impeccable will be enough, because I got the last one in this colorway at my local Michaels.

It's Autumn in the local forest, yay for that! Favorite time of year. It's all about the colors, and textures, and crisp coolness after the muggy and hazy summer days.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

I'm still here!

There are times in life where you have to suck it up and do the right thing. That's where I have been for the past few months. A critically ill family member on hospice, that's all I will say in a public venue.

Life obligations notwithstanding, I do get a little crafting done for the sake of my sanity. Almost done with the garlic knots.  I lopped off the little nubs on the knots in the outer rows, because I felt a need to bound it in a bit. Just have to make corner blocks without the nubs.

On days when I can't walk the trails, the deer come right up to the house to say hello!

And Clyde the giant lap cat sometimes puts me under forced relaxation with his great hugs.
Been doing lots of charity crochet for Bella's Babies. She is looking for donations for newborns of low income families, so if you are looking for a place to give, send her some warm little goodies. A hook and small ball of yarn for premie caps does not take up too much room and it's always in my tote bag so I can get something done in odd bits of time.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Garlic Knots

Working on my mini garlic knots these days:
4" finished, made from the 1.5" strip bins.

Puzzling out  blocks for the outer border while I finish seven more of these to make it 6 blocks by 6 blocks across. Got any ideas?  So far, I have the following thoughts:

  • Scrappy bright 16 patches
  • Essentially the garlic knot block, replacing the dark square on the outside with light, so the outer blocks look finished, not looking to connect with something
And because there have been lots of deer sightings:

Monday, August 29, 2016

All Done Tumblin

Been a little quieter lately, and I finished another quilt top, this one was Bonnie Hunter's leader and ender challenge last year, the tumblers project. It worked out to be a sofa size or nap size or picnic size, or keep it on the backseat of the car size, which is fine with me.

I did most of it in true leader and ender fashion, so it pleases me to see that I really did get a lot of piecing done in the past twelve months. I didn't overthink it either, just two piles of light and dark tumblers, with three darks on each end. I tried my best to shrug it off when two of the same tumblers ended up adjacent from row to row.  You can also see a few spots where my darks and lights were too close to the middle of the value range, I think it just makes it more interesting.

I will save the pinning and machine quilting for cooler weather, because all the pressing that needs to be done first is just not something I want to do in an -un-airconditioned quiltorium!

How about you? Did you do the tumbler challenge? Are you doing the hourglass challenge this year? I cut some out, and may use them for small projects like placemats, or borders for applique/embroidery projects.